Visual Impact Assessment Guidebook

Table of Contents


The world-renowned landscapes of British Columbia are a source of everyday enjoyment for residents, as well as a foundation for our tourism industry. Accordingly, the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act (referred to as the Act) recognizes scenic landscapes as an integral component of the forest resource base. The Operational Planning Regulation provides two tools for managing visual resources: scenic areas and visual quality objectives.

A scenic area is any visually sensitive area or scenic landscape that is identified through a visual landscape inventory or planning process carried out or approved by the district manager. The procedures for managing visual or scenic values in these areas will depend on whether formally established visual quality objectives exist or not.

A visual quality objective (VQO) is a resource management objective that reflects the desired level of visual quality based on the physical characteristics and social concern for the area. These objectives are established by the district manager, or are contained in a higher-level plan.

The Operational Planning Regulation Section 37(1)(a) requires that a visual impact assessment (VIA) be completed before a silviculture prescription is approved in known scenic areas with established VQOs. The Forest Road Regulation Section 4(7) requires that a visual impact assessment (VIA) be completed before road construction or modification operations are carried out
in known scenic areas with established VQOs.

A visual impact assessment simulates, in perspective view, the visual effects of proposed timber harvesting and road construction or modification operations on the scenic landscape. This simulation is used to assess whether or not the VQOs would be achieved.

The intent of this guidebook is to provide managers, planners, and field staff with planning and design tools for assessing the visual impact of forest practices in scenic areas at both the landscape and stand level and within targeted social and economic constraints. These tools have been developed from a combination of scientific research and informed professional judgement. As scientific understanding and social values change over time, the assessment techniques presented in this guidebook will be revised accordingly.

In summary, this guidebook provides direction on:


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