by HW Schroeder
Trees, People and the Built Environment. Proceedings of the Urban Trees Research Conference; 2011 April 13-14; Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK.2011
In this conference keynote presentation, the author argues that urban forestry advocates, in their zeal to promote the utilitarian benefits of trees, may be trivializing the importance of the beauty that trees offer. The utilitarian value of the urban forest comes from its ability to provide environmental, economic, health, and social benefits. A great deal of research has been done in these fields in recent years with two objectives in mind: to provide information on how to maximize these benefits and to convince local officials that urban forests are worth greater investment. This focus is far removed from earlier research into urban trees, which focused on their visual aesthetic quality. As this research focus has shifted, advocates have begun to speak of the beauty of trees as a superficial amenity and of minor concern. City dwellers, however, tend to mention beauty as one of the most important characteristics of trees. The author argues that future research should consider both experiential (aesthetic) and utilitarian values together.