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Mapping mental barriers that prevent the use of neighborhood green spaces

Dagmar Haase, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Department of Geography; Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Department of Computational Landscape Ecology
Manuel Wolff, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Department of Geography; Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology
Nadja Schumacher, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Department of Geography


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In comparison to the study of green space use, the study of its non-use or rejection is greatly understudied. Neighborhood managers and members of local gardening initiatives of Halle-Newtown, Germany, state that residents ignore local green-blue infrastructure (GBI) for recreational use. Halle-Newtown is a former showcase, large prefabricated socialist housing estate that is now facing an increase of households deprived in multiple ways. We are interested in the question of why people of Halle-Newtown refuse to use local GBI. In order to uncover potential barriers to the enjoyment of the ecosystem service benefits of local GBI, we have chosen the method of mental mapping to explore place attachment in Halle-Newtown. In summer 2018, about 100 residents of Halle-Newtown described the places they prefer when relaxing from a stressful and hot summer day. The results were surprising. Local GBI, be it created in socialist times or recently, was completely absent from their mental maps. Instead, people would overcome longer distances and cover higher costs to reach central green spaces. Tacit knowledge, namely the untold general rejection of the entire neighborhood by the residents, was found to be the deeper reason behind non-use of GBI and missing place attachment. The results uncovered that both neighborhood neglect and the multi-scalar character of urban recreational ideas/behavior are factors that help us to understand non-use of urban GBI, two key insights for urban planning.

Key words

green-blue infrastructure; Halle; mental mapping; recreation; sense of place; tacit knowledge

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087