The Work of Historical Ecology

This piece from the San Francisco Chronicle takes readers inside the world of a historical ecologists -- one who tries to document what landscapes used to be and how they've evolved over time.

"Grossinger is a historical ecologist, merging history and ecology to figure out the environments of our great, and great-great-great grandparents. When he compares those landscapes with the present, he turns up surprise after surprise - streams that weren't streams, wetlands where there used to be beaches, thick groves of trees where there used to be plains and plains where there used to be thick groves of trees."

"A lot of ecology that was around two centuries ago has been forgotten. Grossinger surveys Bay Area landscapes you think you know, and then tells you what they looked like 200 years ago - what early explorers said about them, how early cartographers drew them and, most importantly, what elements from that early picture could be brought back. Even as he talks, though, Grossinger is not down on urbanization. His projects tend to suggest ways that nature can be realistically reintegrated with the modern landscape, rather than waxing nostalgic."

"'It seems like historical ecology is sort of a sentimental exercise, but it's really about understanding the contemporary landscape,' Grossinger said. 'The landscape you kind of inherit and don't really have the tools to decipher.'"

Full Story: Historical ecologists map a changing landscape

Comments

Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $209
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."
$19.95
poster

A Short History of America

From comic book artist Robert Crumb, poster shows how the built environment has changed throughout the decades.
$14.95