Geographia Polonica (2016) vol. 89, iss. 2

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Investigating openness of the cultural landscape: a methodological proposal

Joanna Plit, Urszula Myga-Piątek

Geographia Polonica (2016) vol. 89, iss. 2, pp. 129-140
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/GPol.0050

Abstract

Openness and closure, understood as a physiognomic property of landscape, characterises the possibility of observing far out horizons and broad vistas. The degree of openness of landscape can be treated as a synthetic indicator of the evolution of the natural-cultural environment. A change in the degree of openness / closure of landscape is a lengthy historical-cultural process, lasting hundreds or even thousands of years. It has different course and dynamics in various climatic and vegetation zones. This process displays fluctuations, depends upon the population number inhabiting a given area, technological advancement, ways of economic management, historical events, and numerous other factors. It is also conditioned by the natural processes. The purpose of the present article is to propose and describe a method of assessment and interpretation of the degree of actual openness of the cultural landscape and to discuss the results obtained, and of comparing the methodology proposed with analogous European elaborates. The average percentage of openness of landscape was assessed according to five classes. The proposed method was tested in Poland areas. The source base for the study was constituted by the satellite images, Corine Land Cover maps, made legible through comparison with the land use maps presenting the state as of the turn of the 21st century. The method here proposed allows for the assessment of the continuous variability of landscapes, expressing the gradient from open to closed landscapes.

Keywords: landscape physiognomy, indicator of openness, closure of landscape, Poland

Joanna Plit [plitjo@twarda.pan.pl], Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization Polish Academy of Sciences, 00-818 Warsaw, Twarda 51/55, Poland
Urszula Myga-Piątek, University of Silesia Faculty of Earth Sciences Będzińska 60, 41-200 Sosnowiec: Poland