Apply Knowledge Globally

International collaborations yield results for domestic land management questions

OREGON — This week, Pacific Northwest Research Station scientist Bruce Marcot is working with Australian colleagues from the University of Melbourne to finalize a major review of recent advances in integrating Bayesian network modeling with environmental assessments and decision analysis. These modeling approaches can be used in many different environments; Marcot will share them throughout the Forest Service as well as with international partners.

Last October, in Portland, Oregon, the research station hosted officials from Australia’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. The following month, Marcot continued this collaboration by visiting environmental managers in Australia and New Zealand. His goals were to provide new consultations on a variety of forestry programs and initiate new contacts and projects.

At the University of Melbourne, Marcot delivered a keynote address at the joint international conference of the Australasian Bayesian Network Modelling Society and the Society for Risk Analysis. He spoke on the use of expert knowledge in ecological modeling and met with researchers and managers from several countries in the region, discussing many topics related to decision science, ecological modeling, and statistical theory. At a modelling society board of directors meeting, he was voted in as a board member and honored as the organization’s first and only lifetime member.

Photo: Sign gives instructions about methods to help preserve kauri trees.
Many tracks on North Island warn of the problem of kauri dieback disease, and urge visitors to "clean your gear" and "stay on trails" to help avoid spread of the disease. Forest Service photo.

Marcot was then invited to help structure a major new initiative to model methods of reducing the die-back of kauri, Agathis australis, from root rot infestation. This iconic old-growth tree on New Zealand’s North Island is a species of major importance to the cultural identity of the Maori people as well as to the nation’s tourism, forestry and conservation efforts. Marcot was invited by Scion, New Zealand’s national forestry research agency, to serve on its kauri die-back research team as a modeler and analyst.

Marcot is currently working with the Pacific Northwest Region to develop a decision-science foundation for compiling lists of species of conservation concern under the 2012 planning rule, and is developing Bayesian network models to evaluate their viability. His work on the spread and management of root rot in kauri trees may be of keen interest to regional threat assessments and management approaches in the Pacific Northwest.

Photo: Looking up at a tree.
This is the largest standing kauri tree, called "Tane Mahuta" (Lord of the Forest) by the Maori. This tree is estimated to be 1,250 to 2,500 years old. Forest Service photo.