Evaluating Landscape Attractiveness with Geospatial Data, a Case Study in Flanders, Belgium
Attractive landscapes are diverse and resilient landscapes that provide a multitude of essential ecosystem services. The development of landscape policy to protect and improve landscape attractiveness, thereby ensuring the provision of ecosystem services, is ideally adapted to region specific landscape characteristics. In addition, trends in landscape attractiveness may be linked to certain policies, or the absence of policies over time. A spatial and temporal evaluation of landscape
... ess is thus desirable for landscape policy development. In this paper, landscape attractiveness was spatially evaluated for Flanders (Belgium) using landscape indicators derived from geospatial data as a case study. Large local differences in landscape quality in (i) rural versus urban areas and (ii) between the seven agricultural regions in Flanders were found. This observed spatial variability in landscape attractiveness demonstrated that a localized approach, considering the geophysical characteristics of each individual region, would be required in the development of landscape policy to improve landscape quality in Flanders. Some trends in landscape attractiveness were related to agriculture in Flanders, e.g., a slight decrease in total agricultural area, decrease in dominance of grassland, maize and cereals, a decrease in crop diversity, sharp increase in the adoption of agri-environmental agreements (AEA) and a decrease in bare soil conditions in winter. The observed trends and spatial variation in landscape attractiveness can be used as a tool to support policy analysis, assess the potential effects of future policy plans, identify policy gaps and evaluate past landscape policy.