The long-term prospects of citizens managing urban green space: From place making to place-keeping?

T. J. M. Mattijssen*, A. P. N. van der Jagt, A. E. Buijs, B. H. M. Elands, S. Erlwein, R. Lafortezza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


This paper discusses the long-term management or ‘place-keeping’ of urban green space by citizens and highlights enabling and constraining factors that play a crucial role in this continuity. While authorities have historically been in charge of managing public green spaces, there is an increased involvement of citizens in green space management. It is therefore relevant to study how citizens can contribute towards place-keeping and realize a continuity in managing and conserving the qualities of urban green spaces. We contribute to these debates by looking at three European cases characterized by long-term involvement of citizens in place-keeping. We conducted document analysis and interviewing of key informants to study green space management over time. Our analysis highlights what factors have contributed towards the continuity of this management, but also shows challenges and difficulties which citizens have experienced. Based on our fieldwork, we identify three factors of particular relevance for the continuity of place-keeping involving citizens. We found that long-term continuity is supported by a degree of formalization: established rules and procedures within groups provide stability to citizens. We also highlight the importance of adaptive capacity: citizens need to be able to adapt to contextual changes in order to cope with external political, socio-economic and cultural developments over time. The supporting role of authorities was also key in legitimizing and supporting place-keeping by citizens. Authorities can support place-keeping by citizens by providing security via stable policies, formally protecting the involved spaces, allowing long-term management contracts and contributing resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-84
Number of pages7
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Active citizenship
  • Adaptive capacity
  • Green space management
  • Place-keeping
  • Self-governance
  • Urban green space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The long-term prospects of citizens managing urban green space: From place making to place-keeping?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this