UW_College of the Environment UW_School of Environmenta and Forest Sciences


To discover, understand and communicate,
human behavior and benefits,
as people experience nature in cities

How does place and the physical environment influence human health and quality of life?
What attitudes and values do people have regarding open spaces in urban environments?
How does nearby nature improve environmental, social, and economic conditions in cities?

Research program: www.naturewithin.info/

Research review - Green Cities: Good Health: www.greenhealth.washington.edu

As a social scientist I investigate people's perceptions and behaviors with regard to urban landscapes. Based on professional experiences early in my career - as an urban forester in South Florida and a landscape architect in the Midwest - I became interested in the interactions between human and ecological systems.

My work is based on the principles of environmental psychology, and studies explore the human dimensions of open space, urban forestry and natural systems:

1. Nearby nature and human health benefits,
Public preferences and perceptions regarding urban public landscapes,
3. Costs, benefits and perceptions of urban forestry in retail and commercial districts,
4. Integration of urban nature and transportation systems,
5. Developmental benefits associated with youth participation in urban greening work, and
6. Effective integration of science and policy through science delivery

Both qualitative methods (e.g. focused interviews and content analysis) and quantitative methods (e.g. public surveys using photoquestionnaires) are the tools I use to assess and evaluate public perceptions and preferences.

In classes and public presentations two themes also help frame lectures and discussions:
• The psycho-social benefits of peoples' experiences of urban nature, and
• How public perceptions and values can be integrated into planning and management of urban open spaces.

Ph.D. Landscape Architecture - School of Natural Resources & Environment; The University of Michigan, 1993.

M. L. A. Landscape Architecture - School of Natural Resources; The University of Michigan, 1987.

B.A. Biology - Whitman College, 1979.


Here is a sample of publications and topics (link to full list):

Wolf, K.L. 2014. City Trees and Consumer Response in Retail Business Districts (pp. 152-172). In: F. Musso, & E. Druica (eds.) Handbook of Research on Retailer-Consumer Relationship Development. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Wolf, K.L. 2014 (April). Water and Wellness: Green Infrastructure for Health Co-Benefits. Stormwater Report, of the Water Environment Federation. online

Wolf, K.L. 2014. Greening the City for Health. Communities & Banking 25, 1: 10-12.

Wolf, K.L., D. Blahna, W. Brinkley, M. Romolini. 2013. Environmental Stewardship Footprint Research: Linking Human Agency and Ecosystem Health in the Puget Sound Region. Urban Ecosystems 16: 13-32.

Wolf, K.L. 2013. Stewardship Mapping: Understanding the Groups That Work for Urban Greening. Arborist News 22, 6: 54-58.

Wolf, K.L. 2010 (January/February). City Trees, Nature and Physical Activity. Facility Management Journal 20, 1: 50-54.

Wolf, K.L., & L.E. Kruger. 2010. Urban Forestry Research Needs: A Participatory Assessment Process. Journal of Forestry 108, 1: 39-44.

Wolf, K.L. 2008. Metro Nature Services: Functions, Benefits and Values, pp. 294-315. In: S.M. Wachter and E.L. Birch (Eds.), Growing Greener Cities: Urban Sustainability in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 416 pp.

Wolf, K.L. 2008 (Winter). With Plants in Mind: Social Benefits of Civic Nature. MasterGardener, 2, 1: 7-11.

Wolf, K. L. 2006. Assessing Public Response to the Freeway Roadside: Urban Forestry and Context Sensitive Solutions. Transportation Research Record. 1984: 102-111.

Wolf, K. L. 2005. Business District Streetscapes, Trees and Consumer Response. Journal of Forestry, 103, 8, 396-400.

Wolf, K.L. 1993. Shoreline Residential Development: Landscape Management Alternatives and Public Preferences. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Link to .pdf files of recent presentations

Green Cities :: Good Health
Hanover Forest Science Seminar, Michigan State University
Partners in Community Forestry National Conference
Oklahoma Urban & Community Forestry Council Annual Conference
IUFRO 2014 World Congress (International Union of Forest Research Organizations)
Canadian National Urban Forest Conference
Research Institute on Humanity and Nature (Kyoto, Japan)

Human Dimensions of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
National Arbor Day Foundation
Saving Towns at Risk Symposium, Alabama Cooperative Extension System
10th Annual Pennsylvania Community Forestry Conference
National Conference of the National Association for Olmsted Parks

