Presentation: The Relation Between Landscape and Recreation

The relation between landscape and recreation is very complex. There are various, interrelated approaches

to analyse this relation, such as land evaluation, impact analysis, spatial behaviour analysis, and assessment

of the scenic quality of the landscape or landscape evaluation. In many of these approaches air photo interpretation

can be a useful tool.


Man uses the land in many ways. Recreation as a

form of land use is of increasing importance in

many parts of the world. Man’s relation with the

landscape through recreation is special and is less

prone to strictly economical or utilitarian considerations.

‘Landscape’, in a holistic sense, is synonymous

with ‘land’, as well as with ‘environment’

(Zonneveld 1979; Vink 1982). In addition, there is

‘visual landscape’ or ‘scenery’ (Zonneveld 1979;

Bartkowski 1985). The various landscape types and

elements may have different suitability’s and/or

attractiveness for recreation.

Based on the concepts of Pearson (1961) and

Clawson and Knetsch (1966), recreation is defined

as “refreshment of body or mind by activities, or a

planned inactivity, undertaken because one wants

to do it, without any moral, economic, social or

other pressure’ (Van der Zee 1971, 1986 and 1987).

This definition of recreation comprises a large variety

of activities and implies that recreation includes

a large number of activities that take place in or

near home, and have no relation whatsoever with

rural or natural landscapes. But some recreational

activities exclusively occur in rural or natural areas.

Thus, a key concept in the study of the relations

between ‘recreation’ and ‘landscape’ is that of

‘recreational resources’.

Recreational resources

People travel from their home base because they

want a type of recreation that cannot be provided

there. The direction of their travel is determined by

‘recreational resources’. Some want a mere change

of surroundings, so any place away from home will

  1. Others want sunny and sandy beaches to lie on,

mountains to climb, lakes to sail on, or snow to ski

on, but this does not make all beaches, mountains

or lakes into recreational resources.

Landscape features are resources only when man

identifies them and uses them as such. They may

have no original relation to recreation (Van der

Zee 1986, 1987). Recreational facilities can be

considered as ‘derived’ from these resources. It


a recreation

I recreation types I t

I land evaluation I

landscape evaluation


impact on the landscape

behaviour patterns J L

I landscape types or elements I

I landscape I

Fig. 1. The complex relations between landscape and recreation.

is important to note that the difference between

original resources and derived facilities is not that

between natural and man-made factors, because

man-made objects may be found among the resources,

for example, monuments, reservoirs, picturesque

towns or villages.

With respect to their spatial distribution recreation

areas can be classified into three main types:

‘user-oriented’, ‘resource-based’ and ‘intermediate’

(Clawson and Knetsch 1966; Patmore 1972).

User-oriented areas are characterized by facilities

that are important more for their location and

ready accessibility than for their inherent quality.

The dominant characteristic of resource-based

areas is their outstanding physical resources, irrespective

of their location. Intermediate areas lie

between these extremes, both geographically and in

terms of use.

Recreation in most of the rural landscape will be

resource-based, and ‘it is in the resource-based land

that the most serious conflicts arise between those

who seek to enjoy the resource and those concerned,

with varying motives, for its preservation’ (Patmore

1972). Several approaches for understanding the relations

between recreation activities and landscape

types are needed to achieve an optimal combination

of both recreation and preservation of nature and


Relations between landscape and recreation

Creating and maintaining recreational facilities and

providing goods and services to recreationists may

have a positive impact on the economy of a region.

Therefore, it may be rewarding to analyse the rural

landscapes for their recreational potential, suitability

and attractiveness; that is, to apply ‘landscape

evaluation’ to recreation. The presence of

recreational facilities and activities may have a negative

impact on the environment, sometimes to such

an extent that the quality and quantity of the recreational

resources are endangered. Therefore, it is


land evaluation

/ unit’s utilisation types \

/ land evaluation for recreation \

types of recreation


recreational re5ources

(characteristics, qualities)

Fig. 2. Land evaluation for recreation.

necessary to analyse the behaviour of recreationists

and their impact on the environment. The analysis

of the relation between recreation and landscape

can be carried out by landscape evaluation, impact

analysis and behaviour pattern analysis.

Land evaluation for recreation

Land evaluation is a method or procedure in which

the characteristics of Land Units (LU’s), displayed

on maps, are evaluated for requirements of specific

land uses or ‘Land Utilisation Types’ (LUT’s) (Van

der Zee 1986, based on FA0 1977). Land evaluation

requires the collection and inventory of many basic

data associated with land, water and human development,

and therefore, can be a good approach for

a better understanding of the relations between

landscape and recreation.

When recreation is considered as a major kind of

land use in the same way as forestry or irrigated

agriculture the land units can be interpreted for

their recreational resources. Land utilisation types

used in this context are individual types of recreation,

such as boating, swimming, hiking, riding,

etc., each with its own land requirements that have

to be specified.

Identification of relevant recreation types

One of the first steps in the evaluation procedure is

to identify the relevant LUT’s for recreational use.

This might be accomplished by establishing peoples

preference for and participation in recreation by

looking at membership of associations or clubs

(Cosgrove and Jackson 1972; Patmore 1972 and

1983) by interviews, or by surveys. Use of club

membership has two objections. First, membership

does not necessarily give a realistic measure of

the rate of active participation. Second, it covers

only the realm of formal recreation activities and

excludes informal recreation. Moreover, such data

hardly reveal anything about land quality requirements

for recreation.

Interviewing people requires a representative

sample of sufficient size, a standardized and tested

questionnaire and numerous skilled interviewers.

This approach is difficult to organize and is expensive.

The development of a good questionnaire is

far from easy. While it is difficult enough to get

reliable answers from people of the same culture

and language, as was experienced in the study of

Van der Zee (1971) in the Netherlands, it becomes

almost impossible when working in a different cultural

setting and having to rely on interpreters for

the interviewing.

The ‘method of potentialities’ suggested by

Defert (1954) may be a solution. If the recreational

use is not known, at least the capacity of the available

facilities can be established and mapped. In

most cases this means an inventory and the mapping

of the ‘physical framework’ (Defert 1954), or the

physical infrastructure of recreation (Van der Zee

1986). An inventory of recreational facilities, classi228

Fig. 3. Parameters to compare waterfall sites.

fixed according to type and capacity, also gives an

indication of which recreation types are in demand.

Latent demand and possible future developments

are not revealed, but that would be difficult with

the other methods too. In addition, there are types

of recreational use that do not need special facilities

and, therefore, cannot be caught in such an infrastructure


A map of facilities does not tell anything about

actual use, which may be larger or smaller than the

capacity (Defert 1954). Surveys can give an indication

of the extent to which the facilities are used and

thus give a weight factor to each recreation type. An

inventory of recreational facilities might be accomplished

by quick overall reconnaissance or air photo

interpretation (see MacConnel and Stoll 1969; Van

der Zee 1982, 1986 and 1988~).

The identification and inventory of recreational


The next step is to establish the land qualities necessary

for the recreation uses. These requirements

may be obvious for uses such as boating and swimming

where water is essential. Yet a map of water

bodies and water courses does not necessarily give

a good picture of the potential for water sports. A

forest setting is attractive for many activities, but a

map of forest areas is not identical to a map of

forest recreational resources.

First, the physical characteristics of the resource

should be described. Agricultural LUT’s are mainly

described in terms of soil and terrain. These qualities,

easily quantifiable and similar for different

LUT’s have given rise to standardized procedures.

For recreational LUT’s, such types of parameters

can seldom be used exclusively. An example is the

parameters developed to analyse waterfall sites in

Northern Thailand (Van der Zee 1988a and 1988b)

(Fig. 3), after a reconnaissance inventory had revealed

those sites were highly favoured for recreation

(Van der Zee 1988~)T. he physical requirements

for each type of recreation may differ.

Next the spatial patterns of these physical resources

must be established. Once this has been

done, landscape elements matching the required

parameters can be inventoried for areas where no

recreational use is observed. This can indicate the

availability of potential sites that may be developed.

