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"Landscapes of Resilience" to Study How People Use Nature as a Source of Recovery

NEW YORK CITY, NY, May 22, 2013 - U.S. Forest Service scientists are part of “Landscapes of Resilience”, a multi-disciplinary team that, with funding from the TKF Foundation, will examine how collaborative planning and stewardship of open spaces help communities and individuals recover from tragedy.

The TKF Foundation announced today that Landscapes of Resilience is one of six projects selected for grant funding. In addition to research on the role of open spaces and sacred spaces in recovery and resiliency, the 3-year, $585,000 grant will contribute to the creation of sites in Joplin, Mo., and New York City.

“We are deeply honored to be part of the Landscapes of Resilience team, and so honored that this project was selected by the TKF Foundation,” said Michael T. Rains, Director of the Northern Research Station. “Trees and natural resource stewardship can be powerful forces in community resilience. This research will help us better understand how relationships with nature promote recovery.”

Originally, researchers proposed to study the role of open spaces in recovery from the 2011 Joplin tornado that killed 161 people and damaged much of the city’s built environment and urban forest. After Superstorm Sandy struck New York City and the surrounding area in October 2012, killing 72 people and causing extensive damage, researchers broadened the project to examine differences and similarities in community recovery across these two sites and throughout different time periods, from the immediate response to 1-3 years later.

In New York City, researchers will document the creation, restoration, and transformation of open spaces in post-Sandy affected areas. Working with TILL, a landscape architecture firm based in Newark, N.J., the Landscapes of Resilience team will provide design expertise and assistance in helping to select an appropriate site and will work with community residents to create an enhanced open space/sacred place. Plans in Joplin include designing and building a butterfly garden and overlook in Cunningham Park, which was devastated in the tornado.

The TKF Foundation is pleased to include Landscapes of Resilience in this collection of studies, which treats human health and the environment as an integrated whole. “Located across the United States, the projects will address the challenges of local populations by creating opportunities for recovery, restoration and renewal, and contribute rigorous research that confirms the benefits of nature experience in urban settings,” said Tom Stoner, President and Co-Founder of TKF Foundation.  

Landscapes of Resilience team members reflect a broad spectrum of skills. NRS scientists contribute expertise in planning, geography, and natural resource management, and partners include researchers at the civic ecology lab at Cornell University; architects, designers, and psychologists at Drury University in Missouri; the city of Joplin; and landscape architects from TILL in New York City.

Established in 1996, the TKF Foundation is a private non-profit that funds publicly accessible urban green space. The Foundation partners with organizations to create Open Spaces Sacred Places that increase a sense of community and contribute to a deepening of human connections.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of our nation’s forests; 850 million acres including 100 million acres of urban forests where most Americans live. The mission of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.