How Do Changing Landscapes Affect Human Risk to West Nile Virus?

Urbanization is transforming the South. And as forests and farms are converted to urban land uses, there are environmental consequences—reduced water quality, invasive species, and loss of habitat for native wildlife and plant species. The changes also have implications for disease vectors, such as birds and insects that can carry West Nile Virus (WNV), Lyme disease, and more recently, the Zika virus.

One group of researchers has been looking at the connection between a wide ranging but integrated group of factors in the transmission of WNV—the loss of forest cover, increases in impervious surface, reduced water quality, socioeconomics, and other factors—that may play a role in supporting the bird and mosquito populations that are key in the spread of WNV.

Graeme Lockaby, a research professor with the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University, has been studying the impacts of forest conversion on water quality for decades. In recent years, he has been working with an interdisciplinary team of researchers, including Wayne Zipperer, SRS-4952 research forester; Wayde Morse, a social scientist, and Latif Kalin, a hydrologic modeler, both with the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn; and Navideh Noori, a hydrologic modeler at the University of Georgia. The team has been looking at how urbanization affects streams, creeks, and rivers in a range of settings from rural forested areas to the inner city.

To read the full article 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.

Legal & Regulatory Issues for Green Stormwater Infrastructure

The Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN) started their series on Green Infrastructure, Climate, and Cities with a webinar on legal and regulatory issues for implementing green srromwater infrastructure (GSI).  This and all webinars in the series will be available at their website.

Key points from this presentation include:

  • green stormwater infrastructure can be encouraged/permitted with local stormwater ordinances that: use retention, infiltration and disconnect standards as opposed to detention and treatment to meet water quality
  • most barriers locally are related to building codes, zoning, street design, parking and setback standards
  • incentives can help and include: expedited reviews, zoning bonuses, and cost savings for reductions in engineered practices and reduction of stormwater utility fees

Visit the Consortium for Climate Risk website and listen to the entire presentation that uses the City of Philadelphia and other cities/counties as case study examples.


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

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.

To read the full article visit:

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

Module-5-smallThe Changing Roles Professional Development Program provides state and federal natural resource agencies and partner organizations with a set of flexible resources to conduct their own training programs, aimed toward building skills and tools to successfully tackle WUI issues. Materials include trainer’s guides, exercises, fact sheets, case studies, DVDs, and presentations. The original four module topics include: (1) Wildland-Urban Interface Issues and Connections; (2) Managing Interface Forests; (3) Land-Use Planning and Policy; (4) Communicating with Interface Residents and Leaders.
We recently added a fifth module that addresses a range of emerging issues in the wildland-urban interface and strategies for addressing them, including topics such as climate change, firewood movement, interface entrepreneurs, succession planning, ecosystem services, environmental justice, partnerships, and the benefits of outdoor activity for children.  A few of the materials in this module are still in development, so check back later for more. To view these new module materials click here.

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:

2013 Urban Forestry Institute – Registration Deadline Extended Until April 26

Over 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban or urbanizing areas.  Change in land cover from agriculture and forest land to developed land increases the amount of impervious surfaces, loss of forest cover, stormwater runoff, and pollution levels for both air and water.  Urbanization in the United States is projected to continue to increase in the near future.  The Urban Forestry Institute (UFI) will provide the most up-to-date tools and techniques to address these issues related to urbanization and improve the planning, management of our built environments.

The UFI is a weeklong, intensive training workshop that will take place in Nashville, TN, May 6 – 10, 2013.  The workshop is designed to provide state agency foresters, municipal planners, and other related professionals working in natural resources with in-depth, current urban and interface natural resource management education and training.  This training will enable these professionals to better assist municipalities in planning to lessen the effects of changing land use and urbanization on the environment.  The Institute will include formal presentations and case studies from some of the leading researchers and practitioners in the urban forestry/urban planning field.  Focusing on urban forest adaptive management, planning, and technology, the workshop will walk participants through the urban natural resources planning process and provide abundant hands-on management plan writing exercises.

Target audience:  This institute is geared toward state agency foresters who provide technical assistance regarding urban forestry to local communities, allied professionals (i.e. horticulturists, landscape architects, municipal arborists, etc.), and community planners who have an interest in learning how to effectively plan and manage their city’s natural resources.

Location:  Holiday Inn Express Downtown, 920 Broadway, Nashville, TN; A limited block of rooms will be available for the Urban Forestry Institute for $107 per night from Sunday to Thursday night of that week.  The hotel offers a complimentary, full breakfast every morning.

Registration:  The registration fee is $275 per person. This fee will cover all training materials, lunches and breaks. You may register on-line at: Please register by April 26, 2013.

Continuing education credits:  Society of American Foresters – 32.5 Cat. 1 – CF; International Society of Arboriculture – applied for

For more information about the Urban Forestry Institute, visit the Trees Virginia website at


2013 Changing Roles Leadership Award Nomination

The Southern Wildland-Urban Interface Council (SWUIC) is pleased to invite nominations for the third annual Changing Roles Leadership Award.  The Changing Roles Professional Development Program helps resource professionals learn and apply knowledge and skills to meet evolving needs in the complex context of the wildland-urban interface.  As the landscape and our clientele change in urbanizing areas, so does the role of natural resource management agencies.  The Changing Roles Leadership Award recognizes and honors a person embracing this change and demonstrating leadership in the Changing Roles Program ideals.  Please consider nominating individuals who are making significant contributions to the following:

·      Interface forest management (ie. small parcels)

·      Land-use decision making processes

·      Effective communication with interface residents and community leaders

·      Emerging resource management issues in the interface such as ecosystem services, succession planning, climate change, or environmental justice.

This award will be presented by the SWUIC at the Southern Group of State Foresters meeting in Savannah, Georgia. Click Nomination Form Changing Roles Leadership Award 2013 to nominate for the 2013 Changing Roles Leadership Award. The deadline to turn in the nomination forms is March 8, 2013. Please contact InterfaceSouth with any questions or nominations for this important award.

Annie Hermansen-Baez

USDA Forest Service

PO Box 110806

Gainesville, FL 32611

Phone: (352) 376-3271

Fax: (352) 376-4536