Our team is currently working on the following interdisciplinary research themes and projects:

Green Gentrification


Green gentrification and equitable urban forest governance in Metro Vancouver and Greater Toronto

Researchers:  Lorien Nesbitt, Daniel Sax, Jessica Quinton, Cecil Konijnendijk, Leila Harris, James Connelly

Project Description: Green (ecological, or environmental) gentrification can occur when improvements to urban green space trigger a flow of wealth into an area, increasing the cost of living and forcing vulnerable residents to relocate. This impact can also manifest as a sense of exclusion among residents, if green spaces change without local guidance. In order to prevent green gentrification and the worsening of urban green inequities, it is essential that urban foresters become cognizant of the role urban forest management can play in the perpetuation of these sociospatial disparities. To date, there is a dearth of research in this nascent field of study exploring the intersections between urban forestry and green gentrification. In this project, we seek to explore how considerations of green gentrification might contribute to more equitable urban forest governance via case studies of Metro Vancouver, BC, and the Greater Toronto Area, ON. In doing so, we build on our previous work developing a framework for urban forest governance rooted in recognitional equity.

Project Funding:  SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2020-2023)

Partners: Metro Vancouver, City of Surrey, Toronto Region Conservation Authority

Principal Investigator:  Lorien Nesbitt

Green Gentrification in Canadian Cities

Researcher:  Jessica Quinton

Project Description: This project uses multiple methods to examine the link between urban greening initiatives and their potential impact on gentrification in Canadian cities. The project uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to define what green gentrification entails, determine if green gentrification is occuring in Canada, and if so, where and how. Also central to this research is understanding how green gentrification occurs across space and time.

Project Funding: Jessica's work is supported by funding from the SSHRC Doctoral Canada Graduate Scholarship (2020-2023), UBC 4-Year Fellowship (2023-2024) and UBC Forestry Strategic Recruitment Fellowship (2020-2024)

Principal Investigator:  Lorien Nesbitt

Equitable Urban Forest Governance, Planning and Co-Production


An Exploration of Equitable Urban Forest Governance

Researcher:  Kaitlyn Pike

Project Description: This project aims to understand how urban greening can proceed in an equitable way that meets the needs of affected communities. It creates a framework for equitable urban forest governance and uses this framework to assess (in)equitable governance in 4 North American cities. It then examines links between equitable governance and equitable outcomes, via analyses of distributional green equity and community perceptions of urban forests.

Project Funding: Kaitlyn's work is supported by a UBC 4-year Fellowship (2020-2024) and a scholarship from the NSERC CREATE UFor program (2021-2024, UQO).

Principal Investigator:  Lorien Nesbitt

Radical Co-Production for Just Urban Greening

Researcher:  Daniel Sax

Project Description: Drawing on the concepts and practices of futurity, radical planning, and action research, this project seeks to understand how to conceptualize and action co-productive urban greening. It brings together theory and action to articulate theoretical approaches to holistic, environmentally just urban greening and creates a practical toolkit to support communities in equitable urban greening.

Project Funding: Daniel's work is supported by a UBC 4-year Fellowship (2021-2025)

Partner: Ciudad Emergente

Principal Investigator:  Lorien Nesbitt

Green Spaces for Diversity: A Perspective on Individual Behaviour, Values, and Well-being

Researcher:  Johanna Bock

Project Description: This project aims to understand the pathways linking contact with urban nature and psychological well-being, behaviours that facilitate urban nature contact, and the values that influence human-nature relationships and associated health outcomes. Focusing on diverse human populations and diverse types of urban nature (including virtual nature), this research creates a framework with which to understand the psychological benefits of urban nature contact, the daily behaviours that bring us into contact with urban nature in its many forms, and the values that underpin nature-oriented behaviours and the benefits we derive from nature. This research can inform the planning and management of urban natural spaces as well as policies to enhance accessible contact with nature.

Project Funding: Johanna's work is supported by a scholarship from the NSERC CREATE UFor Program (2021-2024, UQO) and by Mitacs Accelerate with Rogers Canada Inc.

Partner: Rogers Canada Inc.

