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Research article2010Peer reviewed

Analysing Visual Landscape Complexity: Theory and Application

Ode, Asa; Hagerhall, Caroline M.; Sang, Neil


The experience of landscape has, through the development of the European Landscape Convention, been highlighted as an important aspect to be incorporated in the management and planning of future landscapes. Complexity is a concept that appears in the development of indicators for several landscape functions, including visual quality and biodiversity. In environmental psychology, complexity has been used as an explanatory factor for landscape preference. This paper outlines the factors which constitute the dimensions of complexity perception and how these relate to coherence-a factor which seems to interact with complexity as regards to landscape experience. The paper further explores how indicators of landscape complexity developed within the framework of landscape ecology may be applied and used to capture relevant information on visually experienced landscape complexity. Particular attention is paid to the dimensional transitions which must be considered in order for map based indicators and perceived environmental qualities to be readily related in an applied setting. The paper concludes with some suggested models for how to link landscape indicators with landscape preference in future research.


Landscape indicators; environmental psychology; complexity; landscape experience; visual topology

Published in

Landscape Research
2010, Volume: 35, number: 1, pages: 111-131 Publisher: Taylor & Francis