I have the great pleasure of presenting this issue of Landscap-e, which converges with the 15th anniversary of the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia, which is also the anniversary of Law 8/2005, of 8 June, on landscape protection, management and planning, passed by the Catalan Parliament and by which the Observatory was created.
This landmark Act highlights the extreme richness and diversity of Catalonia's landscapes and considers that its geology, terrain, climate and other natural factors have worked in conjunction with human activity to endow Catalonia with an extraordinary variety of landscapes.
Now we can see how far you have come in the last fifteen years, the work that's been done and how much you've achieved!
I would likely to warmly congratulate the Observatory's Director, Pere Sala, and his associates Laura Puigbert, Jordi Grau, Gemma Bretcha, Anna Jiménez, Montse Vila and Anna Montero for the extraordinary work they have done and are currently doing to promote caring management of that life-giving and life-creating environment that is the Landscape.
A very happy birthday to the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia!
Moltes felicitats, Observatori del Paisatge de Catalunya
On the occasion of this Celebration, we should remember that the Observatory was born under a lucky star and that several wise men and fairies leaned over its cradle: Joan Ganyet, Joan Nogué, Margarita Ortega, Linarejos Cruz, Carmen Caro, Francesc Alavedra, Jaume Busquets, Eduard Rosell, Oriol Nel·lo, Albert Cortina, Agustí Serra, Josep Armengol, and others whom I ask to forgive me if I have not mentioned them. These people – public authorities, heads of administrations, academics, professionals and members of civil society – have worked together, at national, regional and local level, to produce high-quality work that has often been a source of inspiration for people in other regions, in Europe and even on other continents.
The work carried out by the Observatory on territorial planning (landscape catalogues and landscape directives), on the use of landscape strategy consultation instruments (landscape charters), on building public awareness of landscape-related issues, and on training and educating specialists in this field, has been presented at several Council of Europe Meetings of the Workshops for the implementation of the European Landscape Convention. One of these meetings, organised in partnership with the Spanish Ministry of the Environment, the Government of Catalonia, the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia and Girona City Council was held in Girona in 2006.
As a body that provides support and assistance to the Catalan government in drafting, applying and managing landscape policies, the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia provides a perfect illustration of the role that landscape observatories should play, in the sense of Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)3 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the guidelines for the implementation of the European Landscape Convention.
We also thank the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia for giving account of the public policies adopted and implemented in the Region of Catalonia in the Council of Europe's Information System on the implementation of the European Landscape Convention.
As the Catalan Landscape Act stresses, the goal is to preserve landscape diversity as "environmental, cultural, social and historical" heritage. The Act also reminds us that the landscape impacts on people's quality of life and often becomes a source of economic development, particularly for tourism activities, but also for agriculture, forestry and livestock farming.
Thus, the aim is to achieve sustainable development based on a harmonious balance between social needs, economy and environment.
As landscape needs a dose of poetry in order to approach it adequately, we will close by quoting Josep Palau i Fabre:
"Alchemy, because of its not strictly scientific – not chemical, not mathematical – side, not reducible to a formula, is still, in this sense, an assertion, perhaps desperate, of human freedom."
Poemes de l’Alquimista [Poems of Alchemy], Quaderns de l’Alquimista, OC II, page 372.