A question of what matters: landscape characterisation as a process of situated, problem-orientated public discourse

Chris Dalglish, Alan Leslie
2016 Landscape Research  
Sustainable development is a principle with the potential to inspire and guide action, but it is also a nebulous idea which is hard to operationalise. The concept of landscape character helps to turn this principle into practical action. Landscape character can be defined as 'the things that matter' about a landscape. Landscape characterisation is the process of determining what matters by identifying and assessing the complex interactions and relationships between people and their environment.
more » ... The central argument of this paper is that existing approaches to characterisation are failing to realise the full potential of the process for the pursuit of more just and sustainable landscapes. A transformed process of characterisation is needed: one which is situated, problem-orientated and rooted in public discourse. This approach is outlined in theoretical terms and its fuller potential is signposted through the particular example of Govan, an urban landscape in Scotland. KEY WORDS Landscape character; sustainable development; landscape justice "to satisfy human needs and improve the quality of life. For development to be sustainable it must take account of social and ecological factors, as well as economic ones; of the living and non-living resource base; and of the long term as well as the short term advantages and disadvantages of alternative actions." (IUCN, 1980, p. 2). The Brandt Commission similarly argued that we "must avoid the persistent confusion of growth with development" (Brandt, 1980, p. 23), prefiguring the Brundtland report's oft-quoted statement that sustainable development "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs", emphasising human needs (especially the needs of the poor) and environmental constraints to meeting these needs (WCED, 1987, p. 43).
doi:10.1080/01426397.2015.1135319 fatcat:547x435dxzhjdn5l2wdotqvoxe