C1 Hall

Green or Brown, Built or Open? Correlations between landscape preferences in an arid ecosystem, underlying environmental values and demographic characteristics.


Daniel Orenstein
Idan Porat
Miri Tsalyuk


Understanding the determinants of natural landscape preferences has attracted theoretical and practical interest. Researchers suggest both universal and particular preferences, with particular preferences correlating with ethnicity, age, gender and other variables. In previous work, we found correlations between political opinions and disciplinary expertise and landscape preferences. In the current research, we evaluate the relationship between landscape preferences and two sets of indices, one defining environmental values orientation (Schultz, 2000), and one characterizing nature relatedness (Nisbet et al. 2009).

Using a questionnaire and photo album featuring natural and human-altered landscapes in Israel's Negev Desert Highlands, we queried 425 respondents regarding landscape preferences. Respondents included local residents and tourists, and representatives of diverse ages and economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds. The questionnaire also included two sets of environmental/nature values clarification questions.

Results revealed significant correlations between landscape preferences and environmental values, on the one hand, and landscape preferences and some demographic characteristics, on the other. Respondents who identified as biospheric (as opposed to altruistic or egoistic) were strongly associated to landscapes devoid of anthropogenic artifacts (e.g. roads, power lines or agricultural fields). Respondents whose attachment to nature was deemed by the nature-relatedness indices as intellectual in character were drawn to landscapes with no obvious human interventions, as were those whose nature relationship was experiential. On the other hand, those whose nature relationship was more spiritual showed higher preference for landscapes with human settlement. Respondents who were considered anthropocentric had a higher appreciation for agricultural landscapes and lower preference for natural landscapes with no discernible human impact.

There were significant differences between Bedouin and Jewish respondents, with Bedouin ranking human (Bedouin) landscapes higher and undisturbed landscapes lower than Jewish respondents. Alternatively, local (non-Bedouin) residents ranked human disturbed landscapes lower than visitors (tourists), who ranked agricultural landscapes with high preference value.

The research shows that environmental values and nature relatedness indices may be strong predictors of landscape preferences. Underlying environmental values are correlated to positions in favor of or against human intervention in arid landscapes. Demographic profile (Bedouin or Jewish, tourist or resident) also correlates with landscape preferences. Landscape management decisions will thus depend on potentially contradictory desires to contradictory desires to conserve natural landscapes or to develop tourism targeting visitors from out of the region, who prefer green and developed landscapes despite the desert context.