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.

Leaves of Change Issue 21: National Team Takes a Unique Approach to Urban Forest Technology and Science Delivery

loc-21-pictureToday, 54 percent of the world’s population is urban, and the United Nations projects that number will be close to 70 percent by 2050. The growing urban population will rely on their ecosystems for a wide range of environmental services and human health benefits that we are only recently beginning to understand. This has fed a growing desire to keep up with the rapidly developing science of urban ecosystems and the emergence of new data and technology for evaluating urban green space, understanding trends, and designing a healthier environment for urban residents.

The Forest Service’s National Urban Forest Technology and Science Delivery Team (NTSD) was formed in November 2013 with the goal of improving the agency’s ability to deliver state-of-the-knowledge information to city planners and natural resource practitioners, in the most rapid and accessible ways possible.

To view the full article click here.



Living around Nature Could Help You Live Longer

loc picA new research study suggests living closer to nature is good for your health. A study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that people living in greener areas have a lower risk of mortality. This is likely due to the health benefits such as improved mental health, social engagement, and physical activity that are associated with living near green areas.

Researchers used satellite data to assess the amount of green vegetation surrounding each participant’s home and compared this data to participant health data between 2000 and 2008. They found that the people living in the greenest places ( areas where there is the most vegetation within 800 feet of their homes), regardless of individual’s income, weight, or smoking status, had 12% lower rates of mortality than people living in less green areas. This relationship was strongest when the deaths were due to respiratory disease, cancer, and kidney disease.

Places with more vegetation close by are thought to be less polluted and have cleaner air, helping improve the quality of health in individuals. Also these spaces encourage outdoor exercise and social engagement, further improving physical and mental health. More research is needed to understand the exact mechanisms by which exposure to nature can improve health.

To view the full article, click here

The Greening of Schools May Be the Real Cutting Edge of Education

greening of school spic

Outside Atlanta, after returning from a class hike through the woods, an excited six-year-old grabbed his head and said, “There’s so much nature and I only have two eyes and one brain and I think it’s going to explode!”

This child attends the Chattahootchee Hills Charter School, which is a nature-based school at which students spend about a third of their time learning outdoors. In countries such as Finland these types of outdoor schools are common and as a result Finnish schools scores in math, science, and reading have consistently been at or near the top of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Despite the widespread reporting about Finland’s success, the majority of America’s have gone in the opposite direction by reducing recess, lessening field trips, lengthening the  hours sitting at desks, using more computers, and administering more tests

Green schools are growing into a strong counter trend — as even some technologists question the underlying assumptions leading us to techno-overkill. There’s growing demand for green schools. The number of nature-based preschools and schools to are on the rise, as are school gardens and nature-based play spaces in elementary and even high schools.

Evidence supporting nature-based, place-based education or experiential learning (as this approach is variously called) has been building for decades. It is also important to note that a purely natural setting isn’t required. This learning method can be used in a forest or in an urban neighborhood, especially if it’s graced with a little nature.

To see the full article by Richard Louv posted on the Children and Nature Network website, click here.

To see the CBS This Morning news piece on the Chattahoochee Hillls Charter School, click here.


2015: Year of the Nature-Rich City?

By 2050, the percentage of individuals that live in urban areas will rise to over 60 percent.  In this article, Richard Louv explores what this means in terms of human physical and mental well-being.  Louv describes an urban approach that would help connect people to nature and a new  initiative to help young people do just that.

“… a new kind of city, one that connects people to nature where they live, work, learn and play, a city that nurtures the health, learning and creativity of humans and serves as an incubator for biodiversity.”

To read the full article click here.

Louv, Richard. 2014 Dec 29. 2015:Year of the Nature Rich City?  Children & Nature Network: The New Nature Movement.

The Growing Level of Environmental Awareness


“While it is far from universal, more and more people understand that we need to sustainably manage our planet’s resources and ecosystems.

The goal is a high consumption economy that protects the planet while it enables economic security, leisure time and personal growth for people everywhere. We need to ensure that the material part of the economy reduces the one-time use of non-renewable resources and increases the use of renewable resources.”

To read the full article click here.

Cohen, Steven.  2014 Dec 29.  The Growing Level of Environmental Awareness. Huffington Post: Generation Change:

Fly-By Forestry Takes Off

LOC7“As they formulate ways to protect endangered woodlands and rehabilitate ones already lost, scientists and governments need detailed information on the structures and vulnerabilities of forests around the world. Traditional ground-based surveys lack sufficient scope, so scientists are turning to another way to take the measure of the trees: light detection and ranging, or LiDAR, remote-imaging technology.

Remote laser imaging can measure the health and density of forests, allowing scientists to observe large swaths of vital ecosystems all at once.”

To read the full article click here.

Clabby, Catherine.  2015 Jan.  Fly-By Forestry Takes Off. American Scientist Jan-Feb 2015:


The Future of the Urban South

USGS and NC State scientists project urban sprawl in the south through 2060 using urban growth simulations.  The study looked beyond population projections to focus on the type of development… that is sprawl.  The extent of the developed land has important implications for both ecology, ecosystem services, and land conservation.  The results examine areas where ecosystem fragmentation is likely, and is intended to support local and regional discussions on “tradeoffs between ecosystem health, economic growth and cultural desires”.  Read the entire article online.

Terando AJ, Costanza J, Belyea C, Dunn RR, McKerrow A, et al. (2014) The Southern Megalopolis: Using the Past to Predict the Future of Urban Sprawl in the Southeast U.S. PLoS ONE 9(7): e102261. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102261

9th Biennial ANREP Conference to be held in Sacramento

Sacramento_from_RiverwalkThe ninth biennial Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals (ANREP) conference will be held in Sacramento, California,May 18-22, 2014 . The theme of this year’s conference is Golden Opportunities: The Role of Education and Community Engagement in Sustaining Natural Resources. ANREP conferences include field tours, workshops and presentations on many different natural resource topics and allow natural resource professionals to come together for a sharing of ideas in a welcoming atmosphere.

For more information or to register for this conference,

The Future of Outdoor Recreation in the South

Southern Research Station 4952 social scientist Michael Bowker looked at the future of outdoor recreation in the south in the recently published Southern Forest Futures Project Technical Report. The research report covers the 13 southern states and examines possible futures and how they might shape southern forests.


Bowker’s research focused on projecting natural resource-based outdoor recreation out to the year 2060. The study finds that outdoor recreation of southern adults is projected to increase by 2060, with hiking to increase the most by as much as 113 percent.

For a complete list of the key findings of this report, visit: