Jesse Minor is Assistant Professor of Geography & Environmental Planning at University of Maine at Farmington. I do research in Fire Ecology, Geography and Biogeography. My current project is 'Profile.' I formerly worked in the MS-GIST program at the School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona.
Skills and Expertise
- Department of Geography and Environmental Policy
- Farmington, Maine, United States
- Assistant Professor
- Physical Geography, Forest Ecology, Dendrochronology
Research Items (23)
Project - Fengshui Forest Ecology and Management
Chris Coggins and a team of authors published a chapter titled "China’s community Fengshui Forests: Spiritual ecology and nature conservation" in an edited volume that is available as of September 2018. This chapter provides the best estimate so far of the geographic extent, cultural and spiritual connections, and conservation status of this important socio-ecological phenomenon.
Authors who contributed to this chapter are Chris Coggins , Jesse Minor, Bixia Chen, Yaoqi Zhang, Peter Tiso, James Lam, and Cem Gultekin.
Coggins, C., Minor, J., Chen, B., Zhang, Y., Tiso, P., *Lam, J., and *Gultekin, C. 2018. “China’s community Fengshui Forests: Spiritual ecology and nature conservation” in B. Verschuuren and S. Brown (eds), Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature in Protected Areas: Governance, Management and Policy, Routledge: 225-237.
Project - Fengshui Forest Ecology and Management
We have a new, fully open-access publication on fengshui forests! This paper discusses the role of Chinese fengshui forests as a reservoir for biodiversity and forest species. This is especially crucial in light of climate change and the remarkable shifts in Chinese environmental policy. Fengshui forests have the potential to anchor conservation initiatives as part of landscape-scale planning.
Coggins, C. and Minor, J. 2018. Fengshui Forests as a Socionatural Reservoir in the Face of Climate Change and Environmental Transformation. Asia Pacific Perspectives 15(2): 4-29. https://www.usfca.edu/center-asia-pacific/perspectives/v15n2/coggins-minor
Asia Pacific Perspectives is nearly unique in the publishing landscape: it is a fully open access journal that does not charge publication costs to authors. It's a legitimate, peer reviewed journal run through University of San Francisco (California, USA).
Check our our work!
Chinese lineage villages are social-ecological systems (SESs) designed according to principles of fengshui ("wind-water"). Fengshui is a composite of cosmological beliefs and landscape management strategies, including the protection of sacred groves, aimed at optimizing the collective, long-term wellbeing of lineage groups by enhancing long-term natural and social resilience. Along with other adaptive management features, village fengshui forests promote social-ecological vigor by conserving plant, soil, and water resources, enhancing social memory, and serving as living models of resilience in the face of social, economic, and political changes. Modern programs to transform rural communities through state-led agricultural production systems included bans on fengshui practice and the destruction of forests. Many communities protected their fengshui forests, providing contemporary opportunities for local, regional, national, and international conservation initiatives incorporating locally preserved forests. Permalink: usfca.edu/center-asia-pacific/ perspectives/v15n2/coggins-minor
- Apr 2018
Fengshui forests, also known as fengshui woods or fengshui woodlands, are culturally preserved remnant groves of natural forest or small plantations that are common in southern China. Similar forests known by other names are prevalent in many parts of East Asia, including Korea and Japan, where they have long helped sustain rural livelihoods and ecosystems. However, as is the case with research on the origins of fengshui philosophy, research on the origin, diffusion, present-day distribution, and conservation status of fengshui forests remains relatively sparse. Much of the research into fengshui forests has been published in Chinese, and is not accessible to a global scientific audience because the manuscripts are not easily discoverable or because of language barriers. This paper provides a quantitative review of 57 original papers on fengshui woods written in Chinese since the 1990s. Content analysis of Chinese-language papers on fengshui forests demonstrates a geographic bias towards case studies from southern China, and a predominance of methodologies representing vegetation surveys conducted by forestry specialists. Published field results and previously published research on fengshui forests report very high floristic diversity. Our own field research in 57 villages in five provinces shows that these locally protected woodlands are components of common property regimes (CPRs) that have been better preserved than the other forests in southern China and usually represent the only forest remnants adjacent to villages and other settlements. However, fengshui forests face threats from industrial pollution, urbanization, and other forms of economic development. We briefly report on our own preliminary field results and suggest that more research is required to develop interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives on the historical and cultural factors that support the persistence of fengshui forests across China and East Asia as a whole, and to integrate these woodlands within sustainable rural development strategies. These remnants of southern China’s subtropical broadleaf evergreen forests are especially important in light of current efforts by the national government to promote urban forestry, ecosystem conservation, cultural heritage protection, and ecotourism, and to increase the capacity of natural carbon sinks within the country’s borders.
