Measuring the attractiveness of Dutch landscapes: Identifying national hotspots of highly valued places using Google Maps

S. de Vries, A.E. Buijs, F. Langers, F. Farjon, A. van Hinsberg, F.J. Sijtsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


In a Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) or an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), determining the value that the general public attaches to a landscape is often problematic. To aid the inclusion of this social value in such analyses, a Google Maps-based tool, called the HotSpotMonitor (HSM), was developed. The HSM determines which natural places are highly attractive by having people mark such places on a map. The definition of attractiveness remains open to avoid having marker placement being influenced by preconceived thoughts. The number of markers an area receives is considered to indicate its social value. Six regions were selected, and from these, stratified samples were drawn (total n = 3293). Participants placed markers at three spatial levels: local, regional and national. This paper focuses on the markers at the national level. The first research question is whether the HSM can produce an accurate map of highly attractive places at a national level. The results indicated that while in principle HSM can produce such a map, the spatial representativeness of the sample is important. The region of origin of the participants influenced where they placed their markers, an effect previously termed spatial discounting. The second research question considers which qualities the participants associate with the marked places. These qualities were very similar at all three spatial levels: green, natural, presence of water and quiet were often selected out of the fourteen suggested qualities. The third, and more exploratory, research question concerns which characteristics of an area predict its attractiveness. Natural and forest areas had higher marker densities than water surfaces or all other types of land use combined. The discussion evaluates the potential of the HSM to generate input on social landscape values for CBAs and EIAs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-229
JournalApplied Geography
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • management
  • attributes
  • biodiversity
  • preferences
  • responses

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring the attractiveness of Dutch landscapes: Identifying national hotspots of highly valued places using Google Maps'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this