Landscape Institute to run UK leg of European awards

The Landscape Institute has secured a £40,000 deal with Defra to run the UK heats of the European Landscape Convention Awards.

The awards aim to promote sustainable protection, management and planning of landscapes. The first European award was given to France's Parc de la Deule. Landscape management programmes and nature conservation projects have entered previously.

Slovenia's University of Ljubljana has been recognised for its work on the regional distribution of landscape types.

The institute has been in talks with Defra over managing the department's awards, which will launch next year. Chief executive Alastair McCapra told HW that the awards "fit absolutely within our remit". He explained: "Part of our purpose is to promote the value of landscape to the public and awards of this sort are an excellent opportunity."

The European Landscape Convention (ELC), which is also known as the Florence Convention, came into force in 2004 but did not reach the UK until 2007, which is why the awards are now being held.

The institute found out that its bid was successful last week and is in the process of informing members. "We hope it's an activity that will involve members all over the country," McCapra added.

Categories have yet to be agreed with Defra, but the intention is that a call for entries will go out in 2010, possibly in the spring, for a 2011 Council of Europe-wide competition. The institute will provide judging and organisation for the UK heats, which will be open to non-governmental organisations and local government, but Defra will run the ceremony.

Bodies such as Groundwork, the National Trust or the RSPB might enter, McCapra suggested.

The deal is initially for one year and the institute must now have further meetings with Defra landscape conservation team leader Hugh Llewelyn to hammer out the details. Llewelyn told HW that the idea was to "differentiate the competition from the institute's own professional awards".

He added that Defra would run an ELC conference next winter, at which the UK winners would be announced.

The institute is also waiting to sign the contract on a student awards scheme, Future Vision, for the Homes and Communities Agency Academy from 2010.

The grant-funded awards, which will provide some extra income for the institute, will be combined with next year's Landscape Institute Awards in November.

McCapra said: "It's not a huge money-spinner. We are not going to get rich quick running the awards but it's useful in terms of our charitable objectives."

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