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Social Value of Landscapes
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Connecting People With Ecosystems in the 21st Century:
An Assessment of Our Nation’s Urban Forests
PDF (1.2 mb)
  John F. Dwyer, David J. Nowak, Mary Heather Noble, and Susan M. Sisinni 2000; USDA Forest Service  

Urban areas (cities, towns, villages, etc.) cover 3.5 percent of the 48 conterminous states and contain more than 75 percent of the population. In urban areas, about 3.8 billion trees cover 27.1 percent of the land. On a broader scale, metropolitan areas (urban counties) cover 24.5 percent of the conterminous United States and contain 74.4 billion trees that cover 33.4 percent of these counties. This report is the first national assessment of urban forest resources in the United States and details variations in urbanization and urban tree cover across the United States by state, county, and individual urban area. It illustrates local-scale variation, complexity, and connectedness of the urban forest resource and how this resource changes through time in response to a wide range of powerful forces. The report concludes by outlining future areas of emphasis that will facilitate comprehensive, adaptive, and sustainable urban forest management and improve environmental quality, enhance human health, and connect people with ecosystems in the 21st century

Closing The Achievement Gap PDF (872 kb)
  Gerald A Lieberman, Ph.D & Linda L Hoody, MA ; State Education and Environment Roundtable  
This is an executive summary of a report prepared for the State Education and Environment Roundtable. It focuses on a specific area of environmental education: using the environment as an integrating context for learning (EIC) This term encompasses the educational practices that the State Education and Environment Roundtable believes should form the foundation of environment based education programs in America's schools.
Human Issues in Horticulture PDF (267 kb)
  Diane Relf. HortTechnology April/June 1992 2(2).  
The organization Partners for Livable Places maintains that plants are the fastest, most cost-effective agents for changing negative perceptions of an area, enhancing the economic and social conditions and improving the psychosocial health.
Culture and Changing Landscape Structure PDF (953kb)
  Joan Iverson Nassauer, Dept of LA, University of Minnesota, 1995.
Culture changes landscapes and culture is embodied by landscapes. Both aspects of this dynamic are encompassed by landscape ecology, but neither has been examined sufficiently to produce cultural theory within the field. This paper describes four broad cultural principles for landscape ecology, under which more precise principles might be organized. A central underlying premise is that culture and landscape interact in a feedback loop in which culture structures landscapes and landscapes inculcate culture.
Environment and Crime in the Inner-city: Does Vegetation Reduce Crime? PDF (136 kb)
  Frances E. Kuo and William C Sullivan, Environment and Behavior, Vol 33, May 2001 343-367.
In an analysis of the relationship between crime rates and vegetation at inner city public housing developments in Chicago, buildings with high levels of greenery had roughly half as many crimes as buildings with no greenery.
The Role of Arboriculture in a Healthy Social Ecology PDF (114 kb)
  Frances E Kuo, Journal of Arboriculture 29(3) 148-155, May 2003.  
The link between arboriculture and a healthier social ecosystem turns out to be surprisingly simple to explain. In residential areas, barren, treeless spaces often become “no man’s lands,” which discourage resident interaction and invite crime. The presence of trees and well-maintained grass can transform these no man’s lands into pleasant, welcoming, well-used spaces. Vital, well-used neighborhood common spaces serve to both strengthen ties among residents and deter crime, thereby creating healthier, safer neighborhoods.
Transforming Inner-city Landscapes: Trees, Sense of Safety and Preference PDF (2.04 MB)
  Frances Kuo, Magdalna Bacaicoa and William Sullivan
Although tree placement had little effect on sense of safety and no effect on preference, both tree density and grass maintenance had strong effects on preference and sense of safety. Results suggest that trees and grass maintenance can increase sense of safety in inner-city neighborhoods.
Coping with ADD: The Surprising Connection to Green Play Settings PDF (193 kb)
  Taylor, A.F., Kuo, F.E. & Sullivan, W.C. . Environment & Behavior 2001, 33(1), 54-77
A study by University of Illinois researchers suggests that playtime in outdoor green spaces can have a positive impact on children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Compared to the aftereffects of play in paved outdoor or indoor areas, activities in natural, green settings were far more likely to leave ADD children better able to focus, concentrate and pay attention. The ‘greener’ a child’s play area, the less severe his or her attention deficit symptoms.
Public Response to the Urban Forest in Inner-city Business Districts.
PDF (212kb)
  Wolf, K. L. 2003. Special Issue on Social Aspects of Urban Forestry. Journal of Arboriculture, 29, 3, 117-126  
Revitalization programs are underway in many inner-city business districts. An urban forestry program can be an important element in creating an appealing consumer environment, yet it may not be considered a priority given that there are often many physical improvements needs. This research evaluates the role of trees in consumer/environment interactions, focusing on the district wide public goods provided by the community forest. Results suggest that consumer behavior is positively correlated with streetscape greening on multiple cognitive and behavioral dimensions. Research outcomes also establish a basis for partnership with business communities regarding urban forest planning and management
Fertile Ground for Community: Inner-city Neighborhood Common Spaces. PDF (2.2 MB)
  Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C., Coley, R.L., & Brunson, L. American Journal of Community Psychology, 26(1), 823-851. 1998.  
This study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that the more trees and grass in the common spaces of inner-city neighborhoods, the more those spaces are used by residents. And, use of these spaces means more opportunities for informal social interaction. In other words, relationships between neighbors are made stronger simply through the presence of vegetation.
Plants at Work: Improving Asset Performance PDF (141 kb)
  MJ Gilhooley.  
Interior plantscapes are dramatically improving both the recruitment and retention of top employees in today’s tight, mobile job market. Plants enhance productivity by 12% while deflating the mounting problem of workplace stress. Plants have proven to be an economical way to manage the growing risks and liabilities associated with poor indoor air quality and help to absorb sound.
Youth and Urban Nature Experiences:
Assessing Impacts, Benefits and Behaviors

