'I do what I do because I love forests'
Anthony S. Davis joined the Oregon State College of Forestry in September 2016 as associate dean for research. Before coming to Oregon State, Davis served as the director for the Center for Forest Nursery and Seedling Research and associate professor of native plant regeneration and silviculture at the University of Idaho. He earned his doctorate at Purdue University.
“I am truly excited to join the OSU College of Forestry. The research conducted by the faculty in the College is recognized as leading both regionally and globally,” Davis says. “We face grand challenges in forestry-related issues. Working with the diverse group of faculty, staff, students and stakeholders to address these is an amazing opportunity. There are people here who are solving the forestry and natural resources problems we’re facing now and help prepare us to solve the problems we will face in 25, 50 years.”
Davis says Oregon State’s reputation and history of strong Forestry programs brought him here, but it’s the future he’s most excited about.
“Dean Maness is a visionary,” Davis says. “The Institute for Working Forest Landscapes provides a framework for us to transform the way we link research to the management and conservation of Oregon’s forests and forest industries.”
Davis says his job is to create intellectual space for faculty and researchers who are working to solve complex problems. He will help make sure their equipment is serviced, their proposals are on time and their research is valued and disseminated widely.
Even though he’s not working outside raising seedlings as he originally planned, Davis says his work is highly rewarding.
“I do what I do because I love forests,” he says. “I love our natural areas, and I love the fact that we have the ability to grow trees, whether they’re used for something as basic as providing habitat for wildlife or to build tall wood buildings.”
Davis also considers himself a steward of the environment, and he says that balance is important.
“At Oregon State we’re making sure that we understand the connections between healthy forests, healthy communities, healthy ecosystems and healthy businesses,” he says. “All of those things are connected.”
Davis believes that Oregon State is leading the charge when it comes to sustainable forest management.
“We’re really fortunate with what we have,” Davis says. “And our forestry practices should lead by example.”
In support of that mission, Davis will continue a project he began at the University of Idaho to help countries who have lost forest cover to grow high-quality seedlings. Davis says this problem is universal. He began working in Lebanon through a project with the U.S. Forest service and now works in Haiti, Jordan, Togo and more, countries devastated by natural disasters, war, and mismanagement of forest lands.
“Haiti is my passion project,” Davis says. “It’s a special spot for me. The challenges are seemingly unending and yet there is so much resilience.”
In the past, Davis has used international projects like this to help students cultivate their own international networks and research projects. He believes he can integrate it into the Oregon State College of Forestry because of its history working in similar areas.
“In terms of forest management,” Davis says. “No one else is thinking as big and bold as we are at Oregon State through programs like the Institute for Working Forest Landscapes and projects addressing novel uses of wood in construction, pollinators, climate science, forest health issues and more. Being part of that is exciting.”