Monday, October 15, 2012

New forest research and outreach project launches at UAF

 From left, Sen. Joe Paskvan, Sen. John Coghill, SNRAS Dean and Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Director Carol Lewis, Sen. Joe Thomas, Professor Glenn Juday, Adjunct Professor Janice Dawe, Rep. David Guttenberg and Post Doctoral Researcher Thomas Grant marked the launch of BAK LAP Oct. 15 with a visit to the forest on West Ridge. The BAK LAP researchers are holding tree disks that are used to study forest growth and climate change.

On Monday, UAF researchers expressed their appreciation to legislators who provided funding for the Boreal Alaska -- Learning, Adaptation and Production project.

The partnership between the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District is twofold. One aspect is to upgrade Alaska forest research facilities and management practices to improve the value of Alaska's forests in meeting the rapidly expanding demand for wood biomass energy in a changing environment. The other goal is to improve science, technology, engineering and math teaching and learning outcomes by developing a model K-12 curriculum based on hands-on inquiry using the Alaska boreal forest for science and art education.

Professor Glenn Juday said, "What is BAK LAP besides a catchy acronym? I hope this is the first of a series of projects. We need to meet the demands for wood biomass energy and expand OneTree Alaska for innovative and successful applications of educational content."

Calling BAK LAP "a pretty audacious concept," Juday said he and Janice Dawe, coordinator of OneTree and a SNRAS adjunct professor, both had ideas and realized they were better off putting them together. "We didn't realize how integrated they could be," he said.

"The openness and approval of our Interior delegation was critical to our success."

Dawe said since starting OneTree three years ago she and her colleagues have turned to adding art to science studies. "We have created a community of learners," she said.

Post-doctoral Researcher Thomas Grant said biomass is exploding across the state. "It's about energy, power and economic development," he said.

Stating that Alaska has huge forest resources, Grant said he and the team want to be sure the state's forest resources are also sustainable. "We want to do the research to help make this happen."

Sen. Joe Thomas said, "I appreciate what you are doing.It's apparent, especially in rural areas, that something has to replace diesel but the sustainability of the forests is extremely important."

Juday summed up, "BAK LAP will foster cooperation, help retain forest science information, interpret and disseminate forest management information, foster improved student learning and provide a platform for collaboration and adaptive, sustainable forest management."

Further reading:
SNRAS launches new research/outreach project centered on boreal forest, SNRAS Science & News, June 6, 2012

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