The Society of Wood Science and Technology (SWST) presented Dr. Eric Hansen, College of Forestry professor of forest products marketing and head of the department of wood science & engineering, the Distinguished Service Award.

This award recognizes distinguished service to the wood science and technology profession. Such service may have been made in any educational, technological, scientific or professional area directly related to the profession of wood science and technology in furtherance of the objectives of the Society as outlined in its constitution and bylaws.  Past Recipients

Bingo VRRH harvest post-operation. Photo shows clumps of trees that are retained throughout the unit.

The OSU Research Forests recently performed two variable retention regeneration harvests (VRRH). Yes, it is a mouthful! Can you say it five times fast?

A VRRH is a harvesting technique that seeks to retain varying densities of trees throughout the harvest unit. Foresters implement VRRH for a variety of reasons including providing more wildlife habitat, enhancing visual aesthetics, and retaining forest structural elements that are associated with structurally complex stands.

We completed a VRRH harvest in 2020, and ‘Bingo’ VRRH was its name-o. We chose the 68-year-old mature stand as part of an experiment because VRRH’s had not been widely performed in the Research Forests in the past. The Bingo unit contained predominately even-aged Douglas-fir with a small component of grand fir and hardwoods (e.g., bigleaf maple and Oregon white oak). The pre-existing trees in the unit showed signs of significant mortality that were the result of two previous weather events in 2015: the hot drought and damaging ice storm. Many of the Douglas-firs that succumbed to mortality also showed signs of sap rot (decay) on the boles (i.e. trunks) of the trees. These factors played into our decision to use a VRRH management approach because the trees had to be salvaged, and the storm and insect damage had created many snags ideal for wildlife use. This stand also stood adjacent to a road heavily for recreation, thus safety and aesthetics were additional factors. Additionally, the harvest would be highly visible from Highland Avenue near Crescent Valley High School.

The second VRRH unit was Davie Crockett 2, which we wrapped up in June 2021. This unit was 12.5 acres and 74 years old. Davie Crockett 2 primarily contained even-aged Douglas-firs with a smaller component of bigleaf maple and grand fir. We chose this unit for a VRRH demonstration because it also was in a highly used recreation area and the retention of trees could help reduce the view of exposed tree boles or bare ground.

Figure 1. LiDAR vicinity map of Bingo VRRH unit and viewpoint from Nazarene Church on Highway 99.
Figure 2. Simulated image from LiDAR drone data depicting what Bingo VRRH would look like from Nazarene Church if it had been clear cut.

A major goal for the Bingo and Davie Crockett 2 harvests was to minimize the post-harvest appearance of upslope tree boles and bare ground from the surrounding valley. If you were to use binoculars to view the Bingo harvest unit from Crescent Valley High School or from the Nazarene Church on Highway 99, our hope was that you would not be able to see much bare ground or tree boles (Figure 1 and 2). We tried to achieve this by including enough retention trees in the units so that their crowns would block the view of these post-harvest features. In forestry, we call the area that a harvest unit can be viewed from the “viewshed”. We used LiDAR technology (Light Detection And Ranging), a remote sensing technique, to simulate images of what each unit would look like under different tree retention scenarios. LiDAR works by emitting pulses of light waves which bounce back to the device; in this case we used a drone. The time needed for the wavelengths to bounce back are used to calculate the distance an object (tree, road, or ground surface) is from the sensor, which can then be used to generate an image of the landscape. Graduate student Bryan Begay and OSU College of Forestry professor Bogdan Strimbu helped gather the data necessary to create the simulated images. Forest director Stephen Fitzgerald brought them into the field to help identify retention patches that would best meet our visual objectives.

We consider the visual aesthetics of harvest operations from multiple scales. For example, the Bingo unit is located on the 600 road, which is a highly-trafficked recreation area with the Bombs Away trail traversing through the unit. Davie Crockett is similarly traversed by the Vineyard Mountain trail and many users hike or bike by the unit’s edge on the 500 road every day. We wanted to make sure the final product was visually appealing from miles away as well as from the adjacent roads and trails. Often our recreation department will visit a harvest site during the planning phase to visualize and anticipate how the post-harvest area will be experienced as a runner, walker, equestrian, or biker. These experiential and aesthetic factors also play into our decision making for selecting retention trees and clumps of trees.

