Equity goals and implementation strategies: A meta-analysis of urban forestry policy documents for municipalities across North America

Authors: Amber Grant*, Ryerson University, Environmental Applied Science and Management, Andrew A Millward, Ryerson University, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Sara Edge, Ryerson University, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Ekow Ashun-Stone, Ryerson University, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: urban forestry, tree cover, cities, management plan, equity, justice,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Bourbon Room, Astor, Mezzanine


Urban trees are essential components of green infrastructure and their presence is critically important to urban sustainability. City trees provide a myriad of ecological, social and economic benefits to citizens; however, they are frequently disproportionately distributed across urban neighbourhoods, raising concerns of unequal access for disadvantaged groups. To improve equitable tree canopy cover in cities, many municipalities have developed and implemented urban forest management plans (UFMPs). UFMPs typically include strategies to increase tree canopy cover, tree species biodiversity and tree size. In some cases, UFMPs discuss more equitable planting techniques. This paper investigates equity goals outlined in urban forestry policy documents for municipalities across North America. Following document collection, a keyword scan of these UFMPs was undertaken to determine the frequency of terms exemplify evidence of distributive and procedural justice. Where an UFMP did not use any equity-related terms, a review of the document’s executive summary was used to determine whether there may be implicit equity goals identified. Keywords were counted only when they were used within the context of equity goals. Equity goals and implementation strategies for each UFMP were recorded, where explicitly outlined. While Canadian and American cities have implemented UFMPs to better manage and govern their urban forests, especially to maximize economic, social and environmental benefits, this research focuses on how to implement and realize equity goals, where successful delivery of these goals has broad implications for the sustainability and livability of the city in question.

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