Climate change impacts and urban green space adaptation efforts: Evidence from U.S. municipal parks and recreation departments

Yuan (Daniel) Cheng, James R. Farmer, Stephanie L. Dickinson, Scott M. Robeson, Burnell C. Fischer, Heather L. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Municipal parks and recreation departments (PRDs) have a crucial responsibility for stewarding urban and peri-urban ecology given they manage the majority of urban green spaces. However, the extent of climate adaptation planning and management activities by such agencies at the national level is unknown. This study aimed to fill this gap by conducting a national survey of the directors of PRDs (n = 413) to understand the progress and drivers of climate change adaptation efforts for urban green spaces. Overall, we found that while measured impacts of climate change were positively correlated with PRDs' climate-change adaptation plans and actions, most PRDs perceived few impacts of climate change on urban green spaces. We also found that levels of adaptation varied across ecoregions, with direct experiences with climate change impacts being a primary contributor to action. These findings indicate that U.S. municipal PRDs are unprepared for the changing climate and are unlikely to initiate urban green space adaptation planning and action until substantial climate change impacts are experienced firsthand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100962
JournalUrban Climate
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Responding Agencies; Sage Danch and Kevin Naaman for assistance with data collection; Leisure Research Institute & School of Public Health- Bloomington for funding; Oghenekaro Omodior, Steve Wolter, Alan Ewert, Steve Cotter, and Paula McDevitt for commenting on the instrument; Patty Lezotte for editing; and Melissa Page for compiling the contact information of all 1,498 U.S. park and recreation departments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Adaptation
  • Climate change impacts
  • Municipal parks and recreation departments
  • Urban green spaces


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