Scientists measure lakes and forests as essential and beautiful. Natural landscapes, such as lakes and forests, which also have high ecosystem service values were measured as both aesthetically and ecologically important compared to human dominated or modified landscapes.
The recent paper by Yang et al. 2014 in PLOS ONE describes how combining public opinion on the aesthetic value of the landscape along with professional ecological assessment may be the key to effective planning and priority setting for sustainable landscape conservation.
This study reported in the open access online journal was conducted in China and similar techniques applied to UK landscapes could potentially compliment the UK National Ecosystem Assessment. However, there is much debate on the appropriate methodology and the relative importance of the aesthetic and ecological value of landscapes and therefore much more research is required.
Yang et al. 2014. Combining Aesthetic with Ecological Values for Landscape Sustainability. PLOS ONE. Volume 9, Issue 7.