Target policies of policy interventions

Welcome to the Cultural Landscape Characterization explorer


Thousands of years of agriculture in Europe have left their marks on European landscapes. In some landscapes, such as the Iberian dehesas or the olive groves of Lesvos, the rich history of land cultivation is still visible, while in other places landscapes have been altered for mass agricultural production. However, any landscape can have value and meaning for people and can contain cultural heritage. It is the diversity of cultural landscapes that makes Europe unique. This tool enables individuals to explore this heritage, allowing users to create their own maps using three defining facets of cultural landscapes: landscape structure, management intensity, and value and meaning.

Olive grove in Lesvos, photo by Cecilia Zagaria

Creating a Landscape Characterization

With this tool you can create your own customized landscape characterization of Europe or any specific region in Europe (EU26+Switzerland). By setting a threshold for each of the three dimensions you assign their relative importance for your own landscapes characterization. The output will be a characterization of cultural landscapes showing which (combination of) dimension(s) is defining the cultural heritage of that landscape. There are separate tools for forest landscapes and agricultural landscapes.

How does it work?

We divided all European land that is either covered with forest or agriculture into pixels of one square kilometer. All these pixels received a score for each dimension between zero and one. A low score represents a relatively low cultural value on that dimension while a high score represents a high value. By setting the threshold for each dimension you define which landscapes are ‘characterized’ by this dimensions and which are not. For instance a high threshold for the landscape structure dimension will result in only those landscapes with the highest score on this dimension to be characterized as such.

The values were calculated with combinations of normalized indicators for each dimension. Management intensity represents how intensively the landscape is used for commodity production such as agricultural produce and wood harvesting. Low intensity yields a higher value. The landscape structure dimension distinguishes small scale structured landscapes from large open fields. The value and meaning dimension represents the less tangible aspects of the landscape and is based on how people value it. A detailed description of the data used to obtain the scores on each dimension can be found here.