Skip to main content
Log in

The appearance of ecological systems as a matter of policy

  • Published:
Landscape Ecology Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Environmental policy should explicitly address the appearance of the landscape because people make inferences about ecological quality from the look of the land. Where appearances are misleading, failing to portray ecological degradation or ecological health, public opinion may be ill-informed, with consequences for environmental policy. This paper argues that while ecology is a scientific concept, landscape perception is a social process. If we do not recognize this difference, we have problems with the appearance of ecological systems. Three influential problems are discussed: 1) the problem of the false identity of ecological systems, 2) the problem of design and planning as deceit about ecological systems, and 3) the problem of invisible ecological systems. These problems for environmental policy may be resolved in part if landscape planners and policy-makers use socially-recognized signs to display human intentions for ecological systems. Specifically, planning and policy can include socially-recognized signs of beauty and stewardship to display human care for ecological systems. An example in United States federal agricultural policy is described.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Adirondack Park Agency. 1979. A Citizen's Guide to Adirondack Park Agency Land Use Regulations. Adirondack Park Agency. Ray Brook, New York. 24 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beardsley, J. 1984. Earthworks and Beyond: Contemporary Art in the Landscape. Abbeville Press, New York. 144 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • The Commission on the Adirondacks. 1990. The Adirondacks Park in the Twenty First Century. State of New York. 96 pp.

  • Clifford, D. 1963. A History of Garden Design. Praeger, New York. 232 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eaton, M.M. 1990a. Responding to the call for new landscape metaphors. Landsc. J. 9: 22–27.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eaton, M.M. 1990b. Aesthetics and the Good Life. Farleigh Dickinson University Press, London. 209 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Howett, C. 1987. Systems, signs, sensibilities: Sources for a new landscape aesthetic. Landsc. J. 6: 1–12.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koh, J. 1982. Ecological design: A post-modern design paradigm of holistic philosophy and evolutionary ethics. Landsc. J. 1: 76–84.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koh, J. 1988. An ecological aesthetic. Landsc. J. 7: 177–191.

    Google Scholar 

  • Laurie, M. 1979. A history of aesthetic conservation in California. Landsc. Plan. 6: 1–49.

    Google Scholar 

  • Leopold, A. 1966. A Sand County Almanac. Oxford University Press, New York. 296 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lynch, K. 1971. Site Planning. Second ed. MIT Press, Cambridge. 384 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • McGuire, I. 1979. Managing the forest landscape for public expectations. In Our National Landscape: A Conference on Applied Techniques for Analysis and Management of the Visual Resource. pp. 16–18. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PSW-35, Berkeley, CA. 752 pp.

  • McKibben, W. 1989. The end of nature. Random House, New York. 226 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nash, R. 1967. Wilderness and the American mind. Yale University Press, New Haven. 425 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nassauer, J. 1979. Managing naturalness in wildlands and agricultural landscapes. In Our National Landscape. pp. 447–453. USDA General Technical Report PSW-35, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Berkeley.

  • Nassauer, J.I. 1986. Caring for the countryside. Publication AD-SB-3017. University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, St. Paul. 48 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nassauer, J.I. 1988a. ‘The aesthetics of horticulture: Neatness as a form of care.’ Hort. Sci. 23: 973–977.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nassauer, J.I. 1988b. ‘Landscape Care: Perceptions of Local People in Landscape Ecology and Sustainable Development.’ Landscape and Land Use Planning 8: 24–37. American Society of Landscape Architects, Washington, D.C.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pevsner, N. 1944. The genesis of the picturesque. Arch. Rev. 96: 139–146.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pitt, D.G. and Nassauer, J.I. 1989. The Use of Image Capture Technology and Geographic Information Systems to Integrate Landscape Values into Public Policy: Six Case Studies. Landscape and Land Use Planning 9: 44–58. American Society of Landscape. Architects, Washington, D.C.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pitt, D.G. 1990. Developing an image capture system to see wilderness management solutions. In Managing America's Enduring Wilderness Resource. pp. 541–548. Edited by D.W. Lime. University of Minnesota, St. Paul. 706 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Random House Dictionary of the English Language. Second Edition. 1987. Random House, New York. 2426 pp.

  • Robinson, S.K. 1990. The picturesque in an ancient Japanese novel. Landsc. J. 9: 9–15.

    Google Scholar 

  • Solomon, M. 1974. Marxism and Art. Vintage Books, Random House, New York. 649 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spirn, A.W. 1988. The poetics of city and nature: Towards a new aesthetic for urban design. Landsc. J. 7: 108–126.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thayer, R.L. Jr. 1989. The experience of sustainable landscapes. Landsc. J. 8: 101–110.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thorne, J. 1991. An Ecological Aesthetic. In Landscape and Urban Planning.

  • Wood, D. 1988. Unnatural illusions: Some works about visual resource management. Landsc. J. 7(2): 192–205.

    Google Scholar 

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1973–85. National Forest Landscape Management, Volume 1, Agriculture Handbook 434; National Forest Landscape Management, Volume 2, Chapter 1: The Visual Management System. Agriculture Handbook 462; Chapter 2: Utilities. Agriculture Handbook 478; Chapter 3: Roads. Agriculture Handbook 483; Chapter 6: Fire. Agriculture Handbook 608; Chapter 7: Ski Areas. Agriculture Handbook 617. Forest Service, USDA, Washington, D.C.

    Google Scholar 

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1978. Procedure to Establish Priorities in Landscape Architecture. Technical Release 65. USDA Soil Conservation Service, Washington, D.C.

    Google Scholar 

  • U.S. Department of Interior. 1975. Visual Resource Management: BLM Manual. Bureau of Land Management, Washington, D.C.

    Google Scholar 

  • U.S. General Accounting Office. 1989. Farm programs: Conservation research program could be less costly and more effective. GAO/RCED-90–13. U.S.G.A.O. Gaithersburg, Maryland. 79 pp.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Nassauer, J.I. The appearance of ecological systems as a matter of policy. Landscape Ecol 6, 239–250 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00129702

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00129702

Keywords

Navigation