Today, the development and use of Leitbilder is an acknowledged instrument for evaluating status quo and for providing guidelines for the development of regions, municipalities, businesses or landscapes. In the present case involving river landscapes, the “Leitbild method” allows various aspects – future demands by users, nature conservation evaluations, ecologically based river landscape development etc. – to be coupled in a moderated process. It also allows the integration of diverging aims.
Major deficits in the traditional Leitbild discussions remain: these include the dominating sectoral approach as well as the frequent exclusion of social values and economic aspects. These continue to hinder the implementation of such Leitbilder. Modern water-management-related legal instruments such as the EU Water Framework Directive, along with the national water management concept, have begun to tackle these deficits and attempt to introduce holistic approaches. Nonetheless, important basic research and the resulting practical experience are still missing.
Against this backdrop, sub-module 2 focused on developing a “methodological concept for developing a holistic river landscape Leitbild”. This holistic Leitbild was conceived in an interdisciplinary dialogue by integrating the ecological and socio-economic Leitbild-philosophies and their practices; it was then supplemented via existing legal and planning aspects. In the spirit of sustainability, social considerations were incorporated along with ecological requirements and economic principles.
In order to measure whether the developed Leitbilder met their goals – namely the sustainable development of river landscapes – great effort was devoted to developing the relevant river landscape-based sustainability criteria and indicators over the course of numerous interdisciplinary discussions and work meetings. The results of sub-module 2 were applied in the case study Möll, Carinthia (sub-module 3), and the experience gained was channeled back into the model.