Landscape evaluation

Landscapes are composed of various components or parts, any or all of which may be present to a greater or lesser degree. In evaluating landscape attractiveness, is it valid to take a landscape and break it down to its component parts or must it be viewed in its entirety? If a landscape can be evaluated in terms of its components, is it possible to identify which one is or which ones are the primary contributors to landscape attractiveness? One hundred individuals were surveyed using slides and a survey form which combined several techniques. The responses were subjected to computer analysis and the results indicated that landform and vegetation are major determinants of scenic beauty, with cultural features playing a strong secondary role, especially if well-integrated and in keeping with their surroundings. These results were validated through open-ended questionnaires administered to a small population sample. The questionnaire also sought to elicit emotional responses from those interviewed. The findings indicate that, despite strong emotions generated by the components, especially landform and vegetation, people still tend to judge the beauty of a landscape in terms of a whole unit and not as a puzzle comprised of many pieces. From this, it can be concluded that the key to landscape beauty perhaps lies, not in attempts at quantification of such an intangible attribute, but rather in the realization that natural beauty results from the delicate interrelationship that all landscape components have with each other.