Robin M. Grossinger

Program Director
Senior Scientist
Resilient Landscapes Program
Historical Ecology
Urban Nature Lab
510-746-7380

Robin Grossinger is a Senior Scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, where he co-directs, with Letitia Grenier, SFEI’s Resilient Landscapes program. For over twenty years, Robin has analyzed how California landscapes have changed since European contact, using these data to guide landscape-scale restoration strategies. Robin leads efforts throughout the state to reintegrate natural processes within our highly modified landscapes, creating healthier and more adaptive neighborhoods, cities, and surrounding landscapes. He has advised restoration strategies for San Francisco Bay, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, urban landscapes such as the Google campus, and rivers throughout California.

Robin's innovative work to synthesize history and science has been acclaimed for helping scientists, managers, and the public appreciate both the dramatic transformation and the impressive resilience of the state's ecosystems. Robin’s publications include the Napa Valley Historical Ecology Atlas (University of California Press 2012) and his work has been featured by NPR, KQED’s QUEST, Saving the Bay, and The New York Times. Recently he has led the development of SFEI's Landscape Resilience Framework, which is guiding regional adaptation efforts.

Among his popular science communication efforts, Robin served as a guest curator for the award-winning multi-disciplinary exhibit on San Francisco Bay Above and Below, at the Oakland Museum of California. He has been recognized with a Local Hero award from Bay Nature magazine and the Carla Bard Bay Education Award from The Bay Institute and Aquarium of the Bay.

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Related Projects, News, and Events

Photo Credits: Micha Salomon (L), Dee Shea Himes (R)

Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands (Project)

Through the Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands project, SFEI and sixteen partner organizations is developing multi-benefit tools to enhance climate change resilience in San Francisco Bay. Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands has three major components: Making Nature’s City: a Science-based Framework for Building Urban Biodiversity, Tidal Wetlands Restoration and Implementation Projects.

Courtesy of opensfhistory.org

Hidden Nature San Francisco (Project)

Hidden Nature SF brings a new perspective to our view of San Francisco, studying the city’s historical ecology in order to engage the public in re-imagining San Francisco’s ecological past, present, and future.

Delta Historical Ecology Study Released (News)

Learn more about this seminal study

United Nations Global Urban Lecture Released on Making Nature's City (News)

SFEI's Urban Nature Lab and the UN-Habitat Global Urban Lectures series have produced a video on SFEI's Making Nature's City report. The lecture demonstrates why urban conservation planning is an essential component of urban design...

 

 

Ecology for Health (Project)

This project is integrating research from the largely separate fields of urban ecology and public health to create design guidance that advances both ecological and human health in cities.

Making Nature's City (Project)

Cities will face many challenges over the coming decades, from adapting to a changing climate to accommodating rapid population growth. A related suite of challenges threatens global biodiversity, resulting in many species facing extinction. While urban planners and conservationists have long treated these issues as distinct, there is growing evidence that cities not only harbor a significant fraction of the world’s biodiversity, but also that they can also be made more livable and resilient for people, plants, and animals through nature-friendly urban design. 

Landscape Vision for Calabazas Creek, San Tomas Aquino Creek and Pond A8 (Project)

SFEI released a resilient landscape vision for the interface of Calabazas Creek, San Tomas Aquino Creek, and Pond A8 in South San Francisco Bay that benefits both flood management and  bayland habitat restoration.

Historical Tidal-Terrestrial Transition Zone in South SF Bay (Project)

First there was the great salt marsh, with all its winding sloughs and creeks, covered with samphire grass [Salicornia] and tufts of Grindelia; next was a line of natural salt pan; next again was a strip of land of varying width, from a few hundred yards to one fourth mile, with a short wiry hard grass [Distichlis]… (Beardsley, in Cooper 1926)

SFEI is collaborating with the IUCN to develop a guide on incorporating nature into the design of sports facilities and Olympic cities.

Sports and Urban Biodiversity (Project)

SFEI is collaborating with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to create a guide to incorporating nature into the sports world, from the development of Olympic cities to the design and management of the many sport fields and pitches throughout the urban landscape. To do so we apply the Urban Biodiversity Framework developed in Making Nature’s City to the world of sports, with case studies drawn from athletic federations, sports teams, and Olympic cities around the world.

Vision for Upper Penitencia Creek completed! (News)

SFEI recently completed a resilient landscape vision for Upper Penitencia Creek in San Jose that integrates flood management and ecosystem support. SFEI and the Santa Clara Valley Water District worked with technical advisors and local stakeholders to develop the vision, which identifies a range of multi-benefit management opportunities that increase flood storage in a manner that expands recreational amenities, supports water supply needs, and enhances habitat for a variety of native fish and wildlife species.

