The international ECLAS-conference on cross-border landscapes was actually supposed to take place in Bratislava in the three-countries region of Slovakia-Austria-Hungary. But it was quickly rearranged as a virtual event as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions. Border closures were the order of the day again in Europe at the time. This situation made the 200 participants1 from all over the world all the more conscious of what cross-border cooperation means, namely that it is not a matter of course, but something that has to be built up over many years, practised on a daily basis and sustained in a spirit of trust.
In the landscape, national borders are artificial, mostly invisible lines which nevertheless represent very real and different cultures, mentalities, procedures and institutions. In this situation, understanding across borders is not always easy.
Based on numerous project examples of the Three Countries Park (3LP), Project Manager Anja Brüll reported in her keynote lecture on many years of experience with cross-border cooperation. The audience was clearly extremely interested and inspired. The Three Countries Park, said Prof. Attila Toth, organizer of the conference, is a trailblazer in Europe.
But the real challenge, said Anja Brüll in her summing up, lay not in the cooperation across borders, but still lay in cooperation across fragmented administrative structures, land-use and economic sectors and specialist disciplines. The holistic and territory-based approach of landscape management can establish here understanding, cooperation and innovation here in the interplay with the many parties involved. “Landscape architects actually perform transition management,” said Brüll. This is demonstrated by numerous examples of nature and landscape organizations and local action groups in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, she added, and must be better anchored in the training and the self-awareness of landscape architects (and similar professions).
1 A further 300 registered persons were unable to attend the online conference for technical reasons.