Wildlands & Woodlands Website

Highstead works to inspire curiosity and build knowledge about plants and wooded landscapes in order to enhance life, preserve nature, and advance sound stewardship practices.


David R. Foster

President, Board of Highstead Foundation, Inc.

About > People > David R. Foster



David has been a faculty member at Harvard since 1983 and Director of the Harvard Forest, the University's 4000-acre ecological laboratory and classroom in central Massachusetts, since 1990. He joined the Highstead Board in 1988 and served as its president since 2009.

David has a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Minnesota and has conducted studies in the boreal forests of Labrador, Sweden, and Norway and the forests of Puerto Rico, the Yucatan, and Patagonia in addition to his primary research on landscape dynamics in New England. His interests focus on understanding the changes in forest ecosystems that result from human and natural disturbance and applying these results to the conservation and management of natural and cultural landscapes. At Harvard University, David teaches courses on forest ecology and environmental change and has written numerous books, including his most recent, A Meeting of Land and Sea. The Nature and Future of Martha’s Vineyard (2017).

 In 2010, David and colleagues developed Wildlands and Woodlands – A Vision for the New England Landscape, a publication that has inspired regional partnerships and initiatives throughout the field of land conservation. Expanding upon this work, David and colleagues at Highstead, the Harvard Forest and other organizations developed Wildlands and Woodlands, Farmlands and Communities (2017).  This work broadens the original W&W vision to embrace farmland and the built environment and honor the regional differences in conservation needs and challenges between northern and southern New England.

David can be reached at drfoster@fas.harvard.edu.