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Sustainable development and protected landscapes: the case of The Netherlands
Joks Janssen a a Province of North-Brabant, Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands Online Publication Date: 01 February 2009

To cite this Article Janssen, Joks(2009)'Sustainable development and protected landscapes: the case of The Netherlands',International

Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology,16:1,37 — 47
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/13504500902757981 URL:

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Naturpark (Austria and Germany)  and National Park and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Great Britain). This article is intended to provide insight into the best ways of sustainable landscape protection in National Landscapes.1080/13504500902757981 http://www. defined as Category V protected areas (Protected Landscape/Seascape). Besio 2003). In contrast to North America. the densely populated character and the existence of few wilderness areas have contributed to the fact that cultural landscapes have become an important management category. . The classifications according to national law include. No. These protected landscapes lie at the heart of the identity of rural Europe and potentially enrich the cultural and natural diversity of both people and places (Pedroli et al.’ Category V areas represent only some 9% of protected areas globally (6% by area). they currently fall short as test beds for an integrated landscape philosophy. and often with high biological diversity. Although. These landscapes depend on human intervention. protected landscapes throughout Europe show many differences. they are. the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) database records that some 46% of the total area under protection is in Category V (Chape et al. National Landscapes are of international importance because they are either unique to the Netherlands or are seldom found elsewhere. Joks] At: 20:03 1 April 2009 Introduction Protected landscapes in Western Europe Western Europe has a long-standing tradition of protected landscape management (Hamin 2002. But in Europe. Amenity-oriented purposes are mostly dominant over the scientific pursuit of nature conservation. for instance. at the same time. political organization and planning culture. This represents the latest attempt to introduce IUCN Category V protected areas into the Netherlands. Although the officially designated landscapes are often called national or regional parks. 16. 37–47 Sustainable development and protected landscapes: the case of The Netherlands Joks Janssen* Province of North-Brabant. Dutch National Landscapes do not fully acknowledge the new conservation paradigm that protected landscapes combine social. February 2009. protected landscape area. economic and ecological objectives. with some small federal or state holdings. The Netherlands. geomorphology. IUCN (1994) defines protected landscapes (Category V) as ‘areas of ISSN 1350-4509 print/ISSN 1745-2627 online # 2009 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10. tasks. large areas of inhabited countryside with specific historic elements. their legal structures. with coast or sea as appropriate. 2007). designation systems have been developed in order to protect the most beautiful and vulnerable parts. according to international guidelines of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 1. National Landscapes could support regional sustainable development. natural character and openness. as well as in their proportion related to the country’s surface area. the Dutch government published a policy paper on spatial planning that sets out a framework for the designation of socalled ‘National Landscapes’. Parc Naturel Regionaux (France).International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology Vol. In contrast to these wellknown European examples. 2003). Since the European landscape is extraordinarily varied and rich in both natural and cultural interest. Each country has taken a different course according to its geographic and historical characteristics. ecological and/or cultural value. social structure.informaworld. Conservation effort in most Western European countries has therefore focused upon lived-in. certain common characteristics can be identified. working landscapes. Box 90151. where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant aesthetic.O. The Netherlands In 2004. P. national landscapes. The disparity of landscapes that fall into Category V is substantial. France and Germany. In order to do so. Parco Naturale Regionale (Italy). Keywords: cultural landscape. sustainable development Downloaded By: [Janssen. 5200 MC. However. stimulating social and economic development of the designated area. Against this background it is not unexpected that the European experience with protected landscapes varies. A further collaboration and exchange of landscape protection systems across EU countries could support this reform.‘s Hertogenbosch. The main policy goal is to preserve the existing landscape quality while. Sustainability and landscape Already in the 1980s IUCN recognized protected landscapes as ‘living models of sustainable use’ (Lucas 1992). These areas are managed for landscape conservation and recreation. in theory. the Dutch landscape policy is put into a European perspective by comparing National Landscapes with similar large protected landscape areas in Great Britain. In most cases these landscapes are managed by private land-owners *Email: jjanssen@brabant. in the number of designated areas they have established. It almost always involves (rural) landscapes that are important for their traditional and less intensive land use. It is argued that policy reform is needed to improve the policy for National Landscapes through more rigorous enforcement of sustainable development goals. As a (mostly farmers).

