Reimagining Our Cities
Urban Forests

RECLAIMED | The Urban Wood Project

In Baltimore, MD there are more than 46,000 vacant or assumed-vacant homes. For years, the city has been tearing them down and disposing of the materials, leaving scars on the landscape, holes in communities, and condemning premium materials to rot in city landfills. 

The U.S. Forest Service, in partnership with Humanim and Room & Board - among others - are working to change this dynamic. See how a simple quest to reclaim urban wood transformed into an opportunity to reduce waste, create jobs in underserved communities, and restore landscapes by replacing vacant lots with community parks and greenspaces that benefit everyone.  

See how The Urban Wood Project and urban forests are helping us reimagine our cities for a better future. #forestproud. 

Reconnecting People and Forests
Careers, Products

The Crew

On its surface, forest products manufacturing looks very different than it did 100 years ago. But, behind the machines and the new technology is a group of skilled, dedicated, and hardworking individuals who make it all possible.

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Reimagining Our Cities
Mass Timber

GUARDIANS | Susan Jones

Heroic strength. Unflappable bravery. A commitment to doing what's right against impossible odds. Wearing a cape.
This is what it takes to be a Guardian. Right?

We'll be honest, designing buildings didn't initially make our shortlist. That is until we met Susan Jones.

In 2003, Susan Jones founded her own firm - atelierjones llc - with the idea of using natural materials and the latest technology to build beautiful spaces. Spaces that are anchored in sustainability. Spaces that serve a larger environmental purpose. Spaces that give back to nature as much - if not more - than they take.

Recognized nationally and internationally for her work, Susan Jones designed some of the first Mass Timber buildings in the U.S. - including her own home. Today, she and her team continue to pave the way for Mass Timber in North America by showing the world that there is no reason a building can't also be a climate change solution.

When you look at it like that, it's hard to see Susan Jones as anything but a Guardian.

#forestproud

Reconnecting People and Forests
Careers, Products

The Crew

On its surface, forest products manufacturing looks very different than it did 100 years ago. But, behind the machines and the new technology is a group of skilled, dedicated, and hardworking individuals who make it all possible.

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Reimagining Our Cities
Carbon, Careers, Cities, Forest Management, Innovation, Mass Timber, People, Products

Wooden skyscrapers could be the future for cities | The Economist

an ambitious and innovative solution to the problems posed by urbanisation.

By 2050 the world’s population is expected to soar to almost 10 billion people and two-thirds of us will live in cities. Space will be at a premium. High-rise offers a solution.

But concrete and steel – the materials we currently use to build high – have a large carbon footprint.

An answer might lie in a natural material we’ve used for millennia. Throughout history buildings have been made of wood. But it has one major drawback. It acts as kindling. Fire destroyed large swathes of some of the world’s great cities. But by the early twentieth century, the era of modern steelmaking had arrived. Steel was strong, could be moulded into any shape and used to reinforce concrete. It allowed architects to build higher than ever before. So why, after more than a century of concrete and steel, are some architects proposing a return to wood?

Concrete and steel are costly to produce and heavy to transport. Wood however can be grown sustainably and it’s lighter than concrete. And crucially, as trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide from the air, locking it into the timber. Regular timber isn’t malleable like steel or concrete, and isn’t strong enough to build high. But engineers have come up with a solution.

It’s called cross-laminated timber, or CLT for short. CLT is light and it’s comparable in strength to concrete and steel. But how does it cope when burnt with a high heat source?

London architects Waugh Thistleton are already designing buildings with this new kind of timber. Andrew and his colleagues designed Britain’s first high-rise wooden apartment block and have recently completed the world’s largest timber-based building. Behind these bricks is a timber core, made from more than 2000 trees, sourced from sustainable forests.

And this London practice is not alone in advocating the use of CLT. Ambitious wooden high-rise buildings are also being constructed in Scandinavia, central Europe and North America. As yet, nobody has used CLT to build beyond 55 metres. But Michael Ramage’s research centre in Cambridge, working with another London practice, has proposed a concept design of a 300-metre tower, that could be built on top of one of London’s most iconic concrete structures – the Barbican.

