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Natural resource managers adapt to disturbance: understanding and strengthening public land management and civic stewardship across both rural and urban forests during the COVID-19 pandemic

Informally Refereed
Authors: Lindsay Campbell, Erika Svendsen, Michelle Johnson, Sophie Plitt, Laura Landau
Year: 2022
Type: Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
Station: Northern Research Station
Source: In: Building a green healthy and resillient future with forests. XV World Forestry Congress. Coes, Seoul, Republic of Korea. 9 p.

Abstract

In addition to the devastating impacts on human health and the economy, COVID-19 is changing the way people interact with public lands such as forests, parks, and green spaces. Land managers have adapted practices in real-time to a changing reality. Establishing new field protocols, managing workforce capacity issues, responding to unprecedented demand, and reimagining the way the public is served through events and programs are some of the adaptations managers are making to ensure use and access to public lands. Many community-based partners have managed to adapt during this time of crisis to support public lands in cities, towns, and rural areas. These 'green responders' are known to be effective and adaptive across geographies and cultures; yet capacity to respond can be uneven and inequitable. To better understand what drives adaptation and 'green response' to disturbance, we pose the question: How do public land managers, civic environmental groups, and governance networks adapt to the COVID-19 disturbance in their environmental stewardship? Drawing upon semi-structured interviews (n=70) with USDA Forest Service managers in the northeastern United States, municipal park managers at the New York City Parks Department, and civic stewardship groups in New York City, we advance policy-relevant knowledge about networks and adaptation. We 1) identify the emergence of new groups, the transformation of partnerships, and the shifts in flows of information and resources across networks, and 2) share best practices and creative solutions during the pandemic. By documenting how natural resource managers responded to the first six months of the pandemic starting in March 2020, this study builds understanding of how adaptation can strengthen resilience to future disturbances. This work builds upon scholarship that has examined stewardship in the wake of acute and chronic disturbances including terrorism, hurricanes, wildfires, and pest invasions.

Keywords

COVID-19, land management, civic stewardship, adaptation, partnerships

Citation

Campbell, Lindsay; Svendsen, Erika; Johnson, Michelle; Plitt, Sophie; Landau, Laura. 2022. Natural resource managers adapt to disturbance: understanding and strengthening public land management and civic stewardship across both rural and urban forests during the COVID-19 pandemic. In: Building a green healthy and resillient future with forests. XV World Forestry Congress. Coex, Seoul, Republic of Korea. 9 p.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/treesearch/65340