Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) provides a structured approach to identifying the character and distinctiveness about the landscape. It is a tool used to identify what makes a location unique, a set of techniques and procedures used to map differences between landscapes based on their physical, cultural and historical characteristics. Although the UK has committed to assessing all of its landscapes by signing the European Landscape Convention in 2006, only 60% of coverage has been achieved. The majority of LCAs are carried out by professional environment or landscape consultancies rather than ‘in-house’. Geographical Information Systems are increasingly being used to collate and analyse data and produce character maps. This research presents a Spatial Decision Support System (LCA-SDSS) based in ArcGIS 9.3 that can be used to support decision makers in conducting a LCA. The LCA-SDSS provides a method for storing data, a model base for the assessment of Landform, Ground Type, Land Cover & Cultural attributes and a method for the user to interact with the resulting maps. Using the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as a study area the SDSS was developed and tested, resulting in character maps for each stage of the modelling and a final characterisation map. These maps were compared to a LCA conducted by a professional environmental consultant and were found to have produced a good quality assessment as verified by the end user at the Tamar Valley AONB Partnership.

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