How do weather conditions and environmental characteristics influence aesthetic preferences of freshwater environments?



Grace MJ, Dickie J, Bartie PJ, Brown C & Oliver DM (2023) How do weather conditions and environmental characteristics influence aesthetic preferences of freshwater environments?. Science of The Total Environment, 903, Art. No.: 166283.

Freshwater (inland) blue space environments provide a range of public health benefits to visitors. However, health related exposure outcomes are dynamic and can vary depending on several factors, including the environmental characteristics of freshwater environments and their surroundings. Developing and managing inland blue spaces to promote health and wellbeing therefore requires an understanding of whether specific freshwater attributes, and prevailing weather conditions, enhance or devalue landscape aesthetics. The aim of this study was to utilise a mixed-methods research approach to investigate aesthetic preferences of inland blue spaces. A three-phase data collection method was adopted involving (i) analysis of a national-scale landscape image dataset; in combination with (ii) a national-scale online survey; and (iii) a series of in-person focus groups. We found environmental characteristics associated with the waterbody itself, as well as the characteristics of the nearby green space, to have a significant impact on the overall aesthetic appeal of inland blue spaces. Strong preference was demonstrated for inland blue spaces perceived to be of a high environmental quality and which have a natural, rather than human-modified, appearance. The findings highlight the need to conserve the quality of both the waterbody and waterside environment to encourage frequent recreational use and maintain the beneficial public health outcomes associated with inland blue spaces.

Health and wellbeing; Green and blue space; Natural environments; Landscape aesthetics; Environmental exposure outcomes

Science of The Total Environment: Volume 903

FundersNatural Environment Research Council
Publication date31/12/2023
Publication date online31/08/2023
Date accepted by journal11/08/2023
PublisherElsevier BV

People (3)


Dr Jennifer Dickie

Dr Jennifer Dickie

Senior Lecturer, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Miss Megan Grace

Miss Megan Grace

PhD Researcher, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Professor David Oliver

Professor David Oliver

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences