Portland State University. Department of Geography
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography
environmental justice, participatory mapping, tree equity, trees, urban forestry
1 online resource (x, 114 pages)
Studies have shown that marginalized communities do not have the same access as more privileged groups to urban tree canopy cover due to historic and current processes of discrimination and disinvestment. This study explores the lived experiences, narratives, and values related to trees and greenspaces for residents of Portland, OR, through participatory mapping focus groups. It uses an environmental justice and urban political ecology framework to examine how values, lived experiences, and narratives compare for Portland residents across neighborhoods, socio-economic status, and racial or ethnic identity and how the changes that matter to residents can inform more just urban greening practices. Both mapping and qualitative data results showed that participants mostly valued trees in similar ways, but with some differences that were specific to racial and ethnic groups. Participants also had different lived experiences of tree canopy, based on whether they lived in a wealthier and more densely treed part of Portland, or in a low-income area with fewer trees. Memory and knowledge of Portland’s history played a significant role in shaping narratives about tree inequity, informing how recognition justice can be achieved by incorporating historic injustices and community memories into restoration practices that rectify past injustices in urban environments. Narratives about tree planting intersected with other concerns such as transportation safety, housing, and development, while tree maintenance narratives illustrated limited to no maintenance responsibility from the city and concerns about the inequitable burden of maintenance, indicating that procedural and restorative justice practices are needed. These values, lived experiences, and narratives, both different and shared, demonstrate that future policy needs to prioritize recognition and restorative justice practices in tree planting and other urban greening projects.
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Gregory, Katharine Vezin, "Participatory Mapping of Tree Equity, Preferences, and Environmental Justice in Portland, OR" (2023). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6446.