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Open AccessArticle

Visiting the Forest with Kindergarten Children: Forest Suitability

Department for Forestry and Renewable Forest Resources, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Forests 2020, 11(6), 696; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11060696
Received: 20 May 2020 / Revised: 19 June 2020 / Accepted: 21 June 2020 / Published: 23 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Economics and Human Dimensions)
By providing ecosystem services, urban forests contribute significantly to the well-being of urban populations. Urban forests, along with other urban green spaces, are often the closest natural environment in the city where a child can play. The majority of pre-school children spend a large part of the day in kindergarten, which means that forest visits should have a prominent place in the kindergarten curriculum. Therefore, this study focuses on making the forest more suitable and thus more accessible for visits with children. The first goal of the research is to identify teachers’ preferences for the forest environment they visit with a group of pre-school children. The second goal is to present a forest suitability model for a visit with kindergarten children based on the teachers’ preferences. Based on the research survey conducted among the teachers in Slovenian public kindergartens, we formed and evaluated the criteria for the construction of a model of forest suitability for a visit with children. As the most important requirement for visiting a forest, the teachers note its proximity. They prefer a mature, mixed forest, with a bit of undergrowth, dead wood, and a presence of water and a meadow. Based on the identified criteria, we used the multi-criteria evaluation method in the GIS-environment in order to build a model of urban forest suitability for a visit with kindergarten groups of children in the study area of the City of Ljubljana, Slovenia. The results are useful in urban forest planning and management to ensure better forest suitability and accessibility for visits by children. Suitability maps can be used as one of the spatial foundations necessary for an integrated urban forest planning with emphasis on social functions. The model can be adapted beyond Slovenia to different spatial and social requirements and contexts. View Full-Text
Keywords: multi-criteria evaluation; urban forest; forest preferences; pre-school children; suitability analysis multi-criteria evaluation; urban forest; forest preferences; pre-school children; suitability analysis
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Nastran, M. Visiting the Forest with Kindergarten Children: Forest Suitability. Forests 2020, 11, 696.

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