At 7pm on November 8th, LCT presents a Dr. Ed Bell Forum event: “Landscape Ecology: Towns, Ecology and the Land” by Professor Richard T. Forman. The presentation is preceded by LCT’s Annual Business Meeting at 6:30pm.
This year the Dr. Ed Bell Educational Forum will feature Professor Richard T. T. Forman, who brings a combined perspective that blends the learnings and knowledge achieved through an extraordinary academic career with that gained as a very real on-the-ground pragmatic practitioner. Forman, often considered a “father” of landscape ecology, and additionally road ecology, helped spearhead urban ecology and recently pioneered town ecology. His primary scholarly interest links science with spatial patterns to interweave nature and people on the land. Other research interests include changing land mosaics, conservation, and land-use planning. His pioneering work on landscape, road, and urban ecology led him to the fledgling field of town ecology.
Forman’s distinguished career includes many academic accolades, honorary degrees, international prizes, coveted positions in professional societies and conservation organizations, and numerous publications, including eight books. All that is well described in his faculty profile for the Harvard Graduate School for Design, where he serves as Professor of Advanced Environmental Studies in the field of Landscape Ecology, Emeritus. He currently teaches a graduate course in Urban and Town Ecology. (See www.gsd.harvard.edu/person/richard-t-t-forman/ )
Building on his scholarly roots in plant, avian, and forest ecology, Forman has described the structure, function, and dynamics of the natural landscape and has shown how these are impacted by changes caused by both human development and natural forces. Such work has led to principles and solutions to form better functioning towns and more sustainable lands. These learnings and applications are of prime interest to our own community, which is undergoing stresses from ongoing development and rapid climate warming. Forman also has applied his concepts locally, serving on numerous state and regional conservation organization boards, including that of the Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) which spans across the 36-town SuAsCo watershed. Additionally, he has served on local town boards and has been instrumental in creating several innovative open space plans. In Concord, he played a fundamental role in creating six tunnels, serving as wildlife corridor passageways, built under the walled-off state Route 2 highway, and is looking elsewhere to build more. As a SVT board member, he is working on SVT’s so called High Ridge Initiative in the towns of Littleton, Harvard, and Boxborough, to permanently protect contiguous lands with topographical diversity in addition to the needed horizontal connectivity. Adding a vertical dimension can enable interdependent species in a local ecological assemblage to adapt to the local landscape, with each species finding compatible microclimates at various necessary elevations that meet its own habitat needs while enabling them still to remain in close proximity with their needed counterparts. As the climate warms, interdependent ecological assemblages are at risk of becoming decoupled in space and time as their accustomed habitat changes. When habitat conditions change rapidly, they can outpace ecological assemblages’ ability to adapt, thereby leading to decreased populations, and even extinction, if the change is extreme.