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Sustainable Landscape Development by Need Satisfaction, Identification and Participation


In the last decades most of the rural communities in Switzerland experienced a process of urbanisation, connected with more or less drastic landscape changes. It could also be observed that in the same period locals withdrew from the surrounding "every-day-landscape" and the sense of responsibility for the community was lost. Both processes seem to be connected, in the sense that urbanisation in rural communities runs contrary to the needs of the locals and compells them to compensate elsewere. In order to be able to stop this socially and ecologically harmful process, an answer has to be found to the following questions:

  1. What needs of the people can be met by the "every-day-landscape"?
  2. Why don't people use existing participatory tools to shape their "every-day-landscape"?
  3.  How could they be encouraged to participate?

To assess the landscape needs of people, qualitative interviews with locals of two rural communities in Switzerland were conducted and analysed; in a second step of analysis the results were interpreted borrowing theories and approaches from environmental psychology. To explore potential ways of people involvement, various participatory processes were launched in both communities. They were observed with methods of action research.

We found that the most important functions of housing (regulation of identity, social interaction and social emotions) are very relevant on the level of the everyday landscape and thus they seem to be the most important landscape functions for the local people. The insufficience of these functions can explain why the local residents tend to withdraw from their everyday landscape.

The most important cause of this appeared to be the lack of suitable opportunities for the local residents to participate in shaping their everyday landscape. To foster participation new communicative instruments are needed, which allow to exchange ideas without risking to be expelled from the village community. Such instruments were evaluated in the two communities and proved to be effective. At the same time, it became clear that fostering a participatory landscape development requires a longterm lerning process.

This project served as a basis for the project "How to involve residents in shaping their landscape".


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