Northern Research Station News Releases

Growing Resilient: Natural Resource Stewardship Aids in Preparing for, Recovering from Disaster

New report includes case studies on community-based natural resource stewardship

A new report developed and edited by USDA Forest Service scientists and partners explores the role of nature and community in collective recovery from disaster. One of the chapters included in the report describes how the Rockaway community in New York City responded to Superstorm Sandy by revitalizing a garden and enhancing green space at New York City Housing Authority Beach 41st Street Houses. Photo courtesy of the NYC Urban Field Station, USDA Forest Service. New York City, May 21, 2019 - When communities come together to recover from destruction caused by anything from hurricanes to violence to invasive insects, nature is often part of the program. There is reason for that, according to a new report edited by USDA Forest Service scientists that offers both research and practitioner-based accounts of environmental stewardship serving as a springboard to collective recovery and resilience.

Developed and edited by Lindsay Campbell, Erika Svendsen, Nancy Falxa Sonti, and Sarah Hines of the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and David Maddox of The Nature of Cities, “Green Readiness, Response, and Recovery: A Collaborative Synthesis,” is a collection of articles by researchers and practitioners representing natural resource management, emergency management, community forestry, landscape design, and other fields. The report documents the state of the science and practice around the design, stewardship, and community use of green space following acute and chronic disturbances, and it offers an overview of existing programs, partnerships and networks focused on the use of natural resource stewardship as a tool in community recovery. Available online through the Northern Research Station (, the report includes case studies from all over the country, as well as international examples, that authors intend as a resource for government and non-government organizations involved in planning for resilience.

“The immediate response to disaster – saving people and securing buildings and infrastructure – is the most visible phase of recovering from disaster,” according to Hines, coordinator of the Northern Research Station’s Urban Field Station Network. “Greening and natural resource stewardship can play a larger role in long-term recovery, and this report is one of the few that shares some of the lessons learned by communities that have used stewardship as a means by which to rebuild, and cultivate readiness and resilience.”

Erika Svendsen, a co-editor of the Green Response report and a social scientist at the New York City Urban Field Station, said that research is continuing to explore the connection between natural resource stewardship and resilience. “With many partners, Forest Service research is developing knowledge and resources that communities can use to remember and reflect on loss and ultimately build a more resilient future,” Svendsen said. “We are grateful to all of the people who shared their experiences with natural resource stewardship in response to disaster, their voices in this report are its greatest strength.”  


The mission of the Northern Research Station is to improve people's lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.


The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations. National forests and grasslands contribute more than $30 billion to the American economy annually and support nearly 360,000 jobs. These lands also provide 30 percent of the nation's surface drinking water to cities and rural communities; approximately 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.


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Last modified: May 21, 2019