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From “Government to Governance”? A Systematic Literature Review of Research for Urban Green Infrastructure Management in Latin America


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The concept of Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI) has emerged in response to the need to highlight and ensure access to the multifunctional benefits of green spaces in changing cityscapes. Recent literature reviews around UGI have focused on environmental benefits and services, and the management of these spaces has been comparatively neglected. In addition to this, the core conceptual and practical research around UGI management has been produced in the Global North, and far less research has been generated in Latin America, despite the contextual challenges and opportunities brought by this rapidly urbanizing and diverse region. In response, this trilingual systematic review asks: What are the research trends in terms of topics and case studies that characterize UGI management research in Latin America? Which management types are the focuses of this research? A total of 47 publications, found through Scopus, Web of Science, and SciELO, were subjected to both quantitative and qualitative assessment. The research was both geographically concentrated and predominantly recent. Government-led initiatives made up the highest proportion of the research, and more than half of the publications described local government as the principle actor in the management of the UGI studied. Community-run initiatives were consistent across the temporal span of the articles found, and their established presence was supported by the qualitative review. Findings also revealed a directional push toward governance practices but significant obstacles in the form of weak local government, divisions driven by a lack of context-sensitive approaches to informal settlements and socioeconomic segregation, and a management discourse that jarred with urban practices by indigenous communities. Through demonstrating the contribution of existing literature on UGI management in Latin America, this review highlights the need for further published research on the region.
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published: 29 October 2020
doi: 10.3389/frsc.2020.572360
Frontiers in Sustainable Cities | 1October 2020 | Volume 2 | Article 572360
Edited by:
Stephan Pauleit,
Technical University of
Munich, Germany
Reviewed by:
Martina Artmann,
Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban
and Regional Development
(LG), Germany
Tenley M. Conway,
University of Toronto
Mississauga, Canada
Alexis Vásquez
Specialty section:
This article was submitted to
Urban Greening,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Sustainable Cities
Received: 13 June 2020
Accepted: 15 September 2020
Published: 29 October 2020
Breen A, Giannotti E, Flores Molina M
and Vásquez A (2020) From
“Government to Governance”? A
Systematic Literature Review of
Research for Urban Green
Infrastructure Management in Latin
Front. Sustain. Cities 2:572360.
doi: 10.3389/frsc.2020.572360
From “Government to Governance”?
A Systematic Literature Review of
Research for Urban Green
Infrastructure Management in Latin
Anya Breen 1, Emanuel Giannotti 2, Muriel Flores Molina 3and Alexis Vásquez 3
1Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y de la Conservación de la Naturaleza, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile,
2Departamento de Urbanismo, Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile, 3Departamento
de Geografía, Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile
The concept of Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI) has emerged in response to the need to
highlight and ensure access to the multifunctional benefits of green spaces in changing
cityscapes. Recent literature reviews around UGI have focused on environmental
benefits and services, and the management of these spaces has been comparatively
neglected. In addition to this, the core conceptual and practical research around UGI
management has been produced in the Global North, and far less research has been
generated in Latin America, despite the contextual challenges and opportunities brought
by this rapidly urbanizing and diverse region. In response, this trilingual systematic
review asks: What are the research trends in terms of topics and case studies that
characterize UGI management research in Latin America? Which management types
are the focuses of this research? A total of 47 publications, found through Scopus,
Web of Science, and SciELO, were subjected to both quantitative and qualitative
assessment. The research was both geographically concentrated and predominantly
recent. Government-led initiatives made up the highest proportion of the research, and
more than half of the publications described local government as the principle actor in
the management of the UGI studied. Community-run initiatives were consistent across
the temporal span of the articles found, and their established presence was supported
by the qualitative review. Findings also revealed a directional push toward governance
practices but significant obstacles in the form of weak local government, divisions driven
by a lack of context-sensitive approaches to informal settlements and socioeconomic
segregation, and a management discourse that jarred with urban practices by indigenous
communities. Through demonstrating the contribution of existing literature on UGI
management in Latin America, this review highlights the need for further published
research on the region.
Keywords: urban green infrastructure, systemic review, provision, greenspace, management, urbanization, Global
South, governance
Breen et al. From “Government to Governance”?
We inhabit an increasingly urbanized world. By 2050, 68%
of the world’s population is projected to live in cities, a
figure that Latin America has already surpassed with over 80%
of its inhabitants currently in urban zones [United Nations
Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA),
2018]. In response to the expansion and densification of cities,
there has been increased recognition of the need to ensure
continued and equitable access to urban green spaces, something
that cannot be guaranteed without extensive urban planning,
investment, and a focus on long-term management (Ferguson
et al., 2018, p. 136; Vásquez, 2016, p. 70). In recent years,
Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI) has emerged as a way to
conceptualize the system of green spaces in urbanized areas
and has achieved high visibility as a key strategy for increasing
the sustainability and resilience of cities (Davies et al., 2015;
Davies and Lafortezza, 2017; Badiu et al., 2019). Alongside
the more general term “Green Infrastructure,” UGI has been
subject to different applications and diverse definitions, as a
result of which there has been a concerted effort to map and
consolidate usage of the term in previous years (Wang and
Banzhaf, 2018; Badiu et al., 2019; Seiwert and Rößler, 2020).
According to these reviews, multifunctionality and connectivity
can be understood as the main characteristics associated with the
concept. Therefore, UGI can be broadly defined as the network of
natural, seminatural, and artificial green spaces within, around,
and between urban areas, the infrastructural element of which
provides a more utilitarian approach than that of “green spaces”
or “urban greening” (Benedict and McMahon, 2002, p. 12;
Diep et al., 2019, p. 555; Tzoulas et al., 2007, p. 169). The
concept can refer to the network as a whole or its individual
components such as parks, gardens, cemeteries, and urban forests
and agriculture.
A significant quantity of the literature on UGI over the past
two decades has focused on the ecosystem services that UGI
provides, which range from environmental benefits including
temperature regulation (Ballinas and Barradas, 2016; Tan et al.,
2016), pollution mitigation (Vásquez et al., 2019), and water
management (Ahern, 2007; Yang and Li, 2013) to social and
health benefits (de Vries et al., 2003; Tzoulas et al., 2007).
Some authors have also highlighted the impact that UGI can
have on property values and energy costs (Chelleri et al.,
2016, p. 278; Kim and Coseo, 2018). However, the practical
origins of the term and its prevalent use as a concept in
urban planning by local authorities have recently led to its
intersection with analysis of management practices by a range
of actors and, more recently the concept of governance as it
pertains to management. Governance can be defined as the
constellation of stakeholders, institutions, rules, and processes of
collective decision-making that allows stakeholders to influence
and coordinate their needs (Lemos and Agrawal, 2006). However,
UGI governance has little consensus with regards to its definition
(Dempsey and Burton, 2012), and what is more, the relationship
between the concepts of management and governance lacks
clarity and has been subject to conflicting or even opposing
definitions (Jansson et al., 2019, p. 954).
Generally, in the literature pertaining to UGI management,
governance encompasses the involvement of a diverse range of
actors in decision-making processes, highlighting participatory
practices, and “bottom–up” initiatives from citizens and civil
society that are generally positioned at the opposite end of the
spectrum to traditional, centralized, “top–down” government
management. To this end, a number of authors across Europe
acknowledge a shift “from government to governance” in the
management of UGI or a “communicative turn” (Buizer et al.,
2015, p. 8; Fox-Kämper et al., 2018, p. 59; Mattijssen et al.,
2017a, p. 96; van der Jagt et al., 2016, p. 12). An increasing
engagement of citizens in green spaces governance has been
noted, where self-governance initiatives in Europe exhibit a large
diversity of practices and are seen as a broad phenomenon
(Mattijssen et al., 2017a). In practice, however, governments
still play an important role in the management and planning
of (large) green spaces (Mattijssen et al., 2015). The motivation
behind the shift from government to governance has been
attributed to a range of factors; Torres-Lima et al. (2018)
speak of it “as a way to overcome conflicts among natural
resource and development priorities” that arise within rapidly
urbanizing environments “in order to improve resilience” (p.
45). The application of this concept to UGI has also been
motivated by the need to address some of the primary issues
produced by productivity-driven neoliberal practices and to
move UGI management toward decisions made in the collective
interest (Flores-Xolocotzi, 2012, p. 177).
In general, far less emphasis has been placed in both policy
and literature on the management and long-term maintenance
of UGI than on its design and implementation (Mattijssen
et al., 2017b), and, in particular, influential research on the
management of UGI has been geographically concentrated in
the Global North. For example, the systematic literature review
by Boulton et al. (2018) of urban greenspace provision found
that 88% of articles were focused on Europe, Asia, and North
America (p. 86), reflecting findings in the area of urban ecosystem
services (Haase et al., 2014,Dobbs et al., 2019). In Latin
America, the concept of governance within UGI management
is of particular importance. “Good governance,” meaning the
facilitation of participation through the strengthening of legal
regimes, has been pushed by the World Bank, the United Nations
Development Program and the Inter-American Development
Bank in previous years as a means to improve the effectiveness
of international aid and investment (Zurbriggen, 2011). On the
whole, however, the definition of key concepts, linkages, and
large-scale case studies have primarily come from European
authors and institutions (Zurbriggen, 2011, p. 41), and there is
little knowledge with regards to if research and practice in Latin
America is following patterns and trends in the Global North.
