These are great sources for learning more about the ecology in Pennsylvania’s urban communities.
Next time your in the city, or even a suburban setting, take a few moments to observe how the human-developed area merges with the natural environment. Close your eyes for a bit and listen to the combination of anthropogenic and natural sounds – although at first all you might here are cars, airplanes, and the hum of air conditioners, you should start hearing other sounds too – like the chirping of birds and the sound of crickets.
Think about the effects that this urbanization has on the natural processes that occur. Do you notice any wildlife in the urban center? How has this urbanization changed the water flow in the area? Has the ground surface been severely altered due to paving or leveling?
Make a list of ways in which urbanization has altered natural processes. Try to brainstorm a list of at least five ways in which this urban landscape could be made more sustainable. Could the ground surface be changed? Rain barrels added? A corner lot green space constructed to provide wildlife habitat? This list of ideas can later serve as a idea board for possible service projects and ways to make a noticeable difference in your community.
Urban Wildlife Habitats: A Landscape Perspective. Lowell W. Adams. 1994. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, Minnesota. 208 pp.
Urban Wildlife Habitats reviews the effects of urbanization on wildlife communities, particularly in terms of decreasing land available for quality habitat. Adams asserts in this text that through landscape planning and urban development, our urban centers can be designed to be more accommodating for wildlife, as well as humans. Although this text is written in a scientific manner, it provides extremely insightful solutions for the way that society can design more wildlife-friendly urban centers.
The Urban Homestead: Self-sufficient living in the city. Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen. 2010. Process : Port Townsend, Washington. 360 pp.
The Urban Homestead is a handbook designed to help the city-dweller live in a more sustainable, self-reliant way. Coyne and Knutzen provide step-by-step projects, complete with tips, that will help the reader make immediate, simple changes that will make a big difference in the future.
This online journal details the biology of urban areas around the world, providing access to the public about current research on topic such as urban botany, conservation biology, wildlife management within urban centers, and much more. Reading the articles from this journal is a great way to keep yourself up-to-date on advances in the science of urban ecology and habitat management.
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council:
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council is a collaborative organization that develops solutions to protect and restore the environment. Their solutions recognize the interconnectivity of the environment with the economy and our quality of life. They accomplish their mission of environmental protection through innovation, collaboration, education, and advocacy. Originally formed after a meeting of individuals in 1969, the organization now has five regional offices throughout the state. PEC hosts many events, such as discussions of Marcellus Shale policy, green festivals, and summits on trail construction. Their website contains information about these events, plus information about policy, ways to get involved, and the work that the organization does.
Urban Ecology Center:
The Urban Ecology Center, though based in Wisconsin, provides plenty of ideas that a Pennsylvania Master Naturalist might be able to benefit from and share with others who are interested in urban ecology and conservation. Their mission is to foster “ecological understanding as inspiration for change, neighborhood by neighborhood. Our Environmental Community Centers:
Schuylkill Action Network:
The Schuylkill Action Network is a membership organization composed of individuals who work together to achieve a shared goal of a cleaner and healthier Schuylkill River. The SAN accomplishes this goal through management practices, restoration efforts, and protective measures. In addition to the efforts of its members, the organization partners with state agencies, local watershed and land conservation organizations, businesses, academics, water suppliers, and more. SAN is organized into several work groups, each with their own environmental issue focus: abandoned mine drainage, agricultural, education and outreach, pathogens/compliance, storm water, and watershed land collaborative.
Lancaster County Conservancy: Urban Greening:
The Lancaster County Conservancy’s Urban Greening program specifically works with urban conservation and ecology. Their program works to “strong and healthy communities through environmental projects. This is accomplished by convening key players from all three sectors (nonprofit, for-profit and government) around pivotal opportunities; facilitating and leveraging government and private resources to invest in effective strategies; facilitating direct financial support to the extent possible; and serving as a catalyst for new environmental initiatives.”. This includes storm water issues, green roof projects, urban green space, and more.
Unit 8: Communicating Your Message
Updated: June 2018