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2 Many Variables, a Possible Unique Method of Assessment

2 Many Variables, a Possible Unique Method of Assessment

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7 Landscape Assessment

International Institute for Sustainable Development and, finally, engineered by

Jochen Jesinghaus at the Joint Research Centre of the Italian Institute for

Environmental Protection and Research. The dashboard, based on an indicator set

and with a synthetic parameter under different aspects, allows visualisation of the

sustainability level of the development of a certain area. Consequently, through this

software, we can obtain a synthetic frame able to describe the reality and quality of

a certain territory according to the scale of the work, from national to regional, from

provincial to local, giving a unique value. Several “categories of evaluation”

contribute to the procedure of the elaboration of the final index, which could be

associated through meaning, to the “context” concept proposed by Vallega: fields of

territorial reality and human action to which the indicators can be referred. The

contexts, in turn, will be articulated in four levels of analysis, contributing to the

construction of the “index of performance”:













singular indicator;



index of performance.

The software employed generates a list of results for each one of the levels

indicated. Firstly, it calculates the arithmetic mean of the individual indicator scores

of the same subcategory—a phase repeated for the other subcategories in the model.

For each group of subcategories, and thusly for each macro-category, the software

elaborates a synthetic result by the weighted arithmetic mean of the scores of the

individual subcategories. Then, the weighted arithmetic mean of the scores of the

macro-categories will give the index of performance, contained inside the box of

the “context”.

The following constitutes the contexts of reference:

• Environmental context: the natural environment in the wider meaning, that is to

say a complexity of elements and processes, biotic and abiotic, interrelated

(Vallega 2008);

• Social context: the use of resources, economic organisation and social conditions (Vallega 2008), the third being in terms of human development, identification and interaction with the landscape (Nogué et al. 2009);

• Landscape context: tangible and intangible signs of cultural components

(Vallega 2008), analysis of transformations, including perceptual aspects

(Mougiakakou et al. 2005; Nogué et al. 2009; Peano et al. 2011), landscape

education (Nogué et al. 2009) and recreational opportunities (Peano et al. 2011);

• Economical–institutional context: territorial productive resources, public policies and private actions in the field of protection, management and planning

(Nogué et al. 2009); institutional subjects and every other agent and stockholder,

and actions related to communication (Vallega 2008).

7.2 Many Variables, a Possible Unique Method of Assessment


Data scheme representation by “Dashboard of Sustainability” software

Referring to the elements SEA must assess, we can observe that in this method

itself they are contemplated with the final data being related to the interaction

between the different factors, as the directive also requires. Certainly, the more

indicators in the models, the more realistic it is. We also have to underline the fact

that we are working with software, so we have to convert the qualitative information into numeric data, matching numbers to qualitative judgements—obligating

the involvement of the local community because it is the only agent able to complete the task.

According to this recommendation, the degree of subjectivity, inherent in some

evaluations, becomes less subjective, more objective and shared.

The software output allows the communication of data in three different ways

and facilitates comprehension to a wide public. In fact, the data can be represented

through tables, geographic representations and synthetic graphic schemes.

Regarding the third modality, the graphic elaboration uses graphics of easy


• The context sector dimension reflects the quantity of information related to the

issue described by the subcategory and, consequently, in the macro-category;

• The central circle contents the Policy Performance Index, mentioned above;

• The boxes in the lower part of the image, divided in coloured slices, represent

the four contexts examined;

• The slices in the boxes represent a macro-category pertaining to a certain aspect

of that precise context;


7 Landscape Assessment

• The colouration is based on a traffic-light scheme and, varying between red,

yellow and green, indicates if the environment or plan quality is insufficient,

good or excellent;

• The numbers in the middle of the section represent the performance of the whole

sector, obtained as a mean of the indicators of each section;

The arrow in the upper part of the image indicates the degree of area global

performance, obtained as mean of the four sectors.


General References and Literature

Arnstein SR (1969) A ladder of citizen participation. J Am Plann Assoc 35:216–224

Boggia A (2007) Un modello di monitoraggio ambientale e socio-economico per la valutazione

della sostenibilità. Rivista Micron 7:36–40

Castiglioni B (2009) Aspetti sociali del paesaggio: schemi di riferimento. In: Castiglioni B, De

Marchi M (eds) Di chi è il paesaggio? La partecipazione degli attori nella individuazione,

valutazione e pianificazione. Cleup, Padova

Castiglioni B, Celi M, Gamberoni E (2007) (ed) Il paesaggio vicino a noi: Educazione,

consapevolezza, responsabilità. Atti del Convegno, Padova 24/03/06, Museo Civico di Storia

Naturale e Archeologia, Montebelluna

Cinti D (2008) Progetto di paesaggio. Alinea, Firenze

De Marchi M (2009) Partecipazione e paesaggio. In: Castiglioni B, De Marchi M (eds) Di chi è il

paesaggio? La partecipazione degli attori nella individuazione, valutazione e pianificazione.

