Biological & Environmental Sciences
Non Technical Summary
This study is important because it is an attempt to extend and integrate an understanding of forest ecosystems across time and varying spatial levels. The three study areas include: 1) one of the largest contiguous areas (Alabama's Black Belt, BB) in the southern United States in which a minority (African-American) group makes up a majority (66%) of the population, 2) one of the few large contiguous (Bankhead National Forest, BNF) forests remaining in Alabama, and 3) the fastest growing forest (Madison Count, MC) to urban transition in Alabama. Two of these areas are rural with a wealth of forest resources: one (BB) is endemically poor despite significant forest based economic development efforts; the other area (BNF) plays a substantive role in providing ecological services in northern Alabama. MC is an important economic hub and an evolving urban ecosystem. Scientific understanding of forest ecosystems will be advanced by the monitoring, modeling and communicating of changes in the forests as well the relationship between forest cover, forest use and forest functions. This is important because a change in the function of a forest is often not just a result of forest cover change but also an important driver of future forest cover dynamics. In addition, forest functions are determined synchronously by both local and external drivers and, in cases such as the provision of drinkable water, forest functions may drastically change without any apparent change in forest cover and vice versa. Understanding the dynamics of forest ecosystem changes in response to human disturbances and the resulting social, economic, and ecological impacts is critical to developing a better understanding of forest ecosystems functions and processes. This project has at its core the emerging knowledge areas identified in the 2007 McIntire-Stennis Strategic Plan. It will integrate across disciplines by incorporating the findings of colleagues studying other aspects of forest ecosystems with this project's findings on human attitudes and behaviors, especially those that give rise to conflict and uncertainty while influencing decision- making. Much of the effort will focus on modeling aspects of these complex systems and enabling environmentally, economically and socially sound management decisions. These syntheses will recognize the social dimensions of natural resource management and stewardship by explicitly incorporating input from policy makers, planners, managers, and stakeholders, such as private landowners and the interested public. Scientific papers and presentations, as well as public lectures, technical assistance and educational workshops will serve to disseminate project
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories
Goals / Objectives
The objectives of this proposed project areis to, over a five year period: 1. Consolidate prior research and develop or refine model(s) of the connection between the social, economic and ecological process which incorporates the socioeconomic and biological characteristics of rural and urban forest ecosystems in the study areas. 2. Collect and analyze data to assess the quantity and value of ecological goods and services in each of the study areas (Figure 2 and Text Box 1). 3. Collect and analyze primary data on landowners and stakeholders to establish their connection to local ecological goods and services as well as their role in shaping local resource management decisions (see example in Appendix 1). 4. Examine policies, processes and laws influencing the management of local natural resources, the functions of local forests, and the beneficiaries of the goods and services from the forests. 5. Develop graduate level courses which incorporate this research while training students in the content and tools required to conduct research in this multi-disciplinary subject area. 6. Develop outreach activities which disseminate research findings thatwhich educate stakeholders and assist them in making or participating in sound resource management decision-making. Duration,Timetable and Ouput Objective 1. Timeline: May 15th to September 30th, 2009. Output: Two papers prepared and submitted for publication. Objective 2. Timeline: October 1st, 2009 to September 30th, 2013 Output: Primary and Secondary data added to an existing database. Objective 3. Timeline: October 1st, 2010 to September 30th, 2013 Output: Primary and Secondary data added to an existing database. One MS student trained and one PhD student started Objective 4. Timeline: October 1st, 2009 to September 30th, 2010 Output: Secondary data added to an existing database. One MS student trained and one PhD student started Objective 5. Timeline: May 15th, 2009 to September 30th, 2013 Output: Two USDA AFRI Capacity Building grants submitted Eight undergraduate students employed in research. Two undergraduate courses revised and four graduate courses developed using and in support of research Objective 6. Timeline: May 15th, 2009 to September 30th, 2013 Output: Presentations to local stakeholders and scientific community Three refereed journal papers submitted.
The procedures outlined allow for evaluation and refinement of research over a five year period. This allows for flexibility if changes become necessary. Phase 1. Consolidating research and publishing (May 15 to September 30, 2009) Objective 1: Two papers, one comparing and contrasting the relationship between land cover and human well-being in the three study areas, and another discussing the role of trust in the decision-making process on the BNF FHI will be prepared. Objective 5. Assist in writing two USDA AFRI Capacity Building proposals. Objective 6. Presentation will be made organizations. Phase 2. Collecting secondary data and dissemination of research concepts and findings. (October 1, 2009 to September 30, 2010) Objective 2. Identifying and acquiring secondary (social, economic, and biological) data. Objective 4. Data gathering on the policies and procedures influencing forest-based economic development and natural resource. Objective 5. Six graduate and undergraduate courses will be revised or developed. Objective 6. A model integrating the social, economic and ecological processes will be conceptualized, discussed with colleagues, presented at scientific meetings and drafted as a paper for peer review publication.. Phase 3. Collecting primary data and dissemination of research findings (October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011) Objective 2 & 3. A graduate student will be provided a research. Objective 5. Two undergraduate work study students will be employed. Objective 6. A first series of analyses of the proposed model integrating the social, economic and ecological processes will be estimated, discussed with colleagues, presented at scientific meetings and drafted as a paper for peer review publication. Phase 4. Analyses of model, dissemination of research findings, and refining the conceptual model. (October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012) Objective 2 & 3. The graduate student will be assisted in completing his/her thesis. Objective 5. Two undergraduate work study students will be employed. Objective 6. Analyses of the proposed model integrating the social, economic and ecological processes will be re-estimated with inclusion of primary data, discussed with colleagues, and presented at scientific meetings. Phase 5. Analyses of model, dissemination of research findings, refining the conceptual model. (October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013) Objective 2 & 3. A PhD graduate student will be hired. Objective 5. Two undergraduate work study students will be employed. Objective 6. Analyses of the proposed model integrating the social, economic and ecological processes will be re-estimated with inclusion of primary data, discussed with colleagues, and presented at scientific meetings If a material change in the objectives of the project becomes necessary, a new or revised project proposal will be prepared and submitted. Any major changes in procedure will be incorporated in a revision of the project proposal.