March 19, 2013 | By: Carol Lea Spence

Many discussions about environmental issues often revolve around returning the landscape to the way it was before humans interfered. Author Charles Mann will disclose how “natural” that landscape actually was when he speaks at the opening session of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture’s Environmental Issues Event, 7 p.m. EDT April 2 in the Worsham Theater on campus.

The view of the Americas as a pristine, sparsely populated, almost Eden-like wilderness was long held by scholars and the general public. Mann revealed the many advanced civilizations of the Western Hemisphere, their cultures and their manipulation of the environment in his book “1491,” which won the U.S. Academy of National Sciences’ Keck Award for Best Book of the Year. According to Mann, these were civilizations that planted forests and burned other forests to establish savannahs, built causeways, large earth mounds and cities, and controlled or, in some cases inadvertently caused, flooding. Long before European ships sailed into their harbors, people in the Americas molded the landscape to suit their needs.

“Mann’s appearance is in conjunction with the 3rd Conference on Invasion Biology, Ecology and Management that will be held on the second day of the Environmental Issues Event.

“He will lay the groundwork for thinking about invasive species and how we should think about landscape and landscape change,” said Carol Hanley, event organizer and director of the College of Agriculture’s Environmental and Natural Resource Initiative, which is hosting the event. “We wanted our community and our students to be able to hear his perspective. He gives a really good view on how things were and how humans have always changed the landscape and flora and fauna.”

A three-time National Magazine Award finalist, Mann is a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, Science and Wired. He followed “1491” with his book “1493” and co-wrote four other books. He has received writing awards from the American Institute of Physics, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the American Bar Association, among others.

A reception and book signing will immediately follow Mann’s presentation, which is free and open to the public. Tickets are required, however, and are available at the UK Student Center Ticket Office or Rooms 253 or 200B in the Kentucky Tobacco Research Development Center, 1401 University Drive.

The three-day Environmental Issues Event includes the invasive species conference on April 3 and a public forum, Climate Change: Values, National Security and Free Enterprise, at 7 p.m. April 4. All events will take place in the UK Student Center. Public parking is available in Parking Structure #5, 409 S. Limestone, across from the center. There are entrances to the parking garage on both South Limestone and South Upper.

For more information, visit the Environmental and Natural Resource Initiative website,

Sponsors of the Environmental Issues Event also include the UK Invasive Species Working Group, UK Student Sustainability Council, the office of the UK Vice President for Research, UK College of Agriculture Research, Lexmark, U.S. Forestry Service, U .S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund, Kentucky Exotic Pest Plant Council and Monsanto.


Carol Hanley, 859-333-8248

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