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Special Issue "Urban Green Spaces, Urban Forestry, Health and Wellbeing, Planning and Governance"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Health, Well-Being and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2019) | Viewed by 31810

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Melanie Davern
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
RMIT University- Co-Director Healthy Liveable Cities Group, Centre for Urban Research
Interests: subjective wellbeing; green spaces; indicators; social planning; community development; mental health; social determinants of health; spatial health planning; research translation
Dr. Camilo Ordóñez Barona
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
The University of Melbourne, School of Ecosystem & Forest Sciences, Green Infrastructure Research Group (GIRG)
Interests: urban forests; human–nature relations; ecosystem values; climate adaptation; green infrastructure systems; environmental management; urban socio-ecological systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Urbanisation is occurring rapidly, and the United Nations predicts that more than 68% of the world’s population is expected to live within an urban area by 2050, with 43 megacities of more than 10 million inhabitants. This urbanisation is going to place intense pressure on green spaces and green infrastructure within our cities and added challenges for management and governance of these increasingly important spaces. Accordingly, the Sustainable Development Goals recognise the need to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable with a specific target of universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces and an urgent need to address climate change. The New Urban Agenda (UN-Habitat III) recognizes the importance of establishing new institutional arrangements to assist governments in addressing urbanization challenges and facilitate equity. New research is needed to demonstrate the importance of green space and the specific aspects of it (e.g., biodiversity, wildlife, etc.) within to the health and wellbeing of residents and gain new understanding about the complexity within urban planning and governance.

The journal Sustainability is hosting a Special Issue on “Urban Green Spaces, Urban Forestry, Health and Wellbeing, Planning and Governance”. Studies are welcome that formulate innovative theoretical and methodological approaches to study, how human decisions are made in relation to urban greenspaces and urban forests. Illustrative case-studies and evidence on how institutions, rules, stakeholders, and narratives influence and coordinate their needs in the decision-making processes.

Contributions on the following themes are of particular interest, though other relevant topics will also be considered:

  • Evidence on how people (e.g., institutions, practitioners, land owners, stewardship communities, non-government organisations, etc.) take decisions about urban greenspace and forests
  • Novel methods for assessment and long-term evaluation of urban greenspaces and forests
  • The way the multiple benefits of urban greening (i.e., environmental, biodiversity, health and wellbeing benefits) are integrated into the planning and management of cities
  • Intersectoral governance approaches to urban greenspace planning and management
  • Demonstrated benefits of greenspaces in addressing climate change and urban heat
  • The role of alliances, networks, coalitions, advocacy groups, citizens and multiple stakeholder involvement in urban greenspace planning and management
  • Community development and participation in relation to urban greenspace management
  • Differential impact of urban greenspace and forests benefits, planning and management in diverse community settings
  • Development of spatial tools and decision making frameworks and interactions within land coverage and land planning
  • The multiple considerations (e.g., social, ecological, environmental) behind decision-making frameworks for planning and managing urban greenspace and forests

Dr. Melanie Davern
Dr. Camilo Ordóñez Barona
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • subjective wellbeing
  • green spaces
  • indicators
  • social planning
  • community development
  • mental health
  • social determinants of health
  • spatial health planning
  • urban forests
  • human–nature relations
  • ecosystem values
  • climate adaptation
  • green infrastructure systems
  • environmental management
  • urban socio-ecological systems

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

Article
Attitudes toward Residential Trees and Awareness of Tree Services and Disservices in a Tropical City
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010117 - 22 Dec 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1994
Abstract
Attitudes toward urban residential trees and awareness of their ecosystem services and disservices may play an important role in management decisions of private residential green spaces with important consequences to urban sustainability. In 2011, 397 household surveys were conducted in six locations of [...] Read more.
Attitudes toward urban residential trees and awareness of their ecosystem services and disservices may play an important role in management decisions of private residential green spaces with important consequences to urban sustainability. In 2011, 397 household surveys were conducted in six locations of the Río Piedras Watershed (San Juan, Puerto Rico) to evaluate residents’ attitudes toward residential and neighborhood trees and their association with household socio-demographic factors, how awareness of services and disservices relate to the spatial proximity of trees (home versus neighborhood), and whether attitudes are associated with yard management (tree abundance). Most residents self-reported positive attitudes toward trees in general and these appeared to be more frequent than self-reported negative attitudes. Respondents recognized more tree services (emphasizing shade, lower temperature, food, and ornamental/aesthetics) and fewer disservices (emphasizing maintenance hardship, property damage, and power line obstruction). Not all tree services and disservices were equally recognized, and differences in the spatial context of trees and residents may contribute to the variation in residents’ awareness of tree ecosystem services or disservices. Variation in positive attitudes partially explained the current variation in yard tree abundance, along with residents’ age, housing tenure, yard size, and watershed location. Results have direct implications for urban forest planning and management in residential contexts. Full article
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Article
Indicators for the Planning and Management of Urban Green Spaces: A Focus on Public Areas in Padua, Italy
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 7071; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247071 - 10 Dec 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1400
Abstract
Green spaces and trees are fundamental for the sustainability of cities. The use of management and planning indicators for green spaces, including urban forests, have been proposed, but are rarely applied and their potential to provide ecological, social, and economic benefits is usually [...] Read more.
