Landscape perceptions and experiences

The aims of this blog is
1) to gather material which helps us to view 'Landscape' from many different perspectives (Science, Phenomenology, Aesthetics, Ethics etc)
2) and secondly to record 'Landscape experiences' from our workshops (Reports) and my own experiences (Diary).
For our workshops see our website


Here some articles for a general introduction to 'Landscape'

European landscape tradition.
For thousand of years human beings have shaped and moulded European nature and its landscape. We owe the enormous variety of European cultural landscapes to their activity. Its individual characteristics, its beauty and its cultural richness are founded on a social-cultural stream of tradition in living interplay among soil, water, humus, vegetation, animal and man together with his intentions and the economic activities that grew out of them. And with the development of human consciousness the ideas of landscape handed down gradually changed.

Crisis and future of the European landscape.
In the modern consciousness of the individual the instinctive, respectful use of nature passed on by the flow of tradition has disappeared. From a space of being carried by one’s living environment, from a regional identification, the population has migrated increasingly into towns with their industrial civilisation.
Beauty and wholeness give way to dismembering of the landscape through the most utilitarian interests. Individual character and diversity are driven out by the spread of a monotonous ‘integrated ‘style.
But at the same time as the severance from the God-given connection to tradition, community and nature, consciousness awakened to its own surroundings. People began to form a concept of landscape. A sense developed for landscape, for its special life-quality, for its added value and value as nourishment and for the responsibility that goes with it.……. Landscape thus becomes a place for relaxation, a living space and, indeed, something to be worked on.


What is landscape?
Landscape-an added value?
We experience landscape as an added value. There is something additional, a ‘more’, beyond the single material parts. It is a totality, which unites the parts and gives them their significance for the landscape. This something is first noticed as a mood or atmosphere. Along with the objectively perceptible facts there is something incomprehensible, something imponderable and yet extraordinarily potent in human and natural life. If we pay attention to how we experience it and take those experiences seriously, i.e. accepting them as real, then we are giving this ‘more’ a value. Realising landscape as added value is a capacity of the modern human being. Thus landscape really is only a modern creation!

Excerpt from the introduction by Bas Pedroli to the book 'Landscape-Our Home, Lebensraum Landschaft' Indigo, Zeist. ISBN 90 6038 490 3

View from Queribus (Aude)
Voor de Hollanders een mooi stukje van Ton Lemaire

Excerpt from

'Filosofie van het Landschap’

by Ton Lemaire (Ambo, Amsterdam. ISBN978 90 263 1959 4 )

De zin voor de ruimte vindt immers zijn meest frappante uitdrukking in de zin voor het verre uitzicht. Wie kent niet onder het wandelen de neiging om naar het hoogste punt van het landschap te lopen en daar vol verwachting uit te kijken naar de verte? Het is alsof wandelaars af en toe de betrekkelijke beslotenheid van hun paden willen verlaten voor een ontmoeting met de horizon waarbinnen hun tocht plaatsvindt.
Na een dergelijke ontmoeting met de verte die elk vergezicht zoekt, vervolgt men zijn wandeling die zich daardoor als werkelijke wandeling in een werkelijk landschap heeft gerealiseerd. Het uitzicht is dat moment van de wandeling waardoor de wandelaar zichzelf als wandelaar bevestigt, door namelijk de praktijk van zijn bewegingen met de theorie van het uitzicht te verenigen. Want dezelfde verhouding die er bestaat voor het bekende filosofische paar theorie en praxis geldt voor de wandeling en het uitzicht: het uitzicht is de theorie van de ruimte, terwijl het wandelen haar praktijk is. Daarom bestaat er een verrassend verband tussen theorie - wier orgaan de filosofie is - en uitzicht - wiens praktijk de wandeling is als bezoek van het landschap. Als ik dan ook hier wil gaan filosoferen over landschap en landschappelijkheid, dan pas ik in feite de ‘theoretische’ theorie toe op de concrete theorie van het uitzicht. Wijsbegeerte en vergezicht, beide ontmoetingen met de horizon van ons bestaan, zijn uitoefeningen van de zin voor het algemene, het omvattende, het universele; ze vragen van ons dat we de beperkte kring van onze dagelijkse praktijken overschrijden. Hij die bevangen blijft binnen de ruimte van zijn arbeid, heeft geen oog voor het landschap en geen zin voor filosofie. Hij zal proberen elke ontmoeting met de horizon van zijn bestaan te ontwijken, zowel met de zichtbare horizon van het landschap - de totale ruimte van zijn leven -, als met zijn geestelijke strekking - zijn totale levenstijd. Filosoferen over het uitzicht daarentegen is in dubbele zin een overschrijden van de praxis: omdat het het zichtbare perspectief van de totale levensruimte ter sprake brengt in verband met het perspectief van de hele levensloop.
A synopsis of his book see synopsis
Het gehele boek is hier Filosofie van het Landschap tezien, zodat je zeker weet dat het niet de moeite is aftedrukken maar te kopen!

