Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Biogeography

New EU FP-7 project HERCULES started

The new project 'Sustainable futures for Europe’s HERitage in CULtural landscapES (HERCULES): Tools for understanding, managing, and protecting landscape functions and values' was just kicked off in Brussels. HERCULES seeks to better understand the characteristics, spatial patterns, and dynamics in Europe's cultural landscapes in order to develop tools to help protect, manage, and plan for sustainable landscapes.HERCULES is funded by the European Commission (FP7).

European cultural landscapes are valued as everyday living environment, countryside, heritage, scenery with aesthetic and recreational qualities and unique biodiversity, and as a source of ecosystem services that they provide to society. Cultural landscapes, however, are undergoing rapid and fundamental transformations across Europe, mainly as a result of an on-going polarization of land use, with abandonment and rural exodus on the one hand, and intensification and (peri-) urbanisation on the other. So far, substantial challenges have inhibited the design of effective responses to safeguard cultural landscape values.

The HERCULES project strives for the empowerment of public and private actors to protect, manage, and plan for sustainable landscapes of significant cultural, historical, and archaeological value at local, national, and pan-European scales. By applying and developing innovative technologies and tools for assessing and mapping cultural landscapes, the project will (a) synthesise existing knowledge on drivers, patterns, and outcomes of persistence and change in Europe’s cultural landscapes; (b) perform targeted case studies to develop in-depth insights on dynamics and values of cultural landscapes; (c) develop a typology of cultural landscapes and scale-up case study insights using observations and landscape modelling; (d) develop visions for re-coupling social and ecological components in cultural landscapes and translate them into policy and  management options; and (e) design and implement a community-based Knowledge Hub for Good Landscape Practice and demonstrate it with land users, agencies, SMEs, and citizen associations.

HERCULES comprises European universities, SMEs, NGOs, and a research institute that are leaders in landscape science and practice. The project follows the European Landscape Convention’s call for transdisciplinary research and involves all actors with stakes in cultural landscapes of historical and archaeological value.

More information on www.hercules-landscapes.eu