The process for selecting retention trees, especially for a VRRH approach, is very methodical and specific. Trees left behind often include a mixture of live hardwoods, healthy conifers, as well as standing dead conifers (snags) that are important for wildlife habitat. Many of the trees that we retain, especially when thinking about aesthetics, have large crowns (i.e. over half of the tree has a full living canopy), and consist of Douglas-firs and bigleaf maples. We retained over 100 trees for both units. For recreationists, we sought to retain trees that anchored the trail and/or provided shade for visitors.

To visualize and anticipate the spatial arrangement of the retained trees (sometimes called leave trees or wildlife trees), we use GIS technology. We take detailed maps out to the field on a tablet that contains a georeferenced mapping application (e.g., Avenza). This application allows us to drop “pins” that mark the location of the chosen retention trees. We also physically mark all retained trees with a pink painted “W” or with a permanent blue “wildlife tree” tag. This process is iterative; it is important to continually visualize and anticipate what the stand will look like after the harvest is completed. When I’m in the field doing tree marking, I am constantly keeping this in mind.

Figure 3. (A) Simulated image from LiDAR drone data depicting what Davie Crockett 2 would look like if patches from Fig. 4 were retained. Unit boundary is approximately within the white oval. (B) Picture from highway 99 depicting what Davie Crockett 2 looks like post-harvest. Unit boundary is approximately within the white oval

My own role in creating the design and layout for these harvests was composed of fieldwork, assisting with retention tree identification, and helping with contract administration post-operation. Working on these units was an incredible learning experience for my future career. Every time I am exposed to a different management technique or harvesting styles, I am able to think more critically and holistically about forest management approaches.

Hannah Proffitt is working on her Bachelors of Science in Forest Management and Fire Protection and Reforestation with the College of Forestry. She is a student employee in Forest Management with the Research Forests. She plans to graduate Spring 2022. The OSU College of Forestry’s Research Forests include network of ten forest tracts spread throughout Oregon, totaling 15,000 acres. Subscribe to their newsletter to receive monthly newsletters as well as trail updates. This article originally appeared in the July issue of their newsletter.

Congratulations to our 2021 Oregon State University College of Forestry graduates and awardees!

As part of the 2021 OSU Spring Commencement, the College awarded more than 200 undergraduate degrees, 54 master’s degrees and 26 graduate certificates.  13 students earned their doctoral degree as part of the ceremonies, the highest degree one can receive at OSU.

Commencement also provides an opportunity to announce our annual student, staff and faculty awards. Congratulations to our graduates and awardees.

Pack Essay award – Karra Showen
Created by Charles Lathrop Pack, the Pack Essay Award encourages sound communication skills for forestry and natural resource professionals.

Robert Aufderheide Award – Ashley D’Antonio
This award recognizes the outstanding instructor or professor on the teaching staff at the College of Forestry

Julie Kliewer Mentor Award Mindy Crandall
This award, also known as the XSP Mentor Award, is presented to the faculty or staff member who provides outstanding mentorship to students.

12th Annual Photo of the Year Contest – Jessica Blunn, for her photo “Legacies,” taken in the Holiday Farm Fire in the western Cascades.

Culture of Writing Award – Jay Sharpe and Rachel Villarreal
This award recognizes an individual’s ability to create a culture in which writing is taught, practiced, modeled, valued, and remembered.

Kelly Axe Award- Paul Catino
This award goes to a graduating senior who helps or cooperates tirelessly behind the scenes to advance the College. This award is unique in that the recipient generally receives little recognition for all of their efforts.

Harold Bowerman Leadership Award – Hanna Girod
Since 1976, the College annually recognizes a senior who demonstrates outstanding service to the College or University. The student selected exemplifies the Fernhopper Spirit through demonstrated leadership, unique contributions, and enthusiastic participation in student club activities and College programs.

Paul & Neva Dunn Outstanding Senior Award – Stacey Dunkley
The Dunn Outstanding Senior Award goes to the College’s outstanding graduating senior based on high academic achievement combined with professional ability.

Outstanding Senior Awards
Andrea Jacobs, E-Campus Natural Resources
Julian Kirchler, Natural Resources, Corvallis Campus
Cameron Castle, Tourism, Recreation, and Adventure Leadership
Quinn Smesrud, Renewable Materials
Gracie Stutzman, Forest Engineering
Ashley Backen, Forestry
Cody Irish, Forest Engineering/Civil Engineering

Back in late April, OSU Research Forests had the exciting opportunity to plant native pacific aspens along the 600 road in the Oak Creek area of the McDonald Forest, as well as at the Marchel Tract near the Willamette River. Several were also planted near the new Peavy building on campus at OSU. College of Forestry Professor Steve Strauss and others used DNA sequencing to show that the aspens in the Willamette Valley, and nearby Washington and British Columbia, belong to a distinctive variety that grows in wet areas in the lowland Pacific. These types of areas were likely to be more abundant prior to the draining and leveling of the Willamette Valley for agriculture.

