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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 44, Issue 2 — March 2018

Civic Science in Urban Forestry: An Introduction    (View PDF)

Lara A. Roman, Lindsay K. Campbell, and Rebecca C. Jordan

Abstract: Civic science in urban forestry is a means of engaging the public in the study, management, and care of urban trees, and includes varied approaches with different disciplinary foundations. For instance, citizen science has been gaining prominence in urban forestry, with municipalities and nonprofits engaging volunteers in data collection for inventories and monitoring. Residents can also get involved in other stages of urban forest research and management, including framing goals and questions, conducting analyses, interpreting data, and applying results. Diverse forms of public engagement have brought expanded stakeholders into the fold of knowledge production and stewardship of urban greenspaces, including co-management and civic ecology practices. As municipalities, states, nonprofits, and scientists undertake these various forms of civic science, there is a need for basic research about the nature of civic engagement in urban forestry, empirical evidence about best practices for different approaches, and the impacts of volunteering on the participants themselves. This special issue of Arboriculture & Urban Forestry aims to advance the scholarship of civic science in urban forestry by addressing these topics, among others, with contributed articles. In this introduction to the special issue, we briefly review terms related to civic science to connect these interrelated bodies of inquiry to urban forestry, and present the research studies and practitioner notes included in this special issue. We then conclude with a discussion of future research needs for civic science in urban forestry, including technological tools to enable data democratization, engaging marginalized and under-represented urban communities, and supporting transdisciplinary exchanges between research and practice.

Keywords: Citizen Science; Civic Ecology; Co-Management; Knowledge Co-Production; Participatory Research; Urban Ecology; Urban Forestry.

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