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Concrete recreation or recreation in concrete?: a GIS-based model of spatial accessibility to urban fringe forests
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History, Economic and social geography.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

People’s use of forests adjacent to urban localities is primarily determined by their accessibility, attractiveness, overall availability, and local population demands. As a poor local provision of forests restricts use and potentially produces public health inequalities, planners, policy-makers, and health officials require knowledge of how the spatial distribution of forests varies across neighborhoods and population subgroups. To this end, the present study proposes a model that integrates the main determinants of forest use in a single measure through spatial analysis in a GIS. The main benefits of the suggested approach include the possibilities to relate the single measure to existing spatial planning policies on forest provision, and to estimate the potential use of a broad selection of forests across different levels of scale. An example application of the model is also provided through a cluster analysis of Swedish urban neighborhoods, which aims to explore how the potential use of urban fringe forests varies across areas with different socioeconomic, demographic, and physical urban characteristics. The results reveal that residents in more affluent neighborhoods have greater access to attractive forests, although people in general are required to travel relatively long distances in order to reach an attractive forest, regardless of travel mode or neighborhood status. Physical urban characteristics such as road density, building density, and road connectivity are less important in explaining forest accessibility than the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of urban neighborhoods. It is therefore concluded that planners, policy-makers, and health officials should focus on reducing social rather than physical restrictions of forest use, for example through planning and designing attractive and safe forests to encourage physical and psychological wellbeing among urban residents.

Keyword [en]
accessibility, fuzzy overlay, GIS, spatial interaction, recreation, urban forests
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-95905OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-95905DiVA: diva2:761331
Note

This research was funded by the Centre for Environmental Research in Umeå (CMF), Sweden.

Available from: 2014-11-06 Created: 2014-11-06 Last updated: 2014-11-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Out of the wild: studies on the forest as a recreational resource for urban residents
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Out of the wild: studies on the forest as a recreational resource for urban residents
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores and analyzes the demand for and supply of forests in and near urban areas from a social perspective. Specific focus is directed towards recreational qualities of forests located just outside urban borders, that is, urban fringe forests. To this end, the thesis is based on four empirical research papers. Papers I and II explore the demand component, while Paper III focuses on the supply component. Finally, Paper IV integrates issues of both demand and supply. In Paper I, a survey directed to the general public in urban areas is used to address differences between public attitudes to the forest in general and to the urban fringe forest more specifically. Paper II builds upon interviews with municipal planners with responsibility for green space issues in nine Swedish cities. In Paper III, spatial forest data is analyzed in a GIS to examine how urbanization and population developments influence the supply of urban fringe forests over time. Spatial analysis is further used in Paper IV to quantify forest attractiveness and accessibility in a single measure of urban fringe forest demand and supply.

In Paper I it is shown that urban residents associate the urban fringe forest with a variety of design characteristics, as people’s opinions do not solely concern social qualities but also ecological and functional qualities. It is concluded that the overall influence of socioeconomic and demographic attributes is modest in comparison to the basic values and beliefs people hold about life, the environment, and the forest in general. In Paper II it is demonstrated that it is imperative for municipalities to own forest, since this allows them to secure sufficient provisions of recreational forests for future residents and from urban land developments. However, as private citizens do generally not take part of local planning and management decision-making there is an obvious risk for decisions biased towards the interests of social organizations, with specific activity and structural demands that do not necessarily reflect the interests of the general public. From Paper III it is evident that urbanization and population developments do not necessarily lead to a reduced supply of urban fringe forests over time; forest management practices are equally important to consider with regards to people’s opportunities to visit attractive forests for recreation. Finally, in Paper IV it is shown that more attractive forests are generally less accessible to urban residents, regardless of mode of transportation, and that the accessibility to urban fringe forests is generally lower in more deprived neighborhoods.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2014. 74 p.
Series
GERUM, ISSN 1402-5205 ; 2014:1
Keyword
forest values and beliefs, GIS, public participation, recreation, social forest qualities, spatial interaction, urban forest, urban fringe forest, urban planning, urbanization
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-95907 (URN)978-91-7601-158-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-12-05, Samhällsvetarhuset, S205, Umeå, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

The research for Paper I of this thesis was conducted in collaboration with Future Forests, a multidisciplinary research program, and its sponsors: the Strategic Foundation for Environmental Research (Mistra), the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Umeå University, the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (Skogforsk), and the Forestry Industry in Sweden. The research for Papers II-IV was made possible with financial support from the Centre for Environmental Research in Umeå (CMF). Additional financial support was received from the Gösta Skoglund foundation, the Kempe foundation, and the Carl-Fredric von Horn foundation.

Available from: 2014-11-14 Created: 2014-11-06 Last updated: 2014-11-13Bibliographically approved

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