Human Ecology Mapping and All-Lands Conservation

Published on USDA.gov. Blog, by Diane Banegas, USDA Forest Service R&D, on May 10, 2011.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

(Image: Recreation visitors to the Quinault Rain Forest, one of four rich temperate rain forest canopies that lie within the west side of Washington State’s Olympic Mountains. Using a web-based mapping tool and a series of community workshops, a new Forest Service mapping project will identify and display the diversity of recreation, cultural, historical, and economic connections held by a variety of agencies, tribes, resource users, and residents. Photo courtesy of the USDA Forest Service). 

U. S. Forest Service social scientist Lee Cerveny has carved out a special niche in the world of research. While her colleagues go into national forests and other protected areas to study things like trees and wildlife, she enters these natural environments to study humans – how they interact with and use a range of sites and resources.

Her research is in keeping with Secretary Vilsack’s “all-lands” concept of resource management. She recently launched the Human Ecology Mapping Project, a multi-year study to understand and map human activities and values in the forests of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Using a Web-based mapping tool and a series of community workshops, the mapping project will identify and display the diversity of recreation, cultural, historical, and economic connections held by a variety of agencies, tribes, resource users, and residents. The maps are digitized and analyzed using GIS tools to reveal existing patterns, such as high-intensity sites, areas of overlapping use indicating potential for resource conflict, and treasured places with barriers to access … //

… Because Cerveny’s work has helped the Forest Service adapt to social and economic change, she is in high demand as a research collaborator inside and outside of the agency. Cerveny is currently collaborating with four universities, two national forests, two research station teams, and one nonprofit organization on two of her recent studies. She works out of the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland, Oregon.

For more information about Cerveny’s research visit the Forest Service website. (full text).

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