Commemorating the tenth anniversary of the promulgation of the European Landscape Convention, the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and the Office of the Minister of State for the Environment of the Ministry of Agriculture jointly organized a workshop on the Convention’s implementation. On this occasion, Ombudsman for Future Generations Gyula Bándi opened the exhibition “For the Preservation of Our Landscape Heritage”, displaying the best Hungarian practices of community landscape use adapted to the local conditions. The exhibition is open to the general public until November 10.
The European Landscape Convention was adopted by the Council of Europe in July 2000; Hungary acceded to it in 2005, and the related legislative act was promulgated by the Parliament in 2007. This is the first international convention to deal exclusively with the protection, management, and development of the landscape, also aiming at facilitating European cooperation in the field of landscape conservation. In order to raise awareness about the importance of landscape conservation, the Council of Europe has proclaimed October 20, from this year on, the International Landscape Day.
In his keynote speech, Gyula Bándi paid tribute to Mihály Mőcsényi, a prominent authority on domestic landscape architecture, who passed away recently, at the age of 98. His work was also praised by other participants, his former students. The Ombudsman emphasized that the landscape is the common heritage of the nation, as well as an important part of the national wealth, to the protection of which major attention has been paid by both himself and his predecessors in the course of their activities.
High-ranking professionals from the competent ministries presented the tasks deriving from the Convention and the results achieved in the course of their implementation. The overall objective of the National Landscape Strategy that has been developed this year is the responsible use of the landscape adapted to the local conditions, including wise and frugal land use and landscape-friendly infrastructure.
The experts of the National Coordination Working Group presented the changes to the Hungarian landscape and the methods used in monitoring those changes, including, in particular, the application of state-of-the-art remote sensing methods.
Staff members of the Ombudsman’s Office approached the issues of townscape regulation and the role of public participation in preserving landscape values in the light of fundamental rights.
During the workshop, representatives of various civil organizations and local communities – participants of the Council of Europe’s Landscape Award competition and first prize winners of the Hungarian Landscape Award competition – also presented their activities, endeavors, and plans. Gábor Forgó, Mayor of Mátraderecske, winner of the latest National Landscape Award, stated that, as a result of the resurrection and further development of traditional landscape management, and training programs based on rural farming, they had succeeded in making the inhabitants capable of attaining self-sufficiency in a settlement that had been plagued by massive unemployment and public safety problems. At the same time, as a result of cleaning up and revitalizing unkempt grazing lands, and bringing derelict gardens into production, the quality of the settlement’s environment had also greatly improved. Capitalizing on the special features of the landscape, medical tourism is also on the rise.
Representatives of other communities, from Bükkalja through the Slovenian border area to the Gerecse region, also reported success in the field of developing tourism, which provides opportunities also to present local cultural assets. The organizers of the competition expressed their hope that the example shown by the successful entries would help even more communities to build their future and plans on the local landscape, to provide more secure livelihood to local citizens, thus contributing to strengthening those communities’ cohesion and protecting nature as well.