Landscape Value Mapping Study

RECORD DATA                                                                                                                                 

Survey Point Ref:  Surveyor:  Date: 
Time:   Weather: Sun / Overcast / Rain / Mist  
Photo Ref:  GPS Location:


Location  Topography  Relief  Topographic Features
Rural (Coastal) Plain  Flat  Badland
Rural (Inland)  Isolated hill  Undulating  Man-made Slope/Terraces
Rural Fringe (Coastal)  Lowland  Rolling / Hilly  Beach
Rural Fringe (Inland)  Ridges / spurs / hillsides  Steep  Scarp/Cliff
Urban Fringe (Coastal)  Valley  N/A  Rocky coast
Urban Fringe (Inland)  Peak  Sandy shore
Urban (Coastal)  Reclamation  Torr / Isolated Boulder
Urban (Inland)  Island  Boulder field
Marine  Plateau  Crags
N/A    Knolls

Dominant Landcover and Landscape Elements:

Predominant Built Form  Built-form Pattern  Significant Land Uses  Vernacular Features  Other Elements  Vegetation  Hydrology  Communications
High-rise  Orthogonal  Commercial  Temple   Quay / Jetty Scattered trees   Stream Footpath
Medium-rise  Structured  Residential  Church  Power station  Street trees  River  Track
Low-rise  Organic  Infrastructure  Fortification  Quarry  Tree clumps  Reservoir  Lane
Mixed  Scattered  Industrial  Pagoda  Fields  Woodland  Nullah  Road
None  Isolated  Mixed retail with residential  Historic building (rural)  Dam  Plantation  Waterfall  Highway
Mixed retail with commercial
Nucleated   Storage / warehouse Historic building (urban)  Anchorage  Mangrove  Mudflats  Railway
None  Undeveloped  Walled village  Shipping  Scrub  Ponds  Tramway / Light rail
Institutional  Salt pans  Landfill  Grassland  Gei wai  Highway interchange
Active arable agriculture  Graves  Cemetery  Freshwater marsh  Fish farm  Tunnel entrance
Disused arable agriculture  Squatter settlement  Airport  Salt marsh  Marina  Bridge
Livestock  Village  Service Reservoir  Amenity planting  Typhoon shelter  Footbridge
Amenity open space  Monastery/ nunnery  Ash lagoon  Managed grassland  Catchwater  Vehicle car park
Other  Public open space  Fruit trees  Lagoon  Toll plaza
Ongoing development  Golf course  Marine channel  PTI
Retail  Youth camp / hostel  Railway Station
Residential development
Telecom station 
Sea wall 

Aesthetic and Perceptual Factors

SCALE:  Intimate Moderate  Large Huge
FORM : Straight Angular Curved Sinuous
UNITY: Coherent Interrupted Fragmented Chaotic
PATTERN: Dominant Strong Broken Weak 
VARIETY: Uniform Simple Varied Complex
ENCLOSURE: Expansive Open Enclosed Constrained
HARMONY: Harmonious Balanced Disharmonious Discordant
MOVEMENT: Still Calm Busy Frantic
FINISH:     Manicured Smooth Managed Degraded
COLOUR:     Monochrome Muted Colorful Garish
REMOTENESS: Crowded Populated Remote Wilderness
SECURITY: Comfortable Safe Unsettling Threatening
SENSORY STIMULI: Windy  Smelly Noisy Tranquil
PLEASURE: Offensive Unpleasant Pleasant Beautiful

Brief Description including character and Significant Landscape Features__________________________________________________________________________________

CONDITION AND MANAGEMENT STRATEGY                                                                         

____ Good                         ____ Moderate                             ____ Poor

____Conservation             ____ Enhancement                         ____ Reconstruction



Significant Relief?             Yes         No                         Diversity of Land Use             High      Moderate      Low

Significant Tree Cover?     Yes         No                         Visual Exposure to other LCAs     High      Moderate      Low

Type of Potential Development  Sensitive  Not Sensitive  N/A
High-rise Commercial       
Low-rise Commercial or Institutional       
Industrial or Port-related       
High-rise Residential       
Medium Rise Residential       
Low -rise residential      
Storage / Warehousing      
Major highway or Railway      
Quarry or Landfill       
Golf Course       



