Discover the Urban Forestry Canvas


Why an Urban Forestry Canvas?

During the course of the Uforest project, the need for more practical educational tools that help structure and plan innovative urban forestry projects emerged. The Urban Forestry (UF) Canvas was designed to fill that need. As an output of an Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance project, the UF Canvas is meant to be an educational tool for future urban forestry courses to support the standardisation of key components of urban forestry projects. Moreover, educators and students in the field may use the UF Canvas to test their knowledge on the various and specific components of UFs, propose UF initiatives/projects, and present UF case studies.

Our Methodology

The Uforest project analysed innovation in Urban Forestry via 20 case studies across Europe and over 300 UF projects submitted by the students of the Uforest Capstone course. The output of this analysis was a large database of UF projects, which gave insight into the specificity of UFs: their uniqueness, design features, communication channels, expectations and challenges, their leading policies and standards (incl. certification), and the biodiversity and habitats they provide. The analysis of these case studies revealed the need for an educational method that better structured the design of UF projects.
We then looked for existing tools available in the field of nature-based solutions, and selected the Nature-based Solutions Business Model Canvas (NbS BMC) by Connecting Nature to be benchmarked against the UF  themes found by the Uforest case studies. We decided to build a canvas specific to UFs starting from the structure provided by the NbS BMC. However, to identify the key dimensions of an UF Canvas, we followed an iterative approach to adapt the NbS BMC dimensions to the Uforest case studies.
Another guiding element was the Uforest Urban Forestry Action Plan, which gave the overall framework to follow to have UF initiatives that are multifunctional, inclusive, funded, valued, and innovative in the face of challenges. The content structure of the Uforest Massive Open Online Course was another reference for our work, ensuring that the crucial components of an UF are included in the UF Canvas.
The UF canvas drafts were tested against more case studies, followed by a round of expert revisions, and a final validation session at the Nature of Cities (TNOC) Festival. On the 15th of April 2024, Etifor hosted a virtual session entitled “Innovation in Urban Forestry: Practical Tools for Effective Solutions” at TNOC Festival, where we presented the UF canvas and explored its integration with Connecting Nature’s NbS BMC and Clearing House’s Urban Forestry Guidelines. The session also included an interactive activity, in which participants tested the UF Canvas by filling case studies and examples of UF projects/initiatives they know. The feedback received was integrated in the final canvas.

The UF Canvas Components

In the following section, the UF Canvas is presented along with a brief description of its sections. The UF canvas considers the main actors of an UF initiative or project (its partners and beneficiaries), the governance among these actors, the goals and activities of the UF, the risks and challenges the UF may face, which policies and standards are leading the UF, which resources are required for its success, what kind of costs should its planners consider, and the communication strategy that will be adopted to share it with the world.

  • Partners = The actors who make the UF initiative possible, such as the municipality, planners, NGOs, etc.
  • Beneficiaries = The actors who benefit from the UF initiative, such as the municipality, citizens, animals and insects, etc.
  • Governance = 1) The actors’ roles and their interactions in the implementation of the activities. 2) The UF initiative/project’s governance model and arrangement type, such as public-private partnerships, co-governance, etc.
  • Goals and Activities = This section is meant to consider the goals of the UF initiative/project and 3 types of activities carried out by that UF: a) the UF’s planning and design activities, b) the UF’s ecology activities, and c) the UF’s specific activities.

> UF Goal: the main objectives of the UF

> UF Planning and Design: the general planning and design activities needed for an UF, such as: evaluation of stakeholder needs, UF inventory/mapping, ecosystem service definition/valuation, etc.

> UF Ecology: the forest ecology activities needed for an UF, such as field observations, and the forest management activities needed, such as silviculture. 

> Activities Specific to the Initiative: the activities that help the UF initiative achieve its goals and reach social, environmental, and economic impacts: innovative approaches (e.g. novel forest ecosystems), community engagement, what makes the UF initiative/project unique (type of UF, its design features, etc.)

  • Risks and Challenges = The potential risks (vandalism, browsing animals, weed competition, training gaps) and challenges (ecosystem disservices, e.g. tree pollen allergies and gentrification) associated with the UF, as they’re crucial to evaluate for better UF planning (especially in terms of UF type and its activities).
  • Leading Policy and Standards = The policy and standards leading the UF and contributing to achieving its impact, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy’s Urban Greening Plans, national or regional standards for urban or peri-urban tree planting, biodiversity, etc.
  • Required Resources = The human, financial, and natural resources that will need to be available for the UF to thrive.
  • Cost Categories = It’s important to consider the main cost categories of an UF to have an idea of how much funding will be needed to bring the initiative/project to life: trees and shrubs acquisition and establishment, trees management, administrative costs, public access infrastructure, maintenance costs
  • Communication Strategy = The communication and promotion strategies the UF initiative/project will use to mobilise the community, reach potential partners, spread and co-build knowledge, such as social media channels, educational and recreational events, a podcast, a website, etc.

Next Steps

The UF canvas will be released as the final output of the Uforest project, and ready for dissemination and collaboration with other innovative and educational tools in the UF field.