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Institutional Arrangements: Part II

In many cities, urban forests fall primarily under the jurisdiction of the local government. (Knuth, 2005) For example, in India, “municipal corporations” may centralize many city management responsibilities, from waste management to green infrastructure maintenance. In other regions, urban forests may be managed by the department of public works, the department of parks and recreation, or a combination of governmental agencies. In Johannesburg, South Africa, urban forestry responsibilities were once scattered throughout several city agencies. But in 2013, several entities merged to form the Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo department, which consolidated and unified the city’s urban forestry activities. (Johannesburg City Parks, n.d.)

Forest management may also be fragmented across a metropolitan region, as in Santiago, Chile, where it is divided between 36 comunas, or municipalities, each with their own mayor, council, and budget. (Escobedo et al, 2006) In such situations, a shared inventory of green spaces can be a useful mechanism for understanding ownership and establishing management and accountability. Under a less centralized system, regional collaboration and resource-sharing across municipal boundaries can be used to increase governance capacity for forest management. (Sheppard et al, 2017)

In some cities, dedicated urban forestry commissions, or elected legislative bodies, are created to spearhead forest activities. Other cities use citizen advisory boards to systematically include local perspectives. (Nesbitt et al, 2018)

Finally, many cities co-manage their forests with non-profit partners. These types of partnerships may require special institutional arrangements and explicit establishment of roles, responsibilities, and permissions. Non-profit organizations can provide technical expertise on topics such as forest management and community outreach, as well as opportunities for public participation. They can also provide funding and labor to keep programs going when municipal budgets are tight. For example, Washington, D.C. partners closely with a non-profit called Casey Trees to engage volunteers and generate “report cards” to monitor forest health and management efficacy. (Casey Trees, n.d.)

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