Southern Roots in New York

Urban-rural connections are quite important for land and forest management in the South. From the early 1900s to about 1970, many African Americans migrated from southern farms to industrializing northern cities, and since then many have returned to their homelands. As a USDA Forest Service researcher, I’ve studied African American forest landownership since 1999. I…  More 

Invasive Plants Follow Land Abandonment after Hurricane Katrina

The lot is overgrown, crowded with unruly shrubs, vines, and waist-high weeds. It is littered with old tires and garbage and is now home to a rusted Toyota Tercel. The air is heavy and buzzing with mosquitoes. This is the Lower 9th Ward, where U.S. Forest Service research forester Wayne Zipperer studied the vegetation on…  More 

Green Space, Human Health, and Social Justice

Urban green spaces like parks, urban forests, and greenways are often not equally available to everyone. “My research focuses on the nexus between urban nature, social justice, and health as it relates to factors such as income, race, and socioeconomic status,” says U.S. Forest service biological scientist Viniece Jennings. Existing research has described the benefits…  More 

New Native Plants Resource for Teachers

A plant module developed in partnership by the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is now available online for teachers to download and use with K-12 students. The module integrates current science-based knowledge with the traditional knowledge passed down from generation to generation of Cherokee. Partners from the…  More 

Using Urban Forests to Manage Stormwater Runoff

We’ve read a lot lately about the innumerable human health benefits provided by urban trees and forests. Urban forest systems can also function as part of a city’s stormwater control system by intercepting rainfall and regulating the flow of water to and through the soil. Forests efficiently store stormwater, return water to the atmosphere, and filter…  More 

Black Belt Forestry

After the Civil War, former African American slaves were deeded or bought property across the South, but in subsequent years often lacked the money for — or were denied access to – the legal resources needed to establish title to the land. As a result, much of this land was passed down through following generations…  More 

A Different Twist on City Green Spaces and Health

Although the benefits of urban forests, gardens, parks, and other green spaces have been documented, the nuances of this relationship continue to be explored. For example, the role of green spaces in the social aspects of public health are often overlooked. My colleagues Lincoln Larson  (Clemson University), Jessica Yun (Georgetown University) and I recently explored…  More 

Helping African American Rural Landowners Keep Family Forests

After the Civil War, African Americans were deeded or bought property across the South, but at that time they often lacked the money for — or were denied access to — legal resources. As a result, much of this land was passed down through the generations without the benefit of a written will or title and…  More 

Educating Future Engineers about Cities and Trees

According to the 2010 census, almost 81 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas. As the U.S. loses more of its forests and natural resources to the expansion of urban areas, it is important to provide information about the benefits of trees, forests, and natural areas to city planners and the engineers who…  More 

The Emerging Role of Ecosystem Services in Preventive Medicine

There’s growing evidence that spending time in forests, gardens, or parks may improve physical and mental health. Many environmental scientists have embraced the concept of ecosystem services as a framework for understanding how nature contributes to human well-being. However, the term is still unfamiliar to some professionals outside the environmental field. In collaboration with Claire…  More