Overall LCA Value                 High                 High(Qualified)                 Moderate                 Low 

Exceptional Issues Relating to Landscape Value: __________________________________________________________________________________                   

Key Natural Resource with visual landscape manifestation;

Key Heritage Feature with visual landscape manifestation;


Rarity:                                 Common           Unusual                 Infrequent                 Unique 
Condition:                            Poor                 Moderate                Good
Unique Features Contributing to Distinctiveness: ________________________________________________________________________________________

Scenic Value:

Relief                       High                    Low
Visual Complexity     High   Moderate   Low
Visual Coherence      High   Moderate   Low
Effects of adjoining LCAs      +      -
Night-time Effects                 +      -
Presence of water                 +      -

* Indicate whether the presence of the particular quality/feature has a positive or negative effect on landscape value 



Visual Attractors                                                     

Visual Detractors                                                     


 Significant Landscape Change Ongoing?            Yes                No

 If 'Yes', this is due to   __________________________________________________________________________   




Field survey data was collected using a structured proforma, known as a Field Data Record. This ensured that the different field surveyors carried out the landscape appraisals in a co-ordinated manner. The following guidelines were prepared for the surveyors in order to clarify different sections of the Field Data Record and assist them in filling in the proforma. Headings below correspond to key headings or areas of the Field Data Record.

Description Section of Field Data Record

Written Description

The objective of the written description is to give a pen portrait of about 4-6 lines as though describing the landscape to someone who has no idea what it looks like, noting all key features that contribute significantly to character. (Insignificant or minor features/land uses need not be mentioned). The structure of the written description should follow basically the format as follows:

In simple landscapes, minor features should be mentioned that take on an increased significance in such landscapes, such as, rock outcrops, landslips, powerlines, footpaths, tracks, pagoda, picnic site, streams (permanent and ephemeral), and catchwaters. Whether landscapes are not developed or largely undeveloped should also be stated.

It is also useful to mention one or two place names to give some geographic specificity and 'local colour' - these can be names of villages, etc.

Descriptions should include relevant designations in the Description section, including:

In order to ensure consistency in writing the descriptions, only the term 'woodland' should be used under Vegetation instead of “Forest” or “Jungle” etc.

The Presence of Spectacular Views

The presence of spectacular long-distance views does not necessarily make a landscape intrinsically more valuable than a landscape without such views - it merely makes it different. The presence of spectacular views may however be related to landscape character. Where the presence of such vistas directly affects the character of the landscape, it is worth mentioning them. Where particular views are well-known to the public (e.g. Victoria Peak or those identified in the Urban Design Guidelines), these may be recorded under the Description.

Identifying Key Landscape Features

Key features are physical features rather than characteristics. The objective is to prepare a list of physical features (3-6) which capture the very essence of the character of the landscape under consideration and which distinguish the landscape from any other. These do not necessarily have to be positive features - they could be e.g. open storage yards.

The following items are suggested to be covered:

Land uses are not Key Landscape Features. One should try to identify the physical features associated with any particular land use : i.e. 'high-rise office blocks', rather than 'commercial’. Generally key features should be features found repeatedly throughout the LCA and which therefore define its character. As a rule, one-off features (such as a small stream or a historic building) will not be key features. An exception might be a single feature which is so large or important that it almost defines the character of the LCA by itself (e.g. the Buddha Statue at Ngong Ping, Cheung Sha Beach, reservoir, etc.)

Qualitative words, like 'degraded', 'pleasant' or 'unsightly' should be avoided. The Key Features should be identified in a factual and objective manner.


Survey photographs should be taken from the best practically accessible vantage point from where a good view of the LCA and its typical attributes is available. In many locations, finding 'perfect' vantage points may be practically impossible and a compromise needs to be struck between access issues and achieving the best possible view.

Most of the photographs taken during the field survey are 360 degree panoramic photos. This is achieved by taking a sequence of photos on a digital camera with a special tripod mount. The sequence of photos is then stitched together and viewed using 'Quicktime' software.

