Objectives & Thematic Lines

In the visualization of the imagination of those who share the flowering of terraces, there are multiple combinations of ideas and aesthetic and ethical practices intertwined in complex plots of diversity that must undoubtedly have repercussions on the objectives of this World Congress to be held in the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores in March 2019 and which has its headquarters on the island of La Gomera.

The material, the stones, the mud, the water and the earth, take on particular meanings in each locality, a product of the experience of the specialists who with their traditional knowledge plant and harvest cultivating the beauty of the slopes, taking advantage of temperature differences, transforming the difficulties in advantages of singular geometries, suggestive of endless lines and curves.

…we aspire to recover the collective memory of history, to reconstruct what has been lived by other generations and to recreate the conditions for a co-existence in the a moment in the life of the terraces.

The beautiful becomes good, mutual help at work, good food and good wine. Beauty that feeds life, which reconnects with nature and its metaphorical messages, social coexistence and solidarity with the existence of living beings, so that we all continue living.

Beyond the recommendations and prescriptions, in this IV Congress we aspire to recover the collective memory of history, to reconstruct what has been lived by other generations and to recreate the conditions for a co-existence in the a moment in the life of the terraces. All of which is a group process that is a continuous and long lasting re-enchantment.

The aim of the ITLA and specifically the ITLA MAC 2019 Congresses is to work against the abandonment of terraced landscapes and their marginal areas, to experiment with new policies and specific tools for these areas, their new life, their new uses and their new users.

In order to do this, the specific objectives of the Congress are:

  • To define the best ways to retrieve abandoned agricultural territories within EU regulatory frameworks in order to achieve the reduction of land abandonment in marginal rural areas.
  • To reactivate productive processes in abandoned rural areas and reintroduce them into the market.
  • To select a new use of abandoned land according to the demands of society (benefits for human health and welfare, potential places for refugees to live in …).
  • To develope synergies between public and private for the management of marginal areas in danger of extinction by abandonment.
  • To improve the issues of protection against natural risks (landslides, floods …).
  • To establish a framework of common understanding to focus the terraces on each island, to have a dialogue with growers, builders of terraces and to develop joint proposals incorporating future visions for the re-enchantment of the landscape.
  • To apply the concepts and principles of the Participatory Action Research (PAR) and to acquire an awareness of the places based on the principles emanating from the European Landscape Convention.
  • To practice the methods and techniques of the Participatory Action Research to retrieve memory from the voices of the growers and builders of terraces in 2-3 zones on each island.
  • To adapt methods and techniques to the specific circumstances of growers and builders of terraces as well as local situations so that they generate creative ideas and provide their own visions of how they imagine the re-enchantment of life in their terraced landscapes, so that they are the thematic focus of the presentations of their experiences during the IV World Congress.
  • To generate conclusions and proposals for the maintenance, conservation and enhancement of the insular terraced landscapes based on specific projects and to generate an inter-administrative platform capable of establishing a suitable strategy for this purpose.

Both the general objectives of the Congress and the objectives of the specific field work on each island will be developed within a multidisciplinary view of terraced landscapes. Some specific points that will be explored during the congress and the whole research process are for example: ecology and biodiversity, environmental and geological risk, water harvesting, food quality and quality of life, agronomic and social innovation, regulation and policies, tourism, construction techniques and maintenance of dry stone walls, heritage and historical cultural landscapes.

This is why the PAR methodology (Participatory Action Research) and the Practical Landscape Manual are the main working tools to be used throughout the research processes during the event. The farmers and terrace builders will talk about their knowledge of the traditional wisdom and practices they consider necessary to invigorate the terraces in the future and to make it possible for people to inhabit these areas, sharing their future and transformation. There will also be practical workshops on perception, actions and projects on the landscape.

One of our main aspirations is to recover the collective memory, reconstruct the experiences of other generations and recreate the conditions for a happy existence in the fabric of the life of the terraced landscapes. A continuous and long-lasting group process of re-enchantment.


The determinations of the Congress are grouped into four thematic lines, conceptual and instrumental arguments that profile the strategic objectives of the Congress. These thematic lines have been refined, checked and developed during the preparatory events to the Congress.


Places of Wellbeing in Terraced Territories

The aim of this thematic line is to study and understand the development of new ways of living, cultivating, maintaining and inhabiting terraces and the contributions of these territories to the biodiversity and cultural identity of contemporary society. Studies may also be submitted that show the restoration or conservation of crops and agricultural techniques that have disappeared or are no longer used, systems to maintain and control the quality of the cultivated land and a future oriented to organic agriculture. Another objective is the identification of places of landscape quality in the terraces, which could serve as an example for their study, taking into account the models and landscape definitions based on those in the European Landscape Convention.


Recovery of the memory of terraces: actions, infrastructure and projects

The main aims of this thematic line are the study of the process of abandonment and restoration of local wisdom to the point of becoming a progressive process of the re-enchantment of terraced landscapes. The ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding and their different levels, common sense, practical judgment or common wisdom is intrinsic to this thematic line. In addition to the ability to understand the cause and effect of the existence of terraced landscapes, empathy, passion and concern for the welfare of these landscapes, which generate awareness and sensitivity in all those who have had or have something to do with these territories.


Construction and protection of terraces

This thematic line aims to show the diversity of terraced territories using studies and actions that explain and take into account the particularities which they have adapted to in each area, understanding the terraces as a system of work from the traditional techniques of construction of dry stone walls to irrigation systems and water control. The new and traditional construction systems of the terraces walls, including reconstruction and maintenance methods, extraction methods and methods, will be examined in more detail along with he properties of the different types of stones and the methods used, as well as the recognition and solution of possible pathologies. Finally, this thematic line will reflect on and study the various trades found in terraced territories such as dry-stone construction, water carriers, seed growers, quarriers, roadside vendors of agricultural produce, etc …


Generation of Knowledge and Innovations from Terraced Territories

This thematic line is oriented towards the process of generation or modification of knowledge through practice, the need for a non-exclusive and inflexible exchange and cooperation capable of involving actors and actions, skills, values and preferences. At the same time, we are interested in understanding the level of intergenerational learning of terraced landscapes and their values, the degradation of this material heritage and the environmental risks that this entails. It also aims to perform a more in-depth review of landscape models and perceptions based on the European Landscape Convention and other worldwide technical and conceptual instruments influencing the study of new ways of constructing or restoring areas of qualitative and structural value. The construction schools will also be promoted with the quality standards according to local cultural, legal and material conditions as well as their recognition as a building profession.