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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Valuing green space in the urban environment : applying and evaluating the SVR approach Thomas, Karen M.


This thesis serves the following purposes: (1) to understand the importance of green space values, (2) to understand the importance of the use of values in the decision-making process, and (3) to employ and evaluate a technique called the structured value referendum to elicit values (including green space values) that are important in making a land use decision. Green space is any area that is predominantly undeveloped witJiin the urban environment. Although the importance of green space has been widely recognized since the 1960s, there still exists a limited appreciation for green space functions. The lack of comprehensive values incorporation that includes green space values in land use decision-making processes is a primary cause of green space loss. In order to understand the importance of green space loss and the lack of values incorporation in decision-making, a general concept of value is established. Development of a taxonomy exposes green space's economic, social, ecological, and sustainability values, and helps to underscore their importance in decisional settings. A general discussion on values elicitation reveals that their incorporation into decision-making processes can help set priorities, promote a better understanding of the issue, and lead to the development of more effective decisions. Despite these assets, inclusion of a comprehensive set of values rarely occurs in decision-making processes involving green space, and green space values are often ignored. There are, however, value elicitation techniques that can be used to account for green space values. One technique that has yet to be examined extensively for its effectiveness in aiding land use decision-making processes is the structured value referendum (SVR). The SVR is a voting-based structure that can elicit a full range of values. A literature review and case study evaluate the SVR. In the case study, a referendum based on a land use decision mvorving 100 acres in Richmond was designed and distributed to a random sample of200 voters. The results of the case study could aid Richmond public officials in making a decision for the best use of the land. This case study also reveals that the SVR approach is an effective and feasible means for eliciting values and aiding decision makers in making comprehensive land use decisions that involve green space.

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