150 Influence of Childhood Environmental Experiences on Adult Sensitivities to Urban Forests

in HortScience
Authors:
Virginia I. LohrDepartment of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6414

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Caroline H. Pearson-MimsDepartment of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6414

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Community involvement is critical for the continued vitality of the urban forest. To encourage this involvement, an understanding is needed of what promotes shared stewardship as well as of different cultural perspectives regarding trees. A survey of the general public in 109 large metropolitan areas across the continental U.S., a culturally and ethnically diverse group, was conducted. Two thousand adults were surveyed to assess the extent of their childhood experiences with nature, their current attitudes toward urban forests, and their demographic backgrounds. Respondents were questioned particularly about their earliest experiences with nature and their current understanding and appreciation of the urban forest. Other researchers have examined the relationship between childhood contact with nature and attitudes toward nature among professionals in environmental fields, but this relationship has not been explored in the general public. Correlations between survey respondents' memories of childhood contact with nature, their current perceptions of the urban forest, and the influence of their cultural and ethnic backgrounds will be presented. For example, respondents who reported very easy access to nature as children were likely to agree strongly that trees should be planted in business districts to reduce smog. Results from this survey may be applied in programs to teach children about trees and gardening, thus better tailoring these programs to engender future appreciation for the urban forest. Raw data from this survey will be made available to other researchers.

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