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Cultural Landscapes BlogHow do Europeans appreciate agrarian landscapes? Generic and spatial patterns of landscape preferences

How do Europeans appreciate agrarian landscapes? Generic and spatial patterns of landscape preferences

18 February 2015/by Boris van Zanten/Tags: agrarian landscapes, cross-disciplinary, landscape policies

Europe is known for its abundant and diverse cultural landscapes. In many places, the cultural or aesthetic value of these landscapes is threatened by either intensification or abandonment of agricultural practices. The effects of these processes have been addressed by local landscape preference case studies which have yielded a patchy and heterogeneous collection of evidence. This meta-study compares case studies in order to find generic and spatial patterns of landscape preferences.
How do Europeans appreciate agrarian landscapes? Generic and spatial patterns of landscape preferences

Stated preference studies are increasingly employed to estimate the value of attributes of European agrarian landscapes and changes therein. However, cross-case comparison and up-scaling of case study evidence is hampered by the context-specific nature of these studies. Researchers from the VU university in Amsterdam have addressed this problem by applying a meta-analysis of preference studies. They collected 345 preference estimates for landscape attributes. Cross-case comparison was enabled by developing a classification of landscape attributes.   

They found that landscape attributes that describe mosaic land cover, historic buildings or the presence of livestock generally receive the highest stated preferences across studies. Furthermore, relations were found between preferences for particular attributes and context variables – such as population density and GDP per capita – using a meta-regression analysis. For instance, it was found that in densely populated areas forest or natural land cover is more appreciated.  

The results provide the first cross-disciplinary and cross-case evidence on relations between preferences for landscape attributes and socio-economic and landscape context conditions. The study is a first step towards the development of social landscape indicators that reflect the perceived value of landscapes at regional and pan-regional scales, which is increasingly important as landscape policies are progressively implemented at European level.

Boris van Zanten
Institute for Environmental Studies
VU University

Reference: van Zanten B.T., Verburg P.H., Koetse M.J., van Beukering P.J.H., 2014. Preferences for European agrarian landscapes: A meta-analysis of case studies. Landscape and Urban Planning, 132, 89–101. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.08.012


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