Key words: Monitoring, perception, indicators
Globally, land-use and climate change has resulted in a number of landscape transformations. At the same time, how humans use and perceive landscapes has changed and is changing. People’s landscape perception depends on many different factors such as gender, age, sense of place, ownership and actual land-use interest. Despite the growing number of studies suggesting that certain biophysical landscape properties are perceived by humans in similar ways, independently of cultural background and personal preferences, few studies have determined the interactions between sense of place, demography and preferences for these landscape properties.
The aim of this study was to investigate the potential of linking perceived landscape features to biophysical landscape property data sampled in the NILS (National Inventory of Landscapes in Sweden) monitoring program. “Features” are e.g. descriptions of perceived things such as an open landscape and “properties” are measured field data such as cover of spruce. In doing that we aim at enabling the use of monitoring data as a proxy for evaluate landscape perception changes over time. We used the Swedish national environmental objectives as a framework policy, since those objectives include targets that are linked to landscape perception. So far, however, no indicators have been defined to follow them up. We collected information on how people with a professional background linked to mountain areas, such as officials at governmental organisations and business companies, perceive the Swedish mountains. In an enquiry the respondent’s rated pre-defined attributes linked to perceptions of mountain landscapes, as well as described the perceptions with their own words. The output data were later subjectively linked to physical landscape properties monitored in the NILS program.
The landscape feature primarily associated to Swedish mountains were “view”, “openness” and “open landscapes”, whereas “spruce” and “pine” that contradict openness were much lower rated. We suggest that by assessing physical landscape properties using monitoring data, it is possible to evaluate people’s potentially positive or negative perceptions of landscapes, as well as changes in perceptions that may occur when the landscape change. These linkages could be used to evaluate the potential of a landscape to provide restoratives or aesthetical values of landscapes over time. Results from the evaluations could also be used for guiding landscape management to increase certain perception values and address negative impacts of land-use decisions on other values.