Visual Impact Assessment Guidebook
Table of Contents
The primary purpose of this guidebook is to document the recommended procedures for completing visual impact assessments. However, it would be remiss if it did not provide some direction on how to manage visual resources in scenic areas without visual quality objectives.
Current Forest Practices Code regulations do not require the preparation of visual impact assessments in scenic areas without established VQOs. In these circumstances, forest development plan requirements prevail. These plans must include information about known scenic areas included in the area under the plan (OPR Sect. 18(1)(e)(viii)). They must also specify the measures that will be carried out to protect forest resources (which include scenic feature or setting) (FPC Act Sect. 10(1)(c)(ii)). In addition, before approving a plan or amendment, a district manager may require that the proponent submits supporting information to ensure that the plan adequately manages and conserves the visual resource (FPC Act Sect. 41(2)). The road layout and design must also include the actions that will be taken to adequately manage and conserve known non-timber forest resources (including visual resources) that may affect or be affected by the road location (FRR Sect. 6(1)(k)).
For those known scenic areas without established visual quality objectives, recommended visual quality classes can provide an indication of the level of activity that would appropriate for managing and conserving visual values. Recommended visual quality classes are a specialists recommendation describing the level of visible alteration that would be appropriate for a specific landscape.
The best way to ensure that the visual values of a scenic area are being adequately managed and conserved is to plan the practices by using proven visual design techniques. These techniques, in conjunction with perspective view simulations, will help to demonstrate how the design will affect the landscape from important viewpoints. Visual landscape design concepts, techniques, and procedures are described in the Visual Landscape Design Training Manual. If visual simulations are requested, they would normally be submitted to the district manager before the approval of the silviculture prescription. However, in some circumstances (e.g., where the existing visual condition of the landscape is beyond the recom-mended visual quality class) the district manager may require this supporting information before FDP approval.
The district manager should supply the licensee with information about what level of management is appropriate in a scenic area without visual quality objectives, and what is generally expected in a visual simulation package. The content of this package will vary depending on the areas visual sensitivity class (VSR of old) and recommended visual quality class (rVQO of old). [ "Old" refers to the terminology used before 1997. After the release of the new visual landscape inventory standards in 1997, some of the old terminology was dropped and new terminology was used to clarify inventory and planning processes.] To help clarify the development of visual simulation packages, some forest regions and districts have issued standard operating procedures and guidelines.For known scenic areas without established visual quality objectives, Figures 3 and 4 outline visual resource management requirements in forest development plans, silviculture prescriptions, and road layout and designs.
Figure 3 Visual resource management requirements for known scenic areas without established visual quality objectives: forest development plans and silviculture prescriptions.
Figure 4 Visual resource management requirements for known scenic areas without established visual quality objectives: road layout and design.