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Urban parks and forests are important for wellbeing, but feelings of unsafety limited their usage. Removal of vegetation from hotspots of fear is sometimes recommended as a means of boosting safety. However such actions should be approached with caution. One explanation, based on prospect-refuge theory, is that plants increase perceptions of danger because of their contribution to a setting’s effectiveness in concealing criminals. It is also believed that people do not like urban green spaces parks containing trees and shrubs that can act as hiding places because of the sense of danger that this vegetation evokes. To test this explanation, participants rated 57 photos of urban parks and forest parks settings park settings on perceived danger, effectiveness of concealment, and landscape preference. In addition, the effectiveness of concealment in the photos was measured assuming that the value of this variable is expressed by the percentage of the pixels occupied by trees and shrubs offering concealment in a photograph. Results confirmed that concealment and danger are highly correlated mediation analysis confirmed that the impact of concealment on preferences can be explained by perceived danger. When the danger was controlled, the efficiency of concealment had no influence on preferences.
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Landscape Online –
Landscape Online | Volume 91 | 2021 | Pages 1-14 | DOI 10.3097/LO.202191
Submitted: 7 March 2021 | Accepted in revised version: 27 July 2021| Published: 7 August 2021
Aleksandra Lis1*, Łukasz Pardela1,
Paweł Iwankowski2, Antal Haans3
1) Instute of Landscape
Architecture, The Faculty of
Environmental Engineering and
Geodesy, Wrocław University of
Environmental and Life Sciences,
Wrocław, Poland
2) Independent researcher, Gdańsk,
3) Eindhoven University of
Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands
*Corresponding author: Lis
Alesandra, Instute of Landscape
Architecture, The Faculty of
Environmental Engineering and
Geodesy, Wrocław University of
Environmental and Life Sciences,
Grunwaldzka 55; 50-357 Wrocław,
Poland, Email: aleksandra.lis@upwr.
Urban parks and forests are important for wellbeing, but feelings of
insecurity limit their usage. Removal of vegetation from hotspots of fear
is sometimes recommended as a means of boosting safety. However,
such actions should be approached with caution. One explanation,
based on prospect-refuge theory, is that plants increase perceptions
of danger because of their contribution to a setting’s effectiveness in
concealing criminals. It is also believed that people do not like urban
parks containing trees and shrubs that can act as hiding places because of
the sense of danger that this vegetation evokes. To test this explanation,
participants (female students) rated 57 photos of urban parks settings in
terms of perceived danger, effectiveness of concealment, and landscape
preference. In addition, the effectiveness of concealment in the photos
was measured, assuming that the value of this variable is expressed
by the percentage of the pixels occupied by trees and shrubs offering
concealment in a photograph. Results confirmed that concealment and
danger are strongly correlated. Mediation analysis confirmed that the
impact of concealment on preferences can be explained by perceived
danger. When danger was controlled, the efficiency of concealment had
no influence on preferences.
Fear, Safety, Environmental preference, Prospect-refuge, Concealment
The impact of plants oering cover on female students’
percepon of danger in urban green spaces in crime hot spots
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1 Introduction
The importance of urban green spaces for health
and well-being have been well established (Chang et
al. 2021; Ayala-Azcárrag et al. 2019; Gramkow et al.
2021; Stier-Jarmer et al. 2021). Moreover, research
has demonstrated that people generally prefer and
benefit from trees and other types of greenery in
various situations (e.g. Ayala-Azcárrag et al. 2019;
Bringslimark et al. 2009; Hedblom et al. 2019; Kaplan
and Kaplan 1989; Kuo and Sullivan, 2001; Scopelliti
et al. 2018; Ulrich 1984; 1986; White and Gatersle-
ben 2011). A number of studies based on the Bio-
philia hypothesis (Wilson 1984), Attention Restora-
tion Theory (ART) (Kaplan and Kaplan 1989) and the
Stress Reduction Theory (Ulrich 1983) provided em-
pirical evidence that wildlife has multiple benefits
for human health and well-being (Berto 2005; Hartig
et al. 2014; Jarvis et al. 2020; Laumann et al. 2001;
Qiu et al. 2021). The importance of nature for people
is also taken into account by programs and strategies
related to urban policy (Hoyle et al. 2017; Evensen et
al. 2021). Significant research has been devoted to
ecosystem services (ES), which refer to the benefits
people derive from nature (Constanza et al. 2017).
Much less research on negative emotions related to
the influence of nature, or more broadly, research
on ecosystem disservices (EDS), has been conduct-
ed and has received far less discussion (Taylor 2019).
EDS is defined as the negative impact of nature on
human well-being – functions or properties of eco-
systems that produce effects that are perceived as
harmful, unpleasant or unwanted (Wu et al. 2020;
Blanco et al. 2019).
One example of EDS is the sensation of fear that city
parks can evoke (Lyytimäki 2019). Researchers point
out that perceived danger in urban parks acts to the
detriment of wellbeing (Fisher et al. 2021) and limits
the use of such parks (Magde 1997). In situations of
increased threat, safe-related environmental charac-
teristics are of particular importance – hence, many
other studies on the impact of hiding places also
looked at hotspots of fear and crime (Fisher and Na-
sar 1992; Nasar et al. 1993; (Nasar and Jones 1997)
or night-time periods when the sense of danger in-
creases (Blöbaum and Hunecke 2005; van Rijswijk et
al. 2016; (van Rijswijk and Haans 2018). Women are
found to experience higher levels of insecurity than
men (Blöbaum and Hunecke 2005; Fisher and Na-
sar 1992; Jansson et al. 2013; Jorgensen et al. 2002;
Loewen et al. 1993; Rišová and Madajová 2020; Jor-
gensen et al. 2007; van Rijswijk et al. 2016). That is
why our research, like a range of others that focus
on the issue of fear and danger (e.g. Evensen et al.
2021; Haans and de Kort 2012; Koskela and Pain
2000; Nasar and Jones 1997), was conducted on this
particular group of respondents.
Perceived danger is often associated with the pres-
ence of plants, which may constitute a prospect
blocker or a hiding place for potential offenders (Lis
et al. 2016a; 2016b). It was also found that dense
vegetation can create places that criminals are keen
to use (Michael and Hull 1994) and provides opportu-
nities facilitating criminal acts (Michael et al. 2001).
Kuo and Sullivan (2001) recall a number of studies
describing active programs for removing greenery
that was considered to facilitate crime. This was in
spite of the fact that the researchers point out that
the impact of vegetation on the fear of crime or per-
ceived danger depends on the characteristics and
location (Fisher and Nasar, 1992; Nasar et al. 1993;
Herzog and Chernick 2000; Lis et al. 2016b; Evensen
et al. 2021). Although there have been many studies
in this area, the exact relation between vegetation,
crime, and the fear of crime remains ambiguous (see
e.g. Bogar and Beyer 2016; Kuo and Sullivan, 2001;
Maas et al. 2009; Wolfe and Mennis 2012). There-
fore, the removal of trees and other vegetation
should not be taken lightly. Instead, it should be a
justified decision taking into account the cause and
conditions behind. The present study aims to con-
tribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms
behind the influence of trees and shrubs on per-
ceived danger and landscape preferences.
