Hurricane Maria ravaged the only tropical rainforest in the United States

September 28, 2017 by  
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El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest managed by the United States Forest Service, suffered major damage as Hurricane Maria bore down on Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm. While Washington faces criticism for its apparently lackluster response to the unfolding humanitarian disaster , scientists are beginning to turn their attention to the ecological devastation wrought by the powerful hurricane. Bill McDowell, an ecologist at the University of New Hampshire who led research missions in El Yunque for decades, described the national forest and center for scientific research as “devastated.” Still, life will find a way and El Yunque, adapted for the hurricane-prone Caribbean, is expected to endure, offering scientists a glimpse into the ecological recovery process. El Yunque National Forest covers nearly 30,000 acres in the northeast region of Puerto Rico and contains a wide range of habitat, from humid lowland rainforests to cool, cloud forests in the Luquillo Mountains. El Yunque is home to sixteen species of coqui frogs , the only species of native parrot in Puerto Rico, and a wide variety of epiphytes, which survive by pulling water from the air in the chilly upland dwarf forests. The National Forest is also known for its uniquely preserved petroglyphs by the indigenous Taíno people. Related: Scientists discover the Amazon forest sets off its own rainy season While El Yunque and similar forests in the region have evolved to cope with a sometimes-volatile climate , the unique power of Hurricane Maria presents an unprecedented challenge for the ecosystem . “From a science perspective, this is a test of how resilient the forests and streams are,” said Alan Covich, an aquatic ecologist at the University of Georgia who has studied El Yunque for decades. “I think the biggest question is the intensity of the disturbance and the cumulative effect of two [major hurricanes]. It’s a situation that has taken a century to develop.” Still, researchers are optimistic about the forest’s future. “We think things are pretty resilient and will come back within weeks and months, like they did after Hugo,” said Covich. “Six to 12 months from now, the forest will be in fine shape.” However, Covich noted that in the wake of such a disruptive event, different organisms may emerge as dominant species than before the storm. In addition to its role as an ecological and scientific hotspot, El Yunque has historically supported the people of Puerto Rico in critical ways. After hurricanes , the forest typically prevents debris and landslides from contaminating the headwaters of the Loquillo Mountains. While Puerto Ricans wait for relief from FEMA, El Yunque National Forest protects the much-needed sources of clean drinking water that sustain the population. Via Earther Images via  Omar Gutiérrez del Arroyo Santiago/Earther

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Hurricane Maria ravaged the only tropical rainforest in the United States

Architect builds a tiny studio in his backyard to be closer to his child

September 28, 2017 by  
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This tiny backyard studio in Toronto is the perfect home office for parents who want to play a bigger role in their young child’s life. Oliver Dang, founder of architecture firm Six Four Five A , has constructed the timber structure for himself as a private workspace overlooking a small green area where his one-year-old can play. The studio occupies a place at the end of the architect’s garden enclosed by high fencing. The cedar wood used for the fence was also chosen for decking and cladding the 100-square-foot hut. An asymmetric pitched roof tops the structure and shelters a small interior space fully optimized to fit all the necessary amenities. Related: Timber Shoffice is a Naturally Daylit Garden Shed + Office Combo in London Exposed vertical studs are used to support shelves, the drawing board occupies a space underneath the window, and a standing computer desk runs along one side. A slab of Carrara marble salvaged from a skyscraper functions as a threshold. The building provides the family with more flexibility in organizing their day-to-day life and spend more time together. The firm said in a statement: “The resulting design is a bright, lofty and functional office space that is also visually and spatially connected to the house and yard.” + Six Four Five A Via Dezeen Photos by Ashlea Wessel

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Architect builds a tiny studio in his backyard to be closer to his child

Singapore’s Marina One green-infused residential building will feature lush cloud forests

November 4, 2015 by  
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