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Assessing Landscape Quality An Alternative Approach Dr Andrew Lothian Director, Scenic Solutions Australia 2012 NZPIA Annual Conference, Blenheim, New.

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Presentation on theme: "Assessing Landscape Quality An Alternative Approach Dr Andrew Lothian Director, Scenic Solutions Australia 2012 NZPIA Annual Conference, Blenheim, New."— Presentation transcript:

1 Assessing Landscape Quality An Alternative Approach Dr Andrew Lothian Director, Scenic Solutions Australia 2012 NZPIA Annual Conference, Blenheim, New Zealand

2 Monotony of landscape is not New Zealand’s problem! “The fault of all Australian scenery is its monotony…” “I have said that the scenery of the bush is monotonous. It is a complaint that has been made generally of all Australian landscape…no one visits Australia to see its scenery…” Anthony Trollop, 1873, Australia and New Zealand, London 2

3 Messages 1.Propose a community preferences method to measure and map landscape quality as an alternative to current descriptive methods. 2.Propose its application in New Zealand in the context of the RMA objective of “the protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes”. 3

4 Landscape Beauty It was an exquisite day. It was one of those days so clear, so still, so silent, you almost feel the earth itself has stopped in astonishment at its own beauty. Katherine Mansfield On the Marlborough Sounds. Beauty enriches the human soul. It lifts our vision to a better world, a world that could be, a world in which beauty transcends the daily grind. Beauty is worth understanding because it enriches our quality of life, it adds to our enjoyment of life Photo: 4

5  Beautiful landscapes are therapeutic, they have health-giving benefits, and they also provide tangible economic benefits.  A review of 33 studies of the healing and restorative effects of viewing nature found that exposure to nature through viewing and experiencing it provides substantial emotional and physiological benefits. 5 Benefits of landscape beauty  The preference for nature scenes is nearly twice that of urban scenes, while the restorative benefits of nature are at least three times as much as cities.  Viewing natural scenes of trees, greenery and water through windows accelerates healing of hospital patients, reduces anger & violence among apartment tenants, and reduces neighbourhood crime.  Even viewing posters of natural scenes is beneficial.

6 Economic benefits of landscape quality 6 The economic benefits of the view are a surrogate of the landscape’s value. Price will reflect the laws of demand and supply. A 2005 study of New Zealand cities found an inverse relationship between the relative abundance of a water view and its effect on house values, the more abundant the views, the lower the contribution (Wellington), and the fewer the views, the higher the contribution (Christchurch).

7 37 studies undertaken from around the world that have quantified the influence of landscape views on house values found that the average contribution was 17.4%. Thus a property worth, say $300,000, will be worth $352,200 if it has a good view. 7 Economic benefits of landscape quality Multiply this by the hundreds, or in some areas, thousands of properties which enjoy the view, and its worth runs to millions of dollars. Based on an average house value of say, $300,000, the increment in value provided by the view for 1000 homes will be $52 million.

8 A century ago the value of Swiss scenery was well recognized. “Let it not be forgotten that Switzerland regards its scenery as a money-producing asset to the extent of some two hundred million dollars annually” said Allen Chamberlain, a New England advocate, in US Congressional hearings in Economic benefits of landscape quality In today’s dollars these estimates are around $80,000 - $330,000 square km (or $3 B - $13B for the entire country), a very substantial sum! In 1915, Congressman Taylor said that Switzerland gained between $10,000 and $40,000 per square mile of scenery per year, money that he wished to see remain in America through the nation establishing its own national parks.

9 Over recent decades there have been hundreds of studies of landscape quality. These indicate what people prefer. To understand why people like what they like requires a theory of landscape aesthetics. Otherwise it may be characterised as “rampantly empirical”. A theory can provide testable predictions as well as explanatory power. 9 Why do we like landscape beauty? The need for theory Jay Appleton described it thus: “Just as the Brisbane wicket after rain used to be said to reduce all batsmen to an equal plane of incompetence, so this absence of aesthetic theory brings the professional down to the same plane as the man in the street.”

