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Landscape

Landscape is an attractive term, often bringing to mind stunning scenery or a particularly memorable setting. But while commonly talked about, landscape remains an ambiguous idea, used in a variety of different ways: it might suggest an unforgettable place to one, or the general surrounding environment to another, while to someone else it could be regarded as an area of cultural and natural significance.

Regardless of the perspective we select, landscape is an important term, encompassing an ensemble of ordinary physical factors which combine to make an extraordinarily rich picture of the course and character of any society. Landscape, then, does not refer only to the beautiful, inspiring and the outstanding, but refers to all physical areas, including the ordinary and everyday settings found in the neighborhoods of a city or the degraded industrial zones of a country.

Landscape is what we see, feel, hear and experience all around us. Therefore, its existence and characteristics depend largely on our own perception. According to the European Landscape Convention (ELC), landscape is “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). Landscape is also subject to constant change, both because of its subjectivity and its shifting physical nature, making its dynamic character continuously interesting and challenging.

Landscape enables us to examine nature and culture holistically, encouraging public participation and collaboration in an attempt to democratise decisions regarding its future. The implementation of a broad and powerful tool, such as the ELC, can contribute to sustainable land use and a type of governance which takes into account individual rights, collective beliefs and the balance between public and private desires and objectives.

Recognising the above, MedINA studies and promotes landscape management and conservation issues in Greece and the Mediterranean, applying innovative landscape methodologies that can help tackle key environmental, cultural and spatial issues, empower community participation, enhance local identity and promote sustainable development. Through addressing the spatial dimension of natural resource use and human perception of the land, Med-INA seeks to contribute positively to social, economic and environmental policy-making by emphasising the importance of the planning, managing and protection of landscapes.

MedINA played a decisive role in Greece’s ratification of the European Landscape Convention in 2010 and actively assists the Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change in its implementation. It also participates in the activities of the Council of Europe relating to the ELC, in the Advisory Council of CIVILSCAPE, and supports the Greek Landscape Association and numerous other landscape related initiatives in the Mediterranean and elsewhere in Europe.