Landscapes are a a heterogeneous pattern of natural and human sites supporting natural and social processes. In europe, landscapes are also a serious concern for many members of the public, as the campaigns around many land-use conflicts, for example around mining, quarries, water, construction or renewable energies show.
Landscape stewardship is a place-based concept considered to be the active shaping of pathways of social and ecological change for the benefits of ecosystems and society. It combines public participation and values into environmental governance. Landscape stewardship is thus based on the actions of people, related to their appreciation of the landscape values that are perceived as crucial. Landscape stewardship implies an interest in monitoring and actively maintaining and developing the cultural ecosystem services of a particular landscape region and includes actions such as such as nature conservation, agricultural and forestry practice, or cultural heritage. Land managers tend to be involved in landscape stewardship, with some focusing more on environmental, others on production.
To meet the need of establishing or enhancing the functionality of green infrastructures, the integrated analysis of 16 pan-European case study landscapes provides insights on current trends, challenges and opportunities for strengthening social capital among rural landscape stakeholders. Read the European Commission Science for Environment briefing.
Rural landscape stewardship must be an inclusive societal process based on collaborative governance. Horizon scanning was carried out to identify current knowledge and trends regarding the factors that can underpin this. The study emphasises a need for more regionally and culturally adapted approaches to landscape stewardship in Europe.
For Europe, it is important that rural development policies foster landscape stewardship through tailoring policy targets to the varied and specific land-use systems and their landscape attributes. A big challenge for the future, is the design and implementation of rural development policies will be to realign such features with the need for administrative simplification of funding schemes. Read more about landscape stewardship