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Appreciation of informal urban greenspace by Japanese and Australian residents

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Do Japanese and Australian residents appreciate informal urban greenspace? Preliminary results from a case comparison study by Christoph Rupprecht (

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Appreciation of informal urban greenspace by Japanese and Australian residents

  1. 1. Christoph RupprechtPhD CandidateEnvironmental Futures Centre, School of EnvironmentInvited talk at Japanese Geoscience Union 2013Appreciation of Informal Urban Greenspaceby Japanese and Australian Residents
  2. 2. What is informal urban greenspace?Vegetated urban space:1. Human-modified (anthropogenic)2. Dominated by spontaneousvegetation (not planted)3. Not recognised or managed as• recreational space• agricultural space• conservation space no gardens, parks etc.
  3. 3. Typology of informal urban greenspaceStreet verge GapRailway Brownfield WatersideLotsStructural Microsite Powerline
  4. 4. Why is informal greenspace important?Recreation benefits• Walking, exercise• Nature experience• Enjoying the scenery• Gardening …Ecological benefits• Biodiversity• Animal/plant habitat• Eco-services (e.g. O2 production)Planning topic• Urban landscape appreciation• Growing/dense cities• Shrinking cities
  5. 5. Two cities: case study locationsLocation Brisbane SapporoFounded 1824, city status 1902 1868, city status 1922Population 1,07 mil. (2010)  1,3 mil. (2031) 1,9 mil. (2011)  1,8 mil. (2030)Pop. density 770/km2 (peak >5,000/km2) 1,700/km2 (peak >8,000/km2)Park space 32m2 per person 12m2 per person
  6. 6. Study & questionnaire design• Letterbox-drop mail-back questionnaire• ~2000 households per city• In 400m radius of 121 sites on grid• Information sheet & overview of IGS types• Main sections1. IGS known in neighborhood2. IGS use3. IGS use as child or teenager4. IGS appreciation5. Attitude towards urban nature6. Demographics• Response rate: 6% Brisbane, 8% Sapporo Brisbane n=121, Sapporo n=163
  7. 7. 010203040506070None Few (1-5) Some (5-10) Many (over 10)%ofrespondentsSapporoBrisbaneResidents’ perception of IGS How many informal greenspaces doyou know of in your neighbourhood?
  8. 8. Residents’ perception of IGS (2)What types of IGS do you know?Sapporo Brisbane77% Lots 72%56% River banks 66%54% Street verges 61%
  9. 9. Residents’ perception of IGS (3)010203040506070Better Both Worse Neutral%ofrespondentsSapporoBrisbane Would you say informal greenspacemakes your daily life better or worse?
  10. 10. Residents’ perception of IGS (4) Benefits of informal greenspaceSimilarities Sap. Bris.“Every bit of green in the city is good” 67% 75%“Plants filter air and produce oxygen” 49% 74%“Grasses, trees and flowers are niceto look at” 46% 73%“It provides a place to relax” 27% 39%Differences Sap. Bris.“Wildlife can live in them” 39% 89%“It makes the neighborhood moreinteresting” 24% 66%
  11. 11. Residents’ perception of IGS (5) Problems of informal greenspaceSimilarities Sap. Bris.“Littering” 91% 87%“Full of weeds” 59% 58%“Breeding ground for pest animals” 36% 39%“Attracts unwanted individuals” 31% 32%Differences Sap. Bris.“Vandalism” 18% 58%“Looks filthy and unorderly” 43% 27%
  12. 12. Residents’ use of informal greenspace Do you use IGS for recreational activities?0%10%20%30%40%50%60%%ofrespondentsSapporo BrisbaneSimilar activities:1. Walking2. Enjoying the view3. Observing plants/animals4. Walking the dog• “Close to home” top use reason• >70% report no use problems
  13. 13. Residents’ use of IGS in childhood Did you use IGS as a child or teenager?0%20%40%60%80%100%%ofrespondentsSapporo Brisbane>70% used IGS daily or weeklyMost popular activities• Playing games• Exploration• Observing plants and animals• Secret hiding place from adults
  14. 14. Residents’ use of IGS in childhood (2)No ball play!>75% report no use problemsReasons for using IGS• Near home• Wild & exciting• No use restrictions• No nice parks (Sapporo)• Not crowded (Brisbane)
  15. 15. Residents’ voices: reflection on IGS“It’s real, not fake like a park.” – Male, 41, Brisbane
  16. 16. Residents’ voices: reflection on IGS (2)“We live in a very organisedworld – it’s good when naturetakes over and reminds us thatwe only have temporary use ofthe space. In the urbanenvironment, man usually winsthe battle against nature, so it isnice to see nature fightingback where it can.”– Female, 62, Brisbane
  17. 17. Residents’ voices: reflection on IGS (3)“There is nothingpleasant, calming or relaxing inlooking at a bit of a mess. […] It’sthe abandoned element I don’tlike.”– Female, 55, Brisbane“Space that’s unmaintained andwhere people’s eyes don’t reachare dangerous.”– Male, 45, Sapporo
  18. 18. Residents’ voices: reflection on IGS (4)“Children can experiencenature, come in touch with allkind of living things, learn aboutthe preciousness of life. It’s alsoa great chance for them to makeup their own games and rulesrather than just use the play toolsthey are given.”– Female, 39, Sapporo
  19. 19. Residents’ voices: reflection on IGS (5)“A neutral zone that belongs to nobody isnecessary: left-overroom, margins, interstices, space. A lifelike in the city, where man-made objectsare surrounded by nothing but artificialgreenspace, is suffocating.”– Male, 45, Sapporo“Unlike maintained greenspace, it hassomething you can grasp with all fivesenses, and I don’t want it to disappear.”– Female, 35, Sapporo
  20. 20. Preliminary analysis resultsPotential explanations: Cultural factors Respondent income✗ Age✗ Sex? Local IGScharacteristics? Resident attitude0%10%20%30%40%50%%ofrespondentsSapporo BrisbaneBuilding a tree house as child0%10%20%30%40%< 200 200 -400400 -600600 -800800 -10001000 -1250> 1250%ofrespondentsYearly income in Mio. YenSapporoBrisbane
  21. 21. Summary: appreciation of IGSPeople know, appreciate & use IGSImportant role for children’s playPotential benefits & problemsNew field – policy implications
  22. 22. Thank you! Questions…?Follow me @Blog: www.treepolis.orgTwitter: @focxGoogle+: Christoph RupprechtThis presentation is available @ Slideshare!