Urban forest usage and perception of ecosystem services – A comparison between teenagers and adults

K. Tessa Hegetschweiler* (Corresponding Author), Flurina M. Wartmann, Ilka Dubernet, Christoph Fischer, Marcel Hunziker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Urban forests provide multiple ecosystem services for a range of user groups. However, teenagers are commonly underrepresented in studies about forest recreation and cultural ecosystem services. This paper examines teenagers' forest use and perception of ecosystem services compared to adult populations. We used an online panel survey to elicit motives for forest visits, frequency of visits, forest activities and constraints for visitation, and what ecosystem services participants expect from forests more generally. We then elicited perceived cultural ecosystem services of different forests by showing participants photographs of forest inventory plots for which we had detailed measures of physical forest characteristics to statistically assess the influence of forest characteristics and other parameters on perceived cultural ecosystem services. Results show that teenagers visit forests less often and also differ from adults in their preferences and activities, their motives for forest visits and reasons for not visiting forests. Teenagers exhibit more social and active forms of forest use, whereas adults use forests in more contemplative ways. Perception of cultural ecosystem services on forest photos was influenced by individual factors such as motives for forest visits, preferences, importance of forest during childhood and socio-demographic factors. Environment- and forest-related factors such as forest type, stand structure and single elements such as root plates and stumps had an influence on ecosystem service perception. We conclude that teenagers have different needs than adults concerning the provision of cultural ecosystem services from forests and therefore should be considered as a user group of its own in the management of recreational forests.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127624
Number of pages13
JournalUrban Forestry & Urban Greening
Early online date2 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

We thank Christoph Düggelin and Marc Baume for the interpretation of the photographs and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript. The project was funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI, Switzerland (Grant No. C13.0135) as a contribution to the COST Action PF1204 and by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, Switzerland (Grant No. 16.0074.PJ / S062-1129).


  • Cultural ecosystem services
  • Forest preferences
  • Forest visitation
  • Forest characteristics
  • Recreational activities
  • Teenagers' forest use


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