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67. October-December 20
Quarterly Newsletter of the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia

Cultivating continuity of the European Landscape

Tessa Matteini
Uniscape Director

UNISCAPE, a network of European Universities, was founded in Florence in 2008 to advance European Landscape Convention goals and principles in Higher Education teaching and research.

UNISCAPE brings together numerous Schools providing professionals and researchers with specific expertise in the protection, management, planning and design of landscape based on various disciplines and approaches and fosters collaboration among Universities at an international level between the diverse fields of landscape-oriented studies.

Some of the challenges for UNISCAPE in the coming years have been stated in the Las Palmas Declaration of Rectors for University Landscape Education in Europe, which was presented at Las Palmas de Gran ULPGC University in November 2018 and ratified in June 2019 in La Coruña General Assembly, after a year-long drafting process of sharing and suggestions within the network.

The Las Palmas Declaration intends to “overcome the current limitations of a rigidly compartmentalized academic structure of disconnected disciplines in order to support trans disciplinary landscape education, research and training, aligned with the principles of ELC” by developing a “landscape approach to re-think and adapt the framework of universities by finding synergies between social demands and environmental and spatial planning and design issues.”

Rectors adhering to the Declaration commit themselves to “1. Integrating landscape issues and the dimension of landscape into all the fields and disciplines of university education; 2. Encouraging all Universities nationally to engage in academic landscape education and training; 3. Collaborating in fostering national awareness of landscape topics in university networks and Councils of Rectors.”

A year after the Las Palmas Declaration, the 2020 UNISCAPE International Conference proposed to identify new challenges and explore innovative perspectives for implementing the ELC, 20 years after its ratification, with special focus on teaching and research.

The Conference, which was held both virtually and live in Florence on October 16th and 17th, was dedicated to the issue of Cultivating continuity of the European Landscape to explore and foster the idea of the territorial continuity of European landscape with the preservation of its cultural/biological and temporal diversities. The title adopts the term cultivation in its broader semantic dimension as both a sustainable approach and a proactive attitude to protecting, managing, and planning landscape.

To this end, a holistic and strategic vision generated by that "forward looking attitude" recommended in the European Landscape Convention is indispensable in all the processes of protection, management and planning applied to urban and rural landscapes whose living components, whether plant, animal or human, can only be tended to and provided for by steadfastly forward-looking projects that cultivate their multifaceted, unforeseeable potential.

The conference launched an annual process of a shared and transdisciplinary work on the themes of protection, management and planning of European landscapes, which will see the UNISCAPE network operate in synergy with other institutions, associations and NGOs and will end on 20 October 2021 in Florence with a new appointment.

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