The Latin American context provides challenges and shapes
priorities for environmental management, factors that include
rapid urbanization, extreme privatization, high socio-spatial
inequality, water scarcity, and lack of adequate waste disposal
facilities (Heinreichs et al., 2009; Zurbriggen, 2011; Millington,
2018; Dobbs et al., 2019; Vásquez et al., 2019). These contextual
factors provide contrast to some areas of the Global North but
alignment with other areas in the Global South. The pressure of
Frontiers in Sustainable Cities | 2October 2020 | Volume 2 | Article 572360
Breen et al. From “Government to Governance”?
development, for example, and the way this manifests in urban
management is a factor that also needs to be considered for Sub-
Saharan Africa (du Toit et al., 2018). Opportunities can also arise
from shifting landscapes and pressures that are not present in
Europe or North America (Lindley et al., 2018, p. 329). Despite
the importance and applicability of Latin American research
for UGI management, common pitfalls and shared challenges,
if being researched, lack visibility due to linguistic barriers
including English language bias and are not easily accessible.
In summary, there are a number of comprehensive
quantitative and qualitative reviews on UGI, especially with
regards to the provision of ecosystem services (Tzoulas et al.,
2007; Haase et al., 2014; Molla, 2014; du Toit et al., 2018). On
the contrary, comprehensive reviews of UGI management are
still rare and much needed at a global scale and especially within
the Global South regions. Governance, as it pertains to UGI
management, has been researched far less in Latin America,
despite being one of the most urbanized regions in the planet
and a biodiversity hotspot (Heinreichs et al., 2009; Zurbriggen,
2011, p. 41; Vásquez et al., 2019). In this paper, we address this
gap by conducting a systematic review of UGI management in
Latin America to provide a baseline for a better understanding
of research in the region based on a systematic review of
the academic literature. This study addresses the following
research questions: What are the research trends in terms of
topics and case studies that characterize UGI management
research in Latin America? Which types of management are
the focuses of this research? A trilingual systematic review was
conducted across three major academic databases. This review
was positioned so as to also include all literature pertaining to
both traditional, government-led management, and, in addition,
those publications that focused on the governance of UGI
networks and components by actors external to the state in
order to best assess trends and avoid subjectivity in exclusion.
Once identified, a quantitative analysis of the academic literature
was used to identify trends and characteristics, followed by
a deeper, qualitative analysis highlighting the key learnings
provided by these publications. We hope, through this combined
approach, not only to draw attention to the body of Latin
American literature in this field but also to highlight the
contributions brought by the study of UGI management in
rapidly urbanizing regions.
Study Design
In order to address the research question and provide replicable
conclusions, a systematic review was conducted using the
Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-
Analyses (PRISMA) method as outlined in Moher et al. (2009),
which has been used as a frequent reference in urban green
space revisions in previous years (Boulton et al., 2018; Ordóñez-
Barona et al., 2020). This method is based on the 1996 QUORUM
statement that laid out guidelines for the reporting of meta-
analyses for clinical trials in health care and is designed to
improve the quality and scientific credibility of systematic
reviews (Moher et al., 2009, p. 1,006). Additionally, the guidelines
for systematic review in the field of environmental management
specified in Pullin and Stewart (2006) were consulted in the
orientation of the research. Due to Spanish and Portuguese
being the dominant languages in the region, and English
being a common language of publication for the region, a
trilingual Boolean search was carried out across Scopus, Web
of Science, and SciELO, using search terms in English, Spanish,
and Portuguese. These databases were chosen for their size and
known inclusion of relevant journals and regional significance in
the case of SciELO. This review was limited to work in published
books or academic journals with a research focus within Latin
America, and due to the low number of relevant work found in
the geographic area specified, no limit was applied to the age,
language, or methodology of publication.
Search and Selection
Two types of search were carried out from April to May 2020
for each language within each database. The first was a narrower
Boolean search within the title, abstract, and keywords of the
articles, and the second was a much wider Boolean search carried
out only within the titles of the publications. The full range of
search terms included in the Boolean strings are specified in
Appendix 1 (Supplementary Material) and were selected by a
review of the titles and abstracts of known international literature
in this field. Synonyms and gendered variations were considered
where necessary, and where specific synonyms had no direct
translation, as in the case of “huerto” in Spanish, these terms
were excluded from the English language search. The searches
also comprised of geographic terms in each of the languages that
were included both as nouns (e.g., “Latin America”/“Argentina”)
and as adjectives (e.g., “Latin American”/“Argentinian”); in both
Spanish and Portuguese, gendered variations were considered.
The restriction to these three languages was a limitation of the
search and not the analysis, and therefore, articles identified were
not excluded based on language of publication. Additionally,
there was no limit on the publication year in order to allow for
observation of temporal distribution. In total, 627 results were
received from 18 searches across the three databases.
A flow diagram of the screening process undertaken is
included in Figure 1 and follows the PRISMA process detailed
in Moher et al. (2009). Once identified, duplicates were removed,
and the remaining articles (n=464) were screened by title and
abstract and filtered for relevance to exclude any articles that did
not make reference to the management or governance of urban
or periurban green spaces in Latin America. The remaining 74
articles were read in detail, and the criteria were more strictly
applied: those that did not center on both management and
green spaces that aligned with Urban Green Infrastructure, as
earlier defined, were discarded. Recognizing this spectrum of
usage, the research did not limit the articles found to those
that had explicitly employed UGI as a term but rather applied
the wider, and frequently cited, definition from Benedict and
McMahon (2002) that designates green infrastructure as “an
interconnected network of green space that conserves natural
ecosystem values and functions and provides associated benefits
to human populations” (p. 12) within urban and periurban
spaces. Publications were therefore defined as pertaining to UGI
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Breen et al. From “Government to Governance”?
FIGURE 1 | Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) flow diagram—adapted from Moher et al. (2009).
if they centrally addressed one or more components, such as
parks, gardens, cemeteries, and urban forests and agriculture, or
this network as a whole.
As a result of this, detailed discussion was primarily over
the centrality of the topic, whether UGI management was the
focus of the research or mentioned peripherally and whether
the geographical location of the study could be considered
urban or periurban. For the latter, the definition of periurban
area was taken from Forman (2014) as “the zone containing
some urban-related structures just beyond the continuous built
metro area” (p. 39). The two-step funnel approach allowed
for the exclusion of articles at the first stage that were clearly
irrelevant from the abstract and a deeper assessment of the
remaining 74, where each author left their opinion on its
inclusion or exclusion and those without consensus were
discussed until an agreement was reached. Examples of articles
excluded focused on natural sciences, rural areas, ecosystem
services, or more on the management of gray infrastructure
than green infrastructure. As a result of this process, 47 articles
remained for detailed assessment, which are listed in Appendix 2
(Supplementary Material) of this paper.
A quantitative content analysis of the selected articles was carried
out based on the criteria detailed in Table 1. General classification
groupings were developed with reference to other systematic
reviews in the field of urban green infrastructure and ecosystem
services (Haase et al., 2014; Boulton et al., 2018; Ordóñez-Barona
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Breen et al. From “Government to Governance”?
TABLE 1 | Predetermined and emergent classifications used for quantitative analysis.
Definition Categories Determination
Temporal Publication Year The year in which the article or book chapter
was published
1994…2020 Emergent
Geographic Scale The scale at which the research was focused Regional, Country–country, Country-wide,
City-wide, Program, Individual case, N/A
Focus The country or countries that were the focus
of study
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa
Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru,
Multiple, Latin America
Origin The country or countries from which the
research originated
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Chile/USA, Colombia,
Ecuador/USA, Mexico, Mexico/USA,
Venezuela Outside Latin America
Language Type The language in which the study was written English, Spanish, Portuguese, French Emergent
Management Type The type of management or governance
employed in the studied initiative(s)
Government-led, Cogovernance, Market-led,
Lead actor The lead-actor involved in the studied
Transnational Organization, National
Government, Local Government, Private
Enterprise, University, Community
Other actors Any other actors involved in the studied
Transnational Organization, National
Government, Federal Government, Local
Government, Nongovernmental Organization,
Research Institute, Private Enterprise,
UGI Type The type of UGI studied, as worded by the
Cemeteries, Gardens, Green Belt, Green
Roofs, Parks, Plazas/Squares, Protected
Areas, Urban Forests, Urban Agriculture,
Open Green Space, General
et al., 2020). While categories such as the geographic scale and
management type were predetermined, further categories were
emergent in that they were a product of a deeper review of the
publications. Regardless of the differing methods used across the
studies, categories were chosen that allowed for broader pattern
recognition and the clear identification of trends, a method that
has been previously used by Boulton et al. (2018) and Ordóñez-
Barona et al. (2020) in systematic reviews in the field of urban
greening. The final assessment criteria included the date of
publication, journal and authors, geographic scale, location of
study, origin of research, language, type of management, the lead
actor, further actors involved, and the type of UGI studied.
