From the Sanitary City to the Sustainable City: the Baltimore Ecosystem Study

The Baltimore Ecosystem Study is part of the National Science Foundation‘s Long Term Ecological Research network.

The Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network was created by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1980 to conduct research on ecological issues that can last decades and span huge geographical areas. In the 1990’s , NSF realized we were approaching the first time in human history that most of the people in the world would live in cities, and we did not know much about cities as ecological systems. So NSF established two urban LTER sites: Baltimore, MD; and, Phoenix, AZ.

The Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) suggests that the past century can be thought of as the century of the Sanitary City. Efforts were focused on making cities safe, processing waste, treating disease and illness, and controlling crime. Solutions to these issues were often single-purpose and not always considerate of the consequences of implementation on other issues or on people. The next century will be the century of the Sustainable City. Solutions will be integrated, efficient, multi-functional, and will consider social as well as biophysical consequences of implementation.

The Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES)

The Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES)

Dr. Emma J. Rosi-Marshall leads the group in reviewing the project framework

Today’s meeting was focused on reviewing the questions the project is intending to address, and ensuring the long-term data collected will support responding to those questions and to the needs of the LTER network.


The Baltimore Ecosystem Study is a unique, amazing project helping us look at inputs, processes, and outputs in cities so we can understand how cities work and make them more resilient, adaptive, and sustainable.

The Consulting Group at SavATree provides project coordination support to the US Forest Service Northern Research Station, a primary partner in the Baltimore Ecosystem Study.