Unit 1 - The History of  Forest Research

Lesson 3: Forest Research - A Complex Issue

Forest research today is a very complex issue for a number of reasons:

  • "Forest science" as we know it, is actually an amalgamation of many sciences. That is, forest scientists come from many different backgrounds - some are biologists, some are chemists, and some are engineers. In fact, forestry research involves experts from a huge range of disciplines. This is because a forest is an intricately inter-related system, composed of both living and non-living components: plant life, animal life, soil, water and air. Anything that affects just one of these elements affects the entire ecosystem. In order to solve problems in the forest sector, therefore, the knowledge of many experts is often required. Because of this, forest research projects often involve extensive partnerships.

  • Any solution to forestry sector challenges must consider environmental, social, and economic repercussions. For example, when a forestry company cuts down trees in this country, it is required to grow new ones. The process of regenerating these trees is known as silviculture. The forestry company must decide on what type of trees to plant and how to tend the new, growing forest. Should a variety of trees be planted or just one type? Should the growing trees be thinned? How will the wildlife community be affected? Will the new forest provide an adequate wood supply in the future?

  • Canadian forests are overseen by different jurisdictions. The vast majority of forest land in Canada is owned by the provincial, territorial, and federal governments. Although the federal government is highly involved in forest research, the provinces and territories are by far and large responsible for managing their own forests. This necessitates that different levels of government work together effectively to ensure that priority issues are identified and solutions are implemented.

  • The individuals who contribute to forest research are spread across the country and are employed by governments, universities, colleges, and private research. As such, it is very important that these different organizations work together in order to maximize the nation's collective innovation capacity.

  • Organizations that fund forest research must collaborate effectively with organizations that perform and apply the research. It makes no sense for government agencies to be funding research in areas that are a not priority for the forestry industries in Canada.

"The Oil Sands Leadership Initiative" (OSLI) is one example of companies that concern themselves with environmental research.

Click on the PLAY icon to the right to watch their video "Caribou Protection and Recovery."






Forest research is done by scientists from a large number of specialized fields. No wonder. It involves plant life, animal life, and inanimate matter such as air, soil, and water.


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