Date of publication was considered of high importance in
determining the relevance of this research topic within Latin
America and in turn the relevance of this systematic review.
Additionally, a number of geographic categories of analysis were
chosen. The geographic scale of the research was analyzed to give
an indication of how siloed the research was and whether there
were cross-border cooperation or perspectives; multicountry
studies within Latin America were classified as “multiple;” and
in cases of multicountry studies where only one case study was
within Latin America, these were attributed to that country.
Location of study was recorded to view geographic spread and
whether, for example, this aligned with population as found in
Ordóñez-Barona et al. (2020). The “origin of research” by country
was determined by the institutional affiliations of the lead author,
with the aim of providing insight into the ratio between research
generated within and outside of Latin America; similarly, the
language of publication was also recorded in order to view the
international influence on academia in this space and identify any
clear bias in the searches carried out.
In conducting this systematic literature review, as previously
mentioned, management was treated as an umbrella term
for both traditional management practices and governance,
understood as the involvement of actors external to the
state. As a result, four types of UGI management were
considered, with reference to the governance classifications laid
out by Buizer et al. (2015). These included “governmental-
led,” encompassing both top–down management and “soft”
participatory governance; “market-led,” whereby private actors
adopt a leading role; “co-governance,” whereby multiple actors
share more or less equally in the maintenance of the space; and
“self-governance,” indicating initiatives that prioritize bottom–
up decision-making from communities. These categories were
used in order to visualize temporal trends and therefore identify
those management practices that have been traditionally studied
in Latin America and those that have attracted attention more
recently. For example, a shift from “government to governance”
has been highlighted in the international literature (Buizer
et al., 2015, p. 8; Fox-Kämper et al., 2018, p. 59; Mattijssen
et al., 2017a, p. 96; van der Jagt et al., 2016, p. 12), which
would, if present, be reflected in the results as a change
through the years from “government-led” practice to other types
of management.
Along a similar vein, the lead actor was classified according
to emergent categories (see Table 1) as the body, institution,
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TABLE 2 | Initial emergent classifications used for qualitative analysis.
Classification grouping Emergent keywords and phrases
Factors for success Environmental Education, Open Access, Scientific Interest, Strength of Local Government, Community Participation, Democratic
Decision Making, Efficient Planning and Processes, Contribution to Food Security, Climate Sensitivity, Guidelines and Training,
Transdisciplinary and Sectorial Collaboration, Alignment with Local Policy, Evaluation and Assessment
Factors contributing to
Lack of Communication, Weak Local Government, Excessive Decentralization, Displacement, Exacerbation of Environmental
Inequalities and Vulnerabilities, Lack of Participation, Lack of Access/Exclusion, Informality, Lack of Resources, Lack of Efficiency,
Short-Term Planning, Power and Information Asymmetries, Security, Lack of Water, Conflict with Local and Indigenous Communities,
Lack of Monitoring and Evaluation, Lack of Facilities and Infrastructure
Benefits of the practice or
Investment, Aesthetics, Tourism, Recreation, Leisure, Environmental Education, Biodiversity, Food Security, Social Capital, Climatic
Stability, Soil Improvements, Water Management, Air Quality, Social Capital, Climate Change Adaptation, Increased Property Values,
Cultural and Religious Reinforcement and Preservation, Easing the Urban–Rural Transition, Health and Wellbeing, Postconflict
Peacebuilding, Community Empowerment
Other keywords Indigenous Communities, Informal Communities, Siloed Management, Volunteer Programs, Modernity, Permaculture, Rights, Public
or group that was described as taking the primary role in
the management of the UGI described. This was regardless of
the primary focus of the publication and provided nuance to
the management-type groupings in that it permitted oversight
of the actors driving the co-governance initiatives and which
level of government was steering those that were government-
led. Further actors involved were also noted as an emergent
category in case of significant involvement of any that were
unforeseen and in order to better understand the spread
of the range of actors involved. The type of UGI was
classified according to the wording used by the authors;
therefore, although there is considerable overlap, for example,
between what constitutes a “garden” and what constitutes
“community agriculture,” these are considered as mutually
exclusive categories. Data collection and classification took place
in an alphanumeric database.
Throughout this process of quantitative data collection, a
qualitative content analysis was carried out with reference to
the “general inductive approach” outlined in Thomas (2006).
Information was gathered on the emerging trends and topics
across the body of literature, of which key themes were chosen
as relevant to the region by the research team, and this was
then used to guide the qualitative review. Keywords or phrases
were assigned to the articles through a full-text review; then,
they were organized within the quantitative database under the
headings “factors for success,” “factors contributing to failure,
“benefits of the initiatives or practices mentioned,” and “other
key words.” The words or phrases that applied to multiple
articles were then color coded in order to allow for quantification
and to view trends. Subsequently, the articles were re-read, and
information and extracts were collected and organized under
emergent headings that aligned with these identified themes
(Table 2). Duplicates were removed, and similar words or phrases
were grouped; this left broader headings such as “indigenous
communities” and “public practice.” The qualitative review
was written using this collated information and quantifiable
organization of the keywords and headings in Table 2; this
allowed for a comprehensive oversight and representation of
the information within the articles found and confidence in the
identification of qualitative patterns and trends.
Overview of the Research
A total of 47 publications were identified in this study, including
46 articles across 40 journals and 1 book chapter; 42 involved
original research. The majority of the research was in English
(57.4%), followed by Spanish (34.0%) and Portuguese (6.4%),
and one French language article was also found through its
English abstract. Geographically, the case studies and research
focuses were concentrated in Brazil (29.8%), Mexico (19.1%),
and Colombia (17.0%), followed by Chile (8.5%) and Argentina
(8.5%). Additional studies focused on Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru,
and Costa Rica (Figure 2). Of the publications found, all but
seven were limited in focus to one country; three compared a
Latin American country to one or more countries outside of
the region; two focused on multiple cases within Latin America;
and two focused on Latin America as a whole. In terms of the
origin of research (Figure 3), over a quarter (27.7%) of the 47
publications came from lead authors based outside of the region.
These involved a diverse range of case studies, spanning eight of
the nine countries specified in Figure 2. Of these lead authors
based outside of Latin America, five were affiliated to North
America, six to Europe, and one to Africa. Brazil (23.4%) and
Mexico (21.3%) were the two countries within Latin America
producing the most research in this field (Figure 3); Colombia,
Chile, and Argentina also contributed between 5 and 10% of
research each.
With reference to the relation between geographical spread
to the temporal trends shown in Figure 4, the few publications
on UGI management before 2003 were from, and centered
on, Brazil. Although being the sole focus of almost 20% of
the research, the first study on Mexico within the articles
found was a comparative study of Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Spain,
and the US in 2010 (Flores-Xolocotzi and González-Guillén,
2010). The first studies to focus on Mexico alone were not
published until 2015, showing a recent rise in academic interest
in UGI management in the country. As Figure 4 shows, research
focusing on the management of green space in the region has
gathered momentum only in the past 5–10 years, and in the 5-
year period between the 1st of January 2015 and the 1st of January
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Breen et al. From “Government to Governance”?
FIGURE 2 | Country of study (% of 47 publications).
2020, 29 articles or 61.7% of the found works were published.
Of the total research, 80.9% was published in 2010 or later. This
research reached a peak in 2019, with 10 articles and 1 book
chapter published in this year. It is worth highlighting that this
systematic review took place in May 2020, meaning numbers for
2020 are not representative of publications in that year.
The category of government-led, top–down state management
with minimal interaction and involvement of non-state actors
was consistent throughout time (Figure 4). Interestingly, self-
governance initiatives were present in the literature as early
as 2003 and did not appear to be a new focus. Co-
governance initiatives involving actors outside of both the state
and communities (such as universities, NGOs, and research
institutes), and initiatives involving more equally weighted
partnerships between state and community actors, have only
emerged in the literature found in the past 6 years. Market-led
initiatives, headed up by private actors, were surprisingly absent
from the research, given the long history of privatization of green
spaces in Latin America: one publication in 2019 addressed the
privatization of an open green space in Cali, Colombia (Nail
and Erazo, 2018). A total of nine publications (19.1%) contained
multiple case studies and were classified as “various.”
A predominance of local state actors for UGI management
in Latin America was presented in the publications found
(Figure 5); more than half (51.1%) of all the publications
identified local government as the lead actor for the management
of the UGI described, in comparison to national government
that was the principal actor in only one article (2.1%). Federal
government was mentioned as a participating actor in one of
the texts but did not take a leading role. It was not possible to
attribute a single principal actor to over a fifth of the publications
(21.3%) classified as “various,” either because these publications
spoke about multiple management practices from a theoretical
perspective (although a couple of theoretical publications very
clearly addressed a certain management or governance type) or
because multiple lead actors were identified for different projects.
