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Glossary for the Study

Note: This glossary is not a complete coverage of all words or terms used in the Study. It does not cover technical geological, ecological or historical landscape terms. Rather, it addresses those terms used as part of this method or in the descriptions, where meanings diverge from common parlance or are not explained in the method statement.

Full details of the physiographic, ground type and cover and cultural pattern definitions for the Landscape Descriptions Units are available in the Overview and Technical Report; Method Report    

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Area of Great Landscape Value .These are local landscape designations first identified in the Cornwall Structure Plan

Amenity (Planting)

Planting to provide environmental benefit such as decorative or screen planting.


The process of dividing up the landscape into its component parts to gain a better understanding of it.

Ancient Woodland

Land continuously wooded since AD 1600. It is an extremely valuable ecological resource, usually with a high diversity of flora and fauna.


Object visible in the landscape.


Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty


The step-by-step process by which landscape assessment is undertaken.


Land used for growing crops other than grass or woody species.


Term to describe all the various ways of looking at, analysing, evaluating and describing the landscape.


The variety of life including all the different habitats and species in the world. 


The protection and careful management of natural and built resources and the environment.

Capacity [landscape]

The ability of a landscape to accommodate different amounts of change or development of the specific type.


Woodland in waterlogged terrain. Characteristics species include alder, willow and sallow.


County Geological Site


A distinct, recognisable and consistent pattern of elements, features and qualities in the landscape that makes one landscape different from another, rather than better or worse.


Features and qualities which make a particular contribution to distinctive character.

Character Area [CA]

Area with common characteristics- in this study it is made up of a number of adjacent landscape description units with common perceptual and other characteristics.


The process of identifying areas of similar character, classifying and mapping them and describing their character.


The degree to which a landscape is soundly managed, is fit for purpose or achieves optimum biodiversity.


The traditional method of woodland management in which trees are cut down near to the ground to encourage the production of long, straight shoots that can be harvested.


Relatively unchanging element or pattern across a given area of landscape.

Cornish Hedge

Boundary in Cornwall. In the context of this study the term would normally relate to stone faced bank, with or without hedging plants on the top.

Culm Pasture

Species rich wet unimproved pasture associated with the Culm measures in Devon and Cornwall.

Cultural pattern

Expression of the historic pattern of enclosure and rural settlement. Main defining feature or pattern.


County Wildlife Site


Individual component parts of the landscape such as field boundaries, woodlands, patches of similar vegetation, outbuildings, structures and rock outcrops.


Prominent eye catching elements e.g. wooded hill top or chapel.


Biodiversity Action Plan category relating to mire.

Field Boundary

The defined edge of a field whether fence, hedge, bank, ditch or wall.

Field Size

For the Purposes of this Study: Large: 2 Hectares or more; Medium: approximately 1.5 Hectares; Small: Less than 1 Hectares.


The study of the origin, structure, composition and history of the Earth together with the processes that have led to its present state.

Ground Type

Expression of the soil forming environment and its influence in determining the surface pattern of vegetation and land use.


A boundary of shrubs or low trees, living or dead, or of turf or stone. Those strictly a row of bushes forming a hedge, hedgerow has been taken to mean the same as a hedge.

Hedge bank

Earth bank or mound relating to a hedge.

Heritage Coast

A coastal designation without statutory weight.

Historic Landscape Character

(HLC) see the resources page for more information


Intensive form of cropping, such as vegetables or fruit.

Improved [in relation to soils or pasture]

Addition of fertiliser and, in the case of pasture, reseeding with more productive grass species.

Joint Character Area

Area of land [one of 159] based on broad landscape character defined by a national landscape character assessment in 1990s for the Countryside Agency. As a result of this work, England's landscape was divided into 159 different character areas. These are broad areas of countryside, such as the Cotswolds or Chilterns, which have similar landscape, biodiversity and historical characteristics. These areas correspond with nationally derived Natural Areas defined by English Nature eg Bodmin Moor.


Combinations of natural and man-made elements including vegetation that cover the land surface.


Primarily the visual appearance of the land including its shape, form and colours. However, landscape is not purely a visual phenomena. The landscape relies on a range of other aspects including geology, landform, soils, ecology, archaeology, landscape history, land use, settlement character and pattern and cultural associations.

Landscape Description Unit [LDU]

Distinct and relatively homogenous unit of land, each defined by four attributes- physiography and ground type, landcover and cultural pattern. These units are further subdivisions of the larger Landscape Character Areas, and they provide a more detailed understanding of the more subtle variation that exists within each of the character areas. Landscape Description Units nest within the Landscape Character Areas


Combinations of slope and elevation, the producer shape and form of the land.

Landscape character

Landscape character has been defined as a distinct, recognisable pattern of elements in the landscape that makes one landscape different from another. This distinction makes no qualitative judgements about different landscapes.

Landscape Character Area [CA]  see Character Area

Mixed Farmland

A combination of arable and pastoral farmland.


A mix of different landcovers at a fine grain such as woodland, pasture and heath.


National Nature Reserve


Method of assessment in which personal feelings and opinions do not influence characterisation.


The area where a particular rock appears at the surface.


Land down to grass either grazed by animals or for cutting.


Expression of the shape and structure of the land surface as influenced both by the nature of the underlying geology and the effect of geomorphological processes.


Discrete digitised area in a geographic information system[GIS].

Priority habitats

Throughout the UK there are a number of priority habitats - particular habitats which are deemed to be of national/international importance. Their conservation is therefore regarded as a priority within the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) of the UK (they are usually referred to as UK BAP priority habitats).


Noticeable feature or pattern in the landscape.


To keep from harm.


Aesthetic [objective visible patterns]or perceptual [ subjective responses by the landscape assessor] attributes of the landscape such as those relating to scale or tranquillity respectively.

Regional Character Areas

See Joint Character Areas


Repair or renew


Vegetation associated with the water body, usually a river or stream.

Semi-natural vegetation

Any type of vegetation that has been influenced by human activities, either directly or indirectly. The term is usually applied to areas which are reverting to nature due to lack of management.

Sensitivity [of Landscape]

The inherent sensitivity of the landscape itself, irrespective of the type of change that may occur. In this project, it is divided into cultural, ecological and visual sensitivity.

Sense Of Place

The character of a place that makes it locally distinctive i.e. different from other places.


That which is received through the senses ie sight, hearing, smell, touch.


All dwellings/habitations, whether single or clustered in towns and villages.

Settlement Pattern

The predominant pattern of settlement in an area.


Method of assessment in which personal views and reaction are used in the characterisation process


Term used to describe the features of the Earth's surface.


Built in the local style, from local materials.


Land with little or no management for agriculture or for settlement, often remote.

  • AGLV - Area of Great Landscape Value
  • AOD - Above Ordnance Datum
  • AONB - Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • BAP - Biodiversity Action Plan
  • CA - Character area (see LCA)
  • CGS - County Geological Site
  • CSAC - Candidate Special Area of Conservation
  • CWS - County Wildlife Site
  • GIS - Geographic information system
  • JCA - Joint character area
  • LBAP - Local Biodiversity Action Plan
  • LCA - Landscape character assessment
  • LCA - Landscape Character Area
  • LDU - Landscape Description Unit
  • NNR - National Nature Reserve
  • PSAC - Provisional Special Area of Conservation
  • SAC - Special Area of Conservation
  • SAM - Scheduled Ancient Monument
  • SMs - Scheduled Monument
  • SPA - Special Protection Area
  • SSSI - Site of Special Scientific Interest
  • WHS - World Heritage Site