About Us

Forest Service Research Work Units like this one organize their activity around several "problem areas" and use these Problem Area descriptions to guide the design of study plans. The current problem areas for SRS-4804 were revisited during 2003 and approved in early 2004, resulting in the four problem areas listed below. See the complete SRS-4804 mission (Word Document; 72 KB) for more specific information on research approaches, expected collaborators, environmental considerations, and staffing needs.

The most recent mission for SRS-4804 is to improve the economic foundation for natural resource policy and management through research in the following problem areas:

  1. Forest Disturbance and Management Economics — address questions regarding the appropriate applications of management to forest ecosystems in the presence of changing disturbance regimes.
  2. Policy and Program Evaluation — Examine how policies influence resource decisions and how policy design can alter the flow of ecosystem services and affect different groups.
  3. Natural Resource Assessment and Forecasting — Define how management and policies combine with natural disturbance regimes to reshape forests and the flow of ecosystem services at broad scales.

SRS-4804 Mission

Forest Disturbance and Management Economics

Address questions regarding the appropriate applications of management to forest ecosystems in the presence of changing disturbance regimes.

…the unit contains the national center for fire economics research within the USDA Forest Service…

Key Research Elements:

  • Characterize and forecast fire disturbance regimes
  • Evaluate tradeoffs between fuel treatment alternatives at broad scales
  • Understand arson fire ignitions
  • Estimate costs and impacts of invasive species
  • Evaluate salvage options following hurricane, insect or fire related disturbances.

Recent research applications:

  • Annual fire cost forecasts - Fire and Aviation Management
  • Timber salvage economic analysis – Bitterroot and Biscuit Fires
  • Southern Pine Beetle Damages— Southern Forest Insect Working Group

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Policy and Program Evaluation

Examine how policies influence resource decisions and how policy design can alter the flow of ecosystem services and affect different groups.

Key Research Elements:

  • Examine potential governmental role in developing markets for ecosystem services.
  • Evaluate how changes in the tax code affect forest owners and management.
  • Evaluate the effects of policies and programs on underserved populations and other groups.

… the only Forest Service research unit with a focus on the effects of policy, programs,
and taxation on management and forests …

Recent research applications:

  • Federal Timber Tax Guide for forest landowners
  • Estate tax planning guide
  • White paper on forest ecosystem services – Washington Office, USFS
  • A series of community based workshops for minority forest owners
  • Cost Benefit analysis for several new programs—USDA

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Natural Resource Assessment and Forecasting

Define how management and policies combine with natural disturbance regimes to reshape forests and the flow of ecosystem services at broad scales.

… responsible for producing the 2010 RPA Forest Assessment for all regions of the US …

Key Research Elements:

  • Model how global and domestic timber markets respond to macroeconomic and policy variables Model how land use changes in response to economic and population growth
  • Develop tools for forecasting future forest inventories for the US
  • Evaluate effects of future scenarios for resource services and ecosystem services

Recent research applications:

  • Southern Forest Resource Assessment—several partners
  • Rapid Timber Market Assessment— Southern Group of State Foresters
  • Montreal Process Indicators of Sustainable Forests—Roundtable on Sustainable Forests

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