Cecil Konijnendijk

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not looking for graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows. Please do not contact the faculty member with any such requests.


Research Classification

Design and Planning of Space
Landscape and Environmental Organization
Urban and Rural Planning Policies

Research Interests

urban forestry
green infrastructure planning
green space governance
urban ecosystem services
people-nature relationships

Relevant Degree Programs


Research Methodology

policy analysis
Qualitative research methods
Mixed methods

Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
Finding urban trees for a changing world (2019)

The well informed selection of street tree species is crucial to improve the diversity and functionality of urban forests, with the potential to provide lasting environmental and socio-cultural benefits. This multi-method project aims to characterize the complexity of the tree species selection process: which selection criteria do street tree planting professionals value, and which tree species do professionals associate with valued characteristics? Furthermore, what barriers and knowledge gaps inhibit the improvement of tree species selection to accomplish urban forestry goals of increased diversity and function? Using an extensive online survey of the USA and Canada as well as a case study of interviews in Philadelphia, we found that: • A tree’s tolerance of urban stressors is more important than other major selection criteria. • Though ecosystem services are rated as important, professionals often lack the information necessary to apply these concepts to tangible tree selection decisions. • There are inherent trade-offs between many selection criteria, leading to planting choice compromises. • Professionals disagree on the qualities and planting suitability of many tree species. • The palette of tree species encouraged by professionals varies across climate regions. • Of the professional fields surveyed, urban foresters encourage planting the most diverse palette of trees, and landscape architects have the most diverse palette of trees that they discourage planting. Tree recommendations from the fields of urban forestry and arboriculture are the most similar. • A higher percentage of trees encouraged by public horticulture professionals are “rare” in the urban forest; collaborations with this professional field may have the potential to evaluate and expand the palette of street tree species. • There are high level barriers to implementing ideal selection criteria, including issues of budget, nursery supply, site conditions, lack of inventory data, public perception, and the lack of accessible and functional information on the characteristics of tree species.Expanding the palette of available street trees and increasing the availability and transfer of information on the characteristics of particular trees is a crucial step to increase biodiversity and the provisioning of ecosystem services in the face of urbanization and climate change.

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Governing for success in urban forestry: a Canadian perspective (2019)

Strategic decision-making in urban forestry is a recent and emerging body of research. This study explores, reviews, and assesses the current state and focus of research on urban forest governance in North America through a literature review. Quantitative data such as publication date, publishing journal, geographical scale of research area, etc. were assessed, and an analysis of key governance dimensions in the literature using the Policy Arrangement Approach (PAA) (Arts, Leroy, & van Tatenhove, 2006) was performed. The four dimensions of the PAA, the actors involved and their level of involvement, the resources they possess, the rules of the game that are being followed and the discourse the governance system is addressing, were recorded. Moreover, the review had a particular interest in the attention given by research to ‘success factors’ impacting urban forest governance and its outcomes.An initial list of success factor identified in the literature review was subsequently extended to a list of 43 factors. Using a Delphi approach, a panel of urban forest decision makers from four typical Canadian municipalities rated the importance of each success factor to Canadian urban forestry, resulting in a ranked list of key success factors. The study also explored how practitioners might implement and evaluate the factors they rated as most important, as well as which factors they would prioritize with the limited resources of a new or re-developed urban forestry program. Results show that research of North American urban forest governance is still in its infancy and mostly addresses single, specific case studies, often in a more descriptive manner. Very few studies address the success of different governance approaches. Participants valued a range of success factors found in the selected literature, and indicated that the current body of literature does not cover all factors that are important to successful governance. Participants ranked ‘Financial resources’, ‘Data-driven decision-making’, ‘Goals, objectives and targets’, ‘Vision’ and ‘Law/policy’ as the most important factors of successful governance. Study findings can inform future research on understanding and building successful urban forest governance and wider environmental governance structures in Canada and elsewhere.

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Assessment of ecosystem services and perceived benefits of street trees: a case study of Coyoacan, Mexico City (2018)

Mexico City, one of the biggest and most polluted cities in the world, is facing a gradual disappearance of its green areas, especially the loss of street trees. In the current situation, street trees are subject to constant removal, poor management and vandalism, and few studies have been done about their role and effectiveness in air pollution removal and carbon sequestration. For this study, the ecosystem services of street trees were quantified using the software i-Tree Eco along with a social survey of how people perceived them. The study site is Coyoacan, one of the greenest districts in Mexico City, comprised of 95 neighbourhoods, of which 12 were sampled. A random stratified sample was carried out to estimate the number of street trees in Coyoacan and the number of street units (blocks) to be sampled in each of the 12 neighbourhoods, in order to reach a sample size of 500 trees. The surveys were performed following a pass-by method. In general street trees provide important quantities of ecosystem services at the district level; but the predominance of small trees produces lower ecosystem service values compared to other cities with similar populations. The situation can be improved if the survival and healthy growth of those small trees can be guaranteed through better management practices. At the neighbourhood level we encountered an uneven distribution in the number of street trees and in the proportion of large trees over small trees, affecting the quantity of ecosystem services which a neighbourhood receives. These findings suggest that to increase the provision of ecosystem services at a city or district level, resources should be directed at a local level, looking to provide equality in the distribution of ecosystem services among neighbourhoods rather than allocating resources through random tree plantations across the city. Finally, people show high appreciation for trees and knowledge about a wide range of benefits, suggesting a tree caring culture that can be strengthened through social involvement programs for the care and management of street trees.

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