An Examination of Citizen Participation and Procedural Fairness in Large-Scale Urban Tree Planting Initiatives in the United StatesEPA Grant Number: FP917461
Title: An Examination of Citizen Participation and Procedural Fairness in Large-Scale Urban Tree Planting Initiatives in the United States
Investigators: Moskell, Christine Suzanne
Institution: Cornell University
EPA Project Officer: Zambrana, Jose
Project Period: August 22, 2012 through August 21, 2015
Project Amount: $126,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2012) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Social Sciences
The goal of this research is to identify the different degrees and forms of citizen participation in the tree-planting decisions of large-scale tree planting initiatives. Using the social psychological theory of procedural fairness, this project will explore residents’ perceptions of the aspects of the tree planting process that they view as fair and unfair. The project also will measure how the degree of citizen participation in decision making, and residents’ perceptions of procedural fairness of tree planting processes, influence their attitudes toward trees, opinions toward municipal tree planting and urban forest management activities, and their willingness to steward newly planted trees.
Approach:This research will utilize a mixed-methods design. In phase 1, study sites (cities) will be selected that currently are implementing a largescale tree planting initiative. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with urban forest managers in each study site to identify the rationale for involving (or not involving) residents in the tree planting decision-making process, and the methods used to engage residents in tree planting activities. These results will be used to construct a typology that classifies the degrees (high, low) and forms of citizen participation in each city’s tree planting initiative. Focus groups will be conducted with residents in neighborhoods where trees have been planted in each city to assess their perceptions of the fair and unfair elements of the tree planting process in their community. In phase 2, the typology and qualitative results from phase 1 will be used to develop a quantitative survey to be administered to residents in each city that have had trees planted in their neighborhood as part of the tree planting initiative. Survey questions will measure the dependent variables: (1) residents’ attitudes toward trees; (2) opinions toward municipal tree planting and urban forest management; and (3) willingness to steward the newly planted trees. Data analysis for the survey will measure significant differences in the dependent variables, depending on the level of citizen participation in the tree planting process (determined via the typology) and perceptions of procedural fairness.
This project will result in a typology of the degrees and forms of citizen participation in large-scale urban tree planting initiatives. It also will identify specific aspects of urban tree planting processes that residents perceive as fair and unfair, which will provide additional insight into residents’ attitudes toward urban trees and their opinions toward local governments’ tree planting activities and urban forest management in their community. This research also will quantify the relationship between urban tree planting processes and residents’ attitudes toward, and their intentions to maintain, trees that are planted as part of large-scale tree planting initiatives.
Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection
This research will provide a better understanding of how the urban tree planting processes and urban environmental governance can be made more inclusive, transparent and fair so that residents are more likely to be receptive toward, and willing to steward, newly planted trees. Findings will enhance urban forest managers’ capacity to design and implement tree planting processes that are more likely to result in improved attitudes toward urban trees and planting activities conducted by local governments. This research also will provide key insights into how trees can be planted in a manner that is most likely to foster increased citizen participation in stewardship, which may lead to a greater number of residents taking steps to care for young street trees, thereby helping to sustain the ecological and health services provided by urban forests.