Assessment of GIS Methods for Mapping Perceptions of Forested Landscapes in Western North Carolina

  • Christopher A. Badurek Appalachian State University
  • Eric Frauman Appalachian State University
Keywords: GIS, environmental planning, Southern Appalachians, Caldwell County, North Carolina, USFS, forested lands, perception, landscape values


The Wilson Creek River Corridor is a popular destination for numerous land and water-based recreation activities in western North Carolina. Currently, the USFS is responsible for Wilson Creek's river management plan. While the plan aims to provide direction for forest and recreation management, there are no identified methods to create maps of landscape values from affected local and regional communities. Previous studies have provided participants the opportunity to annotate maps provided in surveys with a point and qualitative landscape value, such as aesthetic, biological, or spiritual. Analysis of survey responses allows creation of "hot spot" maps indicating relative density of mapped landscape values in aggregate as well as by stakeholder subgroup. This study compares and tests stakeholder landscape value mapping methodologies for reliability and replicability. Survey responses are scanned and georeferenced to enable visualization and analysis with ESRI's ArcGIS platform. These surfaces are then used to identify hotspots of specific landscape values and areas of potential conflict. A pilot GoogleEarth application to gather and map this data via the web is also assessed. Results suggest this is an effective approach to collecting landscape values for analysis in suppott of environmental planning.