Visual Simulation

Visual simulation is a term used to describe a graphic or model that portrays a change from the existing condition. Simulations can range from drawings and digitally edited images to complex models and animations. The information presented here focuses on one type of visual simulation: the use of computer image editing techniques to illustrate proposed changes in the landscape.

Original unedited photograph
Original unedited photograph.

In natural resource planning, being able to simulate a proposed change can be a powerful tool when working with landowners and other decision-makers. Computers now make it possible to create realistic-looking simulations using image editing software.

Photograph edited to simulate planting of small trees
Photograph edited to simulate planting small trees.

Photograph edited to simulate mature trees
Photograph edited to simulate maturing trees.

Image editing software digitally alters images to create visual simulations. Digital images of the planning area can be acquired by scanning photographs or taking pictures with a digital camera. The proposed design can then be "created" by adding objects, such as trees, shrubs, grass, and other materials, onto the image of the planning area.

Photograph edited to simulate mature trees and shrubs
Photograph edited to simulate mature trees and shrubs.

Photograph edited to simulate mature trees and shrubs
Photograph edited to simulate another alternative of mature trees
and shrubs.

There are many commercially available software programs that can be used to create visual simulations. The National Agroforesty Center has developed CanVis, a free image editing program developed specifically for creating natural resource planning simulations.


About Agroforestry

Agroforestry intentionally combines agriculture and forestry to create integrated and sustainable land-use systems. Agroforestry takes advantage of the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock. Agroforestry practices include:

About the NAC

The USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC) had its origins in the 1990 Farm Bill. It began as a Forest Service Research and State & Private Forestry effort in 1992 and expanded into a partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in 1995. It is administered by the Forest Service's, Washington, DC, Office of Research and Development. NAC offices are located in Lincoln, Nebraska.

NAC accelerates the application of agroforestry through a national network of partners. Together, we conduct research, develop technologies and tools, coordinate demonstrations and training, and provide useful information to natural resource professionals.

About Working Trees

The right trees planted in the right places for the right reasons can add value to land-use systems. That's the Working Trees message that helps natural resource professionals, community leaders, and landowners identify with the concept of agroforestry. NAC uses the Working Trees theme to promote the development of sustainable agriculture and communities.


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