Landscape Catalogues

Landscape quality objectives

The European Landscape Convention is urging the various European societies to define their landscape quality objectives. As a meeting point for the aspirations of the general public, the opinions of experts and public policies in relation to landscape, landscape quality objectives are a way of shaping, in a reliable form and following a thorough process of public consultation and participation, the final goal which a society has set itself in terms of landscape improvement. This was one of the most significant conclusions of the 5th Meeting of Workshops for the implementation of the European Landscape Convention, organised in Girona in September 2006 by the Council of Europe, under the title “Landscape quality objectives: from theory to practice”.

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Landscape quality objectives are a response to the question, so simple and so complex at the same time, “What kind of landscape do we want?” As one of the basic pillars of the European Landscape Convention and, consequently, of the Act for the Protection, Planning and Management of the Landscape of Catalonia, the landscape quality objectives become a key point of reference for spatial and sectoral policies, entities and society in general, so as to continue advancing towards being a country with better landscapes which have a positive influence on the quality of life of the population.

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In addition to their impact on the planning tools themselves, whether spatial, urban or sectoral, landscape quality objectives also have a function in increasing public awareness of the landscape. These landscape quality objectives need to act as a guide and framework of reference not only for the Administration, at whatever level, but also for the public in general, both in the ambit of civil society as it is normally understood and for individuals. The landscape catalogues of Catalonia prepared by the Landscape Observatory are the principal instruments envisaged in the Landscape Act for the definition of landscape quality objectives in Catalonia. In the landscape catalogues, landscape quality objectives are prepared from the attributes, values and challenges identified in Catalan landscapes, after gathering opinions from the general public and the principal social and economic agents present in each area. The objectives are formulated for each of the seven territorial areas of Catalonia and for each landscape unit identified in the catalogues themselves. A landscape unit is understood to mean the parts of the territory which have the same landscape character and, therefore, are individually differentiated from the rest.

The 10 objectives

From the long and varied list of landscape quality objectives defined in the landscape catalogues, both for the seven regions and for each landscape unit, ten stand out which refer to aspects common to almost all of Catalonia: these are the landscape quality objectives for Catalonia. The list of these ten landscape quality objectives completes the structure of the landscape catalogues, as can be seen in the following figure:


The ten landscape quality objectives for Catalonia
  1. Well preserved, planned and managed landscapes, independently of their type (urban, suburban, rural or natural) and their character.
  2. Lively and dynamic landscapes – those existing and those newly created by intervention – capable of absorbing the inevitable territorial transformations without losing their individuality.
  3. Heterogeneous landscapes, reflecting the rich diversity of Catalan landscape and avoiding homogenisation.
  4. Orderly and harmonious landscapes, avoiding disruption and fragmentation.
  5. Unique landscapes, anything but mundane.
  6. Landscapes which retain and reinforce their references and values, both tangible and intangible (ecological, historical, aesthetic, social, productive, symbolic and identity-based).
  7. Landscapes which are always respectful of the legacy of the past.
  8. Landscapes which transmit tranquillity, free of dissonant elements, discordant sounds and light or odour pollution.
  9. Landscapes which can be enjoyed without endangering their heritage and individuality.
  10. Landscapes which take social diversity into account and contribute to the individual and social welfare of the population.