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Title: Urban park visitor preferences for vegetation – An on‐site qualitative research study
Societal Impact Statement Summary

Urban parks provide numerous cultural and ecological benefits, but may not always meet diverse visitor preferences. There is a need for additional on‐site research, which has the potential to gauge vegetation preferences in a more authentic and multi‐sensory context. We asked: how does vegetation in urban parks currently meet visitor preferences?

We performed on‐site semi‐structured interviews with visitors at 15 different parks of three general types (i.e., natural‐passive use, recreational‐active use, and multi‐use parks), using a case study of Portland, Oregon, a mid‐sized city in North America with a temperate climate. We transcribed the interviews and coded them for themes and patterns of meaning.

Visitors across demographics groups discussed trees, size, and diversity/variety as some of their favorite aspects of the vegetation. Trees were important for visitors, particularly for their large size/shade, but vegetation preferences tended to vary across park type and slightly more than half of participants suggested changes. Many recreational‐active and multi‐use park visitors desired more flowers, color, grass, middle growth, trees, and food‐bearing plants, as well as improved placement, while visitors to natural‐passive use parks preferred additional invasive/harmful plant removal.

Integrating visitor vegetation preferences into plant selection, layout, and maintenance has the potential to increase ecosystem services of urban parks. The incorporation of colorful, native flowers for visitors can also provide habitat for native species. Visitors across park types also desired to learn more about plants, and so additional interpretive signs/labels and multi‐sensory gardens can help to engage and educate visitors.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 375-388
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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