Needs and Fears: The Response to Trees and Nature in the Inner City
Janet Frey Talbot and Rachel Kaplan
Abstract: Interviews were conducted with 97 Detroit residents living in primarily Black low- and moderate-income areas, in order to assess the preferences of inner city residents for different types of natural areas. The participants rated 26 photographs for preference, and also answered questions about the particular elements that made certain outdoor areas especially liked or disliked, and about the importance they placed on their own opportunities to enjoy the natural environment. The results indicated that well-maintained areas incorporating built features were preferred over more untouched and densely wooded areas, which were often associated with fears of physical danger. The participants' responses also indicated that these residents placed a very high value on their opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Few differences in preferences or in value perceptions were found when stratifying the sample according to demographic characteristics. The results emphasize the importance of appropriate management of urban forestry resources, and suggest that outdoor spaces should be planned for ease of visibility as well as for pleasing arrangements of natural features.