Mapping landscape attractiveness

A GIS-based landscape appreciation model for the Dutch countryside


  • Janneke Roos-Klein Lankhorst Wageningen University and Research Centre, Alterra
  • Sjerp de Vries Wageningen University and Research Centre, Alterra
  • Arjen Buijs Wageningen University, Forest and Nature Policy group, Alterra




Offering people scenic beauty is one of the most frequently mentioned landscape services. In the Netherlands it also has become an explicit policy goal: “we want a beautiful country to live and work in”. However, instruments to help policy makers and spatial planners to implement this relatively new goal are largely lacking. Where do people like the landscape in their living environment and where do they not? And which physical characteristics influence this appreciation and to what extent? To provide such information in a cost-efficient way, a model was developed to map, monitor, and simulate precisely this: the GIS-based Landscape Appreciation Model (GLAM).

The model predicts the attractiveness of the landscape based solely on nationally available GIS-data on its physical aspects for each 250 x 250 metre cell. The model was calibrated using attractiveness ratings from a national survey among residents. The final model was evaluated using data from another Dutch survey of landscape appreciation among residents living in the vicinity of 52 areas that landscape experts considered being of high quality. In this article, we describe the theoretical background to GLAM, the attributes in the current version of the model, the final steps in calibrating the model, as well as its validation. We conclude with a discussion on the usefulness of GLAM for spatial policy.

How to Cite

Roos-Klein Lankhorst, J., de Vries, S., & Buijs, A. (2011). Mapping landscape attractiveness: A GIS-based landscape appreciation model for the Dutch countryside. Research in Urbanism Series, 2, 147–161.



Author Biographies

Janneke Roos-Klein Lankhorst, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Alterra

Senior researcher at the Landscape Centre of Alterra, part of Wageningen University and Research Centre (the Netherlands). She conducted her PhD research in the field of digital visualisation of landscapes. She is specialised in the development and application of integrated knowledge-based systems for monitoring and impact assessment of policy changes on regional, national and European levels. These systems make use of simplifi ed models and rules, based on available expertise in The Netherlands and in Europe, concerning agriculture and other land use, water management, environmental quality, ecology, landscape appreciation and economy.

Sjerp de Vries, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Alterra

Senior researcher at the Landscape Centre of Alterra, part of Wageningen University and Research Centre (the Netherlands). His PhD research, entitled Egoism, Altruism, and Social Justice, dealt with cooperative behaviour in social dilemma situations. At present his work focuses on the interaction between people and their natural environment, more specifi cally on landscape appreciation, outdoor recreational behaviour, and the relationship between contact with nature and human health and well-being. In his work he combines GIS-analyses and social science research methods.

Arjen Buijs, Wageningen University, Forest and Nature Policy group, Alterra

Senior researcher at Alterra and assistant professor at the Forest and Nature Policy group of Wageningen University (the Netherlands). His works concentrate on all the aspects of the human-nature interaction, including landscape preferences, social representations of nature, connectedness to nature, public participation and the framing of social confl icts on nature management.


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