Master of Science (M.S.)
Degree Granting Department
Geography, Environment and Planning
Graham Tobin, Ph.D.
Shawn Landry, Ph.D.
Rebecca Zarger, Ph.D.
urban forest, tree valuation, perceptions, survey
The urban forest is a structure that is fluid in both species composition and how it is integrated in our cities and suburban areas. Much like the fluidity in its structure, the urban forest provides ecosystem services and disservices in many forms. These services and disservices can often come in the form of temperature regulation, lower crime rates, and even higher property values. The latter, which is associated with the economic value of trees, is a part of the hedonic pricing literature which suggests that there is a disparity in the value associated with trees to house prices. With the City of Tampa conducting its own hedonic pricing study, along with the presence of robust urban forest data, 2,000 residents of the city who had recently purchased or rented their home were mailed a questionnaire gauging how trees influenced their decision to live at their current residence and how they perceived the urban forest. Out of the 2,000 properties, 400 of the surveys were received resulting in a 20% return rate.
Five hypotheses were tested to determine how people’s perceptions affected the value they place on trees. It was hypothesized that home owners were more likely than renters to report tree disservices due to high maintenance costs, and potential damage. Additionally, it was hypothesized that homeowners would likely report more negative opinions of trees compared to renters. The analysis showed that tree drawbacks related to cost/maintenance and damage were reported by 43% and 45% of homeowners respectively. Likewise, 32% of renters reported cost/maintenance and 37% reported damage as their top drawbacks of trees. Although homeowners more frequently reported cost/maintenance and damage as drawbacks of trees, there was no significant statistical difference in opinion on trees at the .05 level. It was hypothesized that because neighborhood trees have less drawbacks such as property damage, residents would favor neighborhood trees more than trees on their property. Cross tabulating Likert statements with canopy cover did not reveal a preference for neighborhood trees above trees found directly on resident property. It was hypothesized that respondents living in homes with lower assessed values would express more negative opinions of trees such as cost and maintenance being reported as drawbacks. Cross tabulating sales price with the negative Likert statements concerning trees revealed that homes with higher assessed value reported more negative opinions of trees. It was hypothesized that different ethnic groups such as African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, and White/Caucasians as well as residents of different affluence would report similar opinions and tree cover percentages with people from similar demographics. Despite the current literature suggesting differences in opinions, preferences, and canopy cover for different races/ethnicities, the analysis did not reveal a link between race/ethnicity and the availability of tree canopy or landscape preference. Finally, it was hypothesized that there would be a high correlation between residents’ purchases and/or rental decisions and the extent of canopy cover from trees originating on their property and/or in their neighborhood. For respondents who strongly agreed/agreed that trees influenced their rental/purchase decision there was a marginally higher canopy cover in the area surrounding their property than directly on their property. Additionally, there appeared to be no relationship with the level of agreement that trees influenced residents’ decision to rent/purchase and the amount of tree canopy on their property and in their neighborhood.
The conclusions of the study are that the opinions of trees in Tampa, FL are primarily positive among those in the sample population. In order to gain less biased results it is suggested that a door to door method be utilized in the future. It is also suggested that residents’ opinions are sampled after a severe storm to assess how hazardous conditions affect the overall opinions surrounding trees.
Scholar Commons Citation
Winter, Cody R., "Perceptions Affecting Tree Valuation: An Analysis of Recently Sold and Leased Properties in Tampa, Florida" (2017). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.