Groenfonds 2006. it is believed. The third part of the paper deals with the challenges and complexities of the current policy for the Dutch National Landscapes and highlights some stumbling blocks on the road to a more sustainable and integrated conservation approach. cultural landscape preservation and multifunctionality. Kalders et al. several debates have emerged in the context of the above-mentioned call for sustainable development. Recently. several public policies in Europe have recognized the role of landscape within the framework of sustainable development. Although the landscape protection systems in these countries differ in origin and intention. this paper first describes and analyses the evolution of different approaches to landscape conservation in Great Britain. Does the national governmental landscape policy stimulate the integration of environmental. The National Spatial Strategy has underlined the importance of the European Landscape Convention (ratification took place in 2005). This article examines this debate in terms of the evolving conservation experience of protected landscapes throughout Western Europe. the Council of Europe seeks to protect the quality of life and well-being of Europeans from a sustainable development perspective (Council of Europe 2006). the phenomenon of ‘landscape cluttering’ will increase. more and more landscapes are maintained with the specific aim of preserving the cultural landscape regarded as valuable by the society. sets out a policy framework for the designation of National Landscapes. as a result. Although the introduction of National Landscapes has found general approval. to integrate landscape in the wider context of sustainability. France and Germany. The following objectives have accordingly been articulated: regional policy – balanced opportunities for economic development and the provision of services. 2006). and building restrictions have been eased considerably. 2003). management and planning. as well as European co-operation on landscape issues. it aims to promote landscape protection. By taking into account landscape. culture and nature. Evolving conservation experience The Dutch government policy paper on housing and the environment. education and rural development. transportation policy – assignment of a high priority to railways and public transport. but not yet in the Netherlands. As demonstrated by the European Landscape Convention (ELC). ELC argues that landscape should be valued for reasons of health. economic and social objectives in National Landscapes effectively. this represents the most recent attempt to introduce Category V protected areas into the Netherlands. The concept of sustainable development encourages policy officials to address the environmental and social as well as economic dimensions of rural areas. management and planning.’ Signatories to the Convention undertake to establish and implement landscape policies aimed at protecting. They are responsible for realizing the governmental targets. Because of the particular origin and nature of protected landscapes. Since there is a stronger role for local government in making decisions where to build. Further detailing and implementation of the policy is devolved to the provinces.38 J. many are worried that. agricultural policy – compliance with environmental standards. In particular. sustainably managed and strengthened where possible (MVROM 2005). are all too eager to build. or is a change in direction and a reordering of priorities for National Landscapes needed in the near future? In order to elaborate the above. we argue that since the late 1990s a convergence towards a broadened sustainability role of protected landscapes can be observed. is to make a comparison among different European countries. in particular Great Britain. Janssen preserved. an expression of the diversity of their shared cultural and natural heritage’ (Council of Europe 2000: 4). environment and nature conservation – improved quality of the human environment. France and Germany. some recommendations for improving Dutch National Landscape policy are put forward. new landscape conservation philosophy seems to work. The fourth and last part discusses the main results of the paper. the evolution of the Dutch National Landscapes from the 1970s onward is highlighted and contrasted with the landscape conservation experience in Great Britain. and the conservation of biodiversity and landscape diversity. On the basis of the European comparison of protected landscapes. Elsewhere. and provinces are politically far too weak to resist the pressure from below (Janssen et al. in order to put into a suitable context the contemporary arrangements for the Dutch National Landscapes. spatial development – rational use of space and the preservation of natural resources. Earlier attempts to do so in the 1970s and late 1990s have not been successful (see below). whose spatial and visual qualities must be Downloaded By: [Janssen. The objective of this paper. In light of the perceived acceleration of landscape change. therefore. Category V protected areas could very well ‘become pioneers in society’s search for more sustainable futures’ (Phillips 2002. European approaches to landscape protection Throughout Europe. Joks] At: 20:03 1 April 2009 . These landscapes seem to be best supported by sustainable policy objectives Recent political commitment to sustainable development on a European level further strengthens the idea of an inclusive approach for protected landscapes (Council for the EU 2006). France and Germany. principally the close relationship between landscape and the people connected with it. Municipalities. the National Spatial Strategy (MVROM 2004). Central government designates 20 National Landscapes. Second. ELC seeks to ‘respond to the public’s wish to enjoy high quality landscapes and to play an active part in the development of landscapes. there has been concern over the governance approach and the administrative arrangements set out to balance development and conservation (VROMRaad 2004. 2007). landscapes are more and more recognized ‘as essential components of people’s surroundings.

