Bringing Climate Change Science to the Landscape Level: Canadian Experience in Using Landscape Visualisation Within Participatory Processes for Community Planning

  • Stephen R. J. SheppardEmail author
  • Alison Shaw
  • David Flanders
  • Sarah Burch
  • Olaf Schroth


This chapter addresses the role of visualisation tools within participatory processes in bringing climate change science to the local level, in order to increase people’s awareness of climate change and contribute to decision-making and policy change. The urgent need to mitigate and adapt to climate change is becoming more widely understood in scientific and some policy circles, but public awareness and policy change are lagging well behind. Emerging visualisation theory suggests that landscape visualisations showing local landscapes in fairly realistic perspective views may offer special advantages in bringing the projected consequences of climate change home to people in a compelling manner. This chapter draws on and summarizes a unique body of research in Canada, applying and evaluating a local climate change visioning approach in five diverse case study communities across the country. This new participatory process was developed to localize, spatialize, and visualize climate change implications, using landscape visualisation in combination with geospatial and other types of information. The visioning process was successful in raising community awareness, increasing people’s sense of urgency, and articulating for the first time holistic community options in mitigating and adapting to climate change at the local level. In some cases the process led to new local policy outcomes and actions. Such methods, if widely implemented in enhanced planning processes, could facilitate uptake of climate change science and potentially accelerate policy change and action on climate change. However, moving from more traditional types of science information and planning to an approach which can engage emotions with visual imagery, will require guidelines and training to address ethical and professional dilemmas in community engagement and planning at the landscape level.


Climate change visualization Visioning processes Landscape visualization Visual imagery Landscape planning Community engagement Community planning Decision-support tools Policy change Public awareness Climate change scenarios 



The co-authors wish to acknowledge the following people whose work on previous studies and papers on climate change visioning has directly contributed to this chapter: Adelle Airey, Kristi Tatebe, Ellen Pond, Sara Muir-Owen, Sara Barron, Glenis Canete, Jon Laurenz, Stewart Cohen, John Robinson, Jeff Carmichael, Sonia Talwar, Rob Feick, John Danahy, and Rob Harrap. We also wish to acknowledge the vital support from our many partners on these projects, including agency staff and stakeholders from the communities of Delta, BC; District of North Vancouver; Kimberley, BC; Clyde River Hamlet, Nunavut; and Toronto, Ontario.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen R. J. Sheppard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alison Shaw
    • 4
  • David Flanders
    • 1
  • Sarah Burch
    • 3
  • Olaf Schroth
    • 2
  1. 1.Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP)University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of LandscapeSheffield UniversitySheffieldUK
  3. 3.Dept. of Geography and Environmental ManagementUniversity of WaterlooOntarioCanada
  4. 4.Flipside SustainabilityVancouverCanada

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