A stewardship plan for the Franklin Park wilderness


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Urban woodlands are essential to the health of cities. Urban woodlands produce oxygen, absorb noise and harmful particles, and improve mental health and cognitive development (Thomas & Packham 2007). Within Boston, Massachusetts, the 85-acre urban woodland known as the Wilderness in Franklin Park is overgrown and unmanaged, lowering its potential to achieve these benefits. While the 2022 Franklin Park Action Plan identified a need for ecological restoration within the park and provided detailed recommendations, the document did not go in-depth on how to make the restoration happen (City of Boston Parks & Recreation 2022). Although many potential forms exist for ecological restoration, an approach driven by stewardship, which generates social and environmental benefits throughout the process, may be most suitable for Franklin Park. A stewardship plan is both a management tool for local municipalities and land managers and an educational process for volunteer stewards and community organizations (Wood 2019). Methods of site analysis and precedent analysis were used to inform the development of the stewardship plan for the Franklin Park Wilderness. Site analysis revealed the areas where ecological restoration is needed most. Findings from the precedent analysis provided examples of successful ecological restoration practices and stewardship plans used in other urban park woodlands. The structure of the proposed stewardship plan for the Franklin Park Wilderness was based on the “Urban Forest & Natural Areas Stewardship Planning Guide” (Green City Partnerships 2014) and includes recommendations on how stewards can be involved in various restoration efforts across a ten-year period. Ultimately the Stewardship Plan for Franklin Park provides the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department guidance on ecologically restoring the Wilderness with help from community stewards and volunteers. The results of this study contribute to a broader discussion on ecological restoration through a stewardship plan and demonstrate how other urban park woodlands can use community stewards and volunteers to support ecological restoration efforts.



Environmental stewardship, Ecological restoration, Invasive species, Urban woodland, Franklin Park, Community involvement

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Master of Landscape Architecture


Department of Landscape Architecture/Regional and Community Planning

Major Professor

Jessica Canfield