Category Archives: landscape

European landscape image


The Council of Europe’s Landscape Convention is 21 years old.

The European Landscape Convention was the first international treaty on sustainable development based on the relationship between the needs of society, economic activity, the environment and culture. Its purpose has been to promote and encourage the protection of landscape, through sustainable management and the planning of European landscapes.landscape convention logo

The Convention established an integrated landscape perspective for a more sustainable relationship between environment and society. It recognises the importance of all landscapes, and not just those of exceptional beauty, as having a crucial bearing on quality of life. It applies to all types of  rural, urban and peri-urban areas, including land, inland water and marine areas. It relates to those of outstanding beauty as well as degraded landscapes.

In the context of changing issues around climate change, food and energy security, wellbeing, public health (e.g., pandemics) and biodiversity loss protecting landscape is now more central in societal and political agendas. So discussion and debate has turned to the Future of the European Landscape and its governance, protection, planning and management of European landscapes. A Manifesto recommending policy support actions and measures for landscape has been developed by UNISCAPE, the European Network of Universities for the implementation of the European Landscape Convention, and signed by GeoLand project partner EUROGEO.

Download the UNISCAPE Landscape Manifesto

lava picture

Cumbre Vieja lava flows, Palma

Remote sensing data is increasingly being used to monitor and assess active volcaniclava image processes and their risk to life and landscape. Remote sensing can provide a number of different observation and measurement opportunities to examine the dynamics and impacts of volcanic activity by using ultraviolet (UV), visible (VIS), infrared (IR), and microwave sensors. combine with GIS significant analytical power can be harnessed to better understand the situation.

Cumbre Vieja is volcano located on the island of La Palma, which is part of the Spanish Canary Islands and lies west of Tenerife. Natura 2000 protects 51% of the total surface of the island. The volcano is active for the first time in last 50 years and its eruptive activity began on Sunday, September 19. Since then lava has destroyed and engulfed over 600 buildings and caused extensive damage to agricultural crops and banana plantations, which are inside of plastic greenhouses that burn on contact with lava and release toxic substances into the atmosphere. 

A crack opened in the Cumbre Vieja volcano on 19 September, ash and lava were thrown into the air. Lava then flowed down the mountain and through villages engulfing everything in its path. By 28 September, a 6-km lava flow had been created, which has now reached the ocean on the island’s west coast. Clouds of white steam were reported where the red-hot lava hit the water in the Playa Nueva area.

The eruption has so far driven almost 7,000 people from their homes. Flights from the local airport were interrupted due to the ashes scattered in the air. The lava flow arrived in the coast of Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday night. Experts have previously warned that when hot lava with a temperature of about 1000 degrees Celsius contacts with salty seawater it will lead to creation of toxic emissions. Using Copernicus and Landsat satellite services, higher education students can track the changes on the landscape produced by lava flows.

The following links provide up-to-date data and information about the lava eruption of Cumbre Vieja.



GEOLAND Project meeting, Rethymno, Crete

Members of the GEOLAND Project team met in the town of Rethymno, Crete 15-18th September 2021. Due to Covid restrictions the meeting was hybrid with some partners participating online and others able to visit the coordinating institution the research centre IMS Forth.rethymno meeting photo


The project focused on administrative and practical actions to deliver the key outputs of GEOLAND and specifically:

1 an educational handbook for monitoring European Landscape

2 a training course via a Web-based GIS platform

3 policy outreach for higher education students related to the European Landscape Convention (ELC) and

4 an online gallery of student work, and

5 a Digital Readiness Tool, DERT, for the assessment of the digital readiness of higher education students and courses.

On the first day of the meeting the project partners focussed on the purpose and content of the GEOLAND handbook and its structure and approach. On the second day the GEOLAND platform purpose and its developments were discussed and the approach agreed and issues addressed. The role of open data from students and the activities related to survey gathering and citizen science  were raised.

After the conclusion of the meeting a cultural visit took place, with a visit to the Monastery at Arkadi and a hike through a gorge identified as an area of outstanding landscape value.

Arkadi Monastery

crete photo

Introducing Natura 2000 Sites

Natura 2000 sites are specifically designated to protect core areas for a sub-set of species or habitat types listed in the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.

Natura 2000 are considered of European importance because these species are endangered, vulnerable, rare, endemic or else they present outstanding examples of typical characteristics of one or more of Europe’s nine biogeographical regions.

There are around 2000 species and 230 habitat types for which core sites need to be designated as Natura 2000 sites. The aim is to ensure the long-term survival of protected species and habitats.

The sites are selected and proposed by European Member States. The European Environment Agency (EEA) then assists the European Commission in analysing the proposals and in their evaluation concerning their contribution to the conservation status of each habitat type and species at the biogeographical level.

Once the sites proposed under the Habitats Directive are considered sufficient, the lists of sites are adopted by the Commission and the Member States must establish them as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) as soon as possible and within six years at most.

The Natura 2000 network (source: European Environment Agency (EEA))

Natura 2000 network map

Landscape and shallow landslides in Switzerland

The has undertaken research of the impact of forest structure and water balance on shallow landslides. The aim is to provide forest management with practical support in the Davos region of Switzerland.

forest structure diagram

Almost half of Switzerland’s forest is protection forest, meaning that it is used to protect citizens from alpine mass movements and consequently reduces the risk to people and infrastructure.

It is essential that research is undertaken and the results are implemented. For this, data should be easy to collect but also practically relevant. Additionally there may be conflicts between economic efficiency and the sustainable preservation of the protective function of the forest. So, the quantification of the impact of vegetation poses a major challenge for research.

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