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The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps

The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps

Andrea Früh

Andrea Früh PERCEPTIBILITY OF THE CULTURAL VALUE OF THE GREEN BELT MONUMENT border wilderness was thriving, providing refuge for endangered animals and plants [2]. In order to protect the valuable habitats the “Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland” (BUND, German section of Friends of the Earth) was committed to establish the Green Belt project. Today it is one of the most important natural landscapes in Germany. Various national, federal and local authorities are involved in this project [3]. However, in addition to the relevance from a nature conservation perspective, the sociopolitical function of the German Green Belt as a living memorial for recent German history should not be neglected. Previous surveys and projects mainly focused on biodiversity aspects[2], on sustainable management [4] or on touristic development of this unique area [5]. So far, only few approaches are dealing with the perceptibility of the cultural value of the former inner-German border. With this paper I aim to close this gap by analysing the perceptibility of this landscape providing an emotional, experience-driven access to the memorial landscape for the population. Here, a novel landscape perception assessment (LPA) method was used, which is appropriate to the specific conditions of the Green Belt memorial landscape. This assessment method can help to appreciate the perceptibility of the Green Belt and supports regional decision makers with the provision of profiles of strengths and weaknesses of the perceptibility of the Green Belt. 2 CASE STUDY AND METHOD 2.1 Landscape perception assessment of the Green Belt monument The purpose of the LPA is to assess the subjective perception of nature, landscape and of experiences made by the human viewer on the Green Belt in an objective, reliable and qualitative way. The perceptibility of the memorial landscape Green Belt is linked to two relevant valuation parts: First the spatial perception of preserved relicts of the history and second the scenic quality of the landscape. For this reason the LPA is divided into two parts, namely the spatial sensation of the former border and the natural scenery of the landscape (see Figure 1). Before applying the assessment method each case study section was separated into spatial units which are homogenous due to their natural appearance and configuration (see 2.2) [6]. The newly formed spatial units were evaluated separately. Both assessment parts, natural scenery and spatial perception of the former border, were subdivided into assessment criteria consisting of several indices, which are classified in a weighted score (starting with 1: week expressiveness of indices to 4: strong expressiveness of indices). After evaluating each spatial unit in both assessment parts separately, the complete characteristic and the touristic suitability of the case study region was monitored and evaluated. 128

Andrea Früh PERCEPTIBILITY OF THE CULTURAL VALUE OF THE GREEN BELT MONUMENT Figure 5: Scheme of LPA: Case study sections of the Green Belt for the assessment are divided into spatial units. The valuation system is divided into two parts and subdivided into assessment criteria consisting of several indices. a) Natural scenery This assessment part is focusing on the scenic landscape beauty observed by visitors of the Green Belt. Is the landscape perceived as aesthetically beautiful? Landscape quality derives from an interaction between biophysical features of the landscape, such as the relationship between properties and perceptual processes of the human viewer [7]. The criteria used in this part are based on accepted evaluation terms, namely naturalness, diversity, characteristic features and harmony, used in landscape planning in Germany [8, 9]. Naturalness: According to Nohl [6] the degree of naturalness of a landscape is more perceived in areas of low tangible human impact. In this sense the perception of naturalness is more important than the actual absence of human influence from a nature conservation perspective [10]. Thus, sections of the Green Belt may be high evaluated despite a longstanding human land use. The perception of naturalness is enhanced in places with a presence of positive natural and man-made landscape elements and biophysical features, such as lakes, rivers, crags and dunes. Diversity: The coexistence of different site conditions and land use types is perceived by the viewer as interesting and exciting. This can be explained by the basic human want to search for information and knowledge [6, 8]. In evaluating the landscapes diversity the indices diversity of land use types and the perceptible, sensual diversity (e.g. visual impressions, birds twitter or flower fragrance) are considered. Characteristic features: The presence of different natural conditions and a legacy of human land uses resulted in quite specific appearances of the cultural landscapes along the 129

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