adaptive-management or systems approach to sustainable forest management will be necessary to meet future social needs and objectives.
Research and monitoring make it possible to determine how forests should be managed, including whether, how, and when intervention in natural conditions is needed. Research and monitoring are essential in the development of efficient approaches to developing intensive timber plantations, restoring degraded forests to better functioning ecologic systems, and providing the amenity and spiritual values that are sought by people.
Just as monitoring of forests is necessary to ensure future growth and sustainability, monitoring the status of forestry research is important to ensure future strength and capacity. The extent and condition of forests are uncertain; more importantly, the status of the nation's capacity to address these issues through forestry research is uncertain.
The capacity to achieve sustainability is highly variable and is positively correlated to the resources dedicated to forestry research (Szaro et al., 2000). It is possible to measure the input (human resources, financial resources, facilities, and equipment) into forestry research and its output (technology improvements, publications, economic development, and ecologic improvement), and a relatively thorough investigation of forestry research reveals greater capacity than perhaps widely recognized. However, how to focus and build that capacity are perhaps the most relevant questions for the next decade.
This chapter of the report summarizes available data on forestry-research capacity in terms of human resource, institutional, and financial inputs. We considered input and output to forestry research to describe the current status of the nation's forestry research environment, and to assess the adequacy of the nation's capacity to meet current and future needs. We also provide an overview describing evaluations of output (perceived return on investment). Where possible, we analyze the question of capacity in different disciplines; this was one of the specific concerns that prompted our study.
As described by Bengston (1998), the research capacity of a nation is determined in part by factors within the research system, such as the quantity and quality of resources available for research and characteristics of the institutional environment in which research is carried out. It is also influenced by national characteristics, including education systems, and public and private sector roles in research. To assess current U.S. forestry-research capacity, we review the primary forestry-research organizations here. To the extent possible, we describe the levels of manpower and research support they have provided currently and historically.