Measuring Landscapes: A Planner’s Handbook
by Andre Leitao, Joseph Miller, Jack Ahern Paperback ISBN: 1559638990

This book takes Michael Hough and Richard T.T. Forman’s work one step further by showing how to use various landscape metrics developed and used by scientists to measure biodiversity and ecological health as possible tools for guiding land use planning. The authors review a variety of metrics including patch richness, patch density, mean patch size, shape, edge contrast, nearest neighbor distance, and proximity and then give examples of using these metrics to evaluate planning scenarios. While the authors describe the applications of these metrics for planning as “thinking outside the box” it is a well-delivered proposal. However, as the authors state, these metrics are best used for comparison between possible planning scenarios rather than seeking an absolute value. I would   definitely recommend this book as an introduction to the principles of ecological metrics as way to think about landscapes and landscape patterns in a more value-based manner. Those without an engineering or scientific mindset may find the formulas a bit unwieldy.   

Allegra Bukojemsky, ASLA, is Co-founder of DnA Design in Homer, Alaska. Allegra can be reached at

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