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Landscape is one of the most fascinating assets of Europe. Its great diversity reflects a multitude of historical layers in an intricate spatial pattern. It means that, even in our globalised era, one evolves according to where one has grown up: a Greek fishing village gives us a different identity from growing up in the English countryside. Our sense of belonging is very much determined by the environment to which we are accustomed, and our perception of the landscape is thus an essential component of a community's well-being, and of visitors' enjoyment.
However, this diverse European landscape is changing rapidly. The old activities still reflected in the landscape are no longer efficient, and new functions tend to be dominated by new consumer demands, followed and enhanced by national and European policies. In many areas this leads to loss of identity and to less sympathetic landscapes, but in others a new sense of self and belonging is being discovered in new social structures for watching over the landscape and counteracting the processes that lead to homogenisation and the decline into banality. Balancing the existing assets of the European landscape against the societal need for change is the challenge.
Members of Landscape Europe International Network of Expertise on Landscapes, and other recognised landscape specialists, have focused on the landscape as they perceive it, on the practical problems that they experience in it, and on the solutions that they have discovered in their regular dialogue with the inhabitants. The authors of this book explore the identity of these landscapes and the way that this can be restored and reinforced. This book is meant as a source of inspiration for policy makers, landscape managers, researchers and citizens, in the pursuit of sustainable living landscapes in Europe.