The “Code of Good Practice in Shaping the Carpathian Space”

The “Code of Good Practice in Shaping the Carpathian Space” is a set of guidelines elaborated by the Carpathian Working Group on spatial planning, established and active under the “Carpathians Unite” project between 2012 and 2016.

The above Working Group was composed of experts, academics and practitioners dealing with spatial planning, cultural heritage, architecture and urban planning, environmental management and nature protection. Working group members represented regional self-governments and nature conservation authorities, scientific institutions and the non-governmental sector.

The task for the Working Group was to identify the most urgent challenges related to the spatial management in the Carpathian region, and recommend possible solutions.

First of all, the Working Group analyzed the reasons and adverse effects of the current threats to the values of the Carpathian landscape, formed throughout the past centuries in result of traditional land-use practices in interdependence with the natural heritage, under the influence of specific environmental conditions.

Such problems include not only the adverse effects of large infrastructural investments (e.g. on natural landscapes or ecological connectivity), but also the ongoing irreversible deterioration of cultural landscapes at the local scale (in result of e.g. the disturbance of traditional village layout pattern, abandonment of local traditional architectural forms, ongoing depopulation of rural areas and abandonment of traditional agricultural practices, increasing residential and recreational development pressure on post-agricultural areas, extension of urbanization onto slopes, plateaus and ridges, scattered residential development pattern, chaotic commercial development of roadside strips, degradation of public space in towns and scenic areas along the roads by aggressive visual advertising).

The above problems contribute to a reduction in the quality of life of the local inhabitants, and the decline of the tourist attractiveness of the Carpathian region. Simultaneously, the adverse effects of the above phenomena cannot be mitigated without the active participation of local communities and local governments, responsible for the land-use policy and spatial planning. It has to be emphasized, that the local self-governments are adequately empowered and mandated to regulate the above policies at the local scale, by issuing acts of the local law, in particular by developing local spatial development plans.

This is why the Working Group targeted the “Code of Good Practice in Shaping the Carpathian Space” primarily at the local self-governments and spatial planners, urbanists and architects, but also local inhabitants, non-governmental organizations and investors – thus all those, who are involved in the preparation of the local planning documents, or in the development and implementation of local land-use policies.

The overall goal of the “Code of Good Practice” is to enhance nature and landscape conservation a the municipality level, and support the spatial planning procedures.

In 2015 the draft of the “Code” was subject to consultations with the local self-governments during the 2nd Forum of the Carpathian Municipalities. Furthermore, the contents of the Code was communicated to, and additionally consulted with the Carpathian municipality employees, decision makers and local leaders during the series of 12 trainings “Joint Management of the Carpathian Space” organized by UNEP/GRID-Warsaw Centre between March and November 2016.

Also in 2016 cooperation was initiated between the Carpathian Working Group on spatial planning and the group of experts of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Construction, elaborating the proposed new legal act – the “Urban and Construction Code”, which is expected to replace the current the Law on Spatial Planning and Development.