Trees, Business and Shopper Response: A Research Review
Texas Tree Conference
California Urban Forest Conference
Connecticut Urban and Community Forestry Conference
Inland Northwest Turf, Tree & Landscape Conference
Society of American Foresters Annual Meeting - Washington Chapter
Plant Health Care for Urban Trees Conference

Economics of the Urban Forest: Valuation of Environmental and Human Services
Environmental Design Research Design Annual Conference
3rd Biennial Conference of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics
Association of Washington Cities Annual Conference
Annual Conference of the Planning Institute of British Columbia, Canada
6th Canadian Urban Forest Conference

Trees & Urban Streets: Research on Public Perceptions and Transportation Safety
Australia Chapter, International Society of Arboriculture
National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council Meeting
Transportation Research Board National Conference
National Scenic Byways Conference
8th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management

Youth & Ecological Work Experiences: Assessing Developmental Impacts & Benefits
Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
National Urban Forestry Conference - San Antonio, Texas


ESRM 304 - Environmental & Resource Assessment This course is one of four undergraduate core courses in the College of Forest Resources, and is team taught by up to eight faculty. Methods and field techniques for natural resource assessment are introduced. Dr. Wolf introduces the process and methods of conducting social science studies, using the course project site as a context for exploring social issues. Teaching materials include lectures, field trip, case studies and readings.

LARC 571 - Research Design for Practitioner-Scientists A course designed to introduce graduate design students to the approaches and methods of social science research. Topics include qualitative and quantitative paradigms of inquiry, conceptual framework development, data collection, data analysis and research report writing. Teaching materials include lectures, field trip, and case studies.

UHF401 - Urban Forest Planning and Managemet An overview of skills and practices essential to a leadership role in sustaining urban natural resources. Planning topics include functions and benefits of urban open space, master planning, regulatory and incentive approaches for open space protection, and stakeholder analysis. Management topics include site management plans, resource inventory systems, scheduling and budgeting and personnel. Class materials include lectures, field trip, workshops and case studies. Text is Urban Forestry: Planning and Managing Urban Greenspaces (R. W. Miller).

UHF470 - Urban Forest Landscapes Through field studies along the urban forest gradient - from the downtown inner-city through suburbs, rural lands and wildlands - we explore the cultural, political and biological dimensions that impact urban forest sites and systems. Field visits with professional urban foresters and urban resources managers illustrate the multiple public issues surrounding the application of science and theory to biosystems where people live, work and play. Text is Urban Forest Landscapes: Integrating Multidisciplinary Perspectives (G. Bradley).

UHF590 - Psychological Issues and Urban Green Spaces - Readings and a seminar format are used to explore the range of human behaviors, values, knowledge and attitudes regarding urban open spaces. We consider the different types of urban green space - including parks, greenbelts and community gardens. Discussion topics explore the benefits of human contact with nature and public impacts on green space planning and management. Texts include Green Nature/Human Nature by Charles A. Lewis and With People in Mind: Design and Management of Everyday Nature (R. Kaplan, S. Kaplan, R. L. Ryan).


• Balancing Crime Deterrence and Environmental Performance In Seattle Parks
• Equity in Urban Forest Management: Assessing Street Tree Condition, Maintenance, and Neighborhood Income Levels in Seattle, WA.
• Sound Relationships: Exploring Experience, Place and Ecological Understanding in Port Townsend's Coastal Areas.

• Survey of Urban Forestry Management Practices of Washington State Municipalities
• A Statewide Assessment of Urban Forestry Inventories for Washington State Communities
• Public Participation Methods in Open Space Planning for Concepcion, Chile

• Analysis of Users at the University of Washington's Medicinal Herb Demonstration Garden
• Interdisciplinary Perceptions of Urban Watershed Planning and Management
• Management Assessment of Native Plant Public Gardens

• Manager Perceptions of Wildlife Policy in Urban Open Space Planning and Management
• A Place for the Sacred: Native-American and European American Representations of Death
in the American Landscape
• Designing Light for the Night: Perceptions of Security and Aesthetic

• The Restorative Spaces of Women under Stress
• Aesthetics and Cognition: The Embodied Mind in the Ecological Landscape


Kathleen L. Wolf, Ph.D.
Research Social Scientist
University of Washington
College of the Environment
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

Box 352100
Seattle, WA 98195-2100

e-mail: kwolf@u.washington.edu


updated November 2014