People value landscape because they are driven by identity, knowledge and culture rather than the physical properties of the land itself. Cultural heritage objects can only be understood if the surrounding landscape is taken under consideration too. In certain cases, the landscape even constitutes the cultural object itself. UNESCO has considered this fact by adding the category of 'Cultural Landscapes' to the sites eligible for the World Heritage List. 'Changing Times' introduces the methods used to survey, document and visualize landscapes. Especially, with new imaging opportunities, such as satellite images with 1 meter resolution, landscapes can be mapped economically. Results, such as maps, perspectives, animations and geographic information systems can help to present the landscapes to those who cannot visit its location and are a powerful means for studying, monitoring and managing landscapes of cultural relevance.

No cultural heritage object can be understood without taking the surrounding landscape into account. Human dwellings have to use places in the landscape where an optimal protection from natural forces (weather, flooding) and enemy attacks is possible, and the supply of essentials (food, water, kindling) is assured as well. Special topographic features are chosen in all religions as places of worship or as sites for the location of divine buildings. Sovereigns chose special places to erect their palaces and mausoleums and thereby often changed the surrounding topography. Cities developed along trade roads or close to bridges and fords. Even a small arrow tip found in a field should raises studied questions about the significance of this spot. Why was it lost here and not somewhere else in the landscape.

The location of all objects in a landscape is a result of practical or metaphysical considerations and rules. Thus, it is not sufficient to examine and document the object itself. To obtain a full understanding the landscape surrounding a cultural heritage object should be considered, studied and documented. If the present topography is surveyed, mapped and visualized, historic evidence may be used to reconstruct landscape development from ancient to present times. At the same time, conservational issues originating from the present topography (erosion, slides, flooding) or landuse (agriculture, industry, traffic) can be foreseen and possibly prevented.

Natural Features, Formations and Sites
UNESCO (1972) uses the term 'Natural Heritage' for physical, biological, geological and physiographical features, formations and sites of outstanding value from an aesthetic or scientific point of view. Over a hundred natural heritage sites are designated by UNESCO as World Heritage and many others are receiving various degrees of protection under state or local legislation. From a conservationist's point of view, it would be desirable to keep human interference completely away from these areas. Since, on the other hand, many visitors are attracted, management guidelines have to be prepared and enforced and a monitoring process is needed to detect and prevent unwanted changes. Nevertheless, natural features, formations and sites are subject to changes caused by nature itself (UNESCO Operational Guidelines specifically mention on-going geological processes and on-going ecological and biological processes) and it would be a misinterpretation of conservation to keep these natural processes away from the objects.

Cultural Heritage Objects and Landscape
Meanwhile, more than 600 objects of 'Cultural Heritage' are designated by UNESCO as World Heritage sites. This is just a choice selection of a heritage comprising innumerable single monuments, groups of buildings or historical and archaeological sites of outstanding value for historical, artistic or scientific reasons. Although cultural objects are man-made, UNESCO in its Convention also mentions landscape in this context ("buildings because of their ... place in the landscape", "combined works of nature and man").

Cultural Landscapes
There are cases where natural and cultural criteria of a landscape cannot be separated. The value of such landscapes, being both, of natural and cultural significance, was hard to define with the 1972 UNESCO Convention. This is why UNESCO revised it in 1992 and adopted three categories of ’Cultural Landscapes’ :

Landscapes Intentionally Designed and Created by Man.

These embraces garden and parkland landscapes constructed for aesthetic reasons. Often, but not always, buildings and ensembles are part of those landscapes.

Organically Evolved Landscapes

These originate from an initial imperative (social, economic, administrative, religious) and have developed their present form in an evolutionary process in close interdependence with the natural environment. This evolutionary process may have come to an end in the past (’relict’ or ’fossil landscape’) or it is still continuing (’continuing landscape’). Where a relict landscape needs conservational methods to preserve the site, a continuing landscape needs management plans and measures to allow evolution without destroying its outstanding value.

Associative Cultural Landscapes

These may show no man-made evidence at all (thus, from a materialistic point of view just being natural landscapes), but powerful religious, artistic or cultural associations of the natural element attach special importance to those landscapes.