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Lithuanian landscape project honoured with respectable and heavy award

Landscape awardOn 11-12 June, Wroclaw (Poland) hosted the 14th session of the Council of Europe on the implementation of the European Landscape Convention. The Landscape Award of the Council of Europe was handed out to the Polish Lower Silesian Association of Landscape Parks. The Lithuanian project entitled "U-parks. U-turn we love" also gained special attention and appreciation.

The Landscape Award of the Council of Europe is one of the tools that contributes to the implementation of the European Landscape Convention. It is intended to raiseLandscape Award1 awareness of landscape and to reward exemplary initiatives of states in protecting and cherishing the landscape. The award was founded in 2008 following approval of the Rules governing the Landscape Award of the Council of Europe, which define the goals and procedures of this award and set out the project evaluation criteria.

The Polish Lower Silesian Association of Landscape Parks was acknowledged at the 2012–2013 session of the Landscape Award of the Council of Europe for preserving ecological value in the landscape of Szprotawa river valley. It is a long-standing project that breathed new life into wetlands and improved conditions not only for biological diversity but also for the local community.

Eighteen projects were submitted for this award by different states including Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, the UK, Lithuania and Poland. It was the first year that Lithuania presented an application, a project on Utena town parks, which is winner of the national landscape competition.

To learn about the projects submitted for the award, please visit this link. Panel evaluations are available here.

Lithuania's application was not left unnoticed. The Utena district municipality parks project called "U-parks. U-turn we love" was given the Council of Europe's special mention "Giving attention to the urban landscape as a common good". The award to our country was not only very honourable but also heavy – weighing more than 15 kg. It was conferred to a project that reflected great willingness to adjust the town's green zones for public needs. The project offers a broad range of activities and stands out for sustainable efforts to preserve the town's most valuable landscapes non-privatised.

As he collected the award, the director of the Department for Protected Areas and Landscape of the Ministry of Environment, Vidmantas Bezaras, pointed out that such initiatives of the municipality are sometimes left unnoticed locally but are highly acclaimed in the pan-European context. He added that Utena could act as a role model both for metropolises and smaller towns when it comes to creating cosy green zones accessible to all locals and visitors by preserving and managing the natural values of landscape. "The fact that today you can travel from the outskirts of the town to its opposite side on foot or by bicycle through perfectly arranged parks and paths crossing the centre but practically without stepping into the streets is a huge gift for the Utena community. In terms of the quality of plantation planning and management Utena overtakes even some resorts or resort areas," Mr Bezaras pointed out. The landscape architect of Utena district municipality, Jūratė Pyragytė, should get a lot of credit for making these benefits a reality. Joint efforts and support from the municipality and the community of Utena town made it possible for such an honourable award to make its way to Lithuania.

The special mentions for "Strengthening democracy" and for "Contributing to European ideals" went to the Italian and Serbian projects respectively.

Each project presented for the Council of Europe's award reflects the country's most marked achievements in the area of landscape, therefore all the projects of the competition should be considered examples that give inspiration for action within the framework of the European Landscape Convention.

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