British Columbia Ministry of Forests


Chapter 11: Forest Landscape Management

11.1 Introduction
11.2 Overview of the Forest Landscape Management (FLM) Process
11.3 Landscape Inventory

11.3.1 Procedures

11.4 Landscape Analysis

11.4.1 Procedures

11.5 Setting FLM Objectives, Priorities and Guidelines
11.6 Landscape Design
11.7 Implementation

11.7.1 Forest Practices
11.7.2 Landscape Rehabilitation and Enhancement

11.8 Monitoring

11.9 References


I Visual Quality
II Public Involvement in FLM
III Other FLM Applications
IV Use of Computers in FLM
V Provincial FLM Guidelines
VI Regional FLM Guidelines


1 The Forest Landscape Management (FLM) Process
2 The Relationship Between the Six Phases of the FLM Process and the
Five Steps Identified in the Forest Landscape Handbook

3 The Role of FLM Within the Recreation Program
4 The Components of a Landscape Inventory
5 Sensitivity Levels in a Landscape Inventory
6 Harmonizing Visual and Timber Values
7 Setting FLM Objectives, Priorities and Guidelines Through the Hierarchy of IRM Plans
8 The Components of Landscape Design
IIa The Social Acceptability of Landscape Alteration

11.1 Introduction

What is Forest Landscape Management?

In British Columbia, scenic beauty is a much valued resource. British Columbia's world renowned landscapes are a part of its heritage, a source of everyday enjoyment for its residents and the resource base underlying much of its tourism industry. Visual values, therefore, are one of the most important amenity values that make up British Columbia's Provincial Forest recreation resource.

Timber harvesting and other activities alter these landscapes. Today, about 85% of the timber harvested in British Columbia is by clearcut logging. And about 20% of British Columbia's commercial timber is in visually sensitive areas, such as steep slopes along travel corridors through mountainous regions.

Forest landscape management (FLM or landscape management) is the identification and assessment of visual values, and the consideration of those values in the integrated resource management of Provincial Forests. The primary focus of FLM is the mitigation of the visual impacts of timber harvesting and road building.

Since the introduction of landscape management to British Columbia in the 1970s, and the establishment of basic FLM concepts and principles, FLM has developed into a highly specialized, technical and rapidly evolving activity which currently involves:

  • better understanding of public preferences for different landscapes, and the limits of social acceptability to landscape alteration
  • translating relatively conceptual and subjective expressions of landscape management objectives (i.e., visual quality objectives or VQOs) into more operational silvicultural, timber harvesting and road building guidelines for each area and situation
  • applying FLM principles and practices to forest management activities other than timber harvesting (e.g., recreation site and trail management, wilderness management, recreation corridor management)
  • developing and applying computer tools to facilitate the assessment of cost, volume and allowable annual cut implications to timber harvesting of different landscape designs
  • incorporating and establishing approved visual quality objectives in all forest plans
Forest Landscape Handbook

Many of the initial concepts and principles of landscape management were pioneered by the United States Forest Service. The Ministry's Forest Landscape Handbook (1981) adapted and applied those concepts and principles for use in British Columbia.

The Forest Landscape Handbook, therefore, set out initial principles, approaches and procedures for landscape management in British Columbia. It developed a five-step process for implementing FLM techniques and practices. It set out, as the goal of FLM, "to retain or enhance forest landscape values in keeping with the concepts and principles of integrated resource management." It also enumerated a set of basic objectives for FLM.

The Forest Landscape Handbook remains the foundation and primary source document for and is an integral part of this chapter on forest landscape management.

Authority and Policy for Forest Landscape Management

The statutory authority for forest landscape management derives from visual values being a resource. Scenic landscapes and aesthetics are one of the amenity resources that make up the Provincial Forest recreation resource. They are one of the resources that must be considered in the Ministry's integrated resource management of Provincial Forests.

In this way, the statutory authority for landscape management is established primarily by Sections 4 (b, c) of the Ministry of Forests Act (purposes and functions of the Ministry), Sections 2-5 of the Forest Act (inventory, assessment, classification and uses of forest lands) and Sections 7 and 28(d) of the Forest Act (allowable annual cuts for TSAs and TFLs and Management and Working Plans for TFLs). In addition, there are numerous other responsibilities for landscape management through the various authorities for forest and wilderness-oriented recreation (Chapter 2).

Ministry policy for landscape management is established by the policy on Forest Landscape Management (II-REC-003). In addition, there is further policy direction for landscape management set out in various implementation guidelines and related non-Ministry policy (Chapter 3).

Purpose and Content of this Chapter

This chapter establishes the Ministry's procedures and responsibilities for landscape management. In so doing, this chapter provides a summary and snapshot of state-of-the-art FLM approaches, procedures, techniques and practices as they are currently carried out or being developed in British Columbia. This chapter represents both a supplement to and extension of the Forest Landscape Handbook. Because of this building upon and close linkage to the handbook, this chapter is structured to parallel the Forest Landscape Handbook.

The purpose of this chapter, therefore, is to:

  • complement the Forest Landscape Handbook
  • establish the current FLM process, and the procedures and responsibilities for each of the six phases of this process
  • provide a starting point and framework for the future development of FLM training modules and field guides for MoF staff and licensees

Section 11.2 of this chapter outlines the FLM process, including its six phases and their relationship to the five steps identified in the Forest Landscape Handbook.

Sections 11.3 to 11.8 cover, in turn, each of the six phases that comprise the current FLM process.

Section 11.9 gives a list of cited and supplementary references.

The six addenda (Addenda I to VI) accompanying this chapter cover six key aspects of landscape management that apply throughout the FLM process. These include the fundamental question of visual quality (Addendum I), public involvement in FLM (Addendum II), the application of FLM to forest management activities other than timber harvesting (Addendum III), the use of computers in FLM (Addendum IV), Provincial FLM Guidelines (Addendum V) and Regional FLM Guidelines (Addendum VI).

[ Top ]


Overview of the Forest Landscape Management (FLM) Process

The FLM process consists of six phases.

The forest landscape management (FLM) process is a planning and management process for visual values and resources. It is set out in six phases. These phases, and the purpose, outputs and responsibilities for carrying out each phase are summarized in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The Forest Landscape Management
(FLM) Process

The relationship between the six phases of the FLM process and the five steps of the Forest Landscape Handbook are illustrated in Figure 2. Figure 2 shows that:

  • Setting FLM objectives, priorities and guidelines has been added as a distinct phase of FLM.
  • This emphasizes that the role of the landscape forester is to inventory, evaluate, advise, assist and make recommendations regarding visual values, but it is not to approve objectives, priorities or guidelines for the management of visual resources. This also emphasizes that FLM is the planning and management for visual values within the context of the Ministry's integrated resource management of Provincial Forests; that is, the FLM process is an input to the IRM process.
  • Logging and Silvicultural Practices have been expanded to encompass the broader notion of the implementation of landscape design solutions through the full range of forest practices, including road building and landscape rehabilitation and enhancement projects.
  • Detailed Landscape Analysis and Follow-up are now called Landscape Analysis and Monitoring, respectively.
  • Public Involvement is more fully recognized as an integral part of all phases of FLM.