The DNA studies showed that these trees are clearly distinct from aspen in the Cascades, the Rocky Mountains, and the eastern USA and Canada. Strauss and others published these findings last year in the journal Ecology and Evolution. The authors inferred that the likely origin of this aspen was in an ice-free Pacific refugium during the last ice age.

Through a collaboration with the wholesale tree nursery, J Frank Schmidt & Son, the Strauss team’s aspen collections are currently being tested for release as a native variety. The trees planted on campus and on the Research Forests were mostly the result of samples taken by CoF staff member Anna Magnuson (supported by grant funds from Schmidt). The plantings include native trees from as close by as Peoria and the Calapooia River near Corvallis, Killen Marsh near Banks, and the Nature Conservancy’s Camassia Natural Area close to East Linn. Several other Willamette Valley origins are also represented in the plantings.

These aspens will be studied as they grow to see if they are better adapted to local conditions than the mountain aspens that are now commonly planted. J Frank Schmidt & Son plans to have them ready for distribution in a few years. Hopefully this beautiful looking, beautiful sounding, and formerly common tree in the Valley becomes more widely enjoyed by everyone. Educational materials will be installed near some of the trees once they become established.

The OSU College of Forestry’s Research Forests include network of ten forest tracts spread throughout Oregon, totaling 15,000 acres. Subscribe to their newsletter to receive monthly newsletters as well as trail updates.

Reece Dobmeier has received the Oregon State University (OSU) Outstanding Student Award from the Oregon Society of American Foresters (OSAF). Dobmeier accepted the award at the 2021 OSAF virtual Annual Meeting on May 13, 2021.

The OSU Outstanding Student Award is to be presented annually to an Oregon State University forestry student who is a member of the Society of American Foresters; participates regularly in OSU SAF activities, including a leadership role of some kind; represents the OSU SAF Student Chapter at state or national SAF gatherings; and who demonstrates good academic standing, good citizenship, and excellence in extracurricular and professional work activities. 

Reece served as Student Chapter Chair during 2020 and is recognized by John Bailey, a professor in the Department of Forest Engineering, Resources & Management at Oregon State University, for keeping the student club active in spite of the ongoing pandemic. “Beyond the regular emails, updates, links, and encouragements, Reece made sure that all the necessary things on the calendar were getting done,” he said. “This year was a significant struggle for most students including Reece. In this oft-raging storm, Reece was a calming force for many and an anchor for the chapter and its activities.”

Reece will graduate in spring 2021 with a Bachelor of Science degree and has accepted a position at the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians.

OSAF and its 15 local chapters represent all segments the forestry profession within the state. The society includes public and private practitioners, researchers, administrators, educators, and forestry students. Its mission is to advance the science, education, technology, and practice of forestry; to enhance the competency of its members; to establish professional excellence; and to use the knowledge, skills, and conservation ethics of the profession to ensure the continued health and use of forest ecosystems and the present and future availability of forest resources to benefit society.

Skye Greenler, a PhD candidate and Provost Fellow in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, is one of 100 doctoral students in the U.S. and Canada selected to receive a $20,000 Scholar Award from the P.E.O. Sisterhood.  She was sponsored by Chapter A of Portland, Oregon.

Skye, originally from Stoughton, Wisconsin, is a fire ecologist whose work focuses on collaborative science that bridges fire management and ecology to develop ways to better live with and manage wildfire into the future. She received an MS from the Forestry and Natural Resources Department at Purdue University (2018) and BA from Colorado College (2014). 

Greenler is at the forefront of a more holistic perspective in scientific inquiry, working to understand ways that systemic entrenched bureaucracy, patriarchal perspectives of command and control, and injustices to underrepresented communities inhibits adaptation to our current fire challenge.  Her dissertation focuses on identifying when wildfires can help restore historical and healthy forest conditions in eastern Oregon and working to develop landscape-scale fire models for northern California that incorporate Indigenous fire management practices into cutting-edge fire modeling and management tools.

