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Protected landscapes in the Netherlands: changing ideas and approaches

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Following international initiatives to safeguard the most valuable cultural landscapes, the Dutch government has recently introduced National Landscapes; these are landscapes of international importance because they are either unique to the Netherlands or are seldom found elsewhere. The main policy goal is to preserve the existing landscape quality, while at the same time promoting sustainable social and economic development of the area's communities. The designation of 20 National Landscapes represents the youngest attempt to introduce IUCN-Category V protected landscapes in the Netherlands. Earlier attempts to promote the preservation of cultural landscapes date back to the 1970s. However, the original ideas were already formulated during the inter-war period. This paper traces back these earlier ideas on landscape conservation. During the period under investigation, the evolution of ideas on landscape conservation shifted from regulatory to more developmental modes of planning and from authoritative to decentralized-liberal arrangements. It is argued that factors influencing this shift are the changed position and function of agriculture, the altered role of government planning and a paradigm shift in natural heritage management.

Keywords: National Landscapes; countryside planning; landscape conservation; natural heritage; the Netherlands

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Spatial Planning, Province of North-Brabant, 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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