Visual Scale and Naturalness of Roadside Vegetation Landscape. An exploratory study at Pargua Highway, Puerto Montt – Chile

Autora: Carolina Ojeda

Over the last few decades, the Chilean Government has constantly promoted the construction of private highways in order to increase the effectiveness in terms of transportation of goods and people all along with the country. In this way, heavy road infrastructures, landscape fragmentation, loss of endangered animals’ habitat, loss of visual quality, and a decrease of biodiversity patches have emerged. Despite this, some greenery – native and introduced flora/fauna, natural elements, colors, lines, patterns, among others- can be partly seen in certain areas of Chilean highways. In particular, this paper focuses on the main route connecting Puerto Montt and Pargua cities in the Los Lagos region. The objectives of this qualitative research are threefold. Firstly, to measure main Landscape attributes and Visual scale characteristics through fieldwork by the roadside of Pargua highway (Alto Bonito Area) using a scale of attributes adapted from Tveit et al. (2007). Secondly, to measure the type of vegetation through an environmental inventory (phytosociological analysis). Thirdly, to measure the degree of management of the highway considering its maintenance and human intervention. Wilderness and Naturalness are scarcely observed on the roadside due to a concentrated presence of human interventions such as landfills and overpasses. The visual scale is checked in fieldwork from several scopes. On the southeast side of the road, Las Canchas Area is covered by high trees, houses, and industries that hinder the view of the natural surrounding landscape. On the right side of the road, it presents a clear skyline of Calbuco and Osorno volcanoes. Finally, any management of high quality of the visual scenery of this type of landscape from the route concessionaire is randomly done. However, the vegetation surface itself has been working out a way to protect the land from erosion and desertification.