Tarja Rannisto

School of Geography and Planning

PhD Candidate

Tarja Rannisto
Profile picture of Tarja Rannisto

Full contact details

Tarja Rannisto
School of Geography and Planning
Geography and Planning Building
Winter Street
S3 7ND

2021- Human Geography


2000 BA, Aesthetics and Theoretical Philosophy, University of Helsinki, Finland (incl. exchange student year in the University of Århus, Denmark

2003 MA, Environmental Aesthetics, University of Helsinki, Finland 2009-2017 PGR in the department of the research of philosophy, history, cultures and art in the University of Helsinki, Finland

2017-2019 Independent researcher, journalist and author, Helsinki, Finland 2022- Natural England

Research interests

Thesis title: Wellbeing benefits of sustainable urban woodlands: The significance of aesthetic awareness in cities environmental strategies in terms of people's wellbeing

This research aims to show that successful, sustainable urban green space planning is also an investment in peoples wellbeing.

This PhD aims to develop a deep understanding of the impact of nearby trees and woodlands on peoples experience of and interacting with nature and by investigating how far incorporating peoples nature preferences into sustainable planning strategies around urban treescapes can have positive effect on peoples wellbeing. 

Another aim is to show that including sufficient urban woodlands and other green spaces and investing on their ecological and aesthetic quality in planning phase, cities can attract more people to connect with nature. This effects positively on sustainability transformation in three ways which all are linked with each other: mitigating climate change, enhancing the quality of urban nature and increasing peoples wellbeing and connection with nature.

The outcome of this research will have two kinds of social significance. Firstly, via connecting local residents and environmental decision makers to create sustainable and pleasant city parks, health hazards will reduce. The second social significance concerns the suggestion that alongside with growing multicultural urban population, the preferences and values of urban nature changes. Especially in cities with high ethnical diversity it is inevitable to acknowledge ethno-cultural diversity's significance in overall management of urban woodlands. 
In this research, aesthetics approach is sought to provide knowledge about how people experience trees and what kind of trees do they most enjoy being around. Defining aesthetic values of urban woodlands in the context of this research is essential in order to be able to identify the correct value categories that should be integrated into environmental decision-making.

As this research will reveal, bringing that information in practice the woodlands have better chances to attract people from variety of cultural backgrounds to interact with nature and by investing in woodlands and other green areas in demographically disadvantaged neighbourhoods, inequality is reduced, and the overall appearance of the city is improved.
The research follows ethnographic methodology and will advance combining a number of in-depth qualitative approaches: demi structured in-depth interviews, observation and documenting.
The research questions are also addressed through literary and archival work.
The theoretical framework for this research aims to draw mainly from theories of human geography, aesthetics and hermeneutics.

Supervisors: Dr. Matt Watson and Dr. Jessica Dubow

Professional activities and memberships

Conference presentations (the last three years): 

2021 Guest speaker in seminar: Mental images of Nordic landscapes, University of Lapland Applied Sciences
2023 Presentation in Conference on Trees, Biodiversity and People, British Ecological Society