The research and development (R&D) arm of the Forest Service, a component of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, works at the forefront of science to improve the health and use of our Nation's forests and grasslands. Research has been part of the Forest Service mission since the agency's inception in 1905.
The organization consists of seven research stations and 81 experimental forests and ranges. Forest Service R&D interacts with national forests in nine regions and with the agency's State and Private Deputy Area throughout the United States. Forest Service R&D is also allied with agencies in the USDA Research, Education, and Economics mission area, including the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), National Institute of Food and Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, and ARS' National Agricultural Library. Forest Service R&D also partners with other federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, universities, and the private sector.
Today, about 500 Forest Service researchers work in a range of biological, physical, and social science fields to promote sustainable management of the Nation's diverse forests and rangelands. Their research covers a lot of territory, with programs in all 50 States, U.S. territories, and commonwealths.
The work has a steady focus on informing policy and land-management decisions, whether it addresses invasive insects, degraded river ecosystems, or sustainable ways to harvest forest products. The researchers work independently and with a range of partners, including other agencies, academia, nonprofit groups, and industry. The information and technology produced through basic and applied science programs is available to the public for its benefit and use.
Strategic Program Areas
Forest Service Research and Development organizes its research around seven Research Topics, referred to as Strategic Program Areas internally and in budget documents.
Priority Research Areas
The basic and applied research in the Strategic Program Areas informs the work done in five Priority Areas, referred to internally and in the budget as Priority Research Areas, which support an integrated approach to the study of broad, complex environmental and social issues. Priority Research Areas also include investments in Localized Needs research, targeted to the geographic regions served by Forest Service research stations and field laboratories.