Where accessing the LCA is difficult, a 180 degree panorama photograph facing the LCA in question may be taken. The 180 degree photos should consist of at least 3 photos spliced together. 180 degree shots should be taken in the same format as the 360s (i.e. portrait format). Photographs of very inaccessible locations may be taken from great distance or from a boat or helicopter using a single photograph taken in landscape format.

'Location' Section of Field Data Record

Landscape can be seen as a progression from rural through to urban (depending on degree of human intervention). ‘Rural’ landscapes are those where land is entirely or almost entirely ‘undeveloped’. This includes undeveloped hillsides and peaks, but also includes active or abandoned agricultural fields which can be seen as an activity recognized as ‘rural’. Slope works, highways, villages may still be typical of a ‘rural’ area. It should be noted that a ‘rural’ landscape may lie immediately adjacent to an ‘urban’ area if there is an abrupt transition in character (i.e. just because a rural area lies next to an ‘urban’ area, does not necessarily mean it is ‘urban fringe’ or ‘rural fringe’).

Where there is any significant amount of other non-rural land uses in an otherwise rural area (e.g. golf driving range, open storage, car/lorry parking, extensive non-village residential development), the landscape should be classed as ‘rural fringe’.

‘Urban fringe’ landscapes are landscapes where there are some elements of urban areas (large scale buildings, hospitals, slope works, highways) but where these are separated by areas of open landscape such as hillsides, sports pitches, etc. Not surprisingly, ‘urban fringe’ landscapes occur at then edges of urban areas where the urban fabric begins to break down. Typical of such areas are ‘extensive’ land uses which cannot be accommodated in urban areas, such as sports pitches, hospitals, transport infrastructure, etc.

'Relief' Section of Field Data Record

Relief is the degree of change in the height of topography within an LCA. When completing this section for valleys, one should refer to Figure A.1.

'Geological Features' Section of Field Data Record

'Badland' is a specific geological term used to identify a form of chemical weathering of granite rock which results in significant erosion of hillsides.

‘Sandy shore’ can include a thin strip of sand along the waterline. Where this strip is wider, it becomes ‘beach’.

'Dominant Landcover and Landscape Elements' Section of Field Data Record

When recording landscape character in the Field Data Record, one should record the characteristics of the LCA as a whole, not just the survey point. The Survey Point should ideally demonstrate typical characteristics of the LCA. However, inevitably, it may contain one or more atypical features or characteristics. It will probably not be appropriate to record these atypical qualities. In addition, it is not necessary to compile a detailed landscape inventory of every single feature within every LCA.

'Predominant Built-Form' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

For the purposes of this assessment, the following definitions should be used:

'Built-Form Pattern' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

For the purposes of this assessment, the definitions in Figures A.2 and A.3 should be referred to.

‘Significant Land Uses’ Sub-Section of Field Data Record

The objective of this entry is not to capture every single land use in the LCA, but the 1, 2 or 3 that are essential to its character.

'Vernacular Features' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

‘Historic building (rural)’ refers to any vernacular (i.e. traditional) rural building – it does not have to be a building or merit or significance such as an ancestral hall. Even traditional (partially ruined) dwellings should be included in this category.

'Vegetation' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

One should restrict use of the term 'plantation' to large areas of vegetation which are consistently non-native or newly planted.

'Hydrology' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

‘Reservoir’ is used here in the sense of small scale (open) reservoirs. Larger reservoirs may be a separate 'Reservoir Landscapes' LCA.

'Scale' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

'Scale' refers to the relative typical size of the major components of a landscape. It does not refer to the size of the LCA. Small LCAs can be large in scale and vice-versa.
When determining the scale of a given landscape, one should try to have in mind the full range of Hong Kong landscapes and use that as a guide to determining the relative scale of the landscape you are looking at. Examples of ‘huge’ landscapes are the peaks of Lantau Island or other massive peaks across Hong Kong. ‘Large’ scale landscapes include many other Hong Kong landscapes such as most of the upland / hillsides in Hong Kong, the business area of Central, housing estates such as Wah Fu or Ap Lei Chau. ‘Moderate’ scale landscapes include many medium-rise areas of new towns or urban areas, as well as urban or rural fringe landscapes. ‘Intimate’ landscapes include small scale farming landscapes and valleys (not enclosed by vast hillsides) or townships such as Sai Kung or Stanley.

