Different methods of Landscape Assessment (Macauley, 2012)

  • A structured method of landscape assesment, linking description, classification, analysis and evaluation, will provide an integrated framework within which decisions on land use management and advice can be debated. Exists three main methods:
  1. landscape measurement: an inventory of what actually exists in the landscape.
  2. landscape value: an investigation and measurement of value judgements or preferences in the visual landscape
  3. landscape evaluation: an assessment of the quality of the objective visual landscape in terms of individual or societal preferences for different landscape types.
  • The previous methods could be divided into a lot of models. The various models can be subdivided several ways. For this review the methods will be split into:
Descriptive inventories include ecological and formal aesthetic models,
methods which are mostly applied by experts in an objective manner.
Formal aesthethic: the aesthetic values (basic forms, lines, colors and
textures and their relationships) are inherent in the properties of the landscape.
Ecological: the environmental features are relevant to landscape quality 
are primarily biological or ecological. The landscape is charactirized in
terms of species of plants and animals, ecological zones, succesional stages, etc.
Public preference models, such as psychological and phenomenological,are often undertaken using questionnaires, and are unavoidably linked

to the problems of consensus among the public.

Psychological: refers to the feelings ans perceptions of people who inhabit,
visit or view the landscape. Because psychological methods use multiples
observers and yield one or more quantitative scale values for each assessed
landscape, their reliability and sensitivity can be precisely determined.
Phenomenological: The principal method of assessment is the detailed personal
interview or verbal questionnaire. This model tend not to be used to rank landscapes
in terms of scenic beauty. 
Consensus: proceed on the assumption that there is a broad consensus within our
society upon what is considered to be of high landscape value and the visual quality
is an intrinsic property of landscape and can be stated objectively.
Quantitative holistic techniques use a mixture of subjective and
objective methods, and include psychophysical and surrogate 
component models.
Psychophysical: seek to determine mathematical relationships between physical
characteristics of the landscape and the perceptual judgements of human observers.
The relationships of interest are those between physical features of the environment
(topography, etc) and the psychological responses (judgements of preference,
aesthetic values or scenic beauty).
Surrogate component: the basis is the identification and measurement of those
physical components of the landscape which are regarded as surrogates of
scenic beauty. These components can be assigned to 3 groups in relation to their

assumed importance in determining scenic quality:

macro reliefs (terrain types), 
relative relief and water presence. 

Visual Management Systems: are straightforward systems tha use intuitive
constructs and easily observable physical landscape attributes to arrive at landscape
classification decisions.

  • Traditional economics analyses have generally failed to account for unmarketed (nonpecuniary) resources, such as aesthetics. However, putting a price on aesthetic resources is probably not feasible for several reasons. First; aesthetic experiences are difficult to define; second, there is the problem of placing charges on aesthetics experiences.
  • Several methods have been used to obtain values for scenic resources:
  1. “Willingness-to-pay” values: can assist in valuing today’s landscape; they also atempt to value the benefits which residents and visitors might derive from alternative landscapes which could arise at some time in the future. Linearity means that is a linear or other reetermined function of the quantity of the features does not increase in proportion to its size.
  2. Revealed demand (does he take a different highway?)
  3. Opinion tallies (does he complain to his MP?)
  4. The hedonic price method (HPM) consists in: the components of landscape are valued against people’s willingness to pay to live in paticular types of landscape, defined as comprising of different bundies of components.
  5. The travel cost method (TCM) uses a sample of visitors to a site which embodies desired environmental attributes and asks them factual questions about their journey to the site, their mode of transportation and their other costs incurred and their own sociodemographic characteristics.
  6. The Contingent Valuation Techniques (CVT): is the natural evolution from landscape evaluation methods based on the scoring of landscape components and other public preference techniques such as landscape ranking. By valuing landscape as an entity, avoids many of the problems, such as those of reparability and co linearity, often associated with travel cost and hedonic price methods of landscape evaluation.

MACAULAY LAND USE RESEARCH INSTITUTE (2012): Review of existing methods of landscape assessment and evaluation. [En línea] http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/ccw/task-two/evaluate.html


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