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


Research and assessment projects are now in progress. Click on any title to learn more.


Forest Ecosystem Service and Values  

Forest Ecosystem Services and Values

Knowing baseline conditions is important for long-term management to conserve and enhance urban forest health. Using multiple tools and procedures, project collaborators (including local government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and universities) are doing forest assessments and will use such information to calculate and communicate the ecosystem services that are provided by an urban forest system. pdf

Study Goals

Bullet. Understand the function and structure of regional forest canopies, and estimate monetary values for ecosystem services provided by urban trees.

Bullet. Apply i-Tree Eco at three scales: the city of Seattle, King County parklands, and an urban-to-wildland gradient along the Green-Duwamish River watershed.

Bullet. Improve forest assessment tools for use in King County and other Pacific Northwest communities.

Forest Landscape Assment Tools  

Forest Landscape Assessment Tools

Many local jurisdictions have strategically acquired numerous forested parcels through long-term, open-space conservation initiatives. Few sites have forest stewardship plans, and most need baseline forest inventory or assessment for effective management. Forested areas of urbanized landscapes provide a wide range of ecosystem services—environmental, social, and economic. Assessment helps demonstrate public value that any parcel or site offers. pdf

Study Goals

Bullet. Develop rapid forest assessment protocols that can be used to establish baseline conditions and health and can be replicated on other public lands.

Bullet. Conduct forest assessment on over 23,000 acres of King County-managed open-space forest lands distributed across 150 park sites.

Bullet. Develop long-term forest management recommendations and identify opportunities to collaborate with public and private agencies on forest stewardship.

Forest Landscape Assment Tools  

Stewardship “Footprint” Analysis and Ecosystem Recovery

Fiscal shortfalls in local government and environmental resource agencies restrict their capacity to address ecosystem needs. Environmental stewardship is emerging as an ecosystem recovery strategy. The full scope and scale of stewardship is not known. This research seeks to uncover and aggregate the hundreds, if not thousands, of stewardship efforts in the Puget Sound region. pdf

Study Goals

Bullet. Construct a database resource having a complete representation of stewardship organizations in the Puget Sound region.

Bullet. Characterize the scope and extent of the work done by these organizations.

Bullet. Reveal the full ecological and social impacts of these organizations across the land.

pdfs/CivicEnvironmental Stewardship Motivations  

Stewardship Organization Mapping “StewMap”

Volunteer-based stewardship is an action strategy for ecosystem recovery and management. Yet we do not fully understand the scale and scope of stewardship. A geospatial representation of each organization's stewardship “territory” will be shared on a publicly accessible online platform. Knowledge about the entire stewardship “footprint” can support better planning and focus of projects. pdf

Study Goals

Bullet. Publish a stewardship map in a format that is accessible by the public to view organizations’ territory and contact information.

Bullet. Create a data format that makes future ecological or social analysis possible.

Bullet. Reveal the impact of stewardship organizations on people and the land.

Stewardship Footprint Analysis and Ecosystem Recovery  

Environmental Stewardship Organization Network Analysis

It is important to understand the relationships and networks that link stewardship groups and organizations. A comprehensive assessment of the number, types, and linkages between organizations can help land managers and communities develop projects that improve ecosystem health and function. pdf

Study Goals

Bullet. Identify stewardship organizations first in the metropolitan Seattle, then in the greater Puget Sound area.

Bullet. Understand how these organizations network and share resources.

Bullet. Learn how to build organization capacity for environmental stewardship programs.

Stewardship Footprint Analysis and Ecosystem Recovery  

Civic Environmental Stewardship Motivations:

More and more citizens and organizations are working on behalf of the environment. Volunteers at stewardship events throughout the metro Seattle area are being surveyed to learn more about stewardship motivation, satisfaction, and project contributions. Results will help us to understand how to better recruit, retain, and support the thousands of people who contribute their time and effort. pdf

Study Goals

Bullet. Work with stewardship project sponsors and organizations to better understand their program needs.

Bullet. Interact with project participants (volunteer and paid) to better understand why and how they choose to be involved.

Bullet. Assess and implement effective ways to recruit and retain program participants.

Stewardship Footprint Analysis and Ecosystem Recovery  

The Economics of Stewardship

We are developing an accounting system to economically value volunteer participation in stewardship activities. Assessments include the contributions made by sponsoring organizations, the costs associated with traveling to and from events, and the value of contributed consumable and durable goods, as well as the value of volunteer labor. pdf

Study Goals

Bullet. Document and value contributions provided by volunteers to stewardship events.

