Forests and Water in a Changing Environment

SRS continues to play key role at international conference, Wayne Swank honored

Attendees at the 4th International Conference on Forests and Water in a Changing Environment held this July in British Columbia.
Attendees at the 4th International Conference on Forests and Water in a Changing Environment held this July in British Columbia.

U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists played leading roles in the 4th International Conference on Forests and Water in a Changing Environment held in Kelowna, British Columbia, July 6 to 9.

SRS project leader Jim Vose (Center for Integrated Forest Science) and research hydrologist Ge Sun (Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center) helped establish the 1st International Conference on Forests and Water in a Changing Environment held in Beijing, China, in 2006.

Started in recognition of the vital role forests play in sustaining water resources and aquatic ecosystems — and of the threats forests face worldwide from the effects of land use and climate change — the conference is held every three years and focuses on the science needed to guide future land management and policy. Both presentations and attendees have increased in number exponentially since 2006, as has the knowledge about forests and water.

“The water resource challenges we face over the coming decades range from local to global scales,” says Vose. “Bringing together the world’s top scientists to discuss the interactions between forests and water is critical to meeting these challenges. The increase in knowledge from the first conference held in Beijing in 2006 to this conference in Kelowna is impressive.”

This year’s conference provided a forum for experts in forest hydrology, ecohydrology, geomorphology, watershed management, and climate change in forest environments around the world to share research progress, exchange ideas, and develop international collaborations.

Vose was one of nine scientists from around the globe invited to give keynote speeches at the conference. He focused his talk, “Revisiting Forest Management and Water Yield Relationships in the Anthropocene,” on the critical role of forests and forest management for sustaining freshwater resources as much of the world transitions from water abundance to water scarcity.

At the closing banquet, Wayne Swank, emeritus scientist at the SRS Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory (Coweeta), was recognized for his international accomplishments in forest hydrology. Swank helped start the long-term studies at Coweeta that established sustainable forest management practices for forest watersheds, and his early collaborations with scientists at the University of Georgia led to the 1980 selection of Coweeta as one of the first sites in the National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network. Swank co-edited the 2014 book Long-Term Response of a Forest Watershed System, which brings together findings from more than 30 years of collaborative research at the Coweeta LTER.

SRS scientists presenting findings at the conference include: Devendra Amatya, Johnny Boggs, Peter Caldwell, Katherine Elliot, Dennis Hallema, Jennifer Knoepp, Yongqiang Liu, Chelcy Miniat, and Ge Sun.

For more information, email Jim Vose at jvose@fs.fed.us

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