The Quiet Corner Initiative is an unprecedented “living laboratory” for natural science and social science students where research and education meet the challenges of real world situations and where ideas can be tested and refined on the ground with community stakeholders.
While many school forests are used for research and technical training, the QCI gives professional students at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES) a broader perspective on working landscapes, linking sustainable management with local communities. It provides an avenue where learned skills are brought to tangible problems that complement classroom lectures and work.
The long-term structure of QCI programs allows great opportunity for projects to persist through successive cohorts of students, continuously building upon the work of the precedent class to achieve lasting results on a large scale in both time and space. In this way, the Quiet Corner Initiative is designed to be a framework for collaboration with respect to the environmental education, research, and management goals of the Yale School Forests.
Students sampling a stream in the Quiet Corner
A number of classes at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies allow students to get involved with the Quiet Corner Initiative. By taking several of them, students can build a unique and coherent curriculum that will take them through a variety of steps in land conservation, from outreach to strategic ecological planning.
Whether your interest is in forestry, sustainable agriculture, hydrology, large landscape level conservation, environmental consulting, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), payment for ecosystem services or renewable energy, the QCI offers unprecedented opportunities for the integration and cross-pollination of research and management efforts within and between the Yale FES programs. A sample of QCI-related coursework includes:
The Management Plans for Protected Areas class has teams of students working as forest and conservation consultants for a group of landowners in the Woodland Partnership located in a particular watershed surrounding the forest. Starting from their client's objectives, they decypher the past land use of a property and collect social and biological data to build a professional Management Plan. This year, students are at work in the Mount Hope watershed.
Similarly, River Processes and Restoration students produce a riparian assesment that evaluates the health of a stream within this watershed. This year, students are working on restoring several culverts, assessing the Morse Reservoir and its historical dam, and surveying the streams of two landowners.
For partnering landowners who wish to implement their Management Plans, students in Advanced Silviculture, Forest Operations, and on Forest Crew write and mark actual silvicultural prescriptions. Last spring, students planned timber sales for two landowners who had received management plans the year before.
In Forest & Ecosystem Finance, they can go one step further and work with landowners on timber sales, timber modeling, conservation easements and payment for ecosystem services.
Independent study and projects allow students to work with local and regional landtrusts in developping conservation easements and land protection strategies. This summer, a student investigated small-scale energy systems such as wood-stoves and solar panels.
And lastly, the Strategies for Land Conservation seminar synthesizes the work done by writing a Landscape Plan that incorporates all Management Plans into a regional document. It also provides an experience in clinical work and outreach where students build new partnerships with local owners so that the cycle can start again the following year in a new watershed.
Mik McKee (MF '14) collecting data for a landowner's Management Plan (picture by Pat Hook)