On this page you can find definitions of landscape
character and the field of Landscape Character Assessment
Defining Landscape Character
Landscape character is defined as the distinct, recognisable and
consistent pattern of elements in the landscape. It it these
patterns that give each locality its 'sense of place', making one
landscape different from another, rather than better or worse. In
defining the combinations of components which make each landscape
unique, landscape character is a way of thinking about landscape
more holistically and objectively, rather than focusing on scenic
beauty and subjective responses. Landscapes have evolved over time
as a result of both natural and cultural processes.
- Natural processes give rise to the physical structure of the
landscape – geology, land form and soils.
- Cultural processes give rise to varying patterns and types of
tree cover, field boundaries and settlement – they are a reflection
of man's endeavours to live on and from the land.
Physical elements provide the fundamentally stable basic pattern
of landscape, while cultural elements are superimposed on this and
are more fluid, reflecting social and land use changes over time.
Layered on top of this is the perceptual element – our own personal
appreciation of landscape and how we relate to or make use of it,
as individuals and communities.
Defining and Using Landscape Character Assessment
Landscape Character Assessment – or LCA – is a tool for
identifying and studying the features that make up the character of
the landscape. LCA is typically undertaken at a county scale. There
are two phases to the LCA process:
the first classification and description phase is used to
sub-divide the landscape into areas of similar character at various
scales. These areas – the units of landscape character – can then
be described and classified (as explained in more detail in the
the second analysis and evaluation phase builds on the
classification and description phase by using the detailed database
it produces to develop a strategic framework for landscape policies
and identify priorities for action
LCA is most commonly used as the basis for giving advice and
guidance to local authority planning staff, both for strategic and
development control purposes. For more detailed information and
advice on the use of LCA in planning, please visit our planning and
development Advice page.
LCA it is also of great relevance to the land management and
conservation sectors where it can be used to support or guide
applications for agri-environment schemes, woodland management
projects and other land-based initiatives. For more detailed
information and advice on the use of LCA in land management
practice, please visit our land management Advice page.
European Landscape Convention
ELC highlights the
importance of developing landscape policies dedicated to the
protection, management and creation of all landscapes.
Landscape Character Network
A highly comprehensive resource for LCA and ELC in the UK.
Historic Landscape Characterisation
Led by English Heritage, HLC focuses on the historic
dimensions - the 'time-depth' - that characterises the rural
- Malvern Hills
The Malvern Hills are designated as an Area of Outstanding
Natural Beauty, recognising the national importance of this
The Royal Chartered body for landscape
architects in the UK.
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This page was last reviewed 7 February 2014 at 18:00.
The page is next due for review 6 August 2015.