Quantification of public access to the landscape: methods and case studies

Muhar, A., 2004, Quantification of public access to the landscape: methods and case studies, in: OPENspace, ‘Open space, people space’, OPENspace, Edinburgh

  • Author : Muhar, A.
  • Year : 2004
  • Published in Book : Open space, people space
  • Abstract in English : An important determinant of public accessibility to cultural landscapes is the land tenure system, in particular the regulations concerning public access to private land. Internationally, there is a high diversity of traditions from nearly free access to nearly complete exclusion of the public from private land. While in former times public access has been primarily a field of conflict between landlords and the general public, nowadays conservation is also a key factor for access restrictions. Methodological and practical issues of a GIS-based quantification of public access to the landscape are discussed, using case studies from selected rural areas in Australia, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and the UK. The method presented in this paper involves four steps: 1) investigation of the legal framework at national, regional and local level, 2) investigation of the historical development of the land ownership structure in the specific region, 3) mapping of land uses based on cadastral maps, airphotos and fieldwork, and 4) field survey of trail characteristics (width, surface) and trail signage in particular with reference to use restrictions or needs of specific user groups. The results from the case studies show that there are often significant differences between the de jure and the de facto accessibility, which can usually only be detected by extensive fieldwork. With the help of a Geographic Information System (GIS), numerous quantitative parameters for public accessibility can be derived from the data, such as total length of trails and trail density or, when using collateral data such as digital terrain models, the percentage of the visually perceivable area within a landscape.
  • Comments/Notes : KEYWORDS: public access, recreation, landscape, GIS