Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2008 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts


Vegetation management in the context of neighborhood social processes
 
Williams, Yvette
Co-Authors: Yvette M. Williams
 
Abstract: A central principle in urban ecological theory implies that anthropogenic drivers dominate natural drivers of ecological system responses. Therefore, in urban systems, the biodiversity of vegetation should be affected by both management and planting preferences of people residing in urban areas. However, natural processes of recruitment can also play a role. The primary research objective is to examine vegetation dynamics for a continuum of land management types in the context of social processes in Baltimore City neighborhoods. The proposed management continuum includes highly managed community garden lots, “Clean & Green” lots, and unmanaged vacant lots. This research proposes that social processes are influencing management practices and these management practices are influencing the vegetation diversity of these land-management types. Moreover, unmanaged lots should reflect natural recruitment and successional processes. An initial study focuses on the Sandtown/Winchester and Harlem Park neighborhoods of West Baltimore. A preliminary investigation was conducted in summer 2008 to select lots representing the management continuum. In addition to noting safety and access factors, lots were assessed for extent of vegetation coverage and substrate conditions. Findings of this investigation show that considerable variation exists in terms of size, ownership, management practices, and types of vegetation between and among lots. Future research steps include: selecting additional lots that represent a range of sizes and age classes; devising sampling methods appropriate for vegetation of each management type; determining the potential for ecosystem services provided by vegetation; conducting ethnographic interviews to obtain neighborhood perspectives concerning urban greenspace stewardship.