Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Finding nature in the city: A case study of ecological restoration in an urban park
by Kocs, Elizabeth A., Ph.D., City University of New York, 2013, 197; 3601882
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation presents a case study of ecological restoration in an urban park, using a mixed-methods methodology that included a survey instrument, open-ended interviews, behavioral and trace observations, and modified grounded theory methodology for data analysis. The purpose of the study was to identify values that users of four ecologically restored areas of Chicago's Lincoln Park associated with their use of the park areas and to determine the extent to which they experienced contact with nature while visiting the areas. The study was conducted within the framework of a post-occupancy evaluation (POE) of the restoration projects, the Lincoln Park Evaluation Study in the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago, which was commissioned by the U.S. Forest Service. The author, the principal investigator for the POE, developed a set of ten values or benefits associated with park use that were included in the survey instrument and informed the onsite, open-ended interviews with park users--beauty, solitude, tranquility, recreation, health, contact with nature, habitat preservation/restoration, community identity, public life, tourism, and other (to allow respondents to add their own values to the list). The results of the study indicate that users valued contact with nature and habitat restoration most, followed closely by tranquility, solitude, and beauty, with health and recreation next and public life and community identity trailing all others. No new values were added. Data analysis suggested that respondents fell roughly into two camps, those who valued contact with nature most and those who valued habitat restoration most. Respondents who selected tranquility, solitude, or beauty as important values viewed them as secondary to contact with nature or habitat restoration because the former would be unavailable without the latter. The study's results complicates the dichotomy between natural and built environments, as respondents praised the restored areas--arguably built environments--as refuges from the city. A theme that emerged from qualitative data analysis suggests that ecological restoration of urban parks might be related to nature-identities, emotional bonds with types of natural areas, calling for future research to determine the relationship between urban nature and urban residents' nature-identities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kornblum, William
Commitee: Claus, Anja, Glick, Joseph, Hart, Roger, Miller, Edmund
School: City University of New York
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 75/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Ecology, Landscape architecture, Psychology
Keywords: Ecological restoration, Human nature relationship, Nature, Nature vs. built environment, Nature-identities, Urban parks
Publication Number: 3601882
ISBN: 978-1-303-53603-8
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