Assessing Governance Drivers of Urban Vegetation Change in New York City

Authors: Juno Garrah*, McGill University; The New School
Topics: Urban Geography, Environmental Science, Natural Resources
Keywords: urban vegetation, environmental stewardship, New York City, governance, sustainability, environmental justice
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban tree canopy (UTC) and other forms of urban vegetation, including lawns, gardens, vacant lots, and urban agriculture initiatives, are important sources of ecosystem service provisioning for large populations living within cities, and have been a focus of municipal sustainability planning. However, UTC, vegetation, and the dynamics affecting their change are unevenly distributed spatially and socially across a city, leading to inequities in services and outcomes. Empirical patterns have been described regarding how biophysical and social factors influence the urban vegetative cover, but questions remain regarding the influence of governance strategies including city investment and local community stewardship. We look beyond specific components of the urban ecosystem and take a landscape-level view of ecological change by creating a spatially explicit landscape model of change in normalized differential vegetation index (NDVI) across New York City at a 6-inch resolution and analyzing the governance drivers of city investment and local environmental stewardship. The influence of top-down planning, via major street tree investment programs, and bottom-up planning, via levels of citizen stewardship activity, can be assessed and compared based on their influence on ecological change and their addressing of environmental injustices present in New York City. Examining stewardship activities making a significant difference in ecological outcomes and creating effective change points to strategies that can use stewardship as a management tool for urban vegetation and empower local communities to envision and enact positive futures.

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