Making that jump in height will be a difficult sell. The cost of building wooden skyscrapers is largely unknown, but those costs could be reduced by prefabricating large sections of buildings in factories. And city-dwellers will need to be persuaded that CLT does not burn like ordinary wood.

As an attractive, natural material, wood is already popular for use in low buildings. If planners approve, it could rise to new heights.

 

For more from Economist Films visit: http://econ.st/2GCbm7T

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Reimagining Our Cities
Carbon, Careers, Cities, Forest Management, Innovation, Mass Timber, People, Products

The future of skyscrapers | Grist

How much CO2 would a skyscraper save if a skyscraper was made of wood? Wooden skyscrapers are already a thing in Europe and Canada. Now, they're becoming more popular in the U.S. How do they work and what do they mean for the future of cities?

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Carbon, Careers, Cities, Forest Management, Innovation, Mass Timber, People, Products

The future of skyscrapers | Grist

This explainer video from Grist takes a look at CLT and the future of wooden skyscrapers

How much CO2 would a skyscraper save if a skyscraper was made of wood?

Wooden skyscrapers are already a thing in Europe and Canada. Now, they're slowing becoming more popular in the U.S. How do they work and what do they mean for the future of cities?

Reimagining Cities Illustration
Reimagining Our Cities
Biomass, Carbon, Careers, Cities, Energy, Forest Management, Innovation, Mass Timber, People, Products, Urban Forests

FORESTS: Reimagining Our Cities

For the first time in history, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in a city.

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Carbon, Cities, Fast Facts, Mass Timber

Fast Facts | Mass Timber

What is mass timber? It's a building material that's as strong as steel, lighter than concrete, fire resistant, and carbon friendly.

Our forests are home to the most technologically-advanced material and processes we have. Built and run on solar energy, they lock away carbon and provide light, strong, renewable materials.  

Already, mass timber construction helps us build faster and more efficiently, while keeping carbon locked away. Innovative wood and paper products – renewable, recyclable and biodegradable – help store carbonreduce waste, and protect wildlife.  

ted-talk-featured-image-tower
Reimagining Our Cities
Carbon, Careers, Cities, Forest Management, Innovation, Mass Timber, People, Products

TedTalks | A Wooden Skyscraper?

“Wood is the material that I love most, and I’m going to tell you a story about wood.” Learn why architect Michael Green thinks we should build wooden skyscrapers in this Ted Talks video.

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Reimagining Our Cities
Cities, Fast Facts, Forest Benefits, Forest Management, Urban Forests

Fast Facts | Trees + Transportation

How many trees do you need to offset your commute? Roughly one tree for every 2 gallons of gas.

Sustainable forests, and the renewable products from them, are helping us rethink our carbon future.

Healthy Trees Healthy Lives
Community
Urban Forests

Healthy Trees, Healthy Lives

As research is being conducted and becoming available, findings reinforce what much of the urban forestry community already knows — that trees have a positive impact on human health.

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Reimagining Our Cities
Cities, Fast Facts, Urban Forests

Fast Facts | Safer Driving

Studies show that trees along streets lead to safer driving. Just another way trees are helping us to reimagine our communities for the better.

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Reimagining Our Cities
Biomass, Carbon, Careers, Cities, Energy, Forest Management, Innovation, Mass Timber, People, Products, Urban Forests

FORESTS: Reimagining Our Cities

For the first time in history, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in a city.

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Reconnecting People and Forests
Reimagining Our Cities
Fast Facts, Forest Benefits, Forest Management

Fast Facts | Forests + Water

Learn how forests help keep our water clean and impact your daily life.

More than half of the drinking water in the U.S. comes from a forest. By making choices that keep our forests as forests, we are keeping our water clean. Learn how forests help keep our water clean and impact your daily life.

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Reconnecting People and Forests
Fire, Forest Management, People, Solutions at Scale

Living with Fire

In today’s environment of frequent fires and limited public funds, solutions are forged at the collaborative table. Living with fire means learning to work together both as a collaborative and as a community.

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Reimagining Our Cities
Carbon, Careers, Cities, Forest Management, Innovation, Mass Timber, People, Products

TedTalks | A Wooden Skyscraper?

Architect and innovator Michael Green explains why he believes the future of cities is in wooden skyscrapers.

