Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment View this newsletter in your browser. July-August 2015
Program Updates Program Updates
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Calendar of Upcoming Events
"2015 Stanford Bright Award"
Recipient of annual award for significant contributions to environmental preservation and sustainability delivers acceptance speech
Details TBD
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Making Better Decisions

Nature's benefits, such as pest-controlling bats and coast-protecting corals, are myriad and quantifiable. A recent series of papers highlights successful efforts to incorporate these ecosystem services in economic and social development plans. Among the striking examples: the Chinese government plans to zone the country to protect and restore natural assets crucial for services such as flood mitigation and soil fertility over an area that will likely include nearly half the nation's land area. The studies, many of them co-authored by researchers affiliated with the Natural Capital Project, highlight how measuring and mapping nature's benefits can help us make better choices. A related panel discussion in Washington, D.C. further explored how businesses, governments and others can use natural capital concepts to address global sustainability challenges. Read on for more about how Woods-affiliated researchers are informing decision- making with innovative, interdisciplinary work.


Jeffrey R. Koseff
Perry L. McCarty Director


Barton H. Thompson, Jr.
Perry L. McCarty Director


Program Updates

How Valuing Nature is Transforming Decisions

Studies co-authored by researchers with the Natural Capital Project, a joint initiative of Woods, The Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund and the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, show impact of factoring nature into economic and development decisions.

Photo credit: Nadia Bood / WWF

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Protecting the Deep Sea: A Call for Balancing Mining and Ecosystem Protection

Researchers with the Center for Ocean Solutions propose a strategy for balancing commercial extraction of deep-sea resources with protection of diverse seabed habitats.

Photo credit: Craig Smith and Diva Amon, ABYSSLINE Project

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A Natural Solution to Spread of Deadly Disease

Stanford researchers find river prawns effective at curbing spread of a potentially deadly parasitic disease that infects about 230 million people. The project received early support through the Environmental Venture Projects program, and its leaders will establish a center on disease, ecology, health and development at Stanford in collaboration with Woods and the Center for Innovation in Global Health.

Photo credit: Susanne Sokolow

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Milestone for Eco-Tourism Entrepreneurs

As part of its larger mission to help generate a process for sustainable development in a biodiverse region of Costa Rica, Woods' Osa & Golfito Initiative, in partnership with local Costa Rica organizations, trains eco-tourism entrepreneurs. The training program, called Pathways to Leadership or Caminos de Liderazgo, graduated its first class recently, with the country's vice president in attendance.

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For more research, see the Stanford Woods Institute quarterly Research Digest.
Research Highlights

Shallow Fracking Raises Questions for Water 

Drinking water sources may be threatened by thousands of shallow oil and gas wells mined by fracking, according to research by Senior Fellow Robert Jackson (Earth System Science) and colleagues.

Photo credit: Rob Jackson

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Marijuana's Environmental Impacts

Researchers including Senior Fellow Rosamond Naylor (Earth System Science) link cultivation of cash crop to environmental damage in California, and call for greater regulation.

Photo credit: Svetlana Nikolaeva

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Mental Health Rx: Nature

Study co-authored by Senior Fellow Gretchen Daily (Biology) finds quantifiable evidence that walking in nature could lead to a lower risk of depression.

Photo credit: L.A. Cicero

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Isolating the Underlying Causes of Extreme Weather

Recent trends in atmospheric circulation play a key role in extreme weather such as heat waves, droughts and storms, according to research co-authored by Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth System Science).

Photo credit: NOAA

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In the News
Selected media coverage of the Stanford Woods Institute and its
fellows, affiliated scholars and supported research

Cleaning Poop from Drinking Water

KQED | Quest Science, July 30
Interviews with Senior Fellows Stephen Luby (Medicine) and Jenna Davis (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Woods research associate Amy Pickering (Water, Health & Development) about their work on low-cost water chlorination technology for urban slums.

Is It Safe to Go to the Beach? 

ABC News, July 27
Senior Fellow Alexandria Boehm (Civil and Environmental Engineering) tests for bacteria in samples of sand from beaches, and provides tips for beachgoers to reduce their risk of exposure to dangerous pathogens.

What Killed Off the Woolly Mammoth? Climate Change

Christian Science Monitor, July 24
Senior Fellow Chris Field (Biology, Earth System Science) discusses concerns with rapid climate change.

California Flexes Muscles in Water Tussle With Farmers 

New York Times (via Associated Press), July 17
Woods Co-Director and Senior Fellow Buzz Thompson discusses how California is an anomaly among Western states in the way it treats water rights.

Can You Prescribe Nature?

BBC News, July 8
Discusses research, co-authored by Senior Fellow Gretchen Daily (Biology) on the mental health benefits of time in nature.

Drought Drives Greater Household Use of Gray Water 

Los Angeles Times, July 4
Senior Woods Fellow Richard Luthy (Engineering), and Newsha Ajami, director of urban water policy at Water in the West, discuss the growing popularity of gray water.

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