Increasingly, public land managers face decisions about using fruit-bearing plants (including fruiting trees, shrubs, and vines) on public lands. While public trees provide many positive ecological, economic, and community health benefits, fruit-bearing perennial plants provide similar benefits and more. Expanded benefits include enhanced pollinator habitat, increased food access, unique educational opportunities, and ways for residents to interact more deeply with public vegetation. Despite the many potential positive influences of fruit-bearing perennial plants, their use and incorporation into public spaces vary among cities, resulting in an uneven and often inequitable distribution of public services. This study aims to better understand public land managers’ decision-making processes by exploring what factors are considered when deciding to plant, or not plant, fruit-bearing perennial vegetation. Specifically, interviewees (n = 12) described what they perceive as the most significant benefits and barriers to establishing fruit-bearing plants in public spaces. Respondents reported using fruit-bearing plants to augment species diversity, community engagement, wildlife habitat, and public education. Barriers cited included limited time and financial resources to manage fruit-bearing plants, lack of specialized training, fears associated with liability, limited public awareness, and competing urban forestry goals. This study contributes to the literature on public land manager decision-making which has not previously focused specifically on fruit-bearing plants. The findings inform vegetation decision-making and urban natural resource planning by outlining key risks and rewards of adopting fruit-bearing plants.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. June 2021. Major: Natural Resources Science and Management. Advisor: Kristen Nelson. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 49 pages.
Land Manager Decision-Making Practices When Establishing Public Fruit-Bearing Plants In Hennepin County Municipalities, Minnesota.
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