European Frameworks for European Agricultural Landscapes (EAL)

Submitted by tobias on Sat, 09/02/2017 - 16:20
Additional Text

Europe has rich and diverse landscapes that play a vital role  in rural economies, biodiversity and cultural heritage.

Whilst at the European Union level, various policy frameworks exist relating to agriculture, rural development and conserving cultural heritage, frameworks relating to landscapes are part of wider policy frameworks within the aforementioned directives.

EU Policy Framework

  • EU environmental policies contribute to the preservation and protection of endangered habitats and species. The Natura 2000 network and the 1992 Habitats directive establish a strict system of species protection as well as an extensive network of habitat preservation sites in order to ensure the ecological and economical sustainability of threatened land and wildlife.
  • In 2014, Senior officials from the European Commission, representatives of European institutions, representatives of international bodies, foundations and international associations, as well as members of the academic community, experts and civil society organisations, attended an International Meeting on 'Cultural Landscapes in Natura 2000 Sites: Towards a New Policy for the Integrated Management of Cultural and Natural Heritage'
  • At the moment, policy and guidance relating to landscape management and conservation can be found through various CAP and rural Development objectives. Examples include agri-environment measures aimed at contributing to the provision of valuable landscapes, as well as conserving cultural importance and recreational use. Land management, and the agricultural policy of individual members states is also a contributing factor that can affect the character of landscapes.
  • The EU’s Biodiversity Strategy 2020 aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU and help stop global biodiversity loss by 2020. However, the mid-term progress report in 2015 shows that while some progress may have been made in certain areas, it has been at an insufficient rate.[1]


The EU has also changed the focus of CAP on the preservation of the rural environment and assistance for sustainable production. Moreover, the EU has developed its environmental policy by establishing Council directives on the conservation of wild birds in 1976; on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora in 1992; and the Natura2000 Network, which comprised both the Bird Directive and Habitats Directive in 2004.  Natura2000 is a comprehensive nature preservation policy aimed at developing ecosystem networks within the EU. The EU is striving to develop its environmental policy to protect biodiversity by shifting its target from preserving species to the area as a whole, and create a network of diverse ecosystem areas. Natura2000 emphasizes the importance of the rural landscape and biodiversity.

Following an evaluation of the Birds and Habitats Directive, the European Commission adopted the EU Action plan for nature, people and the economy, in order to improve their implementation and boost their contribution towards reaching the Biodiversity targets by 2020.


Beyond 2020, the CAP aims to be more responsive to current and future challenges in regard to climate change or generational renewal, whilst continuing to support European farmers for a sustainable and competitive agricultural sector.[2] This may well see landscapes and biodiversity playing a role in future CAP policies.

The proposed objectives of a future CAP include:                      

  •  ensuring a fair income to farmers
  •  increasing competitiveness
  •  rebalancing the power in the food chain
  • climate change action
  • environmental care
  •  preserving landscapes and biodiversity
  •  supporting generational renewal
  • vibrant rural areas

 protecting the quality of food and health


[1] European Commission (2015). Mid-term review of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Sept. 2018].

[2] European Commission. Future of  common agricultural policy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Sept. 2018].

EU Project Frameworks

  • The development of a new budget line linking existing EU funding programmes (e.g. Horizon 2020, LIFE, Structural and Investment Funds - ESIF, European Regional Development Fund, European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, etc.) in the fields of the environment, culture, education and regional development, will facilitate synergies and allow for the best possible exploitation of funds for projects aimed at the integrated management of cultural and natural heritage at the landscape level.
  • There are avenues of funding at the EU level helping to shape our understanding of landscapes, including the Hercules project funded under the European Union’s seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration (FP7). The project bought together data on how landscapes change in consideration of both climate and human behaviour. This research will allow landowners, public authorities and NGO’s to conserve and manage European landscapes.
  • The EPICAH project (Effectiveness of Policy Instruments for Cross-Border Advancement in Heritage) deals with natural and cultural heritage protection in cross-border areas. The project aims to contribute to the improvement of a number of policy instruments, one of those being the Interreg V­A Slovakia­Hungary Cooperation Programme 2014­2020. The border between Slovakia and Hungary divides organically cohesive landscapes, and the Programme is an important policy instrument supporting the integration of natural and cultural landscapes on both sides of the border. EPICAH aims to improve the Programme by focusing on project design, pilot actions, and measures that combine sustainable tourism development with the promotion of the region’s natural and cultural heritage.