Research on the effect of physical characteristics on
danger is often based on Appleton’s (Appleton 1975;
1984) prospect-refuge theory concerning landscape
preferences. According to Appleton, the ability to
see (i.e., prospect) without being seen (i.e., refuge)
was an intermediate step in satisfying biological
needs. This is why we prefer landscapes that afford-
ed such opportunities. This theory was adapted for
studying fear of crime and safety perceptions. Fish-
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er and Nasar (1992) argued that vantage points that
offer both prospect and refuge are beneficial also to
criminals since they offer a good place for them to
hide. Expanding considerations on how environmen-
tal features influence perceived danger. Some re-
searchers (Fisher and Nasar 1992; Nasar, Fisher and
Grannis 1993) select three key factors. The first two
are prospect and refuge, based on Aplleton’s theo-
ry. The third is escape – features of the environment
that facilitate escape in the event of an assault and/
or access to help.
The role of prospect, concealment, and escape (and
derivatives such as enclosure, entrapment, etc.) in
the formation of safety perceptions has received
much empirical support (Blöbaum and Hunecke
2005; Haans and de Kort 2012; Herzog and Chernick
2000; Lis and Iwankowski 2021a; 2021b; Lis et al.
2019a; 2019b; 2019c; Nasar and Jones 1997; van Ri-
jswijk et al. 2016) – Figure 1. Van Rijswijk and Haans
(2018) recently demonstrated that prospect, con-
cealment, and entrapment can robustly explain 70%
of variation in perceived safety within a large and
representative set of nocturnal urban environments.
The possible negative effects of trees and shrubs
in urban parks (Baran et al. 2018; Jorgensen et al.
2002) may thus be explained from prospect-refuge
theory: Greenery can block prospect and offer con-
cealment to potential criminals (e.g. Fisher and Na-
sar 1992; Herzog and Chernick 2000; Lis et al. 2016a;
2016b; 2019a; 2019c; Nasar et al. 1993). Thus, we
argue that the negative effect of trees and other veg-
etation on perceptions of safety is not due to their
mere presence, but to their contribution in making
the setting effective as a hiding place for criminals.
Since studies have reported on a negative correla-
tion between perceptions of danger and landscape
preference (e.g. Herzog and Flynn-Smith 2001; Her-
zog and Kutzli 2002; Herzog and Kutzli 2002) dense
vegetation is expected to affect negatively landscape
preferences, also because of their concealing prop-
erties. However, at the same time, the results of
research on the impact of safety-related plant char-
acteristics (e.g. vegetation density) on preferences
are not conclusive. Most often, researchers assume
or conclude from studies that parks allowing un-
obstructed views are preferred, featuring no dense
shrubbery or other visual obstructions (Campagna-
ro et al. 2020; Jorgensen et al. 2002). It was also
found that such parks are safe, as opposed to parks
containing a dense understorey that may, inter alia,
offer a potential place of concealment (Michael et
al. 2001; Jorgensen 2004). In contrast, other studies
have shown that dense vegetation is strongly pre-
ferred (Harris et al. 2018). This may be because the
areas that contain it have enhanced ecological values
(Fuller et al. 2007), and as such are valued, especial-
ly by those who are ecologically inclined (Kurz and
Baudains 2012). Cultural differences between the
areas researched may also be the reason. Another
possible reason for the positive assessment of dense
vegetation may be found in Appleton’s aforemen-
tioned shelter-view theory. Considering the double
role of hiding places postulated by Fisher and Nasar
(1992), we can suppose that places associated with
concealment can also be perceived positively since
they provide desired privacy (Altman 1975). Recent
studies by Lis and colleagues (Lis et al. 2019) have
shown that hidden, intimate places are sometimes
liked despite the danger they evoke. Unfortunately,
studies applying prospect-refuge theory to natural
environments, including urban parks, remain rare
(but see Andrews and Gatersleben 2010; Herzog and
Kutzli 2002; Lis and Iwankowski 2021a; 2021b; Lis et
al. 2019a; 2019b; 2019c; Maruthaveeran and Koni-
jnendijk van den Bosch 2014).
To sum up, the influence of plant characteristics
that may make them good for concealment is not,
in the light of research, cut and dried. Researchers
Figure 1. The influence of environmental features on danger
and preference – the concept presented by our research
against the background of the theories discussed.
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assume that the features of trees and shrubs asso-
ciated with their potential role as places of conceal-
ment (e.g. plant density) are disliked because they
evoke a sense of danger (Rouquette and Holt 2017).
However, there is a lack of research that tests such
a mechanism – e.g. by mediation analysis. Our re-
search makes an attempt to do so (Figure 1).
1.1 Research aims
In this study, we examined the role of perceived
threat as a mediator in relation to two variables: (1)
features of vegetation that facilitate human conceal-
ment (effectiveness in masking) and (2) landscape
preferences. The study involved public municipal
parks. In particular, we were interested in empiri-
cally investigating such mediation effects in areas
perceived to be hotspots of fear and crime. Consid-
ering three basic variables influencing an increased
perception of danger (entrapment, prospect and
concealment), we focused solely on concealment as
a possible mediator, which we expected to be most
important in explaining the relationship between
vegetation and safety perceptions. Research cover-
ing all three variables was most often conducted in
urban settings (like a street or an academic campus).
There are a lot of architectural obstacles in such ar-
eas, which create screens and cut off escape routes.
These obstacles increase the role of prospect and en-
trapment in shaping perceived danger. Parks contain
fewer forms that create long visual obstructions, but
more plants are planted alone or in groups that can
offer a hiding place for a potential assailant. There-
fore, a place of concealment may influence sense of
danger in parks more significantly than in an urban
We formulated the following hypotheses:
H1: For urban parks, the perceived danger of a spe-
cific setting depends heavily on the extent in which
the physical features of the environment allow for
the effective concealment of criminals. In other
words, we expected a strong correlation between
ratings of a settings’ effectiveness of concealment
and its perceived danger.
H2: Perceived danger mediates or explains the im-
pact of effectiveness of concealment on landscape
preference. In particular, we expected that after ac-
counting for their contribution to perceived danger,
the characteristics of plants that affect their ability
to conceal someone will not be related to landscape
2 Methods
2.1 Experiment design
We conducted a survey study in which photos of
landscapes were evaluated according to perceived
danger, preference, and the effectiveness of con-
cealment. Each of these variables was assessed sep-
arately by a different group of respondents to reduce
spurious correlations between the various evalua-
tions (e.g. van Rijswijk and Haans 2018). The photos
were evaluated in the same random order, but this
order was modified by interchanging the halves of
the original order for sessions 12 to 22.
