Forestry Research Through Global Partnerships

Vicki Christiansen, Forest Service Chief
25th IUFRO World Congress, Opening Ceremony
Curitiba, Brazil
— September 30, 2019

Good evening, distinguished colleagues! On behalf of the U.S. Forest Service, I would like to thank Brazil for hosting this 25th IUFRO World Congress. It is such a pleasure and an honor to be here!

A few words about our forestry research work at the U.S. Forest Service. My agency has seven major research facilities and about 500 scientists in 67 locations across the United States. We have 81 experimental forests and ranges, which give us data on every major vegetation type in the United States, some of it going back more than a century. We also manage 78 million hectares of national forests and grasslands; our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands. We use incredible science to work with partners for sustainable forest management across the United States and around the world.

We have been a member of IUFRO for over 100 years, and we had the honor of hosting the last IUFRO World Congress in 2014 in the United States. We rely on IUFRO’s vast scientific network to learn about forestry research around the world. Our scientists have been involved as officeholders, leading networks of scientists from around the world on research topics in forest and wood science. We currently have 43 scientists serving as IUFRO officeholders.

For example, one officeholder is David Nowak, coordinator of the IUFRO Working Group on Urban Forestry and a pioneer in the field of urban forest science. As a scientist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, Dave has worked with partners around the world to develop i-Tree as a global tool for assessing all the benefits people get from urban forests. i-Tree tools now have 320,000 users in over 130 countries. Dave received the IUFRO Scientific Achievement Award today.

The other U.S. Forest Service recipient of the prestigious IUFRO award is Junyong Zhu for his contributions to the advancement of wood utilization. Junyong was codeveloper of a process that produced the world’s first successful woody biojet fuel commercial flight. He has also worked on the production of cellulosic nanomaterials to support high-value wood utilization.  Both biojet fuels and cellulosic nanomaterials will play important roles in the success of forest biorefineries and expand the market of renewable woody materials. 

These are just two examples of interconnecting science, forests, and people that would not be possible without the IUFRO science network.

Special thanks to the government of Brazil for your partnership and support! We have long worked with the Brazilian Forest Service and the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment, supporting each other in creating and managing national forests and parks for future generations. Just to give a few examples, we have worked with the Brazilian Forest Service on strengthening institutions for sustainable forest management, conducting forest inventories, and exchanging technical expertise on wood identification.

And I am so pleased that John Parrotta from the U.S. Forest Service’s Research and Development staff has agreed to serve as IUFRO President for the next five years! John will be serving from the end of this Congress until the 2024 IUFRO Congress in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Sustainable forest management depends on sound science—we all know that. And sound science depends on the global partnerships you are here to build. So I commend you all for being here! Everyone benefits when scientists collaborate with colleagues from around the world, and IUFRO’s global platform for interconnecting forests, science, and people is a central part of that.