Urban forest governance and decision-making: a systematic review and synthesis of the perspectives of municipal managers

Camilo Ordóñez*, Caragh G. Threlfall, Dave Kendal, Dieter F. Hochuli, Melanie Davern, Richard A. Fuller, Rodney van der Ree, Stephen J. Livesley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Empirical research on the views of municipal managers can provide insights into urban forest governance and decision-making. However, current research is fragmented across a diversity of case studies using a variety of methods. To address this issue, we undertook a systematic review and synthesis of empirical studies based on the views of municipal managers. We extracted information on the concerns, priorities, factors, and actors that influence municipal manager decision-making using a governance framework to extract ideas on the discourses, actors, rules, and resources that influence their decision-making. Out of >1400 articles found in searches, only 60 were relevant empirical studies, with 32 of them based in the US. Most studies elicited views from managers using pre-determined surveys/questionnaires. This literature is focused heavily on themes of resources, such as budgets and personnel, as important influences in program performance and urban forest success. Themes related to coordination of actors, such as the coordination of departmental units, were also frequently mentioned but were not explicitly associated with program performance or urban forest success. Future research aimed at gaining insights on urban forest governance and decision-making from the perspective of municipal managers will benefit from distinguishing operational capacities (i.e., budgets, personnel) from management processes (i.e., coordination), and focus on how municipal managers understand, facilitate, and find support in management processes. This will reveal how they implement co-governance and collaborative decision-making. Future research could better extend the knowledge base of existing studies by establishing clear governance frameworks and methods based on the views of managers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-180
Number of pages15
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Early online date3 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Environmental management
  • Municipal government
  • Nature-based solutions
  • Urban socio-ecological systems
  • Urban sustainability


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