Dissertations and theses : Doctoral thesis
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Human geography & demography
Vanderheyden, Vincent mailto [Université de Liège > Département de géographie > Service de géographie rurale (LAPLEC) >]
Université de Liège, ​Liège, ​​Belgique
Doctor of Sciences (Geography)
xiv, 147 + 57
Schmitz, Serge mailto
Halleux, Jean-Marie mailto
Occhiuto, Rita mailto
Antrop, Marc
Roth, Michael
van der Horst, Dan
Van Rompaey, Anton
[en] Everyday landscapes ; Perception ; Wind farms ; Deconstruction ; Spatial planning
[en] In the 19th century, geography was defining itself as the science of landscape, led by German and French schools. Other disciplines were also interested in landscape, each one with its own definition(s). In public policy, landscape has remained, for a long time, a heritage object to be protected (e.g. cultural landscapes of UNESCO). In 2000, the European Landscape Convention, which aims to safeguard the European landscape diversity, proposed a common definition. This includes the idea of areas perceived by people. One of the recommendations of the Convention is the call to focus on other landscapes that only heritage landscapes, such as everyday landscapes and degraded landscapes. The convention also calls for better management and planning practices towards landscape changes. Today, landscape is often invoked as arbitrator in territorial disputes. This is the case in discussions for the installation of wind farms. Newcomers and farmers ‘visions on landscape are often opposed: idyllic landscape for living and recreation for the firsts, working environment for the seconds. Despite the European Landscape Convention, many grey areas remain about how to achieve its goals. Long before it, leading researchers called for a better interest in everyday landscapes. Yet they remain the poor relation in landscape research, to the benefit of natural, wild landscapes. Many uncertainties also remain on how non-specialists perceive their ordinary landscapes and how they have appropriated the landscape concept.
The research helps to fill this double gap, deconstructing the concept through the lens of ordinary landscape. With several research questions, I plan to explore what is the landscape in people’s mind, how they conceptualize it, how they think it and how they question their own views on landscape. I will show how these conceptualizations and thoughts are shaped by the living environment, which often provides the tools necessary to the apprehension of the landscape. I will analyse how new elements such as wind farm can disrupt these patterns.
The first part of the research is dedicated to the overall perception of their ordinary landscapes by Belgians, especially facing the issue of wind energy. Using a photo-questionnaire survey, we surveyed a representative sample of the Belgian population (n = 1542). Based on this investigation a model was developed. It highlights the positive influence of forest cover and the lack of anthropogenic elements, but also the negative influence of its urbanization and too flat relief on landscape attractiveness. The influence of wind turbines has to be qualified according to the landscape in which they are implanted. In landscapes strongly marked by the human footprint, they seem perceived as increasing the landscape attractiveness. In unspoilt landscapes, they seem rather to contribute to their degradation. These global findings are nuanced in further research. Deeper analysis shows that Flemish people have a more positive view of the landscape than Walloons. I hypothesize a decisive influence of the local context. Indeed, Flemish landscapes are generally more urbanized and marked by man than most of the Walloon landscapes. The building of wind farms seems to change or even reverse the situation. The analysis also shows significant influences related to educational level and gender. Anthropogenic landscapes are less disregarded by low educated people. Women seem to attach importance to stewardship and landscape maintenance. In contrast, although suspected, age influence has not been formally demonstrated.
The second part of this dissertation, the cornerstone of this doctoral research, aims at deconstructing the landscape concept in the mind of people. In this part, wind farms are no longer considered as a case study, but as a leitmotif. I deeper surveyed smaller groups (n = 54) in three areas of Wallonia (Walloon Picardy, between the Sambre and Meuse rivers, and Ardennes) with qualitative techniques. This survey was conducted five years after the first. The analysis of the vocabulary used by the regional sub-groups shows that people are not equipped the same way for analysing landscapes. The experience of living environment seems to be crucial in providing analytical keys. Thus Ardennes people seem better equipped to talk about the forest, marking their landscapes, while the Picards seem more loquacious about their iconic cultivated landscapes. The research also highlighted different landscape analysis patterns. Some people ordered landscapes according to their degree of naturalness, the less spoiled landscapes being the most attractive. On the contrary, fewer attach importance to landscapes where human footprint is clearly visible. Some respondents remain in a purely aesthetic landscape analysis, while others project themselves into the landscape, imagining they are performing different actions. Depending on their interests, these actions influence the perception of one same landscape. Research shows that this overall pattern analysis is disturbed by various factors. The recognition of certain places transformed landscape analysis in an analysis of the place, with the emotional changes that this entails. The position of the participants facing wind energy projects also appears sharper. In the time between the two parts of the research, Wallonia has experienced unprecedented wind development; opinions have therefore had time to form. This was not yet totally the case during the first survey. Beyond these major disruptions, the research also shows clear influences of the ordered character of landscapes, their living character and variety of land uses. The research also highlights the influence of non-visual criteria such as noise or odours detectable in the landscape. In conclusion, the research shows that respondents often show a sense of landscape, weaker than sense of place and stronger than aesthetic.
Sphères - SPHERES ; Lepur : Centre de Recherche sur la Ville, le Territoire et le Milieu rural
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students

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