Not by trees alone: Centering community in urban forestry

Not by trees alone: Centering community in urban forestry

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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