Doctoral candidate at the UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability
Category of Humanitarian Benefit: Environmental Improvement
Short Biography/ Background of the Nominee: Isaac Brown is a nationally recognized landscape ecologist and planner specializing in urban biodiversity and ecosystem management. Isaac has applied these concepts in professional urban planning and green infrastructure projects worldwide including the San Francisco Sewer System Improvement Program, the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Sustainability Management Tools, and the Arizona State Land Department’s Superstition Vistas growth area. Isaac is currently coordinating the development of an urban biodiversity strategy with the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation and Environment. Isaac holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, and is a doctoral candidate in Environmental Science and Engineering at the UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability. His research includes developing urban ecosystem health indicators for Los Angeles that integrate biodiversity, ecosystem services, pollution management, and environmental hazards. This is the first attempt to create a comprehensive urban ecosystem framework for L.A.’s built environment, and represents a promising new direction for sustainability of cities worldwide.
Project Name and Description: City of Los Angeles Biodiversity Strategy -------------- Brown has developed a framework for managing cities as urban ecosystems. This framework emphasizes the interactions between cities and their local physical environment (i.e., proximal ecosystems). Examples of such interactions include management of stormwater affecting local hydrology, or urban forests affecting a city’s urban heat island and biodiversity. The city’s broader ecosystem context, and interactions with less-proximal ecosystem processes are also important and widely addressed through urban sustainability frameworks such as management of city greenhouse gas emissions or imported water impacts on remote watersheds. This urban ecosystem framework generally addresses these broader aspects insofar as they relate to management of local urban landscapes, biota, and natural features such as landscape carbon storage or local hydrology implications of imported water. Brown presents an example application of this framework that includes creation of conceptual urban ecosystem typologies for Los Angeles (L.A.), with the aim of inspiring new insight on the value of the ecosystem concept for urban areas and to advance ongoing management activities in L.A. and other cities. -------------- I strongly recommend Isaac Brown for this award. I had a the opportunity working with him several years ago when he was with EDAW/AECOM. He was our ecology lead for several large-scale projects in the US and internationally. He always brings great value by integrating ecological preservation strategies with the overall master plan to achieve higher environmental and humanity performance. He uses quantifiable methods and metrics to help ensure the improvement to ecological environment. He develops effective methodology and use science to evaluate complex eco systems and convey clear recommendations for our clients to achieve higher triple bottom line results.
Humanitarian Benefit: Urban green spaces and biota (both intentional and interstitial) comprise part of the ecosystem which we generally call a "city." Careful consideration of the ecological structure of the city can inform a master plan for a sustainable city ecosystem, leading to reduced landscape management costs, better human and ecological health, resilience to adverse events, and improved human social equity and quality of life.