Urban regions are increasingly important to the social and environmental quality of our lives at local, regional, national, and global scales. Traditional, compartmentalized approaches to natural resource management in urban areas are no longer effective. Planners, managers, NGOs, and community groups demand new approaches that recognize the diversity of natural resource issues in urban areas and integrate social and ecological knowledge, data, and tools. The goal of this publication is to meet this demand, by articulating and demonstrating a novel approach to planning and management for urban and community forestry stewardship that is both useful and transparent.
We describe a set of stewardship types that we define by their social and ecological constraints and potential goods, benefits and services. We discuss the benefits of using this typology to classify urban areas and assess opportunities for urban and community forestry stewardship. We are careful to distinguish between strategic assessments---questions of what, why, where, and when-and tactical assessments---questions of who, how, and how much---for the purposes of both conservation and restoration of urban communities and ecological systems. The distinction between strategic and tactical assessments is important because policy makers and planners might use different data to develop urban natural resource strategies than mangers and community groups might use to develop tactical plans. Ultimately, our goal in distinguishing between strategic and tactical assessments is not to emphasize one over the other, but to strengthen the linkages between these efforts.
We apply our approach to Baltimore City, describing the physical, biological, and social data and analysis we use. The immediate product is a strategic and tactical assessment of urban and community forestry stewardship opportunities in Baltimore City using maps and narratives. We also provide an assessment of which data and analyses were most useful in our analysis, how much the data cost, and how the data can be acquired. Finally, we describe how this approach can be used to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of natural resource stewardship programs. Did a project improve air and water quality, improve access to quality outdoor recreation, enhance a sense of community, or make a neighborhood a more desirable place to live? Ultimately, our intent is that urban planners, managers, NGOs, and community groups can use this approach to make urban areas more desirable places to live, work, and play.