- Open Access
Analysis of socio-environmental impacts of the loss of urban trees and vegetation in Lahore, Pakistan: a review of public perception
Ecological Processes volume 5, Article number: 5 (2016)
- The Correction to this article has been published in Ecological Processes 2019 8:26
This paper focused on the process of urbanization in Lahore and its correlation with the loss of urban vegetation and perceived environmental impacts based on local population’s perception through administration of a questionnaire survey. Lahore is known as a city of gardens and green spaces in Pakistan and always possessed rich green character in its long history. For the past few decades due to rapid urbanization, the city has lost its aesthetically important urban vegetation, tress, and greenery. The field studies and remote sensing data revealed that the loss of vegetation has been experienced at an astonishing rate in many union councils of the city.
This study was conceived to probe importance and value of the urban tress and vegetation of Lahore in an environmental context and its general importance for the residents of the city. The objectives were to analyze the role of vegetation in the life of citizens; the specific objective was to reveal the attitudes and responses of city dwellers about loss of urban trees/vegetation and its role in the overall environment, process of urbanization, and maintenance strategies. In the present paper, perception of local people (n = 2080) regarding the socio-environmental impacts due to the ongoing process of urbanization and detriments of vegetation loss has been probed through administration of a household questionnaire. The collected data has been tested with respondent’s age, gender, marital status, education, monthly income, and occupation.
This study was an attempt to document and explore the change in historical transformation in vegetation and perception of the sample population of Lahore. This perception survey has revealed that urbanization is the major cause of loss of vegetation and has caused a number of perceived environmental problems in the city.
The study underlined an analysis of people’s perceptions regarding the loss of trees and vegetation . The perceived socio-environmental findings revealed that the urbanization and population growth are the fundamental reasons for trees/vegetation loss in the city.
Urbanization is taking place in the world with much faster rates than ever before. Today, more than 54 % of the world’s total population is living in cities, and an estimated 66 % of it will occupy urban areas by the year 2025 (UN 2014). In comparison to the rest of the world, 46 % of the total population of Asia is living in urban areas. Pakistan is not far behind in urban population with 35 % of its population living in the cities and towns. The urban proportion of the population in Pakistan is the highest among South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries. At present, the urban population of Lahore is more than 80 % and is at par with the urbanization level of the developed countries, that is, 80 % of the total population. Natural increase, rural to urban migration, and foreign and local investment in various sectors are the major impetus for growth of cities as well as urbanization in Lahore-Pakistan. With this pace of population rise, Lahore will be among the top 30 cities of the world in terms of urban proportion of population by 2025. Lahore ranked 56th in the world in 1975 and 38th in 2007 while it will be 24th in 2025(UN 2007). During the last few decades, rapid urbanization has played a pivotal role in socioeconomic prosperity of cities of the developing countries and therefore remained an area of prime concern among scientists, policy makers, and city managers (Zhang and Song 2003; Siciliano 2012). As urbanization is increasing all over the world, many cities experience high population growth rates, causing degradation to the local environment like noise and carbon pollution, soil erosion, and habitat and species loss (Zipperer et al. 1997; Vesely 2007; Young 2010). This rapid urbanization has caused a number of ecological and environmental problems and has also degraded the quality of environment of many cities of the world (Folke et al. 1997; Gregg et al. 2003; Alberti and Marzluff 2004; Kim and Baik 2005; Zhao et al. 2006; Matteucci and Morello 2009).
Urban vegetation is one of the determining factors in increasing the market values of vicinity properties (Lindsey et al. 2004; Saphores 2012), thereby having a considerable commercial importance. Urban green spaces provide employment opportunities and help attract businesses and tourists to an area (Swanwick et al. 2003). The city’s vegetation effectively plays its role in moderating urban heat island impacts and urban hydrology and air quality and in reducing noise pollution as well as the energy demands (Pauleit and Duhme 2000; Fang 2005; González et al. 2005; Konijnendijk et al. 2005). What is not known is how resilient urban vegetation is and will it change over time. This is particularly relevant in the context of predictions for climate change and changing social and personal values related to open space (Wu 2008). Urban trees and vegetation have profound effects on biodiversity and also on provision of aesthetic, psychological, and socioeconomic ecosystem services to the dwellers (Schoeder and Cannon 1983; Ulrich 1986; Kaplan and Kaplan 1989; Huang et al. 1992; Kaplan 1992; McPherson et al. 1994; Sullivan and Kuo 1996; Wolf 1999; Nowak 2001). Therefore, the study of environmental-related issues and consequent impacts due to urbanization has now become an area of prime importance (Chen 2007; Li and Yao 2009; Martínez-Zarzoso and Maruotti 2011).
Lahore always possessed a rich green character among the cities of the sub-continent during different phases of its history. The canal irrigation system in the district was started in 1859 when the Bari Doab Canal was opened. During that period, indigenous trees were grown along the roadside and canals. Most of the trees were Peepal, Mulberry, Banyan, Jamun, etc., which gave rise to a new vegetation structure to the city and suburbs. Soon after Independence in 1947, due to urbanization (new settlements, construction of roads, bridges, and other infrastructural landmarks), most of the old and indigenous trees had been cut, thus leaving behind a small proportion of indigenous trees in the city (Masood 2004). It is evident from the field and discussions with the native and old personalities of Lahore that the trees and vegetation of the city have been greatly modified by anthropogenic activities. In most cases, the urbanization and city development is often a compromise of agricultural or forested lands, and the city of Lahore is no exception.
The role of urban vegetation in provision of numerous ecosystem services vis-a-vis the ongoing rapid-paced urbanization in many parts of the world has extensively been documented in literature (cf. Tzoulas et al. 2007; Niemelä et al. 2010; Colding 2011; Bastian et al. 2012; Haase 2013). The monitoring of vegetation in Lahore-Pakistan which is famous for its greenery is important and relevant in the context of city development and human health. It would further investigate how the people perceived about the vegetation change and why preservation of trees is important for city dwellers. The rapid development in cities and resultant land use and land cover (LULC) changes always left imprints on their terrestrial, biological, physical, and climatological processes, leading to numerous environmental and ecological problems(Latifovic et al. 2005; Fisher et al. 2006). Therefore, quantity, quality, and distribution of urban vegetation/trees in cities across the world reveal the history of urbanization and related ecological changes (Jim 2004; Jim and Zhang 2013) in due course of time.
In this research, we hypothesized that quantity of urban vegetation in Lahore has reduced because of urbanization during the last two decades and has had numerous impacts on the overall environ and people of Lahore. Further, the socio-environmental impacts that have been perceived by the residents were different in different socioeconomic back grounds of the people.
Study area and selected sites
Lahore (Fig. 1) lies between 31° 15′ and 31° 43′ N latitude and 74° 10′ and 74° 39′ E longitude with an area of 1772 km2 (GoP 2000a,b). The city is the provincial capital of Punjab-Pakistan and the second most populous city in the country. It is located on the bank of River Ravi—one of the five rivers of the Indus River system with an altitude range between 150 and 200 m above mean sea level. The climate of Lahore is extreme continental in nature and experienced three well-marked seasons, viz, winter, summer, and rainy monsoon. The monsoon rainfall is quite supportive of vegetation which is further augmented by canals and rivers flowing in Lahore. It is hot in summer and usually cold in winter. The maximum rainfall occurs in summers from inflowing monsoon; winter is characterized by partial or complete drought; the length of dry season varies due to local factors (Kazi 1951). Being a metropolis, it is accessible from all parts of Punjab-Pakistan via rail, road, and air facility. It is a bordered city and linked to Amritsar-India by both rail and road from Wagah.
Table 1 reveals that the population of the city has grown more than 40 times since the beginning of the twentieth century from a population of 202,964 persons in 1901 to 8,462,000 in 2009. From 1901 to 1921, the annual average growth rates were slow which may be ascribed as under enumeration of the population mainly because of the difficulty in area coverage. Since then onwards, the rate of population growth remained steady, and after Independence in 1947, it picked up at a faster rate, i.e., 2.38 and 4.32 % during the intercensal periods 1951–1961 and 1961–1972, respectively. This had registered a corresponding increase in population of 52.65 and 67.36 %. This increase can be attributed to substantial rural to urban migration, which took place during that period (Government of Pakistan 2000a, 2000b). The drop in average annual growth rate to 3.71 % during 1972–1981 and a further decrease to 3.32 % for 1981–1998, however, seem to be because of intra-urban residential motilities from the inner city of Lahore towards suburbs of the city which was not included in the city limits at that time. A glance at Table 2 shows that the overall increase in population of Lahore has been about six times during 47 years of its census history, i.e., 1951–1998. The population of the city grew at an average rate of 3.32 % during the intercensal period 1981–1998 (17 years) and registered an increase of 74.20 % over 1981 when the population was 3,544,942. The total population of Lahore was 6,318,745 as per the 1998 census. This large-scale increase in population and resultant development in residential/infrastructural sectors has since long caused increased pressure on urban vegetation (Table 1). This has resulted in loss of the city’s green character (Shirazi 2012); therefore, the urban vegetation has been significantly removed or reduced (Almas et al. 2005) and thus had a significant socio-environmental impact on the residents of Lahore. The process of urbanization and global impacts on climate change in Lahore have also adversely affected the climate of the city (Sajjad et al. 2009). It was therefore imperative to appraise the perception of the public regarding the loss of city’s greenery/vegetation due to urbanization in Lahore by highlighting its causes and consequences as per people’s opinion through firsthand information. The main objective of this study was so see the impact of urbanization on vegetation and resultant environmental degradation in the city of Lahore. This objective was achieved through people’s perception gathered with the help of fieldwork and questionnaire survey. It was also necessary to assess the socio-environmental awareness related to the tree/vegetation loss and urbanization of the socioeconomic characteristics of the sample population of Lahore. It was also the aim to gauge the concerns of the local residents about environmental problems arose by the urbanization and vegetation loss in the city of Lahore.