Cleup, Padova

Hermosilla Pla J (2009) (ed) Catálogo de los Paisajes de l’Horta Sud. Universitat de València,


Malcevschi S, Zerbi MC (2007) Ecosistema, paesaggio e territorio: Tre prospettive complementari

nel rapporto uomo-ambiente. Società Geografica Italiana, Firenze

Mata Olmo R (2006) Métodos de estudio del paisaje e instrumentos para su gestión:

Consideraciones a partir de experiencias de planificación territorial. In: Mata Olmo R,

Tarroja A (eds) El paisaje y la gestión del territorio. Diputació de Barcelona, Barcellona

McHarg J (1989) Progettare con la natura. Muzzio Editore, Padova

Mougiakakou SG, Tsouchlaraki AL, Cassios C, Nikita KS, Matsopoulos GK, Uzunoglu NK

(2005) Scapeviewer: preliminary results of a landscape perception classification system based

on neural network technology. Ecol Eng 24:5–15

Nogué J (2009) L’Osservatorio del paesaggio della Catalogna e i cataloghi del paesaggio: la

partecipazione cittadina nella pianificazione del paesaggio. In: Castiglioni B, De Marchi M

(eds) Di chi è il paesaggio? La partecipazione degli attori nella individuazione, valutazione e

pianificazione. Cleup, Padova

Nogué J, Puigbert L, Bretcha G (ed) (2009) Indicadors de paisatge: reptes i perspectives.

Observatori del Paisatge de Catalunya, Olot

Peano A, Bottero M, Cassatella C (2011) Proposal for a set of indicators. In: Cassatella C, Peano A

(ed) Landscape indicators: assessing and monitoring landscape quality. Springer, Dordrecht

Pedroli B, Van Mansvelt DJ (2006) Landscape and awarenessraising, training and education. In:

AA.VV. Landscape and sustainable development: challenges of the European landscape

convention. Council of Europe Publishing, Bruxelles



Prieur M, Durousseau S (2006) Landscape and public participation. In: AA.VV. Landscape and

sustainable development: challenges of the European landscape convention. Council of Europe

Publishing, Bruxelles

Tenuta P (2009) L’analisi multicriteriale per la valutazione della sostenibilità. Economia Aziendale

Online 3:111–130

Vallega A (2008) Gli indicatori per il paesaggio. Franco Angeli, Milano

Chapter 8

Past Objectives and Future Scenarios

Abstract The intimate link between landscape and urban planning has long been

denied and underestimated. In spite of the “good intentions” of certain scholars,

practitioners and policy makers across Italy, Spain and other EU countries, their

efforts are undermined by rigidly framed, sector-focused laws and by a concept of

landscape defined in purely aesthetic terms. We have established the importance of

identifying tools used to integrate the various approaches that “urbanism” and

landscape planning adopt in dealing with urban planning to date. In fact, even with

the prospect of significant environmental legislation, the discipline is still unable to

incorporate the concept of landscape and its associated values. The work presented,

throughout the course of the treatise, shows that a real opportunity for Strategic

Environmental Assessment can be fully exploited if properly devised, becoming the

“cross-linkage” to facilitate plan integration of environmental, economic and social

sustainability. However, the matter triggers new questions, above all regarding the

participation of people to promote and realise plan policies, identifying landscape

values belonging to their territory. These questions remain open, as we need to

indicate and specify a real approach that can be referenced.

Keywords Urbanism

Á Landscape Á Assessment Á Participation

If we consider the expression “urbanism” in terms of a scientific meaning, whereby

people order and regulate the development of a territory, it is obvious that the

“landscape” is, in truth, the result of a slow and continuous work of anthropogenic

modification. It constitutes the outcome, sometimes unwanted and spontaneous, of

the constant reinvention of places and a consequent alteration of its original character and identity.

However, in most of Europe, this natural connection between planning and

landscape, in terms of interpretation and modification, was only established

recently. This delay in recognition has certainly and partly resulted from strictly

sectorial legislation, a clear separation of institutional powers between the respective ministries responsible for protecting the landscape and those responsible for

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

F. Cutaia, Strategic Environmental Assessment: Integrating Landscape

and Urban Planning, UNIPA Springer Series,

DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-42132-2_8



8 Past Objectives and Future Scenarios

urban planning in various countries, and the absence of an adequate focus on

area-wide planning within the wider urban debate over the last 50 years.

