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Sustainable Management of Cultural Landscape (SUMCULA)

Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership Project. Project description.

Project No. 2017-1-SE01-KA203-034570

The project

From landscape management viewpoints the need to preserve natural, cultural and intangible values and develop them from an evolutionary perspective into sustainable living environments has always been of great importance, even for the particularly sensitive cultural landscapes, which are constantly changing, and also need to be developed to meet requirements from the present society. Furthermore, the fast-growing tourism industry requires sustainable management practices including the use and development of cultural landscapes into touristic products without compromising sustainability issues in order to avoid the adverse impact of mass tourism. The issues motivating this strategic partnership build on the experiences and competences of the partners and rest in a number of objectives such as:

1. how to organize the numerous stakeholders in the field of sustainable tourism and use of ecosystem services into sustainable governance structures;

2. how to develop models for identifying, describing and interpreting material and intangible properties of natural and cultural values;

3. how to develop strategies for valuation, conservation and local/regional development;

4. how to develop local economies building on identified qualities and properties of the cultural landscape;

5. how to develop natural and intangible resources into touristic products without compromising the sustainable use of ecosystem services and being economically and socially viable;

6. from a university viewpoint how to develop these perspectives into didactic resources for joint activities and compatible curricula on bachelor and master’s level;

7. how to develop good practices in education by linking higher education institutions, institutions of vocational education, public administration (regional and local authorities), NGOs and non-profit development agencies and businesses providing students with practical knowledge and experience;

8. how to create new education structures on post graduate level (MSc, MBA, post graduate diplomas) to address the increasing demand for generalist managers furnished with sufficiently wide education based on a holistic system of natural sciences, social sciences, cultural heritage studies and project management to satisfy the professional requirements of the management and conservation of cultural landscapes from an evolutionary perspective.

By the close cooperation between university departments, professional organizations and scientific network, there will be a development of courses and study areas that will facilitate the mobility of students and university staff while at the same time establish close ties to the professional field. This relation is also intended to be instrumental for the ability to develop courses for further education or in-depth possibilities for professionals so that they should be able to choose from the full set of options provided by the partners in total, thereby promoting mobility also for professionals. The project must be transnational in order to construct useful, practically applicable universal yet adaptable models for local and regional development according to the principle “act locally, think globally”. Therefore, the planned activities will be carried out in different geographical and cultural environments involving partners from different countries with a wealth of different geographic conditions, natural resources, cultural traditions and professional competences. In this program a considerable number of students and teaching staff will be involved with a wide range of scientific skills from seven European countries: Sweden, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Italy and France. The strategic partnership will improve the quality and increase the volume of cooperation between higher education institutions and enterprises. Innovative ICT technologies within the application of Remote Sensing and GIS systems in regional development, agriculture and environmental protection will be used in many activities of this program. This program is truly multidisciplinary as it involves environmental science, agriculture, climatology, geology and pedology, chemistry, social aspects of large-scale agricultural production, economics and issues of European integration within the context of protection, conservation, development and sustainable management of cultural landscapes.

The objective of this partnership is through a number of case studies approach these issues as inroads to development of courses and didactic resources to be used on master’s level. The members of the partnership cover a wide range of competences:

1. University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Coordinator institution: built cultural heritage, industrial landscapes, floating heritage, climate change, geomorphology, biodiversity, remote sensing and GIS

2. University of Pécs, Hungary: cultural heritage studies, regional development, strategic planning, adult education, floating heritage of rivers and lakes, viticultural landscapes, economy of regional planning, environmental law

3. University of Pannonia, Veszprém, Hungary: regional development of disadvantaged regions, sustainable agriculture, agro-economy, bio-energy production, tourism; viticulture, remote sensing & GIS

4. Lake Balaton Development Coordination Agency (LBDCA), Siófok, Hungary: regional infrastructure planning, management of nature reserves and national parks, lake-management (shallow lakes), cultural heritage of rural areas

5. European Ecocycles Society (ECyS): sustainable ecological cycles, environmental management, international networking and publishing in the journal ECOCYCLES (ISSN 2416-2140; DOI prefix 10.19040 [Cross Ref]).

6. University of Palermo (UNIPA), Palermo, Italy: general soil science and soil conservation, water resources management in arid environments, environmental protection, waste management, viticulture and conservation of viticultural landscapes, remote sensing and GIS

7. Ecole des Métiers de l’Environnement (EME), Bruz, France (now EME-Unilasalle): environmental technologies, environmental chemistry, remediation of polluted landscapes, renewable energy technologies, flu gas cleaning, biogas production waste management

8. Mendel University (MENDELU), Brno, Czech Republic: Core competences: forestry, forest ecosystems, conservation of forest landscapes, landscape dynamics, environmental protection, environmental health and epidemiology

9. GAIA Education, Findhorn, Scotland, UK: ecovillage design and education in the design of ecological settlements, waste management and implementation of zero waste policies, environmental sociology, adult education, lifelong learning.

10. Slovak Agricultural University (SPU), Nitra, Slovakia: agriculture, food safety, bioenergy, environmental law, regional development

11. University College of Tourism and Ecology (WSTiE), Sucha Beskidzka, Poland: sustainable tourism, tourism-informatics, eco-tourism

12. Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain: viticulture and enology, environmental science, cultural heritage

13. University of Applied Sciences (HTW), Dresden, Germany: environmental science, urban agriculture, landscape architecture

Activities covered

This follows the general rules for applying within Erasmus+ Key Action 2: Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices, specifically focusing strategic partnership.


