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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2018

  • Title: Engaging Nature
  • Primary Author: Noah Charney (University of Arizona)
  • Abstract:

    Every place has a story. The story begins hundreds of millions of years ago, before the oldest rock on the forest floor was formed. Rocks, hills, soils, ferns, maples, salamanders and fox tracks all whisper the tales of volcanoes, glaciers, creatures, rivers and people that have shaped this land. Can you read these stories? I am currently writing a book, to be published by Yale University Press, about reading natural landscapes, based on a course I used to teach. Each chapter begins with a photograph of one of the class field sites, holding a mystery. Readers are asked to look at the clues in the photographs to uncover the layered stories at the sites – including the bedrock, glacial histories, soils, climate, plants, animals, land use history, and human values. Falling within a single watershed, the sites work together tell a larger landscape narrative. These site-specific stories are used as a platform to explore universal ecological rules, shedding light on readers’ own landscapes.

  • Research Category: Historical and Retrospective Studies