These contributory, strongly interrelated causes are reflected on a conceptual and

philosophical level by a common matrix of ideas that have inspired, especially in

Italy, all landscape protection rules. In fact, the separation of urban planning and

landscape finds its origins in a specific vision of landscape in purely aesthetic and

cultural terms (Trombino and Provenzano 2009), by virtue of its interpretation as a

“work of art”.

The acceptance of landscape as an object of aesthetic contemplation has progressively impeded the creation of a space for urban planning, and spatial planning

in general, to be able to occupy in relation to landscape, causing the break still

perceptible today. To separate landscape from territory is impossible: it would mean

considering the first a “superstructure” of the second, indicating guidelines and

standards incapable of acting on their determinants.

In this framework, the introduction of the landscape dimension in the environmental assessment process represents an opportunity for the final convergence of

urbanism with the landscape. As several scholars have shown, SEA could be

considered a synthesis of the different dimensions that characterise the “modern”

concept of landscape, not only since it is not limited to the simple protection of

cultural heritage, but also takes account of many interactions between economic,

social and cultural heritage pressures. SEA, then, is a candidate for enabling a

holistic reading of the natural and human conditions that lead to a particular

landscape assuming a specific physiognomy (Farina 2006). Additionally, it could

fulfil the role of a reading filter for landscape phenomena, proposing an interdisciplinary mode of interpretation able to reconcile conservation and development.

Moreover, the possibility of ex ante evaluations, which typify the nature of SEA,

allows for plans and programmes to be structured, taking into account the constraints and the strategic framework within which the various elements of

higher-level planning operate, including landscape planning. SEA, therefore, as an

armistice of the conflict between urban planning and landscape, represents a valid

vehicle to connect urban planning and landscape. In this context, landscape is

understood as a reality so complex as to be more than the sum of perceptual,

aesthetic, social, ecological and economic factors; a reality that integrates the

aesthetic-philosophical tradition, which has characterised protection to date (particularly in Latin Europe), with a more complex view of it as a territory in constant

(and uncontrollable) mutation. Consequently, the full integration of SEA into the

tools of urban and regional planning seems to present a possible and valid path to

find a paradigm in which policies can promote development, protection and

enhancement of the area and those that, instead, link to a different urban order can

achieve effective and efficient synergies (Fidanza 2011). The environmental

assessment of plans and programmes could be the core of such integration within

planning tools, through incorporating a series of considerations related to the

“sustainability” in its more complex sense, as well as environmental issues. It is

widely believed that an appropriate local articulation of the contents of SEA can be

8 Past Objectives and Future Scenarios


used to simultaneously address various requirements of a territory. In Anglo-Saxon

areas, where environmental assessment has for some time already constituted a

necessary part of the planning process, SEA has produced noteworthy benefits and

developed planning tools; this proves that the evaluation has value only if developed within a planning process (Therivel 2006). If properly formulated and

implemented, SEA can completely unlock its potential within any legal order and

finally become the real “transversal hinge” that allows the integration of environmental, economic and social development within a plan.

Together with these possibilities, we can observe a wide set of problems concerning the way this procedure should produce particular evaluations in quite

“cultural” and “perceptible” terms as we can see in the ELC. From an operational

point of view, we can notice some doubts concerning the procedure of landscape

assessment and community involvement. How can we attain completion within

SEA boundaries, using indicators, in the most objective, shared and involving

assessment method able to communicate the cultural and perceptible dimension of

landscape? This second question informed the entire research path, conducted in the

analysis of two study cases, in which the landscape assessment offered important

contributions and found its own dimension in the spatial planning instruments.

Finally, we observed the need to provide a method for the survey of planning effects

on different elements of the landscape.

The research area examined raised several questions deserving scientific attention, which are only partly resolved while others need further examination.

The definition and employment of landscape units already are consolidated in

the field of geophysical territorial analysis; several disciplines take advantage of

their usages, both for the description of a certain territorial area and for the individuation of precise lines of action.

As for the indicators, as we already mentioned, the study does not offer any

additional ones, having no intentions to assert which could be the best among them.

Rather, they suggest a method for synchronic reading of the various land variables.

The issues of indicators, despite being explored by several scholars, are not yet

considered closed, although many theories abound, not only those from the first

generation. The new step to take now is the implementation of these tools in

professional practice, above all regarding landscape indicators. In fact, with significant resistance and difficulty in the first years, technicians started to use ecological indicators yet still they find implementing landscape indicators arduous

now, perhaps even more so.

