Research Work Unit NRS-12
NorthSTAR is a new unit designed to help put scientific findings into practice. The Northern Research Station performs much more research on a wider variety of topics than can be addressed within an application-focused project such as NorthSTAR. Therefore the initial concentration of NorthSTAR efforts is on specific, selected activities.
Many research outputs are not readily accessible in forms useful for policy, planning, and management. Managers need better methods, tools, and techniques for identifying goals, conducting inventories, and analyzing, monitoring, and evaluating forest management activities or plans. Among the major activities of NorthSTAR is the development and improvement of decision-support tools. Decision support is the process of framing information as effectively as possible so decision makers can base their decisions on the most complete knowledge of potential outcomes, enabling them to select a preferable future from what is possible. Decision support tools can range from a wallet card with a tip calculator, to paper handbooks and field guides, to single-function look-up tables, to very complex computer-based systems using a combination of programs, to expert systems that recommend actions designed to achieve an identified goal. Decision-support tools can help at various stages of the decision-making process by improving accessibility of scientific knowledge from a variety of sources, by helping to elicit the perspectives of various stakeholders in the decision-making processes, and by providing a common, transparent platform from which to discuss, evaluate, and select management alternatives. Decision-support systems, often defined as combinations of tools integrated through a computer program, are particularly relevant to natural resource management because the field is complex and the timeframes are long.
Scientific results are applied to situations in the real world in many contexts. Development and delivery of research findings to students at every level, from elementary school to graduate programs at universities, is an important component of making science relevant and effective. Those applications need not include high technology, but may range from simple lesson plans for schools to paper-based management guides for field foresters to training sessions for fire fighters. The NorthSTAR project will balance the needs for all of these approaches with resources and opportunities available.
Ultimately, a Station-level science-application / technology-transfer program should identify science application products of regional or national significance, worthy of commitment of Station resources to produce high-quality, customer-oriented products. These will often reflect synthesis of work conducted at several units or work developed through research coordinated among several units. The Station-level program implemented through NorthSTAR is not meant to replace the technology transfer efforts of individual units. Instead, it is designed to emphasize technology transfer of work that crosses multiple units, identifying, advocating, and supporting development of potential synergies that might be missed by researchers focused on their own work. The plan for NorthSTAR is to network among and strengthen existing efforts, both within the NRS and among external partners such as other Research Stations, State & Private Forestry, the National Forest System, the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and others, while supplementing other technology transfer activities with new efforts at the Station level. Thus, the primary tasks of a fully implemented NorthSTAR Project are to:
- Coordinate science application efforts within the Station, providing an optional single point of contact for stakeholders throughout the Station to learn about science application opportunities.
- Identify research activities ready to produce science application outputs outside the normal realm of scientific work, and coordinate Station-level resources to develop those outputs.
Last Modified: 08/20/2009