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Title: Interpreting landscape change: measured biophysical change and surrounding social context

Author: Wagner, Mimi M.; Gobster, Paul H.;

Date: 2007

Source: Landscape and Urban Planning. 81: 67-80.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Although research assessing both biophysical landscape conditions and social perceptions provide critical data on change, these methods are seldom integrated. In this study, we examined landscape change in the Central Iowa region by pairing quantitative data on changes to natural areas, streams, and housing density over the past 60 years with a qualitative social assessment of current resident stakeholders' interpretations of these changes. We found participants intuitively curious about and interested in landscape change within their region, and their interpretations of change to be fairly complex. Perceptions of change generally included an evaluative assessment, which often served to place measures of landscape salient to residents within a dualistic framework. This perspective both colored the data regarding landscape change and directed them to focus on attributes of change that the quantitative assessment did not. Finally, participants sometimes varied in their ability to assess change among metrics. These findings suggest how data gathering activities might be better sequenced and how metrics might better constructed to improve the utility and robustness of both participatory and non-participatory landscape change assessments.

Keywords: integrated research, GIS, social assessment, qualitative analysis, participatory assessments

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Wagner, Mimi M.; Gobster, Paul H. 2007. Interpreting landscape change: measured biophysical change and surrounding social context. Landscape and Urban Planning. 81: 67-80.


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