OOS 18-6
The environment in economic crisis: Advancing urban sustainability in an era of socio-economic disruption

Tuesday, August 12, 2014: 3:20 PM
307, Sacramento Convention Center
Bethany B. Cutts, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
Jennifer M. Fraterrigo, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Jonathan Greenberg, Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL

Growing levels of natural resources allocated to residential landscapes have led to significant policy interest in balancing the environmental sustainability and liveability of cities. Many current policy interventions propose altering management decisions made my individual property owners. In many cases the vegetation cover, in residential landscapes; for example, initiatives target reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased carbon sequestration in residential landscapes.  Typically, these encourage planting woody and perennial species, mulching grass clippings, and regulating fertilization rates. The effectiveness of these initiatives is often limited because the social factors that affect the adoption of landscaping practices in urban ecosystems are poorly understood.  Social norms, for example, may shift the location of changes from places where it would be most ecologically beneficial to those where it is socially feasible. Many social factors have been explored in social science research concerned with residential landscape management. In our work, we create an index of change potential using geographic data for Phoenix, AZ and Cleveland, OH.  We discuss the utility of this framework in relation to the interaction between management and weather and climate patterns and plans to test it against foreclosure data.


As a result of an extensive literature review, we institute a framework for mapping social resistance to change to assess neighborhood influences on landscape maintenance enforcement and landscape transformation.   We argue the index offers a new opportunity to test the “urban homogenization” hypothesis, which states that similarities in the management practices among cities lead to homogenization in ecological structure and functions with continental-scale implications. We discuss the methodological strengths and weaknesses of relying on foreclosure as a proxy for intervention in current landscape management practices and our solutions to accommodating disparities in the legal process and data access among cities.   The success of sustainability initiatives depends on how radical the proposed changes are; whether new management practices require more or less maintenance than old practices; and neighborhood-level social influences.  The framework offers a mechanism for predicting why otherwise similar individual households will differ in their willingness to participate in new landscape management activity and suggests hypotheses related to the implications of release from homogenization at household and neighborhoods scales.