With the current spatial planning reform in China, public participation is becoming increasingly important in the success of rural spatial planning. However, engaging various stakeholders in spatial planning projects is difficult, mainly due to the lack of planning knowledge and computer skills. Therefore, this paper discusses the development of a virtual globe-based 3D participatory geographic information system (PGIS) aiming to support public participation in the spatial planning process. The 3D PGIS-based rural planning approach was applied in the village of XiaFan, Ningbo, China. The results demonstrate that locals’ participation capacity was highly promoted, with their interest in 3D PGIS visualization being highly activated. The interactive landscape design tools allow stakeholders to present their own suggestions and designs, just like playing a computer game, thus improving their interactive planning abilities on-site. The scientific analysis tools allow planners to analyze and evaluate planning scenarios in different disciplines in real-time to quickly respond to suggestions from participants on-site. Functions and tools such as data management, marking, and highlighting were found to be useful for smoothing the interactions among planners and participants. In conclusion, virtual globe-based 3D PGIS highly supports the participatory rural landscape planning process and is potentially applicable to other regions.
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