International Organisation

  • The majority of landscape policy within European Member states have derived from the European Landscape Convention of the Councils of Europe, also known as the Florence Convention; promotes the protection, management and planning of landscapes and organizes international co-operation on landscape issues.[1]
  • The Council of Europe, an international organization made up of 47-member states have attempted to encourage its members to introduce national landscape policy, that in turn will bring together their efforts to enhance the conservation of landscapes and their heritage value.  
  • The convention is a treaty, not an EU directive and so has no legal basis. In EU Member States, Nature 2000 and CAP schemes are the tools used to manage landscapes.  
  • The ELC is complementary to other international treaties such as:
  • The UNESCO Convention governing the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage
  • The council of Europe Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats
  • The Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe
  • The council of Europe Convention for the Protection of  Archaeological Heritage


[1] Council of Europe. Council of Europe Landscape Convention. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Sep. 2018].



The rural landscape in Germany is influenced by agricultural and environmental policy.[1] Over the years Germany has made environmentally conscious rural development policy by making fundamental revision in their rural development law in 1976 .

Through CAP, there are several eligible measures in place for subsidies: the cultivation of diverse crops; the extensive use of permanent Greenland; ecological production methods; the installation of flowering strips; the cultivation of intermediate fruit; erosion control measures in agriculture.



Italy has a long and historic tradition of landscape protection.[2]  Despite the high emphasis placed on this issue and the increasing resources devoted to  landscape conservation schemes in the Rural Development Programmes (RDP) implemented by the Italian regions, the participation of farmers is still very low.[3]



Nature conservation in Slovakia is based on species and area protection, which are regulated by national (Act. No. 543/2002 on Nature and Landscape Protection, as amended) and EU legislation. National legislation defines a coherent European Network of Protected Areas, which consists of Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas and  sets conditions for the management and protection of these areas. The State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic (SNC) is responsible for territorial, species and cave protection (CBD, 2009).[4]

The National Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 set the goal of stopping the loss of biodiversity, ecosystems and the degradation of ecosystem services in the Slovak Republic by 2020.



There are measures and payments within CAP Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 in Slovenia that have contributed to the preservation of agricultural landscapes and development of multifunctional activities.  The 2014-2020 reform of direct payments is set in a way that supports environmentally-friendly and sustainable farming practice. A positive effect on the agricultural landscape can also be presented by the scheme for coupled support for milk from the mountain region, which may help prevent the abandonment of agricultural land in mountain regions. LEADER and Community-Led Local Development measures can significantly contribute to the preservation of agricultural landscapes and their cultural and historic heritage.



There are various landscape policies across Spain due to a system where some responsibilities and powers are region-owned and not state-owned.[5]

A specific framework for multifunctional farming development is established by several laws (Acton Tourism in the Rural Environment and Active Tourism; Act on Natural Heritage and Biodiversity, etc.) as well as specific laws protecting and regulating the development of certain agricultural landscapes (the Act on Dehesa, the Act on the Andalusian Olive Grove, etc,).

The Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Act (42/2007) was updated in 2015 (Act 33/2015) and requires the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, in collaboration with the autonomous communities of Spain and other ministries, to develop a national Green Infrastructure Strategy by 2018.[6]



[1] Landscape Management in Germany. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Oct. 2018].

[2] Moschini, R. (2015). Landscape and Protected Natural Area: Laws and Policies in Italy. In: R. Gambino and A. Peano, ed., Nature Policies and Landscape Policies: Towards an Alliance. [online] Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. Available at: [Accessed 7 Sept. 2018].

[3] Patrizia Borsotto, Roberto Henke, Maria Carmela Macrì & Cristina Salvioni (2008) Participation in rural landscape conservation schemes in Italy, Landscape Research

[4] Biodiversity Information Systems for Europe. Green Infrastructure in Slovakia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Sept. 2018].

[5] Spanish Landscape Character Methodologies after the European Landscape Convention. (2015). International Association for Landscape Ecology. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Sep. 2018].

[6] Biodiversity Information Systems for Europe. Green Infrastructure in Spain. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Sept. 2018].

[7] Biodiversity Information Systems for Europe. Green Infrastructure in Slovakia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Sept. 2018].

[8] Spanish Landscape Character Methodologies after the European Landscape Convention. (2015). International Association for Landscape Ecology. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Sep. 2018].

[9] Biodiversity Information Systems for Europe. Green Infrastructure in Spain. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Sept. 2018].