Volume 1, Issue 2 - Winter 2008
University Does Double Duty
North Carolina State finds niche with EFETAC forest monitoring and global change teams
Nearly 20 years ago, the Forest Service found an important partner in North Carolina State University (NCSU). Today, the partnership still exists and is essential to the research efforts of EFETAC’s Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) Team and Southern Global Change Program (SGCP). NCSU faculty and staff offer expertise, flexibility, dedication, and innovative ideas that enhance the partnership’s research contributions that help monitor, assess, and manage the Nation’s forests.
In the beginning….
In 1990, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined forces with the Forest Service to plan and implement the Forest Resource Group of the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP-Forests). The FHM program manager, EMAP-Forests’ technical director, and a small administrative staff were housed at the Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Research Triangle Park, NC.
Around that same time, the Global Change Research Act of 1990 provided funding for climate change research programs, including SGCP. Beginning in 1991, SGCP was temporarily housed near NCSU in Raleigh, NC, and later relocated to the University’s Centennial Campus. NCSU’s focus on natural resource issues fit naturally with SGCP’s global change research, and a long-term partnership was born.
New Partner Joins Forest Health Monitoring
The Forest Service eventually assumed full responsibility for forest health monitoring research. FHM enlisted the expertise of NCSU Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources researchers to help analyze growing volumes of data. NCSU scientists have since become a valued partner in forest health monitoring research—producing a multitude of peer-reviewed publications and FHM products, including national-scale forest health assessments, risk-maps of forest insects and pathogens, and a variety of analytical tools and techniques.
According to FHM Team Leader Bill Bechtold, "This collaborative relationship has persisted for so many years simply because these scientists are consistently able to deliver valuable research products needed by the Forest Service to effectively monitor the health of our Nation’s forests." FHM scientists also contribute to the NCSU community, serving as faculty and staff in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources and participating in courses and special projects.
Above right: NCSU Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources cooperators work closely with EFETAC's FHM and SGCP teams. FHM partners pictured are (l to r) Kevin Potter, research assistant professor; Frank Koch, research assistant professor; Mark Ambrose, research assistant; and (front) Barbara Conkling, research assistant professor. Not pictured: Professor Fred Cubbage.
SGCP Gets in the Mix
Like forest health monitoring, SCGP benefits from immediate interaction with NCSU scientists, who are co-located on campus with the global change team. SGCP benefits immensely from their NCSU in-house partners, cooperatively producing numerous reports and national assessments, and collaborating on external funding proposals from sources such as NASA and EPA. Additionally, many undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doctoral researchers, work in the SGCP facility.
Team Leader Steve McNulty has managed SGCP since 2002 and emphasizes that NCSU collaborations are important because, "We strengthen the role between the Forest Service and NCSU by developing future areas of interaction. Our NCSU partners provide new perspectives to agency research, giving our programs added value and depth." The SGCP team also serves as guest lecturers, adjunct faculty and staff, and graduate student committee members.
Above right: Asko Noormets (l) and Jean-Christophe Domec, NCSU post-doctoral researchers, discuss instrumentation for sapflow measurements in a 15-year-old loblolly pine plantation. Data from these measurements will aid in understanding driving forces that influence forest growth and productivity as part of SGCP's study of changes in carbon, water, and energy flux in two loblolly pine plantations.
Barbara Conkling, NCSU Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources research assistant professor, agrees the University/Federal partnership has multiple benefits. "The NCSU relationship with Forest Service research programs provides opportunities for cooperative program planning, support, research in areas important to forest health, and delivery of science information. These benefits are shared nationally and internationally, which really extends the reach, and impact, of our science."