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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Shape perception, harvest design, and forest aesthetics Liu, Jingshu


The aesthetic value of a landscape is a primary aspect of human-landscape interactions, as it provides a critical connection between humans and ecological processes as well as influences public attention and support to its ecological quality. Along with the ecological well-being of the landscapes, the maintenance of aesthetics is also critical in ensuring sustainable management of the forest. This thesis focuses on seeking new ways to effectively manage forest aesthetics, particularity on finding ways to mitigate the conflict between aesthetic quality and the demand of forest resources. The research strives to identify and quantify visual characteristics of harvest blocks in relation to their effects on individual aesthetic evaluations. The first experiment investigated the effects of context and shape complexity. Results indicated shape complexity as the largest predictor of preference, where preference increased as complexity increased. This finding indicates that increased complexity in harvest block design can be seen as a positive aesthetic variable. Context also demonstrated significance in influencing preference ratings, to a small extent. Subjects with environment focuses in their area of study demonstrated a stronger complexity effect than those from non-environment focuses, indicating a potential link between academic discipline and aesthetic preference. The second experiment explored several potential shape characteristics affecting individual aesthetic preference. Five characteristics were investigated: context, angularity, edge number, edge angle, and intrusion. Results indicated angularity had the largest effect on preference ratings. Subjects showed a strong preference towards curved designs, particularly in the context of harvest blocks. Although angularity also interacted with a number of variables, its effect prevailed and appeared to be robust. This finding implicates that perceptual gains can be achieved by curving the edges or the contour of the harvest block. The results of this research may lead to more effective visual resource management in the area of harvest block design. The findings presented can provide helpful information in public perception and preference of the landscape to forest designers and managers. Results suggest that curved designs with medium levels of shape complexity should be the preferred method of harvesting, particularly in visually sensitive areas.

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