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The Historic Landscape Characterisation programme is a powerful tool that provides a framework for broadening our understanding of the whole landscape and contributes to decisions affecting tomorrow's landscape. HLC projects produce interactive GIS-based descriptions of the historic dimension - the 'time-depth' - that characterises our rural landscape. HLC work is conducted in line with the European Landscape Convention (ELC), which came into force in 11 ratifying countries on 4 March 2004. It was signed by the UK in February 2006 and ratified on 21 November 2006. It came into force in the UK on 1 March 2007, and Defra has recently published 'A Framework for Implementation in England'. English Heritage published its ELC Action Plan in early 2009: European Landscape Convention - The English Heritage Action Plan for Implementation.
Two national reviews of the HLC programme have been carried out. 'Taking Stock of the Method' explores the development of the HLC approach and methodology, and 'Using Historic Landscape Characterisation' looks at the many ways in which HLC is currently used to understand and manage the historic environment, and how these applications are likely to develop in the future.
For more information and resources on the HLC programme, please see the Historic England Understanding Historic Places page.
Related surveys have also been conducted under the Extensive Urban Survey Programme.