Preliminary draft European landscape convention
Within the framework of Resolution 256 (1994), the former Conference of Local and
Regional Authorities of Europe invited its successor body, the Congress of Local and
Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE), to draw up a framework convention on the
management and protection of the natural and cultural landscape of Europe as a whole.
In order to respond to this invitation, the Congress set up a working group, on
which the Assembly was represented, to draw up a draft European landscape convention. The
final version of the draft is to be submitted for adoption by the Congress at its 5th
Plenary Session (25-28 May 1998) and forwarded to the Committee of Ministers for adoption
and opening for signature by governments as an international convention.
With this in mind, the Congress, at its 4th Plenary Session (3-5 June 1997), adopted
a preliminary draft within the framework of Resolution 53 (1997), and also, in
Recommendation 31 (1997), asked the Parliamentary Assembly to examine the preliminary
draft and to advise it of its opinion prior to the drawing up of the final draft.
Furthermore, before adopting the final draft convention, the Congress decided to
consult the representatives of the national ministries concerned and to hold a
consultative conference, which is to take place in Florence from 2 to 4 April 1998 and
will be attended by these representatives and those of the main international and
non-governmental organisations which have technical expertise in the landscape sphere.
By taking this initiative, and in its capacity as a body which represents the
interests of local and regional authorities, the Congress is demonstrating its awareness
of the importance attached by Europeans to the surroundings in which they live, and of
their wish for account to be taken of this element in every policy which has an effect on
the land. The quality of the surroundings in which people live depends, inter alia, on the
impression derived from the perception, especially the visual perception, of the
environment, that is to say the landscape, and it has to be said that the quality and
diversity of many landscapes are diminishing as a result of factors which are as numerous
as they are varied, and that this problem does impinge on the quality of everyday life.
The Congress is therefore endeavouring to respond to this concern and to meet the
unsatisfied European need for a specific and complete reference to the protection,
management and planning of the European landscape in international legal instruments
relating to the environment, spatial planning and the cultural heritage. The Congress has
thus expressed its political will to offer Europeans an international legal guarantee for
the sake of their individual and collective well-being and their personal development at
There is no doubt that it will be a difficult task to fulfil this aim. Activities to
conserve the landscape due to its link both with human sensitivity and imagination
and with the disciplines involved in identifying its constituent elements form a
particularly complex area for political action.
The Congress took up this challenge by putting forward common international rules
and particularly appropriate technical and legal solutions, especially where definitions,
the field of application, participation, identification, evaluation, intervention and
international co-operation are concerned.
The Assembly welcomes the fact that the field of application of the preliminary
draft convention covers both outstanding landscapes and ordinary ones. In practice, all
landscapes shape the quality of the surroundings in which Europes populations live,
and landscape protection measures must not be exclusively reserved for sites and
landscapes of exceptional quality. In this spirit, the CLRAEs decision is in line
with the democratic and social values upheld by the Council of Europe.
Furthermore, the Parliamentary Assembly shares the idea put forward by the Congress
that a European landscape convention must be designed as a flexible legal instrument. The
convention to be introduced must be able to refer to landscapes which, in the light of
their specific features, will require varied action, ranging from the strictest
conservation to actual creation, also encompassing protection, management and planning.
The Assembly also appreciates the innovative contribution made by the preliminary
draft convention in terms of the break with the traditional dichotomy between
"natural landscape" and "cultural landscape". It is not desirable that
there should be a conceptual and operational distinction between landscapes altered by
human beings and those which have not been altered. Account must be taken of the various
component elements of landscapes during activities to protect, manage and plan them, but
without this creating artificial divisions.
With a view to the introduction of activities to protect, manage and plan
landscapes, the preliminary draft convention puts forward means of action comprising legal
and/or financial measures. In order to take account of the diversity of landscapes and of
the different national conservation traditions, however, the preliminary draft is very
wisely limited to putting forward, in an appendix, a range of different solutions on which
the future Parties to the convention will be able to draw, depending on their specific
Where measures of international scope are concerned, the preliminary draft
convention offers solutions complementing the measures which ought to be taken by states
at national level. With this in mind, a list of landscapes of European significance should
be drawn up, with a view to better preservation of landscapes, the value of which is one
of the foundation stones of European cultural identity. Furthermore, local and regional
authorities could earn recognition through an international distinction, the European
landscape quality seal, awarded for their efforts to maintain their landscapes. This
recognition would yet again highlight the spirit of the convention, which is, rightly,
intended to relate to the whole landscape dimension of the continent of Europe.
In the light of the above, the Parliamentary Assembly:
congratulates the Congress for taking the initiative of drawing up a draft European
landscape convention, and emphasises the importance and necessity of such an initiative,
which demonstrates the significance attached by elected representatives at local and
regional levels to the quality of life of the populations of Europe, as well as helping to
consolidate the European cultural identity;
takes the view that this preliminary draft European landscape convention has the
merit of clearly identifying the problems of Europes landscape and of putting
forward innovative remedies, also distinguished by their democratic nature, their
flexibility and their scientific rigour;
expresses its support for the initiative of the Congress, to which it would like
to continue to contribute with a view to the final draft, on which it will also express
Text adopted by the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the
Assembly, on 18 March 1998.
See Doc. 8030, report of the Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local
Authorities, rapporteur: Mr Ruffy.