PDF (304Kb)
  Wolf, K. L. 2001 FACT SHEET
A series of research efforts started in Summer 2003 and have continued through 2005. Many organizations and agencies offer opportunities for youth to work in urban forests and other nature settings. Youth may participate in programs as volunteers or employees. While helping to improve the environment through planting, restoration and facilities work, it is possible that young people gain social and psychological benefits. Following a literature review, a pilot instrument of psychological and social measures was developed in 2004 to assess potential youth benefits. A two-study research project was conducted in 2005. Project partners have included EarthCorps (Seattle), Mountains to Sound Greenways Trust (Seattle), and numerous organizations in other U.S. cities that host youth and nature programs.
Ergonomics of the City: Green Infrastructure and Social Benefits
PDF (260Kb)
    Wolf, K. L. 2003  
Introduction to Urban and Community Forestry Programs in the United States. Landscape Planning and Horticulture
PDF (1.4 Mb)
    Wolf, K. L. 2003  
Beyond the White Line: Public Response to the Urban Freeway Roadside
PDF (1.1Mb)
    Wolf, K. L. 2006 FACT SHEET
This study explored public preferences and perceptions for various landscape treatments of freeway roadsides. Using surveys, drivers from the states of Washington, Minnesota, Michigan, and Maryland were asked to rate scenes containing varied vegetation content and arrangements. Drivers indicated highest preference for roadsides having urban forest screening, and endorsed agency management in support of roadside nature.
Freeway Roadside Landscape and Community Perceptions
PDF (1.1Mb)
    Wolf, K. L. 2001 FACT SHEET
Drivers in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. were asked to judge how urban greening near freeways influenced their judgments of roadside communities. The self-administered survey displayed simulations of communities having different levels of green space, near the freeway, and throughout a community. Higher ratings of community appeal and greater willingness-to-pay for goods were associated with community greening.
Psycho-Social Dynamics of the Urban Forest in Business Districts
PDF (2.8mb)
    Wolf, K. L. 1997. In P. Williams & J. M. Zajicek (eds) People Plant Interactions in Urban Areas: Proceedings of a Research and Education Symposium. Blacksburg, VA: People Plant Council.