The ILCA (Integrated Landscape Character Appraisal) is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie funded project under the Intra-European Fellowships for Career Development (IEF) framework.
The project is based on the idea that the integrated characterisation of a landscape is necessary in order to realise the potential of sustainable human development in specific localities.
Sustainable Human Development is defined here as the development which secures the long-term maintenance of well-being not just on the basis of environmental, economic, cultural and social terms, but also in combination with the basic needs approach and the following pillars: equity, participation/empowerment and productivity dimensions of well-being.
The integrated appraisal of a landscape’s character provides a solid foundation for the landscape’s future governance and it does that by proposing a people-centered and place-oriented approach.
In other words, if it is to understand the character of a landscape we need to understand the people who live in it and who consider it as their place; pay attention to their needs and work with them for a better future.
Landscape is the context in which nature and culture come together and gain meaning and substance through people’s perception. Landscape is the palimpsest of centuries of interactions amongst the biophysical and the cultural, manifested into multiple narratives of life and growth; of expression and renewal.
In a resilient landscape, the diverse elements of life thrive together, co-evolving and co-regenerating, resulting in an interconnected system that it is resistant to shock, and adaptive to change.
It is in these landscapes where unique cultures and ‘lifeways’ pawn; and where distinctive customs, locally adapted traditional knowledge, languages and visions for the future thrive, all of them in respect to their natural resources and biodiversity.
So, people matter and we ought to facilitate and encourage the creation of communities that can proactively and from the inside adapt in order to sustain an acceptable level of function, structure, and identity within their given space. Communities can and should be the stewards of their landscapes.
Local solutions involving communities are critical, ones that connect the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainable development challenges and responses. (UNDP)
Approaching these from an integrated point of view, where nature and culture, are seen jointly as one, we can provide these local communities with a realistic point of reference so as to empower them to plan their futures on a sustainable footing, building on their own ecological interrelationships and cultural identities.