USDA Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Research Station

Pacific Northwest Research Station
333 SW First Ave.
Portland, OR 97204

(503) 808-2100

US Forest Service

Biodiversity Initiative

Randy Molina, Initiative Lead
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 Processes Program.

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 as old-growth forests, spotted owls, and the genetic diversity of salmon in the Pacific Northwest. Biodiversity can portray a negative image when 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 and sometimes conflicting connotations of biodiversity has been an important focus of our efforts.

Initiative Outcomes

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 products.

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 syntheses on:

• 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 species
• 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.


Workshops, Conferences
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 resource management

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 managing 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 Molina




US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Last Modified: Tuesday,26July2016 at16:42:22CDT

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