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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Toward human-centered approaches in landscape planning : exploring geospatial and visualization techniques for the management of forest aesthetics Chamberlain, Brent Charles


As sustainable forest management continues to influence forest planning and the balance of social, economic and ecological goals is evaluated, managers must find ways to ensure that forests provide for a variety of products and services for people and the environment. This dissertation focuses on finding new ways to more effectively manage forest aesthetics, including the development of methods that are human-centered; methods that are based on human perception and empirical research. The research explores a variety of geospatial and visualization technologies designed to aid managers in the process of planning for the conservation of visual resources. The first development is based on findings from empirical research that present a quantifiable expression of how the shape of harvest blocks can influence preferences. A study was conducted which required individuals to rate 52 near photo-realistic images which simulated different possible harvests in a forested landscape. Three difference shape characteristics were controlled for: geometric primitive (atomic shape), complexity (irregularity), and aspect ratio (elongation). The results indicate that geometric primitive has the largest effect on preferences followed closely by complexity. The research shows that complex, rounded-edged circular shapes are most preferable, and regardless of shape, moderate levels of complexity dramatically increase preferences. The second development is the Human-Centered Viewshed (HCV). Viewsheds are used in landscape management, but may lack important landform detail. The HCV combines an efficient algorithm, XDraw, with three characteristics of landform to provide a measure space an object occupies within an individual’s field of view. The three characteristics involve the effect of slope, aspect and distance from an observer to a target location. The output is a simple, discrete 2D image that supplies a degree of visibility for each location in space which can be used to determine how an individual may experience the landform as they move through the landscape. Applications of these discoveries on the management of forest aesthetics are presented, followed by a discussion of management trade-offs with ecology. The research in this dissertation can improve the current visual resource management process by providing planners with new information to help them more effectively manage forest aesthetics.

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