Ian WHITEHEAD 

Institution: Institute for Landscape Architecture, RWTH – Germany

Contact: ianwcanoe@aol.com

Keywords: Citizen Participation, GI and Urban Forest Governance, Bottom up Enabling Processes, Germany and Scotland

This paper summarises research undertaken in the Aachen City Region of Germany to evaluate the extent of local bottom up initiatives relevant to the management of urban forests and GI. It seeks to understand how these projects are supported and what barriers exist to successful citizen participation.

The management and implementation of urban forestry and green infrastructure within Germany is generally undertaken through top down processes by governmental bodies acting on behalf of local citizens. Citizen participation may therefore be limited in scope to activities such as state organised tree planting or specific management activities. Mechanisms for involvement of citizens in wider decision making roles are consequently less developed and are hindered by a rigid division of governance functions.

A series of case studies were examined in detail from across Aachen City Region using GIS analysis, structured interviews, literature searches and site assessments to consider aspects of project delivery, governance and structure. The results were compared through use of a structured comparison framework, SWOT analysis, radar charts and stakeholder mapping. Key themes were identified including positive and negative learning points from each case study. A number of statutory agencies and mentoring bodies were also interviewed to determine their role in terms of providing support to groups.

Discussion is presented on the effectiveness of the selected case studies and on what needs to be done to further support participative approaches in NRW; this could include new legislative mechanisms, financial incentives, policy instruments and through third sector mentoring organisations. Comparisons are also made with Scotland, using existing case study material, where more enabling approaches to GI and urban forestry are now mainstreamed.

In summary, it is suggested how support structures in NRW might evolve to more effectively facilitate and enhance the role of bottom up community initiatives. This might include development of enhanced enabling capacity within statutory authorities, increased cross sector and partnership working, a greater role for the third sector, financial incentives, policy instruments and delivery of multifunctional outcomes.

Presentation: link