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Peoples' use of, and concerns about, green space networks: A case study of Birchwood, Warrington New Town, UK

Tzoulas, K and James, P (2010) Peoples' use of, and concerns about, green space networks: A case study of Birchwood, Warrington New Town, UK. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 9 (2). pp. 121-128. ISSN 1618-8667

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Abstract

Cultural services provided by green space networks and in particular leisure and recreational opportunities are central to the quality of life of those living in urban areas. However, the literature concerned with green space networks has mainly focused on planning aspects rather than on recreational use. The aim of this study was to evaluate the recreational use of, and concerns about, a naturalistic green space network. The case study location was the naturalistic woodland framework in Birchwood, Warrington, UK, known as Birchwood Forest Park. Non-participant observation and content analysis of local archives were used to collect quantitative and qualitative data. Birchwood Forest Park was used more for leisure activities (52.8%, N=1825; i.e. recreation, sports or play) than for utilitarian purposes (47.2%, N=1825; i.e. as walking or cycling thoroughfare). However, utilitarian walking (30%, N=1825) was the most frequent type of activity observed. The maintenance of the naturalistic woodland framework was the most frequent concern mentioned in the local archives (33.3%, N=234). This case study suggests that the recreational patterns in, as well as peoples' concerns about, naturalistic urban landscapes may be a factor of high-quality maintenance and associated local aesthetic and cultural perceptions. In developing, planning or managing comprehensive urban green space networks it is important to ensure that natural looking scenes are well maintained and that the local community is culturally connected to such scenes. © 2009 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

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