This book is about landscape analysis and visualisation. But what do we mean by landscape? A landscape can simply be defined as the features which comprise an area of land. When analysed, a landscape can be interpreted as a dynamic system of living and non-living objects. There are many dimensions to a landscape, which can be categorised by biophysical (fauna and flora), geomorphological, social (anthropogenic) and economic (natural resource) considerations. Understanding and managing landscapes in all their complexity, is an ongoing challenge that we must get right if we are to fulfil our obligation to future generations through the public policy goal of sustainability. Both expert and local knowledge is essential in order to achieve this goal, and requires management and effective communication to decision makers, planners, resource managers, landholders and communities.
There are a number of sophisticated spatial models and tools available for addressing the range of critical land use issues facing society today. In compiling this volume the editors of this book have selected a collection of papers from the ‘Place and Purpose – Spatial Models for Natural Resource Management and Planning’ conference held on the 30–31 May 2007 in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia. The research provides a comprehensive exposé of cutting-edge spatial tools and approaches for analysing, simulating and visualising natural, agricultural and urban landscapes. The research in this volume is typically focused on frameworks, tools and models applied in Australia, though there are a select number of international applications. The editors believe all research put forth in this volume provides examples of international ‘best practice’ in their respective fields, and as such presents a useful reference point for the applied researcher and practitioner interested in landscape analysis and visualisation.
The five parts of this volume deal with:
- Part 1: Natural Resource Knowledge Management Frameworks and Tools
- Part 2: Integrating the Ecology of Landscapes into Landscape Analysis and Visualisation
- Part 3: Socioeconomic Dimensions to Landscapes
- Part 4: Land Use Change and Scenario Modelling
- Part 5: Landscape Visualisation.
While the contributions within each theme sit together naturally, there is also considerable complementarity between the chapters presented in each part. In many cases such overlap indicates pathways for new multidisciplinary approaches and learnings. In compiling this volume one of the challenges has been working with a number of scientists across a range of disparate disciplines including: ecology, hydrology, pedology, geology, systems modelling, geospatial sciences, economics and social sciences. This mix of disciplines has made this project exciting. Understanding and defining a common language to exchange ideas across disciplines often proves challenging in multi-disciplinary environments, but it is critical if we are to sustainably manage our landscapes for future generations. If we are to achieve this goal it will take the collective energy and expertise of the science community to work together in asking and framing the right questions. To tackle these critical questions we need to develop and apply the best available frameworks, models and tools — if these widgets do not sufficiently address these questions, then we need to adapt and try new methods and techniques. Furthermore a real challenge is the ability to expediently and efficiently communicate research findings simply and clearly so that users can understand and apply such critical learnings in both policy and community settings.
The editors of this book offer a volume to facilitate collaboration across policy, science and community. A range of frameworks, models, decision support and communication (visualisation) tools that span across the strategic to the applied continuum of research are presented. Some tools are quite mature, and can offer ‘just-in-time’ policy support through an evidenced-based approach, as discussed in the chapter by Dripps and Bluml. Whilst other tools like Pullar’s scenario analysis and Wyatt’s Preference Predictor software system are relatively new and are yet to be put through their paces and tested in the policy arena. Landscape visualisation tools such as computer game engines like SIEVE, as discussed by Bishop, are becoming more prevalent in understanding place and space and provide a powerful interface to the array of sophisticated land use change impact models such as those discussed in the ecological and land use change modelling sections of this volume.