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School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

News | May 26, 2021

‘Rain gardens’ turn backyards into water treatment facilities, benefiting marine life

Seattle’s frequent rainfall is responsible for much of the region’s natural beauty, from old-growth forests to the creeks and rivers that flow into Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. But rain can also be catastrophic to area ecosystems. When precipitation falls on roofs, roads, and other hard surfaces, it sweeps pollutants like heavy metals directly…


News | December 12, 2019

‘Blue’ space: Access to water features can boost city dwellers’ mental health

Officials are increasingly recognizing that integrating nature into cities is an effective public health strategy to improve mental health. Doctors around the world now administer “green prescriptions” – where patients are encouraged to spend time in local nature spaces – based on hundreds of studies showing that time in nature can benefit people’s psychological well-being and increase…


News | September 14, 2022

2022 Urban@UW Spark Grants Awardees Announced

Urban@UW is excited to announce awardees for the third round of funding through our Spark Grants program. The three projects selected address critical urban challenges, with a focus on transdisciplinary scholarship and engagement with vulnerable populations. Analysis of a Food Bank Home Delivery Program Food security, defined as access at all times to nutritious food,…


News | March 13, 2021

A quick guide to the birds you’re hearing now in Seattle area

The birds most likely to capture our attention with their songs during early spring in the Pacific Northwest are not migratory visitors, nor exotic strangers, but good old perennial neighbors. Next month, we’ll get some migrants with beautiful songs, said John Marzluff, a professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest…


News | May 5, 2020

A timber-based building method draws praise, and skeptics

Last September, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee stepped to a lectern in a sprawling 270,000-square-foot factory outside Spokane and declared it the “best day so far” in his six years in office. Earlier that day, he had marched downtown as part of the youth-driven climate strike that united 4 million people worldwide. Now he was in nearby…


News | October 7, 2021

Bigleaf maple decline tied to hotter, drier summers in Washington

As its name suggests, the bigleaf maple tree’s massive leaves are perhaps its most distinctive quality. A native to the Pacific Northwest’s wet westside forests, these towering trees can grow leaves up to 1.5 feet across — the largest of any maple. But since 2011, scientists, concerned hikers and residents have observed more stressed and…


Degree Program

Bioresource Science and Engineering (BS)

Apply natural products chemistry, chemical processing, and material science to natural products and fiber based materials, including paper and biofuels.

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Scholar

Brian J. Harvey

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News | April 14, 2021

Building high-rises, hotels and stadiums out of wood–for climate’s sake

It started as a dream that is slowly becoming a reality. “Maybe six or seven years ago, we set out to build the most sustainable football stadium that’s ever been built in the world,” said Dale Vince, the owner of the football club Forest Green Rovers, in Gloucestershire, in southwest England. Vince’s team has been working…


News | January 9, 2019

Carbon accountability: progress in work to reduce embodied carbon in construction materials

“We acknowledge that we hold this world in trust and recognize the immediate threat climate change and its impacts pose to current and future generations,” reads a statement signed this fall by more than 100 construction-related companies and nonprofits. “We must act urgently and collaboratively to transform the built environment from a leading driver of…


Scholar

Clare Ryan

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News | February 6, 2020

Climate Change Modeling can help Plan the Future of Land Conservation

Many of the existing efforts to protect plant and animal species across the United States rely on information about where these species currently live. For example, if a rare bird species such as the snowy plover is found in a specific location along the Washington coast, conservationists try to protect it from human development where…


News | June 17, 2015

Common Birds Bring Economic Vitality to Cities

Is it worth having birds in the city? If you live in Seattle or Berlin, the answer is yes, to the tune of $120 million and $70 million a year for each city, respectively.


News | April 16, 2020

Community science project tracks changes in bird behavior during coronavirus

The predictable, daily routines of humanity have all but stopped with the arrival of COVID-19. For most of us, we no longer head to the office each morning or have friends and family over for dinner in our homes. Our day-to-day activities now look entirely different than they did six weeks ago. But does this…


News | January 23, 2020

Considering wood as a sustainable building material

Architects, builders, and sustainability advocates are all abuzz over a new building material they say could substantially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the building sector, slash the waste, pollution, and costs associated with construction, and create a more physically, psychologically, and aesthetically healthy built environment. The material is known as, uh, wood. Recently, UW…


Course | SEFS 503

Current Issues in Restoration Ecology and Environmental Horticulture

Critical evaluation and discussion of published research in urban horticulture and restoration. Students and faculty present and discuss research methods and questions from current literature.

