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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 48, Issue 2 — March 2022

Indiana University’s Woodland Campus: A Case Study of Urban Forest Patch Sustainability

Stephanie Freeman-Day and Burnell C. Fischer, PhD

Abstract: Background: Urban green spaces are increasingly seen as vital resources contributing to ecological and social health. The ecological concept of patch dynamics over space, scale, and time applies to patches in urban settings and is important in understanding the complexity of relationships between and within the ecological and social spheres interacting in urban settings. Methods: This case study investigates forested and natural patches on Indiana University’s Bloomington (IUB) campus. Data gathered through university archives includes historical maps and campus plans for a study period beginning in 1884 with the university’s relocation to its current area. Documents were reviewed forevidence of patches being labeled or left blank. Historic aerial photos were compared with present satellite imagery using geographic information system (GIS) software. Results: Findings include patterns where patches were indicated on maps (1902 to early 1940s), followed by a period where natural/forested areas were unindicated on maps (post-World War II to 1960s), followed by patches reappearing on maps and being suggested for preservation (1960s to present). Although some natural patches were “lost” during the study period, others persisted. Patches that endured may be defined as Commons: shared resources protected by formal/informal rule processes. Conclusions: This novel framework for the IUB patch project serves as a template for use in investigating green patches in the city of Bloomington. The Bloomington project builds upon the IUB framework, expanding GIS analysis of current patches and historical imagery, and assessing current ecological patch condition. Additional considerations reflect complexity of municipal settings and include patch ownership, socio-demographics, and equitability in access.

Keywords: GIS; Historical Ecology; Patch Theory; Pilot Project; Urban Ecosystems.

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