Originally published in American Forests Magazine Winter/Spring 2016 issue.
Botanical gardens are building the first online catalog of every known plant species in the world. It could be a game-changing tool for conservation.
For more than 400 years, humans have been collecting bits of leaf and twig, pressing them flat and dry for safe-keeping and writing about them in journals and books, all to better understand the world’s plants and, more recently, to protect them.
Our knowledge has become exponentially more sophisticated over those years, but the information we’ve accumulated remains scattered all over the world and is often difficult to access. As biologists race to protect biodiversity, there’s an effort underway to change that, a global partnership to build World Flora Online — the first online catalog of the estimated 400,000 vascular plant species of the world. Read More
Originally published in American Forests Magazine, Winter 2015.What Boston’s battle with the Asian longhorned beetle can teach us about stopping an invasive pest in its tracks.
Clint McFarland didn’t want to believe the pictures he was looking at on his smartphone.
Late on a Friday afternoon in July 2010, he was at a gathering in Worcester, Mass., to recognize federal and state staff who had been working long, hard hours for two years to wrangle the city’s runaway Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) infestation, the country’s largest by far. By the time a homeowner reported it in 2008, the invasive beetles had already been boring their way across the heavily forested city in the center of the state, frighteningly close to the edge of contiguous forests that span New England and reach into Canada. Read More
First published in American Forests magazine spring/summer 2014. |
In the 1820s, America's cities had a problem: People kept dying, and church burial grounds were filling up. Fortunately, a group of horticulturists in Massachusetts had a solution and, in 1831, Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge became the first modern cemetery. Other cities began to follow suit, dedicating rolling, scenic tracts of land on the outskirts of town to honor the deceased. This “rural cemetery,” or “garden cemetery,” movement not only temporarily solved the problem of where to put the dead, but it also gave us the nation’s very first parks.
Over the decades, cemeteries fell out of vogue as cultural centers, but their fall from favor was not to be permanent. Today, the practice of using cemeteries for outdoor recreation is bubbling up once more, as urban dwellers seek out nature in the city. Read More