Governance, institutional and economic frameworks for Urban Forests as a Nature-Based Solution in Europe

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Urban forests as nature-based solutions (UF–NbS) play a crucial role for promoting the health and well-being of urban populations. Despite increasing recognition of their importance, knowledge gaps remain regarding UF-NbS implementation, particularly with respect to their performance, their perception, and on decision-making and governance practices for their implementation and management. Grounded in a project-as-practice approach and based on sixteen UF-NbS case histories, this paper seeks to gain insights into UF-NbS project actualities by an identification of characteristic trends as a function of a projects’ scope and purpose, or challenge-orientation, respectively. A particular emphasis is on project structure and coordination, on the scope and depth of participation and stakeholder involvement, and on funding mechanisms. Identified trends reveal centrally coordinated, single-responsible public authorities as the most common project structure, but with certain feature contents, i.e., regeneration and reclamation, as being associated with more decentralised forms of governance. It is concluded that irrespective of challenge-orientation, comparatively broad participation appears to be realised within the UF-NbS framework, however, the depth of participation differs considerably. With respect to funding, a strong reliance on public capital is asserted for the UF-NbS context, however, various forms of private contributions appear reasonably common across the assessed case histories. Recommendations for policy-making and avenues of future research are identified, including the validation of identified trends, the fostering of collaboration, the dispersal of decision-making authority, the encouragement for implementing non-tokenistic modes of participation in UF-NbS governance, and the promotion of potentially under-utilised funds.

Sebastian Scheuer, Clive Davies, Dennis Roitsch, Governance, institutional and economic frameworks for Urban Forests as a Nature-Based Solution in Europe, Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 354, 2024,
120384, ISSN 0301-4797, htps://