Predicting Scenic Quality for Mountain Pine Beetle and Western Spruce Budworm Damaged Forest Vistas
The scenic beauty of sixty-four forest vista landscapes from the Colorado Front Range was measured for a large group of subjects (observers) by the Scenic Beauty Estimation Method. Some of the landscapes evidenced insect-damaged trees and stands. One group of subjects were not told a priori of the presence of damage; another group was informed. Photo measurements of 91 possible landscape areas as defined by topography, vegetation, and relative viewing distance were made in square inches. Multiple regression models were formulated using the landscape areas as predictors for scenic beauty. Two different regression models resulted: one for uninformed (naive) observers and another for the informed observers. Results indicate that the negative visual impact of insect damage for naive observers is mitigated by the presence of dense forests, long viewing distances, and mountainous terrain. On the other hand, informed observers evaluate insect damage characterized by the red top stage more negatively and the overall scenic beauty measures are lower for damaged stands. Forest Sci. 28:827-838.
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