Urban forest governance in Canadian cities - models for success and handling calamities

Authors: Cecil Konijnendijk*, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Forestry, Lorien Nesbitt, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Forestry, Zach Wirtz, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Forestry
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Landscape
Keywords: calamities, governance, urban forestry, urban green space
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Congressional A, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Knowledge about urban forest governance is still limited in many countries, especially for the case of medium-sized, lower-profile cities. The presented research analyses urban forest governance in selected medium-sized cities in Canada in order to identify success factors and promising governance arrangements for successful urban forestry programs. Policy analysis, semi-structured interviews with key governance actors, and focus group discussions were carried out in four case study cities. Surrey (BC) and Oakville (ON) are both recognised for their successful urban forestry programs. Both cities are situated in a larger metropolitan area with dominant ‘first cities’ (Vancouver and Toronto respectively), which leads to both challenges and opportunities. Fort McMurray (AB) and Prince George (BC) are ‘stand alone’ cities in rural areas that have both faced recent major urban forest loss through a devastating wildfire and mountain pine beetle infestation, respectively. Initial findings show that urban forest governance in the cities has changed over time in terms of governance arrangements, leading discourses, actors and alliances involved, the ‘rules of the games’ set for governance, and the power and resources mobilised by actors. Where Surrey and Oakville developed comprehensive governance in the face of rapid urban development, governance in Fort McMurray and Prince George was challenged due to the calamities and related changed discourses, but also saw new opportunities due to involvement of a wider range of actors and interests. Study findings can be used to inform urban forest governance in both Canada and abroad.

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