Visual Resource Stewardship Conference

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 10-27-2019


Visualizing the impacts of urban development, energy infrastructure and forest harvest practices has become a key element in the discussion and approval or rejection of development plans. Great efforts are expended to achieve accuracy and repeatability in representation to ensure that decision-making is well-informed. Professional ethics on the part of those creating the visualizations generally require fact-based representations that minimize appeal to the emotions. “Sense of place”, an aesthetic or culturally-driven response, is implicitly active in determining the appropriateness, or not, of a landscape intervention but has not lent itself to systematic scientific study. Perceived sense of place may, however, be disproportionately active in determining people’s reactions to the incremental impacts of climate change. There is substantial evidence that, despite science-based projections of future flood and damage-prone areas, people will choose to stay in place—for many reasons but importantly because of attachment to place, an emotional response. Addressing the effects of climate change might then require directly representing altered sense of place in order to motivate people to act wisely in the face of unavoidable and unwanted change. We have developed a prototype immersive visualization and verbal elicitation tool to deliberately engage citizens and elicit their responses to projective representations of the future with supporting cultural narratives, for a threatened community with deep cultural roots, and have developed some guidance and prototypes for achieving appropriate citizen engagement. We report here on a pilot study to investigate the linked impacts of landscape visual change and change narratives on place attachment and on anticipated actions in the face of climate-related changes.