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Management and leadership in community gardens: Two initiatives in Greater Christchurch, New Zealand : A thesis submitted to the University of Applied Life Sciences Vienna and Lincoln University in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the Degree of Master of Natural Resources Management & Ecological Engineering

Burtscher, Sonja
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::050205 Environmental Management , ANZSRC::050203 Environmental Education and Extension
Over the last century, a rapid process of urbanisation was evidenced throughout the world. This process resulted in significant land-use changes, environmental degradation, changes of lifestyles and society through increased dependency on the labour market for paid work, dependency as well as on supermarkets and processed food, social isolation and alienation from nature. As this trend continues on a global level, demand for public places for gardening, local food supply and social (re)development increases. Community gardens are examples of local approaches that carry the potential to meet multiple needs of rural as well as urban area’ dwellers in an increasingly urbanised world. This research is concerned with community gardens in urban areas as important assets to a city, in particular to Greater Christchurch, New Zealand. It traces the historical developments and shifts in urban ecology and land use change on a global, but mostly, on a local (Christchurch, New Zealand) level, the planning regulations regarding the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, and outlines their impacts on both society and the physical environment. The history of community gardens gives evidence that they have the potential to be effective local approaches for human and natural resources management, and hence can contribute to the social and environmental sustainability of urban environments. An investigation of leadership and group dynamics theories was undertaken that highlights the importance of strategic organisation of local initiatives such as community gardens. The thesis then grounds its discussion on merits of ‘effective’ leadership and management and related outcomes in a detailed study of different leadership concepts in two different community gardens in Greater Christchurch, New Zealand. The analysis of leadership and management in community gardens aims to provide understanding of interrelations between leadership performance and social, environmental, cultural, and economic ‘effectiveness’ of community gardens on a community level. Expected findings argue that leadership and management effect interrelationships on multiple levels within a local community, but also within a wider social and physical urban environment. ‘Effective’ leadership is hence essential for making community gardens relevant to urban dwellers, with the major focus of this thesis being on those people living in Greater Christchurch, New Zealand with its implications on the whole ‘western’ industrialised world. Community gardens are more than examples of agricultural alternatives to the current political and capital economy as they potentially contribute to sustainable urban development (socially and environmentally) and planning.
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