Comparison of actual recreational resources

with such potential resources may reveal those factors

which determine use or non-use. From the

attempt to assess the importance of each of the


resource qualities for a number of waterfall sites in

northern Thailand, it became clear that these qualities

are very difficult to quantify and calculate their

proportional influences. However, high use did

correspond with ease of accessibility, except when

the site quality (determined by physical characteristics

as well as scenic quality) was low. Greater accessibility

can compensate for a somewhat lower site

quality but cannot bring high use to the lowest

quality sites (Van der Zee 1988a and 1988b). Also,

certain types of landscape elements on their own

may have insufficient attraction for recreation,

but in combination with other elements can be a

valuable recreational resource.

When it is possible to analyse the land use patterns

of the past (for example, by interpreting older

sets of air photos), we can determine which parts of

the area were first occupied by recreational uses and

which parts were incorporated in later phases? Also,

we can determine the character of the area before

recreational development took place. Such a study

may indicate which types of resources have (or had)

the highest preference (Van der Zee 1982, 1986 and


When the recreational resources have been identified

and inventoried, the suitability of the resources

for various recreational activities can be assessed.

In this assessment three aspects are distinguished.

  1. The ‘physical suitability’ determines whether an

activity is possible. For example, for swimming

or boating a certain minimum extent and depth

of water is a basic requirement. The assessment

of the physical suitability is the subject of land

evaluation in the strict sense.

  1. The ‘scenic quality’ can make one site more

attractive than another, even though the physical

suitability is the same. For many people a swimming

pool located in a city block is less attractive

than the same pool would be in a forest setting.

The assessment of the scenic quality has the

greatest degree of subjectivity of the three and

often is not included in land evaluation for non-recreational

LUT’s. However, for recreation

land evaluation it cannot be neglected.

  1. Not the least important is ‘accessibility’. A site

can be the most physically suitable and have the

nicest scenic setting, but if people cannot reach





Fig. 4. Three aspects in the suitability assessment for recreation.

it, they will go to less suitable, less attractive but

more accessible sites. Still, for certain forms of

recreation the accessibility factor may be less

critical, because the journey may be an integral

part of the recreation experience.

Which of these aspects is most important in determining

the actual use pattern and potential suitability

will vary from one situation to another, and will

depend on the type of recreation and landscape.

Main approaches to land evaluation for recreation

There are different approaches and different levels

of detail (reconnaissance, semi-detailed and detailed)

in land evaluation for recreation. (Van der Zee

1986). One starting point may be an increasing

demand for recreation that is exerting pressure on

the available resources. After identification of the

major demands, properly defining them as recreational

LUT’s and analysing their requirements, an

inventory is made of the land units, landscape elements

or resources that are suitable for these LUT’s.

Actual use then is compared with the potential use.

This gives an indication of the possibilities for further

development. These can lead to the development

of unexploited resources or to measures for

achieving an optimal use of the present resources.

This is called the ‘recreation approach’.

Another starting point can be the idea that a

recreational resource is available and that development

of it might attract recreationists (tourists)

from elsewhere, who will spend money to obtain

goods and services and thus have a positive influence

on the economy of the region. After a first

exploratory definition of the resource, the potential


land evaluation for recreation


approach + reconnaissance






Fig. 5. Three approaches to land evaluation for recreation.

demand should be identified. That means answering

the following questions. For what type of recreational

LUT’s would this resource be suitable, where

are the demands for this LUT, and what alternative

competing supplies are available? In other words,

what is the chance that development of the resource

will attract sufficient numbers of tourists to make

the investment worthwhile? Only after this question

has been answered positively should further studies

be undertaken to determine where best to develop

facilities. This is called the ‘tourism approach’.

