Cultural landscapes are increasingly understood not merely as something to be protected, but also as force to promote regional development. This strategic understanding of cultural landscapes is reflected in conventions at the European level and guidelines on the Federal and State level in Germany. The State Development Programme for the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan region recommends the constitution of cultural landscapes as place-based action arenas for cooperative regional development. Berlin and Brandenburg have acquired valuable experiences in the recent past with their regional parks, large-scale reserves, regions of rural development, inter-municipal spaces of cooperation as well as networks and projects to initiate place-based region-building processes.

Current and future challenges connected with the transformation of cultural landscapes include coping with the structural change of energy production and impacts of climate change. Cultural landscapes are not only affected by climate change but also seen as an appropriate level for integrated approaches to climate mitigation and adaptation. To evaluate the potential of cultural landscapes as place-based action arenas in the context of the challenges of climate change, the Joint Spatial Planning Department of Berlin and Brandenburg initiated a (short-term) pilot project in the heterogeneous diverse landscape region of “Barnim”, which reaches from urban areas of Berlin to rural areas in Brandenburg.

The landscape region “Barnim” is constituted by a range of partly overlapping governance structures (Nature park, Regional park and the administrative area Barnim which has an energy corporation) and characterised by a high diversity of stakeholders. Different projects aim to combine the protection or development of specific cultural landscape potentials with positive effects on climate mitigation or adaptation. Within a dialogue process, consisting of interviews and two workshops with relevant regional stakeholders, the challenges and opportunities to open up synergies between climate mitigation and adaptation, and between the subspaces with their different qualities, were explored.

The research, carried out from an institutionalist approach to regional development, revealed multiple synergies between sectors, fields of action and subspaces. Place identity, rooted in the cultural landscape features of the subspaces, leads to different sensitivities to landscape transformation. But the holistic Barnim-identity is underdeveloped because the term Barnim was neglected prior to German reunification. Simultaneously there were obvious structural obstacles to the strategic implementation of lasting processes of regional cooperation within cultural landscapes as action arenas to cope with climate change. The constitution of the action arena “Barnim” as a network of the existing governance structures tapping the possible synergies between the subspaces can contribute to shaping a holistic Barnim identity.

The presentation bases on an expertise on behalf of the Joint Spatial Planning Department of Berlin and Brandenburg.