The Main Drive Behind Forest Fires

forest-fireTemperatures are rising and forest fires, already larger and more frequent than the historical norm, are projected to increase dramatically with anthropogenic warming.

That’s the general consensus among scientists studying the relationship between fire activity and climate change in the Sierra Nevada. But a study released last week found an influence on past fire activity even greater than climate: human beings.

Since 1600, the way humans have used land in the Sierra has had more effect on fire behavior than climate change, said Valerie Trouet, associate professor of dendrochronology at the University of Arizona and lead coauthor of the study, published November 14 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

To read more, click here.

Celebrating Every Kid in a Park

every-kipAs part of President Obama’s historic commitment to protecting our natural treasures and ensuring all Americans have the opportunity to experience our great outdoors, the Every Kid in a Park initiative gives fourth graders and their families free access to all of America’s public lands and waters for a full year. Now in the program’s second year, Every Kid in a Park is connecting hundreds of thousands of youth across the country to the great outdoors. 

Building on this work, today, we are thrilled to announce an inter-agency commitment to continue the program for the next five years and a new virtual reality video featuring the First Lady and Modern Family’s Nolan Gould. 

To read more, Click here.

Explore Urban Tree Diversity in Australia

Diversity in canopy structure
Diversity in canopy structure

The organizing committee for the 2nd International Conference on Urban Tree Diversity (Melbourne, Australia; February 22-24, 2106) has announced an extended call for 40 additional speaking opportunities.

The conference will explore all aspects of urban tree diversity… family, genus, species, location, perspective, and management.  Conference partners include: City of Melbourne, Arboriculture Australia, International Society for Arboriculture, University of Melbourne, and the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub.

The five plenary speakers include: Susan Day (Virginia Tech, US), Diane Pataki (University of Utah, US), Cecil Konijnendijk (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden), C Y Jim (Hong Kong University, China), Anne Jaluzot (Tree Design Action Group, UK)

Abstract submissions for oral presentations are being accepted until 23 October 2015.  Abstracts on all aspects of the benefits that trees provide in the urban landscape are welcome.

Visit for additional conference information and for abstract submission.

Urban Ecology Research Project Could Benefit Birds

urbanecologi[2Florida International University (FIU) is participating in a bird-window collision study that spans Central Mexico to Alaska. According to FIU professor John Whitney, best estimates indicate between 300 million and one billion birds in North America die each year as a result of collisions with building windows. Students are collecting data on bird mortality associated with these collisions, providing species names and the cardinal direction of the fatal impacts. This information will help scientists understand the risk factors for these collisions with the intent to reduce mortality by creating bird-friendly design options for new buildings and treatments for existing ones.

Research that explores the impacts of urbanization on wildlife continues to shape how the needs of humans may be balanced with the needs of other species. These studies lead scientists to continue to address the question of how humans and nature can coexist more successfully.

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Leaves of Change Issue 17: Perceptions and Attitudes Toward Climate Change in the Southeast

In this issue of Leaves of Change you will learn about a recent SRS-4952 research project published in the book, International Perspectives on Climate Change,  that focused on how people’s views of climate change are influenced by factors such as political and religious affiliation, race and ethnicity, economic status, environmental context, media exposure, and sense of community and place. The project broke from the broad-scale surveys that dominate most descriptions of attitudes towards climate change by using qualitative methods, interviews and focus groups, to explore the beliefs of specific communities in detail.

You will also learn about the Proctor Creek Watershed Urban Waters Project and Camp Kids in the Woods.

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Double Jeopardy: Mapping Social Vulnerability and Climate Change in Georgia

In this issue of our Leaves of Change newsletter you will learn about a recent study in Georgia that addressed two key questions: Will the physical effects of climate change be more apparent in some areas? Will certain populations and communities be affected more than others? You will also learn about the Centers’ recent training and outreach activities, recommended resources, and upcoming events related to urban and interface forestry.

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Partnership Spurs Diversity Outreach Projects in Texas

YEARS AGO, John Warner, an urban district forester with the Texas A&M Forest Service and a longtime InterfaceSouth partner, recognized that landownership patterns in the southeastern part of the state around Houston were changing rapidly. Latino, Chinese, and Vietnamese families from Houston were moving to the interface and buying 5–20 acre tracts of forestland within his rapidly growing multi-county district. He realized that the agency was going to have to change its communication approach to reach many of these new forest landowners. “As an agency, we know how to communicate with traditional landowners,” says Warner. “However, outreach to different ethnic groups is something new for us.”

In 2007, an opportunity to reach these new landowners presented itself when Warner met Tamberly Conway, a graduate student in the College of Forestry and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University. Conway was working with Latino Legacy, a program established by the university and funded by the USDA Forest Service’s [USFS] More Kids in the Woods program to connect Latino communities with the public lands and forestlands in the Houston area through bilingual conservation education programming. (Conway has since been hired by the USFS as a conservation education specialist working remotely in Texas for the USFS’s office in Washington, D.C.).

 To view the full article and learn more about recent activities of the Centers for Urban and Interface Forestry, visit our latest issue of Leaves of Change at:

New Changing Roles Materials Available

The Changing Roles Professional Development program provides natural resource agencies and other organizations with a set of flexible resources for building the knowledge and tools required to address wildland-urban interface issues. Our newest module addresses emerging issues, such as climate change, ecosystem services, environmental justice, interface entrepreneurs, and succession planning. This new module includes fact sheets, exercises, Powerpoint presentations, and case studies. Additional fact sheets and exercises will be added in the future. To view this module visit: