Portfolio for Sarah K. Mincey, Ph.D.School / Program:
School of Public and Environmental Affairs - Environmental Science
Urban ecology and urban forest management; Forest ecology and management; Natural resource management; Social-ecological system resilience and robustness; GIS and Remote Sensing
The Role of Collective Action and Institutions in Sustainable Urban Forest Management
- Burney Fischer, Chair (SPEA)
- Michael Cox (Environmental Studies, Dartmouth College)
- Tom Evans (Geography)
- J.C. Randolph (SPEA)
Current Dissertation Progress and Expected Defense Date:
Completed and successfully defended: December 2012
The goal of my research is to establish the significance of collective action and institutions in sustaining urban forests across scales of municipal urban forest management (UFM) in Indiana, USA. This research goal facilitates the current focus on sustainable cities (Grove 2009) and fulfills a key future focus of research in urbanization and human dimensions of global environmental change by addressing the significance of institutions in sustaining natural resources in urban areas (IHDP 2010).
The research locations include 23 cities across the state of Indiana, and focused research in the second-class city of Bloomington, and the first-class city of Indianapolis. Indiana has several growing metropolitan areas with populations greater than 100,000 as well as a number of smaller industrial cities and towns where sustainable UFM is relevant. Bloomington provides a unique opportunity for a component of this research which requires in-depth institutional and biophysical data collection and analysis, much of which will be conducted through a grant from the Center for Research in Environmental Science at Indiana University. A partnership with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB), a non-profit dedicated to sustainable urban forests in Indianapolis, has resulted in utilization of their NeighborWoods database, facilitating research related to neighborhood-level collective action in Indianapolis UFM. The Indiana DNR Community and Urban Forestry Program has provided data regarding their Statewide Urban Street Tree Inventory project for further state-wide analysis.
My research will utilize urban forest mensuration techniques, remote sensing/GIS technology and related landscape ecology methods, as well as qualitative and quantitative social science research methods. The multi-method approach allows me to explore the role of institutions across scales in UFM. A major objective of the portfolio is to establish through the first research article the significance of collective action and polycentric institutions in sustainable urban ecological research in order to establish the significance of the portfolio’s overarching research question: Across scales, how do institutions and collective action facilitate sustainable UFM within cities? This question can be subdivided into the following research questions I will address:
- Are there significant parcel-level differences in urban forest structure within and between neighborhood and home-owner associations? How do these differences co-vary with association-level institutions, including rules and norms?
- Do collective UFM efforts at the neighborhood-level lead to better condition and increased survivability of urban forests? What characteristics of neighborhood urban forest social-ecological systems lead to effective collective-action efforts in UFM?
- What is the variability of municipal zoning in Bloomington, IN and its neighborhoods and what is the relative impact of variation in zoning on urban tree canopy cover?
- How do municipal-level institutions of UFM influence the delivery of ecosystem services from urban street trees in Indiana cities and towns?