An EU funded project to develop Landscape Character Assessment, as a tool for the effective conservation of natural heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Landscapes results from the interactions of different components of our environment – both natural and cultural – and the way these are perceived and understood by people.
The MedScapes project is a collaboration between Partners from Cyprus, Greece, Jordan and Lebanon.
By developing landscape maps as a land character assessment tool, MedScapes provides support to decision makers responsible for land use, cultural and natural resource management, and regional planning in the four participating countries, while raising awareness about the character of local landscapes and the natural environments they support.
MedScapes is funded by the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) for initiatives between the EU and other Mediterranean countries. The project started in January 2014 and has a duration of 24 months.
PROJECT AIM AND DESCRIPTION
The aim of the project is the development of a single methodology for mapping and assessing landscapes in the eastern Mediterranean, to be used by decision makers in resource management and regional planning, and by academic institutions as educational material.
By using landscape maps as a tool of analysis and evaluation, Medscapes will provide support to landscape stakeholders and other interested institutions.
The mapping includes physiographic, cultural, environmental and other landscape elements, contributing to a more holistic understanding of the dynamics generated in different regions, in order to better assess the constantly evolving nature of the landscape and implement suitable management practices.
The project will present new methods for identifying, assessing and conserving key aspects of the landscape character. Furthermore, project activities, including the publication of ‘Best Practice Methodology’, the development of a ‘Community Participatory Process’ and ‘Decision Support System’, the establishment of the ‘East Mediterranean Landscape Observatory’ and the production of educational material, will help develop and enrich the concept and role of landscape in the East Mediterranean.
MAPPING OUR LANDSCAPES
Through the project, two levels of landscape mapping will be developed: Level 1 maps at a 1:250.000 scale and Level 2 maps at a 1:50.000 scale and greater detail. These maps cover the whole island of Cyprus and pilot areas in Greece (Epirus district and Lesvos island), Jordan (Mujib, Yarmouk) and Lebanon (Mount Lebanon, West Bekaa).
The MedScapes project contributes to the protection of the landscape and its ecosystems. It highlights that in addition to its aesthetic value, landscape constitutes an appropriate space-frame, in which to take decisions regarding regional development, regional landuse planning and ecosystems management.
In other words, it establishes landscape as an important parameter in decision making. The Risk Tool, developed under the Project, will provide valuable aid to landscape- related plans and development, in terms of comprehensive prediction and prevention of negative effects on landscape character, and on natural and cultural heritage. The training package, developed during the project, will contribute to training and education of university graduates in landscape conservation and sustainable management.
An important innovation of MedScapes is the inclusion of local communities and other stakeholders that play a role in influencing their local landscapes in the decision making process, such as architects, tourism operators, land developers and NGOs.