1. Case studies of cultural landscape management

2. Curriculum development: new master courses

3. Workshops, conferences and Intensive Programs

4. Scientific publications regarding new methods of education in Ecocycles journal (approved for SUMCULA)

5. Scientific publications – case studies published in Ecocycles journal

6. Establishing an international knowledge-bank in higher education and research through active networking


The highly interdisciplinary character of the project supports the development of dual education and blended learning in order to meet the increasing demand for multiple and transversal competences on the labour market. An important goal is to achieve excellence in sustainable regional development and management of natural resources linked to conservation of cultural landscapes and their heritage through strengthening the links between higher education, research, businesses, NGOs and governance structures. Since the conservation of cultural landscapes is a very complex issue, the limits of exploitation should be carefully evaluated and determined without compromising the economic sustainability of the area. This requires a very deep understanding and wide practical skills in the use of ICT systems ranging from electronic communication and handling of vast amount of data to applications of geo-informatics (GIS and Remote Sensing), which will enable and enhance the strategic use of open educational resources, virtual mobility, blended mobility and virtual learning platforms.

The SUMCULA partnership intends to address the following general field specific priorities according to the Erasmus+ Key Action 2:

1. Support activities that help attune curricula to current and emerging labour market needs and equip the young generation with transversal skills such as entrepreneurship, by developing active cooperation between HEI and partners from outside the academic institutions, such as civil organizations (NGOs), non profit companies and regional development agencies;

2. Support activities to develop innovative strategies to boost mobility or ways to remove obstacles to mobility in higher education providing more opportunities for students to gain additional skills through study or training abroad and also supporting virtual mobility that are embedded in a global strategy for the effective integration of ICT in the participating HEIs and at those partners where e-learning is widely used or being developed;

3. Strengthen the links between education, research, public administration and business to promote excellence in exploration, development and use of ecosystem services for a sustainable tourism and regional development where the conservation and sustainable use of the cultural heritage (natural values, built and intangible heritage) of landscapes constitute the core of the strategies;

4. Aim at increasing number of graduates, widening the participation and raising completion rates of underrepresented groups and non-traditional learners, enhancing lifelong learning via the creation of flexible learning paths, developing ways to increase the social responsibility of higher education institutions.

Expected outcomes/results

Increased cooperation on primarily master’s level among partner universities that will facilitate staff and student mobility, but also with development of didactic resources to increase the availability of courses for students throughout Europe. The project SUMCULA will create a special network with the same name and its own website to ensure the continuation of the activities and opportunities for further development of education programs and scientific network. The new website of SUMCULA will be linked to the website of the European Ecocycles Society (ECyS; issue, is) to enhance the dissemination of the outcomes of this program and provide publication opportunities for interested scientists and education professionals in the open access journal ECOCYCLES (DOI prefix 10.19040 [CrossRef], ISSN 2416-2140).

Development of further education courses for professionals. Regional development professionals, often already in management positions, might need to widen their expertise and acquire knowledge and skills within the complex field of landscape conservation. One of the most important outcomes of the program will be the development of consultancy services and individually tailored (i.e. according to the needs of the organization/authority/enterprise) education programs for these target groups of higher education market strengthening herewith the lifelong learning concept on management level.

New strategies for valuation, preservation, development of cultural landscapes. The cultural landscapes are exposed to a number of environmental, social and economical factors, which might have adverse impact on the structure and cultural values of these landscapes. Therefore, model strategies for estimation the heritage values, preservation and progressive use of natural and cultural resources in the context of regional development shall be developed on the basis of case studies in this program. The results will be published and disseminated in all of the aforementioned communication channels (websites, electronic journals, conferences, multi-location events even after the successful completion of the project).

Development of good practices in education by linking higher education institutions, institutions of vocational education, public administration (regional and local authorities), NGOs and non-profit development agencies and businesses providing students with practical knowledge and experience. This network shall constitute the basis of experience-based learning through participation in real-life projects under the supervision of experienced employees of the host organization.

New monitoring systems: critical reflection on notions of best practice in cultural landscape management. Since cultural landscapes are changing, their cultural heritage must be interpreted and utilized in such a changing environment, which requires advanced management routines and strategic control systems concerning “best practices” or rather good practices. Therefore, the monitoring of changes in the natural environment, exploitation trends (e.g. fast increasing number of tourists or unexpected results of mineral prospecting leading to mining activities, etc.) shall trigger the change of the previous “best practices” and the establishment of new management structures.

Selection of participants according to key competences

Participants have been selected according to their strengths in one or more subject areas and even their geographical and cultural environment has been taken into consideration. The most important subject areas, which constitute the main elements of cultural landscape management require a set of key competences. These key competences are the following:

  1. Earth System Science and climate change
  2. Protection of biodiversity and cultural diversity
  3. Natural resources management with particular emphasis on water resources and soils
  4. Cultural resources management with particular emphasis on inclusive approaches
  5. Heritage as a base for sustainable societal development
  6. All landscapes in focus –landscape conservation, remediation and design
  7. Use, protection and development of ecosystem services
  8. Prevention of pollution
  9. Waste management and remediation of polluted areas
  10. Renewable energy systems
  11. Sustainable and organic agriculture, agro-ecosystems and urban agriculture
  12. Viticulture, oenology and valuable viticultural landscapes
  13. Sustainable use of built environments
  14. The intangible heritage of cultural landscapes with emphasis on craft skills
  15. Sustainable tourism based on the carrying capacity of destinations
  16. Complex micro regional development systems – self-sufficient micro regions
  17. Environmental sociology and stakeholder management
  18. Cross disciplinary education of local and regional development managers and heritage practitioners
  19. Information Technology, Remote Sensing, GIS
  20. National parks and areas of high ecological sensitivity

The selected participants have different strengths and experiences within these areas, but all of them will be involved in all of the activities either as “only” participant or main organiser, e.g. international thematic workshops.