Urban Forests, Trees, and Greenspace: A Political Ecology Perspective, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Urban Forests, Trees, and Greenspace

A Political Ecology Perspective, 1st Edition

Edited by L. Anders Sandberg, Adrina Bardekjian, Sadia Butt


332 pages | 70 B/W Illus.

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Urban forests, trees and greenspace are critical in contemporary planning and development of the city. Their study is not only a question of the growth and conservation of green spaces, but also has social, cultural and psychological dimensions. This book brings a perspective of political ecology to the complexities of urban trees and forests through three themes: human agency in urban forests and greenspace; arboreal and greenspace agency in the urban landscape; and actions and interventions in the urban forest.

Contributors include leading authorities from North America and Europe from a range of disciplines, including forestry, ecology, geography, landscape design, municipal planning, environmental policy and environmental history.


"This book is the first to use the lens of political ecology to understand urban forests and finally provide us with a much needed politicized view of these spaces, based on case studies from around the globe." – Guy Baeten, Lund University, Sweden.

"This wonderful volume incorporates new theoretical ground in the field of political ecology. Diverse chapters bring nuanced and balanced attention to the social and ecological dynamism that shapes the myriad ways through which urban forests constitute and are constituted by everyday lived experiences, politics, and institutional dynamics of today’s cities. Through engaging exploration of diverse cases around the world and their beloved as well as neglected trees, parks, and other spaces, the chapters provide rich analyses of distinctive place- and regionally-oriented histories, changing market and economic dynamics, emergent forms of governance and institutional contexts, and ecological and social complexity, all framed within the central thematic dimension of power."Patrick Hurley, Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA, USA.

"A collection that makes urban political ecology accessible to a wide readership without losing the sophistication needed to handle the complexity and contradictions of the field. Its compelling narratives stretch from unruly trees and people in diverse cities around the world, to original ways of thinking about nature and the city."Alan Mabin, Research fellow, Capital Cities project, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

'This remarkable book brings a new perspective to urban forests and green spaces as political and social constructs. … For critical readers at any level, nothing could be more valuable. Summing Up: Highly recommended' -S. Hammer, Boston University , CHOICE, April 2015

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

L. Anders Sandberg, Adrina Bardekjian, and Sadia Butt

Part 1: Human Agency in Urban Forests and Greenspace

2. Urban Forests are Social Natures: Markets, Race, Class, and Gender in Relation to (Un)just Urban Environments

Harold Perkins

3. From Government to Governance: Contribution to the Political Ecology of Urban Forestry

Cecil C. Konijnendijk van den Bosch

4. A Genealogy of Urban Forest Discourse in Flanders, Belgium

Ann Van Herzele

5. Institutions, Law, and the Political Ecology of Urban Forestry: A Comparative Approach

Blake Hudson

6. Manufacturing Green Consensus: Urban Green Governance in Singapore

Natalie Gulsrud and Can Seng Ooi

7. The Places of Trees in Honduras: Contributions of Public Spaces and Smallholders

Joby Bass

Part 2: Arboreal and Greenspace Agency in the Urban Landscape

8. (Urban) Places of Trees: Affective Embodiment, Identity and Materiality

Owain Jones

9. Order and Disorder in the Urban Forest: A Foucauldian-Latourian Perspective

Irus Braverman

10. High and Low, West and East: Four Arboricultures of the Tokyo Metropolis

Jay Bolthouse

11. The Unruly Tree: Stories from the Archives

Joanna Dean

12. Seeking Citizenship: The Norway Maple in Canada

Brendon Larson

13. Queering the Urban Forest: The Ecological Ethics and Politics of Arboreal Entanglement

Darren Patrick

14. The Thin End of the Green Wedge: Berlin’s Planned and Unplanned Urban Landscapes

Cynthia Hammond

Part 3: Actions and Interventions in the Urban Forest

15. "A Few Trees" in Gezi Park: Resisting the Spatial Politics of Neoliberalism in Turkey

Bengi Akbulut

16. Constructing New York City’s Urban Forest: The Politics and Governance of the MillionTreesNYC Campaign

Lindsay Campbell

17. Promoting Green Space in Cape Town, South Africa: The Role of the African Centre for Cities

Pippin Anderson

18. Cultivating Citizen Stewards: Lessons from Formal and Non-formal Educators

Greg Smith

19. Learning and Acting through Participatory Landscape Planning: The Case of the Bräkne River Valley, Sweden

Helena Mellqvist and Roland Gustavsson

20. A Step, A Stitch, A Sense of Self: Woods Walking as an Artist’s Path to Creating Identity

Kathleen Vaughan

About the Editors

L. Anders Sandberg is Professor and former Associate Dean in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, Toronto, Canada. His two most recent books are The Oak Ridges Moraine Battles: Development, Sprawl and Nature Conservation in the Toronto Region (2013) and Urban Explorations: Environmental Histories of the Toronto Region (2013).

Adrina Bardekjian is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, Toronto, Canada, where she studies under-represented narratives and strategic visioning for urban forestry praxis. She is an urban forestry researcher, writer and educator, and works with a number of organizations on a diversity of projects and initiatives.

Sadia Butt is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto, Canada. She has worked in urban forestry for the last 15 years as a practitioner, reseracher and volunteer in raising urban forest awareness through environmental education.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Sustainability & Green Design
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Urban
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Agriculture / Forestry