|Wednesday, June 24|
An experimental study on the effects of the virtual green forest landscape on working performance
* Shokatsu Chen, The University of Tokyo, Japan
Yurika Yokoyama, The University of Tokyo, Japan
Since Ulrich (1984), there have been many studies on the green effects on human psychological and physiological states. According to Kondo (2011), green forest promotes physiological relaxation even when its experienced only by vision. In this study, the authors focused on this effect and examined a hypothesis that the virtual environment of the green forest could help workers maintain working performance by providing psychological relaxation. We conducted two experiments in witch the same 15 students participated in the task of n-back tests (n=2) in each of the two virtual environments: office space and green forest landscape. The first experiment started with the 1st session in office space and moved into the 2nd session in green forest landscape. The second experiment was conducted only in office space for both sessions. During those experiments, SCL values were measured and analyzed with the test scores as performance level. As a result, when the office space changed to green forest landscape, the average of standardized SCL values increased significantly higher than the average in the case when the environment did not change. (p = 0.0042). Whereas, when the landscape did not change, the N-back tests score significantly decrease (p = 0.036). From those results, the authors conclude that the virtual environment of the green forest landscape might increase the workers arousal level when they moved in and maintain the working performance, whereas to keep working in the same office environment might cause decrease of performance. Those results also imply that virtual green forest landscape had a restorative effect on the worker's concentration.
The effects of 120 minutes in the forest: a US-based feasibility study of forest bathing
* Sara Warber, University of Michigan, United States
Katherine Irvine, James Hutton Institute, United Kingdom
Forest bathing research identifies physiologic and psychological benefits of a brief episode of time spent in nature. However, little research has investigated the possible transformative experiences associated with improvements in spiritual wellbeing. Further, most studies have been done within the socio-cultural contexts of Japan and Korea. Recent epidemiological research suggests that 120 minutes in nature per week is associated with better self-reported health. Forest bathing, as practiced in the US by trainees of the Association of Forest and Nature Therapy (ANFT), consists of a guided forest-based experience lasting 120 - 180 minutes. It is grounded in a theory of transformative experience which may take up to a week to become integrated and manifest. We hypothesize that a 120-180 minute forest therapy experience will provide a weekly nature dose that improves overall health and spiritual wellbeing and which solidifies over a 1-week period. We propose a mixed methods feasibility study to: (1) test how to join research procedures with forest therapy experiences while preserving fidelity to the intervention; and (2) explore the timing of change in the outcomes of interest. Post-menopausal women in the US upper Midwest will be recruited to participate in a forest bathing experience. Validated self-report measures (health and spiritual wellbeing) will be collected before and after the experience, and 1 and 2 weeks later. As previously defined, we will measure spiritual wellbeing as the quality of the relationship one has with self, others, nature, and transcendent other(s). Qualitative data will derive from participant drawings and interviews. We will report on our protocol, implementation lessons learned, and preliminary results. This study sets the stage for a randomized controlled trial of forest bathing as facilitated by ANFT guides. It also investigates the time-related research issues of length of a nature-based intervention and the time course of salutogenic effects.
The Sustainable Evolution of an Urban Cemetery
* Ruth Rae, New York University Tandon School of Engineering, United States
Cemeteries are historical and cultural landscapes that are embedded with sacred and social meanings. They provide space for burial and are culturally sanctioned place for the living to remember their dead. Yet those meanings do not remain static over time, and the use and management of cemeteries can change. As the world becomes more urban, and cities densify, the role cemeteries can play as urban green spaces is becoming more important. With the increase in urbanization, older cemeteries, which were originally placed outside of the city for sanitary reasons, are now surrounded by places where people live. Urban cemeteries with horticultural amenities can provide a green space oasis to the public and nature’s benefits to city residents. This research project focuses on the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York in the United States. The method was semi-structured interviews with cemetery managers in combination with participant observation of public events. This case study explores changes in landscape management practices, public engagement and use of an old green cemetery in an urban environment. Green-Wood Cemetery engages in management practices that are both economically and environmentally sustainable. It now offers extensive public programming that increases public usage while also helping the cemetery with financially sustainable as burial space, their main source of funding, diminishes. Green-Wood Cemetery also has a focus on environmental sustainability through changes in landscape management, public education and environmental advocacy. Cemeteries are places for the living as well as the dead. They are alive with historical, cultural and personal meaning. Green cemeteries are both places of burial and natural beauty that are evolving to provide for both the needs of the living and the memorialization of the deceased. Cemeteries can both preserve their eternal heritage and be sustainable while allowing for evolutions in the use of their green space.
Fostering Activism and Well-being through Nature-Place-making: A Mixed Methods Approach
* Yohei Kato, Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore
Diana Benjumea, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
Keng Hua Chong , Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore
In urban environmental research, it has been widely discussed the positive impact of green spaces on health and well-being. Relevant studies in the field have demonstrated a substantial reduction in stress levels and feelings of subjective restoration for individuals spending time in green spaces. The results of such studies led to the integration of urban policies that promote the preservation or incorporation of more greenery in cities. Nevertheless, a distinction between passive and active interaction with the green spaces has been posed since the effects on health and well-being might vary according to the strategy of development (i.e., top-down and bottom-up). In recognition of this distinction, this study was structured to investigate the sense of restoration and well-being enhanced by the active interaction of individuals with green spaces in what has been recognized as ‘place-making’ or direct engagement of individuals in the creation or preservation of the green space. To investigate this, the non-profit organization ‘the Ground-Up Initiative’ (GUI) in Singapore was selected as the main case study since this organization has for a decade conducted place-making activities that aim to enhance the connection of people with the natural environment. This study followed a sequential mixed-methods design, integrating 1) focus group discussion with GUI members and volunteers, 2) perception survey with GUI members and the general public, and 3) quasi-experimental assessment on people attending GUI’s programs. The results indicated that different levels of restoration and subjective well-being could be achieved in place-making activities with the natural environment. The notions of empowerment and sense of community were identified as key factors in the place-making process that enhance feelings of subjective restoration and well-being. Ultimately, this study proposes a framework of dynamic interaction between natural environments and people through place-making in response to rapidly urbanizing environments.