A total of 177 people, all female, participated in the
study. All were students of Landscape Architecture
at Wrocław University of Environmental and Life
Sciences; 146 were undergraduates and 31 were
graduate students. Their mean age was 20.56 (SD =
1.68; range 19–25 years). Of the 177 participants, 67
(i.e., 37.9%) rated the photos according to perceived
danger, 37 (20.9%) for preference, and 73 (41.2%)
for effectiveness of concealment.
The stimulus material consisted of 57 colour photos
taken in various urban parks presented on a projector
screen (BenQ 800 x 600 SVGA, 4:3 format, 121 inch
diagonal). All photos were taken in the summer or
late spring. No photos contained people. The sample
was selected to include photos of trees and shrubs
that could serve as a place of concealment to vary-
ing degrees. Among others, the height and width of
the shrubs, their density or transparency as well as
the shape of the crown, the thickness of trunks, and
the height of their crowns were differentiated (Lis et
al. 2016a; 2016b). We took a random sample from
a large number of the photos that we took, which
we divided beforehand into three groups according
to the level of the concealment offered: landscapes
with vegetation featuring high, medium and low
possibilities of concealment.
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2.2 Data collection
Perceived danger and preference were evaluated
with a single item using a 5-point scale, ranging from
“a great deal” (coded with a 5) to “not at all” (coded
with a 1). Both items were taken from Herzog and
colleagues (e.g. Herzog and Chernick 2000; Herzog
and Flynn-Smith 2001; Herzog and Kutzli 2002). For
perceived danger, the item read: “How dangerous is
this setting? Please imagine you are walking along
such a path. How likely is it that you could be harmed
in this setting?” For preference, the item read: “How
much do you like the setting? This is your own per-
sonal degree of liking for the setting, and you don’t
have to worry about whether you’re right or wrong
or whether you agree with anybody else.
Previous research has not established one consist-
ent definition of an operating place of concealment
or methods of measuring it. Most often, the place
of concealment was measured using the respond-
ents’ assessments (e.g. Blöbaum and Hunecke 2005;
Haans and de Kort 2012) or categorised by research-
ers according to perceptual-cognitive judgement
(Fisher and Nasar 1992; Andrews and Gatersleben
2010). Exceptions include measurements based on
physical data. This measurement was carried out
by Nasar et al. (1993) by recording the space occu-
pied by each tree, shrub and mass of shrubs in the
study area. Taking into account the limitations of
each method, we decided to use two measurements
based on different methods. The first measurement
method – the traditional one – was analogous to the
measurement perceived danger and preference. The
variable was assessed by respondents on a 5-point
scale. The item read: ‘Please imagine that a person
might be lurking behind the shrubs or trees that you
see. How do you rate such a hiding place in terms
of effectiveness?’ We asked the respondents, while
issuing the assessment, to try to determine how
easily they could hide themselves behind the trees
or shrubs visible in the picture if they were look-
ing to conceal themselves effectively (for whatever
purpose). We explained that the effectiveness of a
hiding place is determined by the ease with which a
person or a group of people can hide and remain un-
seen, irrespective of their body position (standing,
bent or crouched).
Because the question about the variable could, de-
spite our best efforts, suggest to the respondents an
association with danger and cause spurious correla-
tions between the various evaluations, we adopted
an additional measurement method independent of
the respondents’ assessments. We used the photo-
graphs to make the measurement. With the use of
Coreldraw X6 we outlined all the trees and shrubs
on the photos that may be a place of concealment in
an area not exceeding the height of a person. Since
the pictures were taken from a standing position,
this area was located, approximately, below the line
of the horizon. Next we used the Image Histogram
function in Adobe Photoshop CS 6 to measure areas
previously indicated (trees and shrubs as the places
in the photo offering concealment). Next, we iden-
tified the number of pixels contained in the entire
photo in the area below the line of the horizon. The
effectiveness of concealment is the percentage of
the pixels occupied by trees and shrubs constituting
a place of concealment in a photograph (see Figure
The method of measurement we used to calculate
the percentage of vegetation in the photo frame has
already been used by other researchers, for exam-
ple to measure vegetation density (Jiang et al. 2015;
2017; Lis and Iwankowski 2021a; 2021b). We first
selected areas of trees and shrubs constituting ef-
fective concealment in the photo and identified the
number of pixels in those areas. It is worth under-
lining that the operationalisation and measurement
method we adopted in this way indirectly takes into
account the distance of trees and shrubs from the
observer (potential victim) – as the distance increas-
es, it decreases in the photo due to the principles of
perspective. As a result, this variable measurement
takes into account not only the characteristics of the
plant itself, but also its location, which plays a sig-
nificant role in the impact of concealment on dan-
ger (Fisher and Nasar 1992; Lis et al. 2016b; Lis and
Iwankowski 2021a; 2021b).
The study was conducted in a reading room in which
the landscape photos were depicted on a projector
screen. Participants arrived in groups of 8 to 18 par-
ticipants. After taking a seat, the task was explained
to the participant. Depending on the session they
were in, they were instructed to evaluate each scene
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on one of three criteria (perceived danger, prefer-
ence, or effectiveness of concealment). Respond-
ents evaluating scenes on target variables (perceived
danger and preference) were asked to imagine, with
each photo, that the depicted environment was lo-
cated in a dangerous district of a city, and that they
were walking along a path in it. Next, the partici-
pants were presented with twelve practice photos,
followed by the 57 photos comprising our stimulus
set. Each photo was shown on the screen for 15 sec-
onds, during which the participant would evaluate
the photo. After 29 photos, there was a five-minute
The study lasted approximately 20 minutes.
To sum up: we measured the dependent variables
(danger and preference) via the respondents’ evalu-
ations using the survey tool. We measured the var-
iable effectiveness of concealment using two meth-
ods: (1) by assessing the respondents’ assessments
of the landscapes presented in the photos, and (2)
by measuring the share of trees and shrubs consti-
tuting the place of concealment in the same photos.
2.3 Data analysis
All analyses were performed with a setting (land-
scape on the photo) as the unit of analysis. For this
purpose, we calculated, for each setting, a single
score for each variable by averaging the respond-
ents’ responses. As a measure of the absolute agree-
ment among respondents, we calculated intraclass
correlations (ICCs) using a two-way random model
(randomly selected raters from larger population of
assessors, (Koo and Li 2016). These ICCs ranged from
0.912 and 0.987, indicating satisfactory agreement
among the respondents. Thus, it was appropriate to
use aggregated scores in our analyses.