10 Theories of landscape aesthetics All the landscape theories have an evolutionary perspective – what we like is survival enhancing for humans as a species. Orians’ habitat theory – preference for savannah landscapes. Appelton’s prospect-refuge theory – see without being seen. Urlich’s affective theory – emotional well-being from nature. Kaplans’ information processing theory – extracting information from the environment to make sense of it and to be involved in it. Professor Stephen Kaplan put aesthetics in perspective: 10 “Aesthetic reactions reflect neither a casual nor a trivial aspect of the human makeup. Aesthetics is not the reflection of a whim that people exercise when they are not otherwise occupied. Rather, such reactions appear to constitute a guide to human behavior that has far-reaching consequences.”

11  Affective judgements are made extremely rapidly.  Preferences made in 1/50 second or 1/5 second are similar to those made over 15 seconds.  The finding reinforces the survival enhancing purpose of landscape aesthetics and their pre-cognitive nature. 11 Rapid aesthetic assessment

12 How not to assess landscape quality  Many attempts to measure and map landscape quality ended up in frustrated failure.  These measured all the biophysical attributes of the landscape: its soils and geology, biodiversity and geomorphology, rivers and lakes, its views and highlights. 12  The expectation (and hope) was that somehow out of all this analysis, its inherent landscape quality would emerge.  It never did. However these studies never had the benefit of community testing and validation of the assessments as occurs in New Zealand

13  Analyzing the landscape objectively is a cognitive process of the brain, involving observation, measurement, analysis and synthesis.  In contrast, assessing qualitative values, scenic quality, is an affective process involving one’s likes and dislikes, our preferences, and is inherently subjective.  Qualitative values must be assessed by studying preferences, not by analyzing the components. 13 How not to assess landscape quality  You can apply the same reasoning to other things such as chocolate, travel and even love… Example: Do we decide whether we like music by the number of its notes, the types of instruments used, the rhythm, pace and other attributes of the music, anything but whether or not we like it.

14 The Planner’s dilemna  As planners you will be aware of the views of local residents regarding proposals that have been exhibited and how their views are often what you would describe as “emotional”, in contrast to your cool, detached professional assessment. 14  The clash can be between the two paradigms.  The community uses the affective paradigm to express what they feel about it, their subjective preferences, their likes and dislikes.  The planners employ the cognitive paradigm to explain in logical, objective way the facts about the proposal.  Expressing preferences is perfectly legitimate and an appropriate way to express the community’s likes and dislikes.  They cannot be expressed any other way!

15 How can landscape quality be assessed ?  Psychologists applied it to understanding aesthetic preferences.  Gregory Buhyoff, Terry Daniel, Erwin Zube, Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, Herbert Schroeder, Bruce Hull are principal researchers.  On the shoulders of these giants I developed a method and applied it to the wider landscape.  Their academic studies focused on particular features or issues requiring resolution whereas I have applied their methods to assessing landscape quality at a regional level. 15  Although it is a subjective quality, landscape quality can be objectively assessed.  The German psychologist, Gustav Fechner (1801 – 87) developed the science of psychophysics, the science of measuring the effect of stimuli via our senses (sight, sound, taste, smell, touch) on the brain

16 Common elements in the research methodologies that they developed are:  Selection of standardised photographs for rating.  Choice of a rating scale – e.g. 1 to 10.  Rating instrument – i.e. a means for showing scenes with a rating scale.  Participants to rate the scenes – a sufficient number of raters for statistical analysis. 16 How can landscape quality be assessed ?

17 In outline, the method involves photographing the landscapes of the region, classifying the landscape character units of the region and sampling these with photographs, having a large number of participants rate the photographs for landscape quality, together with a small group who score the landscape components, then analysing the results from which a full understanding of the landscape quality of the region is derived and used in mapping it. 17 How can landscape quality be assessed ?

18 Can photographs be used for surveys?  Photographs of scenes are generally used in ascertaining the preferences of participants.  These have obvious advantages over transporting large numbers of people into the field to visit widely dispersed locations.  It is impractical to take people throughout a large region for the purposes of rating scenic quality. 18  Photographs enable ratings of scenes separated temporally (e.g. different seasons) and also enable the visual impact of hypothetical changes (e.g. potential developments) to be assessed.  However can photographs can be relied upon as substitutes for field assessments?

