The European Landscape Convention (ELC) is the first international convention to focus specifically on landscape. Created by the Council of Europe, the convention promotes landscape protection, management and planning, and European co-operation on landscape issues. The European Landscape Convention (ELC) is the first international convention to focus specifically on landscape.
Signed by the UK Government in February 2006, the ELC became binding from March 2007. It applied to all landscapes, towns and villages, as well as open countryside; the coast and inland areas; and ordinary or even degraded landscapes, as well as those that are afforded protection. The Convention was reaffirmed as being part of the Defra delivery framework through the Natural Environment White Paper, June 2011.
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The ELC defines landscape as: “An area as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors”. (Council of Europe 2000)
It highlights the importance of developing landscape policies dedicated to the protection, management and creation of landscapes and establishing procedures for the general public and other stakeholders to participate in policy creation and implementation.
The UK is recognised as already putting many of the principles of the ELC into practice. For example, the National Character Area map of England has been in use for nearly 10 years. Another example is the well-established practice of using Landscape Character Assessment to inform local policymaking. You can find out more in Landscape character.
Natural England is leading the implementation of the ELC in England and has worked with Defra and English Heritage to produce European Landscape Convention: A framework for implementation in England: (215kb), published in October 2007.
This framework seeks to further strengthen the protection, management and planning of England’s landscapes, by providing a structure for action plans that will be prepared by any interested partners and stakeholders.
It underpins a wide range of activities which, through public engagement and stakeholder involvement, will lead to wider understanding and appreciation of landscapes, improved knowledge and care, as well as a sense of inspiration, well-being and connection between people and place.
Natural England’s first ELC Action Plan: (695kb) was published in 2008/09 and focussed on three broad categories: existing work in progress; newly established work and scoping new work. The Plan will enable Natural England to monitor cumulative progress, map achievements and bank the results of our national and regional landscape work, showing the impact and success of the ELC activity.
The plan has been refreshed annually:
The ELC Framework for Implementation in England invites others to prepare their own action plans. Natural England has produced a set of guidelines to help with writing these.
Natural England has commissioned a project to gain a better understanding of how England is incorporating the ELC into guidance at a number of different levels and over a variety of sectors.