The South Hams Landscape Character Areas
The importance of Devon’s landscape
Devon’s landscape is an important educational resource, providing inherent interest and allowing us to understand natural and cultural influences that have shaped the landscape we see today, as well as those that are likely to shape Devon’s future landscape. Landscapes link to many core areas of the curriculum, including earth science, geography, history, art, literature, map-making, environmental management and citizenship. They can, therefore, provide a focus for a project with multiple learning outcomes.
Understanding landscape is essential for planning that is informed by local distinctiveness. Understanding of landscape underpins decisions about capacity for new development and for strategic spatial planning. Landscapes often span administrative boundaries and recognising this will help with collaborative spatial planning. Considering landscape during the planning process is important for meeting the requirements of the European Landscape Convention which requires strong forward looking planning actions to enhance, restore or create landscapes.
New development changes landscape character; hence understanding the existing landscape character context for new development is essential for sustainable planning. Development can be used to create and enhance landscape character if it is appropriately planned; however, inappropriate development can weaken and erode landscape character. It is therefore essential that the planning of new development takes account of landscape character and seeks to strengthen and enhance it. For example, design guidance and development briefs based on landscape character can help us understand how buildings and other features associated with development can reflect and contribute to landscape character.
Climate change will put pressure on the landscape. The goods and services that the landscape provides for people, such as food and water, will be affected by climate change. We can use the landscape, however, to help us to adapt to and combat the effects of climate change, for example by using moorlands to store carbon and wetlands to alleviate flooding. There may also be pressure on the landscape from interventions that aim to tackle and adapt to climate change, such as introducing renewable technologies into the landscape. It is important to understand the landscape character and sensitivity of the landscape when planning for climate change.
How a landscape is managed will impact upon landscape character. Managing a landscape to enhance key characteristics will have a positive landscape impact whilst the introduction of new and inappropriate elements may erode or damage the strength of landscape character. Appropriate landscape management can harmonise and guide changes brought about by social, environmental and economic processes such as agri-environment measures, in line with the requirements of the European Landscape Convention.
Landscape-scale conservation tackles the issue of habitat loss, providing rich and diverse habitats for wildlife, and provides species with the flexibility to respond to pressures such as climate change. Conserving biodiversity across whole landscapes, rather than in individual sites, allows more habitats to be created where there is currently too much fragmentation to support the species dependent upon them. This approach not only makes the landscape better for wildlife, but also for people: creating a landscape which people enjoy, and where the goods and services supplied by the landscape are sustained.