The figures presented in Table 2 represent the LULC changes in each category since 1992. Built-up area in 1992 occupied more than 51.42 % of the total area, followed by vegetative cover (36.40 %). The major category of the built-up area has shown consistent increase since 1992, i.e., from 51.42 to 57.12 % in 2001 and 71.61 % in 2009. This was mainly because of the fact that Lahore remained the major recipient of the migrants from all over the Punjab province as well as from many other areas of Pakistan. In order to cater the needs of growing number, the residential colonies sprung up on vacant lands covered with natural vegetation. On the contrary, there has been gradual and persistent decline in the vegetative cover in Lahore (Table 2). This continuous decrease in vegetative/green cover in the city was mainly because of rapid population growth (Table 1) and consequent urbanization which had taken place over green areas and agriculture lands of Lahore City.
Since the study area was Lahore, which is too large, in terms of both population and area, therefore, a sample of 25 union councils (a small administrative unit of City District Government, Lahore) was selected to collect the wholesome data from the residents. In order to make it rational, the basic criterion for choosing these union councils (UCs) was the proportion of vegetative cover in 1992 (all the 25 UCs were selected because of the vegetative cover of more than 65 % of their total area in 1992). For this purpose, 1992 Landsat TM images of Lahore were classified and interpreted into LULC data set categories which revealed that out of 150 UCs, 29 UCs were having a vegetative cover of more than 60 % of their respective geographical area. Out of these 29 UCs, top 25 UCs were selected for data collection and household survey to be conducted. The vegetative area ranges from UC no. 125 Manga (65.50 %) to UC no. 108 Gulshan-e-Iqbal (85.71 %)—the UCs have now been the most affected by urbanization. In Lahore, the perception/awareness about the trees and vegetation loss viz-a-viz perceived environmental concerns due to urbanization, among the people, was different in different UCs and at different level groups. In order to achieve our targeted questions, we evaluated four themes of the study:
The perceived causes of urbanization and loss of vegetation in Lahore
Residents’ perceived concerns about urban vegetation and its importance
The perceived environmental effects due to loss of vegetation
The value of tress/urban vegetation as perceived by the residents
Therefore, the understanding of the geographical localities was necessary before conducting the household survey in the sample areas of Lahore, in order to include every tier of the population. The categorization of the vegetation percentage helped to understand the impact of urbanization on vegetation loss scenario and in understanding the urbanization phenomenon. First of all, the UC level map of Lahore was acquired and the sample UCs of Lahore were identified as per criteria set forth for the purpose. It was decided to cover all the 25 UCs of Lahore keeping in view their geographical location and orientation, so as to cover all directions of the city of Lahore (Fig. 1). Based on this pre-survey rational, as well as understanding, the sample localities/the survey sites were selected.
Questionnaire design, sampling, and fieldwork
In order to find the perception, attitude, and comprehension of the people of Lahore regarding loss of vegetation due to urbanization and its perceived impacts, we designed a semi-structured questionnaire with mainly close-ended questions for the common residents of Lahore (hereinafter called the perception survey). The first part of the questionnaire was about the socioeconomic traits of a sample population followed by questions related to the importance and environmental significance of vegetation, amenity value of vegetation, and benefits of vegetation. The survey was conducted in the sample UCs of the study area to explore the facets of citizen the perception towards the impact of vegetation loss as per people’s opinion through firsthand information. It was also to assess the socioeconomic and environmental awareness related to the vegetation loss and urbanization of the sample population of Lahore and to understand the concern of the people about perceived environmental problems arose by the urbanization and vegetation loss in the city of Lahore. The questionnaire was designed after numerous meetings with the officials of Lahore Development Authorities (LDA), experts in the field of urban planning and environment, and my colleagues at the University of the Punjab, Lahore. After designing the questionnaire, a pilot test was run at five UCs which were part of the 25 selected sites for data collection. The filled questionnaires were scrutinized carefully, and few questions were excluded from the survey instrument while wordings of few questions were rephrased to make it easier to understand. The questionnaire was prepared in English, but the enumerators were instructed to translate each question for the respondents if someone does not understand the question.
There were 2150 sets of questionnaires circulated among the 25 UCs/sampling areas. A minimum of 50 questionnaires and a maximum of 70 questionnaires were filled in from each sample area. A total of 70 questionnaires were found improper, incorrect, and incomplete; therefore, they were excluded from the final analysis, while the rest of the 2080 questionnaires were used for statistical analysis. The methods used for the research were qualitative and quantitative in nature. Since the primary data collected for this research was to assess the knowledge of the people of Lahore, relating to urbanization and tree/vegetation loss, therefore, as the sampling technique, household units were randomly sampled and were used while an interview was conducted to fill the questionnaire. Before the start of the interview, the purpose of the survey was explained to each respondent and their consent was sought for the purpose.
A fieldwork was conducted since 01-09-2009 and ended on 31-12-2009 under the supervision of the researcher from the ZindaDilan-e- Lahore (people of Lahore). About 20 volunteer post-graduate students of the Geography Department of Punjab University, Lahore, were entrusted to work as enumerators. For the present study, the idiom “urban vegetation” is used for all those plants found in the district of Lahore, hence referring to the ground cover provided by the plants, trees and forests, weed patches, crop fields, roadside vegetation (natural and planted), privately owned gardens and lawns, parks, aquatic and marshy vegetation, and green spaces maintained by public and private enterprise; all are encompassed by the term vegetation (Borgström et al. 2006; Breuste 2008; James et al. 2009; Qureshi et al. 2010) which might be called as “urban green space” in a broader urban ecological perspective.
