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Landscapes & Areas

Increasingly, the historic environment is researched and managed not only at the level of individual buildings, sites or monuments, but also in terms of entire landscapes.

This includes extensive tracts of countryside as well as entire townscapes. Some of these areas are designated, such as National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Conservation Areas, while others are everyday and degraded landscapes whose historic character may be less easily legible.

Black Mountains
Black Mountains © Historic England

Historic England's landscape-scale work allows us to develop our understanding of the historic environment and its relationship with people today on a broader scale. It helps us engage most effectively with large-scale management of land such as farming and forestry. In doing so, Historic England supports the implementation of the European Landscape Convention (The Florence Convention).

The European Landscape Convention

The European Landscape Convention (ELC) was published in October 2000 and came into force in England on 1 March 2007. It is a forward-looking document, aimed at promoting the highest quality landscape everywhere for future generations through protection, management and enhancement. The ELC defines 'landscape' as 'an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors.'

Bakerstead Miterdale, Lake District
Bakerstead Miterdale, Lake District © Historic England

The European Landscape Convention in England

The UK is already compliant with the Convention, but is always seeking to strengthen its implementation, which is led by Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).

Defra plays a co-ordinating role for the whole of the UK and an organising role for England, where Defra works closely with Historic England and Natural England, within its 'Framework for Implementation in England'.

Historic England's research and planning work contributes to the implementation of the Convention in England.

Moccas Park, Herefordshire
Moccas Park, Herefordshire © Historic England

Landscape strategy

Our landscape strategy drives interdisciplinary working within Historic England and with a wide range of partners both within and beyond the heritage sector.

The aims of our landscape work include:

  • Ensuring landscape is addressed in our corporate strategy
  • Maintaining dialogue about implementation of the ELC at UK and European level
  • Establishing and maintaining links to partner organisations' landscape activity, for example Natural England's Landscape Advisory Group
  • Understanding the pressures for change on the historic landscape and how to respond to them
  • Extending the use of Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC)
  • Researching the landscape context of historic assets
  • Developing appropriate guidance, training and educational resources

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