Landscape Matters (originally the Living Landscapes Project) was established in the mid-1990s as a partnership between local authorities to develop and apply Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) as a tool for countryside management and land use planning. Since its inception Landscape Matters has worked in close partnership with government agencies, local authorities and NGOs, both in the UK and overseas.
As a founding member Steven Warnock pioneered a technique for mapping the natural and cultural character of landscapes. This work grew out of the Warwickshire Landscapes Project (1988-91) and subsequent work with a number of pioneering local authorities in the Midlands (Derbyshire, Hereford & Worcester and Staffordshire) to develop and map LDUs at a county (1:50,000) level. The development of Historic Landscape Character (HLC) maps at this time also provided a key data set that allowed the historic/cultural dimension of the landscape to be incorporated into the characterisation process. Continued interest in LDU mapping during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s allowed a coherent local scale LDU map to be created, which now covers over half the land area in England (West Midlands, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, East of England, Kent, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and the Peak District, as well as a less detailed coverage of the remainder of North West England). A complete nationwide LDU map has also been produced at a broad (1:250,000) scale for the whole of England and Wales.
Geoffrey Griffiths retired from the Department of Geography & Environmental Science at the University of Reading in 2018, after 25 years of teaching and research in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and landscape ecology. He continues to work on projects in Africa and the UK as a research fellow in the School of Agriculture at the University of Reading and independently for Landscape Matters. Recent projects for example, have included Sentinel (Trade-offs in society and environment in African Agriculture) with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and a large-scale project on land use planning in NW Liberia.
Landscape Matters has considerable experience in the development and application of Landscape Character Assessment for a range of land use planning and countryside management. We also work overseas, specifically training and capacity building in landscape ecology, land use planning and resource management:
- Definition of Landscape Character Types (LCTs) based on LDU mapping at scales ranging from the regional (1:250,000), through the local (1:50,000) to the farm (land cover parcel) level;
- Analysis of the strength of character and condition of a landscape, providing the tools for:
- evaluating the sensitivity of different landscapes;
- developing landscape strategies and management guidelines for different landscapes.
- Training in landscape character assessment and the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology. This has involved training both in the UK and overseas, including Cyprus, Malta, Vietnam, Ghana and Liberia, both in landscape mapping and landscape ecology.
Landscape Matters has worked with a range of clients, including national agencies, local authorities and NGOs both in the UK and overseas.
Recent examples include:
The Brecon Beacons National Park Authority
Objective: To map Landscape Character Types (LCTs) for the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, in support of the Nature Recovery Action Plan.
IDH, The Netherlands
Objective: Development of land use plans for part of Lofa county NW Liberia in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) Liberia, the University of Reading, ITC (The Netherlands). A landscape framework was employed to develop land use plans for forest protection and agricultural development.
Oxfordshire County Council
Objectives: Revision of an existing Level 2 LDU framework, to incorporate the recently completed HLC, with the long-term aim of undertaking a sensitivity analysis to assist with countywide planning and the development of landscape strategies/management guidelines for all landscapes across of the county.
Natural Resources Wales
Objective: A 3-year project to develop a method to identify sites for habitat restoration and re-creation at the landscape scale across the whole of Wales.
Peak District National Park Authority
Objective: Development of a Park wide Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) to help underpin existing ecological and historical strategies to inform the implementation of National Park countryside management and land use planning policies.
East of England Region:
Objective: A 2-year study to develop a GIS-based landscape framework for the East of England, building on existing county based studies in Suffolk and Hertfordshire, to create a map of Landscape Types for the whole region, involving close collaboration with Regional, County and other partners.