Robert James Laverne

Robert James Laverne
"We are, in actuality, students of that greater order known as nature. It is into nature that man vanishes."
—Loren Eiseley


  • Adjunct Associate Professor
  • Ph.D. Urban Studies and Public Affairs, Cleveland State University, Levin College of Urban Affairs
  • M.S. Remote Sensing, University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and the Environment
  • B.S. Forestry, Michigan Technological University
  • B.S. Biology, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

Urban Forestry

Are humans included within nature, or is nature all of life except humans?  Until a few generations ago, humans seemed to be a component of the natural world – depending on what the earth provided for food and shelter.  More recently the majority of humans have come to live in urban areas where we purchase our food in containers, control the indoor climate with the push of a button, and rely more on our computers for information about the weather than experiencing the rain, sun and wind while being outside.  Have humans decided to secede from the union with nature?  Even if we have, we cannot.

Despite the apparent distance we have placed between ourselves and contact with nature, the reality is that all of our food, materials, and essentials-for-life still come from organisms and ecosystems.  Take trees for example.  We use the wood to build with, and in some cases to heat with.  We use the wood fiber for paper and chemicals, and we enjoy the fruits and nuts harvested for our food.  Urban trees play an enhanced role in our lives by providing beneficial shade in overheated cities, thereby reducing energy use and at the same time sequestering carbon.  Trees in cities not only produce oxygen but also help to keep it clean by capturing some of the pollutants that spew from our engines and energy plants.  And increasingly we are coming to understand that experiencing trees in parks, green spaces and along our neighborhood streets provides relief to our overstimulated senses and stressed sensibilities. 

The study of urban forests provides an opportunity to build bridges between the metropolitan population centers we have built and the natural world that built us.  Urban forestry is the art and science of maximizing the benefits of living among trees while reducing the costs associated with managing them.  The result of wise use of trees in cities is an improvement in the quality of life for humans who live in these communities.  Because after all, we are dependent on nature.

Areas of Expertise

  • Urban Forestry
  • Arboriculture
  • Tree Appraisal and Expert Witness Services
  • Environmental, Economic and Social Benefits of Urban Forests
  • Soundscape Ecology