The age of timber has officially begun - or perhaps - began again. Wood isn’t new, of course and we've been building with wood since the dawn of cities. However, when the needs of society asked us to build up to allow more people to live in a smaller footprint, the rise of cities as we know them now began. There's a growing community of innovators who know it's time to reimagine cities for the future. To help us meet the needs of today and tomorrow, and help solve key challenges facing our cities today.

“Wood is the material that I love most, and I’m going to tell you a story about wood.” Learn why architect Michael Green, a Vancouver architect who recently finished T3, a seven-story building in Minneapolis that is currently among the tallest wooden structure in the US,  thinks we should build wooden skyscrapers in this Ted Talks video.

Reimagining Cities Illustration
Reimagining Our Cities
Biomass, Carbon, Careers, Cities, Energy, Forest Management, Innovation, Mass Timber, People, Products, Urban Forests

FORESTS: Reimagining Our Cities

For the first time in history, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in a city.

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Reimagining Our Cities
Forest Management, Innovation

Houston We Have A Forest

Graphic of forest mapping
GEDI, a NASA Earth-observing system set to go on the International Space Station in 2018, will enable the government to understand the architecture of forests, as this 3-D rendering depicts. By fully analyzing the structure of forests, researchers will be able to more accurately measure the amount of carbon they store. Credit: Photo Courtesy of NASA

In 2018, America’s space agency is going to send a laser into the galaxies to assess the world’s trees.

It won’t be the first time NASA dabbles in lidar technology—shooting lasers onto things and recording what comes back—but it will be the first time the agency sends a laser specifically designed to measure the intricate structure of forests.

The goal of the mission, fittingly named GEDI, an acronym for Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation lidar, is to map forests trunk to canopy—or, to put it another way, to measure the volume of the world’s forests and visualize them in 3-D.

By combining data on how much carbon is stored in wood with GEDI measurements, researchers are hoping to compile a solid estimate of the carbon stored in forests for the first time.

“It will absolutely be a game changer,” said Laura Duncanson, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who works on the GEDI team. “Lidar is the only technology that can penetrate the forest floor and estimate carbon.”

Globally, forests are estimated to suck up between 10 and 14 percent of current gross emissions. The activities of the land-use sector, which includes forests but also agriculture and land-use changes, account for about 24 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Many researchers who tally emissions have conceded that the world has little chance of keeping warming below the agreed 2-degree-Celsius threshold without the carbon sequestration of forests.

But not all forests are created equal in their carbon-storing abilities. Furthermore, as forest-rich nations consider how to meet their climate goals set forth at the Paris climate talks late last year, understanding where and how carbon is being stored in their trees will become increasingly important.

GEDI, many hope, will unlock the next frontier of forest and carbon mapping.

TECHNOLOGY SPURS GROWTH

Over the last few years, the forest carbon monitoring and mapping world has expanded and relatively quickly, according to experts.

The rising popularity of the U.N.-backed deforestation program, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) has boosted demand for baseline data and monitoring of the carbon stored in the world’s forests. At the same time, computing power, the number of satellites and the cost of remote-sensing technology have improved rapidly.

“Technology has allowed us to go so much further,” said Nancy Harris, research manager for the World Resources Institute’s online, interactive forest data program, Global Forest Watch. “Probably even less than 10 years ago, we were relying on FAO data reported every five years on forest biomass and area information.”

Those in the forest world have long worked on measuring forests and deforestation and estimating carbon. Famously, the Brazilian government, facing troubling rates of forest loss in the Amazon in the 1980s, announced a plan in the 1990s to begin monitoring deforestation, while the authorities cracked down on those clearing the forest.

In the early 2000s, the Brazilian government introduced multiple programs to detect deforestation, including DETER, a satellite-based monitoring system that can detect changes in forest cover on a monthly basis.

Through the use of monitoring technology, Brazil’s government is credited with chopping rates of deforestation about 80 percent since 2004, although currently they are rising again.

Another tool that has long been used for visualizing forest data is Global Forest Watch. Founded in 1997, the goal of the platform, said Harris, is to demystify the data and put it into a format that decisionmakers can use. Last week, the platform announced the new GLAD (Global Land Analysis and Discovery) alert system, which detects tree cover loss in Peru, the Republic of Congo and Indonesian Borneo in less than one week.

