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Landscape character

Initial regulation: Full wording of the Act No. 114/1992 Gazette on the nature and landscape protection, as results from later amendments.

Section 12

(1) The landscape character, which is particularly natural, cultural and historical characteristic of certain place or area, shall be protected from any activity reducing its aesthetic and natural values. Interventions into the landscape character, in particular placing and permitting of buildings, may by carried out only with having regard to the preservation of significant landscape components, specially protected areas, cultural dominant points of the landscape, and harmonious standards and relations in the landscape.

(2) Approval of a nature protection authority shall be necessary for placing and permitting of buildings, as well as for another activities, which could impair or change the landscape character. Details of protection of landscape character may be set out by the Ministry of the Environment in a generally binding legal regulation.

(3) For the purpose of protection of the landscape character with significant concentrated aesthetic and natural values, which is not specially protected pursuant to Part three of this Act, a nature protection authority may, through a generally binding legal regulation, establish a natural park, and set out restrictions on such use of the area which would mean destruction of, damage to, or disturbance of the status of this area.  

Landscape character protection is defined as general protection, as such it is valid in the whole territory of the Czech Republic. In landscape protected areas more attention is paid to it as conservation of harmonious image of the cultural landscape and regulation of interference is an important object of PLA administrations work.

What does landscape character protection mean?

Each Administration of PLA within administrative proceedings is competent to grant approval of constructions or not and so does in case of other activities that could harm or change landscape character. The Act does not regulate the assesment proceedings but the first article defines the subjects of protection.

Methodology and assessment process

In reality, two types of assesment are possible. The first one is to asses landscape character of the given area, which is usually devided into smaller parts. The values and character is described for each part. Not only this groundwork serves as aesthetic and natural values assesment, but can be used as well as a preventive expert groundwork[1] (not effectual) for assesment regarding other use and changes in the area. The second way  is based on assesment of concrete plan effect on landscape character, so the effect and form is assesed for the concrete part of the environment.

Methodological recommendation and groundwork for landscape character assesment:

1) Hodnocení krajinného rázu a jeho uplatňování ve veřejné správě - metodické doporučení (Landscape Character Assesment and its Implementation by State Administration - Methodological Recommendations), Agentura ochrany přírody a krajiny (AOPK) ČR 1999, Míchal, I. et al.

2) Metodický podklad hodnocení krajinného rázu v chráněných krajinných oblastech (Methodology of Landscape Character Assesment in Landscape Protected Areas), SCHKO ČR 1997, Bukáček, R., Matějka, P. a kol.

3) Landscape character assesment by Doc. Ing. arch I. Vorel, Csc.

4) Landscape character assesment by Doc. Ing. arch J. Löw

5) Krajinný ráz. Lesnická práce (Landscape character, forest concept),  Kostelec nad Černými lesy 2003, Löw, J. a Míchal, I

6) Posouzení vlivu navrhované stavby, činnosti nebo změny využití území na krajinný ráz - metodický postup (Assesment of Effects of Intended Constructions, Activities or Changes in Land Use on Landscape Character), ČVUT, Praha 2004, Vorel, I., Bukáček, R., Matějka, P, Culek, M., Sklenička P.


Some aspects regarding landscape character

The final landscape character assesment results from the quality of individual components. Cultural and historical landscape character reflects settling and life of the landscape. Natural value reflects especially quality and diversity of natural components. All these characteristics including effects of the man and its activities (settlings, isolated buildings, small constructions, paths, farming land, ponds etc.) forms landscape character. When current single patches of land of different shape and colour are put together it results in impression of aesthetic harmony (or disharmony) composed of different qualities. To alleviate subjective evaluation it is good to base it on accustomed knowledge of what is aestetical[2] and what contributes to harmony of the environment (i. e. objective aspect of the assesment).

The landscape character description claims to recognize what are typical features of the landscape area. By recognizing natural or culture features, monitoring mutual relationship and time-spacial chages we get information about system functioning, the value and also about visual aspect of the area. Quality grade (for example high aestehic value of the area) determines another usage of the area. It is obvious that more severe restrictions regarding construction and other activities in the area are implied in areas with a large amount of    

conserved features. Nevertheles, the assesment cannot be based only on knowledge about quality of values without taking into considaration what effect will the intention have on the environment. This way of assessing is an alternative one, by assessing of different scenarios the optimal one is chosen. It is crucial to understand that some intentions have mostly vertical effect (for example wind power

plants can influence localities that are quite far). These construction have to be assesed individually taking into consideration the concrete place and landscape area before approval granting. In this case the assesment cannot be generalized. Views of the horizonts either villages or landscape are one of the frequent ways of describing landscape character beside dominant elements and features.

1] During 199 - 2003 landscape character assesment studies were worked out for 16 PLA´s. They are following: Blaník, Broumovsko, Český kras, Český ráj, České středohoří, Jeseníky, Jizerské hory, Litovelské Pomoraví, Moravský kras, Orlické hory, Pálava, Třeboňsko, Slavkovský les, Žďárské vrchy, Železné hory a Šumava.

[2] I. Vorel tries to make landscape character objective through aesthetical value content, which is defined through aesthetical norm.

"Aesthetical norm is a sort of filter that influences the aesthetical way of perceiving, feeling and experiencing in certain period, in a certain latitude and longitude and in certain cultural environment. Aesthetical norm depends on the whole range of social influences."..

"Aesthetical landscape values are formed by emotional values as well as values of the content. And just the values of the content are very specific for landscape perceiving and assesing." (Sklenička, P, Vorel, I. (eds.), 1999: Péče o krajinný ráz, cíle a metody (Care for landscape character, objects and methods), Lectures and discussed themes of a workshop taking place on 17th and 18th February at Faculty of Architecture in Prague. Czech Technical University, p. 22)



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