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Does beauty still matter? Experiential and utilitarian values of urban treesAuthor(s): Herbert W. Schroeder
Source: In: Trees, people and the built environment. Proceedings of the Urban Trees Research Conference; 2011 April 13-14; Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK. Institute of Chartered Foresters: 159-165.
Publication Series: Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
Station: Northern Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (143.54 KB)
DescriptionA major focus of early research on the social aspects of urban forestry was on how people perceive and value the beauty of trees in cities and towns. Since then, researchers have found that besides aesthetic enjoyment, the presence of urban forest vegetation may provide additional benefits such as stress relief, recovery from mental fatigue, stronger social ties, improved health and longevity, and reduced crime. Research has also documented that the urban forest can generate economic returns in the form of higher property values, increased retail activity, and reduced costs of heating and cooling, as well as environmental benefits like improved air quality. In their enthusiasm for these research findings on utilitarian tree benefits, some urban forest advocates have tended to disparage and belittle the aesthetic values of urban trees, suggesting that the beauty of urban trees is of trivial significance compared to their environmental, social, economic, and health benefits. But there is ample research evidence to show that beauty still matters as a reason for planting trees. Aesthetic values and utilitarian values of urban trees are both important, and they are interrelated. In fact, many of the utilitarian benefits of trees are a direct consequence of their beauty. Therefore, future research on urban forest values needs to give equal attention to both kinds of value. Rather than promote one at the expense of the other, urban forest advocates should highlight how these two kinds of value reinforce and support each other in enhancing the quality of urban life.
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CitationSchroeder, Herbert W. 2011. Does beauty still matter? Experiential and utilitarian values of urban trees. In: Trees, people and the built environment. Proceedings of the Urban Trees Research Conference; 2011 April 13-14; Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK. Institute of Chartered Foresters: 159-165.
Keywordsaesthetics, benefits, social values, urban forestry
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