Landscape aesthetics: Assessing the general publics' preferences towards rural landscapes
The central aim of this study was to gain greater insights into the factors that affect individuals' preferences for a variety of landscape settings. Using a nationally representative survey conducted in the summer of 2010 of 430 individuals living in Ireland, this paper derived dependent variables (based on a factor analysis of respondents mean ratings of 47 landscape images) representing 5 different landscape categories. These variables were then utilised in separate OLS regression models to examine the effect of personal characteristics, residential location and environmental value orientations on landscape preferences. First in terms of visual amenity the results suggest that the general public have the strongest preference for landscapes with water related features as its dominant attribute which was followed by cultural landscapes. Second the results also demonstrate how there is significant heterogeneity in landscape preferences as both personal characteristics and environmental value orientations were found to strongly influence preferences for all the landscape types examined. Moreover the effect of these variables often differed significantly across the various landscape groupings. In terms of land use policy, given the diversity of preferences a one size fits all approach will not meet the general publics' needs and desires.
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