Targeting Parks for Transformative Urban Social-Ecological Change: the Management Nexus of Community-Based Ecosystem and Municipal Park Paradigms
CitationLewis, Kimberly. 2019. Targeting Parks for Transformative Urban Social-Ecological Change: the Management Nexus of Community-Based Ecosystem and Municipal Park Paradigms. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractHistorically, as human progress and development have advanced, unity with nature has eroded. Surges in urbanization and populations have widened the gaps. A decisive response has been a shift from traditional, top-down environmental management to community-based models. Local actors have self-organized, united in place-based governance goals, to better support ecosystems through resiliency-building strategies. Yet, even with increased focus on vital ecological services, such as clean air and water, the public continues to undervalue and lack concrete understanding of nature’s processes and their requisite role. Urban green spaces, having the potential to optimize ecological and socio-economic utility, are pervasively poorly managed for ecology, with recreation and/or superficial green aesthetics driving design objectives. To catalyze change, social-ecological systems (SES) modeling is key, by relinking ecological health to social and financial wellbeing (Olsson, Bodin, & Folke, 2010). SES models illustrate the dynamic, complex nature of coupled ecological and socio-economic systems, to crystalize how healthier ecosystems equate to more socially just and economically prosperous human systems.
This project performs a comparative analysis of two distinct green space management paradigms, analyzing two urban State parkland areas designed, planted, and overseen by community-based ecosystem management (CBEM) versus four municipal, city-managed parks. Site-level, fine-scale observation and data collection will be conducted to produce comprehensive ecosystem-service valuation assessments for each green space. Primary objectives are to complete the ecosystem services (ES) assessments and translate the observed benefits and successes into a policy-design framework, an overlay-modification tool for ES, biodiversity, and sustainability optimization in urban green spaces. Social and economic lessons, anecdotal and from research, will be incorporated. The best green space design practices gleaned will be incorporated to the under-preforming ES-assessed parks and this methodology will inform and guide the creation of a standardized, optimization-overlay model tool. To estimate potential resiliency and economic gains, the tool will be extrapolated across the municipal areas. It is hypothesized that the integration of CBEM methodologies into urban park design and management will significantly increase SES resilience and forge a navigable path to SES transformation. The benefits of unique, fine-scale ES site analysis are core to developing a useful and adaptable ES assessment and optimization tool.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364577