is one of the main instruments of park management. the detailed system by which approval is sought for building and land-use change. The Environment Act 1995 makes a move towards integrating functions in respect of National Parks. Park Authorities should foster the social and economic well being of the park communities in partnership with those organizations for whom this is the prime responsibility. ‘Fit for the future’. giving substance to the British National Parks’ new purpose. wildlife and cultural heritage of the areas’ (Land Use Consultants 2004: IV). 2002). and (2) economic development through more efficient agriculture. resulted in the addition of the economic and social well-being duty in Section 62 (1) of the Environment Act 1995. The report recommends a new park purpose to ‘promote sustainable forms of economic and community development which support the conservation and enhancement of natural beauty. This is reflected in the PNR emphasis on ‘conservation through appropriate development’ as Dwyer (1991) has argued. but without incurring significant expenditure in doing so. and land forms. focusing specifically on the system of landscape protection and the way in which landscape is related to the concept of sustainable development.International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology and measures. the French PNR lack strong regulatory Downloaded By: [Janssen. the 1991 Edwards’ review of the British National Parks.’ According to the Edwards’ review. seeking to swim against the tide of changes forced on the parks. natural systems. have a history of developing the countryside while at the same time protecting the environment. the newly established Scottish National Parks (2002) are to promote sustainable social and economic development of the area’s communities. a recent review report of the Welsh National Parks calls for a more integrated sustainable development approach in order to ensure a sustainable future for the (Welsh) National Parks. the Parcs Naturels Regionaux  (PNR). private sector and relevant government organizations.’ Consequently. The French area protection system also distinguishes national parks. Evans 1992). In order to act upon these new proposals. or frequently in opposition to. The French regional parks. in contrast to the British parks. this seems appropriate because changes in traditional cultural landscapes have been very slow. and the wildlife and cultural heritage. Experiences in putting this duty into practice. The management of land by the NPAs has focused on mitigating the worst effects of the European Union Common Agricultural Policy. This activity was largely reactive. Furthermore. and tourism. Section 62 (1) of the Environment Act states that NPAs ‘shall foster the economic and social well-being of local 39 communities within the National Park. the most important political pressures on rural life. and they seem to be definitely stable and therefore an appropriate symbol of regional and national identity. focused on biodiversity and nature conservation. In the next paragraphs. an overview of British. park communities feel that their interests are not served well enough. Joks] At: 20:03 1 April 2009 . however. initiated in 1967. maintain. British national parks Previously. with their dual purpose of (1) preservation of the natural and cultural patrimony. Development control by the National Park Authorities (NPA). The British National Parks were set up in a system of heavy-handed centralized planning. The social concept generally considers these landscapes as patrimony. 1998). recent initiatives in Britain increasingly respond to the challenge of sustainability in Category V protected areas. Their main goal is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty. and enhance the scenic beauty. Good examples are the National Parks of Britain. A coordinated planning and partnership working in support of the economic and social well-being of park communities is lacking. Park planning and partnerships The failure of socio-economic partnerships within the parks is a major stumbling block on the road to sustainable development (Dower et al. are mixed. The (financial) restrictions imposed under Section 62 (1) are not helping either. However. Since there is a need to seek a new balance between protection of the natural beauty and stimulation of the socio-economic needs of park communities. next to the conservation and enhancement of the natural and cultural heritage (McCarthy et al. local handicrafts. Protection took place largely in isolation from. the traditional role of the NPAs in controlling development shifted to one of influencing land management (Curry 1992). According to Phillips and Partington (2005). Therefore. French Parcs Naturels Regionaux  Lessons with community participation and co-production of public and private partnerships can be learned from the French Category V areas. Because of the emphasis on development control. British park planning and management must be carried out in close partnership with the local community. Because the adopted system manifested major policy performance problems in the 1970s and 1980s. The purpose of preserving natural beauty is extended to ‘protect. most protected landscapes were strictly protected as national parks or nature reserves. whose cooperation is needed to carry out conservation policy. and shall for that purpose co-operate with local authorities and public bodies whose functions include the promotion of economic or social development within the area of the National Park. recent innovative policies in Wales already use protected areas as places where sustainable forms of rural development are pioneered and promoted. recreation. For instance. British parks have alienated local farmers and communities. French and German landscape patrimony is given. wildlife and cultural heritage of the areas (MacEwan A and MacEwan M 1987. Protective measures and financial resources are provided by central government.

Underlying this is the idea that environmental protection and economic development are not mutually exclusive. signs up park plans. most notably the Rio summit in 1992. Furthermore. they have been dominated by. rural communities accept the obligation to apply constraints to themselves concerning the treatment of the environment (Lanneaux and Chapuis 1993). water sports. Model landscapes The German state currently sees Nature Parks as ‘model landscapes’ with their aim of preserving unique landscapes for and with man and to contribute to sustainable regional development (Deutscher Bundestag 2007). since few restrictions were placed on use (farming and forestry were permitted). Consequently. the French central government has committed itself to the idea that PNRs are perfect units for sustainable policy making (FPNR 2007). park authorities give advice to towns and villages regarding urban organization and the insertion of buildings into the landscape. nature areas were inadequately protected. for instance by setting up visitor information centres. Although the parks were popular and had a positive image. Different projects. The PNRs play a key role in contemporary regional rural development by applying the principles of sustainable development. Since 1995.40 J. According to Freniere (1997). As was the case with the British National Parks. different regional and local governments set up nature parks. Management authorities were installed. etc. emphasis solely was on stimulating public access to the German countryside. in the establishment of ecological land use. Regional rural development Although in the early years (1970s and 1980s) the French parks mainly emphasized economic development of disadvantaged rural regions. German natural parks also play an important role in preserving local customs.’ Since the late 1990s. trying to stand up for the best interests of the areas. there has been a change in orientation towards much more active involvement of local stakeholders in the management of Nature Parks. In addition to nature and landscape conservation. the PNRs have made ‘local economic revitalization their central mission. Under the charter. After all. a contractual document that is approved by several representatives of local and regional agencies and NGOs. comparative studies on the British and French system have shown that the French regional parks surpass the British national park system in achieving balanced regional development (Dwyer 1991). Furthermore. and in this way encouraging appropriate variants of land use. providing opportunities for people to come face to face with nature. and enforcement powers. conservation goals became more important. However. as well as the reunification of West and East Germany. for example. Although some regional parks fail to implement the conservation objectives of park charters. These parks originated in the late Downloaded By: [Janssen. German nature parks Another example of changing approaches towards the management of protected landscapes is the German Nature Parks (Naturparke). Joks] At: 20:03 1 April 2009 . In the following years. the French Regional Nature Parks develop strategies that either seek directly to support local economic activities or stimulate new socio-economic benefits that strengthen local cultural and natural heritage. In the parks. together with the help of the different park authorities. traditional crafts. The French PNR do not provide specific legislation for environmental protection. which protects and recovers biodiversity and in proceeding regional development. To widen the possibilities of environmental education for visitors and the local population. from the early 1990s onward a shift in attitudes away from rigid economic utilitarianism can be observed. in the French context. furthermore. Even more so. the Association of German Nature Parks (Verband Deutsche Naturparke [VDN]) is supporting Nature Parks in correspondence to their tasks by law in the promotion of environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism. Janssen 1950s in order to give the expanding cities of West Germany and their population space for recreation and leisure activities (walking. is another task of the association. which is maintaining cultural landscapes (VDN 1995).). especially since the introduction of the 1976 Bundesnaturschutzgesetz (German nature conservation law). In the late 1950s the Verein Naturschutz Park won state and federal (financial) government support (Ditt 1996). which gave the nature parks legal status. it is believed that economic decline could be harmful to the protection of the valued landscape and heritage. agricultural associations who opposed land use regulations that would endanger their idea of agricultural modernization. At first. As Buller (2003) has argued. cycling. A socalled Charter. following updated legislation and responses to international calls for sustainable development. As a result. historical settlement patterns and regional architecture. rural depopulation and marginalization are serious threads. nature conservationists and environmental groups lamented that they were poorly administered. a ‘bottom up’ rather than a ‘top down’ system has been developed that actively engages local park communities and organizations in a cooperative manner. German Nature Parks were mainly associated with public recreation. therefore. but instead function through local coordination of existing land-use regulations. contributed significantly towards raising the awareness of local park communities regarding environmental impacts of economic development. the Park Charters have had a moderating effect on the scale enlargement and intensification of agricultural practices and. Currently. emphasis is being placed on promoting regional agricultural and forestry products and tourism services. Therefore.

supported by national governments. The evolution of Dutch National Landscapes The move away from a protectionist park rationale towards a more dynamic view of landscape that supports sustainable development. Towards a regional integration of sectoral interests As the previous section shows. was created for the protection of valuable agrarian landscapes. By working cooperatively with local and regional stakeholders. most notably the Club of Rome report Limits to Growth. came up with an unofficial policy document on nature and landscape conservation. protected landscapes throughout Europe more and more function as flagships for a new and integrated public policy for rural areas. In Germany.International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology therefore. Despite the ubiquity of ‘sustainability’ as a concept. the Dutch national landscape parks were Downloaded By: [Janssen. A broader inclusive and social view of conservation that links nature and culture is therefore introduced. The intention is not to strive for a zero growth situation. It contained a proposal for the designation of national parks and national landscape parks. attempt to guarantee the economic advantages deriving from rural economic renewal and the advantages of a rediscovered sense of regional identity. can at least partially also be traced in the evolution of the Dutch National Landscapes. since they were potentially damaging to the harmony of the landscape (Rijckevorsel 1972). This is highlighted by the above-mentioned British. proposed to phase out agricultural production in certain parts of Europe (less favoured areas) in favour of intensification in other parts. In line with the British National Park idea. published a list of areas it considered deserving of special status. the Ministry of Culture. in 1972. as illustrated in the above-mentioned cases. In France. The broad environmental protest regarding the deterioration of the countryside certainly contributed to this. This plan. regional and national governments try to increase regional wealth creation. conservation. to promote sound development and to improve the quality of life for people now and in the future. the first policy proposals to protect valuable cultural landscapes were developed in the 1970s. The Contact Commissions’ selection of possible protected areas would help to implement the Mansholt plan. strive towards a regional integration of agriculture. However. French and German protected landscapes. and creating more acceptance for landscape conservation among the local population and increasing awareness of nature and the environment among visitors to the area. the origins of landscape protection systems throughout Europe differ. Although different in origin and objective. the intention in British. Sicco Mansholt. In the Britain the case was. recent policy proposals for protected landscapes in these countries converge towards a broadened sustainable development perspective. For this reason. local. to conserve the most spectacular. but also a strategic answer to the so-called Mansholt plan. Against this background. The principles of sustainability. This distinction followed international guidelines on nature protection. Shortly thereafter. are applied in a diversity of grassroots projects in