Knaus Florian

Assessing the Landscape in the UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch. An Exploratory Research Study.

Project Number: CH-4817
Project Type: Master
Project Duration: 11/01/2012 - 04/30/2012 project completed
Funding Source: other ,
Leading Institution: ETH Zürich
Project Leader: Herr Florian Knaus
Senior lecturer / scientific coordinator
Ecosystem Management
Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems
ETH Zürich / UNESCO Biosphäre Entlebuch
Universtitätstr. 16, CHN G75.1
8092 Zürich
Phone: +41 (0) 41 485 88 59 ; +41 (0) 44 632 39 87
FAX: +41 (0) 41 485 88 01
e-Mail: f.knaus(at)

related to this project.
for which the project has a relevance.

Research Areas:

Social geography and Ecology

Landscape, Assessment, Quality, online survey, Biosphere Reserve

Urbanization, industrialization, and changes in land-use practices are leading to rapid landscape changes, loss of biodiversity, impacts on scenic beauty and to damage of valuable cultural landscapes around the world. The incorporation of aesthetic considerations in landscape planning and development has frequently faced critics due to its lack of a practical theoretical basis and the absence of public involvement. The UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch (UBE) represents an ideal example of a typical Swiss rural landscape undergoing the effects of natural and human driven changes. This study presents an exploratory approach for assessing the scenic quality of these landscapes through a participatory procedure with local stakeholders. The study explored and tested new ways for assessing the landscape scenic quality in a systematic way by incorporating the local community into the landscape planning process. The first step of the study was meant to find a way to make a rapid and simple landscape classification of the UBE. Using expert knowledge and geographic information systems (GIS) data, a set of homogenous landscape units was generated. The following step consisted in designing and testing a perception-based assessment with a sample of local residents. A web-based survey was conducted by assessing a variety of UBE landscape scenes making use of photographs and photomontages. The use of internet pointed out to be a simple and practical tool for conducting a landscape’ perception assessment. The analysis of the responses suggest that there is a general trend from locals to prefer natural and well maintained agricultural landscapes rather than urbanized scenes, although relevant inter-group differences can be seen between farmers and non-farmers towards more natural and forested areas. At the same time, landscapes with dispersed forests and showing open areas seem to be more attractive than landscapes with closed forest stands. Interestingly the management of agricultural areas appeared as a determining factor among farmers when evaluating the landscape appeal. A number of comments shared in the survey suggest that there may be a negative attitude from part of the agricultural community towards the current amount of protected areas and land-use restrictions. The maintenance of man-made structures, urban sprawl, urban legislation and land use practices were also some of the main issues of concern mentioned throughout the survey. The proposed methodology tested in this study provides information that can be used for supporting the landscape planning and participatory processes in the UBE and in other similar contexts. The level of participation and interest expressed by the participants in the survey shows a positive sign from part of the community for getting involved in the landscape development process.

Leading questions:
  • What could be a procedure to assess participatively the landscape quality in a Biosphere Reserve?

  • How can landscapes be divided in homogeneous compartments?

  • Is it possible to assess the landscape quality by means of an online survey?



    Cobo, Emilio. 2012. Assessing the Landscape in the UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch. An Exploratory Research Study. Masterthesis. Department of Environmental Sciences of ETH Zürich.

    PDF Master thesis

    Last update: 1/19/18
    Source of data: ProClim- Research InfoSystem (1993-2024)
    Update the data of project: CH-4817

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