The Concept of Urban Forest Management

This chapter focuses on the management of urban forests and more specifically the management of two major components: urban woodland and urban parks. In Chap. i of this book, the concepts of urban forests and urban forestry have been introduced and discussed in detail. As was explained, urban forests constitute an essential component of urban green structures, i.e. networks of urban green areas. One could characterize urban green areas as urban areas of land primarily containing vegetation. Urban forests are those green areas containing trees as major elements, covering all from woodland to parks and individual trees in and near urban areas. Urban woodland includes all types of forest or forest-like vegetation within the urban forest. In this chapter, the term 'woodland' and 'forest' are often used synonymously as referring to this 'forest ecosystem' part of the larger urban forest resource. Urban parks can also contain a considerable number of trees, but elements such as lawns, pastures, garden elements and related infrastructure are more dominant, while forest stands are limited or absent. The more technical management of individual trees, which is the responsibility of arboriculture, is described in detail in Chap. 15.

When defining the concept of 'management' in an urban forestry context, a distinction should be made between management as an activity and management in terms of people and/or institutions (i.e. actors) carrying out activities. The latter could be characterized as 'organizational' management and is not so much the topic of this chapter. Studies, by e.g., Konijnendijk (1999) and Steidle-Schwahn (2002), have identified main urban forest management actors. In the case of urban woodland and parks, municipal organizations dominate management in Europe, primarily through municipal green area, park and forestry departments, although involvement of the private sector through outsourcing increases. Peri-urban woodland in particular may be managed by state forest services, while a significant urban forest resource is owned and managed by private actors. The latter can include individuals, private enterprises, societies as well as NGOs. It is important to note that a wide diversity in management organization exists among European cities and countries, e.g., as a result of historical, local political, social and economic conditions and traditions.

Management as being 'activity-oriented' addresses different levels. At the level of strategic management, the overall visions for management are developed. In line with policies and planning, objectives and targets are formulated, means are allocated and a time frame is set. Specific, well-defined tasks are defined and carried out in line with this at the level of operational management. While strategic management typically addresses a period of 10 years or more, operational management focuses on annual or biannual activities. As an intermediate level, tactical management brings the two together. Management is directed by objectives and targets, economic and other frames, and not in the least the type of green area concerned.

While the term management used here encompasses the strategic as well as the operational, 'maintenance' has a more technical and limited operational scope. Maintenance as a concept could also be associated with, e.g., to 'keep', 'preserve', 'conserve', or even 'freeze'. Management, in contrast, is a much more dynamic and creative concept embodying both maintenance and developmental aspects. Particularly for the latter it needs a considerable input from various actors, not in the least from the public. Participation and communication have been neglected in many cases in urban woodland and park management (see Chap. 8).

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