Perception of landscape change in transboundary European areas

Authors and Affiliations: 

Prof. Éva Konkoly-Gyuró, University of Sopron, Faculty of Forestry, Institute of Forest Resource Management and Rural Development, Chair of Landscape Science

Corresponding author: 
Prof. Éva Konkoly-Gyuró

Landscape transformation of the last century can precisely detected by analysis of cartographic, photographic and written information sources. In addition, the social geographical oral history approach gives a new facet to the facts, allows seeing more behind the scene, and revealing the driving forces and the perception of local peoples. It can help identifying specific processes, attitudes driven by value systems, influencing landscape related decisions and management. Oral history is particularly important in transboundary areas, where the same geographic landscapes show divergent transformation due to different cultural and political impact.
The presentation gives an overview of two transboundary landscapes focusing on the perception of landscape character and its changes. First case study refers on the Fertő-Neusiedlersee landscape between Austria and Hungary originating from the Interreg Central research project “TransEcoNet” (2008-2012). The 19-20th century landscape history of the study areas was firstly revealed by GIS assessment of historical maps. Then the oral history method based on interviews of local experts and non-experts in Austria and in Hungary broadened the scope of the assessment. The second project, hosted by the University of Freiburg was carried out in a transboundary area of Germany and France in the Upper-Rhine region from the Black Forest till the Vosges Mountains. This latter had the explicit goal of detecting the perception of the changing landscape character in a region where a mirror situation of the specific landscape types on the both side of the Rhine occur. The field survey and expert-interviews were made between 2014-16.
Studies compared the attitudes, the value systems of experts and non-experts in different countries. The main research questions were followings:
- How do local people and stakeholders perceive the character and the changes of the landscape?
- What are the important elements and drivers for locals, what is considered as valued heritage and what are the conflicts, the threats in the landscape?
- How do people consider the differences between the neighbouring countries and the transformations with regard to the ongoing processes?
The comparison of the factual landscape changes and their perception, the different professional and non-professional approaches through the examples of the Austrian-Hungarian and German-French transboundary areas provides valuable information about specific approaches, routing in different culture. The different way of thinking is culturally determined and it is highly influenced by traditions, resulting in different landscape character in the same geographical landscape. Without understanding the unique cultural character and the way of managing landscape in the neighbouring countries, it is difficult build bridges between them. The presentation aims at proving this concept by giving examples from four countries.


Konkoly-Gyuró É.; Bacsárdi V.; Tirászi Á.;( Eds).; Hahn A.; Voller S.; Balázs P.; Trokar G.; Ellis Burnet J. 2012: Perception of landscape changes in three trans-boundary focus areas based on oral history surveys with local inhabitants, stakeholders and experts. TransEcoNet Project report WP. 6.1. Identities and Strategies. Action 6.1. University of West Hungary.
Konkoly-Gyuró É. 2015: Changing character of transfrontier landscapes. Presentation at the 16th COE workshop on the ELC - Landscape and transfrontier cooperation. Andorra.

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