Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Forest Service Research and Development: Improvements in Delivery of Research Results Can Help Ensure That Benefits of Research Are Realized -- GAO

This Government Accountability Office report (GAO-11-12), dated October 29, 2010, finds that the scope of Forest Service R&D’s work spans a range of research organized into seven strategic program areas: invasive species; inventory and monitoring; outdoor recreation; resource management and use; water, air, and soils; wildland fire; and wildlife and fish.

End users identified areas requiring additional attention by Forest Service R&D, such as social science research to better understand human interaction with natural resources. Forest Service R&D has taken steps to improve its ability to fulfill its mission in several areas, including increasing its efforts to deliver knowledge and tools to end users and involving end users in setting research agendas; improving funding allocation processes; and increasing coordination with other federal research

Despite these efforts, challenges persist, particularly in the area of science delivery—that is, how research results are communicated. While Forest Service R&D has created a more formal system for science delivery at multiple levels within the agency, and several research stations have specific programs dedicated to science delivery, numerous officials and end users told GAO that Forest Service R&D places greater emphasis on peer-reviewed journals as a means of science delivery than on other types of science delivery efforts, such as workshops, that are often more useful to end users. Without improved delivery of research results, land managers and others may be unable to fully benefit from the agency’s work.

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