On 22 June 2017, participants from the border region of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany met at the euregional forum “Agriculture creates landscape” to share their views on the subjects of agriculture and landscape, and above all the interplay between them.
The event ranged over an impressive diversity of institutions and initiatives, interesting lectures, specialist workshops and lively discussions. Scientists met farmers and administrators met landscape architects, including agroecologist Prof. Alain Peeters, for example, who presented bold solutions for an agriculture of the future. The array of specialist topics ranged from EU agricultural policy to “LandBauKultur” (rural architectural culture). Regional products and short supply chains, bioenergy and water quality were just as crucial issues as the question as to who pays for the landscape and who profits from it.
Views from agricultural practice illustrated the numerous challenges and highlighted the trade-offs that farmers are confronted with today between official requirements, security of livelihood and landscape conservation. For example, the engagement of farmers as young euregional entrepreneurs was presented as were ideas of farming women for a practical networking of neighbouring areas.
Despite the many problems highlighted, a mood of optimism prevailed among the participants, thanks also to the amicable atmosphere at the Ministry in Eupen, which hosted the event. Beyond the language differences, which were overcome in the hall through simultaneous translation, the problems in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany were found to be broadly the same.
There was a consensus that agriculture plays a key role in preserving and shaping the landscape and that better conditions must be established for this.
“The fact that we were able to address this interaction between agriculture and landscape, which is not always easy, and at the same time present problem-solving approaches of both international and local actors went down very well with the participants,” said project manager Dr Anja Brüll.
Three Countries Park – the landscape platform in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine - has certainly achieved some important objectives with its ambitious programme, highlighting different perspectives on the permanent change processes in agriculture and landscape, and fostering cross-border cooperation in this area.