The statistical analysis was carried out using IBM
SPSS Statistics version 23. For mediation analyses,
we used PROCESS version 2.16.2 (Hayes 2013). Me-
diation analysis tests the existence of an interme-
diary relationship by performing a series of regres-
sion analyses – between the independent variable
and the mediator (path a), between the mediator
and the dependent variable (path b), between the
independent variable and the dependent variable
(path c), and between the independent variable and
the dependent variable, but while taking into ac-
count the mediator in the model, i.e. the interme-
diary variable (path c‘) (Baron and Kenny 1986). In
this approach, when path c’ ceases to be statistical-
ly significant next to the current statistically signif-
icant path c, the mediator can be considered as an
intermediary variable explaining why there is a rela-
tionship between the independent variable and the
dependent variable. This method is complemented
by the Sobel test and the superior bootstrap method
(Hayes 2009). We used the bootstrap method with
a random sampling of n = 5000 samples. The 95%
confidence interval constructed on its basis does not
contain the value 0.
Figure 2. Representation of the method of measuring the effectiveness of concealment for a sample site: the effectiveness of
concealment. The trees and shrubs constituting potential concealment (highlighted in yellow) divided by the total number of pixels
in the photo.
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3 Results
First, we checked the distributions of measured vari-
ables. Table 1 provides descriptive statistics. The val-
ue of skewness and kurtosis shows slight deviations
from the normal distribution.
Next, we examined the correlations between the
effectiveness of concealment rated and measured
in the photos, perception of danger, and landscape
preference (see Table 2 for an overview). We found
the effectiveness of concealment to correlate very
strongly with the perception of danger – both when
it was assessed by the respondents and when it was
measured in the photos (respectively: r = 0.90 and r
= 0.85, p <0.001). The more effective a landscape is
in providing a hiding place, the bigger the perception
of danger was. This finding supports our H1. With
respect to landscape preferences, we found moder-
ate correlations with effectiveness of concealment
and perception of danger. The more effective a land-
scape is in providing a hiding place or the bigger its
perceived danger, the less the landscape is preferred.
It is worth noting that the effectiveness of con-
cealment measured by participants’ evaluation is
correlated more strongly with danger than the ef-
fectiveness of concealment measured based on
photographs. This is important from the point of
view of a further analysis (mediation analysis) aimed
at testing the H2 hypothesis. In the case of path b
(mediator influence on dependent variable with si-
multaneous control of independent variable), the
collinearity manifested by the effectiveness of con-
cealment measured in the photographs with danger
is below the relatively conservative threshold set by
Sheather (Sheather 2009) of 5 (VIF = 3.51), while the
collinearity for the assessed effectiveness exceeds
this threshold (VIF = 5.19). Hence, the decision was
made to use only the assessment of effectiveness
measured in the photographs for mediation analysis.
During the next stage, a mediation analysis was per-
formed (see Table 3, Figure 3). The analysis showed
a statistically significant mediation effect. According
to the classic approach of Baron and Kenny (Baron
and Kenny 1986), the assumptions regarding rela-
tionships between variables in the model were met.
Mean Median Min. Max. Standard Deviation Skewness Kurtosis
danger 2.77 2.54 25 0.800 0.675 -0.285
preference 3.12 3.11 1 4 0.583 -0.184 0.528
effectiveness of concealment (photo) 13.28 10 0 43 11.101 0.866 0.140
effectiveness of concealment (rated) 2.57 2.52 150.941 0.510 -0.699
Table 1. Basic descriptive statistics of the variables measured.
Note: Units of measure: for danger, preference, effectiveness of concealment (rated) - averaged responses on Likert scale;
for effectiveness of concealment (photo) – the percentage of the pixels occupied by trees and shrubs constituting a place of
concealment in a photograph.
danger preference effectiveness of
concealment (photo)
effectiveness of
concealment (rated)
danger Pearson’s r -
preference Pearson’s r -0.42 -
Significance 0.001
effectiveness of concealment (photo) Pearson’s r 0.85 -0.32 -
Significance <0.001 0.014
effectiveness of concealment (rated) Pearson’s r 0.90 -0.40 0.85 -
Significance <0.001 0.002 <0.001
Table 2. Correlations between the rated effectiveness of concealment, the effectiveness of concealment measured on the photos,
perceived danger and landscape preference.
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The independent variable (effectiveness of conceal-
ment) statistically and significantly influences the
mediator (danger) (β = 0.85, p <0.001) (path a), the
mediator coincides statistically and significantly with
the dependent variable (preference) (β = -0.50; p =
0.037) (path b) while the statistically significant rela-
tionship between the independent variable and the
dependent variable without the presence of a medi-
ator in the model (β = -0.32; p = 0.014) (path c) be-
came statistically insignificant after the introduction
of an intermediate variable in the form of danger
= 0.10, p = 0.108) (path c’). Therefore, it represents
a total mediation. Supplementing this approach with
the Sobel test indicates a statistically significant in-
termediary effect.
4 Discussion
4.1 Operationalization of the effectiveness of
concealment variable
The concealment measurements obtained from the
respondents’ assessments proved to be strongly cor-
related with danger in terms of influence on prefer-
ences. This correlation is lower in the case of the ef-
fectiveness of concealment measured in the photos.
Probably the reason is that our question about con-
cealment could have suggested to the respondents
that a place of concealment is dangerous. This result
indicates that research methods should be treated
carefully, whereby the operationalisation of a place
of concealment is based on perceptual-cognitive
judgement (Lis et al. 2019a; 2019c). The factors in-
fluencing spurious correlations between the various
evaluations should be reduced. In our study, each of
these variables was assessed separately by a differ-
ent group of respondents, although this precaution
proved insufficient. Another operational question
or other measurement methods should be found.
It seems both appropriate and relevant to look for
methods to quantify the physical characteristics of a
space such as a potential hiding place that may yield
more objective results. Our method of measuring a
variable from photos constitutes an alternative sug-
gestion, albeit one that requires further testing.
4.2 The correlation of concealment and
danger, the mediating role of danger in the
influence of concealment on preferences
In the present study, we examined the role of per-
ceived danger in explaining the relation between
effectiveness of concealment and landscape pref-
erence in urban park settings. The study showed a
strong correlation between how the respondents
evaluated a setting’s effectiveness of concealment
and the perception of danger, despite both eval-
uations being made by a different group of partic-
ipants. A strong correlation between the two vari-
ables also occurs in the case of the measurements
taken from photos. It suggests that the effectiveness
of concealment, as hypothesised in H1, is a particu-
larly significant predictor of the perception of dan-
ger in urban parks. The correlation is stronger than
that obtained in earlier studies, but several aspects
should be pointed out.
