Landscape is important, not just as scenery but because it links culture with nature, and the past with the present. It has many values, not all of them tangible (such as sense of place); and it matters to people – it is people who create and value landscape.
Well-looked after and highly valued landscapes are essential to social well-being and an economically healthy society. We value our landscapes because of their inherent interest, their contribution to both our national identity and our local distinctiveness, their artistic inspiration - and for the goods and services they can provide.
Our landscapes represent a coming together of the natural world, human society and people’s needs. They provide a range of ecosystem services (the services that the Earth’s ecosystems provide, including food, water, disease management, climate regulation, spiritual fulfilment and aesthetic enjoyment).
They have influenced the character of our towns and cities and they provide places of widely ranging character, where people can relax, recreate and learn.
Landscapes should be managed, planned and, where appropriate, protected to deliver a full range of ecosystem goods and services. Natural England advocates the use of a landscape character approach, which can be used to underpin local, regional and national policies and actions, ensuring that landscapes remain distinctive and highly valued.
The historic environment makes a particular contribution to the character and value of all of our landscapes.
A key driver behind Natural England’s ‘all landscapes matter’ approach is the Government ratified European Landscape Convention (ELC), which came into force on 1 March 2007.
Our landscapes provide for our needs as well as nature's, for example wildlife. Our activities influence and shape its appearance and function, these activities include:
Natural England has recently published qualitative social research to provide baseline evidence of the cultural services and experiential qualities that landscapes provide. It is generally recognised that landscapes provide a range of services which contribute to people’s quality of life in a number of ways.
A priority for the research was to explore whether particular benefits were linked to particular landscape characteristics or features within the landscape. The project carried out public engagement work in sample areas across the country; made judgements as to whether the results were connected to particular types of landscape or landscape features, made recommendations as to whether there was a sufficient baseline to apply elsewhere and provided qualitative data for future use.
Landscape: beyond the view - a simple guide to understanding the forces and influences that shape our landscapes and their character