19  There have been many studies of the use of photographs  The overall finding is that providing the photographs meet certain criteria then the ratings gained from them will not differ significantly from ratings gained in a field situation.  Based on these studies and my own experience, the following criteria for photographs have been developed: 19  Standardised horizontal format  50 mm focal length to correspond with human vision  Colour photographs  Non-artistic composition  Sunny cloud-free conditions  Avoid strong side lighting of early morning or evening  Good lateral & foreground context to scenes  Single landscape unit  Typical representative scenes  Full landscape view, avoid close ups  Avoid distracting and transitory features including animals, homes, fences and people Can photographs be used for surveys?

20 Classifying the landscape  Through become very familiar with the region’s landscapes by photographing it, the region is classified into broad areas of common landscape character.  Photographs are selected to sample the range of features present in the landscape. 20  Coastal landscapes study - 5 landscape character zones:  high cliffs  low cliffs & beaches  headlands & bays  beaches & dunes  samphire-mangrove formation High steep cliffs Low cliffs & beaches Beaches & dunes Headlands & bays Samphire – mangrove formation

21 Benchmark Scenes 21  Every survey includes scenes from throughout the State which has a wider range of ratings so as to benchmark the region’s ratings at a State-wide level so the results can be compared with other regions. Rating 6.50Rating 5.58Rating 4.80  While South Australia as a whole ranges from 3 to 8, in a region such as the Barossa Valley the ratings were mainly from 4.5 to 6.5, a range of only two units.  Including scenes from 3 through to 8 ensures that the scenes within the Barossa are comparable with the entire State.

22 Internet survey  The survey is placed on an Internet site with instructions for participants to rate the landscape quality of the scenes on a 1 (low) to 10 (high) scale.  The survey is designed with a number of features: 22 Scenes are randomised for each participant, and are re-randomised after each rating so that the same sequence of scenes is unlikely to occur; This overcomes the issue of the rating of a scene being influenced by the previous scene; The participant can leave the survey (e.g. phone calls, visits) and return to it after an elapse of time; Comments can be made about the survey whether on its completion or if the participant leaves without completion;

23 23 Internet survey Scenes are changed as the respondent rates each scene; they are not set for a fixed period such as 6 – 8 seconds; A fixed time frustrates the quick respondents and stresses the slower ones that the scene will change before they are ready; Allowing the respondent to set their own pace means some complete 150 scenes very quickly and others take much longer. The very quick times may be incomplete surveys. Flinders Ranges survey times (minutes)

24 The postcode of the participant is sought to enable the local community’s responses to be compared with those of the wider community. Four demographic questions cover :  age  gender  level of education  whether born in Australia for comparison with the whole community. 24 Internet survey Participants are generally better educated but otherwise are similar to the community. Preferences are very similar across differing demographics which accords with the literature. Flinders Ranges study Mean ratings by participant characteristics

25 Example of Internet Survey Welcome to the Flinders Ranges Landscape Assessment Survey Purpose of this survey  Explains survey & purpose, invites participation, no qualifications or experience required but be over 18 years old; 25 How it works  You will be shown a photograph of a scene and asked to rate its scenic attractiveness  The ratings are on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being very low and 10 being very high  The rating scale is located at the top of each scene's page - just click the appropriate number to register your rating for each scene  Once a rating has been recorded you will be automatically shown the next scene.

26  How long will it take?  The survey has a total of 147 scenes. How long it takes will depend on how much time you spend rating each scene: it can be completed in less than 15 minutes  There is no time limit to rate each scene, however, your rating session will end after 30 minutes of inactivity 26 Example of Internet Survey  Please rate all 147 scenes as this will provide a greater statistical weight to the survey  None of the scenes for rating is repeated  The survey includes 20 scenes from elsewhere in South Australia to provide State-wide benchmarks for the ratings  At the end of the survey, or if you leave before the end, you will be able to provide comments.