Figure 2:
The Relationship Between the Six Phases of the FLM Process and the Five Steps Identified in the Forest Landscape Handbook

flow chart

FLM permeates all aspects of the recreation program. It also has links with other Ministry and non-Ministry programs.

FLM and the FLM process are an integral part of the recreation program. Although FLM is identified as a specific sub-activity of the recreation program (Section 1.4.2), landscape management permeates all aspects of the recreation program, as shown in Figure 3. FLM also has links to a number of other Ministry programs, such as silviculture and timber harvesting (including engineering). In addition, FLM, as carried out by the MoF, is linked to a number of activities and programs of other ministries, including:

  • the coordination of FLM activities along provincial highways with the Ministry of Transportation and Highways
  • the coordination of interests and concerns of other resource ministries in the development of approved VQOs and landscape designs (e.g., Ministry of Environment regarding water or wildlife resources, or Ministry of Tourism regarding marketing themes for B.C.'s tourism industry)

Figure 3
The Role of FLM Within the Recreation Program

Recreation Program

Role of FLM

Program Management

General Planning and Mgmt.

  • program management and budgeting for FLM


  • includes technical publications, workshops, symposia, field guides and other training for FLM

Policy Development

  • development and maintenance of FLM policy and procedures

Program Audit

  • annual reporting and program audit of FLM activities

Resource Management

Recreation Analysis

  • statistics on viewing use
  • FLM public preference studies and other surveys and studies on the use, value and demand for visual resources

Recreation Inventory

  • inventory of "V" features, identification of landscape sensitivities (VAC/SEN matrix), consolidation and final reporting of landscape inventories

Recreation Plans

  • the setting of FLSM objectives, priorities and guidelines

Recreation Referrals

  • ensuring that visual values are considered in resource management decisions

Use Management

Site and Trail Routine Maintenance, Rehabilitation and Development

  • the consideration of visual values in site and trail management


  • the enforcement of FLM policy and procedures

Forest Landscape Management

  • the FLM process

Wilderness Management

  • the consideration of visual values in wilderness and backcountry areas

FLM responsibilities for MoF staff and licensees are established in MoF policy (Ministry Policy Manual, FLM policy, II-REC-003) and are summarized in Figure 1. More specifically, these responsibilities are as follows:

Responsibility Level


  • developing and maintaining FLM policy, procedures and standards
  • developing and standardizing technical innovations in FLM
  • training
  • monitoring regions
  • assisting in all aspects of FLM as required
  • developing and maintaining regional FLM guidelines
  • developing, testing and implementing technical innovations in FLM
  • training
  • monitoring districts
  • assisting in all aspects of FLM as required
  • carrying out approved FLM procedures
  • setting FLM objectives
  • developing FLM design solutions for individual plans
  • monitoring licensees

MoF staff are responsible for approving all FLM objectives for all licensees and areas; notwithstanding this overall MoF responsibility, individual licensees and MoF staff are responsible in the following ways.

TFL Licensees

  • carrying out to MoF standards and in harmony with MoF needs landscape inventory, landscape analysis, landscape design and implementation within their licence areas

FL Licensees

  • carrying out landscape design and implementation within their licence areas

MoF Staff

  • carrying out landscape inventory and analysis outside of TFL licence areas
  • carrying out landscape design in SBFEP areas

SBFEP Operators

  • implementing MoF landscape designs in SBFEP areas

Visual quality is expressed in terms of:

  • VQCs (Visual Quality Classes)
  • EVCs (Existing Visual Conditions)
  • AVCs (Achieved Visual Conditions)
  • VQOs (Visual Quality Objectives)

A fundamental aspect of FLM is how to express and measure visual values, the quality of those values, and the IRM objectives for weighing and trading-off visual values in relation to other values. The Forest Landscape Handbook (Step 2 and Appendix 2) measures visual values in terms of levels of alteration compared with the natural or naturalappearing landscape. In this chapter the levels of alteration are expressed in terms of Visual Quality Classes (VQCs) which can be used to describe existing and achieved visual conditions (EVCs and AVCs) and Visual Quality Objectives (VQOs). For a more detailed description of these terms, see Addendum I.

As illustrated in Figure 2, public involvement is an integral part of each phase of the FLM process. The role of public involvement and the responsibilities for landscape staff and licensees for public involvement in FLM are discussed in Addendum II.

Although the primary focus of FLM remains the mitigation of the visual impacts of timber harvesting and road building (Section 11.1), FLM principles and practices are being increasingly applied to other forest management practices as well. The role of FLM in recreation site and trail management (Chapters 9 and 10), wilderness management (Chapter 12) and recreation corridor management (Chapter 14) are discussed in Addendum III.

Appendix 5 of the Forest Landscape Handbook discusses the use of computers in FLM. Due to the increasing complexity of FLM analysis and design, and advances in computer technology, the use of computers is playing an increasingly important role in FLM. This is discussed in Addendum IV.

Addenda V and VI outline provincial and regional guidelines for forest landscape management (FLM).

[ Top ]

11.3 Landscape Inventory

Landscape inventory is the identification, classification and recording of visual values. Landscape inventory is performed over an area in order to provide the information necessary to carry out a landscape analysis (Section 11.4) for that area. A landscape inventory is a source of basic information about visual resources and values that is important in TSA/TFL planning, and is essential for the operational planning and management of scenic areas.

