Leadership in Urban and Community Forestry (ft. Cecil Konijnendijk van den Bosch)

By Lillie Sewell

Episode 5: Leadership in Urban and Community Forestry (ft. Cecil Konijnendijk van den Bosch) 

What an exciting episode of Shake the Tree podcast! Christine and I were hype to welcome our very first guest, Dr. Cecil Konijnendijk van den Bosch (for the non-native Swedish speakers; his name is pronounced Seh-sill ko-nine-en-dike van den bosh). We talked about all things leadership in urban forestry and what traits leaders need to effectively grow sustainable and equitable urban forests around the world.  

Cecil celebrated exemplary women killing it in urban forestry during our Throwing Shade segment- from Dr. Adrina Bardekjian from Dr. Lorien Nesbitt and even Christine and me! There are so many excellent people examining the profession and how well we are reflecting the priorities and needs of our most marginalized urban residents. Leadership is going to take us all changing the field to boost voices that have traditionally been relegated to the fringes of our field.  

We Got to the Root of it in an in-depth interview with Cecil about what it takes to be a leader in urban forestry. He noted, “Leaders… are part of the process of delivering positive change in an organization or community.” Action, action, we want action! That’s the sentiment we returned to throughout the conversation. Leadership requires action, accountability, compassion, and more. Christine reflected on how much she’s learned on how trauma affects us in the work we do, and how she tries to equip leaders in the field with critical reflection skills so that we can bring our authentic selves to our work.  

Having worked with students from 50+ countries and advised governments in 30+ countries, Cecil marks his success by how he’s been able to uplift everyone around him. “I see people for the people they are, and know that I’m not better than anybody else,” he shared. “I try to be very open with people. Vulnerability and empathy are really important for leaders, they don’t always come naturally to people, but it’s worth learning because you can meet people halfway and give a lot back in terms of your interactions.” 

Cecil works anywhere in the world, as long as he’s not drawn into any political agendas. He  worked in academia for much of his career, Cecil has been part of cross-sector efforts to create better urban forests with local governments and nonprofits around the world. His leadership ethos revolves around meeting people where they are, and helping them to achieve their goals for shaping urban forests. We think Cecil is an awesome example of a world-class servant leader; you can follow his work at the Nature Based Solutions Institute and @AnUrbanForester on Twitter. 

Email us your thoughts on leadership at ShakeTheTreePodcast@gmail.com.