Category Archives: policy

Council of Europe image

What is the Landscape Convention?

The Council of Europe Landscape Convention promotes the protection, management and planning of the landscapes. It organises international co-operation on landscape issues. It was the first international treaty devoted exclusively to all dimensions of the landscape.convention logo

The Convention is administered by the Council of Europe to address the major challenges in the field of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, with a view to sustainable development.  It has been signed by States who have declared themselves “concerned to achieve sustainable development based on a balanced and harmonious relationship between social needs, economic activity and the environment”, considering the cultural dimension of the landscape.

In October 2021 the 25th Council of Europe Meeting for the implementation of the Landscape Convention was held in Palma, Majorca, with the theme “Landscape policies! Strategies, action plans and policy documents for landscape quality” (Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 6-8 October 2021). Public authorities were invited there to adopt landscape policies, at national, regional and local level, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.

Latest news on the Convention can be found at https://www.coe.int/en/web/landscape/news

natura banner image

NATURA 2000 and cultural heritage

The NATURA 2000 network is a European ecological network of sites which are home to significant natural habitats and species at a European level. It is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world and its aim is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats .

There has been an increasing acknowledgement of the links between the natural and built cultural heritage. As a result, a number of case studies have been created by the European Commission in order to point out the successful integrated management of natural and cultural heritage at Natura 2000 sites. Examples of the use of farmland

Moreover, it has become obvious that these links need to be strengthened and common threats and challenges explored as well as opportunities for joint initiatives. Visit the Commission Web pagenatura seminar image

It is often difficult to make the distinction between nature and culture, particularly as we look to the past. Nature and culture tend to be tightly interconnected in forms such as storytelling with the oral tradition being an important means of conveying this relationship.

Community engagement is necessary to ensure that heritage is well aligned with community needs, identify and perceptions. This is particularly important for less tangible aspects of heritage.

Explore the European Commission presentation on integrated management 

Subscribe to the Natura 2000 newsletter to stay up-to-date on relevant events and initiatives.

Getting familiar with NATURA 2000 in Bulgaria

Natura 2000 is described as a pan-European network of protected areas aimed at ensuring the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and endangered species and habitats in accordance with national and international agreements in the field of environmental protection and biodiversity. This suggests that indeed this network should spread all across the old continent. This news article examines those in Bulgaria.

Natura 2000 has become so important that it has been an official prerequisite for future member states who wish to join the European union. For Bulgaria, the process of creating the Natura 2000 ecological network began in 2002 (5 years prior Bulgaria’s accession in the EU) with the adoption of the National Biodiversity Act (BDA), which introduces the norms of the two European directives related to NATURA 2000: The Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora and the 2009/147/EC Directive on the conservation of wild birds.

Following the BDA, Bulgaria managed to list the protected areas and have them declared in the country as part of the National Ecological Network: places on land and water, that meet the requirements for the presence of important for biodiversity plants and animal species, and types of natural habitats included in the EU directives mentioned earlier.

The Natura 2000 Protected zones in Bulgaria are estimated to be 34.8% of its territory, twice the EU average, making Bulgaria the third in EU when it comes to protected areas share. Currently, the network of protected areas includes:

  • 120 protected areas for protection of wild birds, covering 23.1% of the territory of Bulgaria;
  • 233 protected areas for protection of natural habitats, covering 30.3% of the territory of Bulgaria

The Natura 2000 network database for Bulgaria is publicly available online. The website allows you to filter a search by name, site code, type of protected species, habitats, place (e.g. a specific city or municipality). Here are some of the most well-known Bulgarian Natura 2000 sites we wanted to share with you.

Atanasovsko lake – the lake is known for its habitat of protected species: out of the 400 bird species which can be seen all over Bulgaria, 316 species are found here and 14 of them are globally endangered. In addition, 83 bird species are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria, and 170 species are of European natural protection significance. The lake is located north-east of the city of Burgas and in the past it was exploited for salt extraction. The salterns had existed since 1906. What’s intriguing about the Atanasovsko Lake is that it does not freeze during the winter, which turns the lake into a center of the hibernating water birds. If you are interested in learning more about the Atansovsko lake, you may do so by reading the official NATURA 2000 data form available in English and check out the following video tour for a more interactive experience.

– Rila – the highest mountain range in Bulgaria with an area of 2629 km² where 779.27 km² are included within the Natura 2000 network. It includes 24 types of habitats. Rila National Park is the most significant territory in presence in the country of high-mountain glacial lakes and lake biota of glacial type. The total importance of natural resource and the richness of the habitats is 11% of the European ones. The habitats include 192 vertebrates species and 2934 species and sub-species invertebrate fauna, 312 out which are rare. The Rila mountains are the highest in the Balkan peninsula with its highest peak Musala reaching 2925 m. The Rila is also home to a number of tourist attractions of high interest like The 7 Rila lakes, The Rila Monastery (also part of the UNESCO heritage), the Rilska Skakavitza waterfall and many other.

Rila lake imagesource: Bulgaria Travel

To find out more about the Rila mountains, read the official NATURA 2000 data form available in English here or by reading the information available at this specialised eco-tourism web site.

Kompleks Kaliakra -Kaliakra is one of the most well-known Bulgarian Black sea nature and archaeological reserve. It expands over 687.5 decares with wild steppes and beautiful coastal rocks. Within the territory of Kaliakra,  can be found more than 400 plant species, while 310 kinds of birds live on the territory of Kaliakra and 100 of them require special measures for preservation of their habitats. 106 of these bird species are protected at European level. The marine area east of Cape Kaliakra – Tulenovo is a fish habitat including a migratory corridor to spawning grounds in the Danube River and a region for the nurturing and growth of juvenile fish and spawning stock after the breeding. The region is the richest of lime steppe habitats as well as coastal cliffs habitats and coastal cave habitats in Bulgaria. Kaliakra is also a place of historical significance (first settlements are estimated at around 4th century B.C.) and a very popular tourist destination. If you are interested in learning more about Kompleks Kaliakra, you may do so by reading the official NATURA 2000 data form available in English here or reading the following article about the area.

Kaliakra aerial photosource: Bulgaria Travel

landscape stewardship image

The value of landscape stewardship

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.wilderness

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

European landscape image

MANIFESTO ON THE FUTURE OF THE EUROPEAN LANDSCAPE

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