Components of a Landscape Inventory

The components of a landscape inventory are established and discussed in the Forest Landscape Handbook (Step 1: Landscape Inventory, pp. 30-32, and Appendix 4: Visual Absorption Capability (VAC), pp. 85-89). These components are summarized here for reference purposes as Figure 4.
As shown in Figure 4, a landscape inventory consists of:

  • mapping visible landscapes
  • identifying landscape features
  • documenting existing visual conditions (EVCs) (Addendum I) as the baselines from which landscape alterations are measured
  • estimating landscape sensitivities (i.e., the likelihood or extent to which people may be concerned about landscape alterations)
  • determining visual absorption capabilities (VACs) (i.e., the ability of landscapes to absorb physical alterations without damage to their scenic values)

Figure 4
The Components of a Landscape Inventory



The Visible Landscape

  • travel routes and corridors
  • communities
  • public use areas

Landscape Features

Natural Features

  • vistas, views and focal areas
  • land/water interfaces
  • special features

Cultural Features

  • historical/archaeological
  • industrial (including forestry) developments
  • agricultural developments
  • recreational developments
  • settlements

Existing Visual Condition

  • the degree of visual alteration of pre-existing landscapes (natural or altered)

Landscape Sensitivity

Physical Factors

  • topography
  • vegetation
  • water
  • adjacent scenery
  • uniqueness or scarcity
  • cultural modification

Viewer-related Factors

  • number of viewers
  • viewing distance
  • viewing angle
  • viewing duration
  • viewer position
  • sequence
  • viewer perception

Visual Absorption Capability

Physical Factors

  • slope
  • vegetation
  • natural openings
  • distance
  • landforms
  • soil
  • aspect

Cultural Alterations

  • industrial developments
  • agricultural developments
  • recreational developments
  • settlements
Relation to the Recreation Inventory

In the early 1980s, the MoF developed initial methodologies for and began carrying out landscape inventories. That work occurred before the MoF developed its recreation inventory as documented in Chapter 6. This includes the development of the features inventory and its V features for visual resources.

All aspects of landscape inventory are now built into the V features and sensitivity ratings that are part and parcel of the recreation inventory map label. Landscape units are simply recreation inventory land units (or management units or Resource Emphasis Areas, where broad strategic planning levels or concerns are being addressed) that are identified and delineated wherever V features are the dominant features.

All graphic features that are used in the identification and assessment of visual values are included as part of the recreation inventory legend, and are entered into the Ministry's GIS database along with the recreation inventory on levels 47 and 51. Although field work and initial assessments for visual and other amenity values are often done separately, and are sometimes shown on different field maps, the final recording and documentation of such inventories is the recreation inventory as established in Chapter 6.

Relation to Public Involvement

Public involvement (Addendum II) is an important and integral part of landscape inventory.

Public involvement guides how landscape inventory identifies and rates visual values. Public involvement provides the staff person responsible for FLM with an understanding and appreciation of what amenity values people place on forest landscapes, what the public's preferences are for different landscapes and what public reactions might be to different landscape alterations.

For example, the landscape sensitivity ratings of high, medium and low are based upon an assessment of the visual prominence or importance of landscape features, viewer-related factors that affect visual perception (e.g., orientation, distance, duration) and public attitudes that contribute to viewer perceptions of the landscape.

Further Aspects of a Landscape Inventory

Viewing Distance Zones

General guidelines for viewing distance zones for use in determining landscape sensitivity are as follows:

Foreground (the detailed landscape within 1/2 to 1 km of the viewer):

  • colour and texture are dominant
  • individual trees, rocks, etc. are distinguishable

Midground (the landscape beyond the foreground and up to 8 km from the viewer):

  • colour and texture are less distinct
  • line and form are more dominant
  • ridges, gullies, vegetative patterns, etc. are distinguishable

Background (the distant landscape beyond the midground):

  • colour is faint and texture is not discernable
  • line and form are dominant
  • landforms and skylines are distinguishable

Sensitivity Levels

The sensitivity levels in a landscape inventory, as identified in the Forest Landscape Handbook, the criteria for these sensitivity levels, and examples of the criteria are shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Sensitivity Levels in a Landscape Inventory

11.3.1 Procedures

As an extension of and supplement to landscape inventory as set out in the Forest Landscape Handbook, current procedures for landscape inventory consist of three main steps, as follows:

  • planning and pre-trip preparation
  • field work
  • office mapping and write-up

Procedures for each of these steps are as follows:

Planning and Pre-trip Preparation

1  Be fully acquainted with Step 1: Landscape Inventory of the Forest Landscape Handbook (FLH).

2  Obtain and review a map of the district (1:250 000 - 1:100 000 scale). If necessary, ask those knowledgeable about the district for the general location of landscapes with aesthetic importance. Mark these locations on the map and keep the map up-to-date.

3  Make a preliminary list of significant locations from where important landscapes are visible, such as travel corridors, lakeshores, communities and lookouts. The recreation inventory identifies visually important areas with the V features (Chapter 6).

4  Determine the priorities for landscape inventory projects. Landscape inventory priorities are directly related to landscape values, sensitivity levels and timber harvesting schedules. Factors to consider when ranking landscape inventory projects may include scenic quality, level of public interest or concern, number of viewers, potential impacts of resource development plans, and the status or jurisdiction of adjacent lands.

5  Before initiating a landscape inventory for a particular area, examine available information, including:

  • forest cover and biogeoclimatic zone maps (1:20 000 and 1:50 000 scales)
  • topographic maps for contours, travel routes, communities, and land uses at a scale that is manageable but provides sufficient detail (The 1:50 000 scale National Topographic Series has proven satisfactory for extensive corridor inventories. For more operational information, 1:20 000 scale maps enhance the detail and can be directly merged with the recreation inventory and Terrain Resource Information Management (TRIM) base maps. Eventually, TRIM (contact the Ministry of Lands and Parks) will provide topographic base maps and can be expected to become a standard scale for resource studies.)
  • detailed air photos (20-chain or 1:20 000 scale)
  • forest management maps showing existing and proposed logging, roads, access, rights-of-way, Special Use Permits and recreation sites and trails
  • maps, if available, showing existing and planned highways and related developments (viewpoints, rest stops, etc.)
  • statistics, if available, on traffic volume counts for travel corridors, tourism, fishing, hunting and recreation-oriented developments (sites, trails, commercial developments). (This information is useful for assessing landscape sensitivity. Contact the ministries of Trade, Development and Tourism; Lands and Parks; and Transportation and Highways.)

6  Estimate the extent of the viewshed to ensure adequate topographic map coverage. Background views may be ignored if distant features are not likely to directly influence landscape quality.

7  Transfer existing landscape alterations, such as cutblocks, from forest management maps to topographic maps. This will provide landmarks to facilitate the inventory process in the field. Future planned forest developments may also be added.

8  Plan for photographic coverage and note-taking to supplement the mapping.

Field Work

9  Conduct the landscape inventory using travel methods that would be used by the average forest visitor or traveller so that similar viewing opportunities can be assessed. Viewpoint selection and viewing duration are important.

10   Select viewpoints. A viewer's cumulative experience is being assessed while travelling to and from fixed points. Therefore, the most commonly used travel routes, use areas and waterbodies must be included in the inventory. Familiarize yourself with the study area by travelling throughout it as much as possible, taking note of special features, road stops, viewpoints, traffic pulloffs and traffic conditions. Talk to people in and about the area under study. The FLH (p. 68) provides basic criteria for selecting viewpoints.

