Forestry research capacity is indeed at a crossroads, and perhaps even at risk. The same observations might be made for the forestry profession as well. There is unprecedented public pressure and demands on a declining forest resource base, at a time when public expenditures are decreasing for forestry research, professional education, public extension, forest management, and natural resource protection. Our ability to manage forests to produce more goods, provide more developed and undeveloped services, harbor great biodiversity, support community development, and protect the natural environment depends on interdisciplinary and integrative research, education, and outreach efforts.
The common mantra for responding to these conflicting pressures is that forestry professionals must work smarter, harder, and more efficiently. While this is true, it is insufficient. Success will require clear technical cooperation in performing research, which provides evidence that the forestry sector is performing research efficiently. What is necessary is a concerted, permanent cooperative effort among many stakeholders, which includes joint strategic planning and monitoring; continued support of existing organizations and fundamental and emerging research; a larger and open cooperative grants programs from the Forest Service; broader training for forestry graduate students; and an integrated research, education, and extension enterprise.
Enhancing the nation's forestry-research capacity must deal with the tangible matters of substance—funding, facilities and equipment, and personnel—and with intangible matters of perception and values—priorities, organizations, structures, and leadership. This current review of programs and accomplishments, together with input from various groups, provides some guidance in many of these areas, which enables this committee to make recommendations for securing the nation's strength and capacity in forestry research.