2023 journal article

Viewscape change highlights shifting drivers of exurban development over time


By: N. Inglis n, J. Vukomanovic n, A. Petrasova n & R. Meentemeyer n

co-author countries: United States of America 🇺🇸
author keywords: Landscape aesthetics; Rural development; Survival analysis; Visual assessment; Visual quality
Source: Web Of Science
Added: August 7, 2023

Exurban development has increased over recent decades, characterized by low-density, amenity-driven housing development, and shaped by the landscape’s visual quality, rural character and perceived quality of life. Viewscapes—the 3-dimensional portions of landscapes with which people form a connection—are one way to quantify visual character and assess how those aesthetic amenities interact with other drivers to shape exurban development. The extent to which a landscape changes over time due to anthropogenic and natural processes—such as new housing development or wildfire—has largely been overlooked in models of development that include viewscape metrics. In this study, we use an event-history analysis approach to model the relationship between known drivers, including viewscape metrics (area, land cover, terrain complexity and visible neighbors), and the timing of exurban development of 1,807 single-family residences in Boulder County, Colorado, USA between 1990 and 2020. Most viewscape metrics’ effects on the timing of new home builds varied by 5-year time interval, underscoring the constraints of temporally static development models. We found that houses were more likely to be located close to major roads, and with views of less complex terrain. Larger views and fewer visible neighbors emerged as predictors of development over the study period. In the early-2000s, developed sites favored sunnier aspects, and views that avoided burn scars and developed areas. After 2010, new homes sites avoided views of developed areas and favored forested views. Insight into changing relationships between viewscapes and exurban housing development can highlight the effects of landscape change on visual quality and the trade-offs inherent in housing location decisions. Exploring how viewscape drivers and their effects on development change over time offers land managers and policymakers a more detailed picture of the amenity factors shaping exurban development.