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University of Copenhagen
Independent of management

PhD thesis defense

Gaoyuan Yang, IGN, defends her thesis about urbanized landscape in China

PhD thesis defense — Gaoyuan Yang defends 12 August 2022


Date & Time:

Von Langen Auditorium, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Rolighedsvej 23, 1958 Frederiksberg

Hosted by:
Section for Landscape Architecture and Planning


Gaoyuan Yang defends her thesis,

The typical urbanized landscape preference in rural areas of China: Consensus and divergence of different societal groups

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Associate Professor Lone Søderkvist Kristensen, IGN

Assessment Committee:
Associate Professor Veerle Van Eetvelde, Gent University (BE)
Associate Professor Zhifang Wang, Peking University (CHN)
Senior Researcher Berit Charlotte Kaae (Chair), IGN

Rapid urbanization has brought considerable landscape change both in urban and rural areas. As a result, there are increasingly complex patterns of multifunctional land use in the countryside, along with the emergence of urbanized landscapes. Despite a large number of landscape preference research has been exploring human-environment relationship, it still lacks a holistic review of this field, nor there is any preference research on urbanized landscapes which could provide more valuable information on rural constructions. In this Ph.D. project, the landscape preference study field was comprehensively reviewed, and case-based preference studies were conducted on urbanized landscapes from five villages among different social groups. Through the Ph.D. project, we found that: 1) landscape preference research is most closely linked to ecological and environmental studies, being developed by the objective driver of its interactions with landscape change, and the subjective motivation of its great implications for planning and management. In addition, landscape preference research has three main focus of physical, socio-cultural, and aesthetic aspect, and it is advancing the landscape sustainability science, integrating natural and social science together through ecosystem services. 2) Both insiders and outsiders had a general support for the construction of urbanized landscapes, which were at the same time thought to be replaceable by other landscape forms. Hence, it is recommended that investigating the site-based landscape characters is more important than deciding which type of landscape to be moved away or kept in rural areas. 3) The influential demographic variables were found, such as length of residence in the village, frequency to the cities (for insiders), and different occupations. In addition, the variable of Communist Party of China membership had significant impact on insiders, but did not make any effect among the outsiders. 4) Despite a slight ranking difference, insiders and outsiders both attach high values on the characters of neatness, naturalness, maintenance, and production. It suggests the main focus in rural construction is a clean environment, with natural-looking but well-managed landscapes. 5) The insider’s two preference features of naturalness and livability, were somewhat in accordance with the outsider’s preference for a livable village and a featured village. This study result enlightens the main focus to be addressed in the next step of Chinese Beautiful Village constructions, where decision-makers and landscape designers should
think up specific measures to balance the theoretically contradicted relationship into better alignment. In summary, this Ph.D. project provides a more holistic understanding of landscape preference research field, as well as a new perspective to view the rural landscape change, which could provide some practical information for rural planning and construction.

A digital version of the PhD thesis can be obtained from the PhD secretary Anne Marie Faldt at