Reflecting on the other papers in this special issue, this synopsis characterises some essential trends in European Landscape Ecology, including the challenges it is facing in society. It describes the various perspectives on the 'contents' of landscape that are currently being practiced, and especially considers the notion of 'environment' as something intrinsic to human activity. Landscape classification and typology are discussed in their potential but limited use for landscape science. The specificity of the European approach appears to be related to the large diversity of cultural landscapes, currently losing their functional ties with the land-use systems that had formed them. European landscape research reports show a large commitment to this decreasing diversity, a dedication characterised by a strong sense of 'loss and grief'. On the other hand, it is concluded that European landscape research has a specific niche with a clear focus on applied landscape studies explicitly including people's perceptions and images, as well as the participation of the public and stakeholders. Since globalisation tends to reinforce the detachment of people from their environment; an increased effort is needed to compensate for this effect, and therefore the consideration of the various dimensions of the landscape is today more pertinent than ever. Meeting the challenges of present landscapes, in the face of new multifunctional demands in old diverse landscapes, requires more than before the combination of various perspectives and methods, and of various scales of application, in order to design innovative and adaptive paths for the future.