Sometimes recreationists are attracted by resources

that also have high value for nature and/or

landscape conservation and that may be damaged

by too high a recreational pressure. In this case,

actual use and potential use are compared and possible

future developments identified. These futures

developments can be anticipated and guided or

deflected by knowledge about factors influencing

spatial behaviour. Thus, with proper management,

the main conservation aim may be achieved without

banning recreation completely. This is called the

‘conservation approach’. A variation of this

approach is to identify recreational LUT’s which

could be tolerated in parts of the area without interfering

with the major aim of conservation. This is

the ‘permissive approach’. Only in the conservation


approach + reconnaissance





approaches will a semi-detailed or detailed analysis be

required directly from the start.

Of course, other approaches are possible, and it

is clear that ‘land evaluation for recreation’ can not

be a single uniform procedure applying a standard

recipe. Each approach and recreation type requires

a tailor-made procedure, and different landscapes

or land units will match their demands.

Analysis of the impact of recreation on the


The impact of recreation

Like every human activity outdoor recreation influences

the natural environment and can be as destructive

as any industry. This certainly is not only

a ‘luxury’ problem of the rich western countries,

but the impact of recreation on the landscape in

developing countries will become more obvious as

standards of living rise (Robinson 1972). Therefore,

when assessing the suitability of land units for

a type of recreation, attention must be paid to the

impact that this recreation will have on those land


The type and strength of impact depends on both

the activity and type of landscape. The impacts

from recreation have been classified into several


Impact by physical facilities

The most direct and clear impact on the landscape

is caused by the physical facilities for recreation,

which may be either permanent, semi-permanent or

temporary. The aspect of a landscape can change

drastically if it is occupied by summer cottages,

caravans, camping sites, or a large parking place

(Van der Zee 1982).

All these facilities occupy space, even though the

direct claim on space is often modest (Patmore

1983). However, the impact of physical facilities

may be indirect. Service facilities, such as shops,

bars, restaurants, hotels, and pensions, prefer a

location in a village, adding to the total number of

structures. Villages with a recreational function

have the tendency to expand (Van der Zee 1983),

but the areas taken over by this expansion often do

not have the highest natural values.

Not all facilities, however, cling to existing settlements.

Sometimes complete new recreational settlements

are created, and sometimes facilities are dispersed

over the countryside. This dispersal often is

at the cost of areas with high natural and landscape

value, the very qualities that attracted recreation.

It is not only the recreational residence and related

facilities that create an impact on the landscape, but

transportation network, providing internal and

external accessibility to the recreation areas, can

put a heavy claim on the environment too. Also, facilities

created directly for the recreational activities

may occupy considerable space and severely influence

the landscape. For example, in Austria, between

1964 and 1975, more than 10,000 ha of forest

were cut for ski trails (Lansink 1983).

Sometimes changes are planned and occur in a

rather short time, but often the development of

physical facilities is a gradual process that is hard

to recognize. In such cases, the interpretation of

sequential aerial photographs may make the process

clear and reveal its pattern. This not only helps

in identifying the recreational resources in more

detail but also to find

Impact on vegetation

23 1

ways to control the process.

The impact of recreation is not restricted to the

space it directly occupies with physical facilities.

That a natural landscape is without any ‘official’

land use designation does not imply that it is not

used at all and is uninfluenced by man. Whenever

recreationists visit the natural landscape, they walk

in it, sit in it, play in it, and throw litter around.

In short, they display behaviour that normally is

not destructive in intention but is damaging in

effect, because the resulting changes in vegetation

cause degradation of the plant communities and

even soil erosion (Van der Zee 1983). People can do

as much damage to young vegetation as a bulldozer

(Clawson and Knetsch 1966).

The vegetation may be influenced in several ways

by recreation. Littering may turn oligo- or mesotrophic

environments eutrophic and change the species

composition. Recreationists may pick flowers,

take fruit or parts of the vegetation, or even dig out

complete plants. If this is done frequently and continuously,

some species will disappear. Planting

exotic vegetation may also influence the vegetation

(Raad voor Milieu en Natuur Onderzoek 1985).

Excessive withdrawal from the groundwater layers

to meet peaks in water consumption caused by

recreational visits may result in lowering of the

groundwater level to such an extent that the vegetation

is seriously influenced.