Prior to this survey, enumerators were briefed about the purpose of study, the questionnaire, and data collection strategy. Most of them were the present students while there were few old students of the investigators who were engaged in the fieldwork. In addition to the volunteers, the researcher himself collected the data from the field, particularly from the far flung sample UCs of Lahore. It is customary in Pakistani society that females do not respond to unknown people while male members were out of home. Therefore, in most cases, the data collection was done in the afternoon between 3 and 6 pm, but not limited within this time frame so as to have male members at home. That is why the major proportion of respondents was males (Table 3).
The questionnaire used for the perception survey comprised of a variety of aspects related to various socioeconomic conditions, knowledge about vegetation loss, concerns of the people about the past and the present vegetation of Lahore, importance of vegetation in the daily affairs of life, maintenance of vegetation, knowledge about the importance of vegetation, environmental importance of vegetation, sentimental attachment to city’s vegetation, standard and status of vegetation in Lahore, and perception of vegetation quality among different strata of the residents of Lahore. A number of questions were particularly designed to target the importance and problems related to the vegetation of Lahore. Investigations of people’s perception about urbanization and vegetation loss were also carried out by asking questions about the type, value, and importance. However, results of only ten questions (tested variables) from the household survey have been documented and depicted in figures.
The questions included in the questionnaire primarily about the perception of people regarding socio-environmental conditions, benefits, adverse impacts, economic values due to loss of trees/vegetation, and urbanization of Lahore were coded as variables. Similarly, data of all the 2080 filled questionnaires were then keypunched to infer analysis. For the analysis, SPSS 17.0 has been used as a statistical software program to test cross tabulation, chi-square test, and Pearson’s product moment correlation for responses and later presented in tabular and graphical forms to have better comparative review of the results.
Socioeconomic profile of the respondents
The gender composition of the total sample of 2080 respondents has been given in Table 3 in the summary statistics of the household survey. From the total, 62.7 % were male while the remaining 37.3 % were female respondents. More or less, the same proportion exists in all the 25 surveyed UCs of Lahore. Table 3 indicates the marital status of the respondents in the entire sample UCs collectively. It reveals that, out of the total 2080 respondents, 79.4 % were married while 19.6 and 1.0 % were single and divorced/widowed, respectively. As far as the age of the respondents in the area is concerned, majority of them falls in the age group of 41–50 years followed by 31–40 years and 21–30 years age groups. Since the surveyors mostly interviewed the heads of the households, or the elder persons, therefore, the percentage is higher for the age group of 41–50 years. The same is true for the entire sample of the 25 UCs of Lahore. There were 15.8 % of the respondents who fall into the age group of 50 years and above.
Educational characteristics are of fundamental importance in any in-depth study of present nature. As far as educational characteristics of the sample population is concerned, it was found that most of the respondents were bachelors (34.6 %) followed by the masters, engineers, and doctors, etc., with a percentage of 28.5. There were only 1.5 % of the respondents who were uneducated. The proportion of “others category” was 6.2 %. The data pertaining to occupation of the respondents reveals that most of the respondents belong to the category designated as the businessmen (27.1 %) followed by the government employees (15.2 %), private employees (14.8 %), pensioners/retired personnel (11.9 %), and self-employed (9.2 %). Only 10.8 % of the respondents were unemployed. Table 3 indicates the distribution of the respondents according to their occupation.
As far as the data is concerned, it was explored that majority of the respondents were government employees followed by the private employees. Their detailed UC level break-up indicates that the ratios of these two major sectors are more or less the same with those in the entire sample UCs. For example, in Green Town (a sample UC), government employees were 29.6 % as compared to 18.4 % of private employees. The question relating to the income of the respondents was very important in order to assess the economic conditions of the respondents as well as that of the sample area. Table 3 revealed that most of the respondents of all the UCs of the selected are fall in the income category ranging from Rs. 15,001–30,000 (39.8 % of the total sample) per month, while the remaining falls within the categories of Rs. 30,001–45,000 (24.0 %); Rs. 45,001–60,000 (6.5 %); and Rs. >60,000 (2.3 %) while a substantial proportion of the residents (27.3 %) fall in the income category of monthly income of Rs. <15,000.
Results and discussion
The results of the chi-square test revealed that the vegetation loss and its perceived causes have highly significant association with each other, χ 2 (8, N = 2080) = 90.25, p = .00 (Table 4). This means the residents were aware of this fact that the vegetation in Lahore was less as compared to the last 15–20 years, and they identified the causes of this degradation in the order of population increase (16.98 %), urbanization (15.38 %), development by City District Government of Lahore (11.34 %), traffic congestion (9.42 %), and climate change (6,15 %). It clearly revealed that the residents believe that during the past 15–20 years, the urban vegetation of Lahore has definitely reduced and the perceived causes of this phenomenon were similar to many other studies of similar nature.
