Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Cities in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region and around the world are setting long-term greening goals that include planting more trees and increasing green cover. Research in LAC cities has mainly focused on biodiversity and vegetation, with little understanding of the mechanisms underlying the decisions through which stakeholders achieve urban greening. Exploring stakeholders’ views about urban forest management and governance can provide us with an opportunity to identify needs and research gaps for urban greening and urban forestry in LAC. To our knowledge, there has never been a region-wide empirical study to capture these stakeholder views. Here we explore how stakeholders working in urban forestry in LAC, including governmental, and non-governmental professionals, define urban forests, and view management and governance issues as well as educational opportunities. We used an online survey based on a combination of open- and closed-ended questions. The survey was delivered to participants at the first two regional conferences on urban forests in LAC organized by the United Nations. We collected 91 responses from stakeholders working in 50 different cities of varying population sizes across 6 LAC bioregions. Most respondents considered parks, planted green corridors, street trees, and remnant forests in urban and peri-urban areas as components of urban forests. Stakeholder views on management and governance were divided in two distinct perspectives, one dominated by public participation issues, and another one related to operational issues. Most respondents considered operational and management tools for urban forests to exist in LAC cities, but they disagreed on the existence of inventories, long-term strategies, and ways for the public to engage in urban forestry. Responses also revealed that some educational opportunities, such as arboricultural certification, are still relatively scarce and in high demand in the region. This study provides a regional baseline and first insights into a more diverse view of urban forestry which could be enriched with more empirical studies in the future.