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Recent years have seen a growing body of research on urban forest governance. However, there has been limited empirical research on potential factors that contribute to the success of governance arrangements, models, and actions. The present study investigates which success factors are considered the most important (and are most prioritised) by urban forestry experts in Canada. It also explores in what ways practitioners would like to see governance success factors evaluated. Starting from a list of 39 success factors identified through a comprehensive review of urban forest governance in North America, a Delphi approach was used to achieve agreement between participating experts. Thirty-two urban forestry experts involved in urban forest governance in four selected Canadian municipalities were asked to participate. Out of these, 19 participated in the study. Experts saw ‘financial resources’ as the most important success factor, followed by ‘data-driven decision making’ and ‘goals, objectives, and targets’. When asked which factors they would prioritize when (re)developing urban forestry programs, the experts agreed on the same factors. Suggestions on methods and indicators assessing success factors included, for example, tracking resources allocation and expenditures and having multiyear funding (for ‘financial resources’) and using an inventory of public and/or private lands, streets, parks, etc., and using i-Tree or other similar analytical GIS and other software (for ‘data-driven decision making’). Finally, among the biggest governance challenges they had faced participants listed four main themes: 1) funding for various stages of planning and implementation; 2) gaining support from others including other departments, the community at large, and non-governmental organizations; 3) the pressures of development in urban and greenfield areas; and 4) establishing laws and policy. Study findings can be used to inform urban forest governance in North America and other parts of the world.
Delphi studySuccess factorsUrban forestryUrban forestry professionals