27  Hints  Use the entire rating scale, don't just sit in the middle around 5  Judge each scene on its merits  Trust your initial instinct - don't try and analyse your response  Try to ensure you have no distractions (phone, callers etc) before you start the survey  If you feel tired or get interrupted during the survey, take a break, the survey will wait until you return (for a maximum of 30 minutes). Example of Internet Survey 27

28  Demographic questions follow and familiarity with area being surveyed  Survey commences with 4 sample scenes which cue the mind to the rating scale.  Rating scale Example of Internet Survey Scene 24 of 147

29 Rate the landscape quality 29 1 low high

30  Invitations to participate in the survey are ed to groups identified in the region which is the subject of the study as well as to the wider South Australian community. Often the client organisation will encourage their staff to participate.  Media advertisements are sometimes placed inviting participation and providing the website address. 30 Internet Survey  It is the technology now available that enables such surveys to be undertaken in a cost-efficient and task-effective way: o Digital photography o Internet o Broadband speeds o o Easy-to-use statistical packages and spreadsheets  These were not available to the early researchers of landscape quality.

31 Every landscape is different as the components within it differ. Components include:  Land forms  Land cover  Land uses  Water bodies They also include perceived components:  Naturalness  Diversity Each study involves identifying the key components and having these scored by a small group of people, say 20, on a 1 to 5 scale. Scoring landscape components 31 This is absolutely vital in the analysis of the contribution of each of the components to overall landscape quality. The scores for each of these components for each scene enable their contribution to be assessed and the interactions between components, e.g. land cover and naturalness, to be quantitatively measured.

32 Analysis of data Following completion of the Internet survey and the scoring of landscape components, analysis of the data commences by the following procedure: Strategic Bias Some respondents may use the survey to advance their own agenda, e.g. increase (or lower) the landscape rating of the area. This is identified by extracting the mean ratings for each respondent and examining those near 10 or 0. These are removed from the data set (Flinders study 30). 32 Selection of respondents: Include only those respondents who complete all or nearly all the survey. In Flinders Ranges survey, 3549 persons participated in the survey of which 2358 completed it. The graph compares the number of participants and the number of scenes rated

33  Demographics of respondents: Compare the demographic characteristics with those of the wider community.  Internet survey: The average times taken to complete the survey are assessed, for both broadband and dial up. Interestingly, the results are generally very similar. Analysis of data Dial up Broadband Complete surveyPer scene Dial up13.5 minutes5.5 seconds Broadband12.2 minutes5 seconds 33 Flinders Ranges survey  The ratings of the benchmark scenes are extracted from the data set.

34  The confidence interval for the data set is measured. This is a function of the number of respondents and with several thousand respondents is generally in the 0.3 – 0.5 range. Anything under 0.5 is acceptable.  This means that with a 95% confidence level the ratings will be within +/- 0.5 of the true mean. Analysis of data 34 Confidence interval vs sample size Participant means Flinders Ranges study  Overall means for each scene for the study area are assessed and the range of ratings identified. This is then combined with the component scores for analysis.  The discovery of how people view the landscape quality of the area is the most exciting part of the entire survey!

35 River Murray Landscape Project Water is the key unifying feature for the entire River Murray, Lakes and Coorong. Of 120 scenes, 102 included water. The presence of water & reflections both positively influence ratings. Example of analysis CategoryMean Scenes without water4.43 Water scenes6.32 No reflections6.08 Fair reflections6.68 Good reflections7.09 The graph shows the influence of water on ratings and while it is positive, the correlation coefficient (r2) is only 0.06 indicating a fairly wide spread of data points. Without water, scenes rate only 4.43 but with even a glimpse of water (water score 1), this rises to 5.78 and with more abundant water, the rating rises a further unit to Water of even a small quantity can thus have a strong influence. Y = 0.25x Relationship between water & ratings Water scoreRating

36 River Murray Landscape Project Out of 120 scenes there were 32 scenes which included cliffs which line part of the River. Scenes with cliffs rated nearly 1 unit higher than scenes without cliffs and steep cliffs rated 1 unit higher than sloping cliffs. Example of analysis 36 Influence of cliffs on ratings Relationship between cliff and naturalness scores Y = 0.75x , r2 = 0.51 Y = 0.34x , r2 = 0.26 CategoryMean Scenes without cliffs5.78 Scenes with cliffs6.73 Sloping cliffs6.26 Sheer cliffs7.18 The steep slope of the trend line (top graph) of 0.75 indicates the strong influence that cliffs have on ratings. The lower graph indicates that cliffs contribute somewhat to the sense of naturalness of the river scene.

