In order to combat climate change, there is a drive to increase the use of biomass energy from forests. However, bioenergy production in forest landscape is believed to have large consequences on landscape perception which will depend on the landscape features present as well as the silvicultural and harvesting methods used (Gundersen et al. 2016). An interesting question here is to what extent the inclusion of information on the role of biofuels for combating climate change will affect the perception and assessment of forest landscape.
With regards to consumption, some studies have shown that information on environmental effects can lead to a change in consumer preference (Heijnen and Schoonbeek, 2008). Research into the effect that environmental information could have on landscape preference are so far been inconclusive, with some studies showing effect (Rodriguez et al. 2016) while others none (Homes et al. 2014).
Within this study we wanted to explore how different treatment options related to bioenergy affects the perception of forest landscapes. Forest management focused on bioenergy production will commonly initially lead to a large amount of logging residual being left (scenario 1) compared to a forest practice where a limited amount of dead wood is left for supporting ecological functions (scenario 2). When bioenergy production is in focus, all dead wood is removed when it has dried (scenario 3).
The study was set up using visualisations were these three variables were altered for two different viewpoints with different amount of retention surfaces. Previous studies (e.g. Pihel et al. 2014) have shown that visualisations could be used as substitute for photographs in assessment of forest landscape. Eye-tracking data was recorded while the respondents evaluated the picture with regards to visual concepts such as stewardship. To test the effect that information given has on assessments, two different groups of respondents were created were one group was given information about the bioenergy production in forest landscape.
The results of the study showed no effect of information or scenarios (with regards to logging residual present) in relation to cues in the landscape that was used when assessing the imagery based on eye-movement measurement. The result showed that the information given had a statistical significant effect for the evaluation of stewardship in the imagery, indicating the effect information on wider environmental benefits could have for landscape perception. The result of the experiment will be further discussed and elaborated in relation to landscape planning and management more generally.
Gundersen, V., Clarke, N., Dramstad, W., & Fjellstad, W. (2016). Effects of bioenergy extraction on visual preferences in boreal forests: a review of surveys from Finland, Sweden and Norway. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 31(3), 323-334.
Heijnen, P, Schoonbeek, L. 2008. Environmental groups in monopolistic markets. Environ Resour Econ. 39:379–396.
Home, R., Angelone, S., Hunziker, M., & Bolliger, J. (2014). Public preferences for ecosystem-enhancing elements in agricultural landscapes in the Swiss lowlands. Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, 11(2), 93-108.
Pihel, J., Ode-Sang, Å., Hägerhäll, C., Nyström, M., & Sandström, E. (2014). Assessments and eye movements compared between photographs and visualizations of logged forest vistas. For what kind of assessments are visualisations a good representation of photographs? Girot/Grêt-Regamey/Wissen Hayek/Fricker/Buhmann. Peer reviewed proceedings digital landscape architecture 2014.