11   Retain records of all data, information and opinions gathered. A photo record of views and viewpoints is also of particular value for landscape design (Section 11.6).

12   After or at the time of selecting minor, major and potential viewpoints and delineating the visible area, indicate key landscape features with arrows on the map of the visible area. Key features include views of large prominent landscapes, views of small distinctive landscapes, and focal/unique features that are likely to attract attention. Also indicate visual screening (by topography or vegetation) and important glimpse views.

13   To enable use of the landscape inventory information in landscape analysis (Section 11.4), rate the relative importance and sensitivity of the various features. Landscape sensitivity rating requires awareness of the visible area. Therefore, divide the visible area into landscape units based on homogeneity of landscape characteristics.

14   Rate the landscape sensitivity (High-Medium-Low) of each landscape unit for its own attributes and relative to the general character of the area and viewer-related characteristics. The FLH (pp. 30-31) and Figure 5 present basic criteria for sensitivity rating.

15   Assess the Existing Visual Condition (EVC) (Addendum I) of the landscape by using the normal VQO classifications. Existing adverse visual impacts of logging activities, such as cutblock shape or excessive logging slash and snags close to highways or landings, should be noted for future rehabilitation or enhancement (Section 11.7.2).

16   Assess the Visual Absorption Capability (VAC) of each landscape unit by considering the adjacent scenery (FLH, pp. 85-89).

Office Mapping and Write-up

17   Transfer the inventory information from field maps to clean maps and produce mylars.

18   Distribute landscape inventory maps to licensees and the public if warranted.

19   Record the results of the landscape inventory work onto recreation inventory maps using the VAC/SEN matrix (Chapter 6), along with feature significance and manage ment class rating, to identify overall importance and expected resource-use conflicts. Record EVCs and indicate preliminary recommended VQOs on the recreation inventory report.

20   Upon completion of the landscape inventory, consult the Regional Landscape Forester for assistance in developing recommended VQOs and for updating the regional master landscape inventory map.

[ Top ]

11.4 Landscape Analysis

Landscape analysis is the development of recommended FLM objectives. Landscape analysis uses information about visual resources and values that is obtained from public involvement (Addendum II) and landscape inventory (Section 11.3), expresses FLM objectives in terms of visual quality objectives (VQOs) (Addendum I), and recommends these VQOs as acceptable levels of landscape alteration for consideration in the setting of FLM objectives, priorities and guidelines (Section 11.5).

Landscape analysis, the setting of FLM objectives and IRM planning are closely linked.

Landscape analysis and the setting of FLM objectives, priorities and guidelines are closely coupled. Landscape analysis assesses FLM objectives and recommends them as acceptable insofar as they harmonize visual and other resource values for the terms of reference given. Landscape analysis can also identify issues for IRM planning (e.g., identify an area as visually sensitive) and can develop a range of VQOs which trade off visual and other values in different ways. In turn, IRM planning establishes the terms of reference and poses the what-if questions that both initiate and guide landscape analysis.

Landscape analysis and VQOs are discussed in the Forest Landscape Handbook (Step 2, pp. 33-35 and Appendix 2, pp. 71-79). This section builds upon the Forest Landscape Handbook by establishing the current procedures for developing recommended VQOs for consideration in setting FLM objectives, priorities and guidelines.

11.4.1 Procedures

Procedures for developing recommended VQOs consist of carrying out the following general steps:

General Steps
  • identifying the biological, technical and economic limitations to different silvicultural systems (where logging is considered to be the first phase of silvicultural treatment)
  • considering all available silvicultural systems, identifying the percentage of the area that may be cut at any time during the rotation to achieve the recommended VQO, estimating corresponding volumes and costs, and comparing with timber objectives
  • developing alternative options illustrating VQOs and volume and cost implications
  • determining what VQO is compatible with the sensitivity of the area

A number of computer tools (Addendum IV) are currently available or under development to assist landscape staff in carrying out these general steps. However, because of the scope and complexity of considerations and the variability of conditions, procedures based on rigid techniques or guidelines have been avoided. Instead, current procedures are limited to identifying a number of factors to consider, as indicated below.

Factors to Consider
  • extent of landscape alteration by VQO in plan and perspective view
  • visual green-up height and age by slope class and VQO
  • length and frequency of openings per length of highway/waterway margin
  • opening size by VQO and distance zone
  • forest practice options to meet VQOs
  • percentage of management unit (TSA, TFL, supply block, resource emphasis area, etc.) that is visible, operable Crown land
  • proportion of visible area per slope class
  • amount and number of existing disturbances or natural openings visible (EVC)
  • biogeoclimatic zone and sub-zone
  • forest age-class distribution
  • soil productivity
  • spatial distribution of mature timber
  • mature stand size in relation to natural openings
  • stand types lending themselves to selective cutting
  • visual green-up tree height requirements

Recommended VQOs are established separately for Master VQOs and site-specific VQOs (Addendum 1) as follows:

Master VQOs

Master VQOs are broad FLM objectives for large areas such as travel corridors, drainages, timber supply blocks or resource emphasis areas. They are normally developed in support of forest management plans and the more extensive Local Resource Use Plans. Preliminary Master VQOs should be developed by landscape staff for the entire land base as part of preliminary organization for TSA/TFL planning (Chapter 8). Any recommended Master VQOs and the associated implications should be entered in the recreation inventory summary table (Chapter 6).

The development of Master VQOs builds upon the identification of visual values through public involvement (Addendum II), and the delineation, classification and recording of broad landscape management units, such as drainages, groups of drainages, travel corridors, mountainous portions of a forest district or TFL or other areas of land as necessary. These landscape units are areas that represent a relatively homogeneous unit in terms of landscape features, values, and/or management objectives.

When recommending Master VQOs, the relationship between VQOs and their implications on available timber volumes (m3) and timber harvesting costs ($/m3) should be identified. These relationships are illustrated conceptually in Figure 6. The implications of VQOs on resource values other than timber are usually more appropriately considered at a site-specific level.

Figure 6 shows:

  • the kind and range of possible public reactions to progressively greater landscape alteration as the visual condition progresses from Preservation to Excessive Modification (taken from Addendum II, Figure IIa)
  • the harvestable timber volumes (m3) that can be realized as a function of VQO, with landscape design (more harvestable volume for a given VQO) and without landscape design (Section 11.6)
  • the timber harvesting costs ($/m3) as a function of VQO, with landscape design (lower harvesting cost for a given VQO) and without landscape design

The task at hand is to quantify, calibrate or otherwise determine the relationships in Figure 6 for representative conditions (e.g., by timber type, slope class and physiographic region) for specific situations.