order to stabilize and reduce the region’s footprint. since it provided a strategy for those areas where agriculture would be transformed. made up by the European Commissioner for Agriculture. at last. within protected landscapes several attempts are made to protect the environment. first and foremost. non-profit organizations and a diversity of associations. nature and landscape. National landscape parks A first step was taken in 1970 when the Contact Commission for Nature and Landscape. Joks] At: 20:03 1 April 2009 . Since landscape conservation and countryside development are aspects of a single whole. The concept of a national landscape park. since the 1990s. nature parks were conceptualized as an antidote for an urbanizing society longing for leisure space. Recreation and Social Work (CRM). Although the idea to protect certain landscapes from urbanization and industrialization already came to the fore during the interwar period. Since multi-sectoral and multi-level partnerships are essential to an inclusive and participatory approach to landscape conservation. responsible for national nature and landscape policy. A series of international and national reports pointed out the long pedigree and diversity of environmental concern. increasingly is seen as an integral part of sustainable management. giving greater importance to rural areas. on the other hand. regional and landscape policy. but instead adopt a 41 strategy which develops mutual compatibility between environmental protection and continuing environmental growth. It was not only a list of potential protected nature and landscape areas. wild and valued landscapes by establishing National Parks. an influential network of experts and agents in nature and landscape conservation without any legal form or statute. relatively remote semi-natural areas. when the call for a sound planning of the countryside was made by the national government. French and German landscape parks is to stimulate and integrate mutual gains between sectoral interests by a ‘conservation through development’ approach. the concept of sustainable development. In national landscape parks agriculture was considered of crucial importance. Emphasis in these areas had to be on protecting ecosystems and biodiversity (MCRM 1975a). is put forward in both policy and practice. which. the main goal was to enhance rural development in fragile but interesting cultural landscapes. A commitment to maintain and enhance the landscape quality of rural areas is a central theme of several emerging state and European visions of a sustainable countryside. thereby overcoming the often strong sectoral division of countryside. serious constraints had to be set on the scale enlargement of agricultural farm holdings. The concept of a national park was reserved for some small. for instance.

provinces would take the lead in cooperation with municipalities. subsidizing farmers for not harming natural and cultural values. the proposed national landscape parks were not legally designated in the years thereafter. Joks] At: 20:03 1 April 2009 . central government would take the lead in protecting the National Landscapes. However. This resulted in a new proposal for 13 National Landscapes. leaving marginal space to maneouvre for local government. Central government halted its subsidies. In particular. part of the Third Memorandum on Spatial Planning (MLV 1975). In the late 1970s. National Landscapes were off the political agenda. the national landscape parks and the farmer subsidies would make it possible to protect a number of landscapes for reasons of ecological and heritage value. Furthermore. were given their own protected landscapes. the then left-of-centre government was urged to produce a new (Fifth) National Policy Document on spatial planning. Green contours were drawn along these landscapes to counter processes of urbanization. cooperation between agriculture and landscape could very well be realized. At grassroots level. water boards and nature organizations. the new government had a different vision of its role in relation to the provinces and municipalities. located in the more rural regions outside the Randstad area. After all. albeit in combination with regional (rural) development. introduced some fundamental changes. the reading of the Fifth National Policy Document was deferred. Janssen projects in the pilot areas. more development planning and less development control’ (MVROM 2004: 3).e. In the years thereafter the policy for National Landscapes became defunct. Provincial Landscapes. was opposed by the relative success of different conservation schemes and projects executed in the pilot areas. rather than combating them. the designation of National Landscapes was not enacted. By supporting relatively extensive types of farming. following a motion from the Member of Parliament Van Gent. it was very critical of the distinction between National and Regional Landscapes. After staunch opposition from political groups affiliated with the agricultural sector. Winterswijk. De Veluwe and Mergelland) to experiment with the proposed park model. However. emphasis had to be on the conservation of landscape and the preservation of the regional identity of the areas involved (MCRM 1975b). the neo-corporatist Ministry of Agriculture became responsible for implementing Dutch nature and landscape policy. when they were financially compensated. mostly situated in the highly urbanized region of the Randstad (MVROM 2001). as was the case in the 1970s. As a result. From 1980 onward. a less rigid conservation approach was proposed. In it. final advice on national landscape parks was presented in 1980 (MCRM 1980). considered to provide the urban population with recreational space and landscape beauty. Regional landscapes were to be established in a bottom-up manner with the involvement of local people. Remarkably enough. principally that of 1972. The Ministry of Agriculture (LNV) would be responsible for these (less stringently protected) landscapes. Waterland. i. Consistent with the then dominant political ideas. Reintroducing National Landscapes In the late 1990s. This bold view. restrictions on (urban) development were stringently worded. The Ministry of Housing. when the ministry of CRM was abolished. Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) indicated seven National Landscapes. The new right-of-centre government. it envisaged ‘fewer rules and regulations dictated by central government. however. Emphasis was more on the conservation of open and green space than on the preservation of regionally differentiated landscape areas. nature and landscape. Despite the fact that the pilot projects were ongoing. according to an interdepartmental commission on national landscape parks.42 J. In 1983. The national government wanted to tie in with sociocultural and economic trends. This Memorandum focused on the relations between agriculture. Although tourism and recreation should be promoted. As a result. The idea was that farmers would refrain from potentially damaging measures. put forward as the main governmental tier for implementing the National Landscapes. such as drainage or leveling their land. In the end. This advice clearly differed from the earlier documents.’ The Ministry of VROM and LNV were forced to reach a compromise. more scope for local and regional considerations. Five regional pilot areas were selected (Noordwest-Overijssel. This semantic shift was a response to the political opposition from agricultural groups in previous years. officials and policy makers spoke of National Landscapes instead of National Landscape Parks. and introduced the concept of ‘conservation grants’. which took office in 2002. Behind this selection. When the Lower House discussed the Fifth Memorandum. Pilot areas and experiments A solid planning framework for national landscape parks was presented in the so-called Green Documents. the idea of National Landscapes was re-introduced. The provinces in the 1970s and 1980s. this ministry was not motivated in protecting cultural landscapes. Protection of the existing natural values was considered of prime importance here. in the view of most farmers the term ‘park’ referred to a closed enclave with no possibilities for agricultural modernization. especially with regard to the restrictions on urbanization. it was not inclined to devolve responsibilities to the regional authorities as intended by the former ministry of CRM. Furthermore. landscape values seemed less important than the wish to protect a number of rural regions from urban expansion. preparations started for implementing the proposed conservation policy. April 2002 saw the collapse of the left-of-centre government. the Lower House voted against this ‘unnecessary and indefensible distinction. In these pilot areas. Although a few provincial councils continued landscape preservation Downloaded By: [Janssen.

the loss of rural and landscape heritage had to be stopped. the Ministry of LNV would be the coordinating ministry for National Landscapes. it recognizes the fact that looking after the countryside is a dynamic process that cannot be achieved simply by putting a halt on change. meaning a more dynamic view of heritage and a closer connection between heritage management and spatial planning (Schoorl 2005). as was the case in the 1970s. A more dynamic approach was advocated. and European experiences with. Decentralizing spatial policy was part and parcel of this new approach (Spaans 2006). moving from a closed and rather protective concept towards a more open and developmental one. This mirrors the ‘conservation through development’ approach advocated for the Dutch National Landscapes. For instance. Furthermore. Current policy for the National Landscapes focuses on conservation. since they will involve provincial and local government as well as nature and landscape organizations. political opinions and departmental moves. A different form of conservation governance is adopted. conservation management. This resulted in a shift from a plan-led towards a development-led planning system. Joks] At: 20:03 1 April 2009 . The main policy goal is to protect the so-called core qualities of the landscape without obstructing the socio-economic development of the area. This also 43 holds true for the applied administrative arrangements. however. it was decided that the policy for National Landscapes would (once again) be deferred to the provincial and local governments. This paradigm is typified by a moderate anthropocentrism. Emphasis was on the preservation of a rather harmonious landscape. housing is permitted only to meet demand arising from the natural growth of the area population. expressed with the ‘conservation through development’ philosophy. the National Landscapes are subject to a ‘yes. 2005). the early history of protected landscapes in The Netherlands was driven by the need to provide recreational space and natural beauty by means of a relatively protectionist park model. and as positive factor for local socio-economic development. as an economic important asset for tourism. according to IUCN the goal of Category V areas is not preservation but management of change such that the qualities of the landscape are conserved for future generations (Brown et al. Since the economy plays a greater role and the government wants to create more space for development. can be characterized by a dynamic innovation paradigm. one that accepts the fact that the needs of local people living and working in the landscape should be integrated with the needs for conservation and enhancement of landscape qualities (Beresford and Phillips 2000). IUCN states that protected landscapes should not be seen or managed as living museums to past practices but rather as experimental areas for directing the challenges of globalization for local betterment. is characterized by a more dynamic and developmental attitude. therefore. This idea was also promoted in the Belvedere Memorandum (1999) that stimulated the use of cultural history in spatial planning projects. Mose (2007) argues that the conceptual view underlying most Category V landscapes. Furthermore. Emphasis is more on guiding change in a qualitative direction rather than on ‘pure’ conservation of nature and landscape. the evolution of the concept of National Landscapes has been influenced by societal demands. on opportunities rather than constraints. The National Spatial Strategy seeks for a developmental approach that combines the need to stimulate local economic growth with the need to conserve and enhance the landscape. as advocated by the National Spatial Strategy Memorandum. Interventions in agriculture and water management were justified in terms of the national interest. From the 1970s onward. was no longer appropriate. As a result. provided that’ regime: new developments will be allowed if they add to the core qualities of the existing landscape. Downloaded By: [Janssen. Furthermore. However. For instance. a gradual but fundamental policy change can be observed. National landscapes and sustainable development As illustrated in the previous sections. The Ministry of VROM took a leading role in the planning for National Landscapes and formulated a priori targets for this. The concept of National Landscapes is clearly adapted to new societal demands as well as to new insights in. whereby spatial quality was the guiding principle. and on process rather than content. sustainable management and. According to policy makers and conservationists of that time. where possible. Cultural heritage values were a starting point for (spatial) development. Conservation through development Emphasis was placed on development rather than conservation per se. the proposals for National Landscapes in the Fifth Memorandum adopted a rather authorative policy. the municipalities involved are also allowed to build housing for their local populations and provide land for local and regional businesses. The contemporary approach. focusing on integrated development instead of classical conservation. Furthermore. In the National Spatial Strategy (MVROM 2005) the Dutch government has recognized landscape as a vital carrier of cultural heritage. According to the Belvedere memorandum the classical way of preserving natural or cultural heritage. where people play an essential integrative role. Towards an open and developmental policy In general terms. Therefore. It explicitly links cultural heritage with the fields of rural and city planning. The discourse of the new National Spatial Strategy applies to the protection of natural values and regional (rural) development at the same time. especially in its intervention discourse. nature and landscape. The current concept and policy for National Landscapes. coalitions are to be decentralized.International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology thereby moving from ‘imposing restrictions’ to ‘promoting developments’ (Vink and Van den Burg 2006). An integrated and proactive approach is adopted. is more decentralized and liberal in character. strengthening of landscape quality.

