The European Landscape Convention (ELC) is the first international convention to focus specifically on landscape, and is dedicated exclusively to the protection, management and planning of all landscapes in Europe. The ELC became binding from 1 March 2007. The convention highlights the need to recognise landscape in law, to develop landscape policies dedicated to the protection, management and creation of landscapes, and to establish procedures for the participation of the general public and other stakeholders in the creation and implementation of landscape policies. It also encourages the integration of landscape into all relevant areas of policy, including cultural, economic and social policies.
The ELC covers natural, rural, urban and peri-urban areas. It includes land, inland water and marine areas including landscapes that might be considered outstanding as well as others which might be thought of as everyday or degraded.
The ELC considers that every landscape forms the setting for the lives of the population concerned; the quality of those landscapes affects everyone’s lives. Consequently, the ELC seeks a democratic approach, with citizens taking an active role in the decision-making process. This moves away from the idea that landscape protection or management is an exclusive field monopolised by specialist scientific and technical bodies.