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Scholarship on the ecosystem services provided by urban forests has focused on regulating and supporting services, with a growing body of research examining provisioning and cultural ecosystem services from farms and gardens in metropolitan areas. Using the case of New York, New York, USA, we propose a method to assess the supply of potential provisioning ecosystem services from species and spaces other than those explicitly designated for food production. We analyze the abundance and spatial distribution of trees and shrubs with known uses for food, medicine, craft, and other purposes across urban greenspace types. To do so, we created a database of all woody species known to occur in New York City, joining a citywide assessment of trees and shrubs with additional data from a metropolitan flora and a guide to native plants in the city. A second database of useful, or forageable, species was created by compiling information from a New York City-focused online foraging application and ten field guides chosen for the likelihood that prospective foragers would find and consult them. The City’s street tree inventory and associated GIS shapefile provided the basis for more detailed analyses of forageable woody species in this land use type. Our results show a substantial supply of potential provisioning ecosystem services from woody species in New York City. Coupled with growing literature on actual foraging in cities worldwide, these findings suggest implications for accountings of ecosystem services from urban forests as well as policy and management initiatives to enhance social-ecological resilience.


The item available for download here is the version of record originally published in Landscape and Urban Planning, Volume 170, pp 266-275.

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This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.