Understanding Landscape Change
Initially, this initiative will focus on understanding three pressing drivers of landscape change — urbanization, forest ecosystem management, and climate change. Landscape change has not only been identified as one of the grand challenges in the environmental sciences by the National Research Council, it is also a central concern in recent reports focusing on the future of Maine’s economy and way of life. For example, portions of southern Maine are experiencing rapid sprawl while record sales of private forest lands and mill closures are transforming the social and economic fabric of northern and western Maine. In addition, climate change will likely alter the composition and function of forests, influencing their ability to meet traditional markets as well as potential new markets (e.g., carbon sequestration and bioproducts). Our ultimate goal is to build our capacity for generating solutions to an array of sustainability problems in and beyond Maine (e.g. renewable energy, alternative transportation, water resource management).