New York City

Read our Forest Service report- STEW-MAP in the New York City region: survey results of the Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project

STEW-MAP 2017 builds upon past research, providing the first update in 10 years on previously participating groups. In addition to capturing change over time, the 2017 survey data revealed the ways in which the larger stewardship landscape has evolved in the New York Region, including how the changing climate, political administration shifts, social movements, and environmental disasters have influenced the goals and methods of stewardship groups. We partnered with more than 55 data providers, and sent the updated STEW-MAP survey to more than 10,000 civic groups and organizations. We also expanded our approach to include the wider New York City Region, beyond the 5 boroughs, by surveying all registered environmental nonprofits in the greater metropolitan region.

We identified approximately 900 groups in total. These groups demonstrate what we call “the greening of the civic” -- or the way in which environmental concerns are embedded within organizational missions that have diverse foci, such as community development, social services, youth, arts, and public health. In addition to their role in hands-on stewardship, we found that many stewardship groups collect data and track social and environmental metrics in order to understand and monitor their impact. They use a range of communication strategies that go well beyond the formal, public community meeting - including both face-to-face organizing as well as digital strategies such as websites, listservs, and social media strategies. Stewardship groups participate in knowledge networks, resource networks, and collaborative governance of our local environment.

One of the major findings of the 2017 study is that stewardship groups persist and change over time. Other important findings include:

  1. Stewards act as agents of change that transform NYC’s urban ecosystem in many ways.
  2. Stewards are not just involved in greening; environmental stewards efforts are embedded in efforts that improve community quality of life.
  3. Grassroots efforts abide in NYC and stewardship persists at the local level among all volunteer groups. Yet, some stewards are professionalized and have paid staff, substantial budgets, and 501c3 status
  4. Stewardship groups are knowledge producers: groups collect data, track metrics, and monitor the local environment
  5. Stewardship comes in different shapes and sizes: groups are working everywhere in the city, at different scales
  6. Groups do not work alone: stewardship happens in networks
  7. Stewardship groups are not just working on urban territories, their work spans across the greater metropolitan region.

The findings of this study along with highlights of the stories and impacts of New York City’s diverse network of Stewards were presented in an exhibition at the Queens Museum in the Fall of 2019. This exhibit, entitled Who Takes Care of New York is now available to view and interact with online: https://www.thenatureofcities.com/friec/wtcony-2020/

Explore the data for yourself! Visit the online map and data dashboard - try starting with the map’s help guide which will orient you to the map and different ways to sort and view the data. You can also download the data using the web map.

Read the General Technical Report.

Last modified: October 22, 2021