Locating provisioning and cultural services in New York City's urban forest
Research on urban ecosystem services increasingly focuses on quantifying levels of services or evaluating tradeoffs among them, planning for and incorporating ES perspectives into urban infrastructure, assessing the role that ES can play in strengthening resilience and sustainability, and the role ES perspectives play in urban forest management. Urban ES studies, however, often pay less attention to the ways that ES meet particular cultural needs and provisioning dimensions. Those studies of urban ecosystem cultural and provisioning services typically examine agricultural spaces, while overlooking urban forests as sites that produce benefits for city residents. Drawing on urban foraging research in New York City, this presentation examines provisioning and cultural services that are found in the city's urban forests.
We present results from an analysis of food-, medicinal, and craft-related uses of species found in the city's urban forest, revealing new insights into the potential provisioning and cultural dimensions of these species. Next, we use in-depth interviews with foragers to detail actual species uses. Findings reveal the extensive potential of forested ecosystems within New York City to meet the material and cultural needs of residents, while documenting the complex ways that urban forest-derived ecosystem services already meet residents' needs. A foraging perspective opens up new avenues for thinking about urban ecosystem services and environmental governance, specifically the development of policies that enhance resilience.