First, the stronger relationship confirmed in our
study compared with others may be explained, in
part, by differences in the nature of the depend-
ent variables. Whereas as Blöbaum and Hunecke
(2005) used a similar concept of ‘perceived danger,
other studies focused on related but perhaps differ-
ent concepts, such as fear of crime (e.g. Fisher and
Bootstrap 95% CI (n
= 5000)
effect of
-.02 .01 -2.10* -.042 -.003
Table 3. The mediation effect of danger in the relation between
the effectiveness of concealment and preference.
SE – standard error; ZSobel test; 95%CI – confidence interval;
LL – lower limit; UL – upper limit * p < .05
Figure 3. Non-standardized regression analysis coefficients that
reveal danger as a mediator of the effectiveness of concealment
and preference (direct effect in boldface).
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Nasar 1992) or perceived safety (Haans and de Kort
2012; van Rijswijk et al. 2016; van Rijswijk and Haans
Second, differences in study outcomes may result
from differences in the type of settings considered.
Most studies to date were concerned with urban set-
tings (e.g. streets or university campuses); settings
consisting predominantly of architectural forms (e.g.
Blöbaum and Hunecke 2005; Fisher and Nasar 1992;
Haans and de Kort 2012; van Rijswijk et al. 2016;
van Rijswijk and Haans 2018). Perhaps, the effect of
concealment on danger is bigger in parks than in ur-
ban settings, perhaps because park settings and its
inherent abundance of natural elements provide a
wider variation in hiding places across settings. More
research is needed to confirm such an explanation.
Since effect sizes are influenced by often arbitrary
choices with respect to the range of a variable in the
stimulus materials, future research ideally should
use random samples of urban park environments.
This would ensure that stimulus materials reflect
the naturally occurring variation in concealment
between such environments, and thus more eco-
logically valid effect size estimates (van Rijswijk and
Haans 2018).
The correlation between the effectiveness of con-
cealment and preference turned out to be negative,
which is in line with the majority of research (Mi-
chael et al. 2001; Jorgensen, 2004). Most important,
however, was the confirmation of the assumptions
and estimations of the researchers (Rouquette and
Holt 2017) that the weaker preferences for plants
that offer concealment result from the sense of dan-
ger that these plants evoke.
Our research was limited to one predictor, but the
results allow us to assume that a similar role may
be played by danger in how it influences the prefer-
ences of the other two safety-related environmental
characteristics proposed by Nasar et al. (Fisher and
Nasar 1992; Nasar et al. 1993) – prospect and es-
cape. Additionally, for a more complete picture of
the mechanisms related to the interaction of these
traits, it is worth conducting future research by
checking a range of variables such as specific plant
characteristics, their composition patterns, the de-
gree of naturalness, etc.
5 Limitations
There were several limitations to the present study.
First, we included in our regression models no other
predictors apart from the effectiveness of conceal-
ment. We thus excluded not only prospect and en-
trapment (escape), but also how well-kept a particu-
lar place looked (Herzog 1989; Herzog and Chernick
2000; Nasar et al. 1993; Talbot and Kaplan 1984).
Therefore, future research needs to examine the
predicting role of these and perhaps other variables.
Secondly, the research was carried out on students.
Some researchers believe that there are indeed
grounds to generalise the results of research con-
ducted on students across the population as a whole
(Stamps 1999). Many, however, think differently (e.g.
Balling and Falk 1982; Herzog i et al. 2000). Addition-
ally, the questionnaires were completed by students
of areas related to landscape architecture. Some re-
searchers found differences between the respons-
es of students of landscape architecture and other
fields of study (Kaplan 1973); (Herzog et al. 2000). It
can be assumed that this may have influenced the
answers to some questions, especially those regard-
ing preferences.
6 Conclusions
Despite these limitations, practical conclusions can
be drawn based on the results of our study. Studies
demonstrating a negative impact of vegetation on
the sense of safety have frequently advised to avoid
using plants that limit visibility (Hami et al. 2014;
Kuo et al. 1998). Similarly, researchers have argued
that the optimal types of plant forms to use are
trees with high crowns, and plain grass areas with
no dense shrubs (Donovan and Prestemon 2012;
Kuo and Sullivan 2001). In the light of our research,
such recommendations seem justified, although
they call for some complementation and fine-tun-
ing. First, the observed very strong influence of the
effectiveness of concealment on the perception of
danger indicates that one should avoid plant forms
that may offer concealment for a potential attacker.
Our analyses did not determine the relationship be-
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Lis et al. Landscape Online 91 (2021) - Page 10
tween specific plant features, such as height, width,
crown formation, etc. However, some such features
can be associated with the effectiveness of a place of
concealment, referring to their impact on the result
of measuring the degree of plant coverage of an area
that might conceal someone (up to human height).
Therefore, in our opinion, it can be considered that
in parks it is acceptable to introduce low shrubs,
shrubs with a low density (i.e., a lattice-like struc-
ture), as well as plants with a very narrow crown (e.g.
column-like shrubs), even in hotspots of fear and
crime. This is because the perception of danger is
exacerbated not by the very presence of shrubs, but
by their concealing properties. Secondly, plants that
offer concealment are disliked because they create a
sense of danger. This means that in places where us-
ers have no reason to be worried about their safety
(e.g. in fenced, guarded, very quiet areas), the pres-
ence of dense bushes and other covering plants is
acceptable and will not, in all probability, have a det-
rimental effect on landscape assessment. This gives
designers greater opportunities to shape attractive
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DOI: org/preprint arXiv:2001.01605
... Landscapes have been used as the unit of analysis by other researchers too in studies on landscape preferences (e. g. Herzog & Bryce, 2007, van Rijswijk & Haans, 2018Lis & Iwankowski, 2021a;2021b;2021c;Lis et al., 2019b). In this method, the research sample consists of photos of landscapes, which are randomly selected from a larger pool of images, to create a representative sample for a given landscape category. ...
... This phenomenon occurs both in park and fort landscapes. These results differ from those obtained hitherto which have found that sense of danger directly and negatively correlates with preference (Herzog and Kutzli, 2002;Herzog and Bryce, 2007;Lis et al., 2021c;2019a;2019c). One of the likely reasons for such discrepancies may be the sample selection. ...
... Herzog and Kropscott, 2004;Herzog and Bryce, 2007). In some cases, the correlation may have been due to the fact that the photos were assessed by women (Lis et al., 2021c;Lis et al., 2019a) and therefore more sensitive to danger (Jiang et al., 2017;Jorgensen et al., 2007;Rišová and Madajová, 2020). In addition, many studies looking at safety in parks and other green areas took into account the safety variable, which is not the same as danger, and this may have had an impact on differences in the outcomes of the studies (Lis et al., 2021). ...
