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Landscape management in the Mediterranean

Diversity of coastal landscapes

The diversity of Mediterranean landscapes contributes to local and regional identity, reflecting the past and present relationship between man and his natural and built environment. A very rich cultural landscapes have been developed through many millennia when different human populations, cultures, religions flourished around the Mediterranean and developed coastal landscapes as a result of transformations in land in order to produce food, build settlements, fortifications, art and alike. Nowadays, however, increasing threats to cultural identity, heritage and landscape diversity of the region due to external (e.g. globalisation) and internal factors (e.g. rapid urbanisation of coastal areas with consequent impacts on traditional socio-economic structures) can be witnessed constantly. As a result, natural and cultural (man-made) landscapes have deteriorated significantly in several coastal places.

According to a recent study, cultural landscapes of the Mediterranean coastal areas, related mainly to agriculture, which has a dominant role in its evolution, were divided into the following groups: landscapes of crop fields; cultivated sinkholes; grassland landscapes; gully landscapes; and terraced landscapes. Forests, in addition to the above, play a very important visual, biological and climatic role in the Mediterranean landscape.

Pressures and trends

Coastal areas, throughout the Mediterranean, face severe pressures and problems, which threaten coastal resources and undermine the viability of economic activities. The significance of the coastal areas is widely recognised, as well as the need to act in the immediate future since pressures are becoming more and more intense, generating negative transformations of the landscapes. Population growth in the south and east shores, changing agricultural production systems towards more intensive and resource demanding uses in the north but also lately in the south, industrial development and expanding transport infrastructure, but mostly expanding tourism lead to increasing concentration of population and economic activities in coastal areas.

Commitments of the Mediterranean countries

The Barcelona Convention states that "Contracting Parties shall commit themselves to promote the integrated management of coastal zones, taking into account the protection of areas of ecological and landscape interest and the rational use of natural resources." Also, other implementation documents put landscape management as an objective, such as MAP Phase II Action Plan and Priority Fields of Activities (1995), where countries commit themselves "to promote nature, and protect and enhance sites and landscapes of ecological or cultural values".

A plethora of other international organisations, in addition to national initiatives, have issued legal instruments having some bearing upon landscape, either directly or indirectly, such as UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the EU. The European Landscape Convention (Council of Europe, adopted in 2000) is the latest one entirely devoted to landscape, which has recently come into force.

In spite of the commitments, coastal landscapes of the Mediterranean have never been studied or elaborated in the MAP projects per se. Landscape was taken into account only indirectly, through proposals of various documents (plans, strategies, programmes), in projects oriented to local level, such as Coastal Area Management Programme (CAMP), by using Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) methodologies or by dealing with individual natural resources. However, the existing landscape-specific methodologies and concepts (such as landscape planning, valuation, assessment, or vulnerability studies, and landscape characterisation) have not been introduced or taken into account. Also, knowledge of the landscape typology, i.e. variety of landscapes, and awareness about the landscape values is not adequate, nor are the main processes and forces influencing their transformation.

What is positive, is the fact that the Mediterranean populations are more and more aware of the importance of their landscapes for the quality of life and for the identity of their countries. They have come to realise that the quality and diversity of many landscapes are deteriorating as a result of a wide variety of factors as described above and that this is having adverse environmental, social and economic effects on the societies. Public authorities should, therefore, be encouraged to adopt policies and measures at local, regional, national and international level for protecting, managing and planning of the landscapes. These measures and policies should be adaptable to particular types of landscape, which, depending on their specific characteristics, would need various approaches at local level, ranging from conservation via protection, management and planning. These various treatments may allow an important socio-economic development of the areas concerned.

The main objective of the landscape management should be to set up principles, which would lead landscape transformations into a state, valued for its cultural significance and social values.

Landscape management as a response

In order to bridge this gap, i.e. lack of a more active role of the Mediterranean Action Plan in the field of landscape management, the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention, at their Ordinary Meeting in Catania in 2003, adopted the recommendation 'to undertake thematic studies with a view to developing relevant guidelines and action plans on the issue of coastal land and sea environment and the utilisation of its resources'. i.e. landscape management. The activity related to landscape management in the Mediterranean is co-ordinated by PAP/RAC in the framework of ICZM.

