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Browsing by Subject "ecology"

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  • Turkki, Emmi (2022)
    As biodiversity loss is identified to be one of the pressing environmental challenges today, Finnish cities have begun to follow in the footsteps of many European cities by creating urban greening plans in the form of increasing meadow habitats. The ecological and economic benefits of urban meadows are well understood, but when meadow habitats are brought into people’s everyday environments, it is important to consider how it affects people’s environmental aesthetic experiences. ‘Aesthetics’ is often understood solely as individual preferences, but the aim of this thesis was to address the aesthetic appreciation of meadows through the field of environmental aesthetics. Combining the fields of environmental aesthetics and ecology, this study provides a fresh perspective to the value debate over urban meadows. The analysis of the work approached the topic from the perspective of Finnish cities. After compiling the operational programs that solely consider urban meadows, qualitative content analysis was used to analyze what ecological and aesthetic aspects are brought up in the documents and how they are valuated. To emphasize the aesthetic perspective, it was further investigated through discourse analysis whether there are consistent ways in which cities construct an image of the aesthetic values of urban meadows. The content analysis showed that the documents have both ecological and aesthetic viewpoints. The ecological content emphasized that meadows are important tool in increasing biodiversity and also provide recreational possibilities for people. The aesthetic content focused on the cultural-historical role of the meadows as well as the experiences provided by the meadows. Based on the content analysis, three uniform discourses were identified throughout the documents. The first relates to meadows which are the remains of cities’ agricultural history, and their cultural and ecological values are easily recognizable. The second refers to meadows that are currently emerging from other green types such as lawns and grasslands reverting to woodland. They are seen as having ecological and recreational value, but as they are unlikely to meet the expectations for flowering meadows, city officials want to inform citizens about the ecological qualities of these meadows to avoid negative feedback. The last discourse focuses on the experiential side of meadows, but instead of talking about the environmental aesthetic experience as understood in theoretical research, the argumentation is restricted to visual and recreational experiences. The way in which the aesthetic qualities, values and experiences of urban meadows are understood in a professional context reflects the way in which they are presented to the users of green areas. This thesis has revealed that the terminology used in the documents referring to environmental aesthetics is insufficient and does not correspond to the concepts presented in the theory of the work. Expanding the debate on environmental aesthetics would turn the goal of ‘people tolerating unordered ecosystems’ to ‘how can unordered ecosystems be aesthetically appreciated’. While informing citizens about the ecological benefits of urban meadows, they should also be informed about the potential aesthetic values of urban meadows, such as wildness, aesthetic diversity, and how the ordinary environment becomes extraordinary.