‘Exploring Our Urban Forest’ preview with Christine Biermann

Brianna Beassie 

bbeassie@uccs.edu 

Christine Biermann will present a virtual lecture entitled, “Exploring Our Urban Forest” in partnership with Dennis Will and the Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum from 2-3 p.m. on Saturday, April 10. 

     The goal of the UCCS-Pioneer Museum partnership and virtual presentation is to bring attention to Colorado Springs’ urban forest, right in time for the city to celebrate its 150th anniversary.  

     Biermann attributes the formation of this project to Jenifer Furda, the director of Partnerships and Governmental Affairs at UCCS, who worked with community partners and invited Biermann and Will to work on this presentation. This comes as part of an effort by UCCS to engage more with the Colorado Springs community and city government. 

     According to Biermann, an assistant professor of geography and environmental studies at UCCS, the term “urban forest” refers to any trees growing in the city regardless of if they are located on the street, on private property, in protected areas or in open spaces. With this is mind, the UCCS campus is considered part of the city’s urban forest.  

     The virtual lecture scheduled for this week is being presented by both Biermann and Will, who is the Colorado Springs chief forester. The presentation will begin with Will providing the attendees with a brief overview and specific research pertaining to the urban forests in Colorado Springs and how they are affected by factors such as climate change.  

     Viewers can expect to hear about how much of our city is covered in forest canopy, the quality of our air and water, what types of trees grow here, how energy conservation works in the urban forests and the cooling and heating effects that stem from areas such as these. Trees play significant roles in each of these processes and topics.    

     Biermann’s portion of the lecture will focus on the research happening on the UCCS campus and the Tree Ring Lab regarding the trees growing around the main campus and on the bluffs behind it. Much of this research and the presentation is centered on how well the trees are surviving, particularly because of the droughts that have occurred in the past several years.  

     In order to obtain this information, Biermann and other members of the Tree Ring Lab examine the rings inside of trees, which provide a record of the environment and show scientists how climate has varied over time. For example, Biermann explained that narrow rings indicate that the trees endured years of drought. Wider rings tend to demonstrate that the trees lived through years of moisture. For more information regarding the Tree Ring Lab and how to get involved, click here

     Biermann is one of many scientists to note that Colorado has been experiencing longer, hotter droughts over the last several years, which may be becoming the new normal in the state due to climate change.  

     During Biermann’s portion of the webinar, attendees will learn about how our urban forests are affected by drought, including what kind of long-term effects (also known as “legacy effects”) these dry periods can have on our trees, how long it takes for trees to rebound from the drought period and whether tree growth is high or low compared to the previous and following years.  

     According to Biermann, it can take a long time for a tree to recover from trauma, such as a drought, which can lead to the death of different tree species and entire ecosystems. She notes that these traumas can also increase the risk of wildfires, something that Colorado has experienced frequently in past years.  

     Biermann has been collaborating with UCCS students to work on this project for about two years, although there is still room for more students to join and contribute if they would like to. She explained that when she first started this project, her goal was to really understand how drought is occurring in our backyard at UCCS.  

     She said that she believes it is important for people to get to know the environment that they live in and around, so that they can learn how to best protect their future, as well as that of the urban forests.  

     Regarding how her research relates to the partnership between UCCS and the Pioneer Museum, Biermann pointed out that “environmental issues and climate change can’t be approached in isolation” and that ensuring the longevity and success of the Colorado Springs urban forest will require this type of collaboration. 

     The lecture event is free to attend, but students and community members must register through the link here by April 9 in order to receive the Zoom Webinar sign-in information. 

Image courtesy of Facebook.