International Terraced Landscapes Alliance
3rd World Meeting on Terraced Landscapes
Italy, October 2016
Choosing the Future for Terraced Landscapes
We, 250 people from over 20 countries, meeting in Padua in the final session of the 3rd
World Meeting on Terraced Landscapes, express warm thanks to our Italian hosts for
the stimulating experience made up by inspirational lectures, peer-to-peer knowledge
and vision exchanges occurred during the plenary sessions hold in Venice and Padua
and in the field visits in Costiera triestina, Topolò-Dordolla, Canale di Brenta,
Valpolicella-Valdobbiadene, Trentino, Ossola Valley, Canavese-Aosta Valley, Chiavari-
Lavagna-Vernazza, Ischia-Costiera amalfitana, Pantelleria.
We have focused our attention on the remarkable history and regional variety of
terraces around the world, with a particular focus on those in Italy; and have reflected
with high concern and high hope upon the future of terraced landscapes. Looking across
the broad European heritage of terraced landscapes, we believe that the present time –
after decades of abandonment and degradation processes – should be the nadir of a
great U-shaped curve in the state of that heritage.
We commit ourselves to start the upward trend of revival in the use and sustained
management of terrace systems. This bold commitment is justified in our view by a
series of current impulses: these include the rising demand for fresh, locally produced
food of known provenance and good quality, with lower food-miles and less artificial
inputs; the support to small and family farms, and enabling a new generation of young
farmers to gain access to the land and a dignified life in mountain areas. These factors
provide the crucial starting-point for a new valuation of the great inherited stock of
terraced landscapes. They are a key part of the social and cultural richness of the world,
created by the skill and the hard labour of past generations, capable of being used for
decades and centuries ahead. They reflect a way of life which in many regions is still
continuing. But in other regions terraces have been abandoned, because of the hard
work involved and outmigration.
We believe that the challenge, in such regions, is to find new ways of life and viable
activities which will make good use of this inherited resource. The solutions can be
based upon, and justified by, the long-term public benefits that terraced slopes can
yield: the prevention of soil erosion, the mitigation of the effects of climate change, the
control of flooding and management of water systems; the protection and enrichment of
agrobiodiversity and ecosystems; the diversification of rural economies by adding value
to different food, seeds and crops; the willingness to choose them as a viable option for
people’s life; the educational value of heritage and cultural landscapes, and of the human
and natural stories which they embody; the beauty and appeal of these landscapes for
leisure and tourism. This rich range of benefits or ‘public goods’ justifies a new
governance and the injection of communal resources – at local, regional, national,
continental or global scale – into the maintenance, and where necessary the redemption,
of terraced lands.
We note with high interest the approach to analysis and appreciation of landscapes
embodied in the European Landscape Convention, principles we can apply elsewhere in
the world. By adopting the Convention, many European governments have committed
themselves to identify, evaluate and prepare objectives with full public consultation
related to all the landscapes in their territory; and to secure protection and management
of all landscapes and promote redemptive action where that is needed. It points to the
need for research and policy-making to draw on a wide range of disciplines and
knowledge systems. Mapping researches by Universities and regional governments is
laying the groundwork for such actions.
We recognize the central role of old and new forms of sustainable agriculture and
craftsmanship (farmers, dry-stone walls artisans, hobby and part-time farmers,
cooperatives and associations) in the maintenance of terraces. The adaptive knowledges
of these stakeholders, whose forebears and predecessors created the terraces by deep
understanding of nature and skilful use of available materials, should be fully recognized
in debates and decision-making about the future of terraced lands.
We welcome the increasing interest in revival of abandoned terraced system. In a
growing number of places, communities, local authorities and farmers are leading this
revival. It is refreshing to see the commitment among young people in farming the land,
and call for action by local authorities and civil society to support them in these
ambitions through vocational education, on-the-job training, financial support for
newcomers and other techniques. The viability of farms in terraced areas can be greatly
enhanced by the strengthening of new economies, by adding value to local food
products and the introduction of more circular systems in local economies. At the same
time, new relations between rural areas with terraced landscapes and cities for
cooperation and mutual benefits are needed. The quality of heritage, environment and
food production can also offer a unique experience to visitors and bring complementary
income to rural economies.
We call upon international organizations, governments, local authorities, inhabitants,
landowners, commercial interests, rural and urban communities, peasants, artisans and
other ‘hands-on’ producers, educators, researchers and all relevant stakeholders to
commit themselves to the protection and long-term maintenance of terraces. They
should incorporate respect for terraced landscapes in all policies and programs, notably
those supporting agriculture, rural development and quality of life, environmental
protection, water and river catchment management, spatial and territorial planning and
regional development.
We entrust the International Terraced Landscapes Alliance to take the lead in promoting
multinational exchanges of ideas and experiences and to assist the strengthening of
initiatives and networks in this field.
Padua, 15th October 2016