USDA Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Research Station

Pacific Northwest Research Station
1220 SW 3rd Ave.
Portland, OR 97204

(503) 808-2100

US Forest Service
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Green Cities Research Alliance
Urban Natural Resources Stewardship

Sustainable cities through science, policy, and action


More than 80 percent of the Pacific Northwest region’s population lives in urbanized areas. A new research program is coming together in the Puget Sound area. Program studies will focus on the social and environmental situations where people live, learn, work, and play. This knowledge will help us to create more sustainable urban areas and more livable cities.

Guiding Principles

In early 2009, U.S. Forest Service and University of Washington scientists conducted informational interviews with about a dozen key organizations and agencies in the region. Many research needs were discussed, leading to a set of guiding principles that address both the process and purpose of a new research program:

  • Integrate biophysical and social sciences
  • Explore effects of population growth and landscape change
  • Focus on outcome-based research questions that are “bottom-up"
  • Work across the landscape gradient from urban to wildland areas
  • Study the connections of human and natural systems
  • Promote relationships among science collaborators, in the region and nationally

Current research projects fall into five content areas that address Forest Service national and regional strategic research needs:

  • Urban Natural Resources Stewardship
  • Ecosystem Services
  • Community Sustainability
  • Landscape Assessment and Management
  • Urban Engagement




Forest Ecosystem Services and Values:

Using several tools, project collaborators are doing forest assessment at multiple metro scales. The landscape-level information can be used to better understand and communicate the ecosystem services that are provided by urban forest systems.


Bullet.Stewardship "Footprint" Analysis and Ecosystem Recovery:

Hundreds of organizations support and sponsor stewardship programs and projects. We are mapping the extent and breadth of organizations’ activities in order to gain a full understanding of social and ecological outcomes.


Forest Landscape Assessment Tools:

Many local governments own forested parcels but have not been able to prepare management plans. This project is using rapid inventory and assessment tools to provide information to help improve forest management, leading to higher levels of ecosystem services and values.


Bullet.Civic Environmental Stewardship Motivations:

Volunteers contribute their labor to stewardship projects, essential for ecosystem health. We are studying the motivations, satisfactions, and services of volunteers to help improve volunteer recruitment and retention.


Green Cities for Good Health:

Nearly 40 years of social science research provides evidence about how urban greening and the urban forest aids human health and well-being. A research review is the basis for a series of Focused Science Delivery tools about the benefits of nearby nature in urban communities.


Bullet.Urban Foraging: Gathering and Stewardship of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs):

The project is providing knowledge about people who gather NTFPs, and their role in the development and management of urban forest ecosystems


Residential Choices and Natural Resources:

People chose to buy homes along the urban to rural landscape gradient for a variety of reasons. This research will help communities to understand the factors leading to growth and development patterns.









US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Last Modified: Monday,16September2013 at17:26:05CDT

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