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Citizen participation successful strategy for planning cultural landscapes

26 January 2024
Map-based tools can facilitate community engagement in landscape planning in rural contexts, enabling citizens to co-design their future cultural landscapes.

In addition, integrating local knowledge with that of experts has an added value to this process. These are the results of research by Architect and Regional planner Marta Ducci. The methodology she developed proved effective for implementing the European Landscape Convention principles by facilitating participation and the involvement of the local population in the definition and planning of cultural landscapes.

According to Ducci: “Citizen participation is among the most pressing demands in the international debate on heritage and landscape. Although documents such as the European Landscape Convention (ELC) promote the engagement of citizens in defining landscape heritage values and identifying strategies for its protection, management and planning, observance of these principles is not widespread in practice.”

Heritage perceptions and planning strategy
The aim of this thesis was to develop and evaluate a methodology that makes it possible to uncover local heritage perceptions and integrate them into a planning strategy in order to implement the ELC principles and foster widespread participation in the landscape planning practice. To this end, a three-step methodology was developed to engage the Brindisi Plain community in Apulia (Italy) as a case study: a Questionnaire, Citizens’ workshops and Experts’ workshops. “This allowed us to uncover local heritage perceptions of the Brindisi Plain community and integrate them into a shared planning strategy”, says Ducci.

Future cultural landscapes
The results of this study are relevant both for the community which was engaged in the participatory action research, as well as for heritage experts, planners and decision-makers who want to plan future cultural landscapes engaging local communities and promoting sustainable development.

Ducci: “Within the Brindisi community, this study helped to create a greater awareness of the heritage values widespread in the landscape, as well as promote discussion and identify possible and tangible valorisation strategies.”

For heritage experts, planners, and decision-makers, Ducci’s study can be a practical example of tools and methods for engaging communities in cultural landscape planning. Future studies and applications could in fact benefit from this applied research and its methodological focus, reusing and adapting the developed methodology to other contexts. “This would help implement the European Landscape Convention further, and promote a democratization process of both the heritage and planning field”, says Ducci.