Parks and heritage fortifications are important components of urban green spaces in many cities in terms of benefitting people and urban nature as well as preserving cultural heritage. Heritage fortifications, like parks, can offer various cultural ecosystem services. Therefore, recognising the preferences of their visitors is relevant from the perspective of creating and managing spaces that are people-friendly. In this research, we have attempted to identify the nature of the relationship between mystery, danger and preferences while considering the complexity of these relationships. Therefore, we examined the preferences expressed by 83 participants for 60 fortified and 60 park landscapes in Poland. The research results indicate that in the case of parks, greenery increases the sense of danger, which lowers preferences, despite the mysterious appeal of such scenery. In turn, vegetation in parks should be shaped in a manner that ensures safety. In the case of forts, the feeling of mystery makes the vegetation more appealing, despite the fact that it evokes a sense of danger. The preservation of vegetation on historical fortifications is advisable because it helps to maintain the mystery that some visitors might enjoy. These findings may help to successfully plan and design sustainable urban green spaces that are visually and socially accessible.
... The amount and form of vegetation in city parks undoubtedly influences the preferences of their visitors (Bjerke, Østdahl, Thrane, & Strumse, 2006), although merely stating that such a relationship exists is insufficientresearchers are still looking for the underlying causes. So far, it has been demonstrated, inter alia, that the relationship between the quantity and form of greenery and preferences may be explained by feelings such as a sense of safety (Pardela, Lis, Zalewska, & Iwankowski, 2022b;Lis, Pardela, Iwankowski, & Haans, 2021;Lis and Iwankowski, 2021a;Lis and Iwankowski, 2021b;Lis, Zalewska, & Iwankowski, 2019), mystery (Pardela et al., 2022b;Herzog & Kropscott, 2004) or privacy (Lis et al., 2019;Lis and Iwankowski, 2021a;Lis and Iwankowski, 2021b). However, there are certainly more features and feelings that can explain these causes. ...
... van Rijswijk & Haans, 2018). While danger focuses on a situation in which we may get hurt (Herzog & Miller 1988;Herzog & Kirk, 2005;Herzog & Smith, 1988), safety refers rather to a subjective assessment of whether a given environment is safe (Lis et al., 2021). Perceived safety in a given place (environment) may result from both the perceived low probability of suffering harm (falling victim to an offence) and the perceived high probability of receiving assistance in the event of an emergency. ...
... Researchers give various reasons for how dense vegetation reduces safetyboth perceived and real (Jansson et al., 2013;Maruthaveeran and Konijnendijk van den Bosch, 2014). They often justify such a relationship based on Appleton's prospect-refuge theory (Andrews & Gatersleben, 2010;Appleton, 1975;Cinar & Cubukcu, 2012;Lis, et al., 2019b;Lis et al., 2021;Lis and Iwankowski, 2021a). Copious and dense vegetation can provide a hiding place for a potential attacker. ...
Understanding how the physical characteristics of city parks impact the perceptions of visitors is a factor that designers may well find useful. Many studies have been made on the influence of the quantity of vegetation in parks, and how natural it looks, on visitor preferences, but the mechanisms underlying this impact are still insufficiently understood. We attempt to identify the nature of the relationship between naturalness, legibility, perceived safety and preference taking into account the complexity of these relationships in urban parks. We analysed the correlations between the variables and the mediating effects. We applied a within-subjects design whereby 127 participants evaluated a set of 120 eye-level photographs of park landscapes. We evaluated a number of mediation models while testing hypotheses regarding the mediating role of legibility in how the quantity of greenery and naturalness impacts perceived safety and preferences towards park landscapes. All the hypotheses presented, verified via analysis of indirect effects, were confirmed. Legibility mediates naturalness and safety – the naturalness of a park itself is not a source of fear as long as the park has a clear layout. Moreover, the influence of the amount of greenery on preferences is partly explained by naturalness and legibility: more greenery enhances a landscape’s natural feel, while a landscape that is extremely natural has lower legibility, which leads to lower preferences. Finally, perceived safety turned out to be a mediator between naturalness and preference – naturalness is not popular in a park because it lowers sense of safety. The research does not offer an indication as to whether visitors prefer parks with copious or sparse greenery, or wild-looking or sculpted vegetation. However, it has shown that parks with natural vegetation tend not to be popular when they are illegible and dangerous – nature and a large amount of greenery per se do not evoke negative feelings.
... However, most were conducted in European and North American environments. Not much research has been carried out in Asia, [21,23,29,[35][36][37][38][39][40] or Central and Eastern Europe [41,42]-in other words, the areas involved in our research. ...
... For this purpose, we applied analyses of intermediary effects, where perceived danger is a mediator of the relationships between the presence of trees and shrubs and preference, as well as perceived path use intensity and preference. It should be noted that in studies on this issue, mediation models are rarely applied, although they are helpful in understanding the phenomena [41,42,60]. ...
... Apart from the attributes listed above, the impact of various forms of greenery on the sense of danger and fear were studied and compared. It was confirmed that the sense of security is influenced by trees and shrubs [7,42], the specific spatial structures that trees and shrubs create, Sustainability 2019, 11, 4565 4 of 22 especially dense understory vegetation or a high density of trees [8,9,11,21,61,85] as well as specific types of vegetation, in particular naturalistic, dense vegetation [9,27]. ...
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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.
... This effect is more pronounced in females (e.g., [50]) because they are more afraid of potential crime than males. On the other hand, some studies showed that females may express more positive emotional expressions in natural environments than males (e.g., [51,54]). ...
... Conversely, attractive and closed environments evoked higher self-reported fear and sadness than attractive open environments. Moreover, in closed attractive environments, females reported higher fear than in open attractive environments, which is in accordance with a large body of environmental psychology research showing that females may fear being attacked in closed natural environments (e.g., [51,54]). ...
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Many studies have demonstrated that exposure to simulated natural scenes has positive effects on emotions and reduces stress. In the present study, we investigated emotional facial expressions while viewing images of various types of natural environments. Both automated facial expression analysis by iMotions’ AFFDEX 8.1 software (iMotions, Copenhagen, Denmark) and self-reported emotions were analyzed. Attractive and unattractive natural images were used, representing either open or closed natural environments. The goal was to further understand the actual features and characteristics of natural scenes that could positively affect emotional states and to evaluate face reading technology to measure such effects. It was predicted that attractive natural scenes would evoke significantly higher levels of positive emotions than unattractive scenes. The results showed generally small values of emotional facial expressions while observing the images. The facial expression of joy was significantly higher than that of other registered emotions. Contrary to predictions, there was no difference between facial emotions while viewing attractive and unattractive scenes. However, the self-reported emotions evoked by the images showed significantly larger differences between specific categories of images in accordance with the predictions. The differences between the registered emotional facial expressions and self-reported emotions suggested that the participants more likely described images in terms of common stereotypes linked with the beauty of natural environments. This result might be an important finding for further methodological considerations.
