Landscape Management in Ireland
approaches call for balance between the different forces at
play in the landscape and also call for environmental considerations
to be integrated with the different sectoral policies. This
can also be considered as an attempt to integrate conservation
and development at the landscape level."
This talk aims to introduce the subject of holistic landscape management
explore its application in an Irish context.
As we are aware
the landscape is influenced by a variety of forces and its resources
are being increasingly exploited in the face of economic and social
development to a
point where many landscapes are on the point of being degraded beyond
management recognises the need to manage landscape as a
whole rather than in separate parts, and could help to safeguard
the landscape for
the future, whilst encompassing the need for development in a balanced
management should recognise the importance of the relationship
between people and the landscape and hence, should endeavour to
needs of the people living in and using the landscape.
The paper will
include an introduction to the elements of holistic landscape
management, provide a brief overview of current examples of approaches
landscape management in Ireland and will conclude by speculating
on the future of
holistic landscape management in Ireland.
I have recently
completed my MSc thesis entitled 'Holistic Landscape Management
and I would like to devote the early section of my presentation
to discussing some of the
issues raised in the thesis.
As we are all
aware, there are a wide range of activities and processes that influence
landscape and its management (such as agriculture, forestry, planning,
tourism and nature
conservation). All these activities have a cumulative impact on
the landscape and its integrity
and thus, some sort of co-ordinated approach is needed to ensure
that landscape values remain
In this paper
I want to discuss the theory and practice of using holistic landscape
approaches to meet this end and I want to focus on exploring exactly
what has to be done by
us; as individuals, organisations and a nation to achieve this.
To begin, we
need to take a good look at what landscape means to us and to examine
value it, as this greatly affects how we manage it. The basics of
management will then be introduced and some brief examples given.
Finally we shall
examine the success of holistic landscape management approaches
in Ireland at present.
Landscape: its value, nature and management
often underrated in today's society. Not only are they important
as areas of
natural heritage and ecological value but they are also an intrinsic
part of our cultural
heritage. Landscape is the canvas on which the ever-changing relationship
between man and
nature is drawn and redrawn. It is valuable in historical terms,
showing man's past
relationships with nature, and it is also of great spiritual and
recreational value to local
inhabitants and those wanting to escape the cities, to get back
to their rural 'roots' or to
explore other surroundings and cultures.
it appears that present trends in economic and social development,
agricultural intensification, the expanding needs of industry, transport
mobility and housing requirements, have changed the face of many
of Europe's landscapes
very dramatically. The rate of change has steadily increased since
the first and second world
wars and there are worries that part of Europe's natural heritage
may be permanently lost if
the rate of change continues.
The long term
requirements of maintaining landscape integrity need to be acknowledged
plans need to be made to meet such requirements if landscapes are
going to be passed on to
future generations 'intact'. A balance needs to be achieved where
landscape quality can be
maintained without impinging on necessary development.
a very subjective issue and has been described, by Meinig (1979),
impressions of our senses rather than the logic of the sciences".
This is because
our past experiences, knowledge and interests personally flavour
view and interpret the landscape around us.
Within my thesis,
landscape was described (as it was by Lucas 1992) as
an interface between nature and culture, the consequence of human
presence in the
natural environment and an imprint of the natural environment on
the culture and the
way of life of its residents, past and present ".
that the landscapes we have in Ireland are almost all 'cultural'
(those that have been modified and influenced somewhat by human
activities) rather than
purely 'natural' landscapes, which are the product of geological,
climatic and biological
processes operating independently of human influences (Aalen 1978).
are living and constantly evolving. Therefore, the management of
within them is vital. Also, it is impractical to try to preserve
landscapes in a bottle as they are
part of our cultural and social environment and this could hinder
the growth and development
the same time development should not be given a 'carte blanche'
transform a landscape just because it can be done. There should
be more thought as to
whether it should be done.
Holistic landscape management in Ireland
are based on an appreciation that each separate individual or element
system must be considered as part of the whole (Grant and Hawkins
1995). Thus, a holistic
approach to landscape management considers the landscape in its
entirety rather than
reducing it to its separate components (geological, topographical,
habitats etc) (Simmons 1997). This is important in the landscape
context as many sectoral
activities can influence the appearance of the landscape 'whole'.
approaches have enormous potential with regards to maintaining landscape
can be used to analyse, and hopefully influence, the visual impacts
of sectoral activities, such
as farming and forestry on the landscape. They have the potential
to protect the natural,
amenity, spiritual and cultural values of the landscape, for example
the maintenance of key
call for balance between the different forces at play in the landscape
also call for environmental considerations to be integrated with
the different sectoral policies.
