The perceptual value of individual trees as cityscape elements – a case study in Albertfalva, Budapest



Publication Date

August 2022


Trees are both popular and underappreciated elements of the urban landscape. They are often in the focus of conservation efforts and movements against overdevelopment. On the other hand, they are often overlooked elements of the urban landscape, frequently seen as a nuisance or source of conflicts. Historically, urban trees were considered rare and therefore special elements of the urban landscape, but with the mass plantation of trees and tree lines in urban areas in recent decades, the connection of people to individual trees has diminished.

In our research, we studied the role of individual trees in the urban image using a perception-based method. 73 volunteers were asked to visit a study area in Albertfalva, Budapest and choose the trees that they consider the most significant from an urban image standpoint. Afterwards, we analysed the results and mapped the individual trees that received the most votes in order to examine the characteristics that made them especially popular. Using multi-factor statistical analysis methods, we also studied whether the professional background of volunteers had a strong impact on their preferences in trees. The results show that certain trees are clearly objectively more important elements of the cityscape than others. Our analysis also confirms that their location and urban context are the stronger factors in their popularity than their taxon-based dendrological value. Furthermore, our results suggest that perception-based methods can be used for the selection of individual trees of special importance in a community- and participation-based way.