Scholar

Daniel Vogt

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Scholar

David Butman

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News | April 22, 2020

Dose of nature even in your own backyard can help mental health during coronavirus pandemic

Many Washingtonians are spending more time in their homes or apartments due to the stay-at-home order to help slow the spread of coronavirus, which means they may be missing out on their usual weekend hikes and other nature escapes. But University of Washington researchers say you don’t have to go to a remote location to…


News | May 20, 2020

EarthLab announces Innovation Grant recipients for 2020

Research projects funded for 2020 by EarthLab’s Innovation Grants Program will study how vegetation might reduce pollution, help an Alaskan village achieve safety and resilience amid climate change, organize a California river’s restoration with tribal involvement, compare practices in self-managed indigenous immigrant communities and more. EarthLab is a University of Washington-wide institute connecting scholars with community…


Degree Program

Ecological Restoration (ECORES) Minor

The minor in ecological restoration offered through the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences seeks to prepare students to address the complex relationships of human communities and ecological sustainability. The minor is a tri-campus initiative (UW Bothell, UW Seattle, and UW Tacoma). Students may, but are not required to, take courses from more than…

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Course | ESRM 431 / ENVIR 431 / PSYCH 431

Ecopsychology

Explores psychology of the human relationship with nature. Critically examines how ecopsychology can impact urban sustainability, human health, environmental education, and the design of new technologies. Specific topics include evolutionary psychology; human-animal interaction; biophillia; children and nature; indigenous cultures; and ecotherapy.

Degree Program

Environmental and Forest Sciences (M.E.H., M.F.R., M.S., Ph.D.)

Advance basic and applied research dedicated to the stewardship of natural and managed environments and the sustainable use of their products and services.

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Course | ENVIR 485 / ESRM 485

Environmental Planning and Permitting in Practice

Advanced survey of environmental planning and permitting as encountered by environmental and natural resource professionals in Washington State and beyond. Focuses on Washington State acts (SEPA, SMA, GMA) and Federal systems (NEPA, CWA ESA) that shape environmental land use planning and federal planning and permitting systems

Degree Program

Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management (BS, minor)

Students studying Environmental Science and Resource Management (ESRM) learn about natural and human-dominated landscapes and how to apply this knowledge to real-world problems. With a focus on sustainability, students work with professors and regional experts on environmental issues. Fieldwork gives students enhanced opportunities for experiential learning and service in a rich contextual landscape.

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Scholar

Ernesto Alvarado Celestin

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Scholar

Gordon Bradley

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Greg Bratman

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News | February 27, 2020

Health and Well-Being Linked to Wilderness in Urban Parks

As metropolises balloon with growth and sprawl widens the footprint of cities around the world, access to nature for people living in urban areas is becoming harder to find.If you’re lucky, a pocket park might be installed next to a new condominium complex on your block, or perhaps a green roof tops the building where…


News | October 19, 2021

Home after fire: A new housing model aims to give kids stability

When the Almeda Fire hit southern Oregon on Labor Day weekend just over a year ago, Christy Brooks was on her way home from her daughters’ school after picking up books and a computer in preparation for the coming year. The air was smoky and smelled burnt, but Brooks doesn’t remember feeling overly concerned. She…


News | March 8, 2017

Honoring Women Collaborators at Urban@UW

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are highlighting just some of UW’s brilliant female professors, scholars, and and change-makers with whom Urban@UW is proud to collaborate. Click on their names to explore their work.   Leadership: Thaisa Way, Executive Director, Urban@UW; Department of Landscape Architecture Executive Committee: Margaret O’Mara, Department of History Susan P….


News | August 12, 2019

How nature can improve your family’s mental health

People who study health outcomes – and any parent with common sense – have long known that having access to a green space is important for health. From decreased asthma and obesity to increased immunities and quality sleep, exposure to the outdoors is good for everyone. But a large, growing body of evidence, captured in a new meta-study, reveals that experiences in nature have especially…


News | August 1, 2019

How to consider nature’s impact on mental health in city plans

Almost one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness. That statistic is similar worldwide, with an estimated 450 million people currently dealing with a mental or neurological disorder. Of those, only about a third seek treatment. Interacting with nature is starting to be recognized as one way to improve mental health. A number of scientific…


News | September 2, 2021

How wildfires disproportionately affect people of color

Disasters in the U.S. often hit minority groups the hardest. Hurricane Katrina disproportionately impacted Black residents in New Orleans in 2005. In California, massive wildfires are a concern. Wildfires have unequal effects on minority communities. A 2018 study shows mostly Black, Hispanic, or Native American communities experience 50% greater vulnerability to wildfires compared with primarily white communities in the…