Green spaces and trees are fundamental for the sustainability of cities. The use of management and planning indicators for green spaces, including urban forests, have been proposed, but are rarely applied and their potential to provide ecological, social, and economic benefits is usually overlooked by policy makers and managers. Here, we apply a set of indicators describing green spaces and their variability in different urban units within the Basso Isonzo, an area of the city of Padua (northern Italy). Eleven indicators were selected based on their capacity to consider availability, accessibility and the preservation or increase of urban green spaces and tree cover. The value of indicators was standardized and enabled to have five classes indicating increasing performance. The study indicates green spaces’ heterogeneous conditions. Interestingly, the indicators commonly change moving from the city center to the outskirts. Monitoring through these indicators will enable understanding whether specific management and planning targets are met and, in the absence of these targets, identifying main trends over time. The proposed approach and indicators applied are simple to collect, analyze, and convey information. The indicators are related to relevant social, economic and ecological conditions pertaining to green spaces. The proposed indicators can therefore be used as a simple tool to guide decision-making with the aim of enhancing green spaces. Full article
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Article
Mapping Urban Park Cultural Ecosystem Services: A Comparison of Twitter and Semi-Structured Interview Methods
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 6137; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11216137 - 04 Nov 2019
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 1924
Abstract
Understanding the benefits received from urban greenspace is critical for planning and decision-making. The benefits of parks can be challenging to measure and evaluate, which calls for the development of novel methods. Crowdsourced data from social media can provide a platform for measuring [...] Read more.
Understanding the benefits received from urban greenspace is critical for planning and decision-making. The benefits of parks can be challenging to measure and evaluate, which calls for the development of novel methods. Crowdsourced data from social media can provide a platform for measuring and understanding social values. However, such methods can have drawbacks, including representation bias, undirected content, and a lack of demographic data. We compare the amount and distribution of park benefits elicited from (1) tweets on Twitter about Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York (n = 451) with park benefits derived from (2) broad (n = 288) and (3) directed (n = 39) questions on two semi-structured interview protocols for park users within Prospect Park. We applied combined deductive and inductive coding to all three datasets, drawing from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’s (MEA) cultural ecosystem services (CES) framework. All three methods elicited an overlapping set of CES, but only the Twitter dataset captured all 10 MEA-defined CES. All methods elicited social relations and recreation as commonly occurring, but only the directed question interview protocol was able to widely elicit spiritual values. We conclude this paper with a discussion of tradeoffs and triangulation opportunities when using Twitter data to measure CES and other urban park benefits. Full article
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Article
The Transformative Potential of Active Citizenship: Understanding Changes in Local Governance Practices
Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5781; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205781 - 18 Oct 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1545
Abstract
This paper focuses on understanding the transformative potential of active citizenship in green space governance. Through an in-depth case study, we show how citizens promoted the redevelopment of a brownfield into a green space, but eventually also contributed towards a broader co-creative shift [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on understanding the transformative potential of active citizenship in green space governance. Through an in-depth case study, we show how citizens promoted the redevelopment of a brownfield into a green space, but eventually also contributed towards a broader co-creative shift in local governance. In this process, we highlight how a shift in citizens’ activities from contestation towards collaboration led to the uptake of citizen-driven discourses and activities in spatial planning. The social connectivity between governance practices is of key importance in this transformation—successful governance practices that involve active citizens can inspire others. Even so, transformation is often a slow and path-dependent process which also depends on an enabling policy environment. Cooperating with authorities provides citizens with power, but also requires alignment with official rules. Creating and maintaining effective partnerships will remain a challenge for citizens and policymakers that strive for societal transformations. Full article
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Article
Green Infrastructure Solutions to Health Impacts of Climate Change: Perspectives of Affected Residents in Detroit, Michigan, USA
Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5688; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205688 - 15 Oct 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1817
Abstract
Cities worldwide are incorporating green infrastructure to mitigate climate change and achieve health cobenefits. However, green infrastructure projects are often distributed inequitably based on race and class. Residents’ perspectives are necessary to develop and enact effective and equitable ‘green’ strategies to address climate [...] Read more.
