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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Governing for success in urban forestry : a Canadian perspective Wirtz, Zachary


Strategic decision-making in urban forestry is a recent and emerging body of research. This study explores, reviews, and assesses the current state and focus of research on urban forest governance in North America through a literature review. Quantitative data such as publication date, publishing journal, geographical scale of research area, etc. were assessed, and an analysis of key governance dimensions in the literature using the Policy Arrangement Approach (PAA) (Arts, Leroy, & van Tatenhove, 2006) was performed. The four dimensions of the PAA, the actors involved and their level of involvement, the resources they possess, the rules of the game that are being followed and the discourse the governance system is addressing, were recorded. Moreover, the review had a particular interest in the attention given by research to ‘success factors’ impacting urban forest governance and its outcomes. An initial list of success factor identified in the literature review was subsequently extended to a list of 43 factors. Using a Delphi approach, a panel of urban forest decision makers from four typical Canadian municipalities rated the importance of each success factor to Canadian urban forestry, resulting in a ranked list of key success factors. The study also explored how practitioners might implement and evaluate the factors they rated as most important, as well as which factors they would prioritize with the limited resources of a new or re-developed urban forestry program. Results show that research of North American urban forest governance is still in its infancy and mostly addresses single, specific case studies, often in a more descriptive manner. Very few studies address the success of different governance approaches. Participants valued a range of success factors found in the selected literature, and indicated that the current body of literature does not cover all factors that are important to successful governance. Participants ranked ‘Financial resources’, ‘Data-driven decision-making’, ‘Goals, objectives and targets’, ‘Vision’ and ‘Law/policy’ as the most important factors of successful governance. Study findings can inform future research on understanding and building successful urban forest governance and wider environmental governance structures in Canada and elsewhere.

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