Project - Fengshui Forest Ecology and Management
Bixia Chen, Chris Coggins, Yaoqi Zhang, and I published a paper in Urban Forests and Urban Greening that provides a useful synopsis of Chinese-language scholarship on fengshui forests. The bulk of the Chinese scholarship focuses on the forest condition and forest demography of these sacred groves, largely ignoring the cultural connections that are so essential to the creation and maintenance of these forests.
This paper includes some findings from our ethnographic fieldwork, which frames and contextualizes the cultural elements of this socio-natural system. And our paper provides the best estimation to date of the geographic extent of fengshui forests in China.
Read more at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2017.12.011.
- Jan 2018
Wildfire prevention advertisements featuring Smokey Bear represent the longest-standing and most successful government advertising and branding campaign in U.S. history. As the public face of U.S. fire control policy, Smokey Bear uses mass media to influence the attitudes and behavior of U.S. citizenry in order to accomplish particular outcomes related to wildfire prevention and suppression, forest protection, and resource management. Smokey Bear can therefore be viewed as a governmental instrument that simultaneously targets the behavior of the U.S. public and the biophysical materiality of combustible forests. Examining the evolution of Smokey Bear and related wildfire prevention media, we explore connections between state management of people, territory, and flammable landscapes. Borrowing from Nigel Clark (2011), we use the term pyropolitics to describe the resulting more-than-human assemblage of citizenship, fire suppression and forest ecology. Importantly, this pyropolitical assemblage has substantive and recursive impacts on state practice. Through aggressive wildfire prevention and suppression that include and extend beyond Smokey Bear, the U.S. state has transformed fuel loads, species compositions, and ecosystem dynamics across North America. One result is a heightened propensity toward catastrophic wildfire, requiring additional and sustained state intervention to maintain an imposed and unstable equilibrium. Thus even as the economic, social and cultural realities of U.S. civic life have changed over the course of the 20th and early 21st centuries – and even as knowledge of the ecological benefits of fire to ecosystem health has developed over time – the message of Smokey Bear has remained remarkably consistent, communicating an official imperative to prevent anthropogenic ignition.
Climate change is increasing the frequency and extent of high-severity disturbance, with potential to alter vegetation community composition and structure in environments sensitive to tipping points between alternative states. Shrub species display a range of characteristics that promote resistance and resilience to disturbance, and which yield differential post-disturbance outcomes. We investigated differences in shrub patch size and stem density in response to variations in fire severity, vegetation community, and post-disturbance reproductive strategies in Sky Island forested ecosystems in the southwestern United States. Patterns in shrub structure reflect the effects of fire severity as well as differences among species with alternate post-fire reproductive strategies. Increased fire severity correlates with larger patch sizes and greater stem densities; these patterns are observed across multiple fire events, indicating that disturbance legacies can persist for decades. High severity fire produces the largest shrub patches, and variance in shrub patch size increases with severity. High severity fire is likely to promote expansion of shrub species on the landscape, with implications for future community structure. Resprouting species have the greatest variability in patch structure, while seeding species show a strong response to disturbance: resprouting species dominate at low disturbance severities, and obligate seeders dominate high severity areas. Differential post-fire reproductive strategies are likely to generate distinct patterns of vegetation distribution following disturbance, with implications for community composition at various scales. Shrub species demonstrate flexible responses to wildfire disturbance severity that are reflected in shrub patch dynamics at small and intermediate scales.
Critical Zone Science (CZS) offers analytical techniques and research tools for understanding life and its environment on and near Earth’s surface. CZS research often integrates historically distinct disciplines into multidisciplinary studies of CZ subsystems (e.g., vadose zone, biosphere-atmosphere interactions, and subsurface hydrology). Despite CZS’s ability to characterize rate-dependent processes, it has not historically attempted to capture the effects of ecological disturbance and anthropogenic influences on CZ processes. As human-induced ecosystem effects accelerate in the Anthropocene, the deep temporal and broad spatial scales of biogeography can be productively combined with the quantifiable processes of energy and mass transfer of CZS to answer pressing questions about climate change impacts, post-disturbance recovery, hydrology, and ecology.
About 25,000 acres of Chiricahua Mountains burned in the 1994 Rattlesnake fire. The 2011 Horseshoe II fire re-burned these acres, and much more – virtually the entire range. A year earlier, 2010, a vegetation mapping project photo-documented a variety of vegetation types, but for this poster we focus on the Madrean Pine-Oak Woodland. Subsequent photo matches were taken in 2012, 2014, and 2016. A parallel study of post-fire vegetation recovery following multiple mixed-severity fire events is used to characterize the woody plant community assemblages documented at the photo points. Using repeat photography and plot-based surveys of tree basal area, woody shrub cover, and tree regeneration, we illustrate the various recovery trajectories of re-burned areas in several important vegetation types and across a wide range of elevational settings.
