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Living landscape South Moravia

Award category
Reconnecting with nature
You want to submit
NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS AWARDS: existing completed examples
Project title
Living landscape South Moravia
Full project title
Living Landscape South Moravia - comprehensive strategy for addressing landscape-wide water scarcity

A living landscape stands for water, ground, nature and people in synergy with each other. We are not waiting for solutions from above, everyone can get involved. Working together, we restore our landscape. Our goal is to have a landscape adaptation plan on how to retain water into it, to break up the huge lifeless farm monocultures, to increase soil fertility and to reduce ground erosion.

What was the geographical scope of your project?
South Moravia
Does your project address mainly urban or rural issues?
Mainly rural
Does your project refer to a physical transformation of the built environment or other types of transformations?
It refers to other types of transformations ('soft investment')
Has your project benefited from EU programmes or funds?
Has your project won an EU prize?
Your project is fully completed?
When was your project implemented?
How did you hear about the New European Bauhaus Prizes ?
Word of mouth (colleagues, friends …)
On whose behalf are you submitting the application?
As a representative of an organisation, in partnership with other organisations
Please provide a summary of your project

We have elaborated feasibility studies to address the overall water retention in the landscape, anti-erosion measures, increasing climate resilience and biodiversity of the landscape in the Lulečský and Žlebový brook basin (23 km² in total). We are using the Living Landscape methodology, which is a know-how that our organization Živá voda has developed based on long-term experience with landscape problems and in response to the advancing climate change.

The Living Landscapes know-how is innovatively conceived in such a way that interested volunteers from the general public can be drawn into the game.So far, over 140 volunteers have been trained through intensive training followed by online education and team practice.

The Living Landscapes methodology is versatile and can be used repeatedly with minimal costs. Finished projects build on each other and gradually assemble like a puzzle into a coherent treatment of larger areas.

Our experience has verified that the process of creating the study helps to create new local communities in communities, where citizens strengthen their cooperation and competence to solve other problems based on the common experience of mapping and making proposals for the feasibility study. It also creates opportunities for cooperation and sharing experiences with communities in neighbouring.

Please indicate the main themes of your project with 5 key words
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of sustainability (including circularity) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

The Living Landscape methodology approaches the area as a synergistic whole and offers solutions for both farmland and open countryside. It works conceptually always in the catchment area of a given stream so that water is retained over the entire catchment area through a series of sustainable, nature-based measures.

We propose to break up the huge monoculture fields into smaller units, contoured by belts of trees and shrubs, to provide shade and shelter for animals, and to return the straightened river courses to more natural channels and meanders that allow for the controlled flow of water in the floodplains. We support the transition from conventional agriculture to a more sustainable way of production. Methodics contours the given landscape into smaller units, thus helping to increase biodiversity and the overall permeability of the landscape.

Volunteer members of the mapping team have been trained in the use of mobile mapping applications, understanding of basic geographic and geological phenomena and map background.Qgis software was used. The local volunteers gained detailed know-how on how to design a set of water retention and erosion control measures (pools, wetlands, valley grassed areas, boundary strips, swales, planting of greenery, etc.) and improve the resilience of the landscape to climate change in terrain familiar to them.

We have focused on direct involvement of local citizens who, after training and practice, are able to independently replicate the solutions in other areas in the region.  Collaboration between experts and trained local public has already been successfully tested in the ongoing national Together Against Drought project (

The completed feasibility studies for the sites serve as the basis for the project documentation after discussion and approval by the stakeholders concerned, and thus allow for a disproportionately faster and less demanding process from preparation to project implementation.

Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

Our proposed contoured landscape aims to revitalize and regenerate the area for better business and healthier living for residents, to develop strategic planning based on functional regions, and to foster collaboration between actors in the area.

If the proposed measures resulting from the Living Landscape methodology are implemented, it will create a healthy, aesthetically and recreationally attractive, biodiverse and climatically stable environment for the residents, in which the ecological functions of the landscape and its overall ecological stability are not disturbed.

At the same time, the risk of a reduction in the quality of life of rural residents due to climate change will be reduced. The project will stabilise the water regime of the rural agricultural landscape. It emphasises the protection and improvement of the quality of the soil so that it is able to withstand various forms of erosion and degradation. It creates conditions for the implementation of various innovative agricultural approaches such as agroforestry, organic food cultivation, contour farming, no till systems, etc.

By subdividing giant farmland units, we also want to ensure the freedom to roam of the countryside, which is the general public's right to access certain public or privately owned land, lakes, and rivers for recreation and exercise, as is anchored in our legal system.

The project is designed to use the specific landscape findings from the study to engage landowners to address problems on their properties - such as water and wind erosion and arable land washout. Thanks to field mapping, the study provides much more accurate documentation of the actual condition of the land than is offered by state agricultural databases, including unique mapping of drainage systems in the area. This forensic evidence helps motivate owners to address the issue.

Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of inclusion (equal opportunities, public participation, citizen engagement, co-design, universal design, accessibility, affordability, etc.) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

We have managed this project by involving a large group of volunteers in a process of accurate mapping in the field, studying archival material and then proposing the necessary measures in the landscape, thus ensuring the participation of the local community, which goes far beyond the usual framework of similar projects.

Our project is participatory and gives citizens the tools to be equal and active partners in local government decision-making processes.

It works with publicly available and technologies and methodologies that are completely free or not expensive. We have trained candidates for the position of local coordinators at only the cost of room and board. We make use of the globally available freeware QGIS and mapping applications, use of available mapping materials, government methodologies).

Thanks to the acquired know-how, the project pFeasibility study of the Žlebove stream basinrocessing process is fully replicable and uniform for all types of territories (compatible throughout the country), while respecting and incorporating local specifics.

It is a basis for subsequent project preparation, preparation for land development and, as it is clear from our experience, also a valued know-how for sharing with other municipalities and entities.

It builds on the local people's knowledge of the landscape, strengthens the local people's relationship with the landscape and land, and their knowledge of the historical development and context, as well as the current state of the surrounding landscape.The project offers the opportunity for absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, education, age or income, to come together to work together, as well as a new level of participation in local government decision-making in their locality.

Please explain how these three dimensions have been combined in your project.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary

The Czech landscape suffers from many ills. Drying out, erosion and loss of soil fertility, loss of biodiversity, very low resilience to climate change. We are not waiting for solutions to come from above. We offer universally applicable know-how that anyone can start with.

It is a SMART solution that covers multiple issues simultaneously (erosion, all forms of drought, flash floods, biodiversity, soil quality). We emphasis on increasing the proportion of greenery - both trees and bushes, which significantly help retain water, reduce water and wind erosion, cool their surroundings, provide shelter for animals and insects and also help to retain CO2.

As the name of the Living Landscape project suggests, the aim is to implement measures that will help the South Moravian landscape achieve ecological stability, species diversity, climate resilience, aesthetic and recreational value, while maintaining its usage for agriculture, ideally in a sustainable manner.

Our methodics combines field mapping work with designing of measures in a relatively sophisticated IT model, which remains usable for both laymen and professionals. We work with freeware and resources that are mostly freely available.

Living Landscape is a Grassroot project that maximizes public engagement to the best of the ability of individuals in the local community. We provide know-how that once a trained local coordinator has learned, he/she is able to replicate it on other projects and territories. We form a connection between the community living in the targeted areas, the local government, landowners and agricultural farmers, helping them to make sustainable decisions about the conception of the surrounding landscape.

All of this together allows us to work through individual watersheds one by one, creating comprehensive feasibility studies quickly and cheaply with local community involvement.

Please give information on the results/impacts achieved by your project in relation to the category you apply for

We developed and submitted feasibility studies generated in cooperation with trained volunteers to local governments for further use: Feasibility study of the Lulečský stream basin and Feasibility study of the Žlebový stream basin. They consist of a text section and a GIS project map of the basin with proposed measures. They are basis for subsequent project documentation for the measures to be implemented, and as concept material for land development or for the analysis of the region's landscape vulnerabilities.

Project reached more than 1000 people with increased awareness of landscape drought and flood issues and possible solutions.

We published calls for volunteers in the local press and on social media (FB group with 272 members, FB page, Instagram).

We held an online awareness-raising presentation on the creation of a new local initiative (our activities, objectives, how to get involved, support the project). It was closed with a discussion and viewed by over a thousand viewers.

We distributed 500 informational leaflets and attracted 15 new volunteers.

We provided training sessions for 4 new local coordinators. We held regular meetings for volunteers on the ground in the catchment area with mapping demonstrations.

We made contact with over 30 village representatives as we organised an inspirational tour of examples of good practice in the surrounding countryside.

The project included 8 municipalities in whose cadastres infrastructure mapping was carried out - the actual state of the landscape in terms of water retention capacity and climate resilience) with proposed solutions.

We established contact with local primary school to involve children and youth. We arranged workshops for the 60 pupils.

We spread awareness of the project through a number of published articles or media reports - press, Czech radio and television.

We made 4 awareness-raising spots summarizing addressed problems, the course and outcomes of the project.

Please explain how citizens and civil society were involved in the in the design and/or implementation of the project.
Please also explain the benefits that derived from their involvement.

Rural agricultural areas in CZE are still dealing with impacts of the past: collectivisation and nationalisation tore the bond between people and the land around them. Residents now rather rarely own the land around their villages, and even if they do, they rarely work it themselves. Previously state owned agricultural cooperatives transformed into large agricultural businesses use the land without consideration of the specific local needs. 

People living in rural settlements are witnessing the climate changes in nature, but they lack the expertise and concepts which would allow them to take part in the solutions and it leads into resignation and mistrust. There is lack of communication among stakeholders.

