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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Geoptics landscape apparency : a dynamic visual resource indicator and tool for multi-functional landscape planning Fairhurst, Kenneth Barton


Forest managers must consider visual quality objectives to meet public expectations for use and enjoyment of forest landscapes. These applications of visual constraints have been criticized for being overly restrictive, and for causing a lack of opportunity for appropriate development. At the same time, inadequate planning and design can cause unnecessary visual impacts in the landscape. Past studies of visual vulnerability, visual magnitude, and angle of visual incidence have attempted to identify relative risk of visual impact. A new approach was sought that might help alleviate those problems, and improve the ability to forecast, model, and manage that risk. Perspectival variability affects how the landscape is seen, and poses complex challenges in the planning and management of visual resources. Therefore, a dynamic and quantitative approach to landscape classification was developed to provide greater understanding and control from multiple viewpoints. A landscape illumination mapping technique in a three-dimensional terrain model was applied as an analog for viewing from multiple viewpoints. The intensity of illumination, termed cumulative landscape apparency, provided an indicator of relative risk of visual impact for each grid cell in the landscape model. The model was validated internally through tests and applications and externally through focus group testing. Apparency can provide a new, reliable, geographic information system-based inventory measure that will help guide resource planning, design, and integration. It has been shown to offer a potential enhancement to visual landscape inventory, and is expected to be useful to land managers without a strong background in visual resource management, by reducing their reliance on experts and increasing their success in meeting visual quality objectives relative to current planning methods. Apparency was shown to reveal inherent patterns in the landscape that would be useful for differentiating areas requiring greater and lesser attention, improving harvest design outcomes, and partially automating or guiding the design. The knowledge gained in testing apparency for its relation to plan-to-perspective analysis can potentially provide an indicator for refining resource supply questions. Geoptics is expected to be applicable to a wide array of visual resource management and resource planning mechanisms in BC and other jurisdictions.

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