Environmental Governance and Civic Engagement
STEW-MAP: The Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project
Who, what, where, why and how are urban environmental stewardship groups working in New York City?
The Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project (STEW-MAP) seeks to answer the question: What are the social and spatial interactions among civic groups who conserve, manage, monitor, advocate for, and educate the public about their local environments (including water, land, air, waste, toxics, and energy issues)?
Stewardship is one of the means by which civic groups contribute to the sustainability of their local environments. These groups work alongside or independent of public agencies and private businesses in managing urban landscapes. STEW-MAP is both an empirical study of New York City’s stewardship network as well as a publicly available online tool to help support that network.
How was STEW-MAP developed?
The project was developed by a team of Forest Service and university researchers working with dozens of municipal agencies and citywide environmental nonprofits who identified a need to create a common database and map. STEW-MAP has collected information from nearly 5,000 local citizen groups that range from informal block associations and kayak clubs, to tree planting groups, to formal nonprofit educational institutions. A network analysis of these groups highlights the connections between civic environmental actors and identifies important stewardship nodes within the network. STEW-MAP’s publicly available online map currently displays spatial data for over 500 groups citywide alongside other open space data layers. The project adds a social layer of information to biophysical and urban geographic information on ‘green infrastructure’ in New York City.
Why is STEW-MAP important?
The project highlights existing stewardship gaps and overlaps in order to strengthen organizational capacities, enhance citizen monitoring, promote broader public engagement with on-the-ground environmental work, and build effective partnerships between stakeholders involved in urban sustainability. As funding support for green infrastructures fluctuates, it is important to cultivate long-term, community-based natural resource stewardship. STEW-MAP creates a framework to connect potentially fragmented stewardship groups; to measure, monitor, and maximize the contribution of our civic resources.
STEW-MAP’s database and interactive maps allow the public, municipal agencies, and nonprofits to visualize where and how hundreds of civic environmental stewardship groups are working in New York City, which informs natural resource management, policymaking, and public outreach. Custom downloads of STEW‐MAP data have been utilized by the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, MillionTreesNYC, and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, in support of policymaking and natural resource management activities.
This social data is also being analyzed in concert with 20 years of geospatial land cover data through cutting edge interdisciplinary research via the NSF-funded ULTRA-EX project, entitled “Understanding the Dynamic Connections among Stewardship, Land Cover, and Ecosystem Services in New York City's Urban Forest”.
- A publicly available, online stewardship database of civic organizations working on environmental stewardship in New York City that is updatable over time
- An online interactive map of the self-described geographic turf of civic stewardship groups shown in relation to open space, land use, and other geographic features
- A network analysis of the connections among stakeholders from the civil society, business and government sectors who are working on stewardship
- Customized downloads and analyses of STEW-MAP data to support local agencies in natural resource management efforts
Fisher, Dana R.; Campbell, Lindsay K.; Svendsen, Erika S. 2012. The organisational structure of urban environmental stewardship. Environmental Politics 21(1): 26-48.
Fisher, Dana L.; Connolly, James J.; Svendsen, Erika S.; Campbell, Lindsay K. 2011. DIGGING TOGETHER: Why people volunteer to help plant one million trees in New York City. Environmental Stewardship Project at the Center for Society and Environment of the University of Maryland White Paper #1. 36 p.
Fisher, Dana L.; Connolly, James J.; Svendsen, Erika S.; Campbell, Lindsay K. 2010. Who Volunteers to Steward the Urban Forest in New York City? An analysis of participants in MillionTreesNYC planting events. Environmental Stewardship Project White Paper #1. 33 p.
STEW-MAP: Understanding Urban Environmental Stewardship in New York City with Erika S. Svendsen and Lindsay K. Campbell, for the Woodland Owner Networks. (Webinar, April 2009) 12 minutes.
Svendsen, Erika S., Campbell, Lindsay K. 2008. Urban ecological stewardship: understanding the structure, function and network of community-based urban land management. Cities and the Environment 1(1): 1-32.
STEW-MAP: Using social-spatial-network analysis to understand urban environmental stewardship in New York City and beyond, with Lindsay Campbell and Erika Svendsen, US Forest Service, Northern Research Station, New York City. (Webinar, May 2008) 30 minutes.
Svendsen, Erika; Campbell, Lindsay. 2005. The Urban Ecology Collaborative Assessment: Understanding the Structure, Function, and Network of Local Environmental Stewardship.