The participation of people is still an open question. Professionals usually

conduct landscape analysis, though the ELC insists on the importance of involving

both citizens and economic agents in planning and assessment procedures from the


SEA institutional framework and its inclusion in the national legislation represent a good opportunity to efficiently test the new methodologies and practices

within urban planning, oriented towards recognising the participation of local

communities in planning processes. Article no. 2, point (b.) in Directive


8 Past Objectives and Future Scenarios

42/2001/EC states that the assessment process has to be formed by “consultations”

whose results have to be “evaluated” in the decisional process. SEA must then

provide for arenas for citizen opinion or stages of collation, systematisation and

interpretation of expressed requests and their actual integration in the decisions of

plan policies. By reading this directive, we assume the importance of citizen participation in the assessment process identifying with the decisional process of the

plan development, besides importance being related to promotional stages and

consultations following the expressions of opinions. No subsequent chance exists

for people to be active in the above-mentioned process. However, we cannot help

considering the effects that further situations of public involvement would have on

the process of the plan adoption and that, delaying the stage, could call its efficiency

and suitability into question.

According to what we previously exposed, among several initiatives to form

new institutional bodies, the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia is the most

mature in the European context. The institution has the task of involving social

agents in landscape issue debates and it represents the meeting point between the

government and society in general, supporting a high degree of involvement and

opportunity for interventions on decisional processes. Pertaining to the assessment

of landscape planning effects, the main issue of previous research and indeed of

potential new studies (from public participation to the formation of Landscape

Catalogues of Catalonia) dealt with two different challenges: the acceptance of

intangible, symbolic and identifiable landscape value elements together with the

achievement of results representing the reality of the area. The lack of a specific

methodology led to the formulation of a suitable adoption for the formation of

Landscape Catalogues. This experience shows the effectiveness of the public

involvement process in a complex context as landscape is, so the identification of

these symbolic values represents the most evident result (Nogué 2010).

As one can clearly deduce from what has been mentioned up to now, the main

purpose of the project is twofold:

1. The development of clear practical protocols in SEA procedures for public

participation in the planning process;

2. The involvement of the local communities and different users of the territory in

landscape assessment, in particular for the perception and identification of


We consider the urgent identification of a theoretical and practical framework as

reference for the debate on practical processes and on SEA, whose approach is

related to sharing, participation and involvement of the local community. SEA

develops by a process of common learning and improves the efficiency of the

process of plan ex ante, in itinere and ex post. According to its contents, SEA offers

the subject field of environmental planning multifaceted and practical training of the

assessment process not external to the same process, but rather a qualifying and

essential part (Zoppi 2006). Nevertheless, directive planning referring to the

recognition of local community requests in SEA processes is not simply formal and

8 Past Objectives and Future Scenarios


abstract, but absolutely negligent as to the reading and to the spirit of the directive.

Consequently, among the aims to achieve the desired end are the following:

• The definition of the concept of “public”, which is left ambiguous in the Aarhus

Convention and in SEA directives with the purpose of being determined first

nationally and later regionally;

• The planning of procedures through consultations must happen;

• The assessment of dynamics enabled by local authorities that promote different

processes of public participation;

• The description of the practical aspects devoted to identifying intangible values

of landscape;

• The planning of cooperation settings among ranges and skills transversal to

teaching and landscape.

From this point of view, we believe it is important to underline that we are in an

awkward situation, requiring a steady practical and theoretical effort to address the

participation issues referred to in the adoption of Directive 42/2001/EC. Regarding

regional and urban planning, it is even more important to appreciate practical

regulations and a likewise method to evaluate expectations, gain agreement or

identify disagreement surrounding territorial policies within the assessment process:

i.e. the modelling of individual decisions.


General References and Literature

Farina A (2006) Il paesaggio cognitivo: una nuova entità ecologica. Franco Angeli, Milano

Fidanza A (2011) La Vas: raccordo tra sviluppo e ambiente. Urbanistica Informazioni 236:24–26

Nogué J (2010) El paisaje en la ordenación del territorio: la experiencia del Observatorio del

Paisaje de Cataluña. Estudios Geográficos, vol. LXXI, no. 269:415–448

Therivel R (2006) La Evaluación Ambiental Estratégica de los Planes Urbanísticos en Inglaterra.

