It is seventeen years since the European Landscape Convention (ELC) and nine since the Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)3 for the implementation of the European Landscape Convention (CM/Rec). In this time, we are assisting to an emergence of landscape observatories throughout Europe. According to the abovementioned CM/Rec (2008)3) a landscape observatory is an entity that could: 1)allow observation based on appropriate protocols through a range of indicators; 2)describe the landscapes character at a given time; 3)exchange information on experiences and policies linked to the protection, management and planning, public participation and implementation of landscape at different levels; 4)use, produce and compile documents and materials on landscapes; 5)draw up quantitative and qualitative indicators to assess the effectiveness of landscape policies; 6)furnish data to understand trends and to forecast or forward-looking landscape scenarios. In addition, the Recommendation states that “the choice of the composition of observatories is a matter for the administrative bodies concerned, but should allow for collaboration between scientists, professionals and technicians from the public authorities and the public”. Taking all this description together, this means that, in fact, a wide range of objectives, scales and functioning schemes of landscape observatories are to be found.
Within this context, we try to gain insight into the possibility of landscape observatories to make their contribution to the integration of the biophysical component of landscape ecology with the social and cultural approaches (people and action). To this end, we have firstly listed the existing European landscape observatories (1) and then explored how (if so) landscape ecology, their methods and tools are reflected on the activities and materials gathered or generated by landscape observatories. Through web scraping using Python, we have preselected those landscape observatory websites where specific mention to landscape ecology is made, and then we have undertaken a thorough search among the materials provided by these selected observatories. We have found that less than 30% of the websites (thus, landscape observatories) contain explicit reference to landscape ecology, and less than 15% apply or share methods and tools linked to landscape ecology.
Still, we consider that the engagement landscape observatories-landscape ecology may be mutually beneficial, and we reflect on some specific common points to reinforce this engagement.
(1)The list of European landscape observatories have been obtained from the University of Granada-Polytechnic of Turin project: Communicating landscape planning: the role of landscape observatories and research centres across Europe (Project funded by the University of Granada: Competitive Call 2013 for Postdoctoral Training in Foreign Institutions).