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Institute for Working Forest Landscapes

In November 2013, the College launched the Institute for Working Forest Landscapes (IWFL) to focus research programs on innovative approaches for managing landscapes that will enhance people’s lives and improve the health of our lands, businesses and vital ecosystems. The IWFL will develop adaptive forest management techniques that integrate social, ecological, and economic objec­tives at the landscape level.  It will continue to operate under the auspices of the FRL to more clearly focus the work of College faculty and students to meet the needs of Oregon.

The ultimate goal of the research programs at the OSU College of Forestry is to provide innovative approaches to enhancing people’s lives while also improving the health of our lands, businesses, and vital ecosystems, and to do so collaboratively with active involvement of multiple partners with different perspectives. In support of this vision, the College of Forestry is launching a new research institute to develop adaptive forest management techniques that integrate social, ecological, and economic objectives at the landscape level.

The Institute is founded on the premise that individual and community livelihoods are intimately linked to the health and productivity of surrounding landscapes regardless of ownership boundaries. It will seek to develop and test new active management models that bridge public and private forestlands in support of sustainable economic, biological, and social conditions that are the signature characteristics of healthy working landscapes and their associated communities. The Institute will advance the public’s awareness of the importance of active management in support of broad scale healthy working landscapes by establishing a demonstration research forest where on‐the‐ground research will explore how pro-active, management of forest lands can provide employment stability and public access in rural communities, ecological integrity, and long-term protection of key environmental attributes. This new vision builds on the College’s longstanding role as Oregon’s principal research engine for providing science-based information about forests and their value to people and communities.

RESEARCH THEMES

Intensively Managed Forests
Research will focus on increasing the productivity, resilience, value, and marketability of private and industrial lands. The work of the Center for Intensive Planted Forest Silviculture, Vegetation Management Research Coop, Swiss Needle Cast Coop, Northwest Tree Improvement Coop, Hardwood Silviculture Coop, the Pacific Northwest Tree Improvement Research Cooperative, and the Tree Biosafety and Genomics Coop will be included in this thematic area.

Project initiatives will examine issues like financial management of plantations, growth and yield modeling, reforestation, forest operations, and biodiversity management, as well as how private lands can be managed more effectively to achieve overall landscape management goals by using markets for ecosystems services and other incentive-based systems. Research in this area will form a strong connection to the “Resilient Ecosystems” and “Competitive and Innovative Products” themes.

Healthy People and Communities
Research will focus on the myriad of ways that local economies and people’s lives are interconnected with public and private working landscapes, and how these economies and lives can be improved by actively utilizing forest ecosystems to provide both timber and non‐timber forest products from our public lands (including ecosystem services, recreational uses, and tourism) via new and innovative collaborations among varied interests and stakeholders.

Social scientists will explore how conservation collaboratives can work effectively, how community forests can improve rural livelihoods and access to natural resources, and enhancing the impacts of recreation uses of forest lands on local economies.

This theme is strongly connected to the “Resilient Ecosystems” theme, providing the research to help rebuild trust in public and private land management.

Resilient Ecosystems
The science undertaken in this thematic area will learn how the components of the ecosystem work, individually and together, such that we have a deeper understanding of what constitutes a healthy ecosystem. This fundamental knowledge will help us develop and refine active management techniques to improve ecosystem  health, resilience, and function. This basic knowledge will also enable us to value the wide range of ecosystem services that forests provide, from climate change mitigation to clean water to biodiversity protection and generation. Research will take a broad, landscape view to not only develop management strategies that meet vital ecosystem-health goals, but also strengthen the connection between communities, people, and the landscapes they inhabit. Because intensively managed private lands are often present in a mosaic on the landscape, research in this thematic area will be closely connected to the “Intensively Managed Forests” theme with researchers examining how these lands can be effectively co-managed, or how land swaps could take place to improve overall landscape  and community health. Fire ecology, climate science, and ecosystems management are critical tools in this theme. The Watersheds Research Coop will be included in this thematic area.

Competitive and Innovative Products
Research will examine and partner with industry to develop new products that are well suited to Oregon’s natural resources and competitive position in the global markets that now define manufacturing and sale of wood and other renewable materials. This thematic area seeks to not only increase the value of Oregon’s natural resources, but also enhance the overall value added in products manufactured in Oregon’s communities.

Healthy buildings and building materials, certification systems, management science, manufacturing, and wood engineering and design will be important components of this research area, as will identifying innovative mechanisms for expanding current markets. University of Oregon’s College of Architecture will be a natural partner, as will the OSU Colleges of Engineering and Business. Urban forestry and ecology and interactions with the built environment are emerging areas of investigation in this theme. We will study the impacts of natural building materials on public health in association with the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. Research in this thematic area will overlap with both "Intensively Managed Forests" and "Healthy People and Communities." The Center for Wood-Based Composites, the Environmental Performance of Treated Wood Coop, and the Utility Pole Coop will be included in this thematic area.