Many landscapes are highly valued for their natural or cultural heritage. Conservation of these landscapes however might conflict with ideas and ambitions of economic development. We therefore argue that these places should be considered as living landscapes, that are allowed to evolve. Spatial planning, as the attempt to coordinate the practices that affect space, can be studied as the interplay between institutional and physical design. On the one hand it includes planning as physical design, relating land use activities to each others, developing ideas and visions, and implementing plans. On the other hand it includes the organisations of the planning processes, the coordination between the different actors, developing and enforcing rules. In other words planning as institutional design.
We are particularly interested in the possibilities recreation and tourisms offer for regional development and landscape conservation. To gain further insights in the interplay between physical and institutional designs, the possibilities and limitations of landscape conservation by combining planning and branding strategies and the effects for regional development we have visited to regional landscapes in Flanders: The Zwinstreek and the Vlaamse Ardennen. The study shows how regions are constituted and how regional identity can be enhance by spatial planning and place branding. At the same time it became clear that planning is not always evident, even if actors agree on the need for planning. Coordination is for example hampered by organisations with different ideas and interests, competing place identities and the fear to loose autonomy. Each region faces a different set of difficulties and developing strategies for landscape conservation should therefore be context-sensitive.
The landscape as a result of physcial and institutional design