WASHINGTON — Several Southern Research Station researchers recently participated in a 5-day Experimental Forest and Range tour of eight of the experimental forests located in the western-most part of the southern region – Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.
“Experimental Forests are living laboratories,” says SRS Experimental Forest Network Lead and Biological Scientist, Stephanie Laseter. “SRS manages 19 experimental forests; each one represents a specific ecosystem and provides unique research opportunities.”
The tour of the Stephen F. Austin in Texas, Palustris in Louisiana, Delta and Tallahatchie in Mississippi, and the Alum Creek, Crossett, Koen, Sylamore in Arkansas, allowed researchers and technicians to meet their counterparts on other forests.
Laseter along with researchers Jim Vose, and Jim Guldin highlighted the value of an experimental forest and range network as a regional asset for all SRS researchers and their partners. “Engaging all SRS scientists in these research opportunities will increase the value of the experimental forests, says Laseter.”
Tour objectives were to increase understanding of the value of SRS experimental forests by learning firsthand about the research being conducted by SRS scientists and partners, and to explore new ways to collaborate on important science questions within and across SRS EFRs.
A debrief on the final day of the tour generated several positive outcomes:
- EFRs are a unique resource and core strength for SRS. EFRs benefit the entire research establishment in the U.S. and beyond.
- Strategically linking experimental forests will increase their value, and utilizing multiple EFRs scientists can answer broader scale questions.
- Despite declining budgets, the people working on SRS EFRs are enthusiastic, dedicated, and engaged. They are contributing time and data toward collaborative projects and want to help build a functional EFR network.
- Much of the current research at EFRs addresses the needs of the Southern Group of State Foresters and National Forest System. However, this work could be greatly enhanced by coordination across an EFR network.
Experimental forests are typically located on or near national forests. At the 19 SRS experimental forests, researchers study a wide range of topics, including forest management, watershed management, and wildlife restoration and management. Researchers also explore the effects of pollution, climate change, and timber harvest.
Research on these lands plays a vital role in the conservation of America’s natural resources.
For more information about the EFR network and upcoming tours, email Stephanie Laseter.