Figure 6 shows the relationship between the type of UGI studied
within the articles and management type. A wide range of UGI
components were discussed. Fifteen articles (31.9% of those
found) spoke of UGI as a whole within urban spaces without
reference to a specific component, and these were classified under
“general.” The large amount of government-led practice centered
in this category reflects the difference in reach of government
actors. Self-governance initiatives were, perhaps for this reason,
concentrated in their focus on gardens and small public spaces
with local reach, whereas co-governance and government-led
practices were widely distributed across the UGI typology.
Qualitative Review
From “Government to Governance”?
In general, community organizations tended to have arisen
as a coping mechanism (Nail and Erazo, 2018, p. 93) or a
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Breen et al. From “Government to Governance”?
FIGURE 3 | Lead author institutional affiliation by country (% of 47 publications).
response to state neglect (Chelleri et al., 2016, p. 2; Millington,
2018; Diep et al., 2019) as opposed to active efforts by
local authorities. A number of publications referenced long
traditions of bottom–up community management in Chile and
in Mexico that had been sidelined by government or market-
led management practices in previous decades; these historical
initiatives tended to be either a product of early twentieth century
urban policies (Gurovich Weisman, 2003; Yáñez Andrade and
Deichler, 2018) or longstanding indigenous traditions (González
and Guillen, 2015; Pabello and Nasupcialy, 2019). The fact
that co-governance initiatives are more recent in the literature
(Figure 4) reflects claims in a number of the publications
that government initiatives and community initiatives tend
to be siloed, and there is a general lack of interaction and
communication between them (Chelleri et al., 2016; Betancurt
et al., 2017; Diep et al., 2019; Vieira and Panagopoulos,
2020). For example, Anguelovski et al. (2019) explored the
construction of an urban belt as an “antisprawl” measure
in Medellin, during the process of which the municipality
directly destroyed community gardens and relocated residents,
before creating its own “community” schemes with the aim of
supplying high-income markets in other parts of the city (p.
150). Additionally, both Betancurt et al. (2017) and Vieira and
Panagopoulos (2020) highlighted differences in community and
state decision-making in urban planting, and the impact that a
lack of coordination can have on species richness in flora and
UGI resilience.
There appeared to be a directional push within the
literature toward cooperative governance mechanisms; despite
the dominance of local state actors within the initiatives and
cases addressed, a large number of the publications criticized
top–down management practices (González and Guillen, 2015;
Babilonia et al., 2018) and lack of participation (Pérez-Medina
and López-Falfán, 2015, p. 23; Flores et al., 2019) and called
for the inclusion of non-state actors (Flores-Xolocotzi, 2012;
Barroso and Mesquita, 2014). Chelleri et al. (2016) spoke of
increasing interest in participatory and bottom–up management
practices in the region, as a direct result of technological
advances that have meant better dissemination of information
and the rise of online communities (p. 2). On the whole,
the literature reflected a heavy presence of self-governance
initiatives in many Latin American countries. Betancurt et al.
(2017) found that 77% of urban parks in Bariloche, Argentina
were neighborhood run (p. 7), and Contesse et al. (2018)
made reference to a range of community initiatives for
urban agriculture in Santiago de Chile. The problem was
not, therefore, a shortage of bottom–up governance initiatives,
but rather their integration into government planning in the
literature found and apparent lack of representation within
academic research.
Key Challenges in the Shift to Participative Practice
The Latin American context brings its own specific challenges
to discussions on governance for UGI, four of which were
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Breen et al. From “Government to Governance”?
FIGURE 4 | Temporal distribution of articles as of May 2020.
repeatedly highlighted in the literature: weak local government,
informal settlements, pronounced socioeconomic inequalities,
and clashes with indigenous community practices. These
challenges intersected with UGI governance in different ways,
and all but the first presented a considerable source of local
conflicts in the cases studied. A number of publications
highlighted weak local government management (Escobedo
et al., 2006; Flores-Xolocotzi, 2012; Serra-Llobet and Hermida,
2017, p. 3) or a general lack of state resources (Guerrero and
Culós, 2007; Silva-Sánchez and Jacobi, 2016; Millington, 2018;
Ojeda-Revah et al., 2020) as a barrier to effective governance,
transparency, and participation. These factors were not universal,
geographic variation in budgets, capabilities, and resources
between municipal managers in the same city, and competition
for investment meant dependence on private entities and a
shift in priorities when considering UGI provision (Escobedo
et al., 2006; Andrade et al., 2013; Babilonia et al., 2018). One
publication mentioned the division of large urban green spaces
between competing local authorities (Andrade et al., 2013,
p. 10). This lack of adequate means to effectively administer
UGI at the state level is a considerable obstacle in the shift
to formalized governance practices that, whether centered in
participation or empowerment, require responsive and capable
leadership or oversight at a citywide level. This was backed
up in the literature by the fact that heavy decentralization
of responsibilities at the state level was linked to a lack of
communication between government actors and even calls
for consolidation in decision-making (Andrade et al., 2013;
Benchimol et al., 2017; Serra-Llobet and Hermida, 2017, p. 3).
Like underresourced and overly decentralized local
governments, informal settlements are not unique to the
Latin American context but are frequently present in rapidly
urbanizing cities. Three of the articles found centered on
informal settlements, two in São Paulo, Brazil (Millington, 2018;
Diep et al., 2019) and one in Medellin, Colombia (Anguelovski
et al., 2019). All three highlighted, either centrally or peripherally,
the issue of displacement and the conflicts and issues that arose
from this. Millington (2018) detailed the construction of a linear
park in São Paulo that required the resettlement of roughly
40,000 people (p. 871). The issue of displacement in itself was
not necessarily a cause of conflict, but resettlement plans were
often badly executed and increased the vulnerabilities that the
communities in these settlements faced, even when risk reduction
was the primary reason for relocation (Millington, 2018, pp.
871, 873; Anguelovski et al., 2019, p. 154). Even if residents
understood the need to move, it was the lack of details and
consistent follow-up that generated resistance, accompanied by
the ethical implications of moving already heavily disadvantaged
individuals to locations where they were worse off (Millington,
2018, p. 873). Diep et al. (2019) highlighted discourse used by
local government actors in São Paulo that framed communities as
polluters and harmful to nearby protected areas. The community
initiatives that had recently emerged were a response to this and
aimed to counteract this perception but were not sanctioned
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Breen et al. From “Government to Governance”?
FIGURE 5 | Principle actor distribution (% of 47 publications).
by the state authorities; the result of this was a clear disconnect
between objectives for the area and a negative impact on both
the government-led and self-governance practices (p. 566). This
dynamic positions informal local communities as the enemy
of UGI provision and heavily influences the “siloed” nature
of government-led and self-governance practices within cities
as previously discussed. These and other generated conflicts
are both a clear indication of the lack of participation and
inclusion of actors within the construction and management
of urban green spaces and a barrier to future engagement in
governance initiatives.
The contrast between the avant-garde buildings present in
many Latin American megacities, with the informal settlements
and social housing developments that occupy their peripheries, is
a clear representation of the market socioeconomic inequalities
that have a particularly strong hold over the more neoliberal
economies in the region. Inequitable distribution of green space
according to socioeconomic bracket was highlighted in a number
of articles (Chelleri et al., 2016, p. 279; Escobedo et al., 2006,
p. 113; Contesse et al., 2018, p. 566) and, in general, presented
a significant challenge in effective UGI governance. Vásquez
et al. (2019) found, in their assessment plans and strategies for
green infrastructure across multiple Latin American countries,
a lack of focus on social and environmental inequality (p. 340).
The displacement mentioned in the articles was linked with
concepts of “environmental gentrification” (Anguelovski et al.,
2019, p. 154). Diep et al. (2019) characterized linear parks as
“slum upgrading projects” (p. 562), reflecting the statement
by Anguelovski et al. (2019) that green infrastructure projects
“render low-income residents disposable; they represent the
collateral damage to Medellin’s ‘highest aspiration’ of becoming
a globally recognized ‘sustainable city”’ (p. 154). Once more,
the conflicts and divisions generated as a result of these
circumstances and the positioning of actors within this dynamic
presented considerable challenges for the collaborative co-
creation of green spaces within cities.
Finally, a further three studies (González and Guillen, 2015;
Pulido-Salas et al., 2017; Pabello and Nasupcialy, 2019) centered
on indigenous communities in Mexico and the interface between
these communities and governance both as a concept and in
practice. Pulido-Salas et al. (2017) explored self-governance of
the “solar” or Mayan community garden in the small city of
José María Morelos, Quintana Roo, and highlighted the strong
cultural traditions that accompany this practice and its history
within these communities. González and Guillen (2015) focused
on a dispute over cemeteries that took place between 2001 and
2007 in Mexico City around the handing over of the rights
to these cemeteries to local government. The authors criticize
the “ideals of progress and development” that prioritize the
needs of growing cities over culture, traditions, and subjectivity
(González and Guillen, 2015, p. 359). Similarly, Pabello and
Nasupcialy (2019) use indigenous community gardens in
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FIGURE 6 | Urban green infrastructure types by management type.