Voluntary methods are increasingly important. provided that’ approach. however. more insidious changes which affect the landscape from within – mostly concerned with farming and the demands of modern agro-industrial pressure. However. There is an absence of real powers and resources at a regional level to protect the most valued landscapes. In due course. However. The multitude of expectations for these areas has great potential to create conflicts about the very purpose of beneficial use of the areas. where municipalities do not have the instruments to allocate new housing exclusively to the local population. regional and national levels. successful landscape conservation will depend not only on productive collaboration with local people but also on coordinated. further constraints are required on current economic activity. In contrast to the British National Parks or the French Parcs Naturels Regionaux. This should give enough room for local economic growth without hindering the objectives of landscape conservation. however. if sustainability requirements are to be met (Kuiper and De Regt 2008). Preservation of the core qualities of the National Landscapes entails the continuation of specific and often economically obsolete farming practices. but also because they save the costs of compensation often due from regulatory measures. The multi-functional orientation of National Landscapes bears in equal measure enormous challenges and substantial conflict potential. Central to these measures are techniques for encouraging good stewardship of the landscape. have recognized the fact that this may cause tension. leading to confusion and fragmentation in the identity of the designated areas. the government has sought to strike a balance between conservation and change by introducing the ‘yes. After all. conservationists and tourists – holds different interpretations of landscape conservation. the proposed deregulatory measures taken in the Spatial . an imbalance between national and local/regional interests (landscape conservation versus economic growth and social well-being of local communities) will presumably occur in the near future.44 J. Downloaded By: [Janssen. as the planning of valued landscapes takes place under the influence of changing government politics. one could argue that the current policy strategy does not create a consistent message about the types of change and development that are appropriate in the National Landscapes. France and Germany. provinces and municipalities within the National Landscapes have to encourage desirable action on the part of private landholders. Furthermore. Combining the multiple rationalities and interdependencies of the stakeholders involved is a complex process of social and institutional interaction. To what extent these developments strengthen or enhance the core landscape qualities is still to be seen. and the need to maintain them as cultural landscapes through viable communities and local economies. the achievement of the collective aims of socio-economic development and landscape quality may not be possible in the exercise of a planning decision due to the impacts of a particular proposal or project. integrated planning at provincial. in the Netherlands there is no overriding criterion that is pivotal in such circumstances. good farming practice no longer is conducive to sound conservation. The same holds true for the condition to create a neutral migration balance within the landscapes. Janssen Strategy Memorandum will mainly be in the interest of economic growth and protection of private property rights (Zonneveld 2007). provided that’ approach is rather loose and permits a wide range of possible developments in the National Landscapes. Joks] At: 20:03 1 April 2009 Limitations to protection Given the competing pressures on National Landscapes. Although most National Landscapes experience all the (urban) pressures that come with an expanding city system. the current policy for National Landscapes has to achieve its management goals mainly by voluntary measures. there is scope for no more than the natural population growth and for local and regional activities. National Landscapes are not governed  by a park authority with significant planning powers and semi-independent status. economic development and commercial needs. Because of the absence of clear criteria for development planning and statutory powers for park authorities. The Council for the Rural Area (2005) and Zonneveld and Verwest (2005). ‘protection’ is never absolute. however. These tensions will be heightened since the difference between the policy for the National Landscapes and the remaining countryside is rather vague. According to the National Spatial Strategy. Whereas in Britain in those circumstances greater weight is given to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage (known as the Sanford Principle). As is the case with protected landscapes in Great Britain. This. Some even argue that the ability to safeguard the core qualities in the long run is questionable. there are. entailing sacrifices by the current generation. The ‘yes. Although research shows that farming practice in the National Landscapes is more small-scale and less intensive compared to other areas. is increasingly complex. For instance. In those circumstances there is no instrument to resolve occasions when there remains a conflict. there are inherent tensions between promoting economic growth and housing and protecting and promoting environmental sustainability. Shortcomings and drawbacks All in all. The question is to what extent future conservation can be ensured by the practice of efficient sustainable agriculture. Because National Landscapes are Challenges and complexities As a result of the adopted decentralized governance approach. Of crucial importance for landscape planning is the way in which farming – the most dominant land use within the National Landscapes – is managed. not only because regulations are believed to be crude tools for addressing the management of the land. since each of the major stakeholder groups – farmers.

