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Developing the scientific foundation for the green economy

If you are attending the 2014 International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) World Congress this week in Salt Lake City, keep an eye out for SIG & Natural Assets Lab presenters:



Modeling The Profitability Of Power Production From Short-Rotation Woody Crops In Sub-Saharan Africa (Thomas Buchholz)



A global meta-analysis of forest bioenergy greenhouse gas emissions accounting studies
(1991–2013) (Thomas Buchholz, Matt Hurteau, John Gunn, & David Saah)


Life cycle evaluation of forest sector greenhouse gas emissions sensitivity to changes in forest management in Maine (USA) (John Gunn, Chris Hennigar, Ryan Cameron, Thomas Buchholz)

Spatial Informatics Group - Natural Assets Laboratory

The science and policy of natural assets and environmental markets are evolving rapidly and require nimble institutions to provide the innovations necessary to link economic and environmental interests. In 2012, the non-profit SIG-NAL was created to meet this need. SIG-NAL broadens the reach of the technical capacity and professional networks of Spatial Informatics Group (SIG) to create a more flexible entity with increased effectiveness in a dynamic economic and political context working for the public benefit.

SIG-NAL 2014 Updates

NEWS:January 2014 Ponca Tribal Lands Mapping and Ecosystem Services

SIG-NAL Executive Director John Gunn and SIG Research Scientist Steve Signell have been working with the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) to facilitate access by tribes to spatial information about their lands and to gain understanding about potential participation in the ecosystem marketplace.


John presented an online mapping tool developed by Steve Signell to members of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma on January 16th, 2014 in White Eagle, OK as part of a larger presentation on the Cobell Land Buy-Back Program organized by the ILTF. The mapping tool will allow interest holders in parcels to view detailed information about their land, including a summary of land cover types.


The presentation from SIG-NAL also included an initial assessment of the Ponca Tribe's opportunities for participating in carbon offset markets through tree planting and avoided conversion of grasslands to cropland.


Photo: Young bison at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve (TNC, Oklahoma)

NEWS: January 2014 Strengthening Capacity for Future Climate Change Leaders in the Region

David Saah, Managing Principal for SIG just returned from Bangkok, Thailand where he worked alongside 32 professors from ten Southeast Asian and two U.S. universities who were convened by the USAID-funded Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (LEAF) project to build capacity for climate change curriculum development.


Developed collaboratively by LEAF, the U.S. Forest Service, and its university partners, the training modules on basic climate change and low emission land use planning are designed for regional replication. Inputs received will feed into the next stage of technical review and materials editing. The remaining two modules, forest carbon measurement and monitoring, and social and environmental soundness, will be tested in May. “Climate science knowledge is lacking in the region, so this effort is especially significant,” explained one participant from Universiti Putra Malaysia. The project's curriculum development work is part of a joint effort among regional universities to build capacity of the next generation of climate and forest professionals throughout the region.


Photo: SIG Managing Principal David Saah presenting at LEAF Asia workshop in Thailand.

The Very Hungry City, out in paperback

SIG Principal and co-founder Austin Troy's recent book, The Very Hungry City, is now available in paperback. The book is about how cities consume energy, what rising global energy prices will mean for cities in the future, and what cities can do today reduce their energy footprint without compromising their quality of life. The book's topic was also the focus of Austin's recent TEDx Midatlantic talk in Washington DC, where he had the distinction of following General Stanley McChrystal!


The Very Hungry City: What urban energy metabolism means for sustainability and competitiveness was also the keynote address for the Baltimore Ecosystem Study’s (BES) annual meeting on Oct. 22, 2013. BES is one of two urban long-term ecological research projects funded by the National Science Foundation.


At the meeting, Austin’s book was tagged “BES Book of the Year.”

SIG would like to welcome Gary Roller and Travis Kay-Rugen to the Natural Hazards Team. Together, Gary and Travis bring extensive experience in forest inventory design, field implementation, and data analysis, along with additional expertise in surface fuel assessment and wildfire modeling. More information about SIG's Team can be found here.

NEW PUBLICATIONS: Modeling the effects of an urban growth boundary on vehicle travel in a small metropolitan area


Early forest dynamics in stand-replacing fire patches in the northern Sierra Nevada, California, USA



Late-Successional and Old-Growth Forests in the Northeastern United States: Structure, Dynamics, and Prospects

for Restoration



Modeling climate and fuel reduction impacts on mixed-conifer forest carbon stocks in the Sierra Nevada, California


Dale Ellen Azaria, Austin Troy, Brian H Y Lee, Curtis Ventriss, Brian Voigt. 2013. The results of the modeling effort indicate that even in an area with low to moderate population growth, there is the potential to reduce vehicle miles of travel per person by as much as 25% from a business-as-usual scenario over a forty-year period. 
Environment and Planning B. 40(5): 846-864.


Brandon M. Collins, Gary B. Roller. 2013. There is considerable concern over the occurrence of stand-replacing fire in forest types historically associated with low- to moderate-severity fire. Results indicate that the natural return of pine/mixed-conifer forests is uncertain in many areas affected by stand-replacing fire. Landscape Ecology 28: 1801-1813.


Mark J. Ducey, John S. Gunn, and Andrew A. Whitman. 2013. Although large live trees showed a broad trend of increasing density in regional forests, recent harvesting patterns offset a considerable fraction of those gains, while mean diameter was static and the number of large dead trees was weakly declining. Even though forests of the northeast are aging, changes in silviculture and forest policy are necessary to accelerate restoration of old-growth structure. Forests 4, no. 4 (2013): 1055-1086.


Matthew D. Hurteau, Timothy A. Robards, Donald Stevens, David Saah, Malcolm North, and George W. Koch. 2014. Quantifying the impacts of changing climatic conditions on forest growth is integral to estimating future forest carbon balance. We used a growth-and-yield model, modified for climate sensitivity, to quantify the effects of altered climate on mixed-conifer forest growth in the Lake Tahoe Basin, California. Forest Ecology and Management 315: 30-42.


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