'Form' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

Examples of 'Sinuous' landscapes would be marine, mudflat or shoreline landscapes. Most upland areas will be 'Curved' and most peaks 'Angular' (e.g. craggy peaks), though in exceptional circumstances, they may be 'Sinuous'.

'Unity' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

There should be a correlation between this score and the score for 'Visual Coherence' under the 'Value' assessment. In principle:

'Pattern' Sub- Section of Field Data Record

Both natural and developed landscapes may have patterns (when viewed in plan). However, for a pattern to be 'Dominant', it will probably be a human pattern (e.g. street, field pattern, etc). Natural patterns (typically of vegetation) are generally 'Strong' at most.

'Variety' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

There should be a correlation between the score in “Variety” and the score for 'Visual Complexity' under the 'Value' assessment. In principle:

Generally, 'Uniform' landscapes are those with very few features which are found in consistent patterns (e.g. marine landscapes, mudflat). Rural upland landscapes will generally be 'Simple' or 'Varied'.

'Enclosure' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

Some indicative rules may be followed in determining the degree of enclosure of a given landscape. These are as follows:

Enclosure may result from landform, buildings or vegetation. Generally, valleys and dense urban areas will be 'Enclosed' or even 'Constrained'. The tops of hills will be 'Expansive'.

'Finish' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

Finish is the apparent degree of maintenance or intervention associated with a given landscape.
Intensively maintained landscapes such as parks, high-class urban or residential areas, golf courses etc. will be 'Smooth'.

Landscapes which are actively managed, but not intensively so, will be 'Managed'. These include most urban areas, public housing estates, agricultural areas.

Most urban fringe, rural fringe or natural landscapes in Hong Kong will be 'Unmanaged' (even Country Parks, which are technically 'managed' by AFCD).

Where the texture of the landscape is coming apart through lack of management, 'Degraded' might be the appropriate assessment. This will include quarries, landfills, construction sites, some (but not all) industrial areas, open storage areas, etc.

'Colour' Sub- Section of Field Data Record

The term 'Monochrome' applies to landscapes with almost no colour variation, such as Mudflats or marine areas. Most natural landscapes can be said to be 'Muted'. Most urban areas in Hong Kong will be 'Colourful' or 'Garish'.

'Remoteness' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

Remoteness is the apparent impression of human presence in the landscape. It does not refer (necessarily) to the proximity of the LCA to major centres of population. Therefore, a 'remote' LCA may be adjacent to an urban area but separated only by a ridge of land.
'Remote' landscape will typically be those with no significant human features of any kind (other than perhaps footpaths).

'Sensory Stimuli' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

It is not mandatory to provide an entry under this category - it should only be used when appropriate. In some cases, more than one may be appropriate.

'Condition and Management Strategy' Section of Field Data Record

Litter and pollution (aquatic or aerial) should not be taken into account in the assessment of Condition or Value, as they are temporary and reversible issues.

Certain LCTs have very few positive landscape features and so are almost intrinsically, not in good condition. This is to some extent true for e.g. Quarry Landscapes - all quarries have a massive impact on landscape resources - landforms, vegetation, hydrological features are all massively disturbed.

The Management Strategy should in principle correspond to the assessment of condition. Therefore, where Condition is 'Good', the strategy will generally be 'Conservation', where Condition is 'Moderate', the strategy will generally be 'Enhancement', etc.

'Sensitivity' Section of Field Data Record

'Significant Relief' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

Relief is the degree of change in the height of topography within an LCA. In determining whether an LCA has 'significant relief', this should score either 'Rolling/Hilly' or 'Steep' (Figure A.1) under the 'Relief' Sub-menu in 'Description'. This should also be the same for the 'Scenic Value' Sub-Section.

As a rough guideline, any change in altitude of over 70m within an LCA may be assumed to constitute significant relief, unless other factors suggest otherwise (especially if the LCA is very large).

