The Riverside and Berwyn experience: Contrasts in landscape structure, perceptions of the urban landscape, and their effects on people

School of Natural Resources & Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
Landscape and Urban Planning (Impact Factor: 2.61). 03/2006; DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2005.04.002

ABSTRACT Humans not only structure the landscape through their activities, but their perceptions of nature are affected by the spatial and temporal arrangements (structure) in the landscape. Our understanding of these interactions, however, is limited. We explored the relationship between landscape structure and peoples’ perceptions of nature in the Chicago, IL, USA, suburbs of Riverside and Berwyn because they offer contrasting paradigms of an urban landscape. Designed in the 1800s by Frederick Law Olmsted, Riverside has several unique design elements (curvilinear streets, ample setbacks, parkways of variable width with mowed grass and naturalistic groupings of trees) that define the structure and composition of this landscape. The urban forest was the keystone of Olmsted's desire to create a harmonious community characterized by “refined sylvan beauty”. In contrast, the adjacent community of Berwyn has right-angled streets with small lots and narrow setbacks for houses. Differences in landscape structure between the two communities produced differences in the diversity, size, and composition of woody vegetation. As measured by patch-size distribution, Riverside had greater diversity in landscape structure than Berwyn, and in turn, Riverside had greater diversity in the composition and size of the woody vegetation compared to Berwyn. Riverside tended toward a “natural” appearance with vegetation, while yards in Berwyn tended to be trimmed and edged. Significant differences between the mean ratings of Riverside and Berwyn respondents were found for six of seven community attribute categories. Riverside participants reported receiving greater benefit from the visual and nature-related features of the urban forest than did Berwyn respondents. Berwyn residents ranked social atmosphere for the community and locomotion (wayfinding) highest among the seven community attribute categories. Despite differences between the two communities, residents valued the green residential environment provided by vegetation. However, the more diverse urban landscape as measured by built structures, woody vegetation, and lot size and shape proved to be more satisfying to the residents of these two communities. The design concepts developed and implemented by Olmsted more than century ago in Riverside are still relevant to city planners striving to develop living environments that are satisfying to urban and suburban residents.

1 Follower
  • Source
    10/2013; DOI:10.2991/iaw-sc.2013.242
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This paper examines the relation between visitor behaviour and certain features of a number of major green spaces in the city of Granada, south-eastern Spain, focussing on key urban, ecological and landscape-related issues. Information on user profiles and numbers, the various uses made of these areas, their design, plant species richness and local urban and sociological background, was collected by means of in situ observation in a total of ten urban green spaces with surface areas of over 5000 m(2). Findings indicated that these spaces were used largely-for purposes directly related to well-being: recreational and sporting activities, socialising, or simply relaxing. Interestingly, the most common activities in each space were governed by features intrinsic to the space itself: accessibility, design, maintenance and plant richness and distribution, all of which affected the health-related attributes and aesthetic value of the space. The study also highlighted a number of serious deficiencies in certain green spaces, which will need to be addressed in future action plans and replanning projects as an essential step in ensuring that they meet the real needs and expectations of the target population. The information provided by this research may prove particularly valuable for improving the systemic functions of green spaces in Mediterranean cities sharing similar bioclimatic and sociological features, and for ensuring that they fulfil the role assigned to green spaces in sustainable cities.
    Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 08/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2014.03.007 · 2.13 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The concept of urban forestry is addressed from a discursive perspective, with focus on identifying and describing various scientific discourses, their strength and development over time and on different continents. This work can help obtain a deeper understanding of the scientific discourses in terms of identifying research trends and reasons behind these trends, as a possible way forward for research. Scientific publications (N=519) issued during the period 1988-2014 (and as listed in the SCOPUS database) were analysed with the aims to 1) systematically identify and describe scientific urban forestry discourses, 2) discuss implications of these findings for scientific practice, and 3) propose ways forward. Six discourses of various strength and geographical distribution were identified. Scientific production was found to be dominated by North American and European authors with modest contributions from authors from other continents. Scientific discourses proved mostly expert driven and reflecting the positivist scientific paradigm. Prevailingly managerial orientation and absence of qualitative approaches indicate a lack of deeper understanding of human-environment relations. Studies related to active participation of citizens and partnerships in urban forestry have been missing. More emphasis should be placed on the testing of existing, and developing new methods and modalities of public participation, and on the value of civic involvement for the decision making. Moreover, a more solid evidence base is needed for benefits from urban forests, while economic aspects of biodiversity and other ecosystem services are still insufficiently explored. Study findings also call for more research on urban forest governance and relation between urban forest benefits and existing policies (e.g. climate change adaptation, energy policy or health).
    Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 02/2015; 14(2). DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2015.01.001 · 2.13 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 30, 2014