If we now take the so-called “ecological” approach in dealing with landscape planning as a given, we still have to explain the idea behind connecting the words “landscape” and “planning”.
Based on our previous discussion, we have to ask the following question:
“Is it actually possible to plan the landscape?”
The answer to this question is: “No.”
This answer arises simply because there is no universal goal that governs the landscape as a whole in space and time.
And that, in turn, is the reason why it is impossible to optimize our future activities in an objective way, because we can not plan them without being clear about our ultimate aim.
As a result, we can not optimize our future action concerning landscaping in any “objective” manner, since we lack a definite goal.
Even for a tiny part of the landscape, namely human beings, we cannot succeed in our endeavours to set up plans, since we are not sure about the meaning of human existence.
Therefore, the only possibility left to us is to create landscape in a subjective manner (as individuals or collectively), in a way that suits our present ideals of the future. This means: The only possibility left is to DESIGN landscape.
But do we know enough in order to design landscape?
Even that question has to be answered mostly with “no”.
In this regard, we would like to quote Prof. Dr. Weiger, a representative of the conservationist movement “Bund Umwelt und Naturschutz”, who chose the following words (in 1995, during the “Erlanger Medientage”):
“As a conservationist I can only tell you that we do not have the ability to understand, even in a rudimentary fashion, the complexity of our ecosystem.” (2)
We want to dwell on this in a few sentences:
Landscaping only refers to the man-made character of landscape, or the “cultural landscape”, since the natural landscape, often seen as benchmark, does not have to be designed at all.
But there exists no generally accepted standard for a cultural landscape, with all its impacts and interdependencies. Not even the problem of measurement has been solved. This begins with problems of definition of data, the overlapping of data, the ranking and weighting of data and reaches up to problems of predicting the future, recognizing trends, connecting different facts, ranking intermediate results, determining the limits of the impact of measurement, determining the relevance of unknown and desired aspects. For example we nearly never know how many influencing variables have to be taken into account in landscaping. (3)
This means: there are a lot of possible sources of error!
Human beings, gifted with their own will, have to be included in a cultural landscape! Minimizing the risk of errors by not taking into account mankind is only possible if we restrict free human will. That is why we have to allow for humans as a part of cultural landscape not only as biological beings, but also with regard to their cultural expressions, like religious, artistic, communicative and others, taking into account intentional effects on nature. This we have to allow for in order to enable mankind to live in a humane way.
But if we already know so little about the human species, with which we feel to be familiar – how little then can we say about the 2700 german plants (or 370 000 worldwide) and the 45 000 german animal species (or 1.1 Mio. Worldwide), that exist according to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency?
According to other sources, like for example the “Fischer-Weltalmanach 2001”, about 13.6 Mio. species exist worldwide, of which only 1.7 Mio. (one eighth) have been described by now. Other sources record even bigger numbers of species existing worldwide.
Now the so-called “environmental impact assessment” should include (according to §2 of the corresponding law) the determination, description and assessment of the impact of a project on humankind with its cultural and other assets, as well as on animals and plants, soil, water, air, climate, and landscape “with its interdependencies”…
…and at the same time we know that even a supercomputer would need several years only to list all possible interactions between 100 components of a complex system.
Thus, we have to realize that the environmental protection and planning policy laws are based primarily on “not knowing”, rather than on knowledge.
(2) s. Marquardt, K., Nachwort, in: Bericht der Erlanger Medientage 1995, Heft: Medien und Umweltorganisationen in Europa
(3) Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Grundbesitzerverbände (Hrsg.), Stellungnahme zu den Grundsätzen für die Anwendung der naturschutzrechtlichen Eingriffsregelungen in der Bauleitplanung, April 1999, in: http://www.iwoe.de/Welcomeseite.html, "Planungsgrundlagen", "Eingriffsregelung", ..."kritische Stellungnahme" ...