- Trees growing on private residential property account for a major source of ecosystem services in urban areas.
- Tree and shrub abundance was compared to individual property characteristics along with questionnaire responses.
- Positive association of tree benefits did not result in greater tree and shrub abundance.
- Likelihood of planting decreased with length of residence.
Trees and large shrubs in urban environments provide a wide array of ecosystem services, enhancing the well-being of urban residents. Public trees in Sweden are managed by local governments, but private-owned urban trees, which represent a large proportion of the total urban tree population, are managed by residential property owners. Residential urban trees are generally not included in urban forest management plans at local government level. This study examined property-level characteristics that could lead to better management decisions by property owners on residential trees in Malmö, Sweden.
Using spatial sampling, 99 properties were inventoried to determine tree basal area (m2/ha), as a measure of woody plant abundance. In parallel, residents were surveyed about their attitudes to trees, and information on background variables on their properties was collected using through publicly available spatial data. Statistical modelling was used to determine relationships between key socio-ecological variables and tree abundance as well as reasons for planting and removal of trees.
The results showed that positively perceived benefits of trees to property owners did not necessarily result in greater tree and shrub abundance on individual properties. Instead, house age and potential plantable space were the variables positively correlated with tree and shrub abundance. Years of residence had a negative correlation with probability of planting. The primary reason for tree removal was improper growing site, which indicates that providing practical information on appropriate site/species selection could reduce the risk of healthy urban tree removal.