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.
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.