... Some thematic shifts can also be noticed after 2018. An increasing number of articles focused on urban issues, such as accessibility of urban green space , their perception and preferences Hami and Maruthaveeran, 2018;Yazdani, 2019), safety of urban parks (Lis et al., 2021), blue-green infrastructure (Pochodyła et al., 2021), urban trees (Al-Sulbi, 2019), and urban biodiversity (Moszkowicz et al., 2021). Furthermore, two new topics emerged that were also promoted by two new LSI's launched during the IALE 2019 World Congress in Milan. ...
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It has been 15 years by now that the International Association for Landscape Ecology – Chapter Germany (IALE-D) launched the e-journal Landscape Online. At the time of its first publication in 2007, to the best of our knowledge, it was one of the first open access peer-reviewed scientific e-journals in the field of Landscape Ecology. Over the last 15 years, it evolved from an idea driven by the German-speaking IALE community in Germany, Austria and Switzerland to a wider established journal linked to the international IALE community supported by partners across the world. In this Editorial, we (1) present the journal’s development and the regional distribution of authorships, (2) reflect on the topics addressed by the articles published, and (3) outline the latest developments in the light of continuities and changes.
... The average scores obtained by fortress landscapes in each of the analysed dimensions (the variables in the study) underwent analysis. This method is sometimes applied in situations where the researcher's attention is focused on features of landscape more than features of people (Herzog & Kropscott, 2004;Lis & Iwankowski, 2021a,b;Lis, Pardela, Iwankowski, & Haans, 2021;Lis, Zalewska, & Iwankowski, 2019;van Rijswijk & Haans, 2018). It takes into account the variability of landscape features which, thanks to a random selection (in our case a random selection of 100 photos from a database of 1000 photos), constitutes a fairly good representation of real landscapes of a given type (in our case fortresses). ...
Vegetation in historic fortification areas is sometimes perceived mainly through the prism of the threat it poses to the historic structures. However, its presence can be socially desirable. Therefore, a question arises regarding how to shape military heritage landscapes in order to ensure their legibility and the optimal degree of naturalness. This study attempts to identify the nature of the relationship between the legibility and naturalness of military heritage landscapes (19th–20th century) in five European countries as well as the social preference for these landscapes, taking into account the complexity of these relationships (mediating effects). A more in-depth exploration may be helpful in determining the potential directions for contemporary shaping of the green areas of historic fortifications, taking into account social expectations and preference. This study examined the preference of 131 participants (age range 17–76 year; Mage = 38.3; SDage = 15.61) for 57 sites in terms of naturalness and legibility via participation in a questionnaire survey assessing reactions to naturalness, legibility and preference for three different maintenance categories of military heritage landscapes (‘well-kept’, ‘partly-wild’ and ‘wild’). Correlations between variables and mediating effects (suppressions) were analysed. A negative correlation was demonstrated between naturalness and legibility. Moreover, naturalness does not correlate with preference, which can be explained by the influence of legibility. The legibility correlates positively with preference, but this correlation would have been stronger were it not for the influence of naturalness. The outcome suggests that the most popular fortifications are maintained in a way that allows vegetation to appear, while at the same time at least partially preserving the legibility of the structures.
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The work of landscape architects can contribute to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and the associated ‘Leave no one behind’ agenda by creating accessible and health-promoting green spaces (especially goals 3, 10 and 11). To ensure that the design of green space delivers accessibility and intended health outcomes, an evidence-based design process is recommended. This is a challenge, since many landscape architects are not trained in evidence-based design, and leading scholars have called for methods that can help landscape architects work in an evidence-based manner. This paper examines the implementation of a process model for evidence-based health design in landscape architecture. The model comprises four steps: ‘evidence collection’, ‘programming’, ‘designing’, and ‘evaluation’. The paper aims to demonstrate how the programming step can be implemented in the design of a health-promoting nature trail that is to offer people with mobility disabilities improved mental, physical and social health. We demonstrate how the programming step systematizes evidence into design criteria (evidence-based goals) and design solutions (how the design criteria are to be solved in the design). The results of the study are presented as a design ‘Program’, which we hope can serve as an example for landscape architects of how evidence can be translated into design.
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Background: The aim of this systematic review of systematic reviews was to identify, summarise, and synthesise the available evidence of systematic reviews (SRs) and meta-analyses (MAs) on the preventative and therapeutic psychological and physical effects of forest-based interventions. Methods: Both bibliographic databases and grey literature sources were searched for SRs and MAs published until May 2020. Eight databases were searched for relevant articles: MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, PsycInfo, CiNii, EBSCO, and Scopus. Grey literature was sourced from Google Scholar and other web-based search tools. SRs and MAs that included randomised controlled (RCT), non-randomised controlled (NRCT), and non-controlled trials (NCT) on health-related effects of forest-based interventions were eligible if they had searched at least two databases. The methodological quality of eligible reviews was assessed by AMSTAR-2. Results: We evaluated 11 systematic reviews covering 131 different primary intervention studies, mostly from Asian countries, three of which included supplementary meta-analyses. The quality assessment resulted in moderate confidence in the results of two reviews, low confidence in six, and critically low confidence in three. The results of the eight moderate and low-rated reviews indicated that forest-based interventions are beneficial to the cardiovascular system, immune system, and mental health (in the areas of stress, depression, anxiety, and negative emotions). Evidence for the effectiveness of forest-based interventions on metabolic parameters in adults, the severity of atopic dermatitis in children and adolescents, and social skills and sociality in healthy primary school children was weak. Discussion/Conclusions: Evidence suggests beneficial therapeutic effects of forest-based interventions on hypertension, stress, and mental-health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Changes in immunological and inflammatory parameters after forest therapy should be verified in bio-geographically native forests. In the future, more attention should be paid to careful planning, implementation, and reporting of primary studies and to systematic reviews on the effects of forest-based interventions.
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The world is facing the challenge of aging populations. Urban natural environments, including green spaces and blue spaces, have been demonstrated to have great benefits to the mental restoration of the elderly. However, the study of the specific characteristics of urban environments that are popular and the most restorative for the elderly is still lacking. Photo elicitation as visual stimuli was utilized to explore the differences in preference and psychological restoration of the elderly through the perception of the eight perceived sensory dimensions (PSDs) in different types of urban environments. The results showed that: (1) The respondents had different perceptions of the eight PSDs in the different urban natural environments. Blue space and partly-closed green space were more preferred by the elderly, and also had more psychological restorative effects on the elderly. (2) There was no significant correlation between the number of highly perceived PSDs and preference, as well as between the number of highly perceived PSDs and psychological restoration. However, there was a significant correlation between preference and psychological restoration. (3) Partly-closed green space with more Serene and Refuge qualities, and blue space with more Serene, Refuge and Prospect properties were optimal characteristics for psychological restoration of the elderly. In addition, open green space with more Prospect, Serene and Social qualities, and closed green space with more Space, Refuge and less Nature properties could also increase psychological restoration of older adults. These findings can provide useful guidelines for restorative environmental design for the elderly in the future.