Figure 6
Harmonizing Visual and Timber Values

Conceptual Illustration

Site-Specific VQOs

Site-specific VQOs are detailed FLM objectives for landscape sensitivity units within landscape management units. They are identified and delineated using public involvement (Addendum II) and landscape inventory (Section 11.3) procedures. They are normally developed in support of forest operations, resource development plans and some Local Resource Use Plans. Where Master VQOs have been identified, site-specific VQOs are developed as a refinement to reflect local conditions.

Basic procedures for developing recommended site-specific VQOs are set out in the Forest Landscape Handbook (Detailed Landscape Analysis, pp. 33-35). In addition, the following procedures should also be performed:

  • Determine if uneven-aged stand management is an option. If there are no biological, economic or technical factors that preclude uneven-aged management (i.e., group or individual tree selection silvicultural regimes), then Retention or Partial Retention VQOs can be recommended where required to meet visual objectives without detailed landscape design.
  • If clearcutting is the only silvicultural option or economical harvesting method, then proceed with cutblock design and use harvest feasibility analyses (manual or computerized, see Addendum IV) to examine the visual/timber trade-offs.

When carrying out harvest feasibility analyses, consider the following:

Visual Values

In site-specific situations, instead of referring only to VQO classes, simulate the actual image of the planned harvesting operation or alternative option using manual, photographic or computer graphic techniques. Take other resource values into account when designing road and cutblock layouts.

In the case of complex design (e.g., when a planned cutblock will be seen from more than three different viewpoints), use visual simulation by computer as an effective and reliable technique.

Available Timber Volumes

Available timber volumes should be estimated for the cutblocks used in the visual simulations. Volumes may be based on forest cover maps or cruise data, whichever is available or preferable.

Timber Harvesting Costs

Timber harvesting costs associated with different silvicultural systems should be obtained from Valuation, Engineering and Silviculture staff and applied to each option considered.

[ Top ]


Setting FLM Objectives, Priorities and Guidelines

The setting of FLM objectives, priorities and guidelines is the establishment of approved VQOs (Addendum I) and the establishment of any other objectives, priorities or guidelines for landscape management. It is the consideration (by the manager) of recommended VQOs (developed by the landscape forester) and the establishment (through the hierarchy of IRM plans) of approved VQOs and other priorities and guidelines, that represent the Ministry's stated objectives or standards for managing visual resources and values.

FLM objectives are set by weighing visual values with other resource values through the IRM process.

The identification of the setting of FLM objectives, priorities and guidelines as a distinct phase of the FLM process emphasizes that the role of the landscape forester is to inventory, evaluate, advise, assist and make recommendations regarding visual values, but is not to approve objectives, priorities or guidelines for the management of visual resources. It also emphasizes that FLM is the planning and management for visual values within the context of the Ministry's integrated resource management of Provincial Forests; that is, the FLM process is an input to the IRM process.

The setting of FLM objectives, priorities and guidelines, therefore, is one component of recreation planning (i.e., recreation planning with respect to visual values). FLM objectives, priorities and guidelines are established at all levels of planning and wherever visual values are involved. The role of this phase of the FLM process within the Ministry's Forest Planning Framework and IRM planning process is summarized in Figure 7.

Figure 7: Setting FLM Objectives, Priorities andGuidelines Through the Hierarchy of IRM Plans

Currently, only Nelson Region has approved regional FLM guidelines as identified in Figure 7. Those guidelines provide the basis for determining the road building, timber harvesting and silvicultural practices that must be used to meet a particular VQO in a particular situation. Those guidelines are currently used as default guidelines; that is, they are waived wherever a licensee can demonstrate, through landscape analysis and design, that approved VQOs can still be met using forest practices other than those set out in the guidelines.

Once established, approved VQOs give direction to the development of landscape design solutions and the carrying out of road building, timber harvesting, silviculture and other forest operations (Section 11.7).

[ Top ]

11.6 Landscape Design

Landscape design determines what forest practices can be carried out in order to meet the desired VQOs.

Landscape design is the link between approved VQOs (Section 11.5) and achieved visual conditions (AVCs) (Section 11.7). VQOs establish what FLM objectives are to be met, but do not specify how they are to be met. Landscape design, therefore, develops the methods or design solutions by which approved VQOs can be achieved. These landscape design solutions identify and recommend the basic road building practices and standards, timber harvesting methods and silvicultural systems to be used. Landscape design identifies, through manual or computerized graphic simulation techniques, the planned appearance of road building, timber harvesting and silvicultural practices.

In broad terms, landscape design should be approached and carried out within the context of total chance planning as set out in Chapter 6 of the Resource Planning Manual. That is, landscape design should lead to a plan which is a "total chance landscape plan."

Landscape design involves the same process of weighing and trading-off visual and other values as does landscape analysis (Section 11.4). Indeed, the relationships between visual and timber values that are illustrated conceptually in Figure 6 apply as well to landscape design.

Components of Landscape Design

As shown in Figure 8, landscape design consists of the following components:

  • manipulating vegetative cover
  • manipulating ground surface
  • distributing activities over space and time
  • simulating proposed activities (Addendum IV)
  • gauging public acceptance of proposed landscape alterations (Addendum II)

Figure 8
The Components of Landscape Design



Manipulation of Vegtative Cover

  • Road location and rights-of-way clearing
  • Clearcut location and shape
  • Partial canopy removal
  • Stand tending treatments
  • Rate of regeneration

Manipulation of Ground Surface

  • Road construction standards
  • Road construction practices
  • Logging system site disturbances
  • Soil mass movement
  • Post-harvest rehabilitation
  • Slash disposal

Distribution of Activities

  • Pattern of activities
  • Timing of activities (Total Chance Planning)

Visual Simulations

  • Graphic techniques
  • Use of computers
  • Video imaging

Public Acceptability of Landscape Alteration

  • Informal feedback
  • Solicited comments
  • Public presentations
  • Public participation on planning teams

The detail and intensity of landscape design that is required varies according to the level of planning and the needs of each area. In addition, there is often considerable flexibility in designing and implementing forest practices to meet a particular VQO in a particular situation.

Factors To Be Considered

However, factors that should generally be considered in landscape design include:

  • visible patterns of activities over drainages, viewsheds and slopes
  • the balancing of harvesting between visible and non-visible slopes
  • the area available for harvest in each pass and the timing between passes
  • road locations and rights-of-way clearing
  • size of openings
  • spacing between openings
  • shape and orientation of openings
  • edge treatments of openings
  • species mixes
  • post-harvest crown closure
  • road construction practices
  • leave-strips and screens
  • residuals and leave trees
  • season of logging
  • machine buffers
  • logging systems
  • skidroad locations and side cutting
  • rehabilitation of disturbances (grass-seeding, etc)
  • slash treatment
  • site preparation
  • regeneration
  • general site cleanliness

[ Top ]

11.7 Implementation

Implementation is the achievement of visual conditions through on-the-ground operations which are carried out in accordance with landscape design solutions (Section 11.6) to meet approved VQOs (Section 11.5 and Addendum I).

