Abstract / Description of output
It has long been understood that diversity is a key aspect of what makes a landscape attractive but to what degree of diversity and how is it experienced? Many forest landscapes are generally monotonous in character or are broken up by forest management activities such as clear cutting, which may negatively impact their potential for recreation and psychological well-being benefits. We conducted a virtual reality experiment where people were taken on a trip along asimulated cross country skiing track in an Estonian forest. Participants followed a route at simulated speeds typical of cross-country skiing. The route was long enough to experience several minutes passing through one type of forest landscape with a series of small variations in character followed by several minutes passing through a notably different forest landscape. The restorative experience obtained by the visit was measured periodically in each version of the landscape. Univariate general linear modelling analysis was statistically significant (r2 = 0.651, F(198, 965) = 9.108, p < 0.001) and showed that while respondents preferred less-dense forest in general (B = 0.189, p = 0.001)—anexpected result—a comparable amount of positive restorative response could also be attributed to prominent changes in forest character, regardless of the type of forest (B = 0.401, p < 0.001). We hypothesise that respondents were reacting favourably to sudden changes in forest appearance afterprolonged exposure to one forest type—that diversity is important in maintaining interest, reducing boredom, and in providing a restorative experience. The implications are, firstly, that a virtual experience can detect restorative effects and, secondly, that recreational trails should be designed topass through varied landscapes offering continually changing diverse experiences—the impact of which can be tested in the virtual setting because there is control of all variables.
Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)
- landscape perception
- restorative experience
- landscape simulation