Forest Change in the Midwest: The Impact of Stakeholder Perceptions and Management Actions on the Fate of Our Oak ForestsEPA Grant Number: F6C30851
Title: Forest Change in the Midwest: The Impact of Stakeholder Perceptions and Management Actions on the Fate of Our Oak Forests
Investigators: Knoot, Tricia G.
Institution: Iowa State University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: August 15, 2006 through December 31, 2008
Project Amount: $105,703
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2006) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Environmental Justice , Fellowship - Environmental
The objective of this research is to explore realistic alternative futures of the coupled human and natural forest system in the Driftless Area of the Midwest, in order to better anticipate and adapt to an uncertain and dynamic environment. The use of simulation models and future scenarios offers an effective means of communicating the implications of historical and current human actions, potentially altering the trajectory of ecological change through effective cooperation and collaboration among diverse stakeholders. Knowledge of forest dynamics has been advanced through the use of modeling efforts, scenario building, and social perspectives; however, few studies have used a combination of approaches to address the complex ecological and social factors that affect forest change. For example, current forest simulation models do not adequately incorporate stakeholder perceptions and actions. Thus, in regions where the majority of forested land is privately owned, these models provide an unrealistic view of the potential of future forest conditions.
This research project requires a synthesis of both quantitative and qualitative methods to further our understanding of the ecological potential of a complex and dynamic forest ecosystem. I will use a multistage and iterative approach to: (1) quantify the trajectory of forest change over the last two decades in the Driftless Area, given the biophysical potential and disturbance history of this region, and (2) explore alternative forest scenarios through the use of realistic forest simulation modeling, and (3) develop and refine alternative scenarios based upon stakeholder perceptions and intended management actions as evaluated through the use of in-depth interviews and mailed questionnaires.
A historical perspective of the landscape offers us a more complete understanding of present conditions and helps us to manage and plan the landscape of the future. This proposed project will further our understanding of forest change in the Driftless Area of the Midwest and will provide realistic future forest scenarios based on stakeholder participation and evaluation. By informing and guiding management and policy decisions, this research will offer a way of anticipating and adapting to a complex and dynamic environment.