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Not by Trees Alone: Centering Community in Urban Forestry

By Lindsay K. Campbell, Erika S. Svendsen, Michelle L. Johnson, Sophie Plitt

This paper provides a review of literature that seeks to address dimensions of equity in urban greening. It then offers three themes and related, guiding questions that can help advance that work:

  1. Supporting human capacity and care (investments in people and organizations)
  2. Community organizing beyond the green silo (intersectional and cross-sectoral approaches)
  3. Reenvisioning the functions of the urban forest (productive systems and biocultural approaches)

This paper makes specific suggestions that the field of urban forestry draw upon a community forestry ethos as we center the needs, capacities, and priorities of historically marginalized communities at the heart of the work of creating more just, sustainable cities.

Journal: Landscape and Urban Planning

In a nutshell, the resource offers:

  • Information on how urban forestry can both improve communities or exacerbate existing inequities
  • Explanation of how environmental justice and anti-subordination greening concepts can inform our work
  • Community forestry approaches that center marginalized communities’ priorities
  • Ideas on how the field can support capacity, organize with community, and re-envision the forest
  • Innovations from the field and questions for greening practitioners

Urban forestry practitioners who are seeking to deepen their work in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) will find:

  • A literature review on DEIJ approaches in the field of urban forestry and urban greening
  • A theoretical framework for engaging with equity and justice in urban forestry work
  • Cases of community-centered urban forestry work from across the US
  • Inspiration and recommendations for how to center community in urban forestry
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Gardener working fresh soil for planters