Assessing Public Perception of Landscape: From Practice to Policy

Alister Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Public perception of landscape stimulates great passion and debate. The involvement of the public in landscape matters has been an issue that policy makers have embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm and innovation. Constraints of time and resources, together with a reluctance to involve the public in 'professional' landscape matters, have limited the scope and influence of much participation to conventional 'top down' strategies. This paper assesses some recent research where public perception studies have been undertaken in selected areas of Wales. As part of a wider initiative known as LANDMAP, a technique adopted by the Countryside Council for Wales for identifying distinctive landscape character areas, household questionnaires and focus groups have been undertaken to represent public perceptions. This more proactive and 'bottom-up' method has allowed valuable insights to be gained with respect to the way that the public view their landscapes. The value of such data exceeds the LANDMAP process itself, providing a wealth of information directly related to the contemporary discourse on the future of the countryside. Conceptually the research also explores new ground in trying to translate such views into policy outcomes. The results show that the public express sophisticated and multi-functional views on 'local' landscapes with strong attachments to the explicit character of rural and urban landscapes and wish to see more holistic, functional and participative strategies for landscape protection and management. Such attitudes endorse some contemporary policy initiatives but challenge planners and policy makers to rethink their approaches towards integrated landscape management, citizen involvement and future land-use policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-144
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


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