GEORGIA—Representatives from more than 20 Southern Research Station experimental forests, Experimental Forest Network representatives from Forest Inventory and Analysis, station leadership, and partners recently met in Little Rock, Arkansas. “Their primary objective was to build on previous efforts, such as the field tours, and develop an implementation framework and plan for the network,” said Stephanie Laseter, network coordinator and liaison between SRS and the Southern Region.
The EF network is for all sites and all SRS scientists. The workshop focused on research objectives that can be accomplished with a network approach, rather than individual projects or locations.
Workshop participants first reviewed and updated findings from the Southern Forest Futures Project. A network of scientists and managers will enhance the scientific capacity to address the issues identified through the project.
“We had a series of group discussions,” added Laseter. “Topics included network-wide data needs, such as FIA; project ideas that could support key issues or questions; facility and infrastructure needs, along with workforce planning; and partner engagement and participation in the network.”
After reviewing a draft strategic plan for the network, participants developed a plan of work including next steps, short-term goals over the next six months, and midterm goals for the next year.
Looking further out, activities will focus on collecting baseline measurements, initiating long-term monitoring, implementing cross-site studies, and coordinating with partners across the Southern Region and agency-wide.
“The EF network is a connected group of people. Our vision is to help participants stay engaged through in-person and virtual working group meetings — and to keep stakeholders informed through regular communication updates,” says Laseter.