Council of Europe seminar on "Landscape and spatial planning"
Thymio Papayannis, MedWet Senior Advisor, participated in the recent seminar on Landscape and Spatial Planning organised in Tulcea by the Council of Europe and the government of Romania and took part in the three-person round table on the Danube Delta, at the invitation of Med-INA. Here is his brief report on the seminar.
Landscape and spatial planning
In the town of Tulcea, Romania, a harbour on the Danube close to the Black Sea, an information seminar was held during 6-7 May 2004, followed by a visit to the Delta on 8 May. The seminar, very well organised by the Council of Europe and the government of Romania, focused on sustainable spatial planning and the European Landscape Convention. Approximately 80 experts from 18 European countries and Morocco participated, while a strong Romanian delegation was headed by State Secretaries of the Ministries of Culture and Religions Affairs (Ian Opris) and Transports, Construction and Tourism (Gheorghe Patrascu).
The European Landscape Convention has now been signed by 28 states and after ratification by 12 has come into effect on 1 March 2004. It is co-ordinated by Ms. Maguelonne Dejeant-Pons, Head of the Spatial Planning and Landscape Division of the Council of Europe.
The objectives of the seminar were:
- to discuss the role of spatial planning in the conservation, enhancement and management of landscapes;
- to provide information on the purpose and philosophy of the European Landscape Convention;
- to identify steps for its further development, and especially its future interpretation in concrete actions;
- to examine how the Convention could be implemented in Romania, with a focus on the Danube Delta.
As the European Landscape Convention is all-inclusive and covers the entire territory of each country and all sectors that may have an impact, the papers presented concerned a wide range of issues, from administrative and legal aspects to ecological considerations, from the participation of local communities to the need of greater coherence in policies, from education to purely scientific matters. Most concerned experience from various European countries (such as France, Italy, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom), while many focused on the host country, its rich heritage, and its present economic and management difficulties.
There was general agreement that spatial planning, and especially the control of land uses, was an important tool for the preservation and management of landscapes. In addition, water and wetlands were considered as a particularly important element of landscapes, with its own specificities, which were brilliantly analysed by Edith Wenger (from WWF-Germany and its Auen Institute).
The meeting ended in a tense mood, as information obtained indicated that dredging would start at once for a navigation channel to be built in the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta through the core of the wetland, in spite of strong reservations by both UNESCO and the Ramsar Bureau. It is hoped that the Ukrainian authorities will re-examine this project and at least proceed with the preparation of an objective and broad impact study.