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45th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Land Use and Water Management in a Sustainable Network Society", 23-27 August 2005, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Urban agglomerations all over Europe are growing at the expense of the surrounding landscapes. Given the enormous growth of built-up land for settlement and transport use within recent decades in Western and Southern Europe and, more recently, comparable trends within Central and Eastern European EU accession states landscape and open space policy in urban regions is an emerging core issue and action field for targeted sustainable spatial development (Office for Publications of the European Communities 1999). For European urban regions strategies and instruments to secure and improve open spaces play an important role because quality of life, the image of the region as well as international competitive capacity are tightly linked with the existence of valuable open space structures. Although Germany has a comparatively well-developed system of landscape protection (e.g. landscape planning, nature protection) and inclusion of landscape issues in the political instruments of town and regional planning, every day 105 ha of open space is transformed into sealed land. Conflicts between ecological and socio-economic aspects tend to obstruct the implementation of traditional landscape policy instruments, which frequently ignore the multifunctionality of urban landscapes (Apolinarski/Gailing/Röhring 2004). For these reasons in some urban regions protagonists involved in landscape policy have recognized that metropolitan open space depends not only on the top-down approach of public landscape protection, but also on active landscape management and development. They have established Regional parks in order to enhance the value of open spaces by means of project-oriented regional management. Improving living conditions and mobilising urban landscape is to be achieved by the collaborative implementation of local projects and by overcoming problems of institutional interplay (Young 2002) between fields such as local recreation, sustainable agriculture, nature protection, protection of cultural heritage or landscape architecture. In the sense of multifunctional landscape management individual open space interests are integrated and the status of open space is strengthened in a holistic approach. Former "residual space” can thus acquire a lobby in formal planning processes. Case studies of the "Berlin-Brandenburger Regionalparks”, the "Regionalpark RheinMain” and the "Emscher Landschaftspark” demonstrate that Regional parks are an innovative form of regional governance in agglomerations and urban surroundings (Gailing 2004). Despite problems like the underestimation of agricultural land use or the dependence on public finances, Regional parks can be identified as efficient tools to strengthen the status of the landscape in urban and regional policies. By bridging the gap between conception and implementation they are complementary to existing formal planning processes.
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