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Research article2013Peer reviewed

Is biodiversity attractive?-On-site perception of recreational and biodiversity values in urban green space

Qiu, Ling; Ling, Qiu; Lindberg, Stefan; Busse Nielsen, Anders


This study investigated whether preferences and biodiversity are compatible in an urban green space setting and whether people actually recognise and appreciate ecologically rich environments when exposed to these as part of a recreational visit. Data were collected through an on-site visitor-employed photography (VEP) study employing both lay people and ecology experts. Photos were taken by the participants during a walk along a 1.6 km trail through a recreational park with clear habitat variation. Half of the lay people and half of the experts each took five photos of features reflecting high preference and five reflecting low preference. The remaining half each took five photos of features they perceived to represent high species richness and five representing low species richness. Photos and written comments were then compared against an assessment of biodiversity values of the different habitats experienced along the trail. The results indicated that people can correctly perceive differences in biodiversity between urban green space habitat types. High biodiversity did not, however, relate positively to preference as half-open park areas were preferred to areas of more complex vegetation. Nevertheless, negative preferences for these richer habitat types were mostly related to the presence or execution of human interventions. The VEP method revealed on-site perception and preference to be highly context-specific, mainly triggered by specific features rather than the overall scenery and character of the setting. Differences in attitude between experts and lay people suggested that ecological knowledge could have a positive influence on preference for certain aspects of biodiversity. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Biodiversity; Recreational preferences; On-site perception of species richness; Visitor-employed photography

Published in

Landscape and Urban Planning
2013, Volume: 119, pages: 136-146 Publisher: ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV