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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Designing and testing a prototypical landscape information interface for lay-people Salter, Jonathan D.


Landscape management is increasingly moving towards managing for multiple values and involving the public in decision-making processes. To provide informed opinions about how they would like various aspects of the landscape to be managed, members of the public require information about the implications of given management actions. Ecological processes tend to occur over large spatial and temporal scales, and involve bothvisible and non-visible indicators of landscape condition. People have dif culty conceptualizing landscape processes at these large spatial and temporal scales. Conventional methods of communicating this type of landscape information in British Columbia have been criticized as being too technical and inaccessible for non-experts. Developing technologies, such as realistic landscape visualizations, have been heralded as possible solutions, because of their abilities to engage users and communicate effectively. Realistic landscape visualizations, however, emphasize the visual aspects of landscape change. This may exacerbate people's existing tendencies to evaluate landscape management based on what they see on the landscape. The purpose of this thesis was to design, build and evaluate a prototype landscape information interface to communicate spatial, temporal, visible and non-visible characteristics of the landscape to non-expert users. The resulting interface displayed landscape visualizations and indicator graphs in association with other contextual information. This interface was evaluated, using a questionnaire and an exploratory video analysis procedure, by investigating how non-expert subjects would use the interface to answer landscape related questions. Results of the evaluation suggest that subjects quickly understood the interface and the information it presented, and were able to combine the interface's representations to understand temporal and spatial aspects of the landscape. The subjects also demonstrated the ability to recognize relationships between the ecological indicators represented in the interface. The ndingsof the study suggest that such interfaces can be an effective means of communicating information about landscapes and the implications of management. Future directions are discussed, relating to the development and evaluation of landscape information displays.

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