Landscape assessment is a sub-category of environmental assessment (or EIA) concerned with quality assessment of the landscape. Landscape quality is assessed either as part of a strategic planning process or in connection with a specific development which will have an impact on the landscape.
The term 'landscape assessment' can be used to mean either:
- visual assessment. This would look at the nature and extent of visual impacts and qualities relating to locations and proposals. UK-related guidance on the preparation of these assessments is given in Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment published by SPON press on behalf of the Landscape Institute & Institute of Environmental Management, 2002.
- character assessment. This includes assessments of each aspect of the landscape: geology, hydrology, soils, ecology, settlement patterns, cultural history, scenic characteristics, land use etc. It typically includes distinct descriptive and evaluative components. Guidance on the preparation of these assessments is given in Landscape Character assessment: Guidance for England and Scotland published by the Countryside Agency & Scottish Natural Heritage, April 2002.
Since landscape assessments are intended to help with the conservation and enhancement of environmental goods, it is usually necessary to have a fully geographical landscape assessment as a stage in the process of EIA and landscape planning.