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Resident Knowledge of and Engagement with Green Infrastructure in Toronto and Philadelphia

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Conway, Tenley M.; Ordóñez, Camilo ; Roman, Lara A.; Yuan, Annie ; Pearsall, Hamil ; Heckert, Megan ; Dickinson, Stephen ; Rosan, Christina

Year Published



Environmental Management


Green infrastructure (GI) initiatives, including programs to plant trees and install bioswales, have been adopted by a growing number of local government and non-governmental organizations. While the details of these programs vary, a common characteristic of most Canadian and US GI initiatives is a distributed approach that includes both public and private land. To date, little research has explored residents’ knowledge of GI or their engagement with related initiatives even though residents' installation of GI is often key to creating distributed GI networks. In this study, we (1) assess residents’ knowledge of the term GI, (2) identify residents' level of engagement with GI initiatives, and (3) examine whether factors like level of concern about local environmental issues can predict GI knowledge or level of engagement with GI initiatives. We explored these objectives through a survey of residents in Toronto (Ontario, Canada) and Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, US). We found that about a quarter of survey respondents in both cities had previously heard the term "green infrastructure". Neither knowledge of GI nor level of engagement with GI initiatives could be predicted by the level of concern about local environmental issues, but residents' interest in using their outdoor space for nature activities (e.g., gardening) predicted GI knowledge in both cities and level of initiative engagement in Philadelphia. Our results suggest the need for widespread education campaigns that clearly define GI so that residents can be participants in policy discussions, link it with their needs, and identify ways to manage GI to create desired benefits.


Green stormwater infrastructure; Urban forests; Municipal policy; Residential landscapes


Conway, Tenley M.; Ordóñez, Camilo; Roman, Lara A.; Yuan, Annie; Pearsall, Hamil; Heckert, Megan; Dickinson, Stephen; Rosan, Christina. 2021. Resident Knowledge of and Engagement with Green Infrastructure in Toronto and Philadelphia. Environmental Management. 68(4): 566-579.

Last updated on: April 19, 2022