The climate change theme often seems too expert or distant. Project explained local examples of ongoing climate change to which residents were able to easily relate. We created local initiative, which gathered active citizens with similar motivations: individuals, who decided to take responsibility for their environment, for their vicinity. Volunteers who are willing continuously learn new things and cooperate in a team. Public meetings and debates took place. There was number of citizens with strong competencies to undertake similar projects in their areas. This led to new areas where we are currently working on feasibility studies.

The process of creating a feasibility study required that many people take part and contribute. The created studies becomed a starting point for a pragmatic and evidence-based debate among the stakeholders. It defined the main risks and problems in the landscape and clearly shows the benefits of the proposed solutions. Project is bringing a win-win strategy to help farmers tackle their problems (drought, erosion) and citizens to secure water resources and improve biodiversity.

Please explain what kind of global challenges the project addressed by providing local solutions

Living Landscape project addresses these global threats in local scale:

soil drought, groundwater drying

disturbed small water cycle

flash flooding, topsoil washout

loss of edaphon, decreasing soil fertility

water and wind erosion

lack of greenery, bark beetle calamities in forests

low biodiversity, biological instability of ecosystems

transition to sustainable agricultural practices such as agroforestry, etc.

CO2 emissions

large heat islands in agricultural areas

unpreparedness of the landscape to face climate change

environmental grief and frustration of citizens, feeling unable to influence positively the development of the environment

disconnection from the home landscape and its history

communication barriers between politicians, the public and farmers

Please highlight the innovative character of the project as compared to mainstream practices in the field of the project.

We bring a comprehensive and citizen-science based approach to climate-change adaptation. We have a complex tool for designing water retention and climate adaptation measures in open landscape. The tool is a step-by-step approach with map analysis, historical research, and projection in GIS programmes. We can train anyone to adopt this approach and initiate water retention projects in their vicinity.

So far it is the only method in the country that offers solutions for large-scale drainage facilities by using or closing them, as well as addressing erosion on agricultural land, revitalizing streams and returning wetlands and pools to their surroundings. Certification of the method is currently underway.

Our solution helps to lower the barrier between the citizens and the climate change. People feel overwhelmed by the changes they observe but don´t have the tool to become part of the solution. We turn this around by training them on the basic level to become “citizen science” pro´s. Our pilot project can be replicated to whole country and all around Eastern Europe which deals with similar legacy of mass agriculture and landscape management. We are currently focused on simplifying and speeding up of the process even more by introducing automation and using AI.

Our project uses the power of volunteer work and snow-ball effect. We can train hundreds of people, who then involve hundreds of coworkers in their vicinity. Our know-how is opens-source and once learned, cn be used over and over in new localities. We can train hundreds of people per yeas and we can further train consultants in other countries who will the train their own coordinators.

Please explain to the potential of transferring the projects’ results or learnings to other interested parties and contexts.
Please provide clear documentation, communication of methodology and principles in this context.

Our know-how is accessible to anyone for free. We also provide a free step-by-step manual on how to achieve water retention and landscape restoration. The method offers a standardised approach to the creation of a unified map with newly proposed landscape remodelling measures anywhere in the world. We can train hundreds of people per year, who then involve further co-workers in their vicinity. We can also train consultants in other countries who will then train their local collaborators. Our ambition is to eventually create the entire Czech and EU Landscape Adaptation Plan.

The local coordinators have a uniform methodology that can be used for any catchment area. The individual feasibility studies can therefore build on each other in a sequential and coherent manner.

Our model has already been piloted in a number of localities. Its positive results have led several Czech municipalities to contracting our association for their own local study creation. The number of our volunteers is constantly growing.

Is an evaluation report or any relevant documentation available?
If you would like to upload additional documentation, please upload it or write it below

Feedback from municipals members on the awareness-raising excursion:

"Better to see once than hear a hundred times. I saw five different measures in one day that lead to simple water retention in the landscape, all of which can be applied in our village. Now all we need to do is to want to give back nature's natural ability to retain water in the landscape without megalomaniac projects."

"I liked the concrete examples - if you want it, you can do it. In reality, the proposal of measures often meets with the refusal of landowners, the lack of understanding or the limited budget. Sometimes it leads to to the frustration. It always takes someone who is able to entuse others for their vision. The Living Landscape has shown us through concrete examples of measures against floods, drought and water erosion that if there is vision (tailored to specific conditions), effort and perseverance, landscape remediation is within reach relatively inexpensively - just by understanding and working with nature."

"I was impressed by the high level of expertise, great examples of landscape environmental work. We will strive for the cooperation of the municipalities affected by the tornado in the development of the landscape plan. The excursion showed me, through great examples, that when looking at the landscape in a comprehensive way, many measures can be implemented that will not be expensive and will also make a significant contribution to its restoration."

"This is the most meaningful "local development". You don't have to be an eco-enthusiast to see that we are in a disaster of a whole landscape. Communicating what's really going on and how to improve it is ant work, but it's essential! In my opinion, not only in local government, but also with the public, there is a need for total education."

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