Understanding public perceptions of landscape A case study from Gozo, Malta

Elisabeth Conrad, Mike Christie, Ioan Fazey

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    39 Citations (Scopus)


    The European Landscape Convention (ELC) establishes public participation as both an instrumental and substantive goal. Indeed, the ELC defines the very notion of landscape as “an area as perceived by people…”. There is thus an important role to be played by perception research in determining how the ELC can best be implemented in practical terms. The present paper aims to assess how an understanding of public perception can usefully inform local implementation of the European Landscape Convention. To address this aim, we use a case study on the island of Gozo (Malta). An Internet survey mechanism was used to identify public views on the concept of landscape and aspects of landscape character and change. Results were evaluated with reference to (i) coherence between the ELC and public views, and (ii) local capacity to participate in decision-making. Findings indicate that the notion of ‘landscape’ in public understanding does not fully reflect the concept and scope of the ELC. However, substantial knowledge of, and interest in, landscape matters was apparent amongst the public, and there was also significant consensus across different respondent groups. The study highlighted key areas of concern for implementation of the ELC, including the need for improved communication between policy-makers and the public and the need to address the perceived ineffectiveness of public participation mechanisms.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)159-170
    Number of pages12
    JournalApplied Geography
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


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