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Cities—the new biodiversity haven: free webinar on 22 March

My colleague Dr Mark Hostetler from the University of Florida in Gainesville is running a free webinar on “Conserving Biodiversity in Subdivision Development”. It’s on Tuesday March 22, 2011 beginning at 2pm EST (on the East Coast of the USA, or 7am on Wednesday the 23rd of March for New Zealanders).

The webinar will be about an hour long with 15 minutes Q&A at the end.  There is more information about Mark and his work below. You can take part in the webinar by clicking here.

Mark notes that many new residential developments and rural properties “are situated near or in habitats that sustain native plant and animal communities. Conserving or restoring the unique natural features inherent on every parcel of land benefits the local environment, property owners, and the region’s heritage. When land is subdivided, how does one conserve local biodiversity and minimize impacts on surrounding landscapes?  Design, construction, and post-construction phases are often not discussed holistically when green developments are built.’

Mark’s webinar introduces “the key principles and practices required to create conservation subdivisions”, and is a preliminary to a four-module continuing education course developed by the Program for Resource Efficient Communities at the University of Florida. The course is about “defining, recognizing, restoring, and managing residential communities for biodiversity within the urban and rural matrix. It will run in May in association with American Citizen Planner and Michigan State University. It is relevant to county and city planners, landscape architects, architects, civil engineers, environmental consultants, developers, private landowners, and interested citizens.”

In future blogs I’ll explore the extension model that is common in American universities, which enables academics to carry out research like Mark’s, that is done with and for communities – a wonderful idea.

I’ll also talk more about greening cities and how it meets a multitude of other needs – as well as about the business opportunities that follow from making our cities places for happier and healthier people.

Dr. Mark Hostetler is an Associate Professor, Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, University of Florida (UF).  With over twenty years of experience in urban wildlife issues and natural resource management, Dr. Hostetler conducts research and outreach on how urban landscapes could be designed and managed, from small to large scales, to conserve biodiversity.  He has extensive experience in working with homeowners, developers, and policymakers on ways to manage and design residential developments for biodiversity.  Dr. Hostetler co-founded UF’s Program for Resource Efficient Communities (PREC) and collaborates with an interdisciplinary team of scientists and graduate students.  In conjunction with PREC, Mark is working with policymakers and developers to establish natural resource conservation strategies in communities that are billed as “green” developments.  In particular, he works with planners and built environment professionals to establish management programs for conservation subdivisions.  Dr. Hostetler has a bachelor’s in biology from Purdue University (1987) and his master’s (1992) and doctorate in zoology (1997) are both from University of Florida. Following on from his Fullbright Fellowship during which he adapted his urban greening manual for New Zealand, Mark brings his senior students to New Zealand every year.