Bridging the sustainability gap with landscape visualisation in community visioning hubs

Stephen R. J. Sheppard


There is a substantial gap between awareness and action on sustainability issues. This paper addresses the potential of landscape visualisation, integrated with other participatory modelling tools and disseminated through the mechanism of community visioning hubs, in advancing peoples’ awareness of sustainability issues such as climate change, and possibly affecting behaviour and policy. The ability of visual communications to accelerate social learning has long been recognised. Realistic landscape visualisations offer special advantages in bringing home to people the possible consequences of unsustainable behaviour or climate change mitigation strategies in a compelling manner, in part through engaging the emotions on local and personal issues. The rationale for such hopes is reviewed in the context of a proposed theoretical framework on the effects of landscape visualisation on perceptions and behaviour, and implications for the persuasive use of visualisations following principles of disclosure, drama, and defensibility. Methods of developing landscape visualisations to express salient future sustainability scenarios are explored, together with ways to incorporate them into public dialogue, community planning, and decision-making. The concept of neutral, community visioning hubs, providing the public with access to advanced interactive, immersive visualisation capabilities in a Decision Theatre setting, is developed.


Visualisation; climate change; visual communications; carbon consciousness; behavioural response; community planning; sustainability; public perceptions; decision support

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Integrated Assessment. ISSN: 1389-5176