As a first step to meet the above request, an expert meeting was organised to formulate priorities and discuss the most appropriate methodologies and approaches to be applied. Among the plethora of activities that could take place in this framework, the following ones were proposed:

  • Develop and promote landscape planning methodologies and tools (landscape analysis, valuation, vulnerability, integration of landscape analysis into SEA and EIA);
  • Prepare an inventory, a survey of landscapes at the Mediterranean and national levels, to include identification, classification and evaluation of landscapes (landscape characterisation/typology, map of endangered landscapes, map of outstanding landscapes) important for the preservation of Mediterranean identity;
  • Make effort to integrate landscape planning into planning documents at all levels (national, sub-national and local), particularly in urban development, agriculture, water management, and tourism sectors;
  • Elaborate national strategies for landscape management in coastal areas;
  • Co-operate with nature conservation initiatives, such as "Natura 2000" of the EU;
  • Organise awareness campaigns, promotion actions, training courses and seminars on landscape perception, methods and management;
  • Develop education packages to improve knowledge about landscape values, publish materials in a form of brochures, atlases, posters;
  • Organise workshops to demonstrate landscape management methods, promotion of good practices;
  • Implement pilot projects to demonstrate in practice the above items, with a view to preparing guidelines and good practice guides.
  • Networking of landscape practitioners to exchange experience and enhancement of contacts with related organisations (such as UNESCO, the Council of Europe).

Case projects for quality landscapes

Currently, PAP/RAC implements a couple of thematic projects, which were selected as representative and complex enough to allow for solving problems by using the methodologies and approaches relative to landscape management, including involvement of public in a participatory process. The complexity of the area as an important criterion means a representation of the main development problems and pressures around the Mediterranean, such as tourism, urban sprawl, infrastructure, forestry, agriculture and alike. Therefore, these projects cover different situations and are pro-active, i.e. focused on problem-solving rather than being descriptive and focused on data collection only. These cases will be of use for the exchange of experience with other countries, and are to be used for the preparation of guidelines for landscape management at a later stage of this activity.

The three thematic projects are the following:

a) Characterisation of landscapes of Tunisian coastal areas;
b) Revitalising of the agricultural landscape on the island of Korcula in Croatia; and
c) Vulnerability assessment for Levante de Almeria area in the framework of CAMP Spain. 




ESLAND vision is to consider the European island landscapes as part of our cultural heritage, including the unique identity and values they have for European people.

Goals & Approach

This pilot project aims to describe the evolution and the present conditions of the landscapes of European islands of different size and heritage. In view of this, a novel interdisciplinary approach will be applied and a common methodology agreed on taking into account islands’ history, classification and identity, as well as elaboration of scenarios, leading to mapping, e-tools and publications for a future development of these landscapes which should be more oriented to culture and sustainability than at present. A further goal is to promote awareness, participation and capacity on island heritage preservation among local stakeholders, young and elderly people, and volunteers. The ultimate goal is to contribute to the implementation of related European policies and to the set up of the ESLAND Network for long-term intercultural co-operation.

PAP/RAC role in the project

PAP/RAC participated to the implementation of the activity on landscape identity of the European islands. To that end, a Report on landscape identity of the island of Korèula in Croatia was prepared as a contribution to the overall report on this activity. The Report also contains the results of a cognitive mapping questionnaire disseminated to Korèula residents.





Bratina Jurkovic, N. 2011. Landscape management  methodologies: A synthesis report of thematic studies. Split, Priority Actions Programme. pp.  336.

(Download Synthesis_Report_web.pdf / 10.5Mb)

Bratina Jurkovic, N. 2010. Outstanding landscapes in the Mediterranean – Thematic Study. Split, Priority Actions Programme, 2010

Download Outstanding landscapes in the Mediterranean – Thematic Study


Golobic, M. and Breskvar Zaucer, L. 2010. Landscape Planning and Vulnerability Assessment in the Mediterranean: Thematic Study. Split: PAP/RAC. pp. 92. 

(Download Landscape Vulnerability.pdf // 7,566 KB)



PAP/RAC. 2007. Coastal Landscapes of Tunisia with Special Focus on Cap Bon - A Proposed Landscape Character Assessment. Split: PAP/RAC. pp iv + 59

(Download Tunisia Report-FINAL.pdf // 5.4 MB)


PAP/RAC. 2007. Revitalisation of the Rural Landscape of the Blato Area on the Island of Korcula: Thematic Study on Landscape Management in Croatia. Split: PAP/RAC. pp iv + 36.

(Download FINAL Blato Elaborat II LOW RES.pdf // 2.39 MB)


PAP/RAC. 2006. Report of the Expert Meeting on Landscape Management in the Mediterranean (Dubrovnik, 8 -10 January 2006). Split: PAP/RAC. pp. 17.

(Download Report- Dubrovnik meeting.pdf / 175 KB)


PAP/RAC. 2005. Mediterranean Landscapes: Contribution to a better management. Split: PAP/RAC. pp 36. ENG

(Download Landscape_Report-OGRIN.pdf / 2.62Mb)


PAP/RAC. 2005. Mediterranean Coastal Landscapes; Management Practices, Typology and Sustainability. Split: PAP/RAC. pp 50. ENG

(Download CoastalMed_Landscape.pdf / 2.5Mb)


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