Baltimore, Maryland STEW-MAP


Baltimore STEW-MAP 2018 is a citywide update to Baltimore’s comprehensive map of the hundreds of civic groups working to strengthen our city's neighborhoods and environments. More than a dozen citywide agencies and nonprofits are working together with researchers from the USDA Forest Service Baltimore Field Station to develop this project, which is currently in development.

Baltimore’s last citywide STEW-MAP project was in 2011, and the data has been used by partners at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, and by many local researchers studying environmental stewardship and governance in Baltimore City. Baltimore STEW-MAP 2011 began with a cognitive mapping exercise to elicit interpretations of the term "environmental stewardship" from long-term Baltimore practitioners. Despite differences in size, mission, scope of activities, and geographic location, practitioners across organizations conceptualized environmental stewardship in similar ways. While acknowledging the ecological aspects of stewardship, participants emphasized the individual and organizational social dynamics of environmental stewardship purposes, motivations, processes, and outcomes. They described stewardship as a collective, circular process of learning and action over time. These results have been summarized in a conceptual framework that can serve to support ongoing research and program collaborations within Baltimore and across other metropolitan areas. From the 2011 survey, have learned that Baltimore’s environmental stewardship information network is relatively centralized, with the ten most well-connected organizations holding 53% of the ties related to providing information about the local environment. However, 15% of the network has no ties to any other in the information network. Furthermore, we found that the number of stewardship organizations was positively related to the percentage of tree canopy cover in Baltimore neighborhoods. Scientists from the Baltimore Ecosystem Study are using additional qualitative and quantitative research to further explore the mechanisms behind these trends.

The 2011 survey was particularly motivated by the rise of urban sustainability policies and programs, including Baltimore’s Sustainability Plan. STEW-MAP helps assess whether the success of such sustainability initiatives requires a form of adaptive governance in which city agencies must partner with, and even share authority with, organizations from other sectors and levels of government.

The first survey of Baltimore’s environmental stewardship network was conducted in the Gwynns Falls watershed in 1996. The 2011 STEW-MAP survey allowed for examination of long-term changes in environmental governance of the watershed over fifteen years. During this period, the Baltimore Sustainability Plan was formulated and enacted. The evaluation of the network over time revealed substantial changes in organizational composition and network structure within this region, supporting the theory of a shift in governance to a Sustainable City. The 1996 stewardship network demonstrated a more polycentric, multi-sectoral, interconnected management regime than would be expected from traditional government in the Sanitary City. In 2011 the governance network was less centralized and distributed largely among local non-profits and city agencies. The majority presence of the non-profit sector supports governance theories that public agencies rely more heavily on non-profit actors for the service and delivery of public goods than in traditional government systems.

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Last modified: March 17, 2017