Landscape design solutions specify road layout, utilization standards, cutblock size, shape and leave-strip width, landing rehabilitation requirements, etc. The landscape design should form part of the approved development plan, and should be reflected in the cutting permit and approved PHSP.

Examples and some initial procedures for implementation are set out in the Forest Landscape Handbook under Logging and Silvicultural Practices (pp. 56-65). This section further develops implementation in terms of forest practices (Section 11.7.1) and landscape rehabilitation and enhancement (Section 11.7.2).

11.7.1 Forest Practices

Forest practices are the on-the-ground actions that seek to implement landscape design solutions to meet approved VQOs.

Forest practices, as they relate to the FLM process, are the road building, timber harvesting, silviculture, and fire and pest management practices that are carried out, and their impacts on visual resources and values.

Forest practices are important in minimizing visual impacts.

When carrying out these forest practices, it is necessary, from a landscape point of view, to specifiy in the development plan, cutting permit and preharvest silviculture prescription the means to:

  • avoid blowdown by logging to windfirm boundaries
  • minimize ground disturbances caused by roads, trails and landings
  • contour road-cut and fill-slopes, and avoid damage to adjacent trees during road construction
  • clean up slash in the foreground (0-1 km) to avoid the appearance of wasteful practices (whether real or perceived)
  • clean up the debris and litter associated with logging camps and equipment
  • retain healthy specimen trees
  • avoid damage to residual trees
  • slash spindly or damaged residuals to avoid a scruffy appearance
  • use care in slashburning to avoid escapes, fringe damage or excessive smoke
  • grass-seed or otherwise rehabilitate roads, skid trails, landings and other disturbances
  • minimize stump heights
  • encourage prompt regeneration to achieve visual green-up as quickly as possible


Landscape Rehabilitation and Enhancement


Landscape rehabilitation is the restoring of a landscape that has been altered (by forest practices) beyond the limits of the approved VQO.

Although it may not always be possible to meet a prescribed VQO with rehabilitation treatments, the treatments should be able to reduce adverse visual impacts in the interim.

Rehabilitation treatments include:

  • cutblock boundary amendment to improve obtrusive edges, shapes, patterns and colours
  • terrain recontouring to improve blending with natural slopes (e.g., roads, borrow pits, etc.)
  • alteration, concealment, or removal of slash, snags, construction debris, etc.
  • grass-seeding or other revegetation of cut-and-fill slopes, landings, roads, skid trails, etc.
  • increased stocking levels or hand-planting of large stock

The intensity of rehabilitation treatments should reflect landscape sensitivities, distance zones, desired VQOs, economics, and the level of public concern.


Landscape enhancement is the increasing of visual values of a particular landscape. This includes landscapes that are either natural or altered.

Landscape enhancement treatments include:

  • manipulation of vegetation to open up vistas or screen out undesirable views
  • addition of plant species to create different form, colour and texture
  • addition or removal of structures such as interpretive signs

[ Top ]

11.8 Monitoring

Monitoring is the evaluation of achieved visual conditions (Section 11.7) in relation to approved VQOs (Section 11.5). Monitoring involves the inspection and examination of forest practices and landscape rehabilitation and enhancement projects in light of the FLM objectives for visual resources and values as set out in forest plans.

Monitoring also involves the monitoring of the landscape program itself (e.g., Were landscape inventories carried out to standard?). FLM monitoring, therefore, is part of the general program audit sub-activity of the recreation program (Section 1.4.1).

The purpose of FLM monitoring is to:

  • enforce the implementation of plans and design solutions
  • assess MoF staff and licensee performance
  • evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the FLM process

Because of the temporal nature of visual conditions (Addendum I), the monitoring of a landscape project may have to be carried out over a number of years. Monitoring includes on-the-ground inspection of a project and continued public involvement related to that project in order to assess public reactions and attitudes. Monitoring may be formal (program audits) or informal (routine inspections or discussions).

[ Top ]

11.9 References

Cited References

Forest Landscape Handbook

Ministry of Forests Act

Forest Act

Ministry Policy Manual

Forest Planning Framework

Resource Planning Manual

USDA Forest Service, National Forest Landscape Management, Vol. 2, 1974

Logging in Kootenay Landscapes: The Public Response

[ Top ]

Supplementary References

Addendum I  Visual Quality

Visual quality refers to the character, condition and otherwise quality of a scenic landscape or other visual resource, and how it is perceived, preferred or otherwise valued by the public. This subjective but nevertheless real notion of visual quality, or visual condition, is expressed in terms of visual quality classes or VQCs. VQCs are further defined as existing visual conditions (EVCs) or achieved visual conditions (AVCs). VQCs, in turn, are used to describe visual quality objectives (VQOs).

Visual Quality Classes

The FLM process identifies and uses six visual quality classes (VQCs). They are:


The Preservation VQC does not allow industrial development activities.

In the managed forest, Preservation may apply to areas where landscape values are very high and outweigh other natual resource values (e.g., some land/water interfaces; special features of visual, historical, geological, biological, or educational importance; or areas of value for recreation).


The Retention VQC indicates that forest development activities or alteration are not visually apparent.

In the managed forest, Retention is recommended for areas of high landscape value (e.g., land/water interfaces, vistas, views, and focal areas) and where changes may be discernable but not clearly visible. In general, selective logging can provide appropriate visual results. Clearcut logging must be designed to take advantage of topographic breaks and vegetative screening.

Partial Retention

The Partial Retention VQC indicates that alterations remain visually subordinate to the natural-appearing landscape. Repetition of the line, form, colour, and texture is important to ensure a blending with the dominant elements.

In the managed forest, Partial Retention is applied to areas where landscapes are of moderate to high aesthetic importance, and where management activities generally can match the landscape character and do not cause an obvious intrusion (e.g., where landscapes can absorb change).


The Modification VQC indicates alterations that dominate the landscape. However, these alterations must borrow from natural line and form, and appear as natural disturbance in the background.

In the managed forest, Modification may apply to areas of moderate to low sensitivity where altered landscapes are more acceptable and where management activities can blend with existing dominant lines, shapes and forms.

Maximum Modification

The Maximum Modification VQC permits a dominant change to the landscape. Alterations may be out of scale or show detail quite different from natural occurrences when viewed from close range. From the background, changes should appear to be natural occurrences.

In the managed forest, Maximum Modification may apply to areas where altered landscapes are common and where resource use activities dominate the landscape. Large-scale openings are acceptable, but design remains an important consideration.

