Archives for October 2013

Prescriptive Software: The Future of Land Management

In several posts I’ve alluded to advanced technology which can use big data as the platform (or system inputs) to generate recommendations (or system outputs) for land use which balances environmental and economic goals (or system objectives) by smarter, more efficient use of our natural resources. At Rural System, we believe this technology is prescriptive software but what is “prescriptive software?” [Read more…]

Conversations with a Founder – Forest Management

During the process of researching the post on the potential benefits of logging, The Value of Seemingly Vile Activities, I learned a great deal about my own misgivings about the logging industry. I searched for the basis of my opposition, not to our need for wood products, but for my gut reaction of uneasiness at the mere idea of harvest in currently protected areas. I decided to talk with our founder, Dr. Robert H. Giles, Jr. about my personal discovery and learned something new about Rural System in the process. [Read more…]

The Value of Seemingly Vile Activities

Slice of an approx. 730 year old Douglas Fir measuring 8ft. 2in. in diameter

Logging is a sensitive word depending on your audience much as the words “hunting” and “development” can be. Many people object to the removal of trees out of principle and it’s not surprising considering many of the documented negative effects of logging. The loss of old growth forests has led to the decline of the Spotted Owl, loss of biodiversity due to market preference for certain tree species, soil degradation and erosion from clear cutting, an increase in emerging infectious disease due to increase wildlife contact, and overall forest structure changes which have ripple effects throughout the ecosystem are just a few examples. Simply stopping logging can also be problematic however. [Read more…]

Groups: Turning Profit in the Rural System


The Gardens Group manages gardens on Rural System enterprise environments.

Say you own a forest and you want to make money off of it.  Do you clear-cut the forest and call it a day? Some might say yes: exploit that resource while you have it and enjoy the money in the short-term. Others, like our team here at Rural System, ask if there are other ways to make a profit off a forest or other tract of land. Unsurprisingly we find our answer already playing out in natural systems. In ecosystems you find creatures living off of other creatures or even off of inorganic minerals in the most astonishing ways. No source of energy goes unused.  Our answer?: Diversify! [Read more…]

Our Wealth of Data and Its Wasted Potential

Data, data everywhere, where it goes…does anybody care?

Computer data
Information about our surrounding environment, collectively referred to as “data,” is collected on a daily basis today more than any previous point in history. Every industry, for its own respective purposes, scientifically collects data to make informed decisions. Technologies such as global positioning systems (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS) now allow us to organize that data spatially and temporally. ESRI leads the industry in mapping software with broad applications but the data has to be supplied by the user. All of this information is considered “big data” because it is compiled into huge datasets. However, our end result is often small, a concept well discussed in this article. The ultimate application of all of this information seems limitless. [Read more…]