Effects of biodiversity and environment-related attitude on perception of urban green space
Journal article, 2016
Green space in cities contributes to the quality of life for city dwellers, e.g., by increasing the opportunity for recreation. However, perception of urban green space is influenced by multiple factors. We investigated effects of biodiversity and environment-related attitudes on visual and auditory perceptions of urban green space. Field measurements of biodiversity were conducted in six sites across an urban gradient in Gothenburg, Sweden, and three categories of biodiversity—high, medium, low—were established. Households were sent a survey on aesthetic perception of urban green space, sound perception and the importance of trees and plants for the perception of bird species. Each respondent focused on the site that was located nearby. The environment-related attitudes comprised “Nature-oriented” and “Urban-oriented” persons and were based on participants’ own attitude estimations. It was shown that participants’ “subjective” aesthetic and sound-related perception of urban greenery were in line with the “objectively” measured subdivisions of high, medium and low biodiversity. So also were their estimations of the importance of trees and plants for perception of bird species in urban greenery, although differing only between high and medium/low biodiversity conditions. Persons rating themselves as highly nature-oriented were shown to give higher scores to urban green space aesthetics and to value greenery-related sounds higher, and to attach greater importance to trees and plants in their perception of bird species in urban greenery, than less nature-oriented persons. Highly urban-oriented persons compared to less urban-oriented persons did the same, but only regarding urban greenery-related aesthetics and sounds of nature. We conclude that environment-related attitudes influence perceptions of green space. Moreover, our findings support the idea that biodiversity per se also influences perceptions; people value green space significantly more with high than with low measured biodiversity. Urban planning needs to provide city inhabitants with green spaces that are species-rich, lush, varied and rich with natural sounds.