Evaluating Landscape Governance A Tool for Legal-Ecological Assessments
If, and to what extent, landscapes can be governed by legal and social norms was the guiding question of a transdisciplinary research project funded by the Austrian Cultural Landscape Programme. The project involved three research organisations and several partners in public administration, politics and business. In a common effort, they developed a new methodological tool for the evaluation of legal effects on landscape development. The legal-ecological assessment draws on the basic assumption that legal regulations cannot impact on the ecological sphere directly, but can only intend to influence human behaviour.[-12pt]
Deliberately or not, human activities shape landscapes and impact on their aesthetic, recreational and ecological functions. The sociology of law and anthropology of law are scientific disciplines that are dedicated to the analysis of the interdependencies between law and society. Interestingly, the relationship between law and landscape has not yet attracted major scientific attention. Nevertheless, numerous legal regulations are not only supposed to control the social system, but in the case of environmental law, they are also intended to influence ecosystems, biodiversity, or landscape development. The extent to which law can help to govern landscape development is examined in the remainder of this chapter, using the agricultural landscape and the associated socio-economic and ecological processes as anbreak example.[-12pt]
The tool for systematic impact assessments is based on a framework of crucial determinants that describe legal effects on human behaviour and landscape development and on procedures to assess the extent of legally induced landscape effects. The assessment tool has been applied for different types of regulations in three Austrian case studies. The empirical research indicates varying gaps between the intended and actual landscape effects, which might be explained by different determinants, such as the actual knowledge and acceptance of norms by the land users or frequency and average severity of controls and actualbreak penalties.[-12pt]
Based on the theoretical and empirical insights into the mechanisms of how law impacts on landscape, an ‘outlook’ section reflects on opportunities for more effective landscape governance in the future. In the context of this project, the hboxtransdisciplinary approach proved a successful procedure, which was based on the personal dedication of all people involved inside and outside academia and their willingness to contribute to integrative intellectual dialogs.
KeywordsLaw Implementation Landscape Evaluation Effective governance
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