Wood samples larger than increment cores collected for tree-ring studies are often obtained using chainsaws and, less frequently, 2-person crosscut saws. Saw marks on cross-sectional wood samples can be quite deep and uneven, and sanding rough-cut wood cross-sections is inefficient in terms of processing time and wear on sanding belts. Trimming rough-cut wood samples with a band saw or treating with a surface planer creates a smoother initial surface for sample sanding and polishing. Sample trimming with a band saw or surface planer is also useful for post-analysis archiving and wood storage, when excess wood can be removed and smaller samples entered into storage. Band saw and surface planer safety techniques are also discussed.
This multidisciplinary project incorporates mixed-methods research designed to understand a complicated socio-ecological system Village-level ethnography Stream quality and aquatic ecology Forest stand assessments Research Objectives What are the rationales offered by villagers, foresters, and conservationists for the creation, maintenance, and alteration of fengshui forests? What are some of the measureable ecological outcomes promoted by fengshui forests? What are the effects on water quality and stream systems from these forests? What is the total distribution of fengshui forests by county across 14 provinces in southern China?
Fengshui (geomancy) is a longstanding spiritual system and set of practices that also provides practitioners with tools for understanding and managing landscapes and ecosystems. Forests are often planted or preserved in particular places on the landscape to control or improve the flows of feng (wind) and shui (water). Fengshui practices incorporate traditional cosmologies, but are adaptable to changing circumstances and technologies, including topographic mapping of qi flow. Multiple Research Objectives Village-level ethnography Stream quality and aquatic ecology Forest stand assessments This project incorporates mixed-methods research designed to understand a complicated socio-ecological system What are the rationales offered by villagers, foresters, and conservationists for the creation, maintenance, and alteration of fengshui forests? What are some of the measureable ecological outcomes promoted by fengshui forests? What are the effects on water quality and stream and lake systems from these forests? What is the total distribution of fengshui forests by county across 14 provinces in southern China?
In late spring 2013, we – five graduate students from the School of Geography and Development and the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona – set out to design an experiential-learning based political ecology course for undergraduate students. Informed by a critical pedagogical orientation, drawing inspiration from scholar-activists Paulo Friere and bell hooks, we sought to meld critical pedagogy’s focus on social-justice, critical thinking, and continual reflection with an engaged, praxis-focused political ecology. The Public Political Ecology Field Course project consisted of an intensive two-day course held on Saturday, June 2nd and Sunday, June 3rd, 2013 at the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, Arizona and on Mt. Bigelow in the Coronado National Forest. Our approach of combining critical pedagogy, field-based experience, and political ecology’s diverse theoretical and methodological toolkit attracted an interdisciplinary group of undergraduate students – with majors ranging from anthropology and geography, to geophysics and natural resource sciences. Grant support allowed us to provide the weekend learning experience at no cost to students; grant funds covered classroom and vehicle rental, breakfast, coffee and snacks, and a small stipend for the graduate students involved. A primary aim of the course was to challenge all participants, both graduate student instructors and undergraduates, to think critically and holistically about the social, ecological, and political implications and contradictions of sustainable forest management in the local context of Mt. Bigelow in the Coronado National Forest, a highly biodiverse mountain range in Southern Arizona. We structured the course around the Mt. Bigelow case study, focusing specifically on improving understanding of existing interactions and ongoing conflicts between biomass and fuel management regimes, fire suppression, and recreation and tourism-based activities in the communities living in and visiting the Coronado National Forest. Included within the Sky Island designation, Mt. Bigelow is a unique, high elevation forest within the larger Sonoran desert landscape, and has been (and continues to be) the site of numerous scientific investigations.