sustainability as an integrating concept remains rather implicit. that are typical for each of the National Landscapes. the act of balancing national and local interests. benefits of development in National Landscapes are taken as manifest. French and German examples. in practice drawbacks will occur. This has. climate change. National government will assess the town and country plan against these core qualities (MVROM 2004). As a result. as implemented since the late 1990s. forced open. However. France and Germany. in this larger context. but those of conservation have to be demonstrated with each plan or proposal. it is remarkable that the primary focus of conservation effort in Dutch National Landscapes is on landscape quality. landscape is the concept par excellence to address issues of sustainable development (Benson and Roe 2000). either directly or indirectly. One reason for this may be that the government is unsure about the consequences of implementation within their legal spatial planning system. and lack of clear criteria for socio-economic development). all attention is drawn towards spatial and visual aspects of landscape. instead of constraints on. is the specific role of National Landscapes? Is there a mission that these landscapes can perform in shaping the future of the Dutch countryside? Although limited in its scope. France and Germany. regional and local strategies is of concern. Learning from experiences with protected landscapes in Britain. French Parcs Naturels Regionaux and German Nature Parks serve a far wider set  of social. this article provides a number of arguments to positively answer these questions. is that there are serious policy conflicts between the national government’s deregulatory approach and landscape protection. conserving biodiversity and protecting cultural heritage. ‘biodiversity’. and some have already been discussed in previous section (absence of jurisdiction over agriculture. Council of Europe 2006). National Landscapes do not stand apart. What. The Netherlands is hesitating to transit the concept of sustainable development into its national landscape policy and practice. therefore. is done in such a way that secures outcomes favourable to landscape conservation. Furthermore. however. but related to their surroundings. Collaboration across the European Union As described above (in the previous section). British National Parks. As a result. the importance to protect the quality of life and well being of local people living in protected landscapes is highlighted in a sustainable development perspective. the Dutch government could commit itself to the idea that National Landscapes are keystones to sustainable development. EUROPARC 2002. the lack of consistency between national. absence of park authorities. From a European perspective. the promoted governance approach and administrative arrangements could support sustainable development. Most of the strategies adopted by provincial authorities are still very much ‘growth’ focused. ‘Sustainable development’ may be perceived as a less tangible and more ambiguous concept than. to do with the fact that the benefits of designation for local communities are still not clear. Conservation is not yet seen as an integral part of sustainable landscape management. Downloaded By: [Janssen. at least partially. although the latter was no doubt perceived as similarly intangible when the Rio Convention was first adopted in 1992. as well as with the fact that the balance of national policy is more on stimulating economic growth instead of landscape conservation. however. Extending the scope of permitted development. Holism is a fundamental characteristic of the landscape (Naveh 1995) and therefore. Another reason. including for instance addressing quality of life. In other European countries. most notably Britain. such as ‘scenery’ and ‘aesthetics’.International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology not islands. is. landscape means more than just a scene appealing to the eye. economic and ecological purposes. particularly the different approaches to environmental issues in National Landscapes. Following recent European initiatives on protected landscapes (ELC 2000. National government has defined several ‘core qualities’. A holistic approach In theory. but are interwoven with the broader countryside and Dutch rural society in general. where vested and institutionalized modes of doing and thinking are circumvented in order to integrate hitherto largely disconnected sectors . economically and administratively. conservation and change. such as ‘openness’. will have adverse impacts on the natural heritage and the wider countryside (MNP 2007). policy changes in countryside development will also affect the National Landscapes. Obviously. In the above-mentioned British. the Rio Convention and Agenda 21 have had an influential impact on environmental legislation and policy in most countries since then. Emphasis is on opportunities for. it would be interesting to redesign National Landscapes to be ‘flagships’ or ‘models’ of state policy on sustainable countryside management (Janssen et al. There are several reasons for this. neglecting the broader environment within which these landscapes develop. National government has furthermore instructed the provincial councils to translate the broad definitions of these ‘core qualities’ into more precise descriptions and elaborate on these qualities in their town and country plan in order to ensure that change enhances the landscape values attached to the areas. 2007). development. Provinces are reticent to address environmental and social considerations in a more rounded and inclusive approach. Joks] At: 20:03 1 April 2009 45 Discussion Although the current policy for National Landscapes represents some aspects of the new conservation paradigm as promoted by IUCN and the Council of Europe. however. for example. Landscape can be used as a holistic concept around which a wide array of disciplines can coalesce to explore the integration of human–nature relationships. The apparently unbreakable relationship between landscape and visual matters.

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