But, the effects of recreation are most pronounced

when the feet of recreationists create a network

of tracks and paths and areas of bare soil.

This is the ultimate stage of a process that starts

with a change in the vegetation composition and a

general degeneration of the vegetation. Of course,

some soils and vegetation types are more vulnerable

than others. In some types of recreation people are

more inclined to leave the paved roads and paths

than in others. Because this ‘recreational erosion’ is

a gradual process, often its extent can be judged

only by comparing sequences of aerial photographs.

Changes in vegetation composition are hard to

identify, but the increase in length of the worn path232

network and the increase in area of bare soil easily

can be measured and expressed quantitatively (Van

Ittersum and Kwakernaak 1977; Van der Zee 1983).

The patterns revealed by such an inventory may

give a further indication about the relation between

recreation types and landscape elements and the

spatial behaviour of the recreationists.

Impact on animals

The impact of recreation on animals occurs indirectly

through reducing the extent of habitat by the

construction of physical facilities, or by changing

the character of habitat through impact on the vegetation

or water quality. Direct impact comes by

taking or killing fauna. Also the mere presence of

a recreationist is a direct impact. People, boats, vehicles,

and planes create noise, vibrations and visual

disturbance (Raad van Milieu en Natuur Onderzoek

1985). Larger mammals, birds of prey, small singing

birds and birds that nest on the ground are especially

susceptible (Goderie 1986). Even in the most

isolated areas animals may be disturbed by a noisy

school class, an enthusiastic botanist, and photographer

or bird-watcher. When disturbances are frequent

and continuous, the result may be the disappearance

of species or a reduction of total animal life.

Recreation not only leads to a decline in animal

numbers, but it can change the species composition

of an area. For example, fish and pheasants are

stocked for recreational purposes, and scavenging

species are attracted to areas where there is litter

accumulation, as in car parks and around campsites.

Direct feeding of animals may lead to local

overpopulation of pigeons, squirrels or ducks.

Although the impact of recreation on animals is not

as easy to determine and inventory as that on vegetation,

it certainly should not be neglected.

Recreation causes many impacts and thus influences

the recreation resources. Understanding the

causes and consequences of these impacts is necessary

if the conservation of these resources is desirable.

In addition, the patterns of impact can reveal

the spatial behaviour pattern of users, and this can

be useful information in the land evaluation procedure.

Analysis of the spatial behaviour of recreationists

The need for knowledge on spatial behaviour

Recreation can occur everywhere but tends to be

highly localized. An inventory of recreational facilities

can give an impression of the spatial distribution

of recreational land use, that is the result of the

physical suitability, accessibility and scenic quality

of the landscape. It has been observed that within

a single recreation area as much as 95% of the total

use occurs on as little as 5% of the area (Clawson

and Knetsch 1966). Overcrowding of such popular

sites raises the problem of how access and development

can be managed for long-term conservation

(Cosgrove and Jackson 1972). It also means that,

even though there will always be some disturbance

in the most isolated areas, the largest part of the

area can be managed with minor measures only.

In order to plan for management of recreational

resources, detailed information on the spatial behaviour

of recreationists within a landscape element

is required. Where do people walk and sit in

the forest, at the beach or the lakeshore? What

parts of the lake are more frequented by boats and

what parts are hardly visited? Such information can

help in specifying the physical requirements of a

recreation type and in determining how the different

aspects of suitability are interrelated.

The structure of space and choice of place

The spatial behaviour of recreationists depends

on how the landscape is structured and perceived.

Three types of space can be distinguished: space

through which one moves, spaces which one occupies

for a period and spaces which one only sees.

Many relations exist between these three types of

space. What can be seen of the surrounding space

depends on the routes along which one moves.

These routes are determined by the location of the

starting point, the target point and the connections

between them. The method of movement also influences

the way one sees and what can be seen.

Moving through an area on foot, bicycle, horse

back or in a motorcar determines the speed and

23 3

the eye height above ground level (De Jonge 1965).

