Eastern Threat Center Research Work Unit Description


The mission of the Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center (“Eastern Threat Center” or “Center”) is to generate knowledge and tools needed to anticipate and respond to environmental threats. The most serious threats to forests and the benefits they provide inevitably involve complex factors interacting across multiple spatial and temporal scales. The Center’s challenge is to maintain a comprehensive and integrated research program to tackle these complex issues, while delivering knowledge to forest landowners, managers, decision-makers, scientists, and other interested audiences in a timely, useful, and user-friendly manner. The Eastern Threat Center’s mission and governance were established in its original charter.

The Center addresses problems related to the science of monitoring, assessment, and communication across four primary classes of environmental threats. These four classes include forest pests, weather and climate change, wildland fire, and changes in land use or land cover. Forest pests include both native and non-native invasive insects, pathogens, and plants. Weather and climate change include the more direct effects of extreme events such as hurricanes, ice storms, tornadoes, floods and droughts, and more broadly, the complex interactions of climate change and variability throughout ecosystems and landscapes. Wildland fire is a growing concern, presenting complex management tradeoffs related to people, ecosystems, communities, and landscapes. Land use/land cover change results from human-related development and urbanization, which creates intricate forest patterns within a mosaic of other landscape elements.

Problem Areas

Problem 1. Improved methods are needed for efficiently detecting forest threats, identifying meaningful change, and interpreting landscape patterns and processes.

Problem 2. Innovative approaches to assessment and prediction are needed to improve understanding of the realities and implications of ecosystem change.

Problem 3. Active information exchange is essential to ensuring that science is used in management, and equally important in fostering relevant and useful science.


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