Wherever we travel, it is the landscape around us that we first respond to. Giant ice-carved mountains, alpine streams dropping into wild rivers and clear blue lakes, active glaciers, sprawling prairies, and scenic valleys impress us with their physical beauty. These features also give us a glimpse into the history of the land and provide us with clues we need to understand why a place appears and functions as it does.
The earth is an ever-changing place, and its cycles of change - some wrought by nature, some by humans - warrant our study and care. The natural mechanisms of these cycles generate the fresh air and clean water we need to survive. Erosion control, pollination, pest control and ecosystem preservation are also linked with the physical resources around us. Research into these processes can give us a better understanding of how natural resources function to provide the services that sustain life.