Population increase is one of the major reasons of urbanization in Lahore as elsewhere in the world; therefore, results of chi-square reveal that population increase in the city of Lahore in the past two decades was the major reason of vegetation loss and that both have been significantly associated with each other, χ 2 (2, N = 2080) = 5.77, p = .05 (Table 5). This can also be seen in Table 2 as to how the population has increased over the period of time in Lahore. The study further probed it to the people’s perceptions with the help of ten tested variables related to the main objectives of this research.
Urban trees/vegetation is an important part of Lahore City
The results presented in Table 3 showed that the marital status of the individuals as well as their income has no effect on their perception about the test statement that “Urban trees/vegetation is an important part of Lahore City,” as both the p values for the chi-square test of the these two tested variables are greater than the significance level of 0.05, showing an insignificant value. However, the gender, age, education, and occupation of the individuals do have an effect on the respondent’s perception about this statement. The p values of these four variables are less than 0.05, hence pointing towards a significant relationship between the test variable and each of these four variables at a 0.05 significance level. Another way to put this may be that the respondents’ perception about the statement “Urban trees/vegetation is an important part of Lahore City” is dependent on the individual’s gender, age, education, and occupation.
Trees/vegetation protects us from adverse environmental effects such as pollution and dust storms, reduces noise, blocks unsightly views, etc.
Table 6 shows that the marital status of the individuals has no effect on their perception about the test statement “Trees/vegetation protects us from adverse environmental effects such as pollution and dust storms, reduces noise, blocks unsightly views, etc.,” as the p value for the chi-square test is greater than the significance level of 0.05, showing an insignificant value. However, the gender, age, education, income, and occupation of the individuals do have an effect on the respondent’s perception about this statement. The p values of these five variables are less than 0.05, hence pointing towards a significant relationship between the test variable and each of these five variables at a 0.05 significance level. This can also be inferred that the respondents’ perception about the statement “Trees/vegetation protects us from adverse environmental effects such as pollution and dust storms, reduces noise, blocks unsightly views, etc.” is dependent on the individual’s gender, age, education, income, and occupation.
Trees/vegetation in your area is less today as compared to 15–20 years ago
All the socioeconomic variables of gender, age, marital status, education, income, and occupation of the individuals have an effect on the respondent’s perception about the test statement “Trees/vegetation in your area is less today as compared to 15–20 years ago,” as the p values of all these six variables are less than 0.05, hence pointing towards a significant relationship between the test variable and each of these six socioeconomic variables at a 0.05 significance level. Another way to put this may be that the respondents’ perception about the statement “Trees/vegetation in your area is less today as compared to 15–20 years ago” is dependent on the individual’s gender, age, marital status, education, income, and occupation.
Population growth and urbanization in Lahore are the two major causes of vegetation loss
All the socioeconomic variables of gender, age, marital status, education, income, and occupation of the individuals have an effect on the respondent’s perception about the test statement “Population growth and urbanization in Lahore are the two major causes of vegetation loss,” as the p values of all these six variables are less than 0.05, hence pointing towards a significant relationship between the test variable and each of these six socioeconomic variables at a 0.05 significance level. Another way to put this may be that the respondents’ perception about the statement “Population growth and urbanization in Lahore are the two major causes of vegetation loss” is dependent on the individual’s gender, age, marital status, education, income, and occupation.
Observed/felt change in the climate of Lahore
The results displayed in Table 6 showed that the gender of the individuals has no effect on their perception about the test statement “Observed/felt change in the climate of Lahore,” as the p value for the chi-square test is greater than the significance level of 0.05, showing an insignificant value. However, the age, marital status, education, income, and occupation of the individuals do have an effect on the respondent’s perception about this statement. The p values of these five variables are less than 0.05, hence pointing towards a significant relationship between the test variable and each of these five variables at a 0.05 significance level. Further, the respondents’ perception about the statement “Observed/felt change in the climate of Lahore” is dependent on the individual’s age, marital status, education, income, and occupation.
Loss of vegetation cover is one possible cause of climatic change in Lahore
The results depicted in Table 6 showed that the gender, age, and education of the individuals have no effect on their perception about the test statement “Loss of vegetation cover is one possible cause of climatic change in Lahore,” as the p value for the chi-square test for each of these three variables is greater than the significance level of 0.05, showing an insignificant value. However, the marital status, income, and occupation of the individuals do have an effect on the respondent’s perception about this statement. The p values of these three variables are less than 0.05, hence pointing towards a significant relationship between the test variable and each of these three variables at a 0.05 significance level. In another way, the respondents’ perception about the statement “Loss of vegetation cover is one possible cause of climatic change in Lahore” is dependent on the individual’s marital status, income, and occupation.
Trees in business districts and residential neighborhoods attract more business and residents
Table 6 shows that the gender of the individuals has no effect on their perception about the test statement “Trees in business districts and residential neighborhoods attract more business and residents,” as the p value for the chi-square test is greater than the significance level of 0.05, showing an insignificant value. However, the age, marital status, education, income, and occupation of the individuals do have an effect on the respondent’s perception about this statement. The p values of these five variables are less than 0.05, hence pointing towards a significant relationship between the test variable and each of these five variables at a 0.05 significance level. However the respondents’ perception about the statement “Trees in business districts and residential neighborhoods attract more business and residents” is dependent on the individual’s age, marital status, education, income, and occupation.
