Specific elements in a landscape are significant characteristic features of landscape with a strong effect on local identity and they are a part of historical and existing landscape structure. Despite an insufficient present research they are related to the actual trends in landscape protection and management. This paper deals with characterisation and categorisation of specific elements and describes their effect in socio-historical, environmental and visual context and in the context of an area’s sustainability. There are two main types of specific elements: specific elements of anthropogenic origin and of natural origin. This study focuses on the anthropogenic elements, especially on dispersed settlements. Based on the present practise, we can analyse specific elements as part of other landscape structures – in identification and evaluation of historical landscape structures and in evaluation methodology of characteristic landscape features.
A specific type of the rural settlement system in Slovakia, the so-called dispersed settlement, is typical for several regions in the country. This type of settlement, especially in mountainous areas, originates as a result of three colonisation processes: the wallachian in the 15th century, the goral in the 17th century and the kopanitse colonisation in the 19th century; nowadays, the fragments of such settlements can be seen as the small settlement units with unique structure of arable land and grassland. However, many special studies currently focus on this topic, there is no universal methodology of mapping and evaluation of this type of settlement for the use of the regional development and land-use planning. Consequently, we have elaborated a methodological plan how to identify and evaluate dispersed settlement units that could be used as data for consecutive proposal of management.
Cadastral area of Čadca town is a model area situated in the Kysuce region and is known for its specific historical landscape structures: dispersed settlement, terraced fields, grassland and non-timber forest vegetation. We have made an inventory of 63 dispersed settlement units and classified them in 5 categories depending on quality attributes. For each category we have proposed a respective way of management. Based on sociological research in the most valuable localities, there were evaluated positives and negatives phenomena that should also serve as the base data for further landscape management to protect and preserve specific elements within an area.