Principal Investigator:  Lorien Nesbitt

Urban Forest Technologies for Sustainable Cities


Smart Nature-based Solutions for Smart, Sustainable Cities

Researchers: Lorien Nesbitt, Angela Rout, Sophie Nitoslawski, Johanna Bock, Ibrahim El-Chami, Susan Day, Edmond Cretu

Project Description: The project explores the use of smart and digital technologies to support urban forest health and create sustainable, equitable cities. As cities densify and climate change increasingly stresses our social-ecological systems, cities can leverage technological tools to understand these systems and build resilience. We are combining mobile data with drone data and ground- and tree-based sensors to understand how trees, people and their environment respond to each other and to climatic conditions. We are also creating open dataset and tools that communities and practitioners can use to better plan and manage their urban forests.

Project Funding: Sophie's work is supported by funding from Mitacs Accelerate with Rogers Canada Inc. Angela's work is supported by Mitacs Elevate with Rogers Canada Inc., and Johanna's work is supported by Mitacs Accelerate with Rogers Canada Inc. and a scholarship from the NSERC CREATE Ufor program (2021-2024, UQO). Work on the project is also supported by Rogers Canada Inc., Mitacs, and UBC's Campus as a Living Lab initiative.

Partners: Rogers Canada Inc., Metro Vancouver, SafeGraph

Principal Investigator:  Lorien Nesbitt

Smarter, greener, denser? Linking social, ecological, and technological systems for urban forest management

Researcher:  Sophie Nitoslawski

Project Description: Data-driven planning is on the rise as cities enter an unprecedented age of “urban computing”, where data and connected technologies shed new light on urban dynamics and are increasingly called upon to inform high-level decisions and solve complex problems. This project explores urban forest management implications for smarter and denser cities.

Project Funding: Sophie's work is supported by funding from the NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship (2019-2022), UBC Green College, and Mitacs Accelerate with Rogers Canada Inc.

Principal Investigators:  Lorien Nesbitt, Cecil Konijnendijk

Urban Forests for Climate Resilience


Greening for Cooler Cities

Researchers:  Zhaohua (Cindy) Cheng

Project Description: This project aims to understand how urban forests can improve climate change planning and action, particularly by helping to cool neighbourhoods as cities densify and extreme temperatures become more common. This research examines how urban forestry, urban planning, and climate change adaptation policies align or compete, both in the policy arena and in their implementation. It also analyzes a series of what-if scenarios to understand how tree species selection and urban greening strategies can help cool neigbourhoods as they densify.

Project Funding: Cindy's work is supported by funding from the SSHRC Doctoral Canada Graduate Scholarship (2020-2022) and by a SSHRC Insight Grant (PI: Cynthia Girling, UBC SALA).

Principal Investigators:  Lorien Nesbitt, Stephen Sheppard

Coping with Heat: Community Perceptions and Experiences of Urban Forests in Metro Vancouver, Canada

Researcher:  Kit Wong-Stevens

Project Description: This project aims to understand the how vulnerable urban residents in Metro Vancouver experience extreme heat and how they use urban forests to cope with these experiences. It also examines if and how urban residents' climate change adaptation and urban forestry needs are integrated into policy documents.

Project Funding: Kit's work is supported by a scholarship from the NSERC CREATE Ufor program (2021-2022, UQO).

Principal Investigator:  Lorien Nesbitt

Building Greener and Resilient Cities: A Social-ecological Approach

Researcher:  Tahia Devisscher

Project Description: This project studies the role of urban forests to increase social-ecological resilience in and around cities. The first phase of the project assesses the way in which urban forests and the services they provide are affected by different landscape configurations and climate risks. The second phase evaluates the way in which citizens perceive, value and interact with different urban forests along an urban-rural gradient. Synergies and tradeoffs between ecosystem services are identified, as well as perceived risks and benefits that can inform urban forest management strategies for more resilient cities.

Project Funding: Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship

Partners: City of Maple Ridge, Metro Vancouver

Principal Investigator:  Cecil Konijnendijk

The Role of Public Green Spaces in Meeting Urban Forestry Canopy Objectives in Canada

Researcher:  Leila Todd

Project Description: This research examines the interactions between municipal park planning and design, and urban forestry/canopy policy in Canada. The research explores emerging trends in park planning and design in Canada to understand if and how urban forest canopy targets are included in policy and implemented on the ground.

Project Funding: UBC 4-Year Fellowship

Principal Investigators:  Cecil Konijnendijk, Lorien Nesbitt

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