Institution: Vytautas Magnus University – Lithuania
Keywords: Forest Accessibility, Population Density, Forest Structure
Since joining European Union (2004) number of Lithuanian citizens decreased by more than 15%. The urban dwellers decreased also drastically during this period in most cities. But the trend of urban sprawl is observed by development of hollow cities. The green spaces accessibility could be one of the reasons of such urban development pattern in contexts of biophilia and attachment theories. The distance from living place, attractive forest structure relates to more frequent use of green infrastructure service as well the quality of urban dwellers life. The research is based on:
- the Geospatial grid data of the 2011 population and housing census and degree of urbanization in context of green spaces accessibility (distance from living place);
- forest structure comparison in local administrative units with different degree of urbanization (densely populated areas, intermediate density areas, thinly-populated areas described by DEGURBA).
It is observed that in cities the urban woodlands are accessible by ~ 600 m, but woodlands of more attractive structure for recreation is allocated in more than 1 km from living places in areas of population density higher than 1500 persons/ha. There is big variation of accessibility in suburb areas of cities with better accessibility in areas of lower population density. The ratio of younger generation and elderly population (indicator for territory development perspective) is better in closer distance to the woodland in cities. Proportion of citizens with higher education increases with the better accessibility of woodland (relates to awareness of green infrastructure benefits for urban society).
Forest structure also shows resilience to urban pressure and ecosystem services continuity. Forest stands in cities woodlands stand out by wider tree stem diameter, elder stands that makes them more attractive for urban dwellers recreation than in other local administrative units of lower degree of urbanization. From other hand, the large proportion of pure stands (more than 85% of one specie in stand species composition) makes concerns about the forest resilience to urban pressure.