My Summer Internship: Research for the Forest Collaborative

Oct 11, 2012

This summer, I had a wonderful three months working at RESOLVE as a policy research intern and completed my first-ever independent research – exciting, rewarding, and unforgettable!

My paper is a case study on the amount of public participation training in accredited forestry degree programs in New Brunswick, Canada. The working group within the Sustainable Forest Community-University Research Alliance (a.k.a. “Forest Collaborative”) asked me to research and answer the following question: Are there enough courses provided in New Brunswick to engage forestry students in public participation and to prepare them with necessary skills to work in the forest planning industry? The answer to this question will help the working group propose solutions for enhancing the region’s forest planning.

When I was first assigned to a group of Canadian stakeholders discussing forest planning and public participation, I literally had no idea what they were talking about. It took me almost two weeks to get familiar with terms like “collaborative efforts” and “public engagement.” Cathy Lu Wall - Map!It took me another two weeks to absorb all the other information I needed, including the state of forestry education, forestry planning practices, and the geography of  Canada  (I did hang a huge map in my office and it’s still there). Meanwhile, I started designing the survey and began conducting phone interviews. I ended up spending more than a month talking to about 20 Canadian scholars, educators, foresters, and government officials over the phone – the first-hand notes I took in the one-on-one interviews really helped me develop the structure of my research! Thanks to their diverse perspectives, I was able to have a broader view of the issue.

Two months after I first stepped into the office, I had read and heard enough about what the issue was – enough to get me started writing.  The information I had collected, however, was just so overwhelming that I didn’t even know where to begin. My supervisor, Juliana Birkhoff, spent a lot of time helping me get on the right track. To provide a model for my paper, I looked up the work of others who have done similar analyses; some scholars from the Forest Collaborative team generously provided me with their previous working papers as references. The actual writing time was not as long as I thought it would be – it helps to have a concrete idea of what you would like to say! My lovely RESOLVE co-workers helped me review the draft paper, as did the group members of the Forest Collaborative.  The final 14-page research paper has been delivered to the working group to review. I hope this research project I did over the summer can be of help to the advancement of forest planning in Canada.

- Cathy Lu

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RESOLVE Completes Science Review in Record Time!

Sep 8, 2011

The Forest Service is engaged in developing a new Planning Rule for all National Forests including a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) of the Rule. The Service contracted with RESOLVE to act as a neutral third party and to conduct an external science review of the DEIS. Seven eminent scientists (in areas such as climate change, monitoring, and forest management) were selected by the RESOLVE Science Program staff. These seven then acted as reviewers to evaluate three key questions on scientific caliber, treatment of uncertainty, and comprehensiveness of the DEIS. In order to ensure the integrity and independence of the review process, the identity of the reviewers and the content of their analysis were kept confidential by RESOLVE, including from the planning rule team, until the review was completed. RESOLVE successfully completed the review in record time, resulting in improvements to the final Forest Service document.

For more information check out the Forest Service’s Planning Rule Science Review Website

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Building Trust and Relationships to Tackle Forestry Issues

Apr 12, 2010

People sometimes contact RESOLVE to facilitate one meeting or run a large public hearing. While sometimes we will help with those events, our favourite requests are when people ask us to help them, over time build relationships, expand collaborative capacity, develop reliable information, and implement agreements that solve real problems.

Almost two years ago, I received a call from a forestry company in New Brunswick, Canada. Their question was simple – “Is there anything we can do to improve relationships between forest industries and environmental NGO’s?” (more…)

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