December 17, 2010
The University of North Carolina at Asheville and the USDA Forest Service are joining forces to boost awareness and understanding of threats to forest health. The joint venture, announced recently by UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder, will team the University's advanced computer modeling and imaging capabilities with Forest Service research expertise to develop Web-based resources that make threats to forest health readily visible and comprehensible.
The agreement, effective through June 2015, extends the ongoing collaborative efforts between UNC Asheville's National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) and the USDA Forest Service Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center (EFETAC).
NEMAC Director Jim Fox says, “Our team’s passion is helping diverse interest groups visualize and understand complex scientific data in creative ways. The goal of the NEMAC-EFETAC collaboration is to deliver critical information and tools to the people who need it, when they need it.”
EFETAC Director Danny C. Lee adds, “Our partnership with NEMAC has expanded our capabilities in science communication and delivery. Their expertise helps bring tools to land managers, decision-makers, and the public concerned with sustaining natural resources. Together, we hope to enhance understanding of complex research issues and create awareness of issues impacting forest health, including climate change, insects and disease, and loss of open space.”
NEMAC will contribute unique skills in computer modeling and programming, database management, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and education and outreach to the joint venture. This work supports the research and communication abilities of EFETAC scientists in educating natural resource managers and planners, landowners, and the general public about threats to forest health in a clear and user-friendly manner.
NEMAC and EFETAC are collaborating to develop several Web-based tools and resources to inform and support natural resource management. These include CRAFT (the Comparative Risk Assessment Framework and Tools), a forest planning and decision support system; the Forest Threat Summary Viewer, a database of forest threat information and images; a prototype Early Warning System, a satellite imagery-based monitoring system for detecting unexpected forest changes; EFETAC’s online portal and related communication materials. The joint venture allows for the continued development of these tools as well as development of future products and cross-agency partnerships that strengthen natural resource research and technology transfer efforts.
UNC Asheville's NEMAC, established in November 2003, brings together academic, government, and public sectors through collaboration, and specializes in using science communication and delivery to develop decision-making tools for local and regional planners, decision makers, and the public. Visit the NEMAC Web site for more information.
Established in 2005, EFETAC is actively developing new technology and tools to anticipate and respond to emerging forest threats. Headquartered with the Southern Research Station in Asheville, the Center also has offices in Raleigh and Research Triangle Park, NC. Visit their Web portal for additional information.