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Visual analysis of forest landscape

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Visual landscape description and inventory.
    1. Fundamental visual characteristics of landscapes.
    2. Fundamental/large-scale compositions or spatial con?gurations.
    3. Landscape inventory concepts.
  3. Visual landscape assessment.
    1. Visual absorption capability.
    2. Viewer sensitivity.
    3. Visual quality.
    4. Landscape meanings.
  4. Visual impact assessment.
  5. Conclusion.

This article examines the broad concepts and methods underpinning the management of visual resources in forestry, and describes some of the key scienti?c methods of addressing the often dif?cult 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 speci?c 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 ?rst 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 in?uences 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. [...]

[...] Change of landscapes over time are usually evaluated in terms of visual impact prediction for speci?c projects such as forest harvesting activities; here, there is a tendency to assess ?before and after' conditions, rather than the landscape dynamics of natural disturbance regimes, succession, or forest rotation cycles over time. The rise of landscape ecology has focused more attention on some visual descriptors of the results of natural disturbance events, in the form of a classi?cation of landscape mosaics into patches, corridors, networks, matrix, etc. [...]

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