Her dissertation is linking new concepts in planning, large-scale quantitative modeling, and the voices of Indigenous Peoples to inform new policy and management directions that embody the best hope for a more resilient future. 

Greenler has served as the President of the Student Association for Fire Ecology at OSU, and helped found the Traditional Ecological Knowledge club which supports Tribal rights and inclusion in natural resource stewardship, including hosting a recurring conference on Traditional Ecological Knowledge in ecosystem sustainability.

The P.E.O. Scholar Awards were established in 1991 to provide substantial merit-based awards for women of the United States and Canada who are pursuing a doctoral-level degree at an accredited college or university. Scholar Awards recipients are a select group of women chosen for their high level of academic achievement and their potential for having a positive impact on society.

The P.E.O. Sisterhood, founded January 21, 1869, at Iowa Wesleyan College, Mount Pleasant, Iowa, is a philanthropic educational organization dedicated to supporting higher education for women.  There are approximately 6,000 local chapters in the United States and Canada with nearly a quarter of a million active members.

Growing up in Kenya, Paul Oyier, who is pursuing a PhD in sustainable forest management, quickly understood the importance education could play in his life. Born into a family where neither of his parents knew how to read nor write, Oyier did not have access to the opportunities or academic support afforded to others.

However, inspired by his uncle, who went to school and created a better, more secure life for himself, Oyier turned to education. He is where he is today because of his teachers.

“When teachers realize they have a good student, they feel they can’t let this person go,” Oyier says. “It’s the encouragement from those teachers that propelled me to my success.”

Oyier is grateful for his teachers and still maintains a connection with them.

“I appreciate the teachers who stood with me and encouraged me. Whenever I see them, I tell them that they are a part of my success.”

Oyier received his undergraduate degree from Moi University in Kenya in Wood Science and Technology. Afterward, he worked at an industrial wood products manufacturing company and became interested in timber harvesting operations because of their contribution to production activities in the factory.

“When you’re on a production line, your main objective is that the line doesn’t stop and that you produce as much as you can,” Oyier says. “If something in the production process stalls, like supplies or materials, production becomes intermittent and people get laid off.”

Oyier was interested in creating production planning and control systems to ensure that material supplies were consistent to meet customer demands. This interest led him to pursue a master’s of forestry science with a focus on forest harvesting operations at the University of Canterbury, courtesy of the New Zealand Development Scholarship. After completing his degree, he was employed as a teaching assistant in Maasai Mara University, Kenya where he taught forestry harvesting and management before he came to OSU.

Oyier says he wanted to come to OSU because of its academic and research reputation. He is particularly grateful for his major professor, Kevin Lyons, the Wes Lematta Professor of Forest Engineering and the mechanized harvesting laboratory director who made it possible for Oyier to come to OSU through graduate assistantship.

“Lyons has been keen on ensuring that I master the requisite knowledge and analytical skills in forest engineering and operations,” Oyier says. “I lacked subject mastery in these areas, and he has devoted extra time over the last two years to teach me the needed skills in forest engineering and operations, and has never given up on me. It shows how committed College professors will go to ensure that their students succeed. I appreciate him for this effort.”

The pair are working together to study how harvest machine simulators can be incorporated in training forest engineers, foresters and allied scientists.

Training forest harvesting professionals to make better harvesting planning decisions contributes to a safe, efficient, and economically viable operations in the supply chain’s success and resilience.

Oyier says education has changed his life in many ways, yet it is not easy to be separated from his loved ones in Kenya.

Oyier believes resilience is cultivated from within and says he’s had to make a choice every day where to focus his energy. Instead of focusing his energy on missing his family, he tries to focus on academics so that he will find success and his family will experience success, too.

“Being able to discover what you’re made of, and your ability to navigate through to the end, that is what resilience is all about,” Oyier says.

Oyier plans to graduate in 2021 and aspires to return to Kenya as an educator, researcher or industry expert in forest engineering and operations. The Jake Eaton Scholarship for Short Rotation Forestry and the College of Forestry Fellowship has provided Oyier additional support during his time here.

“My dream is to become a professor and share my knowledge with people,” Oyier says. ‘I want to experience the satisfaction of having the opportunity to change one’s destiny by giving knowledge. Teachers did that for me, and I want to do that for others.”

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

For Zowie Blue DeLeon, an undergraduate student majoring in natural resource management, resilience means having the mental, emotional and physical elasticity to see beyond the single experience of suffering.

“Bigger picture, things may be hard now, but they won’t be forever,” DeLeon says. “That perspective can provide strength during hard times.”

