Interpreting Sustainability for Urban Forests

[tweetmeme Camilo Ordóñez and Peter N. Duinker of the School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University, have published a great new article titled „Interpreting Sustainability for Urban Forests.“ Incisive interpretations of urban-forest sustainability are important in furthering our understanding of how to sustain the myriad values associated with urban forests. Our analysis of earlier interpretations reveals conceptual gaps. These interpretations are attached to restrictive definitions of a sustainable urban forest and limited to a rather mechanical view of maintaining the biophysical structure of trees. The probing of three conceptual domains (urban forest concepts, sustainable development, and sustainable forest management) leads to a broader interpretation of urban-forest sustainability as the process of sustaining urban forest values through time and across space. We propose that values—and not services, benefits, functions or goods—is a superior concept to refer to what is to be sustained in and by an urban forest.

The introduction to this paper reads:

Much has been written about how urban forests are valued positively by citizens and how they help mitigate some daunting environmental problems [1]. However, little has been said about the way sustainability is interpreted for urban forest systems. Most authors explore urban-forest sustainability through fairly narrow definitions of a sustainable urban forest, and thus lead to singular interpretations of the concept as the maintenance of tree health. These definitions lack consideration of the wealth of knowledge about sustainability in general and sustainable forest management (SFM) in particular.

The purpose of this paper is to further the thinking around urban-forest sustainability and to reveal alternative interpretations of the concept. To do so, three relevant conceptual domains are explored: concepts behind urban forest systems, interpretations of sustainability through the concept of sustainable development, and SFM. An analysis of interpretations to date is delivered and an argument is advanced on how sustainability could be understood better for urban forests.

Read the full article here in PDF format.

Citation: Ordóñez C.,Duinker P.N. Interpreting Sustainability for Urban Forests. Sustainability. 2010; 2(6):1510-1522.

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