Cities worldwide are incorporating green infrastructure to mitigate climate change and achieve health cobenefits. However, green infrastructure projects are often distributed inequitably based on race and class. Residents’ perspectives are necessary to develop and enact effective and equitable ‘green’ strategies to address climate change and its health impacts. This study reports findings from interviews and ethnographic observations with diverse residents of Detroit, Michigan, USA, who have experience with both green infrastructure projects and intense weather events (flooding). Residents expressed widespread support for green infrastructure solutions, while also sharing concerns about unintended health consequences from unsatisfactory governance of green spaces and climate change itself. Residents also held differing perspectives regarding their responsibility for, and capacity to enact, these solutions compared to businesses, city government, and nonprofit organizations. These findings illuminate key factors that city governments and partnering institutions should incorporate into planning processes with residents to achieve greater environmental justice through green infrastructure strategies to mitigate climate change and related health impacts. Full article
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Article
Perceived Danger and Landscape Preferences of Walking Paths with Trees and Shrubs by Women
Sustainability 2019, 11(17), 4565; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174565 - 22 Aug 2019
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 1697
Abstract
There have been many studies on the impact of urban greenery on perceived danger and preferences, but not many have been conducted in non-English speaking countries. We carried out our research among female university students in Poland, Latvia and China (n = [...] Read more.
There have been many studies on the impact of urban greenery on perceived danger and preferences, but not many have been conducted in non-English speaking countries. We carried out our research among female university students in Poland, Latvia and China (n = 243), using a photograph rating survey instrument, and presenting slides presenting park landscapes. We compared the impact of the presence of trees and shrubs and their capability of offering concealment, as well as perceived space use intensity on perceived danger and preferences in all three countries. Participants rated the presence of shrubs as a more positive influence on path use intensity and as a negative influence on perceived danger. The link between tree presence and perceived danger in Poland and Latvia is small as well as insignificant in China. In addition, perceived danger turned out to be a mediator of the relations between the presence of trees and shrubs and perceived path use intensity and preference. Our findings support the idea that vegetation in parks could be shaped so that it does not provide place to hide. However, this recommendation is primarily applicable to areas in which the variable ‘perceived danger’ is of importance. Full article
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Article
Impact of Frequency of Visits and Time Spent in Urban Green Space on Subjective Well-Being
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4189; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154189 - 02 Aug 2019
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2325
Abstract
Exposure to green spaces can reduce the negative effects of stress. This study examines how frequency of visits and time spent in urban green spaces (UGS) affect urban dwellers’ subjective well-being. We also investigated the numbers of respondents visiting UGS, their primary motivation, [...] Read more.
Exposure to green spaces can reduce the negative effects of stress. This study examines how frequency of visits and time spent in urban green spaces (UGS) affect urban dwellers’ subjective well-being. We also investigated the numbers of respondents visiting UGS, their primary motivation, and constraints on their ability to visit. Using quota sampling, an online survey was conducted of 400 residents of Daejeon City, South Korea. ANOVA results indicated no significant interactions between visit frequency and time spent in UGS. Respondents who had visited UGS within the past two weeks expressed higher positive and lower negative emotions than did non-visitors, regardless of visit frequency, and regular visitors showed higher general life satisfaction levels. These positive effects were confirmed by estimated structural equation models. However, the time spent in UGS did not affect emotions or life satisfaction in general. Heavy users mostly visited UGS to walk, and light/non-users cited the lack of urban green spaces near their home as the major constraint on visiting UGS. The estimated structural equation models clearly show positive effects from motivation and negative effects of constraints and access time to UGS on visit frequency. To improve urban dwellers’ subjective well-being, UGS should prioritize good walking environments and accessibility. Full article
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Article
Prospects of Public Participation in the Planning and Management of Urban Green Spaces in Lahore: A Discourse Analysis
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3387; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11123387 - 19 Jun 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2137
Abstract
Green spaces in cities are under pressure from increasing population, urbanization, and development, making governance of these common pool resources a complex and multi-dimensional process. Governance of urban green spaces can be improved by participatory approaches. However, many developing countries do not have [...] Read more.
