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Regeneration: A Co-Productive Model for Forestry in the American Suburbs

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Ryan Pickerill
Landscape Architecture
Bachelor 4
Kristi Cheramie
Spring 2018

In the history of the United States, the practices that have shaped both forestry and the retail sector reflect a lack of foresight. Forests, heavily cleared and degraded and then shielded from the disturbances that keep them healthy, are now disconnected, overgrown, and unrepresentative of a variety of ages. Forests in this condition are limited in their ability to provide both wildlife habitat and usable commercial products. Meanwhile, the retail sector has been overbuilt with malls surrounded by seas of parking. Investors and consumers cannot reasonably support all of these malls, so they are dying out and blighting the communities they once supported. Nowhere are these dual problems as pervasive as the suburban areas of the American Midwest, both heavily cleared of forests and disproportionately affected by disinvestment. As climate, habitat, and quality of life concerns become more pressing, a radical shift in the way that suburban communities look and function needs to take place. The original intent of shopping malls to be a community center and the many benefits of forestry to a community together offer an opportunity to create a co-productive strategy between forests and dying retail-one where a mall becomes a center from which a forestry-based community spreads.

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