Understanding local values related to the urban forest: connecting Winnipeg residents to their trees
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Canada’s urban forests play a critical role in local environmental systems and conditions, and will likely be the most influential forest of the 21st century (Nowak et al. 2001; Dwyer et al. 2003). Winnipeg is home to the largest remaining elm forest in North America and has a long and unique history with its residents. While a great deal of research has examined the many urban forest benefits, there was opportunity to further develop an understanding of residents expressed values and preferences in relation to Winnipeg’s urban forest ecosystems. The study adopted a qualitative research approach, collecting data through multiple methods including site tours, participant journals, photo elicitation, and follow-up semi-structured interviews. The results indicate that Winnipeggers have deeply held urban forest values, particularly in relation to aesthetics, naturalness and biodiversity, and social values such as recreation and alternative uses. Personal development of the values held began early in life, has occurred over time, and is continually reassessed through critical reflection.