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Out of the wild: studies on the forest as a recreational resource for urban residents
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
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 [en]
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: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-95907ISBN: 978-91-7601-158-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-95907DiVA: diva2:761932
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
List of papers
1. Beliefs about urban fringe forests among urban residents in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Beliefs about urban fringe forests among urban residents in Sweden
2012 (English)In: Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, ISSN 1618-8667, E-ISSN 1610-8167, Vol. 11, no 3, 321-328 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study was to examine predictors of beliefs about urban fringe forests among urban residents in Sweden (n = 586). Based on a cognitive hierarchical model, the study investigated how socio-demographic variables, as well as different values and beliefs, were related to the more specific beliefs urban residents have about urban fringe forests. Results demonstrated that the urban fringe forest was perceived to be essential for personal wellbeing, but preservation and accessibility to the forest were also important. Certain differences between socio-demographic groups were identified; for example, the importance of urban fringe forests for personal wellbeing was emphasized more by women, older people and those with a university degree. However, the importance of socio-demographic variables was modest compared with the influence of people's values and beliefs. More specifically, results showed that urban residents' basic values and ecological worldview, as well as forest values and beliefs (i.e., concerning forest qualities and forest requirements), were important in explaining their beliefs about urban fringe forests. Overall, the study revealed that urban residents are characterized by a heterogeneous set of beliefs concerning urban fringe forests. Recognizing these multiple beliefs in urban fringe forest development processes may help mitigate future conflicts between forest visitors, urban planners, forest owners and forest managers, thus enhancing our way toward good urban living environments.

Keyword
basic values, environmental beliefs, forest beliefs, urban fringe forest beliefs
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60662 (URN)10.1016/j.ufug.2012.02.004 (DOI)000308902100010 ()
Available from: 2012-10-26 Created: 2012-10-22 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
2. The role of public requirements in urban forest decision-making: a case study of nine Swedish cities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The role of public requirements in urban forest decision-making: a case study of nine Swedish cities
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Forests within and adjacent to cities and urban areas are used by local residents and members of social organizations (e.g., sports and outdoor associations) with multiple and diverse activity requirements. This case study provides interview-based evidence from nine Swedish cities on how municipal planners with responsibility for green space issues evaluate and integrate public requirements in decision-making concerning municipality-owned urban forests. In most cases, to include people in forest decision-making the planners rely on traditional tools and methods, such as outdoor information signs, forest walks, and surveys. All of the interviewed planners identified a general lack of interest among the public in participating in meetings that do not concern trees or scrub in their immediate living environment. Participants in more comprehensive planning and management projects usually represent some social organization with specific activity requirements, which the members have discussed internally before meeting with the planners. The planners argued that the use of representatives makes the decision-making process more efficient, and that the concept should be expanded to also include representatives of the general public in local planning groups. However, there was little evidence of any formalized strategies for increasing participation and, in consequence, generating more informed decisions. 

Keyword
multifunctional forests, forest decision-making, urban forests, urban planning
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-95902 (URN)
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
3. Changed availability of urban fringe forests in Sweden in 2000-2010
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Changed availability of urban fringe forests in Sweden in 2000-2010
2013 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, ISSN 0282-7581, E-ISSN 1651-1891, Vol. 28, no 4, 386-394 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Although recreational pressure correlates to population size which in turn influences city growth, there is little evidence of how such processes of urban growth have affected the availability of urban fringe forests (forests with good recreational qualities located completely outside and up to 3 km from the city borders). Hence, the aim of this study was to examine consequences of urban growth on urban fringe forest availability in Sweden for the period 20002010. An overlay analysis was conducted in a GIS to identify urban fringe forests with good recreational qualities. A selection of Swedish cities with >2000 inhabitants (n = 428) was used along with a regional division to identify trends of cities in forest regions and in other regions. Results showed that the median availability of urban fringe forests had increased in all regions, both in absolute amounts and per 1000 inhabitants. A majority of the cities individually showed increased levels of urban fringe forests, despite contemporary urban growth. Availability had also decreased in about a third of the cities, most notably among those with greater population growth. Increasing populations and a future demand for recreation in proximate forests make further studies relevant, as other processes than urban growth have affected the availability of urban fringe forests.

Keyword
GIS, recreation, urban change, urban fringe forests, urban nature
National Category
Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-71587 (URN)10.1080/02827581.2012.749942 (DOI)000318151700009 ()
Available from: 2013-06-05 Created: 2013-06-04 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
4. Concrete recreation or recreation in concrete?: a GIS-based model of spatial accessibility to urban fringe forests
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Concrete recreation or recreation in concrete?: a GIS-based model of spatial accessibility to urban fringe forests
(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
accessibility, fuzzy overlay, GIS, spatial interaction, recreation, urban forests
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-95905 (URN)
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

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