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Urban land cover expansion and human population growth are accelerating worldwide. This is resulting in the loss and degradation of green and blue spaces (e.g. parks, waterways, lakes) in cities, which provide resources to sustain biodiversity and improve human wellbeing. The specific characteristics of these spaces (e.g. sounds, species, safety) that enhance or detract from wellbeing are underexplored, yet this knowledge is needed to inform urban planning, management and policies that will ultimately benefit both people and biodiversity. Research of this kind is rarely conducted in the Global South, where rapid urbanisation threatens biodiversity-rich ecosystems of worldwide significance. Here, we examine how perceptions of green, waterway, and dense urban spaces relate to wellbeing in Georgetown, Guyana. Specifically, we use mediation models to test how perceptions of sound, bird species richness, naturalness, and safety concerns contribute to sites being perceived as restorative which, subsequently, influences wellbeing. We assess the accuracy of these site perceptions with objective measures of sound (using a bioacoustic sound index), bird species richness, and percent coverage of vegetation, water, and impervious surfaces. Results showed that if sites were perceived as species rich, containing natural sounds like birdsong, natural rather than artificial, and safe, they were perceived as more restorative, resulting in improved wellbeing. In general, people's perceptions were consistent with objective measures. Green, compared with waterway and dense urban sites, contained more biophonic sounds, higher species richness, greater vegetation and water coverage. Although waterways were biodiverse, they were dominated by anthrophonic sounds, so were perceived as artificial and non-restorative. We shed light on how city planners might augment specific characteristics to improve the wellbeing of urban dwellers, with implications for biodiversity conservation. Our findings provide a scientific evidence base for urban design and management plans that could deliver multiple co-benefits, particularly in biodiversity-rich cities in neotropical regions.
Ecosystem disservices (EDS) is an important form of social-ecological interactions and can strongly influence people’s perception of nature. However, compare to ecosystem services (ES), current studies on EDS are still very limited especially from the perspective of classification and valuation. Here, we firstly proposed a function-based classification system to better explain the general effects of EDS. Then, we used Beijing, the capital of China, as a case study to value three common urban EDS (excessive decrease in water quantity, plant-related diseases and infrastructure damage) there. The results suggested that the total EDS value of Beijing was approximately 10.54 billion RMB/year in 2019, which equaled about 5.13% of the total value of five important ecosystem services (food and raw material production, climate regulation, environmental quality regulation, soil retention and ecotourism). The finding showed that although EDS caused considerable financial loss, the potential economic gains from ecosystem services could still greatly outweigh the loss and therefore supported the current urban greening expansion policy in Beijing. Our study attempted to promote the bridging of ecosystem services and disservices studies and call for more equal consideration of both ES and EDS to create more compressive and sustainable planning.
Fear of crime may restrict people’s use of urban green spaces and thus decrease those spaces’ potential public health benefits. Managerial measures in public green spaces that enhance perceived safety are therefore necessary. However, park management in the Nordic countries lacks the knowledge and practice of assessing park users’ perceptions of safety. The objective of this paper was to develop a placesensitive tool for park safety–management practice that combined park manager and user perspectives adapted to the Nordic context. Two empirical studies were conducted in Oslo to achieve this objective. Phase 1 included a focus-group interview with a team of municipal green-space managers to investigate challenges in their safety-related work. In phase 2 a multi-method field study was conducted in an urban park to assess female perceptions of safety in a place-sensitive manner and test methods to be included in a tool for managers. First, safety walks and interviews with ten female residents provided on-site information on how their local park was perceived in terms of safety and identified problematic places. These places were then systematically assessed by twenty female non-residents using questionnaires exploring the relation between perceived environmental attributes and perceived safety. Based on the green-space managers’ experiences and addressed needs and experiences from the field study, a place-sensitive method and accompanying tool—called SAFE—for assessing perceived safety in urban parks for managerial purposes is presented.
The density of vegetation in parks and forests has a significant impact on user preferences. However, the results of research thus far have not provided a clear determination regarding the relationship between plant density and preference, or the causes. We assumed that the variables that would explain the impact of plant density on preferences are privacy and safety, which also mutually influence each other. We designed a study that evaluated 124 photos selected randomly from a sample of 500 photos of parks and forests. The study was carried out in a lecture room equipped with a projector on which photographs were displayed. The photos were assessed by 104 participants randomly divided into 3 groups, each of which rated the photos in terms of one aspect (perceived safety, privacy and landscape preference). The plant density was measured in the photos in three layers, as a relative number (1) plants providing cover, (2) sky clearings among the crowns, (3) illuminated surfaces along horizontal planes. The results showed that all three variables measuring plant density affect preferences (respectively: r = -.41; .50, .43) while privacy and safety are mediators in these relationships (the mediation paths are statistically significant). In addition, safety is a mediator in relation to privacy and preference. So, what we are dealing with here is a form of double mediation: plant density affects preferences in such a way that it increases a sense of privacy that would have a positive effect on preferences were it not for the threat associated with it. This is the reason why sheltered and shady places are unpopular even though they offer a sense of privacy. This means that in parks, but only those without the presence of criminal and anti-social behaviour / with no risk of crime (monitored, private, etc.) it is worth introducing quiet, sheltered places that will satisfy the sense of privacy and positively influence how the users feel.
Recreation in a public park is associated with contact with other people spending time in a park setting. The choices people make about visiting a park are not always associated with the need for contact. Sometimes privacy and/or safety is more important, and this is related to the presence of other people in the area and where these people are. We examined how our preferences are influenced by how far other people are from us (distance) and to what extent they are visible (obstruction). We also verified whether the reason for these preferences stems from sense of safety and privacy. To this end, we designed a study in which participants rated 112 photos of park settings in terms of perceived safety, privacy and landscape preference. We measured the distances from people in situ. We measured the degree of obstruction in the pictures as the relative (percentage) quantity of landscape forms constituting a visual barrier. Mediation analyses revealed that (1) increasing the distance from other people in a particular area has a positive effect on preferences, caused by increased privacy and safety; (2) obstruction reduces sense of safety, which in turn reduces privacy and, as a result, reduces preferences. These results indicate that people feel safe and well in situations when they see other people in the area and are not separated from them by visual obstruction, as long as these people are located some distance away. That is why it is worth creating spaces for relaxation located away from active spaces but where the active people are clearly visible.