Perceived Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Private-Sector Urban and Community Forestry in the Southern United States
Rajan Parajuli, Stella Zucchetti Schons, Puskar Khanal, P. Eric Wiseman, Stephanie Chizmar, Austin Lamica, Jason Gordon, Thomas Ochuodho, James E. Henderson, Sayeed Mehmood, and Lara Johnson
Abstract: Background: Private-sector urban and community forestry (U&CF) is a major segment of the green industry with substantial socio-ecological and economic contributions to urban and sub-urban communities. The COVID-19 pandemic reportedly caused heterogeneous impacts on businesses, the workforce, and various sectors of the overall economy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the perceived impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on private businesses carrying out U&CF activities in the Southern United States. Methods: Using data collected through an online survey distributed across the Southern USA in 2021, we developed and estimated an empirical model to evaluate the factors describing the perceived impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on U&CF businesses in the region. Results: Results suggest that COVID-19 had, on average, a neutral impact on the U&CF activities performed by the private sector in the study region, but the perceived impacts varied by the industry types. Results from the ordered logistic regression suggest that nursery and garden supply stores were more likely than other businesses to have a positive impact of COVID-19 on the U&CF segment of their business. Similarly, business metrics such as the size of the company in terms of annual sales and revenues or longevity in the business were found to be significant factors explaining the COVID-19 impacts on U&CF business. Conclusions: Our study findings are useful for U&CF decisionmakers for better planning, preparedness, and programming of U&CF activities and businesses in the southern USA.
Keywords: COVID-19 Pandemic; Green Industry; Ordered Logistic Regression; Private Businesses