Linking biodiversity and recreational merits of urban green spaces : methodological development

Abstract: Urban green spaces play an important role in promoting both biodiversity and human recreation. This thesis therefore attempted to link biodiversity and recreational values of urban green spaces through an interdisciplinary research of trade-offs and synergies between biodiversity conservation and human recreation. The interdisciplinary research comprised a methodological review followed by three interlinked case studies in Helsingborg employing different methods and having different research questions, but conducted partly on the same sites. The review focused on biotope mapping where a biotope mapping model integrated with vegetation structure was developed as a further contribution to the methodology. In the first case study the modified biotope mapping model was tested to identify biodiversity values in an urban green space. In the second case study, different user groups' perceptions of urban green spaces were examined by self-reported identification of the eight perceived sensory dimensions and linked to the green spaces' biotope characteristics. The third case study was an in-depth and on-site exploration of the relationship between preference and biodiversity in an urban green space context adopting the Visitor-Employed Photography (VEP) method. The results suggest that - Biodiversity values in urban green spaces can be indicated through modified biotope mapping involving vegetation structures. - People can perceive recreational values in urban green spaces through eight sensory dimensions. Each dimension is furthermore associated with biotopes. The more diverse biotopes an urban green space encompasses, the more frequently the eight sensory dimensions could be perceived. Urban forests were more frequently perceived as nature and rich in species than open green spaces. - Preference is not positively related to high biodiversity. The VEP study revealed on-site preference for biodiversity to be highly context-specific, mainly triggered by specific features rather than the overall scenery and character of the setting. These results can be used for urban green space planning and management to maximize both biodiversity and recreational benefits in urban green spaces in practice.

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