Many historical rural landscapes still have high qualities, but in recent years it is increasingly urgent to find solutions for their maintenance, in the perspective of sustainable development. This situation is even more common for terraced cultural landscapes, whose presence is widespread in Southern Europe. Although their historical and aesthetic significance, or as a resource for agriculture, tourism or as a defence against erosion, they need proper and effective strategies for conservation and management.
Public participation in landscape planning and management has received increasing attention since the European Landscape Convention came into force, and involving local people is also encouraged by the Convention on Biodiversity and the Aarhus Convention. Public participation plays an integral part of the decision-making process, since it incorporates public’s ideas, values and interests into decisions, resulting in more responsive and democratic governance, while landscape perception can help to verify the relationship between scientific research and the opinions of population or tourists.
The two case studies take place in two terraced landscapes, both well-known as international tourist destinations and for the production of high-quality wine and olive oil.
The first one is Porto Venere and Cinque Terre, a UNESCO site and a very fragile territory, with many critical issues, mainly due to the abandonment of terraced cultivations, the high hydrogeological risk and the presence of large number of tourists in a small territory. As part of the working group for the drafting of the Management Plan of the UNESCO site, it was decided to actively involve the population to identify management strategies. The involvement of farmers and residents, interviewed using anonymous questionnaires, has proven to be a very effective tool for identifying the focus of the Management Plan and some priority lines of action.
The second case study is Greve in Chianti, in Tuscany, where there still can be found both traditional terraced landscapes and modern specialized vineyards that in the ‘70s replaced many traditional terraced cultivations. Landscape perception has been investigated among tourists, using questionnaires, as tourism is one of the main source of income for local farmers. The results are significant, as they prove that the most of the tourists appreciate more a traditional terraced landscapes with different land uses than specialized modern viticulture, but the difference between landscape and nature is still not clear.
The exchange of ideas/solutions and views between decision-makers, researchers, population and visitors, has proved to be an effective tool in establishing priority guide lines for management of historical terraced landscapes. Moreover, participation and perception can be used to obtain more effective Management plans and policies for preserving and improving the landscape quality and therefore the quality of people’s life.
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