By Michele Romolini, J. Morgan Grove, and Dexter H. Locke
Baltimore, MD (2013) – Implementation of urban sustainability policies often requires collaborations between organizations across sectors. Indeed, it is commonly agreed that governance by environmental networks is preferred to individual organizations acting alone. Yet research shows that network structures vary widely, and that these variations can impact network effectiveness. However, large scale studies of environmental network structure and outcomes are rare.
Little research exists that evaluates whether local environmental conditions impact network structure, and whether the structure, or even the existence of a network has measurable impact on local conditions. These research gaps may be partially attributed to methodological challenges in studying networks across geographic space.
This study addresses these challenges and examines the question, “what are the relationships among environmental conditions and environmental stewardship networks in Baltimore and Seattle, and how do these two cities compare?” We surveyed environmental stewardship organizations in each city to collect data about organizational relationships and locations of stewardship activities. Social network and spatial regression analyses were applied to these data to explore relationships among variations in neighborhood land cover and network measures.
Land cover was not found to be a strong predictor of organizational presence or network structure in either city. However, both the number of organizations and the number of ties between them correlated significantly with the percentage of tree canopy in Baltimore neighborhoods. Seattle had similar trends, but the relationship appeared weaker. Findings contribute to the nascent field of urban environmental stewardship, and thus results are discussed in relation to their ability to inform future research.