Excessive Modification

Excessive Modification occurs where forest management activities create excessive contrast in form, line, colour and texture, and are visually unrelated to the surrounding landscape.

Examples of excessive modification are oversized cutblocks and shapes poorly related to scale of landform and existing vegetation openings, excessive road construction on steep slopes (which can create strong linear contrast and side-casting), and any visible result of poor practices, such as excessive amounts of slash, cull logs, root wads, erosion, etc.

Visual Conditions

The visual condition of a landscape is the extent or degree to which the landscape is (or appears to be) altered relative to a pre-existing - either natural or previously altered - condition.

Visual conditions are measured in terms of VQCs; that is, the visual condition of a particular landscape may be retention, partial retention, modification, maximum modification or excessive modification.

Further distinction is made between an existing visual condition, or EVC and an achieved visual condition, or AVC resulting from a planned activity such as timber harvesting.

AVCs are the result of implementation (Section 11.7). Both EVCs and AVCs may be recorded as part of a landscape inventory (Section 11.3).

Visual Quality Objectives

VQOs define, describe or otherwise measure for each situation the notion of "a level of acceptable landscape alteration" (Forest Landscape Handbook, p. 71). The role of landscape analysis (Section 11.4) is to consider the visual resources and values at hand, determine the level, kind or range of impacts or alterations that would be considered "acceptable", and express these potential or proposed alterations as recommended VQOs for consideration in setting FLM objectives, priorities and guidelines. Visual quality and VQOs are discussed, defined and illustrated graphically and pictorially through examples in the Forest Landscape Handbook (Appendix 2, Visual Quality Objectives, pp. 71-79).

Note: EVCs, AVCs and VQOs are all measured in terms of the same VQCs; that is, the existing visual condition (EVC), the desired visual condition (VQC) and the achieved visual condition (AVC) are all expressed in terms of the six VQCs. This is done to provide consistency throughout the FLM process and facilitate comparisons. However, it should be emphasized that the terms EVC and AVC express visual conditions, whereas the term VQO expresses visual objectives.

Because FLM is a planning and management process for visual resources, the meaning and significance of a VQO depends upon the phase of the FLM process within which it is identified and used. Specifically, VQOs can be:

  • Recommended VQOs (landscape analysis phase - e.g., this landscape should be managed for this VQO). As the end product of landscape analysis, recommended VQOs are developed for each landscape unit identified by the landscape inventory. Recommended VQOs should reflect social preferences and values, as well as biological, technical and economic factors and limitations. There may be several VQOs recommended as a range of options in a given situation.
  • Approved VQOs (setting FLM objectives, priorities and guidelines phase - e.g., this landscape shall be managed for this VQO). As one of the end products of FLM input to IRM planning, approved VQOs are established in an approved forest plan for each landscape unit. Approved VQOs should reflect the IRM planning decision as to how visual and other resources and values were weighed and traded-off. There can be only one approved VQO in a given situation (i.e., the chosen VQO).

In addition to a VQO being a recommended or approved VQO, depending upon the phase of the FLM process, a VQO can be established over the range of planning levels (Chapter 8). For simplicity, however, it is normal practice to distinguish only two levels of VQOs as follows:

  • Master VQOs are established for broad, strategic planning, and generally associated with forest management planning and Local Resource Use Planning.
  • Site-specific VQOs are established for more local, detailed, operational planning, and are generally associated with resource development planning and forest operations.

There is also a temporal aspect to VQOs. Because of green-up and other factors, the contrasts that are introduced by an alteration will normally diminish over time. Following alteration, the visual quality of a landscape will change and eventually will be restored to a more natural appearance. Therefore, as a further definition of VQOs, each VQO has maximum periods within which reduction in contrast should occur. The more restrictive the VQO, the shorter the required recovery period.

The acceptable time frames (adapted from the USDA, Forest Service, National Forest Landscape Management, Vol. 2, Chapter 1, 1974) for reduction in contrast for each VQO are established as follows:


Time Frame for Reduction in Contrast


No alteration permitted


During or immediately after operations


1 year


2 years


5 years

[ Top ]

Addendum II  Public Involvement in FLM

It is said that, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Nothing captures the elusiveness of visual values and the paramount role of the public in defining and valuing the visual experience quite so succinctly as does this saying.

Despite the inherent variability and personal nature of visual values, however, there are documented commonalities in perception. Some characteristics and features of landscapes are generally considered positive and some are generally considered negative.

The evidence of human activities, including forest practices, represents features in the landscape. Society's acceptance of these activities and practices plays an important role in decision-making over public lands. Because of this, evaluating and forecasting the public's acceptance or rejection of the visual impact of forest practices is an essential part of landscape management.

It is common for the public to be involved, through participation on planning teams or through the review of draft plans, in the development of recommended VQOs (Section 11.4) and in the development of recommended landscape design solutions (Section 11.6). Evaluation of public perception of visual values consists of:

  • the public involvement component of the recreation inventory (Chapter 6)
  • public involvement throughout all phases of the FLM process
  • public involvement throughout the Ministry's IRM planning process

Evaluation of public perception is carried out on both the broad level and the site-specific level. Evaluation on the broad level seeks to identify general perceptions regarding the types and magnitudes of landscape features and the limits to the social acceptability of landscape alteration. This broad evaluation is increasingly done through formal surveys and studies (e.g., Logging in Kootenay Landscapes: The Public Response).

Evaluation on the site-specific level seeks to determine the acceptability of specific proposals for landscape alteration on a project or site-specific basis. This site-specific evaluation is usually done as a normal part of public involvement in IRM planning and the FLM process.

A conceptual illustration of the generic relationship between landscape alteration and the social acceptability of and public response to landscape alteration is shown in Figure IIa, which illustrates that public reaction to landscape alteration can range from no reaction to "local grumbling" to a level and kind of reaction that is socially and politically unacceptable. The task of public involvement in FLM is to quantify or calibrate this generic relationship for each situation. This includes the weighing and trading-off of timber and visual values, as illustrated in Figure 6 in Section 11.4.1.

Figure IIa
The Social Acceptability of Landscape Alteration

conceptual illustration

[ Top ]

Addendum III  Other FLM Applications

Although the primary focus of FLM remains the mitigation of the visual impacts of timber harvesting and road building, FLM principles and practices are more frequently being applied to other forest management activities (Section 11.1). This addendum examines the current role of FLM in three particular areas within the recreation program; namely, recreation site and trail management, wilderness management and recreation corridor management.