Veracruz to more broadly critique the notions of productivity
and individualism in western green space management discourse
and the accompanying dismissal of the alternative, communal,
rationalities that accompany the long history of “self-governance”
practices by indigenous peoples (p. 210). They make the call
for more original research from Latin America in order to
strengthen understanding of the existence of social collectives
in which the central preoccupation does not lie with resources
or “collective goods” but “the recovery, restoration, expansion
or defense of spaces for the reproduction of collective life or
communal environments” (Pabello and Nasupcialy, 2019, p. 211).
Benefits of Successful Governance
The benefits of successful governance for UGI mentioned in
the research found included environmental education (Ferrer
et al., 2010; Barroso and Mesquita, 2014; Costa Cardoso
et al., 2015; Benchimol et al., 2017; Pabello and Nasupcialy,
2019), recreational opportunities and tourism (Sanchotene, 1994;
García and Guerrero, 2006; Guerrero and Culós, 2007; Flores-
Xolocotzi and González-Guillén, 2010), investment (Flores-
Xolocotzi, 2012; Babilonia et al., 2018), easing the transition
of the urban–rural interface (Gurovich Weisman, 2003), and
environmental benefits such as climate change adaptation and
reduced flood risks (Granados-Olivas et al., 2016; Millington,
2018; Flores et al., 2019; Giner et al., 2019). Nail and Erazo (2018)
made the case for state-initiated self-governance initiatives for
post-conflict peace building, a link between UGI and social
capital that was also made by Ferrer et al. (2010),Costa Cardoso
et al. (2015),Sánchez (2019), and Visoni and Nagib (2019, p. 88).
There was some grouping in the focus of articles that mentioned
specific benefits: recreation and tourism was almost exclusively
highlighted within articles that focused on local government,
and, somewhat predictably, the topic of social capital was aligned
with community-led initiatives. Interestingly, food security was
mentioned in 13 of the publications, 8 of which contained case
studies on community-led initiatives. In studies where local
government was the primary actor, it was highlighted as a benefit
provided by the infrastructure studied, a measure of success in
gardens and urban agriculture, and as an enabler of success in
the planning and implementation of urban forests (Sanchotene,
1994; Lafontaine and Olivier, 2017). It is likely, however, that
these mentioned benefits reflect the bias of the authors of the
articles and do not echo the priorities of the actors involved in
the cases studied.
With an aim to fill the knowledge gap around UGI management
publications in Latin America, this study has centered on the
research questions: What are the research trends in terms of
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Breen et al. From “Government to Governance”?
topics and case studies that characterize UGI management
research in Latin America? Which management types are the
focuses of this research? An extensive trilingual systematic review
was conducted using a wide range of search terms, and 47
publications were identified and subjected to both quantitative
and qualitative analysis. The research that was found was
predominantly recent, and the temporal trends identified were
more pronounced than those seen by Boulton et al. (2018), in a
review of research on global greenspace provision, and Ordóñez-
Barona et al. (2020) on urban forestry research in Latin America:
over 80% of the studies were published between January 2010
and May 2020. Aligning with expectations based on population
size, Mexico and Brazil were the principal areas of study for
almost 50% of the publications and were the largest producers
of research within the region. The fact that over a quarter of the
work found originated from lead authors based outside of Latin
America likely reflects either high external interest in the region,
low regional interest in this topic, or bias from the databases used.
A true picture of UGI management in practice is likely to
extend beyond what was observed within the academic literature,
but the trends identified provide an interesting reflection of
academic priorities and visibility of respective management
practices in Latin America. The fact that local government was
the principal actor for the management of the UGI studied in over
half of the total research found reflects the European literature
(van der Jagt et al., 2016); this was followed by local communities
at just over 20%. While government-led and self-governance
initiatives had a fairly consistent temporal distribution, co-
governance initiatives were recent, appearing only from 2014,
and were the focus of a comparatively small proportion of the
research. The transition from “government to governance” has
been frequently cited in European publications (Buizer et al.,
2015, p. 8; van der Jagt et al., 2016, p. 12; Mattijssen et al.,
2017a, p. 96; Fox-Kämper et al., 2018, p. 59), but a movement
from traditional government-led management to empowered
self-governance initiatives was not apparent in the publications
found. The results of the qualitative review aligned with this:
community initiatives were described as having an established
presence and history within the region, but governmental-led
and self-governance practices tended to be siloed, leading to a
lack of coordination and, in some cases, competition between
management practices. Counterintuitively, it may be that a
strengthening of local government is needed in order to allow
for the types of cooperative and communicative management
practices that are present in governance publications from other
parts of the world. There was a notable absence of “market-
led” initiatives in the research identified, which was at odds with
expectations within the literature and high levels of privatization
within the region (Vásquez et al., 2016).
Notable research trends within the publications related
to weak local governance, informal settlements, marked
socioeconomic inequalities, and conflicts with traditional
indigenous practices. These are not challenges that have
substantial representation in the international literature but
are clearly applicable across Latin America and possibly in
other countries within the Global South. Indigenous practices,
although they fall under the category of self-governance
initiatives, clash with the very concept of governance in their
intent, history, and discourses used (Pabello and Nasupcialy,
2019). The juxtaposition between the idea of UGI as the primary
motivator for a self-governance initiative and the conception
of cooperative management and way of life as a means in itself
raises the interesting question of how to integrate western
management concepts with practices that predate colonialism
in Latin America. It can be hoped that with the demonstrated
acceleration of governance research in the countries studied, new
knowledge and conceptual research can bridge these gaps and
result in improved practices for UGI management.
The frequent presence of food security as both a benefit and
a factor for success within UGI management was aligned with
North American literature and practice in the area of community
initiatives (Wekerle, 2004; Rosol, 2012). This tended to emerge
out of necessity as opposed to food justice “movements,
reinforcing the notion that community initiatives are often the
product of an obligation to fill the gaps left by inadequate state
provision. The focus on the post-conflict benefits of successful
and supported self-governance in Colombia in (Nail and Erazo,
2018) was interesting, as it presented an example of one of
the ways in which both UGI and governance practices impact
upon social capital in a way that has a direct benefit on
fragmented societies and cities. Although benefits provided by
successful initiatives were clearly mentioned, the factors needed
for this success in the case of co-governance and self-governance
initiatives, such as formal recognition and funding, were scarcely
addressed. It would therefore be interesting to see future studies
in the region that look to the similarities and differences in
challenges faced at the community level with those initiatives in
Europe and North America.
A mixed quantitative and qualitative methodology was
employed for this review in order not only to view the
characteristics, patterns, and trends of research for UGI
management in Latin America more broadly but also the key
learnings of the research content. In the focus on management
type and actors involved, the results of the qualitative section
corroborated that of the quantitative analysis. On reflection,
however, a greater qualitative focus on the contextual factors
affecting UGI management, aligned to the economic and political
regimes of the countries in which the initiatives are situated,
would have perhaps gone further to explain whether the
geographical concentration of the research was connected to the
desirability and feasibility of certain practices. This review was
restricted to the literature present in Scopus, Web of Science,
and SciELO. The former two have a strong bias toward English
language journals and are the larger of the three databases
searched. Despite this, the fact that over 40% of the articles
were not in English indicates the body of research in this field
in Spanish and Portuguese and the benefits of conducting a
trilingual review. These databases were chosen, as it was possible
to replicate the same searches across them, in terms of fields
searched and Boolean strings used, but it is likely that this review
does not exhaustively cover publications on this topic in the
region. More research would likely be identified by measures
such as using additional regional databases or conducting a
bibliographic reference search of the research found. One of
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Breen et al. From “Government to Governance”?
the articles identified made reference to a large number of
undergraduate, masters, and doctorate level research papers
within the area of Urban Forestry in Brazil that have not been
published within scientific journals (Vieira and Panagopoulos,
2020, p. 9), and this is a claim that aligns with our anecdotal
experience within the area of UGI management. Despite the
challenges of conducting an extensive search of research within
universities in the region, a review including thesis papers and
gray literature more broadly, such as policy papers and municipal
plans, would provide a more accurate picture of management for
UGI in Latin America in practice.
In conclusion, this review has presented 47 publications that
center on UGI management in Latin America and in doing so has
also looked to achieve a better understanding of investigations in
the region. This is the first systematic review of UGI management
research in Latin America, to our knowledge. Considering the
breadth of the search terms used and the minimal exclusion
criteria, there is a shortage of research, particularly in the
areas of cogovernance, market-led practice, and self-governance.
The evident asymmetries between this region and Europe and
North America, where much of the literature on green space
provision is originating, indicate that there is much that the Latin
American experience can offer that would also assist in research
in other areas of the Global South. Echoing calls from Ordóñez-
Barona et al. (2020), there is a need for funding that will allow
more transnational and regional cooperation in order to better
recognize the unique political and economic contexts within
Latin America and the variation that this brings. In general,
the “good governance” mechanisms promoted by multilateral
organizations have ignored the complex differences between and
challenges faced by countries in Latin America (Zurbriggen,
2011), and the lack of “context-sensitive” approaches was noted
in the literature with reference to informal settlements (Diep
et al., 2019, p. 566). Interesting areas for further research could
look to answer how clear socioeconomic inequalities and socio-
spatial segregation in Latin American cities affect management
of UGI, how differences in economic and political regimes
impact the introduction of governance practices, or to look more
comparatively at the differences between research priorities in
this region and the European and North American contexts.
