Research on nonfederal forests is fragmented by disciplines and organizations. Although such a structure has the advantage of being able to respond to various disparate research issues, it also can fractionate research responsibilities to the point that major problems requiring research are sometimes bypassed. Within such a structure, seldom does any one organization have as its dominant mission the development of information required by owners, managers, and users of nonfederal forests. The exception might be wood-based-industry research and development programs, which, when focused primarily on forestry research, are in the range of $60 to $70 million per year (Ellefson and Ek 1996). As is coordination and integration among forestry research scientists generally, coordination of scientific effort devoted to nonfederal forests is limited (National Research Council 1990). Given the importance of nonfederal forests to the nation and the diversity of clients that depend on them, the forestry research community needs to be aggregated and integrated.
Providing for the informational needs of owners, users, and managers of nonfederal forests requires research focused on resource use, management, and protection. Often, only research on nonfederal forests receives attention within the context of larger forestry research planning. For example, gaining an understanding of the composition, function, and distribution of genetic variation of wildlife might have broad application among many owners, but more specific information might be needed by specific tribes and industrial timberland owners. A process does not exist for periodic review and establishment of a national research agenda for nonfederal forests. Research results useable to the community with interests in nonfederal forests depends on planning and focus. Such has yet to occur.
National assessments could be used to guide the direction of research on nonfederal forests; however assessments are limited. One effort to do so was carried-out by the American Forest and Paper Association (1995a) which ranked research needs in the following order: forest management research, research on environmental-social-biological interactions, silvicultural research, and research on energy utilization and markets. The report also calls for a national research coordinating council. A more narrowly focused national assessment addressed the nonindustrial private-forest sector (Ellefson et al. 1990). Many assessments leading to a national research agenda are very broad in scope. For example, a report prepared by the National Science and Technology Council (1995) suggests that research focus on understanding the state of natural systems and their susceptibility to change, socioeconomic dimensions of environmental changes, human health consequences of environmental change, and vulnerability of socioeconomic