Trees are important because they increase property values
The results displayed in Table 6 show that the gender, age, and income of the individuals have no effect on their perception about the test statement “Trees are important because they increase property values,” as the p value for the chi-square test for each of these three variables is greater than the significance level of 0.05, showing an insignificant value. However, the marital status, education, and occupation of the individuals do have an effect on the respondent’s perception about this statement. The p values of these three variables are less than 0.05, hence pointing towards a significant relationship between the test variable and each of these three variables at a 0.05 significance level. Another way to put this may be that the respondents’ perception about the statement “Trees are important because they increase property values” is dependent on the individual’s marital status, education, and occupation.
Willing to pay some tax/“Tree Tax” to the city’s administration to be spent to protect the vegetation/trees of Lahore
The results portrayed in Table 6 revealed that the gender of the individuals has no effect on their perception about the test statement “Willing to pay some tax/‘Tree Tax’ to the city’s administration to be spent to protect the vegetation/trees of Lahore,” as the p value for the chi-square test is greater than the significance level of 0.05, showing an insignificant value. However, the age, marital status, education, income, and occupation of the individuals do have an effect on the respondent’s perception about this statement. The p values of these five variables are less than 0.05, hence pointing towards a significant relationship between the test variable and each of these five variables at a 0.05 significance level. Another way to put this may be that the respondents’ perception about the statement “Willing to pay some tax/‘Tree Tax’ to the city’s administration to be spent to protect the vegetation/trees of Lahore” is dependent on the individual’s age, marital status, education, income, and occupation.
Will halt the Government agency if it intends to remove the trees without any genuine reason/need from our vicinity
All the socioeconomic variables of gender, age, marital status, education, income, and occupation of the individuals have an effect on the respondent’s perception about the test statement “Will halt the Government agency if it intends to remove the trees without any genuine reason/need from our vicinity,” as the p values of all these six variables are less than 0.05, hence pointing towards a significant relationship between the test variable and each of these six socioeconomic variables at a 0.05 significance level. Therefore, the respondents’ perception about the statement “Will halt the Government agency if it intends to remove the trees without any genuine reason/need from our vicinity” is dependent on the individual’s gender, age, marital status, education, income, and occupation.
The results show a highly significant positive relationship between age and attitude/perception towards vegetation such as tress have rights as human beings which means that as age increases the attitude improves. It also reflects that as age increases, the sense that trees increase property value also improved. The table demonstrated that as age increases, the personal concerns towards vegetation decrease. A positive highly significant relationship was found between education and value of vegetation. It means that as education increases, the value of vegetation, such as trees decrease noise, provide shade, and protect from adverse environmental effects, increases. A highly significant inverse relationship was found among income, attitude towards vegetation, and knowledge of vegetation loss. It means that as income increases, the attitude towards vegetation and knowledge of vegetation decrease. The table also reflects that as income increases, the value of vegetation (it attracts more business and it improves quality of life) also increases. The table also shows a positive highly significant relationship between attitudes towards vegetation and value of vegetation. It means that as positive perception towards vegetation improves, the value of vegetation also enhances. A highly significant positive relationship is found between the role of vegetation and value of vegetation (it provides shade and cool, reduces noise, and improves quality of life). A negative correlation is found between the role of vegetation and the belief that it protects from adverse environmental effects.
The study underlined a simple methodology to study and analyze people’s perceptions regarding the loss of vegetation due to urbanization in the second largest city according to the population in Pakistan. Urbanization has not only resulted in loss of vegetation but also caused environmental problems in Lahore, including numerous ecological effects. The perceived socio-environmental findings revealed that the urbanization and population growth are the fundamental reasons for vegetation loss in the city. A number of socio-environmental consequences of the vegetation loss, particularly at the UCs’ level in Lahore and on the overall environ of the city, have been quite evident in view of the perception of the city residents. The continuous vegetation loss was also attributed to the degradation of environment of the city which ultimately has reflected in people’s perception. Therefore, it could be a model city to carry research of present nature.
Urban trees and vegetation of a city are one of the most important aspects in a resident’s life. The plantation of trees in an urban area is primarily related to its aesthetic and ecological values. However, because of urbanization, the loss of tress/vegetation is the major concern for city dwellers of Lahore as well as in many other parts of the world. The residents of Lahore are also concerned about this issue and regard it as to be taken up by the government on war footing. The issue received attention by the vast majority of the respondents, and they showed their concerns in this regard.
land use and land cover
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
Alberti M, Marzluff JM (2004) Ecological resilience in urban ecosystems: linking urban patterns to human and ecological functions. Urban Ecosystems 7(3):241–265
Almas, AS, Rahim, CA, Butt, MJ, Shah, TI. (2005). Metropolitan growth monitoring and landuse classification use geospatial techniques. Paper presented in SPRS Workshop on Service and Application of Spatial Data Infrastructure, XXXVI (4/W6), Oct.14-16, Hangzhou, China. Accessed 01 April 2014.
Bastian O, Haase D, Grunewald K (2012) Ecosystem properties, potentials and services—the EPPS conceptual framework and an urban application example. Ecological Indicators 21:7–16
Borgström, ST, Elmqvist T, Angelstam P, Alfsen-Norodom C. (2006) Scale mismatches in management of urban landscapes. Ecology and Society 11(2):16. http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss2/art16/.