With reference to the challenges of applying western concepts
to the Latin American context, one can also hope to see new
conceptual frameworks emerging in the coming years that center
on traditional and indigenous cooperative practices, emphasizing
the centrality of cultural, social, and spiritual motivators for
community management of UGI.
All datasets generated for this study are included in the
article/Supplementary Material.
AV and EG conceived the study. AB executed the methodology,
wrote the first drafts, and the final manuscript. AV and EG
conducted the revision. All authors read and approved the final
version of the manuscript and contributed to the study design
and methodology.
This research was provided by the project Planificación de
Infraestructura Verde Urbana en Chile: Santiago como caso
de estudio (Stgo+Infraestructura Verde), part of the MINVU
(Ministry of Housing and Urbanism) applied research fund.
The Supplementary Material for this article can be found
online at:
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Conflict of Interest: The authors declare that the research was conducted in the
absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a
potential conflict of interest.
Copyright © 2020 Breen, Giannotti, Flores Molina and Vásquez. This is an open-
access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted,
provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the
original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic
practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply
with these terms.
Frontiers in Sustainable Cities | 15 October 2020 | Volume 2 | Article 572360
... In addition to the more fundamental, conceptual critiques of NBS, it is also widely recognised that the potential attributed to NBS is often not realised in practice, whether by dominant forms of economic development, lack of political will, and/or inadequate planning and management in cities (Kabisch et al. 2016;Qiao et al. 2018;Dorst et al. 2019). There are also vast differences between countries in the Global North (GN) and the Global South (GS) in knowledge, governance, policy and institutional capacity to implement NBS (Dobbs et al. 2019;Breen et al. 2020). Fragmentation of government, including processes of privatisation and organisational restructuring, has exacerbated hierarchical and silo-dominated organisational environments (Randrup and Jansson 2020). ...
... Conversely, this financial advantage is not typically enjoyed by countries in the GS, leading them to encounter challenges in securing funding for large-scale NBS projects (Castelo et al. 2023;Kauark-Fontes et al. 2023). Furthermore, policy support for NBS in the GS tends to exhibit greater variability, or being completely absent, resulting in difficulties when trying to coordinate efforts across diverse government agencies (Breen et al. 2020). Moreover, there are major challenges that may ultimately impact the successful implementation of NBS in Latin America, such as weak local government structures, informal settlements, significant socio-economic inequalities and conflicts with indigenous community practices (Breen et al. 2020;Portugal Del Pino et al. 2020;Kauark-Fontes et al. 2023). ...
... Furthermore, policy support for NBS in the GS tends to exhibit greater variability, or being completely absent, resulting in difficulties when trying to coordinate efforts across diverse government agencies (Breen et al. 2020). Moreover, there are major challenges that may ultimately impact the successful implementation of NBS in Latin America, such as weak local government structures, informal settlements, significant socio-economic inequalities and conflicts with indigenous community practices (Breen et al. 2020;Portugal Del Pino et al. 2020;Kauark-Fontes et al. 2023). ...
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Nature-Based Solutions concepts and practices are being used worldwide as part of attempts to address societal challenges but have also been criticised for not dealing with deeper transformations needed to face urgent issues including biodiversity loss, climate change and inclusion. In this paper, we explore how an inclusive, integrated and long-sighted approach, emphasising a more radical integration of nature within cities, might support the transformations needed to endure major contemporary challenges. Addressing important emerging critiques of Nature-Based Solutions, we consider the potential of a more incisive form of Nature-Based Thinking (NBT) in cities, based on more holistic perspectives. The paper draws on a reflective and iterative research process that engaged both the research and practice communities through a symposium and a series of futures workshops that together explored the potential of NBT to develop future nature-cities relations in Europe and Latin America. The results of the reflective process suggest that notions of nature with people-not for people-new organisational structures, and the intention and capacity to apply long-term perspectives, are needed when planning for NBS interventions aimed at sustainable urban development. This includes developing a cultural-structural change based on new and inclusive understandings of human-nature relations, and novel governance paradigms that allow cross-sectoral coordination and engagement of local stakeholders beyond formal organisational structures.
... Evidence coming from Global North cities point to the critical role of collective decision-making and the interactions among urban forest actors (e.g., Lawrence et al., 2013;Frantzeskaki et al., 2016;Gulsrud et al., 2018;van der Jagt and Lawrence, 2019). Although studies on this topic coming from the Global South are scarce, it is an emerging and recognized topic in Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) cities (Escobedo et al., 2006;Muñoz-Erickson, 2014a;Benchimol et al., 2017;Calaza et al., 2018;Breen et al., 2020;Ordóñez et al., 2020a;Devisscher et al., 2022). ...
... By this we mean the level of participation of the public in decisions (Kirkpatrick et al., 2013;Molin and Konijnendijk, 2014;Gulsrud et al., 2018), and the inclusion of public values in the visions and priorities of policies (Gwedla and Shackleton, 2015;Gulsrud et al., 2018). It can also refer to how community stewardship is supported by actors (Gulsrud et al., 2018;Buijs et al., 2019;Breen et al., 2020) by, for example, the existence of co-maintenance agreements with community groups (Muñoz-Erickson, 2014b;Mattijssen et al., 2017;Buijs et al., 2019). ...
... Beyond differences in political orientations and natural environments, our results suggest that there may be shared social-ecological experiences in the ten LAC cities we studied, such as urban socioeconomic conditions, cultural practices (UNEP, 2010), urban development pathways (UN-DESA, 2019), and approaches to urban forest management and governance. It also reflects some commonalities in the Global South experience in relation to environmental issues (Nagendra et al., 2018), such as approaches to climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation (Dobbs et al., 2018(Dobbs et al., , 2019, and how cities consider urban forests as a strategic policy to address future urban challenges (Escobedo et al., 2006(Escobedo et al., , 2008Breen et al., 2020;Ozment et al., 2021). ...
Addressing urban forest management and governance challenges is fundamental for implementing urban forest policies. Most of the evidence on this topic comes from Global North cities, so little is known about how urban forest management and governance are experienced by urban forest actors in Global South cities, including Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) cities. This study aimed to assess the views of urban forest actors in LAC cities on how they participate in collective decision-making, the current state of urban forest management and governance, and contact among actors, with a focus on how these views related to each other and differences among government and non-government actors. We designed and delivered an online survey to government and non-government actors in ten LAC capital cities, including Bogotá, Brasília, Buenos Aires, Ciudad de México, Ciudad de Panamá, La Paz, Lima, San José , San Juan, and Santiago de Chile. We analysed 155 responses using regression-based techniques. We found that more contact among actors resulted in more participation in collective decision making and more optimistic views about the state of urban forest management and governance. Also, more optimistic views about the state of urban forest management and governance resulted in more trust in local governments. Non-government actors had lower levels of trust in local governments than government actors. We discuss how implementing urban forest policies does not solely depend on having enough resources (e. g., finances, personnel) but also on engaging in collective decision-making and improving trust in the institutions in charge of implementing urban forest policies.
... Sin embargo, se ha investigado poco sobre la gestión, monitoreo y gobernanza de la IV (Breen et al. 2020;Pauleit et al. 2018), y los arreglos institucionales adoptados para su implementación han sido poco explorados (Mendes et al. 2020). Así mismo, el potencial de la sociedad civil o la academia para contribuir al debate y la agenda de la IV y su rol como agentes de cambio no se ha investigado lo suficiente (Pauleit et al. 2021). ...
... However, our data show an increasing number of publication and citations during the last decade, suggesting that urban environmental inequalities is still an emerging topic, but is gaining relevance within the Latin-American Region. Similar trends for published papers have been observed for other related urban environmental topics, such as urban ecosystem services [75] , urban forestry [64] and urban green infrastructure [11] , highlighting the increasing importance that environmental factors are taken within urban areas of developing regions, such as Latin America [95] . ...
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Latin America is among the most urbanized regions in the world. However, cities in this region usually present an uneven distribution of environmental amenities and hazards between socioeconomic sectors, translating into prevalent issues of environmental inequalities. Urban environmental inequalities have been widely covered by studies from developed regions, but less attention has been placed on highly urbanized regions from the developing world. In this work, we review the topic of urban environmental inequalities in Latin America, aiming to identify the temporal and geographical trends of published research, and revise the main themes framing the research on environmental inequalities in this region. We searched for literature in three databases (i.e. Scielo, Scopus, Web of Science) using three different languages (i.e. English, Spanish, Portuguese). We identified a total of 57 articles published on the topic. These articles show an increasing rate of publication and citations during the last decade, with increasing proportion of papers published in English in journals covered by international databases. There is a large geographical bias towards a few countries and cities, and more than half of Latin-American countries have no research on this topic yet. While in North America race and ethnicity have been often associated to urban environmental inequalities, in Latin America most of studies relate environmental inequalities to social and economic variables. These results highlight the relevance of carrying out this type of research in developing regions, as these may provide key novel insights for generating better solutions to address urban environmental inequalities
... This selection was done against the inclusion and exclusion criteria described under Section 2.1. Like [84], two searches were done on Scopus. The first search on keywords, "SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT" OR "SUSTAINABILITY APPRAISAL" AND "BUILDINGS" OR "INFRASTRUCTURE" OR "BUILT ENVIRONMENT" AND "AFRICA" OR "DEVELOPING COUNTRY" focused on the narrower search fields of title, abstract and key words of publications. ...
