Professor Carys Swanwick


Department of Landscape Architecture

Emeritus Professor

Full contact details

Professor Carys Swanwick
Department of Landscape Architecture
Arts Tower
Western Bank
S10 2TN

My academic education was in biology and ecological conservation. On graduation I joined Land Use Consultants (LUC), the first multidisciplinary environmental consultancy in the UK, where landscape architects, ecologists, environmental planners and other professionals worked together to tackle the pressing problems of environment and development.

I had a very happy 23 year long career with the company in which I progressed to become first an Associate, then a Principal and finally a Director of the Company. I soon moved on from my initial focus on ecology and conservation to much broader involvement in landscape and environmental planning work.

In the 1980s and early 1990s I built a strong national reputation as an expert in this field, based largely on my work in developing tools to take account of landscape in decisions about land use planning, as well as more generally in landscape planning, design and management. This continues to be a major focus of my work, but I also have strong interests in future landscapes and responses to them, and in landscapes in and around urban areas.

In 1995 I joined the University of Sheffield as Professor of Landscape and as Head of Department, and held this position for ten years when, in 2005, I handed over the Head of Department role to Paul Selman.

Research interests

My research is at the interface of research and practice and I have a long track record of successfully leading research and policy projects for a wide range of government departments and agencies.

My main research focus is in the broad field of landscape and environmental planning and I have a particular reputation as an expert in this field, based mainly on my work in developing landscape character assessment as a tool to help achieve sustainable landscape planning and management.

This continues to be a major focus of my work and its influence in the last five years is most clearly seen in the document “Landscape Character Assessment – Guidance for England and Wales”, of which I was the principal author.

I am regularly asked to advise central and local government on landscape character assessment and have been widely involved in dissemination of guidance and new thinking on applications of the approach. The guidance has also influenced research and practice in Europe and elsewhere.

In particular it has helped to shape the approach set out in the recent European Landscape Convention (ELC).

In the last three years I have been involved in ground breaking projects which have applied the character based approach to the development of landscape indicators (Countryside Quality Counts) and to the targeting of the new Environmental Stewardship Schemes in England.

I am also developing new research on the effects of new drivers of change, including climate change, on the character of future landscapes and helped the (then) Countryside Agency, now Natural England to develop its research agenda in this area.

My work is not confined to rural landscapes and in the last five years I have developed a parallel research strand on urban green infrastructure and its role in urban regeneration.

I led a major research project for the DTLR on improving urban parks and green spaces to inform the work of the Government's Green Space Task Force in 2002 and am currently PI on a four year European funded (INTERREG) research project on the role of landscape and environmental quality in attracting investment to degraded post industrial areas, with European partners at the University of Liege and the University of Dortmund.


Funded Research Projects

  • 2009 -2010 Land Use Futures Project, for the Government’s Foresight Office.
  • 2006 Countryside Quality Counts – Tracking Change in the English Countryside (with Nottingham University) Countryside Agency, DEFRA, Environment Agency et al.
  • 2006 Future Landscapes – The Future Character and Function of England’s Landscapes, jointly with Land Use Consultants, for the Countryside Agency.
  • 2006 A Statement on Definitions of Natural Beauty. For the Countryside Council for Wales.
  • 2005 Landscape Change and Public Perceptions in Scotland, with Land Use Consultants, for Scottish Natural Heritage.
  • 2004 The Peak District Landscape in 2084 – a Scoping Study on research methods for visualising future landscapes in the Peak District National Park, for the Council for the Protection of Rural England and the Peak District National Park Authority.
  • 2004 Creating the Setting for Investment. Interreg IIIB funded Research. Total Value Euro 6 million (including implementation of schemes).
  • 2004 Landscape Character database, with Countryscape, for the Countryside Agency.
  • 2003 Research on the benefits or Urban Green Space, for Green Space Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage, with Land Use Consultants.
  • 2003 Review of the Scottish Programme of Landscape Character Assessment for Scottish Natural Heritage. With Julie Martin Associates.
  • 2003 Creating the Setting for Investment. Scoping Study for South Yorkshire and the White Rose Community Forests with funding from Yorkshire Forward.
  • 2002 Research on Improving Urban Parks, Play Areas and Green Spaces. Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions.