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GIS as a tool for assessing the influence of countryside designations and planning policies on landscape change

Journal of Environmental Management


The county of Bedfordshire is typical of landscape in lowland England with land cover dominant over land form and agriculture forming the major land use. Landscape change can be influenced by planning policies through their control of land use. A number of designated areas such as Areas of Great Landscape Value, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Green Belt have been defined where particular planning priorities for the conservation of the countryside apply. This paper reports work where an attempt has been made to measure the influence of these designations on landscape change using the tools of aerial photograph interpretation and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Aerial photographs were available for the study area for 1968, 1981 and 1991. These were interpreted to a landscape classification scheme in terms of point, linear and area features such as trees, hedgerows and cultivated land, respectively. Field work was carried out to assess the accuracy of the interpretation. The resulting data were input to a GIS for each date of photography. Digital maps were created for the land cover features and tables were generated of lengths of linear features or counts of point features for each kilometre square in the study area. Spatial analysis tools provided by the GIS were used to describe the landscape character of each of the designated areas and then to measure the change that had taken place within them over the time period defined by the photography. Areas which were not designated for conservation of scenic beauty were shown to be poorer in traditional landscape features. (C) 1996 Academic Press Limited

Author(s): Peccol, E; Bird, AC; Brewer, TR

Journal: Journal of Environmental Management

Year: 1996


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