Environmental stewardship as the nexus between green infrastructure and social infrastructure

Authors: Lindsay K. Campbell*, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Michelle Johnson, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Erika Svendsen, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station
Topics: Environment, Urban Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: stewardship, civil society, urban ecosystems, social networks, GIS
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Blue Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Environmental stewardship consists of acts of claims-making on space and caretaking of place. While stewardship practices are enacted by actors across multiple sectors, there is a need to better understand the role of civil society in this system. Civic stewardship groups care and advocate for the green, grey, and blue spaces that function as the physical and social infrastructure on which urban life relies. Through acts of conservation, management, monitoring, education, advocacy, and transformation – stewards shape the socio-natural environment (Svendsen and Campbell 2008; Fisher et al. 2012: Campbell et al. in press). Beyond taking care of the environment, stewardship can strengthen social trust and foster civic engagement (Fisher et al. 2015). The USDA Forest Service’s Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project (STEW-MAP) has created a method for identifying thousands of civic stewardship groups in New York City from 2007-2017 (Svensden et al. 2016; Landau et al. in prep). The process collects information on each group’s capacity, geography, and social networks in order to render civic groups more visible by literally ‘putting them on the map.’ This talk combines social network analysis with geospatial analysis to examine the levels of connectedness of neighborhoods in the environmental governance structure—in terms of networks of collaboration, resources, and knowledge. Perspectives from political ecology and procedural environmental justice encourage us to interrogate the relationships involved in environmental decision-making. STEW-MAP provides a novel, empirically grounded approach to identifying key brokers—as well as isolates—in the governance network and to visualize capacities and gaps across neighborhoods.

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