With landscapes there is no room for experimentation. Real changes to the landscape become an indelible part of it – mostly for decades or even centuries. That is why level-headed and foresighted planning is required before final decisions are made. Computer-based models allow the testing and visualization of development options and decision alternatives. For this reason virtual representation of landscape processes is gaining increasing importance in planning.
The Thematic Synthesis Report V of the National Research Programme 48 "Landscapes and Habitats of the Alps" shows the potential of computer-based models and visualizations for spatial and landscape planning and examines the current state of research. The models developed within NRP 48 deal with the most important issues in spatial and landscape planning in the Alps – mechanisms and landscape changes through changing agricultural use patterns, tourism and intensive settlement development, and changes in the natural hazards potential due to global warming. Synthesis Report V throws light on chances and obstacles of models and visualizations in planning practice and demonstrates how the formulation of use cases facilitates the development and improvement of computer-based models and the corresponding software for the world of practice.