“Global Forest Watch has made the data available to anyone with a laptop and Internet connection,” said Frances Seymour, a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Center for Global Development.

But the real turning point came two years ago.

HOW ONE SCIENTIST CHANGED FOREST MONITORING

In 2013, Matthew Hansen, a professor in the Department of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland, published a data set using images taken from the Landsat program, the longest-running satellite program in the United States, which has collected millions of images of the Earth’s surface.

Hansen, who also works on the GEDI team, has been long interested in remote-sensing data and using it to map large-scale land changes, especially forests.

Presented in the journal Science, the “Hansen data” was the first global forest data set that showed forest loss between 2000 and 2012 at a high resolution. Previous trends in forest change were measured using data from MODIS satellites, which have a resolution between 250 and 300 meters. Landsat 8, for example, the latest of the program to be put into space, takes images at a 30-meter spatial resolution.

Hansen and his team had been practicing on MODIS data and images from meteorological instruments. When they could afford it, they would use the finer-resolution images from Landsat satellites.

And then, eight years ago, NASA opened up the Landsat archive.

“The Matt Hansen data set is kind of a paradigm shift in how we monitor forests,” Harris said.

Seymour added that through platforms like Global Forest Watch and with the publication of the Hansen data, now nearly all countries have access to data like Brazil did a decade ago.

“What they’ll do now in developing national monitoring systems is adjust it for the particulars in their country,” Seymour said. “This data, as comprehensive and large-scale as it is, is going to make it a lot easier to set reference levels and measure forest change over time.”

Hansen, for his part, sees the data slated to be collected from GEDI as the “backbone” to implementing any forest policy, whether that be mapping carbon, restoring degraded lands or protecting biodiversity.

GEDI will spend at least two years on the International Space Station. Three lasers developed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center will spread across 14 paths and be able to collect data on the land between 50 degrees north latitude and 50 degrees south latitude, including nearly all the tropical and temperate forests on Earth.

“The degree to which we can manage forest resources globally, data from GEDI and other missions will be critical,” Hansen said.

TREE HUGGERS STILL NEEDED

Although the technology has grown by leaps and bounds, there is still a need for what NASA’s Duncanson calls “professional tree huggers.”

In order for carbon measurements to be accurate, someone, at some point in time, will have had to walk into a forest and literally give a tree a hug. That serves as a measure of the diameter of the tree. Then, researchers estimate the height and record its species. At some point, scientists calibrate how much carbon is stored in a species. Those data are used to help calibrate measurements taken from satellites and lidar systems.

Before remote-sensing instruments, the use of field measurements was the only tool available to try and measure forest carbon.

Today, though, by combining the two, scientists are getting much more accurate data. Still, there is a need for more field work.

“GEDI is the best new set of technology, but it’s also critically important to get better estimates of field carbon,” Duncanson said.

In addition, satellites do not do a good job of measuring carbon stored below ground, such as is found in Indonesia’s peatlands, a problem scientists are working on.

Currently, research proposals are being accepted through a prize competition jointly run by the Indonesian government and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, aimed at finding a more accurate and faster way of mapping the extent and depth of Indonesia’s carbon-rich peatlands.

Satellites also cannot tell what is causing a change in forest cover. Efforts are underway to map the land rights and boundaries of indigenous peoples through a platform called LandMark.

“There’s a growing sense that just because we have this data that doesn’t mean we should abandon hugging the trees,” Seymour said, referring to field measurements. “Forest change happens not just over the biophysical realities, but through social realities on the ground.”

And it’s not just NASA that is interested in upping the forest mapping technology ante. The European Space Agency is expected to launch Biomass, a satellite dedicated to mapping tropical forests in 2020. Multiple agencies have missions using radar technology also scheduled to launch.

“For so long, we’ve been limited to this 2-D view of the world, so to map the canopy structure will be really cool,” Harris said. “That provides a great opportunity. If there’s only one data set, you don’t have to question what’s right, but as you have more and more data, the key will be using that data in a way to allow insight.”

Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500

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Reimagining Our Cities
Carbon, Careers, Cities, Forest Management, Innovation, Mass Timber, People, Products

MASS TIMBER | Kyle Freres, Freres Lumber Co.

For more than 90 years, the Freres family has been a steward of Oregon’s forests.

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