Landscape management and nature conservation have to meet requirements that arise from a growing importance of communication and participation in planning processes. In this context a more effective design of planning processes through the use of information - and communication techniques are part of the institutes' research interest. Against the background of strategic environmental research and European integration main questions deal with the future development of landscape planning and with further modalities and increased acceptance of other instruments, such as the impact regulation (§ 18 BNatSchG and §1 BauGB). However the realisation of nature conservation aims and their evaluation remain in the focus of considerations.
The department of regional planning and regional science is employed with the contentional, and methodological questions of urban -, regional - and state planning. The research can be assigned to three focal topics:
- Effectiveness of planning with the focus on institutional and organisational questions
- Regional development and regional self-governance
- Planning methodology and environmental informatics
Process conservation is the key word of nature conservation and landscape ecology. The integration on the different levels of landscape planning and its beneficial involvement in cultural landscapes are priority issues. They are accompanied by questions concerning the functionality of the biotope networks. The ever faster proceeding changes in landscape, for instance on the edge of conurbations or in low mountain ranges, require deliberations how and where nature conservation can and has to think and act more flexible.
Within vegetation management the effects of anthropological changes are in the focus of considerations. How do plants and their biocenoses adapt to urban conditions and its dynamics? What are the consequences of changes of anthropological flora and site conditions for nature conservation and landscape management, for their vision statements, evaluation criteria and instruments? Synergies and conflicts between nature conservation and forestry are another issue. Due to high maintenance costs, special attention has to be paid to the question, how we include (natural) dynamics of systems into nature conservation strategies and practical nature conservation work.
Bioengineering raises the question about ecological connections concerning the use of natural materials for securing techniques and as habitat. Furthermore it is examined, which biotechnical characteristics of plant species are useful for bioengineering preservation measures, beyond traditional techniques and which new opportunities open up, if ornamental plants are used for preservation and design aspects in urban areas.
What forms the beauty of a landscape? How can it be captured, preserved and developed to a value in the general awareness? How can landscape planning help to implement a beautiful visual landscape? How do historical cultural landscape elements contribute to the beauty and character of landscapes? These questions are pursued in the area of nature - and landscape experience, recreation - and tourism planning. Also included in this research field are questions of village development in past, present and future and the confrontation with clichés of the "old village" and of rusticity or rural atmosphere. Furthermore it is examined how and to which extend nature and landscape are stressed by recreational uses and tourism. There is a need for practical approaches that reduce touristic interferences. A further focus is formed by the questions about impacts of sport activities on nature and landscape and its environmentally friendly design.
Communication, public relations and environmental education are tasks with a variety of associated questions. Which forms of public relations and environmental education can be used for the different target groups in nature conservation and landscape planning? Which use of media is adequate? Questions of principle are raised with regard to new technologies and are an issue for the near future. Further subjects encompass new perspectives of education by means of interactive learning methods and telelearning as well as the institutional knowledge management.
Geographical information systems and remote sensing techniques are also a future oriented and promising research area at the Institute of Environmental Planning. It is examined, which possibilities are offered by the use of aerial and satellite based remote sensing techniques for data collection in the interests of landscape planning and nature conservation. A special attention is drawn to radar-based remote sensing techniques that contribute to aspects of environmental monitoring.