Residentsí Perception of Tree Diseases in the
Cristina nali and Giacomo Lorenzini
Abstract: Urban greenspaces are essential for the health and well-being of citizens and the presence of trees is a key element for the improvement of urban environments. But trees may become a factor of risk for the citizen when they are diseased, declining or dead. Common people are usually unaware of the intimate causes of plant diseases. Based on a balanced sample of 944 detailed interviews carried out in a structured format by university students, a survey was performed to monitor the perception of citizens of evergreen ornamental plants (Quercus ilex) killed by a root disease. Most of the interviewed were customary or moderate frequenters of the venue. Most of the respondents were able to recognize the differences between the dead tree and other conspecific normal individuals, and 86.2% were aware of the risks connected with the collapse of unhealthy trees. Differences amongst genders, age groups, educational levels, and occupation were observed concerning the supposed cause of the death (due to a fungal rot disease). Environmental pollution was indicated as the culprit mainly by young people. Surprisingly, 42.9% of respondents were unable (or unavailable) to give suggestions to administrators concerning the management of public greenery.
Keywords: Environmental Psychology; Declining Trees; Group Interviews; Greenspaces.