The 24 acres that make up Bussey Brook Meadow–a 24-acre parcel of the Arnold Arboretum located between the Forest Hills MBTA Station and the Arboretum’s South Street Gate–are preserved with minimal human interference as a site for research into the complex interactions that characterize urban environments. Protected through the Arboretum’s indenture and not subject to loss from future development, this “urban wild” supports studies in a range of disciplines, generating abundant data about the ecological functioning of a modern city.
A walk down the Blackwell Footpath in the Arboretum’s Bussey Brook Meadow presents opportunities to observe a spontaneous wildflower meadow, a flourishing wetland, and a diversity of both native and introduced plants and animals. In 1996, the Arboretum Park Conservancy partnered with the Arboretum to preserve this landscape, assembled from neglected parcels of land that formerly belonged to the MBTA, the City of Boston, and Harvard University. Under the current management regimen, the meadow serves as a site where Arboretum scientists and visiting scholars can document long-term changes in plant succession and measure ecosystem functions including vegetation structure, wildlife abundance, phenology, and biogeochemical cycling.