Making forest data accesible to a diverse audience

WASHINGTON, DC — Wherever you look today, you will find a product of basic and applied research. USDA Forest Service Research and Development guides on-the-ground decisions for land management — to enhance forest ecosystems, expand uses and markets for wood products and create jobs that provide for economic well-being across the United States. People often forget the effort that goes into that exploration of innovative ways to conserve and manage the natural resources that affect people’s lives. Thus, R&D has developed several channels to communicate research and technology findings to scientists, land managers, students, employees and the public. These include a monthly newsletter, an online library, science journals for students and a data archive.

The monthly R&D newsletter, launched two years ago, now has more than 10,000 subscribers. Each newsletter issues provides a quick-read overview of research and technology transfer updates from the WO and research stations via reader-friendly summaries, infographics, videos and blogs. The special two-year anniversary March issue provides a sample of important news in fire management, sustainability, invasive species, forest health urban forestry, air pollution monitoring and agroforestry and other topics. Subscribe to keep up with the latest news.

Treesearch, the continually updated online library of peer-reviewed publications authored by Forest Service scientists, now contains more than 50,000 published papers. The information also is distributed through the StarMetrics program, a repository of research publications managed by the National Institutes of Health, and on Science.gov, which provides users with one consolidated list of information from several federal agencies. Treesearch publications are also delivered to customers by Google Scholar, which indexes most online peer-reviewed publications.

The Natural Inquirer program creates and distributes science journals and materials for K–12 students. In fiscal year 2017, classrooms and home schools across the country received over 90,000 of these products, and the website saw a 95 percent increase in visitation from the previous year. All work is done with a nonprofit partner, the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association, and the University of Georgia. The Natural Inquirer journals and other materials are free and are distributed by the Forest Service at numerous conferences and events.

The Forest Service Research Data Archive now has more than 325 data publications in its catalog. These documented and reviewed scientific data sets are authored by a Forest Service- or Joint Fire Science Program-funded science team. Many sets provide decades of research data from Forest Service experimental forests and ranges, and federally funded research results are available to the outside organizations and members of the public free of charge. This data archive ensures customers of Forest Service research have easy access to data that follows international standards of presentation and packaging.

Forest Service R&D is a world leader in forestry research, and it directly supports the entire agency, land management agencies and forest land owners. It also supports researchers at other institutions through its public data sets and published papers, as well as sharing information with the next generation of scientists. As this large and varied audience for R&D information continues to grow, our researchers will continue to ensure that data is delivered in a way that meets its competing needs.