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Visual complexity and the montado do matter: landscape pattern preferences of user groups in Alentejo, Portugal



The current paradigms for the sustainable development of forests and agriculture involve territorial organization of these activities as well as the multifunctionality of the related landscapes. Accordingly, the new management strategies need to take into account the suitability of the resulting landscapes to produce the goods and services expected by society.


The aim of the study was to assess the preferred landscape patterns by different groups of users. In focus were the relations between the landscape metrics of preferred patterns and the individual characteristics of respondents.


A regional quantitative survey of both production and different consumption landscape users was conducted in the Alentejo region, southern Portugal. Respondents composed their preferred patterns on a block diagram representing an area of landscape seen from a single view according to the existing topographic conditions in the study area.


In general, the visually complex landscape patterns were preferred more than the homogeneous ones. However, the metrics of preferred patterns varied between the user groups. The montado was the only land cover class that was present in the majority of preferred patterns.


For landscape users in southern Portugal, the visually complex landscapes including the montado are essential to satisfy their expectations. This may be an important fact to be taken into account for policy and landscape management in the future.

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The survey was funded by the IN-Alentejo Programme, the Regional Coordination and Development Commission of Alentejo CCDR-AL, Portugal, and the Regional Delegation of Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture in Alentejo (DRAPAL), Portugal. The first author wishes to acknowledge also the Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) for the post doc scholarship n. PE12077.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Diana Surová.

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Contribution of the authors

Diana Surová: survey design and execution, running data analysis, writing the paper.

Teresa Pinto-Correia: coordinating research project, survey design, writing the paper.

Róbert Marušák: running data analysis, writing the paper.

Handling Editor: Paulo Sá-Sousa

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Surová, D., Pinto-Correia, T. & Marušák, R. Visual complexity and the montado do matter: landscape pattern preferences of user groups in Alentejo, Portugal. Annals of Forest Science 71, 15–24 (2014).

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  • Landscape preferences
  • User groups
  • Amenity services
  • Landscape metrics
  • Landscape pattern
  • Land cover
  • The montado