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The state factor model and urban forest restoration

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Smith, Jason ; Hallett, Richard ; Groffman, Peter M.

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Journal of Urban Ecology


A 'state factor' model of ecosystems can serve as a conceptual framework for researching and managing urban ecosystems. This approach provides alternative goals and narratives to those derived from historically grounded dichotomies between nature and culture, which can reify constructions of human influence as inherently destructive. The integration of human behaviour and state factors is critical to the application of a state factor model to urban ecosystems. We emphasize the role of culture in co-producing urban ecosystems and the importance of feedbacks between urban ecosystems and state factors. We advocate for ecosystem models that encourage local agency and actions that enhance the capacity of cities to constructively adapt to environmental change. We contrast this approach to efforts intended to minimize human impacts on ecosystems. The usefulness of the state factor model for informing such efforts is assessed through a consideration of the norms and practices of urban forest restoration in New York City. Despite the limitations and challenges of applying a state factor model to urban ecosystems, it can inform comparative research within and between cities and offers an intuitive framework for understanding the ecological conditions created in cities by human behaviour.


Smith, Jason; Hallett, Richard; Groffman, Peter M. 2020. The state factor model and urban forest restoration. Journal of Urban Ecology. 6(1): 254-.

Last updated on: October 2, 2020