This can also be considered as an attempt to integrate conservation
and development at the
They can address
issues that more 'piecemeal' management techniques do not. For example,
holistic approach can address the cumulative impacts of development
on landscape quality,
whereas many existing measures, such as land use or nature conservation
focus on specific elements of the landscape only.
Ideally a holistic
approach to landscape management should promote long-term thinking
relation to landscape and development needs and should be complementary
One of the vital
characteristics of holistic landscape management is that it is 'people'
This is important because people are an integral element of the
landscape and hence should be
widely involved with its management.
between all parties involved with landscape should be encouraged,
partnerships. The participation and involvement of local people
is also an essential ingredient
in the management of (cultural) landscapes (Brown and Mitchell 1994).
This is because local
communities have great influence, and therefore should have a large
stake, in the future of
their own landscapes and without their support and commitment, projects
landscape protection and management are likely to fail, especially
in the long term.
is also necessary to allow for communication between all the stakeholders
landscape, especially between sectoral organisations, NGOs and community
groups. This will
also aid the resolution of any conflicts that exist between different
landscape stakeholders and
should help to build consensus about management and actions.
The application of holistic landscape management in Ireland
I will now briefly
discuss the application of holistic landscape management in Ireland
examining some current and potential examples.
1. The Irish
The forum stemmed
from a conference (entitled " Seeking a Partnership Towards
Ireland's Uplands" (Hogan and Phillips 1996) which aimed to
find effective ways of resolving
confrontation in the Irish Uplands and on involving stakeholders
in the strategic planning of
upland areas. It encouraged the creation of a regional partnership
structure, which could link
top down and bottom up approaches and raise awareness.
2. The Scenic
This was a successful
partnership between Bord Failte and An Taisce, where holistic thinking
led to a project initially concerned with sustainable tourism to
look at the requirements of
sustainable communities and allow recognition of landscape value
from within, rather then
relying on imposed designation for scenic areas.
3. The Rural
Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS)
This is Ireland's
agri-environment scheme and it manages to link conservation and
at national level. Although there have been criticisms that the
scheme is merely a farm
income scheme with an environmental label (Hickie 1997), and that
the scheme will be out-
competed by other EU schemes, it is having a positive effect. Awareness
issues is being raised among the farming community and environmentally
methods are being promoted. As the scheme is voluntary it may not
benefit whole landscape
areas, but it is a step in the right direction.
4. A National
National Landscape Policy would be a great aid to the promotion
landscape management, as it would ensure long-term commitment to
the maintenance of
landscape integrity at a national scale, help to raise awareness
of landscape issues and
encourage local involvement and partnerships.
5. Local agenda
21 and the blueprint for total landscape management
21 (LA21) is an opportunity for local authorities to help develop
sustainable local framework for landscape management and to encourage
in landscape management.
blueprint for the management of total landscapes by local authorities
provides guidelines for implementing LA21 in a dynamic way and could
aid the collection of
baseline landscape data, landscape evaluation, monitoring of change,
and information dissemination on landscape matters.
6. The Leader
initiative concerned with local rural development could be a great
for local communities to help manage and protect their landscapes.
Already, one project, in
the Ballintubber Tochar Valley, has involved 12 communities and
has resulted in a proposed
development model where development is to be of a scale appropriate
to that of the landscape
future of holistic landscape management in Ireland - threats and
growing interest in holistic management, the actual adoption of
may be slow and some of the current initiatives may not continue
to blossom in the near
future. Such approaches may involve too many changes to existing
sectoral approaches and
short-term development patterns than is desired by many involved.
Hence, politicians may be
hesitant in fully embracing active holistic management. Thus, the
possibility exists that the
effect of Agenda 21, agri-environment schemes, landscape strategies
and policies may be
limited and that landscapes may continue to be further degraded
management is adopted.
