Making Green Work: Implementation Strategies in a New Generation of Urban Forests

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access | Ahead of Print | Last Modified: 7 March 2022

Making Green Work: Implementation Strategies in a New Generation of Urban Forests


  • Víctor Muñoz Sanz Department of Urbanism, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
  • Sara Romero Muñoz Innovation and Technology for Human Development Centre, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
  • Teresa Sánchez Chaparro Innovation and Technology for Human Development Centre, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
  • Lorena Bello Gómez Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, USA
  • Tanja Herdt Department of Urbanism, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands


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Abstract:  The concept of “urban forest” (UF) is gaining momentum in urban planning in the context of climate adaptation. Principles from the field of urban forestry are mainstreamed into urban planning, but little is known about effective tools for the successful implementation of new UFs. This article presents explorative research comparing how three cities (Almere, Madrid, and Boston) are dealing with the planning of a UF project, and their alignment with distinct organisational and typological interpretations of a UF. We employed a mixed-methods approach to gain insights into the main goals of the project, their organisational structure, and the employed planning process through the analysis of project documents and expert interviews. Our results point to an effective mainstreaming of environmental questions among stakeholders, but also indicate a poor development of objective criteria for the success of a UF. We note that municipal planners circumvented current internal rigidities and barriers by relying on intermediaries and local academia as providers of external knowledge, or by facilitating experiments. Finally, our results show that there may not be just one UF type to achieve the desired environmental and social goals and overcome implementation barriers. Conversely, each of the governance and organisational models behind the implementation of each type present collaborative and mainstreaming challenges. Therefore, we see an opportunity in further research examining processes and institutions towards the collaborative building of UFs that could bridge gaps between top-down and bottom-up approaches and activate different types of agencies.

Keywords:  climate adaptation; mainstreaming; planning process; urban forestry; urban greening

Published:   Ahead of Print

Issue:   From Smart Urban Forests to Edible Cities: New Approaches in Urban Planning and Design (Forthcoming)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v7i2.5039


© Víctor Muñoz Sanz, Sara Romero Muñoz, Teresa Sánchez Chaparro, Lorena Bello Gómez, Tanja Herdt. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.