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International Forest Research

October 2014: International Forest Research

Continuing advances in communication technology make talking with someone across the globe much easier.  Improved international exchanges bring the foods, fashions, cultures, and ideas of other lands to our doorsteps.  Issues such as climate change and the damaging impacts of invasive species are affecting or have the potential to affect all nations.  Given this scenario, it makes sense for scientists to work together on addressing natural resource issues in an international forum.  This month, we feature a scientist, research, a product, and a partnership involving international forest research. 

Environmental Education Links

Global Connections: Forests of the World provides formal and non-formal educators with a series of activities to help students and educators gain an increased understanding and appreciation of the diversity of world forest environments, with an emphasis on the human interaction with and dependence on those environments.


[image:] Cover image of Natural Inquirer The Worlds Forests 2 EditionThe World's Forest 2 Edition - In this edition of the Natural Inquirer, you will learn about the world's forests. Every 5 years the Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, publishes a report about the world's forests. The journal was written from the Global Forest Resources Assessment. It contains information about forests in 233 countries and territories. All together, these forests are the world's forests. No matter where these forests are located, they provide benefits for people and wildlife across the entire planet. Read this edition to find out more!

Featured Scientist

Sandy Liebhold

Sandy LiebholdResearch Entomologist Sandy Liebhold is an expert on forest insect population dynamics and population biology of biological invasions.  Over the past decade, Liebhold has also held several leadership positions of increasing stature in the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO).  He is currently coordinator for the Entomology Research Group, a position he will hold until 2019.

As an IUFRO Research Group leader, Liebhold has two types of duties – those more administratively focused, such as serving on the extended IUFRO board-- and those more scientifically focused and referred to in the IUFRO lexicon as “working parties.”  

“The things I like best about IUFRO are the working parties, consisting of 100 or fewer people, which focus on unique and important problems” said Liebhold.   The working parties “provide a unique and valuable conduit of exchange of information among scientists working in different parts of the world and they often foster the development of new international collaborations.”  Liebhold strongly believes that international collaboration is an important part of science, especially in his research focused on biological invasions. 

In preparation for the upcoming IUFRO World Congress in Salt Lake City, Utah, Liebhold’ s role as Research Group leader has been to work with scientists to develop proposals for scientific sessions.  He is also the organizer of several sessions and is presenting his own work. 

The Entomology Research Group is one of the most active in all of IUFRO.  The Research Group will be holding five working party meetings in 2015 in four different countries.  It wouldn’t be surprising to discover that the group’s success is due in no small part to Liebhold’ s leadership.  

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Featured Product


Map of world countries showing where iTree software is being used.  Image from Davey Tree, used with permission.i-Tree is a suite of state-of-the-art software tools that enables communities to collect, analyze, and display information on the structure, function, condition, costs, and benefits of their urban forests.  The software is available free of charge. Since its release in 2006, more than 13,000 copies of the software have been downloaded by people in 118 countries, along with more than 10,000 additional Web-based users of i-Tree tools.  Today, international users are the fastest growing segment of i-Tree users.

The current suite of i-Tree tools gives users the ability to assess many factors related to the structure, function, and benefits of trees.  These factors include estimating tree cover in a given area, estimating carbon storage within urban trees, estimating air pollution removal by urban trees, and measuring the effects of urban trees on water quality and stream flow.  Communities may use i-Tree to determine the values of tree cover and associated ecosystem services.  Homeowners may use i-Tree to optimize tree selection and placement of trees on their property for maximum energy savings.  

i-Tree was developed  by NRS Research Forester Dave Nowak and numerous other Forest Service and Davey Tree employees. Today, the Forest Service works through a public-private partnership with Davey Tree, The National Arbor Day Foundation, The Society of Municipal Foresters, the International Society of Arboriculture, Casey Trees, and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry on program development, training, dissemination, and support of i-Tree.  The international impact of i-Tree is easily shown in the software’s worldwide use and the popularity of Nowak for speaking engagements across the globe.

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Featured Research

NRS Participation in IUFRO2014 World Congress

Logo of the IUFRO 2014 World Congress in Salt Lake City - Sustaining Forests, Sustaining People - The Role of ResearchA bit like the Olympic Games, the premier meeting of international forestry researchers comes around only every 4-5 years.  This October, the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO) World Congress is being held in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the  Forest Service serves as one of the primary sponsors. 

Several Northern Research Station scientists have the privilege of attending and participating in this year’s Congress in Utah.  Like the Olympics, competition to attend is fierce and not all who want to attend are chosen.  Representing NRS at the meeting this year are some of our more established researchers, including:  Biological Scientist Rich Birdsey, Mathematical Statistician Ron McRoberts, Research Forester Dave Nowak, Geographer Marla Emery, and Research Ecologist Brian Palik.  A few of our newer scientists, including Research Ecologist Eric Lilleskov and Research Social Scientist Mike Dockry, were also selected to attend. 

In addition to organizing and coordinating sessions and giving presentations, NRS scientists will have the opportunity to network with their international colleagues and participate in the many sessions and activities focused around the theme of  Sustaining Forests, Sustaining People: The Role of Research.  

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Featured Partnership

NRS Participation in IPCC Report

From left to right: Dr. Alex Krusche (Brazil), Dr. Michelle Garneau (Canada), Dr. Yusuf Serengil (Turkey), Dr. Kim Wickland (USA), Dr. Randy Kolka (USA), and Dr. Ayaka Kishimoto (Japan).

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading organization for assessing climate change, relies on the skills and knowledge of scientists from across the globe to ensure the information reported on climate change is objective and complete. 

One of those scientists is Randy Kolka, a research soil scientist at the Northern Research Station, and internationally recognized for his research on wetlands. Three years ago Kolka was chosen from hundreds of candidates to be a lead author on a chapter titled Inland Wetland Mineral Soils collaborating with nine other scientists. This chapter is a component of the 2013 IPCC Wetlands Supplement which provides guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories of wetlands. 

The guidance provided in the Wetlands Supplement will be used by all United Nations countries to account for their national carbon footprint, including those contributions from wetlands, and will have immense implications for policy.  Specifically, the Wetlands Supplement may lead to development of policies at local, regional, and global scales to use wetlands in climate change mitigation strategies, potentially affecting hundreds of millions of acres.

Kolka’s activities associated with the IPCC were supported and closely monitored by the Forest Service’s International Programs Office and the State Department.  Recently the organizations have joined with the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia to develop the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP).  This program will help developing countries assess their peatland and mangrove wetlands for their own management purposes so that they can use the IPCC guidance to report their carbon footprints.   Kolka is the lead U.S. scientist for SWAMP.

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