Developing a landscape monitoring program with the European Landscape Convention in mind

Authors and Affiliations: 

Felix Kienast, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Zurcherstrasse 111, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
Marcel Hunziker, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Zurcherstrasse 111, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
Jacqueline Frick, University of Applied Sciences, Life Sciences und Facility Management, 8820 Wädenswil, Switzerland

Corresponding author: 
Felix Kienast, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Zurcherstrasse 111, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland

Many landscape monitorings are limited to the physical and biological space, despite the fact that the European Landscape Convention calls for a both a physical and a socio-cultural and a perception assessment. The latter is an important component for quality of life and people’s place attachment. The Swiss Landscape Monitoring Program LABES (abbreviation for German “Landschaftsbeobachtung Schweiz”) is one of the first large-scale landscape observatories (total area ca. 40’000 km2) where landscape perception is systematically monitored with representative surveys. The entire monitoring consists of roughly 30 indicators that are embedded in the DPSIR framework (i.e. Driving force – Pressure – State – Impact and Response). Approximately 25% of the indicators measure perception properties. Respondents are instructed to base their statements on the landscape and places of their current home municipality rather than on pictures of specific landscapes. We distinguish two perception concepts: (1) an evolutionary determined perception component (concepts of Kaplan & Kaplan) and (2) a culturally determined component based on concepts such as e.g. fascination, landscape beauty or authenticity. Innovative indicators of the physical space are light emissions which is a straight-forward surrogate for urbanization and human activities. We also measure fragmentation and urban permeation as well as areas without buildings and infrastructure and close-by recreation areas. At the moment ca. 50% of the indicators are available as time series. A rigid quality control with advanced statistical methods showed that the indicators are geographically representative for Switzerland. A core set of indispensable indicators was determined and links between the physical and the perceived space elaborated.


Kienast, F., Frick, J., van Strien, M.J., Hunziker, M., 2015: The Swiss landscape monitoring program - a comprehensive indicator set to measure landscape change. Ecological Modelling 295: 136-150.
Kienast, F.; Frick, J.; Steiger, U., 2013: Neue Ansätze zur Erfassung der Landschaftsqualität. Zwischenbericht Landschaftsbeobachtung Schweiz (LABES). Umwelt-Wissen, Nr. 1325. Bern, Birmensdorf, BAFU, WSL. 75 S.
Kienast, F.; Frick, J.; Steiger, U., 2013: Nouvelles approches pour relever la qualité du paysage. Rapport intermédiaire du programme Observation du paysage suisse (OPS). Connaissance de l'environnement, no. 1325. Berne, Birmensdorf, OFEV, WSL. 75 p.

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