Bullet. Document and value contributions provided by sponsoring and hosting organizations to volunteer stewardship events.

Bullet. Assess the impact of these contributions across a city or region.

Stewardship Footprint Analysis and Ecosystem Recovery  

Measuring Watershed and Climate Impacts of Stewardship

The most promising solutions for addressing environmental issues, particularly in urbanized areas, will include social-ecological research. This pilot study will investigate the relationship between citizen-based environmental stewardship activities and ecosystem-scale change, using the Green-Duwamish watershed as a case study. pdf

Study Goals

Bullet. Synthesize existing data on stewardship activities in King County and compare to natural resource “hot spot” policy.

Bullet. Develop an analytical framework to link outputs of citizen stewardship to combined biophysical and social outcomes.

Residential Location Choices and Natural Resources  

Urban Foraging: Gathering and Stewardship of Nontimber Forest Products(NTFPs)
Urban forests and greenspaces are valued for their many ecosystem and community benefits. The purpose of this research is to investigate the roles that NTFP gathering and stewardship practices play in the development and management of healthy forest ecosystems in Seattle, Washington. pdf

Study Goals

Bullet. Document the diversity of plants, materials, and fungi being gathered, and better understand the places where gathering occurs.

Bullet. Describe the characteristics of gatherers, and the social, economic, and cultural importance of gathering.

Bullet. Examine how gatherers steward NTFPs and interface with urban forest planning and restoration activities.

Bullet. Develop recommendations for including gathering considerations into stewardship and ecological restoration programs.

Residential Location Choices and Natural Resources  

Residential Location Choices and Natural Resources

This project will collect information about the factors leading to growth and development along the wildland-to-urban interface (with focus on suburban and exurban areas). Results will explain the role of natural amenities in residential location decisions and explore variation in environmental interactions. pdf

Study Goals

Bullet. Document the types and patterns of exurban development.

Bullet. Describe demographic and economic characteristics of exurban residents.

Bullet. Identify factors influencing residential location choices.

Bullet. Examine residents’ recreation uses of public and private lands, and interest in stewardship activities.

Bullet. Collaborate with public and private agencies and organizations, landowners, and others to facilitate resource stewardship activities in exurban areas.

Green Cities for Good Health  

Green Cities for Good Health

In recent decades, new science about the environmental benefits of urban trees and green spaces (such as air and water quality improvements) has been widely communicated. Nearly 40 years of research also provides evidence about how urban greening aids human health and well-being and makes cities more livable. A research review is now available on the Web and provides evidence for why nearby nature is essential for all who live, work, and learn in urban environments. pdf

Project Goals

Bullet. Share social science and human dimensions research with urban natural resources decisionmakers and managers.

Bullet. Provide an expanded framework about ecosystem services and how urban nature helps build human and social capital in communities.

Bullet. Translate science findings that are distributed across many disciplines into useful outreach products.

Green Cities for Good Health  

The Urban Waters Federal Partnership

The Green-Duwamish watershed is an ecologically, economically, socially, and jurisdictionally diverse watershed in the Pacific Northwest. It drains over 664 square miles (including marine water area) and stretches 93 miles from the port and industrial core of Seattle, Washington through urban, urbanizing, and agricultural communities in the foothills of the Cascades, to the wilderness at the crest of the mountains in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. We propose the Green-Duwamish watershed as an Urban Waters Federal Partnership site. The intent of the partnership is to reveal and characterize common ground, facilitate engagement across a range of potential watershed actors, inform strategies and help to implement the tactics in these plans, and capture findings that lead to adaptive actions over time. The proposed partnership will coordinate with the Puget Sound Federal Caucus (PSFC) and the Green Cities Research Alliance (GCRA) to demonstrate tactical implementation of locally identified priorities pdf

Project Goals

Bullet. Promote clean urban waters

Bullet. Reconnect people to their water-ways

Bullet. Use urban water systems as a way to promote economic revitalization and prosperity

Bullet. Encourage community improvements through active partnerships

Bullet. Focus on measuring results




Contact for Information:

Kathy Wolf, Research Social Scientist; USDA Forest Service and University of Washington






US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Last Modified: Monday,16September2013 at17:32:50CDT

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