Photo by Stella-Zoë Schmidtler

Insights and Outlooks

On the diversity of landscape

City or country, degraded or high-quality, beautiful or ordinary: as we begin to take a new look at land, to rethink it, Nature steps into the forefront.

We firmly believe that the cultivation of productive landscapes and an inclusive approach to them not only provides us humans with measurable benefits for the present, but also enables us to look to the future with optimism.

What is landscape? The European Landscape Convention (Florence, October 20, 2000) defines landscape as “part of the land, as perceived by local people or visitors, which evolves through time as a result of being acted upon by natural forces and human beings.”

To date, the Landscape Convention has been signed and ratified by 40 member States of the Council of Europe. It describes the goal of achieving “sustainable development based on a balanced and harmonious relationship between social needs, economic activity and the environment.” It is recognized that landscape plays an important public interest role in cultural, ecological, environmental and social areas.

A preamble to the convention states, among other things: “that the landscape is an important part of the quality of life for people everywhere: in urban areas and in the countryside, in degraded areas as well as in areas of high quality, in areas recognised as being of outstanding beauty as well as everyday areas.”

The challenges of climate change show us that we cannot simply naturalize away the sins of the past. Especially now that the pandemic has shown us how vulnerable we are, it’s important to think forward with hope and not settle for yesterday’s solutions. From ending poverty to biodiversity, health and well-being to peace and justice – keeping the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in mind, we need to rethink land. We need a different perspective, a new view of the (living) spaces we call landscape, where we can implement the goals of the European Landscape Convention.

The word of the future is “gift.” What gifts do people, institutions, and open spaces bring to the table? The concept of productive landscape fills spaces with a network of relationships and renewed productivity. The combination of Nature and respectful culture makes it possible to create places for trusting cooperation with each other. Places that also allow future generations to feel hopeful about quality of life in both urban and rural areas. because space draws people closer to Nature.

MIND (Milano Innovation District)

MIND (Milano Innovation District)

Nature in Movement

New urban landscapes grow from the surrounding region and shape the city space

MIND (Milano Innovation District)

The key players are ready. At the former site of Expo2015, an urban space is developing where Nature creates a high quality interaction with homes, life and work. The model of an aesthetic shaped by ethics becomes visible in the new urban landscapes. Seen from the edges of Milan, the center seems peripheral.

© Photo TECNE Gruppo Autostrade per l'Italia S.p.A.

© Photo TECNE Gruppo Autostrade per l'Italia S.p.A.

Moving Across Nature

Without mobility there’s no life, but without a relationship to the landscape, there’s no development

INTERSECTION OF HIGHWAYS Panoramica and Direttissima (Rioveggio)

Infrastructure guarantees that people can safely move from point A to point B. It’s both part of the landscape and dominates it. If infrastructure is placed in relationship with space and local ecosystems, those grey ribbons are no longer extraneous bodies. And they can become a green space partner.

Photo by Stella-Zoë Schmidtler

Photo by Stella-Zoë Schmidtler

Nature Under Your Feet

Well-trodden paths can become attractive again if we cultivate the landscape and bring nature to life

HIKING TRAILS in the South Tyrol 

Climate change is causing changes in vegetation and landscape structures. Plant and animal habitats are in danger, as are those of the people who live here. When biodiversity is fostered in agricultural areas, the joy of being in Nature returns and opportunities for green tourism emerge.

Photo by Stefano Roman

Photo by Stefano Roman

Nature For All

What is wild, beautiful, and healthy should no longer be protected only in isolation, but should act as social moderator


Innovative methods harness natural resources, whether at the edge of the desert or in urban areas worldwide. It’s now about cultivating the landsca­pe, so that people can feel uplifted in their social and cultural spaces and connected to Nature.

Photo by Stella Schmidtler

Photo by Stella Schmidtler

Soil Shapes Landscape

But the approach to it must be ecologically measurable and economically calculable.


Without Mother Earth, there is no landscape. This applies to wasteland as well as gardens. In a productive landscape, Nature comes alive and becomes a source of quality of life. Planning based on natural capital is an epochal sea change that we must not squander, especially in terms of our responsibility to future generations.

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