Integrated landscape character assessment

Integrated landscape character assessment (ILCA) is a method for establishing the landscape as regional platform for cooperation between national and regional authorities.

In our project "Including landscape in long-term spatial planning" (Landskap i långsiktig planering) we have developed a method for an integrated landscape character assessment which comprises aspects such as the perceived landscape, the historical landscape and landscape ecology .

The analysis has been carried out in the Västra Götaland Region, covering an area of 24 000 sq km including the second largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg. The regional and national plans for transport infrastructure (2010-2021) have been used as preconditions for assessments.

The project creates a common arena where regional and national authorities can meet and discuss the impact of the plan. By understanding and explaining how the landscape is composed and functions, the method presents a multi disciplinary tool for finding the sensitivity and potential in every landscape. This has made it possible to assess what effect new infrastructure and the plurality of management activities may have on the landscape.

With the knowledge from the integrated landscape character assessment it is possible to initiate and manage activities that can enhance landscape qualities early in the planning process. These are questions that may not usually be addressed, but have a great potential in both planning and maintaining infrastructure.

The method of integrated landscape character assessment has also been applied in another region, Västmanland. The precondition here has been a regional development plan. The results show that the method provides a new arena for regional planning that is useful for making landscape issues visible and that landscape qualities can become an important factor/driving force in the planning process.

In 2013 a range of applied studies and demos will be carried out using ILCA. The intention is that the spatial planners at the Swedish Transport Administration, in the future, always will address landscape characters in early planning stages. And thereby contribute to a sustainable development by enhancing landscape qualities.