My name is Travis Longcore. I am an environmental scientist and advocate working on ecological management, stewardship, and design. Since the mid-1990s, I have studied, restored, protected, and enjoyed nature in and around cities and beyond, with a foot in both applied and academic worlds. For research and teaching, I am an adjunct member of the faculty at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. For applied projects, I am the Science Director of The Urban Wildlands Group (nonprofit) and as a consultant, I work in ecological restoration, as an advisor design professionals in architecture and landscape architecture, and with attorneys to secure land protection. And apparently the most noticeable thing about me is that I am “tall, with an unpruned thatch of brown hair.”
The world is experiencing two intersecting trends that define life in the 21stcentury. First, in the ongoing biodiversity crisis species are being lost at a rate matched only by the previous five mass extinction spasms of deep history. Second, human settlement is concentrating in cities at a rate unprecedented in history, with urban life defining human experience on most continents. Our work is based on the premise that these two trends are related, deserve to be understood, and are inherently spatial in nature. They are about the distribution of phenomena on the Earth — and consequently can be better understood and managed with the support of spatial analysis, which allows for creative insights and solutions to cut across scales that include the site, neighborhood, city, watershed, region, continent, and globe.
To understand and improve the conditions in cities both for people and nature is an inherently interdisciplinary endeavor. I seek to ask questions that increase scientific understanding and carry those insights through to inspire design and inform policy. Because finding solutions is even more difficult than diagnosing problems, I have always designed research projects from the start so that they can be applied by decisionmakers addressing these challenges.
The “new” field of Geodesign integrates spatial analysis with planning and design efforts to reduce impacts on the environment and “make informed decisions about the best possible future.” It builds on and extends McHarg’s Design with Nature framework to harness the power of current spatial technologies, data, and analysis. As humanity is forced into the difficult decisions that will be necessary for an inevitable transition to a steady-state economy, geodesign provides a framework for collective decisionmaking and action.