In effect, five years have gone by since the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia was created. The consortium's legal and formal foundation occurred a few months prior, but its real, operational launch did not take place until March 1st, 2005. On that day, the Observatory's technical headquarters opened in Olot, a town in north-east Catalonia, approximately 150 km from Barcelona. Upon occupying the historic Hospici building, one of the city's most emblematic, the Observatory turned from a project into a reality. Four months later, in June 2005, the Parliament of Catalonia unanimously approved the Law on Landscape Protection, Management and Planning in Catalonia. Section 3 of this new law formally recognised the Observatory as the "entity which supports and collaborates with the Government of Catalonia (Generalitat de Catalunya) in all matters related to the preparation, application and management of landscape policies." With the approval of this Law, the initiative, whose origins stemmed from civil society, now had the highest level official recognition. The fact that the institution's origin as well as its later organisational and functional reality complemented these social and institutional dimensions is key to be able to understand its vitality and its idiosyncrasies.
Five years can be a lot or very few depending on your perspective. Personally, they seem like too few years, perhaps due to the frenetic activity since that first March 1st in 2005, making the days, months and years go by at lightning speed. We have worked heroically: I can attest to this fact, and with certainly limited human and material resources. It is not up to me to evaluate our results: I can simply highlight, however, that without the extraordinary human team that we have had these years, it would have been impossible to carry out the enormous amount of work we've achieved over these last five years (as the reader of this newsletter can discover by visiting our website). However, none of this would have been possible without the unconditional support of the Management Board which governs us and the Advisory Board which provides us assessment. Representatives from Catalan public universities, the regional and local governments, professional colleges, institutions and scientific associations, foundations and economic organisms, social agents and educational and cultural bodies have all participated actively in the Observatory project and always with a constructive spirit, always contributing and never taking away from the project. Year after year, they have deposited their trust in us. I will always be grateful for their warm support which has allowed us to freely apply the work plan approved annually. As the Observatory's Director, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the different Management Board institutions which make up the Executive Committee, and especially to the Generalitat. They have provided the necessary economic resources to make this dream come true.
I am also especially pleased that this five-year anniversary coincides (with just a few months' difference) with the five years since the approval of the Catalan Law and the approval in Florence of the European Convention on Landscape, our primary reference. We have a lot to celebrate both here and in Europe, especially having achieved, among other things, that landscape be seen as an increasingly interesting topic, one which clearly transcends the specialised areas in which up until recently it has been limited to. It has become a fundamental subject within planning policies and within more sector-specific social, cultural and economic policies as well. There is still much left to do, but we have begun moving in the right direction.
Director, Landscape Observatory of Catalonia