It is possible
that, although some people are concerned about environmental and
issues, landscape change may be too easily accepted and the rate
of change not properly
appreciated. Our landscapes may, however, not be taken for granted
so easily and quickly if
people are made aware of the drastic effects of long-term change
(through examples and
models), before they are experienced first hand. Otherwise it might
be too late for some
landscapes to retain their integrity in the face of development
pressure and they may be
permanently degraded. It is probably only then that their importance
will be fully realised.
is a need for education and awareness raising so people can become
involved in future decision making - through a greater understanding
of the complexity,
diversity and values of their landscapes. This being said, local
participation is a delicate
matter and needs to be approached in a sensitive and appropriate
manner. The first step is to
try to achieve some common ground and consensus on what needs to
be done in order to
retain landscape quality and value.
It should also
be noted that many of those involved with policies, plans and activities
affecting the landscape may have limited awareness of the breadth
and scope of landscape
issues. This could affect their ability to make thoroughly informed
decisions regarding the
landscape and hence may contribute to the further decline of landscape
quality. In this light it
is crucial to have training available for all staff dealing with
landscape management on a
regular basis. Training and education should also be made available
to help motivate local
communities to safeguard their landscape heritage.
there are plenty of opportunities for holistic landscape management
However, in order for them to flourish there needs to be a sympathetic
there is political and public acceptance and support) for them to
current holistic measures, unless it is accepted and endorsed that
needs to be a balance between our need to develop as a society and
our desire to maintain our
historical, spiritual, natural and cultural connections with the
land, we may lose a vital part of
our landscape heritage and spend the next Millennium trying to pick
up the pieces.
Binchy: I am a garden and landscape designer living in Kilcullen,
Co. Kildare. I am
particularly interested in and I wholeheartedly support Ferris'
paper here. I would just like to
say that every week I get far more calls from private clients, far
more than I can cope with
and these are very often people moving out from the city to find
a country property. They
require anything from three quarters of an acre up to even three
acres and to be perfectly
honest they haven't got a clue as to what they are going to do with
it or what it actually
involves. A certain number of them come to me and I find that in
dealing with any of these
people they are actually very willing to learn - they want to do
the right thing, but they have
nowhere to turn to and it's not everybody that can afford a private
garden designer. I think
these people should have somebody in the public authority, either
in the County Council or
perhaps in Teagasc who is sufficiently well instructed in country
design quality to help them.
Again the problem
with Teagasc is that there are so few horticultural advisors in
the necessary skills, certainly when I was going through college
amenity horticulture was
non-existent, and so most of them have very little or no training
in country design and I think
this is where there is a serious shortfall. I think our native people
are willing to cooperate
with and use the country to the best of their ability, they appreciate
our local environment, but
they simply don't know how to go about using it in the proper manner
and I would like to see
this redressed in some way or another, though I am not quite sure
U.C.D.: Earlier this morning the point was raised about
the difficulty in
implementing legislation, whether we were prescriptive or offered
incentives. There is an
alternative option to draw the local community in and involve them.
Subsidiarity would seem
to be a major option, I know it is recommended in the Scenic Landscapes
Forestry Commission in the U.K. in Scotland in fact have begun to
experiment with involving
local people, local landowners in particular to help in preparing
development plans for
forestry, so that effectively the development plan is not a top-down
approach, it's not imposed
upon them, and that issue is very sensitive in Ireland where we
often have a cultural attitude
to imposition from above. So it could be a solution where the local
people effectively own
the development plan and the likelihood of opposition and resistance,
is greatly reduced.
O'Regan: One of the many roles of the Landscape Forum is
to provide an outlet for the
tremendous work that goes on at post graduate level, projects which
otherwise would end up
on shelves. Ferris Jay's presentation has demonstrated this so very
geographies of North America, the myriad small landscapes
that make up
the national fabric, are threatened by ignorance of what makes
them unique, by utilitarian attitudes, by failure to include
them in the moral universe, and by
brutal disregard. A testament of minor voices can clear away
an ignorance of
any place, can inform us of its special qualities; but no
voice, by merely telling
a story, can cause the poisonous wastes that saturate some
parts of the land to decompose, to evaporate. This responsibility
falls ultimately to the national
community, a vague and fragile entity to be sure, but one
that, in America, can
be ferocious in exerting its will.
the formal way in which we grapple with this areal mystery,
finally knowledge that calls up something in the land we recognise
and respond to. It gives us a sense of place and a sense of
community. Both are
indispensable to a state of well-being, an individual's and
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