European landscape convention gets going

Eighteen countries sign Council of Europe instrument for landscape protection, restoration

A Council of Europe convention requiring European public authorities to protect and restore landscapes that are threatened or have been degraded by development and intensive agriculture was opened for signature by governments on Friday. Eighteen countries signed the instrument during a ceremony in Florence, including EU members Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain.

The convention was proposed by the Council of Europe's congress of local and regional authorities in 1994. Its final text emphasises the importance of public participation in decision making on landscape protection and sets out a range of solutions member states can apply. The convention is aimed at all types of landscapes, from "outstanding to ordinary". It will enter into force once signed and ratified by ten member states.

Netherlands-based NGO the European Centre for Nature Conservation (ECNC), which will assist the council in the convention's implementation, welcomed the signing. NCNC executive director Rob Wolters said he hoped the convention would mark "the start of a massive face lift for Europe".

Follow Up:
Council of Europe, tel: +33 3 88 41 20 33, and full text of the European landscape convention; ECNC, tel: +31 13 466 3240.

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