Academics for Land Protection in New England (ALPINE) has announced the first of its planned webinars this spring: The Woods around the Ivory Tower: A Systematic Review Examining the Value and Relevance of U.S. University Forests, featuring Dr. Kim Coleman, Dr. Elizabeth Perry and Dr. William Keeton.

The webinar will be held from 12:00-1:00pm on March 3.

Throughout the US, many institutions of higher education own forested tracts, often called school forests, which they use for teaching, research, and demonstration purposes.

While these school forests provide a range of benefits to the communities in which they are located, their full value is yet to be realized. For example, administration is often decoupled from research and teaching, so forest benefits might not always be evident to the individuals who make decisions about their management and use.

To understand what messages are being conveyed about the value and relevance of school forests, a team of authors from a wide range of institutions conducted a systematic literature review and qualitatively coded the resulting literature content using an ecosystem services framework. Their paper concludes that while school forests provide many important benefits to academic and local communities, most of the existing literature omits discussions about cultural ecosystem services that people (e.g., students, local communities, researchers) may receive from school forests.

This webinar features three of the study authors who will explore these findings, discuss enduring themes during times of change (e.g., COVID-19, climate change, demographic shifts, changing university enrollment), and pose provocative questions for researchers and managers to consider about the direction and relevance of school forests.

Open access link to paper: 

Meet the Speakers

Dr. Kim Coleman is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Earth and Environmental Science at SUNY Plattsburgh and an interdisciplinary scholar focused on collaborative forest planning and management, sustainability education, equity, and cultural ecosystem services.

Dr. Elizabeth (Bess) Perry is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University and a conservation social scientist researching and teaching about protected areas, outdoor recreation, and nature-based tourism while addressing sustainability, relevance, collaboration, inclusion, and scales of impact.

Dr. William Keeton is a Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Nature Resources at the University of Vermont. As a forest ecosystem scientist, Dr. Keeton researches forest carbon management, climate change impacts, old-growth and riparian forests, natural disturbance ecology, restoration ecology, forest biodiversity, and sustainable forest management policy and practice.