View on Lieurac and surroundings

‘Values of rural landscapes in Europe: inspiration or by product?’

by B. Pedroli, Th. Van Elsen and J.D. Van Mansvelt Values of rural landscapes
Abstract; European landscapes are facing a deep crisis. As a consequence of globalization and the economical change associated with it, traditional functions like production agriculture are becoming less important. After the self-evident but inspired landscapes of numerous generations of peasants, monks and landlords, landscape has now largely become a nameless by-product of the global economy. This paper shows that the key to developing new living landscapes lies in a participatory process of landscape development with respect for their inherent values. Today, even in traditionally small-scale farming systems like organic farming, diverse and sustainable landscapes only develop if they are consciously wanted and when landscape development is integrated into the objectives of farming. The work that is needed to achieve such landscapes we call ‘landscape work’. This paper describes a phenomenological approach to identifying landscape values and finding new inspiration for landscape management. It gives examples of the application of this approach in organic farming in Germany. It is concluded that a living, sustainable landscape combines the functional effects of producing economic and social benefits with the intertwined effects of providing identity and inspiration for getting actively involved in it, in accordance with its dynamic character. Living landscapes will enhance the well being, also of the predominantly urban European population. In other words: landscape works.

A conceptual model for landscape

by Bendetta Castiglioni

The bottom plane represents the space, the territory, in which many different elements have their place, but which we actually don’t see. In this plane we have two elements, nature and culture involved in a close and complex reciprocal relationship.
The second plane represents the actual landscape that we see. There three sub-systems are related to each other. These are natural features (relief forms, vegetation etc) and the human features (i.e. buildings, villages and town, or land-cover and land-use forms, or infrastructures).Both these feature categories are related with material, tangible components of landscape. However the third subsystem includes all the non-material, non-tangible landscape features: namely the significances and the values assigned to the landscape, either in the aesthetic sphere, or in the affective one(landscape as a part of own identity), or in the symbolic one (when certain landscape elements can provide specific significances to people perceiving them).This third subsystem significantly determines how we see our landscapes! It is as it were the glasses we look through.

(Text slightly edited by me and generally I don't like models, but they can be helpful!) 

From a report by Bendetta Castiglioni, expert of the Council of Europe, presented at the 5th Council of Europe conference on the European Landscape Convention. Entitled “Education on Landscape for Children”
This report is based on the work by Pedroli B. and Van Mansvelt J.D., “Awareness-raising, training and education” in Proceedings of the Second Conference of the Contracting and Signatory States to the European Landscape Convention, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 28-29 November 2002. In: Council of Europe, Landscape and sustainable development: challenges of the European landscape Convention, Council of Europe Publishing, 2006

Here follows one of the best articles, which supports the concept that 'Landscape' shows and contains all the factors and processes mention above in the model.  It is a shame it is not more freely available.

An interdisciplinary approach to integrate a range of agro-landscape values as proposed by representatives of various disciplines.

A Concerted Action has been initiated to discuss the assessment of sustainable agro-landscape values in the EU. The objective is to find out how criteria and parameters can be defined that would help farmers, authorities and politicians to manage the agro-landscape towards sustainability and socio/cultural appreciation. Such parameters should most probably consist of a general mainframe with compatible regional specifications. They could eventually be a base for income support/cross-compliance type of payments that farmers receive for their landscape management performance. Referring to the papers presented in this special issue, an effort is made to integrate the values proposed by the wide range of participating disciplines into a consistent and knowledgeable system. This is done by linking the different values as mentioned by the participants to the human motivations, phrased according to Maslow, that they are meant to serve. The disciplines present have been provisionally clustered into three areas with two main issues: (1) environment (resource conditions) and ecology (biological relations); (2) economy (flows of finances and services) and sociology (participative procedures); (3) psychology (appreciation and aesthetics) and anthropology (history and ethics). In these three realms, they are perceived as representing a double hierarchy of priorities: from the environment onward they represent the evolutionary option of basic human needs, evolving from sheer survival to the development of the individual potentials (food first, then ethics). From the cultural aspect of ethics to the environmental conditions they represent a more humanistic (humane), immaterial priority of ethical values, leading social and economic priorities to their environmental impacts. From this effort, indications are derived pointing at options for a coherent system of agro-landscape values, especially when seen in the perspective of sustainable land use. A table showing the various agro-landscape quality aspects is presented. Throughout this paper, the agro-landscape is perceived as an integrated product of human actions, of agro-technical, political and mental (ethical) character.