37 Example of analysis Barossa Valley Study Of 120 scenes, 51 scenes included vines. The top graph indicates that the more vines, the lower the scenic rating which seems odd in a popular wine growing area. y = -0.14x Influence of vines on ratings y = -0.78x Vines vs tree scores The lower graph indicates a possible reason. This compares the significance of trees in the scene vs vines. It shows that the more vines (score 4 or 5), the lower the trees, and vice versa – the higher the tree score, the lower the vine score. Most of the trees are along roadsides, creeks or the perimeter of vineyards, there are few trees amidst vines. So in the Barossa Valley the presence of vines actually lowers scenic quality; rather it is mainly the trees and landforms which create the pleasing landscape.

38 Example of analysis Flinders Ranges study The spectacular nature of the Ranges together with its visual diversity, the colour of the rocks, and the ruggedness of the terrain have the strongest influence on landscape ratings. 38 ComponentEquationR2R2 SpectacularY = 1.10x DiversityY = 1.10x ColourY = 0.95x TerrainY = 0.88x NaturalnessY =0.75 x VegetationY = 0.60x RockfacesY = 0.49x Naturalness scores vs ratings Spectacular scores vs ratings

39 Modeling landscape quality of the region Multiple regression analysis is carried out by comparing the ratings of the features present with the scores of components to derive predictive models of landscape quality for the region. 39 Spectacular scoreRating Flinders Ranges study 8 factor equation: Y = spectacular diversity terrain vegetation naturalness rockfaces – 0.02 colour – 0.12 lusharid (p < 0.001, R 2 = 0.85) – this explains 85% of the variance. 1 factor equation: Y = spectacular (p < 0.001, R 2 = 0.78) – this explains 78% of the variance. The correlation coefficient of the 1 factor equation is only slightly lower than the 8 factor equation. Using the 1 factor equation, the scenic ratings can be derived simply by scoring how spectacular the landscape is.

40 Mapping landscape quality of the region 40  The analysis undertaken provides a detailed understanding of what generates the landscape quality of the region.  Based on the understanding gained, the landscape quality of the area is then mapped.  This is usually undertaken in conjunction with GIS specialists so that it can be mapped digitally. South Australia

41 41 Barossa Valley

42 42 Flinders Ranges

43 Application of method In addition I have applied this method to:  Assess the visual impact of developments on the coast and the River Murray;  Develop a predictive model of the visual impact of wind farms on the South Australian landscape (see Appendix A of paper).  StudyDateDimensionsClient Landscape quality of South Australia ,339 sq kmPhD, University of Adelaide The amenity value of trees treesNative Vegetation Council of SA Coast of South Australia 20054,760 km lengthCoast Protection Branch, Department for Environment and Heritage Barossa Valley wine growing region sq kmBarossa and Light District Councils Barossa Light Regional Dev. Board River Murray, Lakes & Coorong in SA km lengthDepartment of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation. Flinders Ranges200918,616 sq kmDepartment for Environment and Heritage. 43

44 Key factors that generate landscape quality The key factors that the surveys have found that generate landscape quality are, in descending order of importance:  Diversity  Naturalness  Water  Land form  Land cover The conference paper quantifies their contribution and also illustrates scenes rated from 3 to 8. 44

45 Evaluation of method Professor Simon Swaffield of Lincoln University and others have proposed tests of landscape quality assessment methods and these are applied to the method. TestCommunity preferences method ValidityProvides an accurate measure of landscape quality. ReliabilityReplicable and provides consistent results across studies. SensitivityMeasures landscape quality to two significant figures (e.g. 6.27). CredibilityAuthentically represents the experience being investigated. TransferabilityThrough use of benchmark scenes the method enables results to be compared across similar studies. DependabilityThe standardisation of photographs and a precise analytical method minimise researcher biases and variability. ConfirmabilityAll the results are publicly available on a website and the spreadsheets used can be checked by third parties. 45

46  Ideally this should first be at a national scale to establish the overall range of landscape quality. More detailed regional and local scale assessments could then follow.  These would be set within the context of the national study and benefit from the models derived from that study and from the understanding gained of the contribution of various components to New Zealand’s landscape quality. Application to New Zealand 46  The method could readily be applied to assess the landscape quality of New Zealand on a whole-of-country basis.