DeLeon, who uses both they and her pronouns, encountered many situations while growing up which required inner strength. However, at the time, they didn’t necessarily see themselves as being “resilient.”

“I grew up in a toxic environment, left home when I was sixteen. I had to grow up fast and learn a lot through trial and error. I am the first to break many cycles in my family and a first-generation college student. I’ve experienced estrangement, loss, death, being a caregiver, feeling alone and that if I failed, no one would be there to help me.”

DeLeon admits that when she was younger, they believed resilience was forged by putting up walls and being tough to make themselves feel safe. DeLeon doesn’t feel that way anymore.

“Over time, I have learned that resilience is moving through difficult or uncomfortable experiences with fluidity, softness and empathy,” DeLeon says.

Though outdoor recreation was not central to DeLeon’s childhood in the southeast, they were always outside and interested in plants, trees and bugs. After DeLeon moved to Corvallis, a friend who attended OSU inspired DeLeon to begin college, and at the age of 21, they joined the OSU community to study biology.

“As a first-generation college student, attending university was a big deal for me,” DeLeon says.

After working a season in an Alaskan fishery, DeLeon realized they wanted to pursue a career in natural resources with a specialization in fish and wildlife conservation. DeLeon is seeking an additional degree in anthropology and is interested in traditional ecological knowledge and Indigenous stewardship.

DeLeon received multiple scholarships from OSU and the College of Forestry.

“These scholarships allowed me to work less and focus more on my education as well as my personal and professional development. Because of the financial assistance, I can participate in fellowships, clubs, research, volunteer work and invest in myself.”

These opportunities outside of class helped them zero in on their focus, and DeLeon advises incoming students to seize every opportunity they can.

“Exploring is how I developed my sense of direction. I took a few classes just for fun, like pottery and yoga, attended free lectures, joined clubs, went to socials, and found out wherever there was free food. These experiences are some of my favorite memories on campus and led me to new friendships and interests.”

DeLeon worked as a student employee in the Dean’s Office and was recognized and awarded for her outstanding contributions. Nominators noted that DeLeon approached her work with thoughtfulness and dedication and was a leader to her office mates.

DeLeon plans to graduate in the spring of 2022 and hopes to find a job with an agency or enroll in grad school. DeLeon’s dream job or graduate program would focus on ethnoecology or the intersection of Indigenous stewardship with aquatic ecology and fisheries.

DeLeon thinks that cultivating resilience requires both humility and vulnerability.

“The ability to communicate ‘I have no clue what I am doing’ and the ability to ask for help to find direction and solutions can help with navigating hard times,” DeLeon says. “Dropping your guard and your ego can help you gain the support you need to persist and find solutions during difficult times.”

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Landslides are a global hazard that take the lives of over ten thousand people a year and dramatically reshape our landscapes.

“The loss of lives is the most tragic consequence,” says Ben Leshchinsky, Richardson Chair in Forestry and associate professor of geotechnical engineering. “More often, however, the impact of landslides is economic and related to the costs of repairs or mitigation or moving people as well as impacts to emergency access.”

Leshchinsky studies various topics relating to geotechnical engineering, with a primary emphasis on landslides, slope stability, reinforced soil, and applying remote sensing techniques to assess geohazards.

Leshchinsky does some of his work in partnership with the Oregon Department of Transportation.

“They have lots of concerns about accessibility and emergency response, particularly following a big earthquake, rainstorm or change in climate,” Leshchinsky says.

When most people think of a landslide, they think of a sudden, abrupt failure and slope or hillside collapse. While those types of landslides exist, some landslides move more like a glacier than an avalanche.

“We do quite a bit of work monitoring slow-moving failures,” Leshchinsky says. “Understanding if there’s a pattern to their movement, like when they will move, how they will move, and how it might impact infrastructure. We also work to understand the risk or likelihood of an event.”

Determining the risk is key to planning and protecting communities and infrastructure. To support that effort, Leshchinsky and colleagues developed an approach to take landslide inventories, analyze their failure mechanism, understand their mechanical properties and use this data for regional-scale landslide hazard, susceptibility and risk assessment. These tools advance how we can use landslide databases to predict landslide hazards, which is essential to planners, engineers and scientists.

“The problem we were seeing before creating our tools is that people develop these databases that were missing key pieces of information,” Leshchinsky says. “I could, for example, see trends and other data in the database, but was missing information like how to mitigate landslide impacts, or how to evaluate how likely it is that a slope will fail.”

