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New York City Urban Field Station

Featured Research

City of Forests, City of Farms
Lindsay Campbell's doctoral dissertation examines how the politics and practices of urban forestry and urban agriculture in New York City are negotiated. Centering on the municipal long-term sustainability plan, PlaNYC2030, it examines the network of actors, discourses, and environments that constitute urban forestry and agriculture. View abstract

Environmental Governance and Civic Engagement

[photo:] Gardener in Bedford-Stuyvesant.Who takes care of New York City’s urban ecosystem and how do volunteers and nonprofit organizations get involved in environmental stewardship activities? This area of research focuses on how, when, where and why individuals and organizations use, care for, shape, and benefit from open space and greening programs.   Our research suggests that today’s urban stewardship groups are forming innovative new partnerships where a common interest in the urban environment draws together people from the private sector, civil society, and government agencies .


We have studied individual volunteers, volunteer networks, and nonprofit and organizations to understand the urban environmental stewardship landscape in New York City. Geographic characteristics of organizational stewardship networks are examined in STEW-MAP (The Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project). The connections between stewardship, land cover and ecosystem services are explored in our ULTRA-Ex work. In depth case studies analysis in doctoral dissertation research reveals the potential for new stewardship systems and partnerships in urban settings.


In a further investigation into the relationship between communities and open space, Forest Service social scientists have begun a study of NYC Parks and Natural Areas, asking: What are the uses, meanings, and values of public greenspace in New York City?


This question has guided a pilot project, Reading the Landscape: A Social & Site Assessment of Public Greenspace, which began in early 2013 in the communities surrounding Jamaica Bay, NYC. Future stages of research are forthcoming, as are the replication and refinement of the study in other public parks and natural areas across New York City.

Research Products

Campbell, Lindsay. 2013. "City of Forests, City of Farms: Constructing Nature in New York City." Doctoral dissertation, Rutgers University Dept of Geography, 507pp.

Connolly, James J.; Svendsen, Erika S.; Fisher, Dana R.; Campbell, Lindsay K. 2013. Organizing urban ecosystem services through environmental stewardship governance in New York City. Landscape and Urban Planning. 109: 76-84.

Svendsen, Erika S. 2013. Storyline and design: how civic stewardship shapes urban design in New York City. Chapter 13. In: Pickett, S.T.A.; Cadenasso, M.L.; McGrath, B., eds. Resilience in ecology and urban design: linking theory and practice for sustainable cities. Vol. 3. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands: 269-287.

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.

Svendsen, E. 2010. Civic environmental stewardship as a form of governance in New York City. New York, NY: Columbia University. 193 p. Ph.D. dissertation.

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. Unpublished report submitted to the UEC Steering Committee and
USDA Forest Service State & Private Forestry. 22 p.