Randy Molina, Initiative
Forestry Sciences Laboratory
3200 SW Jefferson Way
Corvallis, Oregon 97331
Phone: (541) 750-7391
The Biodiversity Initiative
Recognizing the important role biodiversity plays in natural resource
management, the PNW Station launched the Biodiversity Initiative
in 2004. Developed by the Focused Science Delivery Program, its
primary goal is to provide innovative solutions to the complex
problems inherent in biodiversity management. It is being led by
Randy Molina, a research botanist and team leader for the Ecosystems
The early stages of the initiative were devoted to making connections
and gathering information. Through one-on-one conversations and
interactive workshops, we solicited input from a broad range of
people in Oregon and Washington who are involved in natural resource
management, including representatives from state and federal agencies,
the timber industry, and conservation organizations. From this
active listening phase, we learned about the challenges practitioners
face in managing for biodiversity, and what types of science tools
they think would assist them the most in their work.
Now in its second and final year, the Biodiversity Initiative
has shifted its efforts toward using what we’ve learned and
the connections we’ve formed to collaboratively develop products
and tools that will help our stakeholders make decisions based
on solid information.
What Is Biodiversity?
According to the The Dictionary of Forestry, biodiversity is “the
variety and abundance of life forms, processes, functions, and
structures of plants, animals, and other living organisms, including
the relative complexity of species, communities, gene pools, and
ecosystems at spatial scales that range from local through regional
to global” (Helms 1998).
The term biodiversity means very
different things to different people. To many it represents positive
values of land stewardship
in providing for the viability of all species and the important
processes they perform in healthy ecosystems. Biodiversity is
also a term that society has tied to controversial topics such
forests, spotted owls, and the genetic diversity of salmon in
the Pacific Northwest. Biodiversity can portray a negative image
viewed as a tool for societal debate to impede forest management.
Indeed, conserving biodiversity, particularly for threatened
species, has been a major divisive factor in reaching consensus
on how best
to manage forest ecosystems to meet multiple societal values.
Helping natural resource professionals coming to terms with various
sometimes conflicting connotations of biodiversity has been an
important focus of our efforts.
After narrowing possibilities based on interest level, possibilities
for collaboration, and the capacity of this initiative, we have
formed workgroups to develop products in these three areas:
Small woodlot workgroup—This group will explore issues faced
by small woodlot owners and come up with specific products to help
them meet biodiversity management needs. We envision a set of workshops
with members of this client group to develop and deliver final
Web-based biodiversity clearing house workgroup—This group
will develop a central web portal that will lead the public and
biodiversity managers to sources of biodiversity information in
the Pacific Northwest.
Regional monitoring framework—This group will explore the
various biodiversity management objectives currently defined by
different forest stakeholder groups (federal, state, and private),
and develop a shared vision of how various ownerships contribute
to the region’s forest biodiversity. From that common framework
we can explore opportunities to develop regional biodiversity monitoring
protocols to help measure success.
In response to repeated requests for information, we will write
• Results from the Survey and Manage Conservation Program
Definitions of biodiversity
Public participation in biodiversity monitoring
Alternative approaches for conservation of rare and little-known
Active intentional management for multiple values
Others may be developed as time and resources allow. However,
fulfilling every request is beyond our limited capacity, so we
continue to work on items of highest priority.
By the end of the Initiative, we will have held three regional
workshops or conferences on various aspects of biodiversity
management (each with a published proceedings).
• In February 2005, we held a biodiversity management workshop
for wildlife biologists. We invited speakers from various disciplines,
who presented on active vs. passive management, information systems,
invasive species, restoration criteria, modeling approaches, and
monitoring. A proceedings of this workshop is being published in
Northwestern Naturalist (out in 2006).
Invasive Plants and Biodiversity Management (planned for September
2006 in Seattle WA, University of Washington).
Managing for biodiversity in forests of the Pacific Northwest:
strategies and opportunities.June 5-7, 2006. See announcement on
this page for more information.
Supporting decision making in natural
More than a term that conjures images
of controversy in the newspapers and bitter disputes in the courtroom—biodiversity
is a natural, and cultural asset. But the challenges inherent in
for biodiversity are complex and numerous, and extend across
agency jurisdictions, land ownerships, and legal authority. One
thing remains constant across this range of practitioners: the
need for reliable information. By compiling information
tailored to clients’ needs, and by framing the issues into
management concerns and incorporating viewpoints of diverse stakeholders,
the Biodiversity Initiative supports informed natural resource
management for the long-term sustainability of diverse resources—from
the conifer landscapes that provide timber to the region to the
soil microcosms that make up the foundations of a biologically
diverse, functioning ecosystem.
To learn more, contact Initiative lead Randy