Our need to appreciate landscapes and the changes that lands have undergone in the past decades has increased. This has been partly due to an increased demand for understanding the best way to manage changes in land and ecosystems. This has resulted in innovative new techniques which help us to understand natural countryside and also help us to support ecosystems to remain stable whilst they undergo changes and accommodate development.
The most important subject for understanding landscapes is learning about the character of the landscape itself. Landscape character assessment, or LCA, is a technique which uses the description of the distinct and recognizable patterns of landscape components, such as field size, hedges, building layout, that occur in a particular area. Each distinct landscape character area has characteristics that distinguish it from other land character areas. Landscape architects judge those key characteristics which give rise to the overall landscape character, in order to understand the particular land character of an area. Using this knowledge of various landscape characteristics, one can differentiate between land management and land design methods. These methods are used to enhance the future landscape for social, environmental and economic purposes. LCA also allows judgments to be made about the land by government appointed policy makers, developers and land managers. With this understanding we have knowledge of how places differ so that future development is sensitive to the area and location in which it is to be situated.
The characteristics of the land can be judged by landscape character assessment, as part of this is concerned with the quality assessment of the condition of any given landscape. The quality assessment is usually done as part of a strategic planning process. This is undertaken to estimate the capacity of land to accept new development to determine and ascertain any impact the proposed development will have on the countryside. A systematic investigation of existing conditions and the processes of landscape and ecosystems are undertaken, with an analysis of any changes to LCA produced by a given development. These are then used to give landscape design mitigation measures which produce both the desired developmental outcome and help to enhance the landscape character. Continue Reading