The European Landscape Convention (ELC) was the first international convention to focus specifically on landscape, which it defines as;
An area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors.
The landscape is important as it has many values such as goods and services, scenery, nature and heritage which come together to give the area its ‘character’. The landscape, if well-managed, can provide use with a range of important ecosystem services such as food, water, disease management, climate regulation, spiritual fulfilment and aesthetic enjoyment, creating social well-being and an economically healthy society.
Defra have developed an ecosystem approach to decision-making which encompasses the ecosystem services an area provides with the natural environment, to ensure a healthy landscape now and for future generations.
National Character Areas (NCA’s) are a way of defining Englands natural areas by the landscape, biodiversity, geology, culture and economic activity. England is split into 159 of these areas, including one for The Vale of Pickering. This landscape area was the subject of a special report for English Heritage The Vale of Pickering- An Extraordinary Place Statement of Significance which is illuminating, surprising and deserves to be widely read.
A new partnership of organisations came together in 2013 to collaborate on landscape conservation issues in the Vale of Pickering, focussed around The Carrs at the eastern end of the Vale. The landscape partnership has called itself ‘Yorkshire’s Hidden Vale’. This area encompasses lowland soils of the rivers Derwent and Hertford, including deposits of fen peats and wind-blown sands of high archaeological importance and more than twenty communities around the margins of the floodplain. The project boundary includes some of the higher ground to north and south, providing vistas over the area.