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Research Areas — Textual Description

Forest Service Urban Research Areas

FS Urban Research: Urban Research at the Forest Service provides leading science and technology to inform stewardship of natural resources in urban regions, improving local environmental health and community well-being. Forest Service urban research units and field stations located throughout the United States create the tools needed to create more desirable, sustainable areas.

Key areas of Forest Service urban research include:

  • Forest Inventory & Management: The Forest Service monitors and reports on the condition and extent of urban forests across the U.S. to support urban conservation prioritization and planning. Scientists support ecosystem management in these areas with key information on tree physiology and soils, biodiversity, fire, and forest health.
  • Ecosystem Services: Healthy ecosystems are life-support systems that provide critical benefits known as ecosystem services. Forest Service scientists quantify the value of urban ecosystem services, including air pollution mitigation, stormwater management, carbon sequestration, and public health benefits.
  • Human Health & Well-Being: Social scientists at the Forest Service study the dynamic interaction between people and the urban environment, covering such topics as public health, recreation, real estate, crime, food and foraging, environmental justice, and responsible resource stewardship. This research furthers understanding of the positive contributions that trees and natural spaces make to human health and well-being.
  • Development and Change: Improving the sustainability and livability of cities is an ongoing challenge and goal. Forest service scientists analyze demographic, land-use, and climate change patterns in order to identify urbanization strategies that improve the livability, resiliency, and future prospects of the Nation's cities.
  • Green Infrastructure: Most cities rely heavily on human-engineered factories and materials for waste management and construction projects. Forest Service scientists investigate alternatives to traditional "gray infrastructure", such as using trees and forests to filter out pollutants contaminating our air and water. The agency's Forest Products Lab develops energy-efficient, sustainable technologies that utilize wood waste and improve the durability of homes and buildings.
  • Water & Watersheds: The Forest Service helps communities maintain clean, well-managed watersheds by analyzing the impacts of people, vegetation, and built infrastructure on the urban water cycle. Forest Service science supports urban watershed restoration projects that improve urban waters and revitalize neighborhoods.
  • Place-based Research: The Forest Service partners with the National Science Foundation, academic institutions, and local agencies and organizations to conduct long-term research in cities across the country. Place-based, collaborative study focuses on long-term changes and links between ecological structure and function, ecosystem services, and human perceptions, behaviors, and institutions.