The Perception of Social Safety in a Green Environment: A preliminary study at the Kepong Metropolitan Park
Although there are many positive benefits gained from green areas, it is possible that people also have a negative perception towards such areas. Previous studies have shown that natural areas are sometimes perceived as scary, disgusting and uncomfortable when the sites are more densely vegetated, particularly when the vegetation is not apparently maintained and crime is often cited as a reason to avoid densely wooded areas. Based on this notion. a preliminary survey was conducted at Kepong Metropolitan Park. A total 0/69 park users were interviewed. A questionnaire was designed to provide information on the users' perception 0/ personal safety based on vegetation composition in urban parks. The perception of personal safety was based on photos taken before the survey. These photographs were taken at several urban parks in Kuala Lumpur. Out of 66 photographs taken. only 24 photographs were chosen for this study. The selection of the photographs was based on the type of vegetation such as topiary, young trees, matured trees. open space. hedges, shrub. water plant, bamboo, non-woody plants, and palms. Each of these photographs was identified with a numbered label. The respondents were requested to assess the type of surrounding vegetation they regarded as providing the safest environment. This study indicated that a photograph representing topiary plants was chosen by most park users as providing the safest park environment. On the other hand, a photograph depicting a pool with tall water grasses was considered as providing the least secure environment. This preliminary study revealed that people preferred parks which are more organized, maintained and well managed with a 'more formal' landscape setting. This study only presents preliminary evidence for the idea that a green environment can contribute towards fear and the feeling of being unsafe.
© 2016 The Authors. Published for AMER ABRA by e-International Publishing House, Ltd., UK.. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). Peer–review under responsibility of AMER (Association of Malaysian Environment-Behaviour Researchers), ABRA (Association of Behavioural Researchers on Asians) and cE-Bs (Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, UniversitiTeknologi MARA, Malaysia.
Keywords: Garden Nation, environmental design, public space, safe city, fear