Green spaces in cities are under pressure from increasing population, urbanization, and development, making governance of these common pool resources a complex and multi-dimensional process. Governance of urban green spaces can be improved by participatory approaches. However, many developing countries do not have the institutional structures and policies that promote the participation of a range of non-state actors, and green spaces are often removed from public access by regulatory slippage or elite capture for parks and gardens. This paper uses discourse analysis to explore the perspectives of the key stakeholders for public participation in the planning and management of green spaces in Lahore. The study employs Q-methodology to reveal four discourses: ‘Efficient Management’, ‘Anti/Pro-Administrative’, ‘Leadership and Capacity building’, and ‘Decentralization or Elite capture’. The most significant and dominant discourse of ‘Efficient Management’ shows stakeholders’ preferences towards developing new institutional arrangements at the local level through engaging citizens. The two discourses ‘Leadership and Capacity building’ and ‘decentralization or elite capture’ are also in favor of changing the power dynamics in the system at certain levels by using different strategies. However, the status quo-oriented administrative discourse serves as a barrier, resisting change at any level. The results of this study suggest a need for policy reforms to develop a conducive environment in which all the stakeholders can be engaged through different collaborative and co-management schemes, in order to achieve economically efficient, ecologically sustainable and socially equitable, urban green spaces in Lahore. Full article
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Article
Benefit–Cost Analysis of Green Roof Initiative Projects: The Case of Jung-gu, Seoul
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3319; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11123319 - 15 Jun 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2046
Abstract
Green roofs, which have various economic, environmental and social effects, have been acknowledged as an alternative green space in urban areas. This study aims to investigate the economic feasibility of green roof projects by conducting a benefit–cost analysis on the case of Jung-gu, [...] Read more.
Green roofs, which have various economic, environmental and social effects, have been acknowledged as an alternative green space in urban areas. This study aims to investigate the economic feasibility of green roof projects by conducting a benefit–cost analysis on the case of Jung-gu, Seoul. The analysis estimates and compares five different scenarios applied in the study area with a 20-year operation period in all cases. This set of scenarios aims to compare the most idealistic situation with more achievable and realistic situations, to provide policy implications for green roof initiative projects in Seoul. The analysis consists of estimating six cost items and eight benefit items. Among the benefit items, two non-marketable elements are estimated by the contingent valuation method. The scenario with 100% application of a green roof, has benefits exceeding the costs with a benefit–cost ratio of 1.174. However, the other scenarios with certain prerequisites have a benefit–cost ratio that is very close, but still smaller than 1. Therefore, it is possible to claim that green roof initiative projects are economically viable under specific conditions. However, there are many restrictions to engaging in green roof constructions for entire building rooftops. Full article
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Article
Enhancing Health Through Access to Nature: How Effective are Interventions in Woodlands in Deprived Urban Communities? A Quasi-experimental Study in Scotland, UK
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3317; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11123317 - 15 Jun 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3163
Abstract
High prevalence of poor mental health is a major public health problem. Natural environments may contribute to mitigating stress and enhancing health. However, there is little evidence on whether community-level interventions intended to increase exposure to natural environments can improve mental health and [...] Read more.
High prevalence of poor mental health is a major public health problem. Natural environments may contribute to mitigating stress and enhancing health. However, there is little evidence on whether community-level interventions intended to increase exposure to natural environments can improve mental health and related behaviours. In the first study of its kind, we evaluated whether the implementation of a programme designed to improve the quality of, and access to, local woodlands in deprived communities in Scotland, UK, was associated with lower perceived stress or other health-related outcomes, using a controlled, repeat cross-sectional design with a nested prospective cohort. Interventions included physical changes to the woodlands and community engagement activities within the woodlands, with data collected at baseline (2013) and post-intervention (2014 and 2015). The interventions were, unexpectedly, associated with increased perceived stress compared to control sites. However, we observed significantly greater increases in stress for those living >500 m from intervention sites. Visits to nearby nature (woods and other green space) increased overall, and moderate physical activity levels also increased. In the intervention communities, those who visited natural environments showed smaller increases in stress than those who did not; there was also some evidence of increased nature connectedness and social cohesion. The intervention costs were modest but there were no significant changes in quality of life on which to base cost-effectiveness. Findings suggest factors not captured in the study may have contributed to the perceived stress patterns found. Wider community engagement and longer post-intervention follow-up may be needed to achieve significant health benefits from woodland interventions such as those described here. The study points to the challenges in evidencing the effectiveness of green space and forestry interventions to enhance health in urban environments, but also to potential benefits from more integrated approaches across health and landscape planning and management practice. Full article
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Article
Developing a Framework for the Implementation of Landscape and Greenspace Indicators in Sustainable Urban Planning. Waterfront Landscape Management: Case Studies in Gdańsk, Poznań and Bristol
Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2291; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11082291 - 16 Apr 2019
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 3188
Abstract
Urban landscape (UL) management and urban greenspace (UG) delivery require effective planning tools. The aim of the study is to develop a conceptual framework for the implementation of ecological, structural and visual landscape and greenspace indicators (LGI) in spatial development of urban areas. [...] Read more.