'Diversity of Land Use' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

'Diversity of Land Use', should be reflected under the 'Significant Land Use' sub-section under 'Description' as well as (possibly) under the written description. The measure of diversity of land use is both in terms of how many types of land use are involved, and how geographically scattered these uses are within the LCA. If only two uses are intermixed across the entire area of an LCA, this can be said to be more geographically 'diverse' than a situation where the two uses are concentrated in two separate locations.

'Significant Tree Cover' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

In determining whether an LCA has 'Significant Tree Cover', one should make sure that this is reflected under the 'Vegetation' sub-menu under Description as well as (possibly) under your written description. As with land use, consider geographical diversity.

An LCA with single trees scattered throughout it could be said to have significant tree cover. An LCA with a block of woodland in one corner, but otherwise devoid of vegetation will probably not have significant tree cover.

'Visual Exposure to Other LCAs' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

In determining whether an LCA is visually exposed to other LCAs, the test is whether it is estimated that it can be seen from a non-adjacent LCA. If so, visual exposure is 'high'. It should be noted that the terrain and coastal location of Hong Kong is such that the majority of LCAs are in fact visually exposed.

Value Section of Field Data Record

Night-time Effects Sub-Section of Field Data Record

The objective is of this appraisal is to identify any exceptional differences in the landscape at night. In a place such as Wanchai, Mongkok or Victoria Harbour, the spectacular lighting effects reinforce the dramatic and spectacular effects of the developed cityscape. In most places, night-time effects will not make much difference. If in doubt, it is advisable to enter a 'neutral result'.

'Effects of Adjoining LCAs' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

The objective is to record whether LCAs outside and adjoining the one being surveyed make a positive or negative contribution to landscape value of the LCA in question. Often, taking into account all the LCAs adjoining the one being surveyed, this will be a mixture, e.g. with natural hills on one side and urban areas on the other. In such cases, one should determine on balance, what the overall effect is. If it's 40/60; 50/50 or 60/40, then enter a neutral value. Otherwise, enter a positive or negative value.

'Visual Attractors/Detractors' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

These are specific features which add to, or detract from the value of the landscape. They can be roughly equated to ‘Landmarks’ or ‘Eyesores’ respectively. Generally, they should be features that have such a significant impact as to potentially alter the value of the LCA as a whole.

Non-tangible factors such as sunset, views or sense of place should not be included and need to be included under other relevant categories (as noted above).

Significant Visual Attractors may include:

Significant Visual Detractors may include:

'Unique Features Contributing to Distinctiveness' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

When recording features against these fields, one should be looking only for exceptional features - an area of woodland which looks attractive should not be included. 'Unique features contributing to distinctiveness' should be visually unique or distinctive features - just because a feature or area has its own name (e.g. mountain) does not necessarily mean that it is unique or distinctive. Such features almost on their own create an identity for a particular place or landscape. The test for these features is, if taken blindfold to a location in Hong Kong, upon having the blindfold taken off, would one recognise the precise landscape within a second of opening one's eyes? If so, the feature will count under this category. Therefore, appropriate examples might be, the Tian Tan Buddha Statue, Bank of China Tower, Tsing Ma Bridge, Lion Rock, Peak Tower, etc.

'Key Natural Resources with Visual Manifestation' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

These are basically ecological or conservation interests which are visible in the landscape. They should be drawn from authoritative designations; e.g. SSSI or Special Areas. However, if such conservation interest has no visible manifestation in the landscape (e.g. the habitat of a rare insect or bird) and otherwise look like any other landscape, such designations should not be reflected.

'Key Heritage Resources with Visual Manifestation' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

The identification of key heritage features should be based on Government heritage designations and in particular Grade 1 Historic Buildings and Declared Monuments. The identification of these features is similar in many respects to that for the natural features above in the sense that there is a necessity for them to have a clear visual manifestation. Therefore, buried neolithic grave sites for example, do not count under this category.

'Presence of Water' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

Research suggested that it is generally believed that views with water are more attractive than views without. Therefore, one should add a "+" assessment where the LCA includes or is adjacent to:

'Ongoing Construction' Sub-Section of Field Data Record

Any major ongoing construction work that has the potential to significantly change landscape value or character, should be noted. Therefore, it is not necessary to include a single ongoing development in an urban area, for example.


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