In 2016, the National Park Service will turn 100 years old. In preparation for this centennial, Chiricahua National Monument and Coronado National Memorial are planning new visitor center exhibits. The Arizona State Museum (ASM) was engaged through the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU) agreement between the University of Arizona and the National Park Service to provide planning support for developing those exhibits. Chiricahua National Monument was established in 1924 by President Calvin Coolidge to preserve and protect this “wonderland of rocks” for the enjoyment and education of the American people. Coronado National Memorial was established in 1952 to commemorate Francisco Vásquez de Coronado’s 16th century expedition into what is now the United States. The unusual geological formations at Chiricahua and the unique Madrean Archipelago flora and fauna of the sky islands that make up the both Chiricahua and Coronado will be subjects for interpretive display in the Visitor Centers at both parks. To assist the selected exhibit design service in developing appropriate interpretive displays, the Arizona State Museum will provide an overview of current research and scientific understanding of the geology and biology of the two parks. To accomplish this goal, ASM engaged graduate students Erin Elizabeth Posthumus from the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, Jesse Minor from the School of Geography and Development, and Adam M. Hudson from the Department of Geosciences as graduate research assistants to prepare background materials for use of NPS staff and exhibit designers. The topics to be developed were defined in discussion with NPS personnel from Chiricahua National Monument and Coronado National Memorial. The goals include: Preparation of background research to summarize current thinking on major topics that will be interpretive subjects for the Chiricahua and Coronado visitor centers. An annotated bibliography for each of the topics. The topics include: The geology and geologic processes that shaped the sky islands. The biological landscape—including flora and fauna and the forces that shape them, including the sky islands themselves, fire regimes and climatological history and potential climate change effects. Adam Hudson’s overview of geologic information includes a review of the geologic time scale and major time periods and turning points in geologic time, an overview of plate tectonics and the geologic history of southeast Arizona, as well as more detailed information related to the specific geologic history of Chiricahua and Coronado. After this overview, he provides some detail on the life history of the super volcano that created the unusual formations at Chiricahua and on cave formation processes that explicate the life history of Coronado Cave at Coronado. Erin Posthumus’s and Jesse Minor’s stories of the sky islands review the ways in which “island” as metaphor for the local biology parallels and differs from oceanic islands, the fire history of the sky islands, patterns of plant and animal diversity in sky islands, the climatological history of the sky islands and potential effects of climate change on vegetation and wildlife. They also include stories of particular relevance to Coronado, including migration and the responses of wildlife to natural and artificial barriers and the effect of recent activities in the area, including forest fires and construction of an international boundary on the migration and, indeed, survival of the lesser long nosed bat. For each topic an annotated list of key references, as well as a fuller bibliography of recent references is included. The materials should provide interpretive developers and NPS staff, with the most current information on each topic. This is not intended to serve as exhibit text but as information guides for exhibit developers to draw on for interpreting each topic.
The objective of this spatial analysis is to analyze burned areas using existing data sets to determine changes in burn frequency and severity across topographic variables and vegetation types. Fire severity data are used to determine reburn characteristics. The ultimate goal of this research project is to understand how changing fire regimes contribute to vegetation type conversions and altered trajectories of post-fire recovery. In turn, this project will yield information on ecological resilience in fire-prone ecosystem types.
Arizona’s Five Cs (copper, cattle, citrus, cotton, and climate) represent a suite of economic practices, which have very material effects on Arizona’s water resources. These Five Cs have long dominated the development of Arizona’s water policy and law while disregarding the natural limitations of the state’s hydrologic resources. Perhaps more than any other western state, Arizona has undergone rapid and striking demographic changes across the course of the 20th and 21st centuries. This paper: • Provides a grounding in the paleoecological and historical records of past drought in the Southwest, as well as in predictions for the climate change that Arizona will experience in the future. • Explores changes in Arizona water law over time, especially with regards to shifts in the types of water which are actively managed, and the institutions charged with managing Arizona’s overallocated water resources. • Documents how the changing economic needs of powerful Five C actors has driven changes in water law over Arizona history. • Addresses the role of science in creating policy to plan for drought and climate change. Finally, this paper provides a realistic look at Arizona’s priorities and policies regarding water, with an emphasis on a new set of Five Cs which place heightened importance on sustainable agriculture and water-conscious urban planning.
This fieldtrip highlights the recent mapping done by Bates College undergraduate geology majors and Eusden on the north flank of the Presidential Range. The research is part of a broader effort to better define the bedrock geology and Acadian plate tectonic history of the Presidentials. Our final map of the Mt Washington region (Eusden, 2006) is currently being reviewed by New Hampshire state geologist David Wunsch and should be available through the New Hampshire Geological Survey soon. On this trip the rocks exposed record a complete section from the Bronson Hill Anticlinorium east into the Central Maine Terrane. We will see the Ordovician Oliverian Jefferson Dome, Ordovician Ammonoosuc Volcanics, Silurian Rangeley Formation, Devonian Littleton Formation, Late Devonian to Early Carboniferous granites, pre- and post-metamorphic Acadian faults (some with mylonites), early and late Acadian fold and migmatites. This is a four mile hiking trip so prepare accordingly by bringing food, water, good footwear and extra clothes!