The design of forest landscapes
The Forestry Authority, as the country's leading authority on forestry practice, has Design Guidelines which aim to offer designers sound relevant and appropriate advice on the theory, process and practice of forest landscape design. The guidelines therefore represent the FA's vision of how designed Britain's forest landscapes should appear. The aim of this study is to rigorously evaluate the advice offered in the FA's guidelines in relation to the FA's objective to offer an aid to design. A literature review and series of interviews with those responsible for the advice explores the motivation behind the introduction and development of the guidelines. The review concludes that the unusual circumstances surrounding the inception of guidelines are likely to have resulted in the advice having a strong forestry bias, a weak theoretical framework and to be offering advice that is divorced from other land-use interests. An analysis of the nature and contents of the guidelines and the subsequent critical discussion suggests that the advice is not always complete, consistent, logical or relevant. The concept of an alternative approach to offering forest landscape design guidelines is tested through both a postal questionnaire and a field survey. The findings for the postal questionnaire suggest that the FA's advice is generally well used and found useful but that it is at times limited and fails to respond to the needs of the current user group. The findings for the field survey show that enough evidence exists to support the concept and further investigation along these lines. The study concludes by making 20 recommendations for changes or additions to the FA's current advice, which address the issues raised by the research findings. These recommendations are offered as a framework within which alternative advice could be further developed.