A Strategic Vision for the Institute of Forest Resources

The mission of the Institute of Forest Resources (IFR) is to provide timely and relevant education, research and outreach related to Washington’s rural and urban forest ecosystems to sustain the multiple products and services derived from these resources. Its vision is to provide high-quality, science-based information to improve the understanding and sustainable stewardship of our forest and related natural resources including the development of sound forest policy.

In 2011, the Washington State Legislature directed IFR to organize itself to pursue coordinated interdisciplinary research and outreach, covering forestry issues along with emerging issues related to forest and environmental sciences, and to improve the understanding of complex forestry and related issues for stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties – including the public.

IFR’s new direction comes at a time of ongoing change in our understanding of the natural world and how society views our natural resources. Following centuries of increasing specialization and dis-integration, we are now entering a new era of re-integration in which interdependencies are moving to the foreground. Complex interdependencies between people and the natural environment are increasing and often require new policies and new levels of cooperation. In the case of forests, perceptions of the vital benefits that forests deliver, such as ecosystem services, are changing with particular speed. Now is also a time of sweeping changes in access to information and heightened economic instability. As a result, IFR will promote healthy public dialogue through meetings, workshops and the internet, via websites and social media. It will also generate and disseminate new scientific information critical to a healthy and sustainable natural resource sector, as well as to disseminate third-party research of a similar nature to new and existing stakeholders.

IFR conducts research in four broad areas: 1) ecosystem structure and function (productivity, silviculture, health, ecological processes, stewardship, production); 2) social and human systems (economics and valuation, natural/human interactions, environmental service markets, biodiversity); 3) technology (remote sensing, bioproducts, information technology, biotechnology); and 4) policy, planning, and public processes (sustainable resource management, rulemaking, resource allocation).

IFR supports research that emphasizes coupled human and biophysical systems; supports development of sustainable solutions that integrate ecological and economic approaches in a socially acceptable manner; develops technology; discovers new scientific knowledge; and transfers knowledge to the forest and natural resources related communities through outreach activities; and provides assistance to develop policies and plans that promote sustainable forest resources.

Contemporary research issues of importance to IFR are:

  • Retention of sustainable working forests
  • Forest health including wildfire risks and fuel abatement
  • Development of environmental service markets
  • Economic health and sustainability of the forest sector
  • Enhancement of habitat and biodiversity
  • Biomass utilization for bioenergy and bioproducts
  • Watershed protection and sustainable management
  • Forest productivity, value-added markets and resiliency
  • Interrelationships between climate change and natural resources
  • Restoration of resilient and sustainable forest ecosystems
  • Human dimensions (i.e., cultural, amenity, scenic, political, spiritual) of forest resources including tribal communities

In its role as research disseminator, IFR focuses public attention on, and promotes understanding of, other research and outreach programs. Three broad administrative roles for the institute are: 1) provide administrative services to recipients of research grants; 2) support a Web portal restructuring and communicating research around important contemporary issues; and 3) promote new research. IFR will leverage its research capacities to more effectively compete for new research funds and actively communicate with our many stakeholders in Washington State and across the region by conducting public and professional outreach programs.

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