Our appreciation and understanding of landscapes have increased over time, partly as the result of our need and desire to record, understand, influence and manage change.
Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) is one tool that helps in that understanding, and is defined as:
"The tool that is used to help us to understand, and articulate, the character of the landscape. It helps us identify the features that give a locality its 'sense of place' and pinpoints what makes it different from neighbouring areas."
(Landscape Character Assessment: Guidance for England and Scotland, The Countryside Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage, 2002)
LCA can be used in many situations, for example in devising indicators to gauge landscape change and to inform regional planning, local development, environmental assessment and the management of protected landscapes.
The Landscape Character Assessment Guidance, published by Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage, shows how to identify and express the different elements, such as woodlands, hedgerows, moors, mountains and farmland, building styles, and historic artifacts, which give a place its unique character.
Topic Papers to accompany the guidance.
Datasets can be obtained from the MAGIC (Multi-Agency Geographic Information for the Countryside) website.
(February 2010) - Natural England, with Scottish Natural Heritage have recently appointed Land Use Consultants to undertake a review of the existing guidance document and supporting papers. The guidance will be updated to reflect its current use, good practice, and the European Landscape Convention (ELC). It will include new topics and additional related guidance that may be needed. The guidance will be used to promote the increased use of landscape character assessment in the planning, protection and management of our environment.