Original Paper

American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 1-14

First online:

Integrating Human and Natural Systems in Community Psychology: An Ecological Model of Stewardship Behavior

  • Christine MoskellAffiliated withDepartment of Natural Resources, Cornell University Email author 
  • , Shorna Broussard AllredAffiliated withDepartment of Natural Resources, Cornell University

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Community psychology (CP) research on the natural environment lacks a theoretical framework for analyzing the complex relationship between human systems and the natural world. We introduce other academic fields concerned with the interactions between humans and the natural environment, including environmental sociology and coupled human and natural systems. To demonstrate how the natural environment can be included within CP’s ecological framework, we propose an ecological model of urban forest stewardship action. Although ecological models of behavior in CP have previously modeled health behaviors, we argue that these frameworks are also applicable to actions that positively influence the natural environment. We chose the environmental action of urban forest stewardship because cities across the United States are planting millions of trees and increased citizen participation in urban tree planting and stewardship will be needed to sustain the benefits provided by urban trees. We used the framework of an ecological model of behavior to illustrate multiple levels of factors that may promote or hinder involvement in urban forest stewardship actions. The implications of our model for the development of multi-level ecological interventions to foster stewardship actions are discussed, as well as directions for future research to further test and refine the model.


Ecological models of behavior Urban forestry Environmental stewardship