US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Lynne M. Westphal

Research Social Scientist
1033 University Place, Suite 360
United States

Phone: 224-999-1992
Contact Lynne M. Westphal

Current Research

My research focuses on how people participate in decision-making and management of local environments and in combining methods and information from a variety of science disciplines to better address complex issues. A lot of my research is in urban areas, where nearby nature plays a vital role in improving quality of life.

With my research colleagues, we are looking civic engagement in stewardship in the Chicago Wilderness region and in comparison to similar activities in others cities. This builds on earlier work where I looked at volunteer motivations and the social impacts of block-level greening projects.

In the RESTORE project we are investigating whether the social structure of groups making ecological restoration decisions makes a difference in terms of the biodiversity of the restoration sites. If it does, it points to best management practices for enhancing biodiversity but if it doesn't, that's good, too because it indicates that a variety of approaches to restoration may be effective, thereby expanding the suite of options for conducting ecological restoration.

I have long been involved in research and other projects in the Calumet rustbelt landscape of southeast Chicago and northwest Indiana. Currently my focus there is with the Northwest Indiana Urban waters project ( Information on earlier work can be found here (

Research Interests

  • Continue to refine and strengthen participatory decision making and management of natural areas.
  • Continuing the integration of social, biological, and physical disciplines in natural resources research.

Why This Research is Important

We understand the importance of habitat for wildlife, yet humans need good habitat, too. Trees, rivers and streams, parks and other open spaces all play a significant role in creating good places to live. My work helps planners, municipal employees, elected officials, NGOs, tree advocates, and others understand how to manage natural resources to improve quality of life and achieve environmental justice.


  • University of Illinois at Chicago, Ph.D. Public Policy Analysis and Urban Planning. 1999
  • Northeastern Illinois University, M.A. Geography and Environmental Studies 1992
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, B.A. South Asian Studies 1982

Professional Organizations

  • Environmental Design Research Association
  • American Psychological Association
  • American Sociological Association
  • International Society of Arboriculture
  • Society for Conservation Biology

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


Birds Connect Urban Residents to Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Birds can help urban residents make connections to the outdoors. Forest Service scientists surveyed urban residents and found that most of them ...


Children’s connections to nature prove to be lasting

Childhood nature experiences have lifelong positive effects. Children’s voluntary engagement with nature, as opposed to exposure through schoo ...


Models for Ecological Restoration in Urban Areas: Lessons From the USA and Europe

NRS researchers Paul Gobster and Lynne Westphal and a German colleague, Matthias Gross, analyzed urban restoration projects and developed severa ...


Resident and visitor support for urban natural areas restoration

Resident and visitor beliefs about whether a given restoration practice, such as controlled burning, is already being used at a site can be a po ...


Scenarios for Compound Disasters: COVID-19 and Wildfire Management

Contending with two simultaneous and interacting disasters—wildfire and the COVID-19 pandemic—poses an extraordinary challenge for wildland ...


Shared Principles of Ecological Restoration

Restoration is growing in application, and Forest Service scientists found a set of guiding principles in effect throughout the Chicago Wilderne ...


Street-Level Views of Climate Change

Forest Service researchers and partners interviewed residents of two Chicago neighborhoods about their awareness of climate change and their own ...


Tree Cover Boosts Academic Performance in Chicago Public Schools

An analysis of academic achievement within Chicago Public Schools suggests that a higher proportion of tree cover, relative to grass and other v ...


Last updated on : 01/10/2022