A Relational theory of risk: a case study of the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation in Worcester, MA
The rise of globalization and global increases in temperature have prompted the spread of invasive species, which poses a major threat to the ecosystem benefits provided by urban forests. Stakeholders such as urban residents, policy-makers, and forestry industry professionals deem these risks differently because they place value on threatened goods and services at different spatial and temporal scales. This article will use the frameworks of relational risk theory and relational place-making to connect ‘risk objects’ and ‘objects at risk’ to better understand how relationships of risk shape responses to threats to the environment. The data in this study comes from Worcester, MA, where discovery of the Asian Longhorned Beetle prompted the United States Department of Agriculture to remove 35,000 trees from streets and backyards in the quarantine zone. The three different stakeholder groups that were targeted for data collection were green industry representatives, government decision makers, and residents. Green industry representatives, decision makers, and residents were interviewed while additional residents responded to a survey. The results showed that greater understanding of the different objects and places at risk removed misconceptions between different stakeholders. Understanding is increased when each stakeholder recognizes the different spatial scales of the objects at risk. This improvement of transparency can lead to better communication of the variety of risks posed by invasive species and a faster and more unified response to the threats from invasive species or other natural disasters.
Journal of Risk Research
Hersh, Joey; Martin, Deborah G.; Geron, Nicholas a.B.; and Rogan, John, "A Relational theory of risk: a case study of the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation in Worcester, MA" (2020). Geography. 332.