Visitors to a recreation area can be grouped into

two main categories: ‘stationary recreationists’ ,

those that settle predominantly close to entrances

and roads, and ‘mobile recreationists’ , those that

move through the area. For the first category,

social togetherness often is an important recreation

motive, whereas the mobile visitors have more

interest in the landscape and nature (De Jonge

1968). But both categories of visitors require a clear

impression of the spatial structure of the area,

otherwise, visitors may get lost or feel uncomfortable

(De Jonge 1965).

The spatial pattern of recreation is characterized

by intensively used nodes with linear linkage by

roads, bridle tracks and paths (Patmore 1972). The

lack of linkage of one concentration point to another

may limit the recreational possibilities of an

area. The concept of ‘connectivity’ that is applied

in so many landscapes ecological studies (for example,

Schreiber 1988) is important in this context too.

It is also important to note that border zones of two

relatively homogeneous areas, e.g. beaches, shorelines,

and forest edges, are more densely occupied

by recreationists than the other parts of these homogeneous

areas. This phenomenon is called the

‘border effect’ (De Jonge 1968). The preference of

visitors for ‘border zones’ in flat terrain is striking

(De Jonge 1965). This can be explained by the tendency

of people to select a place with a certain

visual shelter (especially at their back) but, at the

same time, allowing a view over an open space

(De Jonge 1968).

Analysis of spatial behaviour of recreationists

The analysis of the way in which the structure of

space influences the spatial behaviour of recreationists

and their distribution over a recreation area

can be done by field observations, marking on a

map the places where groups or individuals settle

down, and counting the number of people and

groups in the various areas at specific times. Interviews

can add to the information. By comparing

observations of different areas and periods, conclusions

can be drawn about choice and the way choice

responds to changing circumstances (De Jonge

1968). Such an approach is very labour intensive

and is hardly suitable for large areas.

Indirect monitoring

When recreational use of the land results in the creation

of more or less permanent recreational facilities,

or clearly visible signs of impact, interpretation

of a single coverage of aerial photographs may

reveal the spatial pattern. However, interpretation

of sequences of aerial photographs over several

years reveals trends in both the preferences of recreationists

and their pressure on the resources. Because

the activities are not directly studied, this

analysis of spatial behaviour is called ‘indirect

monitoring’. An example of an air photo analysis

of the pattern of paths in dune areas is that for

the Dutch Wadden Sea islands (Van Ittersum and

Kwakernaak 1977). In addition to the assessment of

the degree of impact, types of path-patterns were

distinguished, which were correlated with the behavioural

characteristics of the recreationists (Van

der Zee 1983).

Direct monitoring

The study of spatial behaviour can also be done by

identifying recreationists, their vehicles, or vessels

on sequences of aerial photographs taken during

one day and/or in the course of one season. This is

called ‘direct monitoring’.

In the Netherlands, considerable experience has

been gained in several surveys of water sports since

1969 (see Dodt and Van der Zee 1984). In these surveys,

aerial photography as well as visual observations

from the air were used. The objects to be observed

were counted directly, or on either vertical or

(high and low) oblique air photos. Boats were identified,

distinguished by type, and marked in their

approximate or exact location on a map. Boating

densities were calculated per unit of area and length

of shore line.

Similar studies have been carried out for beach or

shoreline recreation. For example, the study of the

Randmeren (see Dodt and Van der Zee 1984), used

large scale vertical air photos to count people, tents,

motorcars, surfboards, rubber boats, and other

recreation paraphernalia for separate sections

of beach and for different distances from the

waterline. Distinct spatial patterns could easily be

observed and analysed. Irrespective of the natural

qualities of an area, people tend to settle at the

shortest distance from the parking place and/or

entrance gate, cling to the roads and paths, and

concentrate around facilities and attraction points

(Van der Zee 1988b).

Landscape evaluation for recreation

Assessing the scenic quality of the landscape

Analysis of the spatial behaviour pattern reveals

that most recreational use is restricted to small concentration

points and those large parts of recreation

and park areas have little activity, but provide the

scenic setting for the recreation activities. The

scenic quality, therefore, is one of the three aspects

determining suitability for recreation. The analysis

and assessment of this scenic quality is the subject

of ‘landscape evaluation’.

