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Cultural landscape images in landscape planning – "KULAKon - The constitution of cultural landscape"

Project information
Cultural landscape images in landscape planning – "KULAKon - The constitution of cultural landscape"
German Research Foundation (DFG)
2008 - 2011
Project partners
Leibniz-Institut für ökologische Raumentwicklung e.V.  Dresden (IÖR), Dr. Markus Leibenath, Antje Otto

Leibniz-Institut für Regionalentwicklung und Strukturplanung Erkner (IRS), Dr. Heiderose Kilper, Dr. Ludger Gailing

Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde Leipzig (IfL),
Dr. Sabine Tzschaschel, Monika Micheel

Research associate
Dipl.-Geogr. Wera Wojtkiewicz

Adina Tillack (student assistant)
Project lead
Prof. Dr. Stefan Heiland

Description and Results

The project was carried out as part of the joint project "KULAKon – Constituting Cultural Landscape". Partners were the Leibniz Institute for Ecological and Regional Development (IOER) in Dresden, the Leibniz Institute for Spatial Development and Structural Research (IRS) in Erkner and the Institute of Regional Geography (IfL) in Leipzig. Together, the individual projects of the partners explored the question which social processes lead us to speak of "cultural landscapes", how we come to value landscapes as e.g. "beautiful", "worthy of protection" or "disturbed" and how this leads to regional landscape-related cooperation processes. The theoretical basis of the project were constructivist-oriented spatial and landscape theories, which understand landscape as culturally and socially determined constructs with symbolic functions.

In this context, the department examined which ideas and valuations of cultural landscapes affect municipal landscape planning, under which conditions they arise and for what reasons they are used as guidelines and objectives of landscape planning. The respective analysis of randomly selected landscape plans showed, among other things:

  • The understanding of (cultural) landscapes expressed in landscape plans is predominantely homogeneous, regardless of spatial circumstances (rural – urban), legal requirements and planning period.
  • The words 'landscape' and 'cultural landscape' are not defined, a uniform understanding is obviously assumed. Both words are used in a similar way, whereby 'cultural landscape' is mentioned somewhat more frequently in connection with historical aspects, certain landscape elements (hedges, field margins, individual trees etc.) and human land use.
  • The 'ideal landscape/scenery' in landscape plans is characterized by structural richness, a small scale, extensive forms of land use and panoramic overviews. Technical infrastructure, large buildings, noise and intensively used large agricultural areas are judged to be negative. A clear contrast between settlement and 'open landscape' is expressed.
  • Landscapes are considered to be valuable primarily because of their 'ecological' significance, especially as a habitat for flora and fauna. Cultural and aesthetic values only play a minor role, the relevance of landscapes for land use is hardly discussed.
  • Especially the last two points mentioned seem to be strongly determined by legal requirements or their interpretation by planners and municipalities. In interviews landscape planners stated that they are critical of planning predominantly oriented towards traditional or pre-industrial landscape images.
  • A comparison with the results of the project at the IfL Leipzig showed that laypersons have similar ideas of an ideal landscape as expressed by landscape plans. This could be regarded as an indication that landscape planning objectives are compatible with day-to-day conceptions. However, landscape planning’s arguments are primarily 'ecological’, while the layperson's view is strongly based on socio-cultural motives such as beauty and recreation. Both views contradict current and socially accepted trends in landscape development. This shows that the societal understanding of landscape is contradictory in itself.


Wojtkiewicz, W.; Heiland, S. (2012): Landschaftsverständnisse in der Landschaftsplanung. Eine semantische Analyse der Verwendung des Wortes 'Landschaft' in kommunalen Landschaftsplänen. In: Raumforschung und Raumordnung, Band 70, Heft 2 (2012), S. 133-145. DOI: 10.1007/s13147-011-0138-7 . Link: https://content.sciendo.com/view/journals/rara/70/2/article-p133.xml

Leibenath, M.; Heiland, S.; Kilper, H.; Tzschaschel, S. (Hrsg.) (2013): Wie werden Landschaften gemacht? Sozialwissenschaftliche Perspektiven auf die Konstituierung von Kulturlandschaften. 1. Aufl. Bielefeld: transcript.

Wojtkiewicz, W.; Heiland, S. (2013): Welche Bedeutung hat Landschaft? Landschaftsverständnisse in der Landschaftsplanung. In: Leibenath et al (Hrsg.): Wie werden Landschaften gemacht? Sozialwissenschaftliche Perspektiven auf die Konstituierung von Kulturlandschaften. Transcript: Bielefeld. S. 133 – 168.

Wojtkiewicz, W. (2015): Sinn – Bild – Landschaft: Landschaftsverständnisse in der Landschaftsplanung. Eine Untersuchung von Idealvorstellungen und Bedeutungszuweisungen. Dissertation. TU Berlin. https://depositonce.tu-berlin.de/handle/11303/4893

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