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Spontaneous reforestation of fallow land as assessed by locals and tourists
One of the main arguments for handing out agricultural subsidies in Swiss mountainous areas is the conservation of traditional landscapes. The tax-payers will only accept this costly policy if they really experience land abandonment and reforestation negatively.
To find out what people think about land abandonment we conducted qualitative in-situ-interviews as well as standardised questionnaires and photo-experiments. It was found that land abandonment is assessed negatively primarily if it results in vast homogeneous forest patches, whereas a mosaic of open land and woodland is favoured. Thus, from the point of view of landscape preference, it can be concluded that planning measures should prevent old-field succession primarily in those cases, where spontaneous reforestation might result in vast homogeneous forest patches.
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