Problem-centred interviews were used for the data collection (Witzel 1989). These followed guidelines which suggested potential questions about the following themes:
• experience with nature
• time spent “in nature”
• importance of the natural world during childhood
• type of relationship with nature
• awareness and evaluation of changes in nature during recent years in the region where the interviewee lives
• desired landscape developments
The questions could be used as narration prompts if necessary, but the interviewee determined how the talk developed and the order in which the themes were discussed.
The expressions “wilderness” and “wilderness spread” were avoided throughout the interviews as they may have negative connotations (Strem – low and Sidler 2002)... >
Interviewees were selected from the local population in the regions around the wilderness areas according to the theoretical-sampling method (Strauss 1991) in order to identify as contrastive views as possible (Hunziker 2000). The aim was not to select positions that are representative in a quantitative sense, but rather to have the greatest possible differences between positions. Thus interviewees were chosen to ensure that as wide a range of reasons as possible for opinions on the spread of wilderness would be covered. This selection procedure meant that all thematically relevant positions in the sampling universe could be identified and then taken into account in the sampling procedure (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1. Theoretical-sampling according to Strauss (1991)...
We chose the wilderness areas in those regions in the German part of Switzerland where wilderness and its spread are the subjects of intense debate. By “wilderness areas” we mean areas in which there has been hardly any human intervention in the form of tending or cultivation or in which hardly any such measures are still being implemented. The study areas were: (1) a forest near Zurich that had previously been commercially exploited, (2) a re-naturalised floodplain area close to an urban area, (3) an overgrown cultivated area, and (4) an area with an Alpine wilderness that is being considered as a possible second Swiss national park. All the selected wilderness areas can still be used without any significant restrictions as recreation areas.
It is forecast that, in the coming years, agriculture and forestry throughout Europe will decline further (Eissing 2002). This means that many areas that are exploited at present will no longer be used and parts of these areas will be taken over by wilderness. Since experts cannot agree on what consequences this development will have, for example, for species diversity, we believe it is important to find out what kinds of attitudes the general public have to wilderness spread and to a passive form of nature conservation with a “wait and see” approach and no direct interventions... >
Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Section Landscape and Society
In recent years the general conditions for land use in Switzerland for agriculture and forestry have changed as less area is needed for farming. Primary production is no longer profitable and state subsidies have been reduced. This means that decisions will have to be made about whether to abandon the cultivation of many areas of land now used for agriculture and forestry. In addition, some nature conservation organisations are lobbying to stop many areas of land from being used for agriculture and forestry and to have them designated as conservation areas.
As a result of these developments, wilderness and its spread have been the subject of debate in Switzerland for some years now... >
Having the “wild” represented in cities through forests and trees can also cause problems which need to be taken into account by forest managers. Problems with trees and woodlands in and near cities range from wildfire hazards and allergy problems to nuisances caused by falling leaves and fruits.
Studies have indicated that residents’ sense of safety can be negatively affected by reduced visibility caused by abundant vegetation and undergrowth in urban green areas (e. g. Nibbering and Van Geel 1993; Burgess 1995), although Kuo (2003) provides evidence from the United States that people living in greener surroundings felt safer and better adjusted than those living next to barren areas... >
In the light of the above considerations, biodiversity and “naturalness” aspects may seem less central to urban forestry, where social and environmental services are favoured. Studies have shown, however, that urban green space can support significant biodiversity, for example, in terms of habitat and species diversity (e. g. Sukopp and Werner 1987). In recognition of biodiversity and high natural values, sometimes in combination with cultural-historical importance, many major European cities, such as
Moscow, Stockholm, Vienna and Warsaw, host national parks and nature reserves within their boundaries.
The primary role of urban forests, however, is a social one, i. e. to provide attractive environments for urban dwellers to live, work, and spend their leisure time... >
Expert debate on “wild woodlands”
Multifunctionality in urban forestry is about opting for the right combination of urban-forest functions in the right place. Limited urban-forest resources have to meet the high and diverse demands of thousands and sometimes millions of local users. Combining social and ecological demands is a key task from the perspective of sustainable urban-forest management (e. g. Volk 1995). In this context, the meaning and role of “wild urban woodland” as a concept should be discussed (see also Kowarik 2005).
According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary of English (Mer- riam-Webster 2003), “wild” as an adjective can mean “living in a state of nature and not ordinarily tame or domesticated” or “growing or produced without human care or aid”... >
Urban forestry has been defined as the art, science and technology of managing trees and forest resources in and around urban community ecosystems for the physiological, sociological, economic, and aesthetic benefits trees provide society (Helms 1998). The term was first coined in Canada as part of the title of a 1965 graduate study on municipal tree planting. In spite of initial resistance to the term from foresters (who doubted forestry’s role in urban areas) as well as from other professions traditionally dealing with urban green space, it gradually found a broad following in North America... >
Cecil C. Konijnendijk
Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning
Nature, forests, trees and cities
Although antagonists by definition, nature and cities have had a much more complex relationship. Urbanisation has meant that natural areas have become cultivated and often overexploited and that nature has been removed as a dominant factor in the daily life of an increasing number of people. But this also triggered a longing to get back to nature and a desire to bring nature back to cities. Nature, though often in a cultivated form, was seen as having its place in cities and towns, for example, for aesthetic reasons. This notion was supported by ancient Greek and Roman civilisations, and later also during the Renaissance... >