Development of a new social resilience assessment model for urban forest parks

Beytollah Mahmoudi, Zahra Sorouri, Eric K. Zenner, Davood Mafi-Gholami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Vegetation and urban green spaces play an important role in reducing stressful living conditions in urban surroundings and helping people adapt and cope with crises. It is unclear, however, which aspects of urban green spaces are perceived to provide the most benefits to people and thus how urban green spaces and parks may be more effectively designed and managed to enhance their attractivity and promote urban social resilience. In this study, we developed and quantified a comprehensive, integrated multi-criteria decision-making approach for assessing the social resilience of urban green spaces and demonstrated its application in a case study that quantified which aspects and functions visitors of Tahlijan Forest Park regarded as important to them. To develop the multi-criteria assessment approach, documentary research was used that first identified a total of 137 indicators shown to be related to social resilience. Then, a total of 150 questionnaires with 186 questions quantifying these indicators were administered to visitors of Tahlijan Forest Park that is located in the city of Shahrekord, Iran. Questionnaires asked respondents to score the importance of each indicator from 1 (very low) to 5 (very high) on a 5-point Likert scale. Averaged over all indicators, the overall score of Tahlijan Forest Park was 2.82 out of 5, indicating that visitors thought that the park with all its features and amenities contributed only modestly to social resilience. However, when the indicators were classified into seven criteria or function groups (i.e., social, economic, cultural, psychological, spiritual, ecological and recreational), 16 main criteria, and 35 sub-criteria, a more differentiated picture of how the park contributes to social resilience emerged. Overall, respondents gave consistently higher scores (>4) to the spiritual, social, and cultural functions of the park and consistently lower scores (<3) to its recreational, ecological, psychological, and economic functions. Respondents viewed the park's contributions to social resilience primarily through enhanced spiritual understanding, social connections, and human and religious values that find expression in attendance of public programs, ethnic belonging, and environmental protection (social criteria group), values and norms (cultural criteria group), and responsibility and individualism (psychological criteria group). In contrast, visitors did not strongly connect the recreational, ecological, psychological, and economic functions with social resilience, indicating that these functions may need to be improved. Using and categorizing a broad set of indicators into few criteria or function groups as demonstrated in this study may be a model for a more complete framework for assessing the contribution of urban forest parks to the social resilience of communities throughout Iran and elsewhere and an approach for finding how the experience of visitors can be improved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100724
JournalEnvironmental Development
Volume43
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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