This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Assessing Urban Trees and Urban Forests Management




Zheng, Bin

Type of Degree



Forest Economics and Policy


Urban green space and forest play a special role in building a livable community. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the preferences for and attitudes towards urban trees regarding not only the biophysical presence of trees but also governance and financing. From a biophysical perspective, individual’s preference to tree characteristics and spatial configuration such as tree size, amount, shape, location and visually neatness was assessed. From an institutional perspective, the development of tree ordinances in Alabama was analyzed. Public and municipal officials’ attitudes towards urban trees and institutional arrangement were further investigated. A visual preference survey including residential landscape designs was conducted to capture the diverse preferences as regard to the variation of tree attributes. Both on-line and in-class survey data were collected. Data from Alabama urban forestry survey for citizen and public officials were also used. Econometric methods such as linear regression, multinomial logistic model, ordered logistic model and other statistical methods were applied. This study provides ample information regarding people’s preference to trees, tree management, financing forestry programs and other regulation instruments. Findings suggest that the important role of urban trees in community has been widely recognized by both local officials and residents. People in general prefer to live in houses and communities with more trees. Large trees with a wide round canopy are favored. Clean and well-maintained living environment is generally preferred while some “cue of care” can be used to improve the appearance of residential landscape. Findings also indicate the diversity of preference among people. Municipal officials concern more about the social-economic benefits of trees (such as increase property value and increase in community pride), while residents usually favor the aesthetical and health value. Individual donation and tax are important sources for financing urban forests program. However, the financial support is highly related to the social economic situation of the community, such as population, poverty rate and the well-beings of the citizens. The role of education in preference shaping is highlighted. The results of this study meet the pressing need of information among a variety of stakeholders of landscape designer, resource managers, land-use planners, developers, environmental policy makers, and private land owners on a variety of topics regarding residential land development.