This article examines the broad concepts and methods underpinning the management of visual resources in forestry, and describes some of the key scientiﬁc methods of addressing the often difﬁcult issue of aesthetics and public perceptions of forested landscapes. It draws on accumulated research knowledge on public perception and provides general concepts and methods employed in more speciﬁc procedures for managing landscape values under visual resource management (VRM) and other multiple-value forestry programs. The topic of visual analysis focuses on the main human perceptual sense of vision, rather than appreciation of other aesthetic values such as sound and smell, which can also be very important in their own right though typically less critical than visual values in forestry. What is the purpose of visual analysis? The history of visual analysis as applied today in forestry can be traced back most clearly to the practice of landscape architecture in Great Britain, where deliberate design of larger-scale somewhat naturalistic landscapes for aesthetics began in the eighteenth century. Certain principles of landscape design and analysis were ﬁrst systematically applied to forestry by Sylvia Crowe, an English landscape architect working for the Forestry Commission in the 1960s. Since then there has been a tradition of landscape architects developing visual analysis and management approaches in forestry, incorporating both design principles and a growing body of research on aesthetic responses to forest landscapes.
[...] Some scientists believe that cultural forces in Western nations have led to forest landscape preferences (and assessment approaches) that favor a static, visual mode of landscape experience, and an aversion to the death of trees and the ‘messiness' which results from rapid landscape change. In North America and some other countries, human inﬂuences on the forested landscape have until recently been viewed as positive features only where they represent limited, traditional (usually pastoral or historic) features of largely rural cultures. [...]
[...] Conclusion Visual analysis has evolved over the last few decades into a suite of approaches that can be used to describe objectively and even quantify many aspects of the appearance of forest landscapes. The analysis and prediction of public responses to landscape conditions is much more complicated and uncertain, although in certain cultures (notably younger Western nations with a strong image of the natural landscape), research and forestry practice have revealed strong patterns of preference for certain levels and types of forest management practice. [...]
[...] In more obviously developed and culturally modiﬁed regions, there is no baseline of a natural landscape that can readily be used in visual analysis, and a richer set of issues and inﬂuences on aesthetic values needs to be considered. In some countries with long cultural histories of landscape manipulation, for example in Europe and China, formal views of aesthetic quality have arisen from art appreciation, landscape design, and other cultural or religious movements, which recognize human modiﬁcations or transformations of natural landscapes as closer to the ideal. [...]
[...] Often, visual simulations (or landscape visualizations) are used to assist the process by depicting the expected visual condition of the landscape. Many of the same issues addressed in the overall landscape assessment described in the preceding section also apply to the more particular assessment of project visual impacts. Visual impact assessment is based on the same general principles and procedures as other resource impact assessments, derived from international and regional environmental impact assessment guidelines codiﬁed for example in the National Environmental Protection Act in the USA and World Bank policies. [...]
[...] Since then there has been a tradition of landscape architects developing visual analysis and management approaches in forestry, incorporating both design principles and a growing body of research on aesthetic responses to forest landscapes. Researchers, most notably R.B. Litton Jr., and other landscape architects in the USA, developed the ﬁeld of visual analysis in the 1960s and 1970s. The introduction of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) in 1969, which recognized the need to protect the rights of Americans to aesthetic enjoyment, and the ‘clear-cut crisis' in the US National Forests, led to the implementation of a major program of VRM in the US Forest Service, adapting Litton's work. [...]
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