Landscape Planning and Green Infrastructure in Serbia: From National to Belgrade City Planning



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The development of landscape planning in Serbia began in the middle of the last century. The principles and objectives of landscape planning were modeled on European trends and developed within the academic framework of the School of landscape architecture at the Faculty of Forestry of the University of Belgrade.

The General Plan of Landscapes (1995) was a failed attempt to "introduce" landscape planning from the framework of academic and scientific debate to institutional spatial planning in Serbia (Vasiljević, 2008). After the ratification of the European Landscape Convention in 2011, a more favorable climate for landscape planning was created in Serbia. As a result of defining a landscape policy, which harmonized the contemporary conceptualization of landscape planning with planning trends in Serbia, ensued the chapter Protection and Arrangement of Landscapes, as part of the Spatial Plan of the Republic of Serbia 2020. For the first time, the spatial concept included all landscapes – urban and rural/ natural, whereas planning principles integrated the principles of landscape ecology (e.g. landscape connectivity) with the principles of aesthetics of landscapes as systems. Landscape character was defined as the target quality and spatial development was supposed to be aligned with it (Vasiljević, 2013).

The landscape-ecological approach in the planning of cityscapes, advocated by many authors had little influence on the planning of Belgrade in the past. As the final stage of the project „Green regulations of Belgrade“, the Program for elaboration of the urban plan of the green spaces system of Belgrade is the first bigger shift towards landscape-ecological planning of the City (Cvejić and Teofilović, 2010). The Plan of General Regulation of Green Spaces of the City of Belgrade (2014) was developed as a result of the project in which green infrastructure and its elements were observed through the core, inner and outer ring of the green spaces system. However, this plan has not been adopted yet, and the reason is the insufficiently grounded form of this planning document for which there are no known and well-established planning mechanisms of implementation.

In contemporary academic research in Serbia, the concept of green infrastructure is observed through Turner's interpretation of the urban route that is "useful from the aspect of environmental quality in a city" (Turner, 1995), Ahern’s strategy of landscape planning in which landscapes are designed as green infrastructure (Ahern, 1995), and the spatial planning strategy, which is considered the only way to a certain future of urban landscapes in the light of climate change (Fabos, 2001). The contemporary theoretical approach to planning at the landscape scale was created in such an atmosphere, based on the concept of landscapes as wholes, transdisciplinary approach to research and landscape character as a new value in spatial development planning (Vasiljević, 2012). This theoretical concept is based on unifying the principles of the multifunctionality of landscapes, redundancy and modularity of landscape functions, diversity of landscape structures and connectedness of landscapes at different levels and adaptability of landscapes (Ahern, 2011).

Given that the theoretical framework of landscape planning in Serbia is new, as well as its application within the framework of the 2020 SPRS, and that in terms of planning practice in Serbia the understanding of this theoretical concept is in the domain of socialization and cultural reproduction (Vasiljević, 2012 according to Faludi, 2004), it was necessary to find a principle – the idea that local interpretation of theories and their application can be assumed to be consistent with ideas operating at a higher (often national) scale (Allmendinger, 2002). The principle of connectivity, which is materialized through green infrastructure, was considered as a way to implement this theoretical concept at the local level. In order to achieve landscape stability, the principle of connectivity is applied to establish short-term goals, which are seen as long-term adaptation measures to climate change. However, the experience in the implementation of this principle through legal framework points to numerous problems. Although the criteria for establishing green infrastructure are defined through theoretical and strategic research, the existing landscape policies are limited (European Communities, 2008).