July 2020- Sarah Mincey publishes new paper on socio-ecological systems and the urban forest
Dr, Sarah Mincey, BUFRG collaborator and Clinical Associate Professor at the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, is a co-author with former BUFRG research Mikaela Schmidt-Harsh, on a new publication in Ecology and Society, Operationalizing the socio-ecological system framework to assess residential forest structure: a case study in Bloomington, Indiana. Please see the abstract below for a summary of the findings.
Many actors, from the individual to neighborhood to municipal scale, influence the management of trees, grass, andother vegetation on residential properties. Recent work has been directed toward understanding the ecological characteristics ofresidential landscapes and the human drivers of landscape management; however, much of this work remains disciplinarily focused
and at a single scale of analysis. This study employs a mixed-method approach to examine household- and neighborhood-scale driversof urban residential tree species richness and tree canopy structure. A stratified sampling design was used to capture households inhomeowners associations (HOAs) and neighborhood associations (NAs) to better understand the informal and formal institutionshaving an impact on residential tree management practices. We used the social-ecological system (SES) framework to build a classificationsystem for identifying significant variables that influence residential tree composition and cover. Results of this work demonstratedtree species richness and canopy cover to be positively related to tree abundance and housing age, which is suggestive of the legacyeffect. Governance variables were more strongly correlated with tree species richness whereas variables reflecting socioeconomic status
and education were more strongly correlated with canopy cover. Rule compliance and fitting in with neighborhood landscaping normswas significantly more important to HOA households than NA households. Conversely, opportunities to work together to solvecommunity problems were viewed more positively by NA households than HOA households. For all parcels together, compliance withcity and HOA/NA rules was negatively related to tree species richness and canopy cover, a finding that may implicate the nature ofrules that focus on tree removal practices and barriers to plant (what and where). This work is timely given the rapid expansion ofneighborhood associations in urban areas, which parallels establishment of rules governing residential yard practices. If currentarboriculture and urban forestry standards are considered during rule formation and implementation, such rules have the potential topromote species diversity and the sustained provisioning of ecosystem services.