Recreation Site and Trail Management

Landscape management is an integral part of recreation site and trail management (see Chapters 9 and 10 and Figure 3 of this chapter). This includes the broad FLM considerations that come into play in site and trail planning and design, as well as the more detailed FLM considerations that are important in site and trail construction and maintenance, and in structure standards. Whether site or trail facilities are in harmony with their surroundings is often primarily a question of visual aesthetics.

An MoF recreation site or trail should be planned, assessed, designed, constructed and maintained not only to meet a specified ROS objective, but also to meet a specified VQO. To date, however, FLM procedures and standards for site and trail management have not been consolidated or formalized.

The Regional Landscape Forester should be consulted in the development of any new MoF recreation site or trail.

Wilderness Management

Landscape management is an integral part of wilderness management (see Chapter 12 and Figure 3 of this chapter). Indeed, visual aesthetics is integral to the very meanings, values and uses of wilderness.

Fundamental to a wilderness area is the quality of the landscapes that cover and comprise the wilderness area. Fundamental to wilderness management is the retention of naturalness, including visual naturalness. For example, whereas some impacts on a wilderness setting may represent modifications that are largely non-visible (e.g., acid rain), other impacts may represent modifications that are largely visible (e.g., hydro power lines).

Visual quality, therefore, is a primary factor to be considered in the identification and ranking of wilderness study areas in the development of the MoF wilderness system plan, the assessment and designation process carried out for identified wilderness study areas and the development of a Wilderness Management Plan for each designated wilderness area (Chapters 8 and 12).

An approved Wilderness Management Plan should establish approved VQOs in the same manner as does any forest plan. Furthermore, approved VQOs represent an important means by which the MoF might express guidelines regarding how mining activities might take place in a wilderness area.

Landscape management also plays an important role in wilderness management with regard to the location, design and development of any structures, and in consideration of the scope, nature, scale or type of any recreation activities that may be permitted in a particular wilderness area. FLM considerations are also important factors in deciding whether to carry out rehabilitation or enhancement projects in a wilderness area (e.g., removing existing or abandoned structures, "resting" trails). Visual aesthetics are also important considerations in the development of the fire and pest management strategies that are a required part of a Wilderness Management Plan.

The Regional Landscape Forester should be consulted in all aspects of wilderness management where visual values are concerned. This is especially important at this time since, due to the newness of the MoF wilderness program, FLM procedures and standards for wilderness management are not fully developed.

Recreation Corridor Management

Landscape management is an integral part of recreation corridor management (Chapter 14). Wherever viewing is associated with travelling or touring, corridors become the land unit and corridor management becomes the context within which the FLM process is applied and carried out.

As defined in Chapter 14, a recreation corridor includes, for planning and management purposes, not only the actual travelled portion of the road, trail or water route but also the corridor's viewshed. This is because the visual setting is such an important part of the use or recreation experience within a corridor.

Corridors, therefore, are common land units for which visual resources and values are important. Corridors frequently become land units in the recreation inventory, landscape units for which landscape analyses are carried out, or resource emphasis areas in which visual values predominate or are important.

[ Top ]

Addendum IV  Use of Computers in FLM

The Forest Landscape Handbook introduced the use of computers in visual simulation in FLM, and described some of the computer tools that were available at the time of publication in 1981. Since 1981, the number and quality of computer tools have increased substantially, and the scope and nature of computer applications in FLM have expanded accordingly.

This addendum represents an update to Appendix 5 of the Forest Landscape Handbook. It identifies and describes:

  • current computer applications in FLM
  • currently available computer tools for use by Ministry staff and licensees
  • the use of computers in a typical FLM project

Computers are now used in landscape inventory (Section 11.3), landscape analysis (Section 11.4) and landscape design (Section 11.6) as follows.

Landscape Inventory

Computers are used to store landscape inventory information on the Ministry's forest inventory database. Inventory information is then available for analysis and general use by any regional and district staff and licensees who have access to suitable computer facilities. Procedures for the use of computers in landscape inventory are documented in
Chapter 6.

Landscape Analysis

Computers are used in landscape analysis to estimate timber harvesting volume and cost implications of different recommended VQOs (e.g., Figure 6).

Landscape Design

Computers are used in landscape design to show perspective plots on three-dimensional images combined with simulated or actual video images of ground cover. This application enables the simulation of visual impacts over time of a single cutblock or a complete total chance landscape plan.


There are a number of computer systems that are available in the marketplace which can serve the Ministry's needs in FLM. Comparing the different systems is difficult because of the complexity of the systems, the nature of the applications and the range of facilities and training available to staff. At present, the Ministry supports specific hardware and software configurations. These configurations have become the currently available computer tools. The hardware and software currently available for FLM are:


  • IBM-compatible computers of the 386 model 80 series, with 120 MB hard disk memory and sufficient portal capacity to run peripherals consisting of monitor, digitizer, plotter, printer and tape drive.
  • The hardware peripherals that are required for video simulation are currently not available for Ministry staff.


  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS): combines graphic map information with pertinent data, and enables graphic manipulation, overlaying and other analysis. There are currently three GIS systems in use in the Ministry:
  • Intergraph IGDS: to record and manipulate forest inventory information on the Ministry's mainframe equipment at headquarters
  • PAMAP GIS: to load inventory information in the regions and districts
  • Digital Resources Terrasoft: to carry out landscape analysis and design
  • Digital Terrain Models (DTMs): use three-dimensional topographic data to create images, perspective plots, visible area maps, profiles, cross-sections, etc. There are currently three DTMs in use in the Ministry:
  • USFS perspective plot
  • PAMAP GIS topographer
  • Terrasoft DTM
    At present, Terrasoft DTM is the commonly used system in the MOF for landscape analysis and design.
  • Harvest Feasibility Analysis (HFA): enables the analysis of the timber harvesting volumes and costs associated with different cutblock designs, silvicultural systems and logging methods. The HFA was developed jointly by the Ministry and Digital Resources Inc. and is currently part of the Digital Resources Terrasoft software.
FLM Project

A typical FLM project would normally involve the following uses of computers:

  • building a DTM from either digitized contours or from the Ministry of Lands and Parks TRIM database (Both approaches have their particular advantages and disadvantages, depending upon the software packages used.)
  • overlaying forest cover information, other relevant inventory information and planimetric detail (Use of TRIM maps to merge with forest cover maps is not always without problems, but may save time.)
  • delineating the visible area by running radial view plots from selected viewpoints
  • overlaying landscape inventory information
  • establishing VQO ranges
  • preparing alternate landscape design solutions and demonstrating the corresponding visual impacts through three-dimensional simulation
  • using the Harvest Feasibility Analysis software to show timber harvesting volume and cost implications of different landscape design solutions

[ Top ]

Addendum V  Provincial FLM Guidelines

(Under development.)

Addendum VI  Regional FLM Guidelines

(Under development.)