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Reviews on sustainability assessment research have shown that Africa is lagging in this research area. As a result, few African countries have local sustainability assessment processes for infrastructure development. Considering the vital role of infrastructure to Africa’s development, the identification of only a few countries with local sustainability assessment processes raises questions on the overall state of sustainability assessment in the continent. To date, there is no study that gives a definite account of which African countries have local sustainability assessment processes for infrastructure. The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic literature review to identify and analyze local sustainability assessment process for infrastructure development in an African country. Using PRISMA to guide the review process, the study showed that six processes have been created for infrastructure development in Africa. The African countries with these processes are Egypt (three), Nigeria (one), Malawi and Kenya (one) and South Africa (one). The results showed that the sustainability assessment process correspond to most of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets with social and economic considerations taking the lead in the processes created for energy and transport infrastructure development projects, whereas the sustainability assessment processes created for water supply, waste and communications infrastructure development projects have a balance of social, economic and environmental sustainability considerations. The review has revealed a need to create energy, transport and water supply infrastructure sustainability assessment processes that address current sustainability concerns such as climate change, social justice, equity, fairness and equality.
... In the process of internal and external feedback, international cooperation and industrial development are involved (Gould and Lewis, 2021;Breen et al., 2020). Enterprises are not isolated but part of the industrial chain. ...
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The strategic planning and decision making of the government in the combination of high-quality development and green development has had a far-reaching impact on the development of industrial enterprises. This paper grounded theory to build a theoretical framework model of the factors that influence the development of high-quality green industrial enterprises. The data are based on policy documents, policy interpretations, official public opinion, and other original text materials related to the high-quality green development of Chinese industrial enterprises. The research finds that the factors that influence the high-quality green development of industrial enterprises can be divided into three dimensions, including the environmental dimension, the enterprise dimension, and the process dimension. Among them, the enterprise dimension is the most core dimension and directly affects the high-quality green development of industrial enterprises. Different parts (six parts) in each dimension are connected together to form a circular chain of high-quality green development of industrial enterprises. There is also an interaction mechanism within each part.
... This study conducted a systematic literature review on new governance approaches of small-scale UGI following the PRISMA procedure introduced by Moher et al. [117]. We conducted a systematic review to address the need for a review, critique, and possible reconceptualization of the diverse and interdisciplinary knowledge base on UGI, ES, and governance approaches [118]. The methodological approach used PRISMA key processes to construct the sampling frame, as shown in Figure 1: study planning and identification, screening and selection of publications, and content analysis of the selected documents. ...
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As cities are facing environmental and societal challenges, including climate change, rapid urbanization, and the COVID-19 pandemic, scholars and policymakers have recognized the potential of small-scale urban green infrastructures (UGI), such as rain gardens and street trees, to support important ecosystem services (ES) during periods of crisis and change. While there has been considerable research on the design, planning, engineering, and ecology of small-scale UGI, the governance modes of such spaces to support ES and manage ecosystem disservices (EDS) have received significantly less research attention. In this article, we provide a systematic review to evaluate how different modes of governance support different ES in small-scale green infrastructure. We evaluated governance in six types of small-scale green infrastructure: small parks, community gardens, vacant lands, rain gardens, green roofs, and street trees. Our review examines the different characteristics of four new governance approaches, including adaptive, network, mosaic, and transformative to understand their bottom-up nature and applicability in governing ES/disservices of small-scale UGI. Each governance mode can be effective for managing the ES of certain small-scale UGI, given their associations with principles such as resilience thinking, connectivity, and active citizenship. Our synthesis highlights knowledge gaps at the intersection between governance arrangements and ES in small-scale UGI. We conclude with a call for further research on the environmental and contextual factors that moderate the linkages between governance modes and ES/EDS in different types of UGI.
... Keywords: virtual fieldwork, Latin America, urban parks, Google Street View, gentrification INTRODUCTION Urban greening has become priority for many cities around the world striving to become sustainable, resilient, and attractive places, and many municipalities explicitly seek to redress longstanding urban environmental injustices through urban greening programs . Latin American cities are also prioritizing greening because they generally have less green space per capita compared to cities in the Global North, because of the rapid pace of urbanization and the decisionmaking dynamics that exist between developers and public officials overseeing land use and zoning (Breen et al., 2020). With increased greening efforts, there is a need to acknowledge the burdens, disinvestment, and neglect that may span for decades prior to the new investment in a community. ...
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Contribute to fill the gap in environmental inequalities studies by presenting empirical research that focuses on the Global South. In our view, this gap perpetuates a limited understanding of the relationship between urban greening, unequal and uneven development, and growth, which includes the provision of ecosystem services and social equity.Book that contains 11 articles and an editorial on issues assoiated to Green Gntrification and Environmental Inequalities in Cities in the Global South.
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Resumen El concepto de infraestructura verde ha sido incorporado en numerosas regiones como una gran oportunidad, ya que aúna beneficios ambientales y ecológicos estableciendo una red de conexiones entre los espacios naturales y urbanos que antes se encontraban aislados y fragmentados. Este trabajo propone una metodología de planificación territorial para articular la dicotomía urbano-rural en el contexto colombiano del Valle de Guatiguará. Se presenta una propuesta de infraestructura verde-azul articulada a partir del Río de Oro y su estructura hídrica para poner en valor un espacio productivo y prevenir riesgos ambientales, regulando los usos del suelo para los nuevos desarrollos residenciales e industriales, densificando los núcleos existentes y estableciendo una gestión integral del agua. Se adopta el método de Valladares et al. (2017) en relación con la distribución de usos según la altitud y se adapta la sección del valle al contexto local para sintonizar los objetivos ambientales con los económicos y los sociales. La infraestructura verde-azul es una gran oportunidad para articular una nueva forma de distribución de los usos del suelo en los valles colombianos, considerando la altitud como una variable clave en la clasificación del suelo del territorio.
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While the amount of research on NBS is growing rapidly, there is a lack of evidence on community experiences of NBS design and implementation, particularly from low-income and informal settlements of African cities. This article adds new empirical evidence in this space through grounded analysis of NBS “niche” projects co-developed by intermediary organizations and communities in five sites across three settlements in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Findings are organized around four established NBS knowledge gaps: (1) NBS-society relations; (2) Design; (3) Implementation; (4) Effectiveness. We find that across the five studied sites, residents' perceptions and valuation of urban nature has changed through processes of co-design and co-implementation, enabling community ownership of projects, and hence playing a crucial role in NBS effectiveness over time. The integration of gray components into green infrastructure to create hybrid systems has proven necessary to meet physical constraints and communities' urgent needs such as flood mitigation. However, maintenance responsibilities and cost burdens are persisting issues that highlight the complex reality of NBS development in informal settlements. The cases highlight key considerations for actors involved in NBS development to support the replication, scaling up and institutionalization of NBS. These include the need to: (i) develop forms of engagement that align with co-production values; (ii) capture communities' own valuation of and motivations with NBS development for integration into design; (iii) elaborate technical guidance for hybrid green-gray infrastructure systems that can be constructed with communities; and (iv) help define and establish structures for maintenance responsibilities (especially governmental vs. civil society) that will enhance the environmental stewardship of public spaces.
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Academic research on communitarian urban agriculture explores its role as an available alternative to make a different urban model come true, fostering a better environmental and social balance. Vegetable garden initiatives in public spaces can help expand the discussion about community actions, which tend to promote deep changes locally by making urban space management more democratic and signaling the transformation into an “edible city,” where food can actually be produced. This view has contributed to the increasing emergence of community gardens across the developed world, but also in developing economies. This is the case, for instance, in São Paulo, where many community gardens have been created in the past few years by communities themselves as an expression of activism aimed at transforming public spaces and the city. This tendency was pioneered by the 82,000-member online network Hortelões Urbanos (Urban Horticulturists), which started off as an information-sharing platform for people gardening at home. The community eventually mobilized to create the Horta das Corujas (Garden of Owls) in 2012, the first community garden in Brazil’s largest metropolis. Despite the difficulties in obtaining approval to build the community garden and the lack of legislation governing the use of public space, Horta das Corujas was successfully implemented and is still managed by volunteers, standing as a symbol of community-led initiatives that democratize public space and transcend traditional barriers to social integration.
