Conserving landscape diversity

Protecting healthy landscapes
Conserving biodiversity through landscape management

The enhancement of the ecological function of land cover, including riparian and alluvial vegetation, to combat erosion and maintain the water cycle supporting ecosystems and habitats important for biodiversity.


Many countries have areas with special natural qualities characterized by the harmonious interaction between resident populations and the land. Some, but by no means all, such areas are protected landscapes.

Land use patterns and practices have a major influence on biodiversity around the world. In some cases land use patterns and practices support the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, while in others they cause serious threats. In this context, agriculture generates both benefits and pressures on biodiversity depending, in many cases, on practices, biogeography, grazing periods, etc. Fields and pastures, along with forests and natural areas, form part of the rural landscape. Agricultural land often provides and creates important habitats for wildlife. Land, or the soil itself, plays an important function in the hydrological cycle and in cleansing the air of noxious gases, such as ammonia.


[Europe] The Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy presents an innovative and proactive approach to stop and reverse the degradation of biological and landscape diversity values in Europe. Innovative, because it addresses all biological and landscape initiatives under one European approach. Proactive, because it promotes the integration of biological and landscape diversity considerations into social and economic sectors. The Strategy reinforces the implementation of existing measures and identifies additional actions that need to be taken over the next two decades. The Strategy also provides a framework to promote a consistent approach and common objectives for national and regional action to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The aims of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy are: (1) Threats to Europe's biological and landscape diversity are reduced substantially; (2) Resilience of Europe's biological and landscape diversity is increased; (3) Ecological coherence of Europe as a whole is strengthened; (4) Full public involvement in conservation of biological and landscape diversity is assured.

Strategy objectives are: (a) Conservation, enhancement and restoration of key ecosystems, habitats, species and landscape features through the creation and effective management of the Pan-European Ecological Network; (b) Sustainable management and use of the positive potential of Europe's biological and landscape diversity through making optimum use of the social and economic opportunities on a national and regional level; (c) Integration of biological and landscape diversity conservation and sustainable use objectives into all sectors managing or affecting such diversity; (d) Improved information on and awareness of biological and landscape diversity issues, and increased public participation in actions to conserve and enhance such diversity; (e) Improved understanding of the state of Europe's biological and landscape diversity and the processes that render them sustainable; (f) Assurance of adequate financial means to implement the Strategy.

Specifically in relation to the conservation of landscapes, the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy has the following action plan: (1) Compile a comprehensive reference guide on European biological and landscape diversity; (2) Establish guidelines to address policies, programmes and legislation for mutually supportive protection of biodiversity, cultural and geological heritage; (3) Set up a Code of Practice to involve landowners to promote awareness of biodiversity of landscapes traditionally valued/managed for their historical and cultural importance; (4) Establish an action plan using awareness techniques, guidelines and demonstrations to safeguard geological features in the landscape, actively involve and consult landowners and the energy, industry and water management sectors in their conservation; (5) Investigate the relationship between traditional landscape and regional economy.


There is a strong case from a nature conservation viewpoint for maintaining extensive grazing systems widely across Europe. From an ecological perspective, it is probably true that, for many plants and animals, viable populations will survive only where land can be managed at landscape scale. Major elements characterizing these extensive systems include: free-range management systems; mosaic habitats; and non-static locations of vegetation types.

Type Classification:
C: Cross-sectoral strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 15: Life on Land