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Resources relevant to Forests and Landscape.


  • The natural choice: securing the value of nature (2011). HM Government.
  • European Landscape Convention Guidance: integrating the intent of the ELC into plans, policies and strategies, parts 1, 2 and 3 (2009). Natural England.
  • Securing the future: delivering UK sustainable development strategy (2005). HM Government.

Planning tools

  • Landscape Character assessment - Landscape Character assessment (LCa) is a tool for landscape planning and design that was developed in the 1970s. It defines landscape character as ‘a distinct, recognisable and consistent pattern of elements in the landscape that makes one landscape different from another, rather than better or worse’. LCa was developed as a large-scale programme by the various UK agencies in the 1990s so that most of the UK is now covered by some type of assessment. Many of the assessments are available from the agency websites and it is straightforward to identify the relevant landscape character area for any woodland project. The LCa helps to identify:

    • the key characteristics of a landscape that make it special;
    • the landscape characteristics to which new development or landscape change should particularly relate;
    • what should be retained to avoid loss of the essential character of the landscape and ideally what might be enhanced;
    • the drivers for change that exist within the landscape;
    • the landscape’s vulnerabilities to different types of development, whether these can be accommodated, and if so the ways in which this is best achieved.

Information from the LCa can be used for two main types of study:

    • Landscape sensitivity studies that highlight distinct areas of varying sensitivity to generic landscape change.

    • Landscape capacity studies that identify what type of change is most appropriate for landscape character types in relation to landscape policies, for example the retention of a range of landscape character types over a particular region.

Some LCAs also include design guidance. This usually takes one or more of the ‘drivers for change’ identified above and develops guidance aimed at ensuring the changes complement rather than detract from the landscape character. In some LCAs, forestry has been identified as driver for change and design guidance produced.

  • Landscape and visual Impact Assessment - Landscape and visual Impact Assessment (LvIA) has become a recognised method of assessing the sensitivity of a landscape to potential change. LvIAs involve an assessment of landscape and visual sensitivities, evaluation of design options, and the impacts of the design proposal that represents the best overall solution. In forestry, an LvIA is particularly relevant where the visual impacts are going to be significant and the forestry authority has called for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The LvIA method is set out in Guidelines for landscape and visual impact assessment published by Taylor & Francis.

    Typically, LvIAs are produced for specific projects and include analysis of how people currently experience the area, and illustrate the impacts of potential changes, with ‘before and after’ views. These make use of visualisations from representative viewpoints and may combine them with montage or three-dimensional representations. For LvIA, a judgement is required regarding the magnitude of landscape and visual impacts, whether these are positive or negative and also the level of impact significance.


Landscape designations

The relevant statutory bodies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland advise on landscape matters, develop policies, review legislation and are responsible for landscape protection. Details of the designatons, relevant legislation, and planning policy in relation to landscape can be found on their websites.

UKFS staturory bodies - landscape designations


Forestry Commission Central and Shared Services -  
Forestry Commission England -  
Forestry Commission Scotland -      
Natural Resources Wales -  
Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Northern Ireland -   
Forest Research -


Natural England -
Scottish Natural Heritage -
Natural Resources Wales -
Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Northern Ireland -

Last updated: 22nd June 2017