Urban landscape (UL) management and urban greenspace (UG) delivery require effective planning tools. The aim of the study is to develop a conceptual framework for the implementation of ecological, structural and visual landscape and greenspace indicators (LGI) in spatial development of urban areas. The UL and UG management provisions in Poland are identified at various levels of urban planning (local, municipal and regional). Furthermore, the applicability of the selected set of LGI in the Polish planning system is considered based on the existing planning documents. The quality of UL and UG transformation is discussed in three case studies in Bristol, Gdańsk and Poznań in the broader context of the English and Polish spatial planning systems. Bristol is used as a point of reference for the evaluation of UL and UG management in Poland and for the comparison between English and Polish landscape policies. Based on the conceptual framework and the analysis of the case studies, critical areas of UL and UG management in Poland are identified. The existing planning system often fails to ensure the continuity of landscape structures, and it does not include its preservation and enhancement to a sufficient extent. Therefore, the implementation of the proposed LGI framework could significantly improve the ecological and visual quality, as well as the structural diversity of UL and UG. Moreover, the article concludes by indicating some practical implications of the proposed LGI framework for urban planners, policy makers and other stakeholders in terms of improving the modes of governance for UL and UG management as well as of accounting for human health and well-being. Full article
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Article
Mapping Methodology of Public Urban Green Spaces Using GIS: An Example of Nagpur City, India
Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 2166; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11072166 - 11 Apr 2019
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 4496
Abstract
Faced with a lack of fine grain data availability, in rapidly emerging urban centers of developing nations, the study explored a mapping methodology to create thematic map of public urban green space (UGS). Using GIS, a thematic map of Nagpur city, India was [...] Read more.
Faced with a lack of fine grain data availability, in rapidly emerging urban centers of developing nations, the study explored a mapping methodology to create thematic map of public urban green space (UGS). Using GIS, a thematic map of Nagpur city, India was prepared. The objective was to prepare spatial data that are relevant for planners and policy makers, with detailed UGS typologies and to update the status of overall availability and distribution of hierarchical recreational green spaces in the city. The spatial and non-spatial data with added attributes gathered through fieldwork resulted in a holistic dataset, with high accuracy of thematic map (0.93 kappa coefficient). The recorded status of different typologies as well as the distribution of recreational UGS shows disparity in the distribution of UGS. The eastern part of the city grossly lacks UGS provisions, which is compensated by the western part with larger availability of natural green spaces. The mapping methodology is novel and effective for recording qualitative status, analyzing their spatial distribution and prioritizing the provisions of UGS. Future research integrating these spatial data with more qualitative research can provide a holistic view on benefits of UGS provisions and thus facilitate effective UGS governance aiming towards better green infrastructure and hence broader urban sustainability. Full article
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Article
Understanding Stakeholder Perceptions of Acceptability and Feasibility of Formal and Informal Planting in Sheffield’s District Parks
Sustainability 2019, 11(2), 360; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11020360 - 11 Jan 2019
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2518
Abstract
Parks are well-visited sites of an urban nature in our cities where users can gain positive social and ecological benefits from vegetation including trees, grass, flowering plants and shrubs. However, ongoing financial public sector budget pressure is adversely affecting the management and quality [...] Read more.
Parks are well-visited sites of an urban nature in our cities where users can gain positive social and ecological benefits from vegetation including trees, grass, flowering plants and shrubs. However, ongoing financial public sector budget pressure is adversely affecting the management and quality of parks in the UK, resulting in changing vegetation and planting practices. It is not clear how such changes might affect park users, indicating scope for better understanding of how planting in urban parks is perceived. This paper addresses this gap in knowledge by exploring perceptions held by users who experience vegetation in parks and those involved in the decision-making about planting therein. It examines the feasibility and acceptability of three different planting practices according to different stakeholders in Sheffield, UK. This paper calls on empirical data collected via questionnaire surveys with residents around six district parks, and interviews and focus groups with community groups and professionals to gain an understanding of stakeholders’ perceptions. The paper illustrates different attitudes towards formal and naturalistic (informal) planting, exploring a prevalent shift towards low-maintenance practices in green space management. The findings suggest a range of influences on feasibility and acceptability of planting practices, including the local park context and stakeholder perceptions of public opinion. Full article
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