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Feedback enhances greening during disaster recovery: A model of social and ecological processes in neighborhood scale investment

Tidball, Keith G., Aktipis, Athena
Urban forestry & urban greening 2018 v.34 pp. 269-280
disaster recovery, disasters, economic recovery, flowers, households, hurricanes, models, planting, trees
In disaster recovery situations, including the post-Katrina recovery in New Orleans, greening behavior (i.e., the planting of trees, flowers and other plants) is thought to play an important role in social, ecological and economic recovery. In this paper, we use agent-based modeling to investigate and understand the roles of green attachment (which encompasses place attachment and biophilia), engagement in local ecological investment (i.e., greening), and social feedback (where individuals who observe greening become more likely to engage in it). We model this social-ecological feedback process, basing our parameters and assumptions on real-world data and grounding our model in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. We find that social-ecological feedback enhances greening overall and leads to larger spatially continuous regions with high rates of greening. We also find that social-ecological feedback leads to tipping points in neighborhood greening, with approximately 30% of households needing to engage in greening for it to reach asymptotically high levels. In addition, when green attachment is high, this leads to more widespread greening behavior. We conclude that social-ecological feedback processes such as those modeled here may play important roles in neighborhood recovery after disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.