Breuste, J. (2008). Ecological perspectives of urban green and open spaces / Ökologische Perspektiven von Stadtgrün und Freiraum. 179 Seiten, brosch - ISBN 978-3-85283-026-5.
Chen J (2007) Rapid urbanization in China: a real challenge to soil protection and food security. CATENA 69:1–15. doi:10.1016/j.catena.2006.04.019
Colding J (2011) The role of ecosystem services in contemporary urban planning. In: Niemelä J (ed) Urban ecology: patterns, processes, and applications. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 228–237
Fang CF, Ling DL (2005) Guidance for noise reduction provided by tree belts. Landscape and Urban Planning 71:29–34. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2004.01.005
Fisher TR, Benitez JA, Lee KY, Sutton AJ (2006) History of land cover change and biogeochemical impacts in the Choptank River basin in the mid-Atlantic region of the US. Int J Remote Sens 27(17):3683–3703. doi:10.1080/01431160500383
Folke C, Jansson A, Larsson J, Costanza R (1997) Ecosystem appropriation by cities. Ambio 26(3):167–172
González JE, Luvall JC, Rickman D, Comarazamy D, Picón A, Harmsen E, Parsiani H, Vásquez RE, Ramirez N, Williams R, Waide RW, Tepley CA (2005) Urban heat islands developing in coastal tropical cities. Eos Trans Am Geophys Union 86((42):397–403. doi:10.1029/2005EO420001
Government of Pakistan, District Census Report (2000a) Lahore population census organization. Statistics Division, Islamabad, p 3
Government of Pakistan, District Census Report (2000b) Lahore population census organization. Statistics Division, Islamabad, pp 55–56
Government of Pakistan, City Report Lahore (2004) Population and housing census,1998. Population census organization. Statistics Division, Islamabad, p 21
Gregg JW, Jones CG, Dawson TE (2003) Urbanization effects on tree growth in the vicinity of New York City. Nature 424:183–187. doi:10.1038/nature01728
Haase D (2013) Urbane Ökosystemdienstleistungen – das Beispiel Leipzig. In: Grunewald K, Bastian O (eds) Ökosystemdienstleistungen. Konzept, Meth-oden, Fallbeispiele. Springer, Berlin, pp 232–240
Huang J, Ritschard R, Sampson N, Taha H (1992) The benefits of urban trees. In: Akbari H, Davis S, Dorsano S, Huang J, Winnett S (eds) Cooling Our Communities. A Guidebook on Tree Planting and Light-Colored Surfacing. U.S.Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Change Division, Washington, pp 27–42
James P, Tzoulas K, Adams M, Barber A, Box J, Breuste J, Elmqvist T, Frith M, Gordon C, Greening KL, Handley J, Haworth S, Kazmierczak A, Johnston M, Korpela K, Moretti M, Niemelä J, Pauleit S, Roe M, Sadler JP, Thompson CW (2009) Towards an integrated understanding of green space in the European built environment. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 8(2):65–75. doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2009.02.001
Jim CY (2004) Characteristics of urban park trees in Hong Kong in relation to greenspace planning and development. Acta Horticulturae 643:123–128
Jim CY, Zhang AH (2013) Species diversity and spatial differentiation of old-valuable trees in urban Hong Kong. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 12(2):171–182. doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2013.02.001
Kaplan R (1992) Urban forestry and the workplace. In: Gobster PH (ed) Managing urban and high-use recreation settings. USDA Forest Service, General Technical Report NC-163. North Central Forest Experimental Center, Chicago, pp 41–45
Kaplan R, Kaplan S (1989) The experience of nature: a psychological perspective. University Press, Cambridge
Kazi SA (1951) Climatic regions of West Pakistan. Pakistan Geographical Review 6(1):1–22
Kim YH, Baik JJ (2005) Spatial and temporal structure of the urban heat island in Seoul. J Appl Meteorol 44:591–605. doi:10.1175/JAM2226.1
Konijnendijk CC, Nilsson K, Randrup TB, Schipperin J (2005) Urban forests and trees. Springer-Verlag, Berlin
Latifovic R, Fytas K, Chen J, Paraszczak J (2005) Assessing land cover change resulting from large surface mining development. Int J Appl Earth Obs Geoinf 7(1):29–48. doi:10.1016/j.jag.2004.11.003
Li B, Yao R (2009) Urbanisation and its impact on building energy consumption and efficiency in China. Renew Energy 34(9):1994–1998. doi:10.1016/j.renene.2009.02.015
Lindsey G, Man J, Payton S, Dickson K (2004) Property values, recreation values, and urban greenways. J Park Recreat Admin 22(3):69–90
Martínez-Zarzoso I, Maruotti A (2011) The impact of urbanization on CO2 emissions: evidence from developing countries. Ecol Econ 70(7):1344–1353
Masood (2004). Daily DAWN newspaper internet edition. Accessed 15 August 2008.
