It is widely known that trees are one of the most important natural elements characterizing the urban landscape. They play a crucial role as providers of ecosystem services, which enhance human well-being directly and indirectly. A relevant feature considering that more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Here trees and human works generally depict a complex system of historical, cultural and natural values. However, urban changes can modify historic landscapes by causing the loss of cultural and environmental values. This is particularly true in those territories where man has been present since very ancient times, such as the metropolitan areas of the Mediterranean basin.
In this study, we assessed native people’s perception of trees in the urban landscape of the Bay of Naples (Italy) with the main goals of: i) to highlight the tree species historically characteristic of the urban landscape; ii) to evaluate the quantitative changes and the related causes that have affected trees in the last twenty years. To this aims we conducted a totally anonymous online survey using the Google Forms application. The questionnaire, in addition to some personal data, included 114 questions on tree characteristics. We have selected 50 tree native and exotic species and to facilitate their identification for a wider audience, we have provided a photographic documentation for each tree. Participants (botanists, agronomists, etc.) were asked to state their opinions according to rating scales. On the basis of the questionnaires received so far, Pinus pinea L. (Pinaceae) showed the highest scores as a species historically characterizing the study area, but also in strong reduction. The results of this study will support decision making in the urban landscape planning in the Bay of Naples. Furthermore, the proposed survey method can be tested and applied to other urban areas of the world.