Brian Donahue will present his talk “Wildlands, Woodlands and Farmlands: Visions of Landscape-scale Conservation” at Sweet Briar College’s Julia B. Waxter Environmental Forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, in the Wailes Lounge at the Elston Inn Conference Center.
Donahue, who teaches American environmental studies at Brandeis University, will focus on the “Wildlands and Woodlands” vision for forest conservation in New England, which can be found at wildlandsandwoodlands.org/vision/vision-new-england.
According to the website, New England forests are at a turning point, with forest cover beginning to decline in every New England state. The vision calls for a 50-year conservation effort to retain at least 70 percent of New England in forestland and keep it permanently free from development.
Donahue is working on a version of the plan for the entire Eastern U.S., which he will discuss as part of his presentation.
“I’ll start with a little land history of 18th- and19th-century agricultural clearing and logging, followed by forest recovery and farm decline in the 20th century,” he said.
His talk will also include a related subject: food. Drawing from his work on “The New England Good Food Vision 2060: Healthy Food and Sustainable Farming,” Donahue explores some of the practical questions behind sustainability.
“We hear a lot about the virtues of ‘eating locally,’ ‘food security,’ and a ‘regional food system,’ but what might that really look like on the ground?” he asks.
Donahue has won numerous awards, including the 2000 Book Prize from the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities for “Reclaiming the Commons: Community Farms and Forests in a New England Town” (1999). His book “The Great Meadow: Farmers and the Land in Colonial Concord” (2004) won the 2004 Marsh Prize from the American Society for Environmental History, the 2005 Saloutos Prize from the Agricultural History Society and the 2004 Best Book Prize from the New England Historical Association.
Donahue is an associate professor of American environmental studies on the Jack Meyerhoff Fund. He teaches courses on environmental issues, environmental history and sustainable farming and forestry. Donahue holds a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from the Brandeis program in the history of American civilization. He co-founded and for 12 years directed Land’s Sake, a nonprofit community farm in Weston, Mass., and was director of education at The Land Institute in Salina, Kan.