Terras de Coura Landscape Plan is a pilot project in Portugal concerning the implementation of the European Convention for Landscape on a municipal level. This project was made possible by the approval of the application presented by the City Council of Paredes de Coura for community funds – NORTH 2020 NATIONAL HERITAGE. For its elaboration, the City Council established a partnership with various local agents, namely: Valminho Florestal, Centro de Estudos Arnaldo Araújo/ESAP and Leiras do Carvalhal Lda, a private company in Paredes de Coura.
The Landscape Plan in progress abides to the objectives of the European Convention for Landscape, ratified by Portugal in 2005, and also to the guidelines set out in the National Architecture and Landscape Policy (PNAP) approved by the government by the RCM 45/2015, 7th july.
However, there is not yet a legal figure in Portugal to serve as a guideline for the elaboration of Landscape Plans on a municipal level. Hence, and albeit all the mentioned developments, we have chosen to follow closely the European methodologies such as those defined in Spain, France and Italy. For example, you will find common elements with the pla de paisatge in various Ayuntamentos of the Autonomous Region of Catalonia, presently in course.
Thus, the landscape plan, through its elaboration methodologies and distinct phases, started off to define ten Landscape Units which portray the Paredes de Coura territory. At a later stage, the quality objectives were established for each one of these units. On the last phase, an Action Plan was prepared, where various actions such as projects and measures aiming at protecting, managing and planning the Landscape Units, were defined. These measures were thereafter classified as “cross measures, general measures by area of intervention and measures per landscape unit”.
This Project, besides promoting the elaboration of the methodology of the Pilot-project for the Landscape Plan for Terras de Coura, aimed to simultaneously involve the local authorities and the local people so as to enable them to preserve their own identity and to motivate the community to its role in the construction of the Landscape. In fact, various local communities and local agents have to this point been present in these actions.
Indeed, the elaboration process for the Landscape Plan, its methodology, abiding to the various European methodologies, involved the public participation and the community’s direct participation, not only to convey knowledge of local features, but also to promote actions of pedagogical awareness in order to ensure a better understanding and implementation of the projects and actions to be developed in the future.
Throughout the first stage of the Landscape Plan elaboration process, carried out from October 2016 to October 2017, which brought us to the referred Action Plan, various sessions with the general public were held. The general public included the municipal chamber employees, the day care children, primary school children, high school children, and professional school pupils, as well as local associations, agents and businessmen. We held twenty seven sessions with 445 (four hundred forty-five) participants and collected a total of 444 (four hundred forty-four) inquiry answers.
The public participation process included an on-line publication of the reports and mapping, also enabling the on-line surveys to be carried out.
One of the most visible outputs of the action plan was the creation of the Landscape Observatory in May 2017, involving all the partner institutions of the project and the IBERICAGROFOREST (Associação Agroflorestal Ibérica).