Scholar

Iain Robertson

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Scholar

Indroneil Ganguly

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News | November 30, 2021

Infrastructure matters for wildlife too – here’s how aging culverts are blocking Pacific salmon migration

Environmental and Forest Sciences Ph.D. Candidate Ashlee Abrantes, shares a perspective on how wildlife depend on urban infrastructure in this op-ed written for The Conversation.  — As the Biden administration prepares to make the biggest investment in U.S. infrastructure in more than a decade, there’s much discussion about how systems like roads, bridges and electric power grids…


Scholar

John Marzluff

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Joshua Lawler

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Course | ESRM 480

Landscape Plant Science and Sustainable Management

Principles and practices of plant management in urban and modified landscapes. Physiological basis for plant management and selection; site analysis and preparation; plant installation and aftercare; plant performance evaluation; long-term sustainable management and plant health care.

Scholar

Lisa Graumlich

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News | August 29, 2019

Mental health benefits of nature should influence city planning, says UW study

City planners should consider the mental health benefits of green spaces when making plans for the future of their cities. That’s according to a new study out of University of Washington that says urban green spaces can help improve mental health. The study found that accounting for the economic impacts of these benefits might help cities prioritize…


Scholar

Monika Moskal

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News | August 16, 2022

New UW study shows how COVID lockdowns affected Northwest birds

While the unusual quiet of the pandemic’s first months was hard on many people, it allowed birds in the Pacific Northwest to use a wider range of habitats, according to a newly published University of Washington study. The study, published Thursday in Scientific Reports, found that in Pacific Northwest cities under lockdown, birds were just…


News | January 5, 2017

New wood technology may offer hope for struggling timber

John Redfield watches with pride as his son moves a laser-guided precision saw the size of a semi-truck wheel into place over a massive panel of wood. Redfield’s fingers are scarred from a lifetime of cutting wood and now, after decades of decline in the logging business, he has new hope that his son, too,…


News | November 25, 2020

Pandemic streets showed the promise of car-free Seattle

One morning in early April, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic’s first wave, Gordon Padelford watched one man with a pickup truck leaving “local access only” signs and traffic cones along 25th Avenue South in the Central District. A longtime advocate of pedestrian and cycling street access, Padelford held his breath: Would the low-budget infrastructure really work?…


Scholar

Peter Kahn

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Scholar

Phil Levin

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Course | ESRM 411

Plant Propagation: Principles and Practice

Science and practice of plant propagation including sexual (seed) and asexual (cutting, layering, grafting) propagation. Includes discussion of physiological effects, methodology and laboratory exercises. Wide variety of plants covered. Intended for majors in urban horticulture and urban forestry and others interested in reproducing landscape plants.

Course | SEFS 561

Public Presentation in Urban Horticulture

Students learn to make public presentations in scientific, professional, and popular contexts and to interpret technical information for professional and lay audiences. Support materials, such as audiovisuals and graphics are discussed.

News | December 20, 2016

Reflections on Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change

On November 7th and 8th Urban@UW, in collaboration with the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group (CIG), hosted a symposium to begin transdisciplinary conversation on the multifaceted dynamics and consequences of Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change (UEJ). Below are some reflections from this event, and a sample of the resources we’ll…


Course | ESRM 479

Restoration Design

Covers the design process in ecosystem restoration by presenting a series of weekly design problems that students solve as teams. Categorizes problems by disturbance type, including restoration necessitated by agriculture, urbanization, salt-marsh filling or diking, construction of transport corridors, etc. Includes a team design portfolio.

News | February 3, 2016

Risk of lead poisoning from urban gardening is low, new study finds

Using compost is the single best thing you can do to protect your family from any danger associated with lead in urban soils. Good compost will also guarantee that you will have plenty of vegetables to harvest. That’s the main finding of a paper appearing this month in the Journal of Environmental Quality. The University…


Scholar

Sally Brown

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Course | ESRM 200

Society and Sustainable Environments

Introduces the application of social concepts and theories to understanding and managing urban, urbanizing and wildland landscapes in a sustainable manner. Of particular interest are factors that shape patterns on the landscape and resulting social and economic benefits. Explores landscapes across the urban to wildland gradient.

Course | ESRM 311

Soils and Land Use

Intended for students concerned with environmental problems in the Puget Sound basin; also for those who intend to become professionally involved in land-planning decisions. Focus is on the significance of soils in understanding environmental problems and in promoting intelligent land-use decisions. Basic concepts of soil systems are presented, stressing those aspects important in making land-planning decisions.

News | January 5, 2017

Songbirds divorce, flee, fail to reproduce due to suburban sprawl

Suburban development is forcing some songbirds to divorce, pack up and leave and miss their best chances for successful reproduction. As forested areas increasingly are converted to suburbs, birds that live on the edge of our urban footprint must find new places to build their nests, breed and raise fledglings. New research published Dec. 28…


Scholar

Soo-Hyung Kim

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Scholar

Stevan Harrell

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News | April 7, 2020

Study synthesizes what climate change means for Northwest wildfires

Recent years have brought unusually large and damaging wildfires to the Pacific Northwest – from the Carlton Complex Fire in 2014 that was the largest in Washington’s history, to the 2017 fire season in Oregon, to the 2018 Maple Fire, when normally sodden rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula were ablaze. Many people have wondered what this means for our…


Scholar

Susan M. Bolton

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Course | ESRM 201

Sustaining Pacific Northwest Ecosystems

Introduces the principles of ecology across an urban to wildland gradient and discusses how these landscapes can be sustainably managed. Explores basic ecological theories, plant communities, soil, climate, pollution, hydrology, and wildlife in classroom, labs, and field trips

News | September 26, 2019

Tall buildings out of timber? In the face of climate change, Seattle encourages it

The loggers who worked in Ballard when it was Shingletown, a center of the national timber industry, are long gone. And only a few wooden landmarks of the timber heyday, mostly churches, still exist on Ballard’s low-slung skyline. But as concerns over climate change give new life to wooden building design, that could change. In the…


News | October 24, 2019

The potential of green urban planning for mental health

Neighborhood architects, engineers, and policymakers look at all kinds of factors and needs when building a city, including transportation links, housing, aesthetics, amenities, and so forth. Natural spaces are also considered, for their aesthetic, recreational, and ecological benefits. A study published in July in Science Advances outlines a model that will let policymakers see nature’s impacts on…


Course | ESRM 471

Urban Forest Landscapes

Comprehensive view of urban forest and urban forest landscapes. Includes close examination of factors that differentiate urban forest landscapes along the urban to wildland gradient. Compare legal, social, political, administrative, physical, and biological variations.

Course | SEFS 549

Urban Horticulture Seminar

Discussion by invited speakers on current topics in urban horticulture

Course | ESRM 451

Urban Plant Protection

Working knowledge on insects and diseases of plants growing in the urban environment. Emphasis placed on pest and damage recognition, control methods, and integrated pest management systems.

News | January 5, 2017

UW-led study shows new global evidence of the role of humans, urbanization in rapid evolution

It has long been suspected that humans and the urban areas we create are having an important — and surprisingly current and ongoing — effect on evolution, which may have significant implications for the sustainability of global ecosystems. A new multi-institution study led by the University of Washington that examines 1,600 global instances of phenotypic…


News | August 25, 2022

WA ecosystems are changing. Conservation efforts are, too

Ecologists like Joe Rocchio, who manages Washington’s Natural Heritage Program, are racing to keep biodiversity from disappearing. The program develops the rare plant and ecosystem databases and conservation priorities that feed directly into Natural Areas designations, among other state and federal natural resource policies and decisions. Without adjusting how Washington sets conservation priorities, Rocchio says…


News | May 10, 2021

Why a backyard that’s ‘for the birds’ is great for kids, too

Here’s something worth tweeting about: Being around more birds can boost your family’s happiness. A recent German study of more than 26,000 Europeans found that the cheeriest folks lived near natural areas with a wider diversity of bird species. And no need to know the difference between wood thrush and white-throated sparrow whistles—turns out simply seeing and hearing a variety of…


Course | ESRM 420

Wildland Fire Management

Principles of wildland fire behavior, ecology, and management. Weather, fuels, and topography effects on fire behavior. Forest structure influence on historical and current fire ecology. Principles of firesafe forests. Management issues of fire control and use in wilderness, multiple-use forest, and the wildland-urban interface.

News | November 25, 2019

With mic and spade, this researcher-turned-podcaster is helping restore Seattle’s Indigenous landscape

When Jessica Hernandez arrived in Seattle five years ago to begin her master’s degree program at the University of Washington, everything suddenly felt out of place. She was born to Indigenous parents who had immigrated from Central American and Oaxaca, Mexico, and grew up in Los Angeles, going to schools that taught classes in Spanish…