An investigation of residents' relationships with street trees in southwest England

Flannigan, John (2010) An investigation of residents' relationships with street trees in southwest England. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.


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This thesis considers the ways in which residents interact with street trees being placed within the context that street trees form the most significant `everyday natural street features' in local urban landscapes. Three specific facets are explored to identify the nature and importance of the 'street tree/resident relationships' namely; the relationship a resident may have when regarding the overall street scene; the relationship a resident may have when in their house or carrying out house related activities; the relationship a resident may have with street trees in a visual simulation situation. Accordingly, research describes the different spheres of contact between residents and street trees ranging from a more general interaction with them throughout the neighbourhood to the tree closest to the home. The methodology was developed in the context of the lack of any clear theory about residents' perceptions of street trees, especially in a UK situation. In particular, it acknowledges the need to combine quantitative and qualitative techniques, to ensure that areas lacking knowledge are addressed, while allowing for a deeper understanding of residents' perceptions. Appropriate methodologies are critically assessed through initial trials of householder questionnaire surveys and visual simulation techniques in order to ascertain whether methods utilised elsewhere, particularly the USA, are appropriate in the UK including a critique of other visual simulation methods to introduce robust visual simulation survey techniques. These exploited digital photography to develop realistic images, to apply tree scenarios to real street backgrounds and to control variables. Residents in a carefully selected case study area were subsequently engaged in a householder postal questionnaire, face-to-face interviews and a visual simulation survey with each approach intended to meet specific needs of the research. Using these approaches the study integrated findings to gain an in-depth understanding of residents' perceptions. Findings reveal; that a complex, generally positive, relationship exists between urban residents, the road in which they live and the street trees growing within it, that residents express strong opinions about street trees demonstrating a relationship that is both complex and profound; such describes how street trees are considered as significant territorial symbols of residents' home life offering a wide ranging list of benefits meeting their spiritual, aesthetic and practical needs. In the context of current UK arboricultural practice the findings are revelatory for the arboricultural mindset which, in the UK, has tended to focus on the environmental, biological, legal and maintenance issues of street trees rather than the needs of the people who live alongside them. It is anticipated that findings will help to better equip urban tree managers and allied professionals to establish policies that are mutually beneficial for trees and citizens; raise awareness of potential conflicts; and contribute towards clear strategic direction for street tree planting and maintenance.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Date: July 2010
Subjects: K100 Architecture
K300 Landscape Design
K900 Others in Architecture, Building and Planning
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham School of Architecture and Design
REF UoA Output Collections > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Richard Birley
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2017 09:11
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2017 09:11

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