The National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry (NCSSF) is a results oriented program that has a mandate to provide practical information and approaches that serve the needs of forest managers, practitioners and policymakers. The program’s mission is to improve the scientific basis for the development, implementation, and evaluation of sustainable forestry in the United States. NCSSF is currently focused on Criteria 1 of the Montreal Process: Conservation of biological diversity. The program emphasis is on developing the knowledge and tools most relevant to improving sustainable forestry practices on-the-ground over the next five years. The scope of our current mandate includes includes examining the needs for industrial and non-industrial managed forestlands in the continental United States.
The advancement of sustainable forestry and biodiversity conservation is currently limited by: a) crucial gaps in scientific understanding; b) insufficient transformation of research results into usable information; c) lack of tools to measure and evaluate progress; and, d) inadequate communication between researchers and practitioners. NCSSF addresses all these issues by using an interactive approach of conducting stakeholder dialogues as an integral part of planning, conducting and evaluating the NCSSF science program.
The blue ribbon commission overseeing the program is composed of both prominent scientists and diverse stakeholders in order to provide results that are highly credible as well as relevant to the needs of resource managers. To ensure research is transformed into measurable results on-the-ground, the program includes a set of knowledge syntheses and application assessments, laboratory and field research, tool development, and a sustained outreach and communication effort to help build consensus and involve the various communities of interest in the program.
NCSSF goes beyond being a traditional research program that simply produces and disseminates information. Communication and outreach are woven into the entire NCSSF program. The program plays a proactive role that engages the diverse communities of interest in an interactive learning dialogue to define what new knowledge is most relevant as well as how to produce and apply that knowledge successfully. The program includes a set of participatory processes not only for selecting and managing research but also for ensuring that the knowledge generated is developed in the context of the communities that use that information in their diverse missions. NCSSF’s approach of involving both the users and producers of knowledge in an ongoing dialogue enhances the relevancy and acceptance of the program’s results to diverse stakeholders.
The NCSSF science program uses competitively awarded grants to sponsor research by the best-qualified and most innovative researchers at institutions across the nation. The NCSSF program will make a lasting and tangible contribution to improving the health, maintaining the biodiversity and ensuring the sustainability of the nation’s threatened forests. The participatory approach being pioneered by NCSSF can serve as a model for future research efforts on other pressing societal issues.
NCSSF is conducted under the auspices of the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), a non-advocacy, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the scientific basis for environmental decisionmaking.
Website: NCSSF homepage