An analysis of urban residents' participation in outdoor recreation in urban forested areas: the case of Nairobi city, Kenya
Sylvester, W. O. Hayker
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With the rapidly changing world coupled with changes in tastes and lifestyles among Urban residents, there is need to diversify the range of outdoor recreation opportunities in Urban areas. This is with specific reference to Nairobi city, which has a vast resource of forested areas such as Karura Forest, Ngong Road Forest, City Park and the Nairobi Arboretum. This study therefore sought to establish the preference of Nairobi residents on the use of urban forested areas as outdoor recreation sites, as well as identifying the opportunities existing within the forests for outdoor recreation. Survey research design was used to gather information on urban residents' preferences on the use of forested areas for outdoor recreation. Factors under investigation were facilities within the forested areas as independent variables and urban residents' preferences as dependent variables. A sample size of 200 residents was drawn from the study area by use of random probability sampling method. Data was collected by use of five - point Likert Scale questionnaire and closed ended questions, which was administered to residents within the study area (on-site). The researcher took photographs to determine available outdoor recreation opportunities and management factors within the urban forested areas. Frequencies and percentages were used to analyse the characteristics of respondents. Chi-square (x2) was used to show a relationship between the extents of awareness of Nairobi's residents on outdoor recreation opportunities available in Nairobi's forested areas and level of education at a significant level of 0.05. The preferences of Nairobi City's residents towards outdoor recreation and the factors that constrain Nairobi's residents from using urban forests for outdoor recreation were determined using One-Way ANOVA. The study indicated that there are numerous opportunities in the urban forests for outdoor recreation and majority of Nairobi residents know about them. h1ost of the residents visited the urban forests for picnicking using private means of transport and mostly in the afternoons. Most of the respondents affirmed the benefits of outdoor recreation in urban forests, as including improved social ties, improved well-being and renewed energy. However there were issues that visitors to the urban forests felt should be addressed; ensuring safety and security within the recreation sites. The study recommends that the government should support the marketing of outdoor recreation in urban forests through funding, advertising and enacting of laws that will stimulate growth of outdoor recreation by the ministry of tourism and ministry of environment and natural resources. Managers of the varioVs urban forests (NCC, FONA and KFS) should ensure a litter-free environment by posting notices directing recreationists to dump litter at designated points, along with clearly posted rules and regulations, safety and security at recreation sites, and cleanliness of washrooms and toilets to guarantee satisfaction to visitors. Improving these satisfaction attributes could help increase visitors' overall experience, which could lead to repeat visits.