Landscape evaluation: an environmental management

Muñoz Pedreros, Andrés
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The landscape is the spatial and visual expression of our surroundings. It is a scarce natural resource, valuable and in growing demand, easily depreciated and difficult to renew. The visual landscape encompasses the aesthetics and the capacity of perception of the observer. In order to evaluate a landscape there are several methods and procedures. A mixed method is proposed with direct valuation of representative subjectivity and a subsequent indirect analysis with an analysis of main components. This modified method attempts to solve the problem of subjectivity with groups of evaluators whose global opinion is representative, and is valuated using a survey that contains a lists of adjectives with numeric values to facilitate its processing. A panel of experts will participate in the analysis of main components. The technique of valuation of the landscape is the analysis of preferences, that regards the value of a landscape as a function of the number of individuals who prefer it. A method is also described to evaluate the fragility of the landscape, which together with the valuation allow the application of criteria for preservation and conservation. An evaluation will be equivalent to a photograph taken at a specific instant in time, that could be compared with a similar photograph in the future. This will make it possible to quantify the loss (or improvement) of valuable landscapes, their destructive agents and their restoration management. The average citizen is nowadays, for several reasons, developing in 'environmental conscience' with a newfound recognition of the value of natural spaces and their ecosystems. This explains the increasing resistance from the public to the loss of spaces of high tourism, scenic and recreational value. For this reason, it is imperative to control the environmental impact that certain projects can have on the landscape, especially in the decision making process regarding proposals for projects from the private industry or public utilities (roads, sewer systems, and others). As an example of the proposed methodology, results are shown from a study in the Ruta 5 Sur de Chile, in a north-south 587 km long segment.
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