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Community & Economic Vitality

Rural landscapes around the world face intense development pressures from nearby urban areas. In the United States, rampant, low-density development at the urban fringe consumed approximately 800,000 ha of land in the last decade (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service 2004). New subdivision developments and new towns are blanketing the landscape, often with little or inadequate provision for green infrastructure. This is certainly the case in New England, one of the nation's most densely populated regions. For example, every day 16 ha.

Urbanization has increased demand for water and impaired aquatic ecosystems, threatening water resources worldwide. Climate change and more frequent droughts are expected to exacerbate this situation. Residential landscaping, especially lawns, are a major factor in increasing domestic water use.

Outreach efforts have been made to promote outdoor residential water conservation and promote methods that provide ecosystem benefits. These include water harvesting using rain barrels, infiltrating storm water using rain gardens, and landscaping with native plants.

Municipalities worldwide are showing substantial interest in urban greening, defined here as the introduction or conservation of outdoor vegetation in cities. In many cases greening involves substantial tree planting, and across the United States cities have established ambitious canopy cover goals and major tree planting programs.

Animal health is of great importance, in agricultural, food security, general economic and public health terms. The diseases that our lab investigates (e.g. tuberculosis, anaplasmosis, Johne's disease, leptospirosis, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV)) cause billions of dollars in losses to U.S. agricultural producers. In addition, tuberculosis,anaplasmosis, leptospirosis and Johne's disease are zoonotic diseases, in which animals can serve as reservoirs and vectors of often fatal diseases for humans.

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