The final study visit to Flanders will showcase the partner's progress with the Local Action Plan and introduce some interesting themes. Having been postponed several times due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are happy to finally be able to see the Flemish region and acknowledge all the effort of the Innocastle partner HoGent in influencing the local policy instruments for a better future for historic estates. 

During the study visit, the key topic is exploring the relationship between  historic estates, their landscape and how the different human & more-than-human communities influence that relationship. Key questions asked include:

  • What are the different communities involved?
  • How do they embed the estate in a wider network? How are these communities essential in the survival of estates?
  • How does this redefine the contemporary relationship between estate and landscape?
  • How can policy practices impact the relationship between estates and the different communities?

The visit will take place in the Bulskampveld region, and it will involve local stakeholders such as local inhabitants, entrepreneurs and estate managers. The provincial domain Bulskampveld is a large public park at the center of the Bulskampveld region. It is managed by the province of West-Flanders and functions as a recreational hotspot and gateway to the larger Bulskampveld region. It is a varied cultural-historical landscape in which the natural assets are supplemented with built heritage. It has a visitor center, a working farmstead, a walled garden, a bird rescue center, a herb farm, a restaurant and so forth. The last 10 years the region has undergone big changes. Several regional, provincial and national institutions have invested in the recreational facilities and nature quality of the domain. Different estates in this region will be visited. Local policymakers such as the regional office of the province of West Flanders will give an insight in their regional work and how all the different actions fit together in developing the region.

Debate: estates and landscapes 
Flanders Heritage Agency will organize an evening debate on the reconnection of estates with their historic landscape. During the course of the last centuries, estates have become increasingly fragmented and disconnected, impacting the rich heritage of these sites. How can we reconnect estates with their historical environment through action and policy? This environment can be conceived as a spatial, social, cultural and economic network in which an estate operates as a focal point. Reconnecting the estate means to strengthen the social, economic, cultural and spatial connections of the estate with its wider region. Innocastle partners will present key examples from each region and how the Innocastle Local Action Plans work towards this in a ‘Pecha Kucha’ style presentation. 

Progress of the local action plans
The partners will also have a moment to exchange updates and learning points from the process of implementing the local action plans in Romania, Spain, Gelderland and Flanders. In Flanders, the Heritage masterplan is under development and has recently passed its first phase. How does this participative policy development succeeds in bringing the different stakeholders together? A visit to the ongoing research project of KASK and Devine relating the more-than-human community will kick-start a workshop in which the potential of a more-than-human approach to estates is explored. How can new experiences be created by entangling the different species connected to these sites with visitors and this through digital media for example. Do these new entanglements have an impact on the physical environment? Finally, a guided tour to a Visit Flanders estate will give us insight in the early phases of a redevelopment project based on participation. Together with a short introduction to their ‘travel to tomorrow’ program, it is the perfect occasion to have a debate how to shape a tourism policy in which the different communities (visitors, residents, entrepreneurs, owners, etc.) work together.