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In further discussion with the client, it was agreed that the aim of the literature search was to try and gain a better understanding of the following:

a) the processes and deeper aspects of perception that underlie landscape preferences (the "whys" of user preference, not the "whats");

b) landscape perception by all the senses, not just sight;

c) theories and models which provide a philosophical basis for preferences and aesthetic responses;

d) what is distinctive about the forest/woodland aesthetic experience compared with that of other landscapes;

e) aspects of landscape perception and preference which are universal and those which appear to be mediated by age, culture, gender, etc.;

e) the gaps in research and techniques, methodologies or principles, associated with the foregoing issues, which might fruitfully be pursued in future.

The literature search and review was conducted using a combination of techniques. It drew on the prior knowledge and experience of the Landscape Design and Research Unit (which includes expertise in landscape architecture, landscape science and environmental psychology), recommendations of the Forestry Commission's Chief Landscape Architect, Simon Bell, references cited in key published works, conventional and computerised databases and internet websites.

Keywords and Search Tools used include:

  • landscape + aesthetics
  • environment + aesthetics
  • perception (+ visual) (+ sensory)
  • synesthesia
  • forest + preference
  • landscape + preference
  • cognition (+ emotion) (+ spatial)
  • mental maps
  • key authors

Databases searched include:

  • Art Index
  • Arts Abstract
  • Avery
  • BIDS
  • Edinburgh College of Art
  • Edinburgh University
  • Environmental Abstracts (Heriot-Watt University)
  • National Library for Scotland
  • On-line British University Libraries
  • Psychology Extracts
  • Thesis and Dissertation Titles
  • Urbadisc

The Internet search used key words and sites, including:

Post-1990 editions of Periodicals searched include:

  • Environment and Behavior
  • Journal of Environmental Management
  • Journal of Environmental Psychology
  • Landscape and Urban Planning
  • Landscape Journal
  • Landscape Research
  • Places
  • Progress in Human Geography


Limitations of the Methodology

The above approach has a number of limitations:

  • no search can be wholly comprehensive and it is likely that articles in the non-academic press, work currently in progress, or work recently completed may not be included here;
  • within the time available for the project, it was not always possible to locate or retrieve items, particularly from the Thesis and Dissertation Titles database;
  • the potential range of disciplines whose interests overlap with those of this project is enormous and some discretion was necessary to limit and focus the search in directions predicted to be most useful.

Despite these limitations, the scope of the review is considered adequate for the purposes identified by the Forestry Commission


Presentation of Results

The results have been presented in three sections:

a) an overview of the search and its findings;

b) reviews of individual papers or publications which are significant, either as landmark works or as summaries of an important body of prior work, or because they point to new understandings or opportunities and techniques for further research;

c) a bibliography of relevant work identified in the literature search and surveyed as part of this project.

Where reviewed work under (b) lists other relevant references, not all of which may have been located and read as part of this survey, these are listed at the back of the review. All relevant published work located and surveyed as part of this project is listed in the bibliography.

Report Contents