Leshchinsky is working with PhD student Nick Mathews to generate different potential landslide scenarios, like earthquakes or significant storm events, in the Oregon Coast Range to evaluate the susceptibility and vulnerability of infrastructure to damage or closures from landslides.

“One of the things I do is take inventories of landslides and back out information like shape, volume and strength to determine how slopes might fail,” Mathews says. “I also ask questions like does this location have ‘weak’ geology or ‘strong’ geology? I use those numbers to evaluate, in terms of forecast and predictive measures, to help determine what will fail next.”

“Documenting past slope failures gives us an idea of what will happen in the future,” Leshchinsky says.

Leshchinsky says we often associate landslides with human activities. While those can speed up or accelerate landslide activity, the fact is wherever there is a slope, there has likely been a landslide at some point in the past.

“These are natural processes connected to the environment, and they are the reasons our mountains, valleys and sea cliffs are the shape they are,” Leshchinsky says. “Landslides are the source of sediment and gravel that fish love to spawn in. They are one of the disturbances that work to produce a classic old-growth forest with a patchwork of vegetation and different types of trees.”

Landslides serve a role in our environment that’s not fully understood or appreciated. Leshchinsky says that while we know the basics of what drives landslides, there is incredible uncertainty in trying to predict where and when they will occur in the future.

“I tell my students that people say space is the final frontier. I don’t see it this way,” Leshchinsky says. “Down beneath our feet is the final frontier, and geological conditions we don’t know or can’t see often drive these landslides. Being able to take data from the surface and convert it to something meaningful from a perspective of understanding how things work is valuable worldwide.”

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

More than a billion people, many of them the world’s poorest, rely on forests and trees for their livelihoods. About a third of the world’s remaining intact forest landscapes are on Indigenous lands.

Assistant professor Reem Hajjar’s research examines how to support and create resilient, equitable forest-dependent communities and sustainable ecosystems.

“Particularly on Indigenous lands and lands that have been managed by local communities for generations, figuring out how we can best devise policies, practices, and interventions that respect local rights and values is crucial. Our goal should be to provide opportunities that support and empower local visions of development while also sustainably managing forests and conserving forest ecosystems that provide us all with critical services,” Hajjar says.

Hajjar’s research is at the nexus of conservation and development.

“I ask questions like, which mechanisms are best suited to ensure that we can use forests as sustainable pathways out of poverty and towards broader prosperity and a more resilient future? What are the livelihood and landscape impacts of various environmental policies, and how might that change related to who manages the forest? How do power dynamics affect governance mechanisms and equity in outcomes?”

Her research primarily focuses on low- and middle-income countries, but she’s starting to apply some of these questions in the western United States.

In 2020, Hajjar was a contributing member of the Global Forest Expert Panel (GFEP) on Forests and Poverty, organized by the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO). The panel synthesized existing knowledge related to forests, trees and eradicating poverty, producing the Forests and Poverty Global Assessment.

“The assessment comprehensively pulls together research on forest-poverty dynamics and the contextual factors that shape them, the tools we have for alleviating poverty, and how we see these dynamics being affected by global forces of change,” Hajjar says.

Hajjar served as coordinating lead author for a chapter within the assessment that identified all the forest-related “levers,” like policies, programs and interventions, that could conceivably alleviate poverty. She led a team of authors that then evaluated the available evidence for the effect that each lever has on reducing poverty.

“Essentially, this chapter asks, what has worked to alleviate poverty in forests and tree-based systems? How strong is the evidence for that?” Hajjar explains.

Hajjar says the potential impact of the assessment is substantial. It synthesizes the current understanding of how forests and tree-based systems can contribute to poverty eradication – the first of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDG1). The work also uncovers knowledge gaps where more research is needed and includes several policy recommendations to help inform decision-makers as they navigate potential synergies and trade-offs concerning forests and poverty alleviation.

“IUFRO uses these kinds of reports to get information to policy-makers,” Hajjar says. “Before COVID-19, this report was supposed to be presented at the 2020 UN General Assembly. That didn’t happen, but IUFRO has set up several webinars and created shorter ‘implications for policy-makers’ documents to ensure that the information gets into the right hands.”

Hajjar says it’s necessary to figure out what just governance of natural resources looks like so that forests can help to alleviate poverty in an equitable way and support community resilience. “Moving forward, just outcomes need to be a part of how we define sustainability in social-ecological systems.” 

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.