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Urban forests provide multiple benefits in improving people’s lives and can be an important tool for achieving the goal of carbon neutral cities. In this study, we analyzed the diversity of plant species from urban forests in cities in the Brazilian Amazonia, based on data from scientific articles, through a systematic literature review. Our analysis revealed that 530 taxa, of which 479 were identified at the species level and 51 at the genus level, covering 38,882 individuals were distributed in 29 cities. The three most frequent species were Ficus benjamina, Mangifera indica, and Licania tomentosa. Exotic species were more frequent than native. The three most frequent species had almost 42% of the inventoried individuals. The choice of species has been made mainly by the local population, without monitoring by the public authorities. Recommendations for sustainable management of urban forests in Amazonia include investing in training of management bodies, periodic inventories, and awareness actions about the benefits of urban green infrastructure and on the advantages of native species. Policies for the sustainable management of urban green areas are necessary. The municipal governments must continuously monitor indicators of urban ecosystem services and provide financial resources for maintaining and increasing those area rates per person.
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Climate change together with population growth and land-use change have increased the risk of urban floods. Urban floods cause severe damages to cities and their inhabitants, and they are expected to increase over time. Consequently, urban adaptation is required to shift from traditional infrastructure (grey) to multifunctional infrastructure (blue-green) for improved flood management. Until recently, studies on the role and adoption of blue-green infrastructure have centered around large cities in developed countries, including Melbourne and Rotterdam, among others. Meanwhile, middle-sized cities in developing countries have received less attention. According to the Urban Water Management Transition Framework (UWMTF), cities in developing countries can learn from the experiences of developed cities and leapfrog to more 'water sensitive' practices. Although leapfrogging is context-dependent, our understanding of factors that support leapfrogging remains embryonic. This paper contributes to the scholarly understanding of the governance factors that support and limit leapfrogging. By applying the Governance Assessment Tool through semi-structured interviews and reviewing secondary data, this research assessed the implementation of flood protection infrastructure in San Pedro Cholula, a middle size city of Mexico. This work found the most supportive quality for delivering multifunctional infrastructure, was the extent of the governance system. The governance support extent was rated as moderate-low considering the platform for change is limited to government actors, which has further reinforced traditional approaches to infrastructure. In addition, the necessary governance features of coherence, flexibility and intensity were assessed as constraining change, with flexibility being the least supportive governance factor and ultimately hindering social actors' participation and innovation. While the contemporary governance arrangements of San Pedro Cholula are not yet conducive to promoting a leapfrog in the delivery of urban flood infrastructure, the analysis has pointed to three catalytic factors to underpin a leapfrogging situation: trans-disciplinary science; cross-sector partnerships; and, innovation experiments.
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RESUMEN Este trabajo tiene como objetivo proponer una ruta crítica de análisis sobre las formas de conocimiento y las prácticas organizativas de colectivos sociales autónomos con principios comunitarios que subsisten en espacios urbanos. Se retoma la propuesta crítica de la colonialidad epistémica a la teoría de la organización y al paradigma administrativo/management y se suma a la invitación para generar saberes organizacionales de América Latina que se alejen de la abstracción del artificio organizacional que supone la teoría en la que se sostiene la modernidad. Como propuesta se incorpora la noción de transmodernidad y las nociones de ámbitos de comunidad, comunalidad y pedagogía de la comunalidad para dar cuenta de los principios articuladores que organizan las prácticas del colectivo independiente la Red de Huertos Educativos y Comunitarios de Xalapa (RHEC), Veracruz, México, que está enfocado en el intercambio de experiencias y aprendizajes generados a partir del trabajo en los huertos agroecológico.
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The aim of this paper is to highlight limits in the current conceptualisation and implementation of urban Green Infrastructure (GI), particularly in informal settlements. We propose a Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) that helps analyse and identify opportunities to overcome such limits. The article starts by discussing the concept of GI and proposes its definition through the principles of multifunctionality, interlinkages and exchange. Recognising current gaps in implementation in the context of informal settlements, we argue for the better understanding of the range of socio-political conditions which enable or impede GI practices. To reflect on these gaps, the article uses MLP to explore persisting socio-ecological-infrastructural problems in water management, which could be perpetuated through current GI practices. MLP is used as a heuristic framework to analyse influencing factors that exist at multiple interconnected societal and bio-physical levels. The framework is applied to the city of São Paulo in Brazil where traditional water management has resulted in tensions between social and ecological systems between the regime (which encompasses institutional structures) and the niche (where innovations emerge, for example through grassroots movements). Examples of community initiatives are used that demonstrate a disconnection between top-down structures and everyday practices. We conclude that if GI presents the potential to support a transition towards water management that benefits both social and ecological systems, further characterisation of the concept is required.
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During the last two decades, a mounting body of research has emerged on the value, use and overall importance of urban green infrastructure. From the contribution to human well-being and sustainable development, urban green infrastructure is positioned as a relevant concept within ecosystem services and nature-based solutions. Our research objective is to identify the main scientific approaches to urban green infrastructure, while accounting for different comparative criteria, such as subject of analysis, methods used, location or scale. We used an analysis of scientific literature in order to identify trends on urban green infrastructure research. We designed a study consisting of peer-reviewed articles and conference proceedings, published between 2005 and 2017 and listed in Science Direct database. We identified 497 peer-reviewed articles and conference proceedings, of which we validated 490 papers that included keywords. We used network analysis to identify significant patterns on the keywords co-occurrence in the scientific literature. Our main results identified the most used, powerful and influential keywords, while comparing the European network with the rest of the world. We found that terms such as: green infrastructure, ecosystem services and urban forestry are among the most used keywords in the ongoing body of literature. Our study tries to better understand the directions used so far to analyse urban green infrastructure and the differences that occur between areas or scale of analysis. Main findings suggested by our results could anticipate shortcomings or future research, while better establishing the importance of urban green infrastructure as a nature-based solution.
Recently the term green infrastructure has come to shape professional and scientific debate, political strategies and practical approaches concerning green space development, particularly in urban areas. Actors from all fields of spatial development and planning are referencing this as an emergent approach, which is expected to have a considerable environmental and socio-economic impact. The wide and ubiquitous use of the term in planning debates fosters an impression of agreement in its definition and meaning. Yet several theoretical studies and manifold practical observations confirm a variety of definitions and meanings of this “new” approach in the scientific, political and practical arenas, ranging from simply a buzzword to a mature approach. Clearly, this confusion in meaning has a practical relevance for planning. It seems wise, therefore, to raise awareness and deepen our understanding of the different conceptions of the term green infrastructure. This paper aims to systematically analyse and clarify the contextual, geographical and temporal origins of green infrastructure, as well as its impact on rationales, semantic content and main purposes for spatial planning. To this end, a content analysis of relevant literature has been conducted to reveal the strands which influence the current debate as well as the application of green infrastructure in planning practice. These results are used to derive key statements as a foundation for further critical reflection and conscious application of the term green infrastructure within spatial planning.
Urban greenspaces are garnering attention for their myriad ecosystems and because of the key role they play in making cities sustainable. Despite their relevance, there is no one definition for the term greenspace. Therefore, local governments conceptualize and measure greenspaces in broad and varied ways. This research applied content analysis to 31 municipal urban plans in Mexico to gain insights into the way greenspaces are conceived and evaluated. The results revealed that the legal and regulatory framework for urban greenspaces is outdated and fragmented. In addition, the authors found that of the handful of quantitative urban greenspace indicators, most of which were related to maintenance problems due to limited budgets, only a few addressed greenspace accessibility. These findings suggest that Mexico should develop a national legal framework for urban greenspaces with unified concepts, indicators, and benchmarks that can be adapted to the requirements of regional municipalities. There is a need for greater political support and awareness of the importance of greenspaces for urban sustainability.
Research on urban forests has expanded in the last 30 years in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Nonetheless, urban forestry has been explored to much less extent in the Latin America and the Caribbean region, despite being one of the most urbanized and biodiverse regions in the world. We address this gap by providing a baseline understanding of urban forest research in the region based on a systematic review of the academic literature. Of the 55,000 studies found, 195 were selected for review, and 182 were analysed and synthesized. These studies came from 13 countries and were published from 1970 to mid-2018 (inclusive) in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Almost half of the studies were based in Brazil, followed by Mexico and Chile. To comparatively assess article output by country, we accounted for country population and Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico had higher than average per capita article output. Most articles were ecological studies (64%) that used field surveys (58%) to research urban vegetation diversity. Most ecological studies did not include any social or management considerations. Only a few studies focused on spatiotemporal dynamics (12%) or the direct opinions of stakeholders (9%). We observed a notable increase in article output from the region during the last decade. The units of analysis targeted by these studies mostly focused on single trees in public areas (streets and parks). Understanding urban forests regionally could be strengthened by scaling up research across multiple units of analysis and across regional cities, which could provide a better understanding of regional spatiotemporal dynamics. To respond to current global trends and nurture regional strengths, research could also focus on a wider range of ecosystem services provided by urban forests, and the relationship of urban forests with poverty, crime, climate vulnerability, biodiversity loss, and social equity. These findings can inform key stakeholders in the region managing urban forests and trees about research trends and gaps to be filled. This article shows that the region indeed has an important body of research in urban forestry that should be recognized in global assessments.