47 Application to New Zealand A national survey would assist greatly in fulfilling the objective of the Resource Management Act: S 6 (b) “the protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes” The definition and delineation of outstanding natural features and outstanding natural landscapes is one of the most difficult and intractable issues in fulfilling this objective. 47 The Environment Court has played a strong role in defining the meaning of the objective and in addressing how it may be met. A landscape survey which measured and mapped New Zealand’s landscape quality would solve this dilemma.

48  Based on the community preferences method of measuring landscape quality, outstanding landscapes can be readily defined as it provides the basis for defining a hierarchy of landscape excellence from the truly outstanding through the mediocre, to the dull and unattractive.  The spatial context for the definition of outstanding landscapes would be set. This would provide a consistent approach and overcome the problem of varying appraisals of outstanding that beset cases before the Environment Court. Application to New Zealand 48  Thresholds of outstanding at differing spatial contexts would be then set, for example:  National outstanding landscapes 8 +  Regional outstanding landscapes 7 +  Local area outstanding landscapes 6 +

49  The World Heritage Convention includes natural sites “of outstanding universal value from … aesthetic... points of view.” The definition covers superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance. This would meet the RMA criteria. Application to New Zealand 49  As well defining outstanding at the national level, what landscapes in New Zealand are considered outstanding at a global level?  New Zealand has had three areas accepted as World Heritage sites.  Te Wahipounamu (South West NZ World Heritage Area)  Tongariro National Park  Sub-Antarctic Islands (not listed under aesthetic criteria)

50  I have also examined 24 inventories of the Wonders of the World.  The top site, Grand Canyon, is listed by 11 such lists. Application to New Zealand 50  Milford Sound is included on 5 lists (along with the Norwegian fjords, the Rockies at Banff, and the Dead Sea). Rudyard Kipling described Milford Sound as the “Eight Wonder of the World”.  No other site in New Zealand is included on 3 or more lists.  This provides an indication at a global scale of what is considered outstanding.

51 GlobalNationalRegionalLocal Global outstanding National outstanding Regional outstanding Local outstanding Application to New Zealand 51  A landscape considered outstanding at a global level will obviously be regarded as outstanding nationally within New Zealand.  Similarly a nationally outstanding landscape will be regionally and locally outstanding.  However a landscape regarded locally as outstanding will not necessarily be regarded as outstanding at wider spatial dimensions.  The number of outstanding landscapes is likely to be large at the local level and decrease in number at regional, national and global levels.

52  The method I have described may challenge some planning professionals. It need not.  My clients have been Government agencies and local councils and they found it easy to understand, practical but entirely valid. Application to New Zealand 52  The main skills it involves are project management, statistical analysis and internet survey design and hosting. I engage a sub-consultant for the Internet survey.  Some may question whether a scale measures landscape quality. Again my clients have been very satisfied with it.  The many thousands of people who have participated in rating scenes find the scale very satisfying as it integrates their experience, knowledge and expectations. The scale provides an easy to use surrogate.

53 If New Zealand committed to assessing its unique and outstanding landscape resources:  Over time, a body of studies would be produced by practitioners and gradually New Zealand’s landscape quality would be quantified and mapped at increasingly detailed levels. Application to New Zealand 53  New Zealand could be the first nation to measure and map its landscape quality resources at a national level.  The information gained would be of inestimable value, not only in respect of the Resource Management Act, but also in planning, resource management and development assessment.  You can’t (or don’t) manage what you don’t measure.

54 Summary My presentation has aimed to explained how landscape quality can be measured using a community preferences approach, and how this can be applied in the New Zealand context to measure landscape quality across the country, while incidentally enabling the requirements of the Resource Management Act to be met. 54 The take home message is: That a community preferences approach to measuring and mapping landscape quality provides an effective and robust means for measuring landscape quality, thereby fulfilling the RMA objective of “the protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes”.

55 Dr Andrew Lothian Director, Scenic Solutions PO Box 3158, Unley, SA, 5061, AUSTRALIA M: P/F: (618) E: I: 55


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