Ciudad y territorio. Estudios territoriales 149–150:635–650

Trombino G, Provenzano S (2009) Valutazione Ambientale Strategica: come e quale paesaggio

valutare? XII Conferenza Nazionale della Società degli Urbanisti, Bari

Zoppi C (2006) Attori locali e pianificazione del territorio: Metodologie e pratiche nel quadro

concettuale della valutazione ambientale strategica. Gangemi, Roma


Council of Europe, European Landscape Convention, adopted 20th October 2000 in Florence

Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27th June 2001 on the

assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, Official Journal

of the European Communities, no. 197, vol. 44 of 21st July 2001


As the reader will have been able to realise the subject broached by Fabio Cutaia in

this work is not easy at all. The landscape is characterised by its conceptual and

methodological complexity and to try and search for its fit—its “armistice” as it is

said by the author, or even better, “alliance”—with the typical practice of town and

land planning turns out to be particularly difficult.

This is largely due to the lack of understanding of landscape concept whose

meaning has been reduced so many times, but also, to the difficulty of the usual

procedures and tools in land and town planning which are unintelligible for anyone

who is not an expert on the subject.

The integration of both worlds—and the unavoidable implication that society

takes part in these disciplines—cannot be done without carrying out deep changes

in the methods, in the “know-how” of spatial planning. Nevertheless, it is essential

that we change the way to contemplate and contact our environment, which means

an entire cultural transformation much harder to achieve since it not only affects the

experts on the subject, but also society as a whole.

In that respect, as a university teacher on these subjects, I consider it necessary to

include two key aspects: training and awareness. According to the European

Landscape Convention, both matters must be present in all the educational stages,

from primary school to university, and spread to the civil society sphere as well.

The aforementioned cultural transformation could only come true that way.

What is more, there will be a real interest in preserving and recognising the worth of

landscape. Technical and legal mechanisms or specific tools will not be a problem if

they represent a true social aspiration.

Only from these premises, a clear interest in driving the landscape implementation into the planning process, that Fabio Cutaia reveals throughout his book, will


After a conceptual and interdisciplinary long tour, the recent decade has brought

itself a certain consensus-assembled around the European Landscape Conventionregarding terminology, definition and contents of landscape concept. Once this

enormous effort is done, it is the time to put the Convention into practice, its

application and transfer to the planning instruments. In the words of Alister Scott,

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

F. Cutaia, Strategic Environmental Assessment: Integrating Landscape

and Urban Planning, UNIPA Springer Series,

DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-42132-2




“[…] it is an urgent plea to move beyond the rhetoric of the ELC and to embed

landscape more firmly into the spatial planning area (2011:2761)”.

In that regard, there is not so much experience about the implementation of the

Convention postulated and its consequences on the European landscape in the


Some of the most recent studies such as the one entitled “Impacts of the

European Landscape Convention on national planning systems: A comparative

investigation of six case studies” (De Montis 2014), or the one coordinated by Sala

and Moles (2014), that tackles the landscape planning in the local area through the

analysis of international experiences, try to cast light on this undoubtedly key issue.

Moreover, the present work contributes to this respect, showing the transfer of

some general concepts from the European Landscape Convention to the particular

cases of Veneto and Catalonia.

Within each one of these regions leads the way into landscape politics. Besides

analysing the international framework (such as legislation and instruments), Cutaia

moves downward to the specific details in different projects of planning on a local

and regional scale, conferring pragmatism on the studies that could not be


Just from this experimental base, very close to both reality and the particular

implementations of the landscape integration into the land planning instruments, we

will be able to improve the tools in order to act in territories with landscape


From a perspective of the way to study the landscape integration and the

planning through the Strategic Environmental Assessment, the author, in this work,

seems to be firmly in favour of exploring methods that determine the treatment of

landscape in the Strategic Environmental Assessment procedures that “[…] try to

express the landscape values by using the language of numbers” (Chap. 4).

Therefore, Cutaia considers that the best way to achieve the desired landscape

integration in town and land planning implementation is by means of its assimilation into other environmental aspects easy to measure, or, at least, with more

tradition or practice of doing it by quantitative indicators.

I will not criticise his point of view because I feel that, as far as landscape

indicators are concerned, there is almost everything left to do. However, the author

certainly seems to move away from the guideline the European Council has issued

in the “Guidelines for the implementation of the European Landscape Convention”

when it states that it is essential to go forward in a landscape qualitative analysis

within the instruments of impact evaluation. In fact, in this document, the European

Council expressly set the landscape against the most widely-used methods to

analyse the environmental components (water, air, soil), based on well-contrasted

quantitative methods.

In this regard, in a complete and interesting study on landscape indicators,

published by Cassatella and Peano (2011), it is stressed the difficulty of reducing

the landscape analysis to exclusively numerical components. Thus, the best choice

is to use a combination of both indicators, quantitative and qualitative, as suggested

by the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia (Nogué et al. 2009).

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