by R McLain, M Poe, PT Hurley, J Lecompte-Mastenbrook, MR Emery
Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 11:187-1942012
In the United States, urban forests are typically seen as providers of services (venues for recreation, ecosystem services) rather than providers of products (timber, fuel, site for livestock), but this vision is transitioning in some cities. This paper explores the case of Seattle, WA, where an alternative perception of the urban forest, as a source of both services and products, is developing. Documentation from the City of Seattle (including policies, laws, regulations, and planning documents), reviews of websites and documentation from groups involved in fruit gleaning and other kinds of harvesting, and interviews with non-profit and government representatives were the sources of information. The paper includes a history of Seattle’s urban forest and summaries of how the visions’ of different government departments intersect with and affect urban forestry. This case study finds evidence that the idea that urban forests can serve productive uses as places for gathering, gleaning, and livestock production is gaining traction in Seattle, with much of the credit for this changing perception due to fruit-gleaning organizations. The degree to which these activities are tolerated by government agencies is still limited in geographic terms and in the materials that can be collected. Negative impacts of excluding gathering as a legitimate activity are presented.