Biodiversity: Richard T.T. Forman

September 9, 2011 - "How Could Nature Thrive in Urban Regions? Could the Future of Roads Have No Driving, No Emissions, and Nature Reconnected?" with Richard T. T. Forman, PAES Professor of Landscape Ecology, Harvard University Graduate School of DesignThe ring around today's cities holds the destiny for tomorrow's mainly urban world, and for natural systems far beyond. In the face of rampant outward urbanization, either natural systems and their human uses around cities are protected for water supply, recreation, biodiversity, local food supply, tourism and clean air, or we will mainly live in huge hot depauperate hard surfaces, and try to import resources from distant scarce ecological footprints. Focusing ecologically on nature, food, water, built systems, and built areas in the ring-around-the-city offers promise.

Our road-vehicle transportation system, both huge and growing, has diced the land into fragments with extensive ecological effects. While recent road ecology principles are producing accelerated successes, the rates of road construction and vehicle use far outstrip our mitigations. Nature is losing ground. A transportation system using renewable-energy electric-induction-transported pods under automated control on narrow elevated-to-sunken ways (with flexibility for some road-driving) is outlined for the imminent future. The netway system reconnects nature, improves mobility, eliminates fossil fuel and greenhouse gas emission, and enhances food production and recreation near cities/towns. Benefits not only reverse our downward spiral, they create a compelling multi-goal success story for both nature and society.

Richard T. T. Forman is the PAES Professor of Landscape Ecology at Harvard University, where he teaches ecological courses in the Graduate School of Design and Harvard College. His primary scholarly interest is linking science with spatial pattern to interweave nature and people on the land. Often considered to be a "father" of landscape ecology and also of road ecology, he also helps catalyze the emergence of urban-region ecology and planning. Other research interests include changing land mosaics, conservation and land use planning, and urban ecology. While the discovery and development of ecology principles continues, he increasingly integrates them with other fields for society. In addition to his teaching faculty activities, he is associated with the FAS Environmental Science and Public Policy concentration, Harvard University Center for the Environment, and Harvard Forest. He received a Haverford College B.S., University of Pennsylvania Ph.D., honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Miami University, and honorary Doctor of Science from Florida International University.

The Biodiversity, Ecology, and Global Change lecture series is sponsored by the Harvard University Center for the Environment with generous support from Bank of America. The lecture will be followed by a reception.