Earthwatch researcher Kelaine Vargas Ravdin is an ecologist with special interests in the environmental sustainability of cities and the role of urban forests.
What inspired you to found Urban Ecos?
“During my time as a researcher with the U.S. Forest Service,” she says, “there was a great deal of interest from our nonprofit, municipal, and corporate partners in applying our work in a practical way. How could the results of our urban forest research be used to make our cities greener and healthier? How could trees be incorporated into designs to reduce energy use and clean the air and water? How could the data be used to make public policy arguments for planting more trees and caring for the existing ones? After several years with the government, I decided to branch out on my own to offer that kind of assistance and see the real-world applications of our research.”
A great moment in the field:
“I spent several years in Berlin studying urban ecology and loved discovering all the ways nature manages to make a home for itself in big cities. From the rare cliff mosses growing in the cracks of old buildings, to the endangered flowers and butterflies finding refuge in abandoned rail yards, to the little sparrows that returned each year to nest in the gun barrel of a war memorial tank - if you look for it, there's nature everywhere!”