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Tree agency and urban forest governance

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

  • Cecil Cornelis Konijnendijk

Purpose – The role of urban forests and urban trees in creating vibrant and resilient cities is widely recognised. Urban forest governance as the strategic decision and rule making for urban tree resources is no longer solely the domain of governmental actors, but occurs rather often as network governance also involving businesses and civic society. However, governance theory usually does not consider the role of non-human agency, which can be considered problematic due to, for example, the important role of urban trees in place making. The purpose of this paper is to provide further insight into the importance of considering tree agency in governance. Design/methodology/approach – Taking an environmental governance and actor network theory perspective, the paper presents a critical view of current urban forest governance, extending the perspective to include not only a wide range of human actors, but also trees as important non-human actors. Findings – Urban forest governance has become more complex and involves a greater range of actors and actor networks. However, the agency of trees in urban forest governance is seldom well developed. Trees, in close association with local residents, create places, something which needs to be better recognised in governance. Case studies show that this type of non-reflexive agency of urban trees often has emerged in the case of acute threats to urban trees or woodlands. New approaches such as those of biophilic urbanism and biocultural diversity can assist with better integration of tree agency in governance. Originality/value – Urban forest governance is an emerging field of research which has seldom addressed tree agency. Thus the perspective on urban forest governance is enriched, beyond the dominant post-neoliberal and anthropocentric perspective.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftSmart and Sustainable Built Environment
Vol/bind5
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)176-188
Antal sider13
ISSN2046-6099
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2016

ID: 179093283