Matteucci SD, Morello J (2009) Environmental consequences of exurban expansion in an agricultural area: the case of the Argentinian Pampas ecoregion. Urban Ecosyst 12:287–310. doi:10.1007/s11252-009-0093-z
McPherson EG, Nowak DJ, Rowntree RA (1994) Chicago’s urban forest ecosystem: results of the Chicago urban forest climate project, USDA Forest Service General Technical Report No. NE-186. Radnor, Pennsylvania, http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/gtr/gtr_ne186.pdf. Accessed on 26th September 2014.
Niemelä J, Saarela SR, Södermann T, Kopperoinen L, Yli-Pelkonen V, Väre S, Kotze J (2010) Using the ecosystem services approach for better planning and conservation of urban green spaces: a Finland case study. Biodivers Conserv 19(11):3225–3243. doi:10.1007/s10531-010-9888-8
Nowak DJ (2001) The effects of urban forests on the physical environment. In: Randrup TB, Konijnendijk CC, Christophersen T, Nilsson K (eds) COST action E12: urban forests and trees. Proceedings no. 1. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxemburg, pp 22–38
Pauleit S, Duhme F (2000) Assessing the environmental performance of land cover types for urban planning. Landsc Urban Plan 52(1):1–20. doi:10.1016/S0169—2046(00)00109-2
Qureshi S, Kazmi SJH, Breuste JH (2010) Ecological disturbances due to high cutback in the green infrastructure of Karachi: analyses of public perception about associated health problems. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening (Elsevier, Germany) 9(3):187–198
Sajjad SH, Shirazi SA, Khan MA, Raza A (2009) Urbanization effects on temperature trends of Lahore during 1950–2007. Int J Clim Chang Str 1(3):274–281. doi:10.11081/17568690910977483
Saphores JD, Li W (2012) Estimating the value of urban green areas: a hedonic pricing analysis of the single family housing market in Los Angeles, CA. Landsc Urban Plan 104:373–387. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2011.11.012
Schoeder HW, Cannon WN (1983) The aesthetic contribution of trees to residential streets in Ohio Towns. J Arboric 9(9):237–243
Shirazi SA (2012) Temporal analysis of land use and land cover changes in Lahore-Pakistan. Pakistan Vision 13(1):188––207. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2011.06.003
Siciliano G (2012) Urbanization strategies, rural development and land use changes in China: a multiple-level integrated assessment. Land Use Policy 29(1):165–178
Sullivan WC, Kuo EE (1996) Do trees strengthen urban communities, reduce domestic violence? Arborist News 5(2):33–34
Swanwick C, Dunnett N, Woolley H (2003) Nature, role and value of green space in towns and cities: an overview. Built Environ 29(2):94–106. doi:10.2148/benv.184.108.40.206467
Tzoulas K, Korpela K, Venn S, Yli-Pelkonen V, Kazmierczak A, Niemelä J, James P (2007) Promoting ecosystem and human health in urban areas using green infrastructure: a literature review. Landsc Urban Plan 81(3):167–178
Ulrich RS (1986) Human responses to vegetation and landscapes. Landsc Urban Plan 13:29–44
United Nations, (2007) Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division World Urbanization Prospects Urban Agglomerations 2007, United Nations, New York; United Nations Statistics Division, Demographic and Social Statistics. Accessed on 17th August 2014
United Nations (2014), Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, Highlights (ST/ESA/SER.A/352). Accessed on 14th August, 2014.
Vesely É-T (2007) Green for green: the perceived value of a quantitative change in the urban tree estate of New Zealand. Ecol Econ 63(2–3):605–615
Wolf, KL (1999). Nature and commerce: human ecology in business districts. In Kollin C (Ed.), Building cities of green: proceedings of the 1999 National Urban Forest Conference (pp. 56–59). Washington, DC.
Wu J (2008) Toward a landscape ecology of cities: beyond buildings, trees, and urban forests. In: Carreiro M, Song Y-C, Wu J (eds) Ecology, planning, and management of urban forests. Springer, New York
Young RF (2010) Managing municipal green space for ecosystem services. Urban Forestry Urban Green 9:313–321. doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2010.06.007
Zhang KH, Song S (2003) Rural–urban migration and urbanization in China: evidence from time-series and cross-section analyses. China Econ Rev 14:386–400. doi:10.1016/j.chieco.2003.09.018
Zhao S, Da L, Tang Z, Fang H, Song K, Fang J (2006) Ecological consequences of rapid urban expansion: Shanghai, China. Front Ecol Environ 4(7):341–346
Zipperer WC, Sisinni SM, Pouyat RV, Foresman TW (1997) Urban tree cover: an ecological perspective. Urban Ecosyst 1:229–246
The authors are grateful to the people of Lahore who participated in the field survey enabling us to formulate this research paper. We are also thankful to the students of the PU Department of Geography who worked as enumerators in primary data collection.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Both the authors have contributed equally, read the manuscript, and have approved the final version for submission to Ecological Processes. Furthermore, both the authors accept the responsibility for its content.
About this article
Cite this article
Shirazi, S.A., Kazmi, J.H. Analysis of socio-environmental impacts of the loss of urban trees and vegetation in Lahore, Pakistan: a review of public perception. Ecol Process 5, 5 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13717-016-0050-8
- Union council
- Urban trees