A Visual Assessment of Roadside Poplar Plantings in Turkey
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Roadside plantings along urban and rural road corridors are designed to create visual effects as well as to provide functional benefits such as shading, screening or routing. Considering their potential for daily public use, roads and road corridors, as significant visual impact centers, can attract people’s attention and affect their points of view. Poplar species, which grow rapidly and easily along road corridors and can adapt to different ecological conditions swiftly, are used widely in both urban and rural landscapes in Turkey. The main objective of this study was to determine the visual structures dependent on the road-plant relationships of the poplar compositions that play an important role in shaping the roadside landscapes. For this purpose, compositions of poplar trees in selected urban and rural road corridors throughout Turkey were photographed and visual analysis techniques (VATs) were applied to determine visual preferences. Participants (n= 35) were shown 30 photographs, selected from the nearly 1000 taken, of road corridor poplar plantings and their evaluations were recorded in a questionnaire. In this survey, the people were requested to evaluate their appreciation levels towards the plantings as well as to express their other visual preferences and to assess visual quality. In addition, the association of all these evaluations with the demographic characteristics of the participants were determined. A correlation analysis was then performed to identify the relationships among all the visual assessments and a cluster analysis was conducted according to the visual status of the photographs in order to determine their groups. In the results of the study, the poplar trees, either individually or in the form of compositions, were reported to have a significant visual diversity. Moreover, the cluster analysis found the resulting three groups to be associated with leaf density, seasonal conditions and the trees as individuals or in groups. The seasonal variation factor in particular was shown to be visually effective in the poplar compositions. It was determined that visual perception of the poplar plantations differed in accordance with the demographic differences. This work established that poplar plantations as single trees or in groups and their proximity to the road altered visual preferences, and consequently, some suggestions were made concerning the use of poplars in roadside landscape planning.