Biocultural diversity (BCD) in European cities – Interactions between motivations, experiences and environment in public parks

Kati Vierikko*, Paula Gonçalves, Dagmar Haase, Birgit Elands, Cristian Ioja, Mia Jaatsi, Mari Pieniniemi, Jasmina Lindgren, Filipa Grilo, Margarida Santos-Reis, Jari Niemelä, Vesa Yli-Pelkonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Urban green spaces (UGS) provide multiple benefits, and public parks in particular have a key role in supporting ecological and social sustainability in cities, contributing to human-nature interactions. We studied the interrelationships between uses, experiences and the environment by adopting a novel concept of urban biocultural diversity (BCD). The concept identifies three interlinked spheres of urban BCD: materialised, lived and stewardship. We conducted place-based research in 33 parks located in four European capitals: Helsinki, Berlin, Bucharest and Lisbon. A total of 1474 visitors were interviewed concerning their motivations to use the park and their experiences during the visit. Using an open-ended survey, we revealed more than 50 motivations for park use and over 100 features people enjoyed during their visits. On the other hand, visitors mentioned far fewer things that disturbed them (60). We revealed that despite the fact motivations to use parks were strongly human-oriented, visitors widely enjoyed the environmental characteristics of parks, and especially nature. We found that parks located in neighbourhoods with low socio-economic status and outside the central area of the city were structurally less diverse than parks located in the city core. The structurally diverse parks enhanced motivations to use them, and increased overall enjoyments of the environment. We revealed clear differences in motivations and enjoyments between cities, implying that the day-to-day practices of people using and experiencing nature varies between cities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126501
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Early online date6 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Biocultural diversity
  • Place-based research
  • Public parks
  • Relationship
  • Urban

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