Envisioning future landscapes: A data-based visualization model for ecosystems under alternative management scenarios

L. Hadar, D. E. Orenstein, Y. Carmel, J. Mulder, A. Kirchhoff, A. Perevolotsky, Y. Osem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Human-driven landscape changes strongly influence landscape functionality and aesthetics. While landscape planners have access to biophysical data for decision-making, they often do not have the necessary information about social variables, such as aesthetic tastes, feelings, or functions of a place. Visualizing future landscapes under alternative management scenarios could be a valuable tool for aiding land management decisions. Towards these ends, empirical, quantitative ecological data on vegetation composition, pattern, and processes in a Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site in Israel were integrated into a computerized, 3-D representation of current and future landscapes. Our objectives were (1) to visualize landscape-shaping processes, such as wildfire, grazing, and species colonization, that can assist managers, planners, and the public to envision the long-term visual significance of management alternatives and (2) to validate the similarity between the 3-D model and reality. The visual model we developed is based on 30 years of scientific knowledge and ecological data describing vegetation processes in Ramat Hanadiv, a case study of ecological conditions and processes relevant to the Mediterranean and other complex ecosystems worldwide. Before studying the role of the 3-D model in decision-making, validation was performed by comparing ‘current state’ model representation with real-world photos from the perspective of the observer. The model was found to be a valid representation of reality. Looking to the future, we suggest that the ability to create future landscapes using scientific data can assist to improve decision-making processes, balancing ecological and social needs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104214
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Volume215
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • Future landscapes
  • Landscape model
  • Mediterranean
  • Validation
  • Visualization

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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