Residents’ place attachment to urban green spaces in Greater Tokyo region: An empirical assessment of dimensionality and influencing socio-demographic factors

In Urban Forestry & Urban Greening
Peer-reviewed Article

Although many researchers highlight the benefits of Urban Green Spaces (UGS) to city dwellers, understanding of residents’ emotional association with UGS remains an incomplete and exciting area of place research. In this study, we conducted an empirical assessment of residents’ Place Attachment (PA) towards UGS in the Greater Tokyo region. For this, we tested a widely used PA model consisting of four dimensions, namely, place identity, place dependence, social, and nature bonding. Data were collected from an online questionnaire survey (n = 2093) and subjected to an Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) to examine the underlying place dimensions. To examine the association of PA with socio-demographic variables, we performed a multiple regression analysis with the factor scores and key socio-economic variables (e.g. age, gender, income, marital and parental status, etc.). Additionally, we compared the PA constructs among three different groups, namely (1) men and women, (2) married and unmarried, and (3) people with and without children. Results indicated a three-dimensional PA model, consisting of ‘place identity, ‘place and nature dependence’, and ‘social bonding’. In particular, variables originally used for nature bonding co-loaded with the variables for place dependence. The other tested dimensions, nonetheless, remained identical with conventional PA models. The finding indicates that personal connections to nature - as hypothesized in the nature-bonding dimension - may not be truly replicable for UGS. As such, the influence of demographic variables on the overall place-construct remains minimal, although a significant but relatively weak positive influence was observed for age and frequency of green space visits. In the comparative analysis, women reported a significantly higher-level place and nature dependence. Besides, a significant difference of mean was observed among married and unmarried respondents, as well as the persons with/without children for all three-place dimensions. Overall, the findings are imperative to better understand the human-green space relationship in large cities and call for further directed research on creating ‘green places’ and not just ‘green spaces’.

Ronald C. Estoque