Not by trees alone: Centering community in urban forestry

      Not by trees alone: Centering community in urban forestry

        Article Summary

        This paper provides a review 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. Re-envisioning the functions of the urban forest (productive systems and biocultural approaches)

        Finally this paper makes pointed 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. 

        In a nutshell, this resource highlights that:

        • Urban forestry can both improve communities or exacerbate existing inequities. 

        • Environmental justice and anti-subordination greening concepts can inform our work. 

        • We can center marginalized communities’ priorities via a community forestry approach. 

        • The field can support capacity, organize with community, and re-envision the forest. 

        • We point to innovations from the field and offer questions for greening practitioners

        How to use this resource:

        • urban forestry practitioners who are seeking to deepen their work in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice 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. 


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

        Date published: 2022

        Point of contact:

        Citation: Campbell, Lindsay K.; Svendsen, Erika S.; Johnson, Michelle L.; Plitt, Sophie. 2022. Not by trees alone: Centering community in urban forestry. Landscape and Urban Planning. 224(6): 104445. 8 p.

        Resource is available online here.


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