The way in which landscapes are seen and valued

for their scenic quality is highly subjective (Clawson

and Knetsch 1966; Zube 1987). Still, most people

would agree that some areas are inherently more

attractive than others (Clawson and Knetsch 1966).

Such opinions have been compiled by enquiry surveys,

sometimes referring to landscape elements

depicted on a map or to photographs of specific

landscape scenes (Baumgartner 1981; Zube 1987).

Although subjective judgements can be clustered

into reasonably objective results, this approach is

rather laborious and is still not free from subjective


The spatial behaviour of recreationists appears to

be closely related to the spatial structure of the landscape

and reveals preferences for certain landscapes

and landscape elements. These landscape elements

are reproducible by photography and sketches and

accessible in cartographic form (Neef 1984), and,

therefore, can be described by objective characteristics

to which their apparent attractiveness can

be related (Defert 1952). For comparative purposes,

these characteristics can be quantified (Cosgrove and

Jackson 1972). Air photo interpretation in this context

can be a relatively fast, reliable and economic

method to cover the need for data (Dodt and Van

der Zee 1984). Approaching landscape evaluation

in this way can make it more objective.

Analysing the visual structure of the landscape

One approach to landscape evaluation for recreation

was developed by Kiemstedt (1967, 1972 and

1975) that made use of the principles of Van der

Ham and Iding (1971). By measuring and weighing

climate, land use types, relief, and forest- and

water borders per square kilometre grid cell, an

overall value was established that characterizes

the landscape elements that affect the recreational

attractiveness of an area. The inventory is restricted

to the elements that visibly structure the landscape

and the open areas between. The elements are characterized

by size, shape and density or transparency,

the open areas by extent and the type of elements

bordering them.

The spatial arrangement of these elements, called

the ‘visual structure’ of the landscape, is of importance

because it contributes to the visual information

that is strongly related to the attractiveness of

the landscape. In addition, the land use and field

pattern contributes to the visual structure. Relief is

significant, especially in a flat country such as the


For the inventory and analysis of space structure,

topographic maps have been the main source of information

on land use, field pattern, and relief.

But newer methods have relied more on air photo

interpretation using units delineated by natural

boundaries. Recently, satellite image analysis has

been used (Janssen’s and Gulinck 1988).

Air photo interpretation offers still other advantages.

Colwell (1950) observed that points which

have excellent views of the surrounding terrain are

easily detected by stereoscopic air photo interpretation.

They can be used also to determine whether

objects of scenic interest will be visible from certain

23 5

vantage points or will be obscured by intervening

terrain. This means that ‘view sheds’, the area seen

from a viewing point can be determined (see for

example: Aguilo and Ramos 1981).

When analysing the visual structure of the landscape,

it should not be forgotten that man perceives

the landscape also by other senses (Bartkowski

1985), but that these ways of perception are more

difficult to survey and analyse.


The relations between recreation and landscape are

complex. While the various approaches and methods

by which the different aspects of this relation

can be analysed could be only briefly described,

it is clear that they are closely interrelated and are

centred on land evaluation. Data collected

for the analysis of one aspect also can help to

explain other aspects of recreation. In many of the

approaches, air photo interpretation is a very useful

tool, and it is worthwhile to further explore the possibilities

of its use.


Aguilo, M. and Ramos, A. 1981. View shed and Landscape

Morphology. In Proceedings of the International Congress of

the Netherlands Society for Landscape Ecology, Veldhoven,

the Netherlands. Pudoc, Wageningen. pp. 310-311.

Bartkowski, T. 1985. The concept of physiognomic landscape as

a tool for spatial ecological planning. In VIIth International

Symposium on problems of Landscape Ecological Research.

Panel 1, Vol. 1, part 1.1; 21-26 October 1985, Pezinok,


Baumgartner, R. 1981. Inventory and Evaluation from the

Visual/Aesthetic Perspective. In Proceedings of the International

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