Coordination of sound and view management is essential to construct tranquility and enhance the visitor experience in protected areas. However, research on audio-visual interactions has historically primarily focused on urban environments, revealing a significant gap in protected areas. In China, soundscape research is urgently needed in protected areas to preserve the long tradition of soundscape appreciation and the high social and ecological values of soundscapes under overwhelming tourism pressure. Using the Wulingyuan World Heritage Site as the case study and through the lens of ten semantic differentials (SDs), this article employed a lab experiment to explore the influence of audio-visual interactions on soundscape assessment to inform the management of protected areas. Our results show that, regardless of the soundscape composition (i.e., primarily natural vs. mixed vs. anthropogenic), the two types of visual stimuli tested, which either matches or mismatches the sound sampling sites, generally led to higher soundscape assessment than when no visual stimuli were present. This positive effect of audio-visual interaction on soundscape assessment, however, would potentially be offset by the adverse visual impacts of overly artificial non-matching scenes. The nature of the sound, characteristics of the visual stimuli, and the personality dimension of extraversion were significantly associated with soundscape assessment. Different SDs exhibited varied influences from visual vs. audio stimuli. In particular, irritating/happy and ugly/beautiful showed the highest sensitivity to visual stimuli, whereas artificial/natural was mainly determined by the sound characteristics. These results call for multi-scale landscape interventions to address the increasingly prevalent low audio-visual congruence in China's protected areas. Identifying critical mismatches between the visual and audio environment and developing coordinated management strategies will be essential to preserving the tranquility of protected areas and improving public perception.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Soil Science