Identifying strengths and weaknesses of landscape visualisation for effective communication of future alternatives
Pettit, CJ and Raymond, CM and Bryan, BA and Lewis, H, Identifying strengths and weaknesses of landscape visualisation for effective communication of future alternatives, Landscape and Urban Planning, 100, (3) pp. 231-241. ISSN 0169-2046 (2011) [Refereed Article]
Visualisation technologies are powerful tools for communicating the scientific outcomes of environmental planning models. This study specifically explores the strengths and weaknesses of landscape visualisation techniques in environmental planning by drawing upon insights from the multi-agency Lower Murray Landscape Futures (LMLF) integrated modelling and analysis project in south-eastern Australia. The project explored spatially explicit policy options and scenarios for assessing the impacts of achieving regional natural resource management targets. Alternative landscape futures were communicated using a range of visualisation techniques available online. We assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the suite of visualisation products deployed for communicating landscape futures to two audiences (i) current users comprising environmental managers and planners working within the study area and (ii) future users comprising university students currently studying spatial information sciences as part of their environmental management program. Semi-structured interviews and website evaluation surveys were undertaken with current users and future users, respectively. Results indicate that both audiences appreciated the environmental planning and investment decision support strengths of the visualisation products. The current users had concerns around the target audience and the nature and extent of communications and stakeholder engagement in product development. The future user group were more interested in the visual clarity of the visualisation products. End user feedback provided a number of useful recommendations in relation to how the visualisation products could be refined to improve the communication effectiveness and end user experience. We conclude by presenting a number of future directions for landscape visualisation science and communication of environmental modelling outcomes.