Plenary Speakers SCCS-NY 2018

Arturo A. Massol-Deyá    
Arturo Massol

Professor, Department of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico; Associate Director, Casa Pueblo.

Dr. Arturo A. Massol-Deyá is from the mountainous municipality of Adjuntas in Puerto Rico where his parents founded the community-based organization Casa Pueblo. Working to conserve the island’s biodiversity and to protect its critical watersheds from industrial activities such as mining, Casa Pueblo has led the establishment of two community-based protected forest areas - changing the Island's forestry policy and catalyzing an increase of protected areas from 3.7% to 8% of the land area.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, Dr. Massol-Deyá worked together with Casa Pueblo to lead a community response that aimed to change the energy policies of a country that is dependent on fossil fuels to one based on renewable energy sources. Serving as an energy oasis, providing energy and equipment to those in need following the hurricane, the initiative demonstrates how community-based resource management can end reliance on fossil fuels while conserving natural resources and fulfilling its global responsibility to mitigate global warming and social inequalities.

 

Erika Svendsen 
Erika Svendsen profile pic

Research Social Scientist, U.S. Forest Service. 

Dr. Erika Svendsen is a leader in the field of environmental stewardship as it relates to community development, governance, and human well-being. She is the co-Director of the New York City urban field station, a special partnership between the Forest Service, NYC Parks, and several NGOs and academic institutions. The goal of the field station is to join research and practice to improve the quality of life in urbanizing areas by conducting, supporting, and communicating research about social-ecological systems and natural resource management. The field station is part of a growing network of cities and agencies working to advance research, cultivate ideas, and foster collaboration among scientists and practitioners focused on urban forestry and ecology as they relate to social-cultural issues.

Erika is co-author of the book, How Planting Trees Strengthens the Roots of Democracy. She has received the Forest Service Chief's Award for engaging urban America and an Early Career Scientist Award recognizing her co-development of STEW-MAP, a sustainability tool for assessing and visualizing the contributions of civic stewardship groups in caring for their local environment. Erika is also the former director of NYC Parks’ GreenThumb community gardening program and has worked for The Rockefeller Foundation on leadership issues in the field of environment and development.