Typology of NYC parks based on park amenities and social characteristics
Many cities have implemented policies to recognize, protect and manage their urban forests, wetlands, and meadows, which provide countless environmental and social benefits. In 2001, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation created the Forever Wild Program to protect nearly 9,000 acres of forests, wetlands, and meadows citywide. Although these areas were set aside over a decade ago, we know little about how park visitors view, use, and value parks with these resources. Because characterizing social conditions is critical for understanding and managing urban ecosystems, we analyzed data from a social assessment of park use in parks with Forever Wild areas in 2013-2014. Information from the social assessment included the number of visitors, their activities, their values of parks and natural areas, and the presence of different park amenities (e.g., nature centers, playgrounds, water access, trails) in each park. Using hierarchical clustering and other multivariate methods, we developed typologies to characterize 38 different parks containing Forever Wild areas.
Preliminary results show that there is a distinction between waterfront parks and inland parks, which suggests that proximity to water is not only an important determinant of ecological characteristics but also social characteristics of parks. Using these typologies, we plan to compare our results to a concurrent citywide ecological assessment of Forever Wild areas and inform future studies that can determine which park management strategies have the potential to maximize the environmental and social benefits of urban natural areas in New York City.