Science Support for Resilient By Design Competition (News)

The challenges of accelerating sea level rise and aging shoreline infrastructure are creating a once-in-a-century opportunity to redesign the Bay shore. Originally constructed with little regard for the Bay, the future shoreline can more successfully integrate the natural and built environments to make a healthier shore for both the Bay and local communities. New shoreline design approaches must incorporate the complex ecological and physical processes of our urbanized estuary while anticipating the future challenges of climate change and extreme weather.

Photo courtesy of Canopy.org

SFEI partner Canopy plants oaks in East Palo Alto (News)

On Martin Luther King day, 170 volunteers came out to help plant oaks and other native landscaping at the St. Francis Assisi church in East Palo Alto. With guidance from SFEI, and funded through the Healthy Watersheds, Resilient Baylands project, the planting highlights the partnership between SFEI and the non-profit urban forestry group Canopy, based in Palo Alto.

SFEI's new Landscape Resilience Framework outlines attributes of ecological resilience (News)

SFEI's Resilient Landscapes Program has developed a Landscape Resilience Framework, with the goal of facilitating the integration of resilience science into environmental management, urban design, conservation planning, and ecological restoration. The framework proposes seven key landscape attributes that contribute to ecological resilience, providing details and examples on each.

Announcing the release of Re-Oaking Silicon Valley: Building Vibrant Cities with Nature (News)

Could restoring lost ecosystems to cities play a role in building ecological resilience across landscapes? In Re-oaking Silicon Valley, a new report by SFEI, we explore this opportunity in our region. Both beautiful and functional, native oaks can be excellent choices for streetscapes, backyards, and landscaping. Requiring little water after establishment, oaks can save money by reducing irrigation requirements while sequestering more carbon than most other urban trees common to our region.

Urban Ecological Planning Guide for Santa Clara Valley published (News)

SFEI partnered with the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority to create a guide for how to support biodiversity across the urbanized landscape of Santa Clara Valley. Urban greening projects, such as street trees, green infrastructure, and backyard gardening, are already occurring piecemeal across urban areas. Harnessing this momentum can help these efforts build greater benefits for biodiversity.

Restoration Vision for the Laguna de Santa Rosa Completed! (News)

SFEI completed a long-term Restoration Vision for the Laguna de Santa Rosa in the Russian River watershed. SFEI, Sonoma Water, and the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation worked with technical advisors, stakeholders, and landowners to develop the Restoration Vision, which identifies opportunities for multi-benefit habitat restoration and land management that supports people and wildlife.

Resilience Atlas (News)

The Resilience Atlas is an interactive mapping platform that visualizes the past, present and future conditions of the Bay’s edge and surrounding watersheds by combining layers of information, such as shoreline infrastructure, shoreline change over time, and sea level rise. 

SFEI scientists present at national Living Future conference (News)

In April 2015, Robin Grossinger and Erin Beller traveled to Seattle to present at Living Future, a national conference focused on green building, landscaping, and design. Robin and Erin co-presented with Audrey Davenport, Google's Ecology Program lead. Their session, titled "Healthy habitats from the Googleplex to Silicon Valley: Designing for Ecological Resilience Across Scales," centered on emerging findings from SFEI's Resilient Silicon Valley project.

Disrupt the Street Tree: Could trees help Silicon Valley find an identity? (News)

As recently as a 1850, according to a recent report from the San Francisco Estuary Institute, 80 percent of the trees in Palo Alto, Mountain View and Cupertino were oak trees. Another 13 percent of the trees were those commonly found alongside oak trees in oak woodlands: buckeye, madrone, sycamore, and California bay laurel. Willows, alders, and redwoods rounded out the final 7 percent. Oaks created the place. Postcards from San Jose in the early 1900s show farmers standing in the shade of skyscraping oak trees. Spanish explorers called Silicon Valley the “plain of the oaks.” The Peninsula is still home to two Roblar Avenues, a Robles Drive, and a Robles Park, as well as the North Fair Oaks and Menlo Oaks neighborhoods of Menlo Park.

Resilient Silicon Valley (Project)

Drawing on resilience science, regional data, and local expertise, we will develop the vision and tools that will allow stakeholders in the region ensure that local actions contribute toward the creation of a high-functioning and resilient Silicon Valley ecosystem.