Over recent years, several international agreements have been approved that emphasize the importance of public participation in the planning and development process (e.g. the ELC). Besides of these researchers also highlighted the relevance of the public participation in the landscape planning and management (Pinto-Correia & Carvalho-Ribeiro 2012, Primdahl et al. 2013). Despite these overarching principles, in several cases the landscape management-related plans are still based on expert-led approaches. The goal of my research was to identify the optimal level of the local stakeholder’s participation in the landscape evaluation process, therefore during the preparation of the landscape management programs.
A rural region in Hungary was taken as study area. During the research a combination of expert-led evaluation (made by planners) and the adapted version of Public Participation GIS (ppGIS) was used (Tulloch 2008). Six landscape indicator groups were elaborated (as a result of discussions with scientists and planners in Hungary and abroad) and used during both the expert-led and the public participation-based evaluation (environment–biodiversity; historical–cultural, visual–perceptional; agriculture; nature protection, tourism). The results based on 264 maps, which were created with the ppGIS.
By comparing the results of the two applied methods, I defined the optimal combination of the public participation during the identification of the various landscape values. The two methods showed different results in the case of the following indicator groups: environment–biodiversity, cultural–historical, visual–perceptional, agriculture. The possible reasons of the differences between the results of the two evaluations were explored, and these established the optimal combination of the public participation during the preparation of the landscape management programs.
I also found, that the local knowledge is the most important in the case of the evaluations related to the historical–cultural and the visual–perceptional topics. In the case of the former the involvement of the locals into the preparation of landscape management plans is important to preserve the local culture and traditions, and awareness raising. I justified, that those key landscape elements can be identified with the participation methods, which are not protected, however, preserve the culture and values of the region and the locals (e.g. folk architecture). In the case of the visual-perceptional topic, for the locals also exist those landscape elements, which can define the landscape and its value most markedly (e.g. castles) (Figure 1). There is not any national, homogenized database, which collects, organizes these landscape elements with their surroundings, landscape contexts. That is why in the case of visual–perceptional-type evaluations during the planning and strategy development the involvement of the local stakeholders is necessary to identify the determinative elements.
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Primdahl, J. Kristensen, L. S. and Swaffield, S. (2013): Guiding rural landscape change: Current policy approaches and potentials of landscape strategy making as a policy integrating approach. Applied Geography 42, 86–94. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2013.04.004
Tulloch, D. (2008): Public participation GIS (PPGIS).In: Kemp, K. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of geographic information science (352–355). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412953962.n165
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