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Western Forestry Graduate Research Symposium (WFGRS)

On April 21st, I had an opportunity to take a part in the Western Forestry Graduate Research Symposium (WFGRS), hosted by Oregon State University’s (OSU) College of Forestry. Every year the symposium fosters educational opportunities, community building, and academic excellence by providing a space for students to present their work to their university community. Overall, it was a great experience to see the showcase of current raduate student research at OSU. 

The Western Forestry Graduate Research Symposium (WFGRS) is a student-organized event, held at OSU since 2013. Every year WFGRS features key speakers, and share oral and poster presentations by graduate student researchers on a variety of interesting subjects such as forest management, products, ecology and human dimensions.

Keynote speaker at WFGRS

The Symposium started with the oral presentation of Dr. Teresa Cavzos Cohn from the University of Idaho (USA), who was a keynote speaker at WFGRS this year. Dr Cavazos Cohn gave a presentation entitled “Science Communication – Creativity and Craft”, in which she presented, among others, the importance of the role of storytelling in science communication, main obstacles in science communication to the public, and potential solutions for better communication between society and scientists.

Keynote speaker at WFGRS 2017
Keynote speaker at WFGRS: Dr. Teresa Cavzos Cohn from the University of Idaho.

The future of forestry: challenges and opportunities

After the presentation of Dr Cavzos Cohn, participants of WGRS had an opportunity to join the College of Forestry International Programs Office and many of the College’s international students in the globally-oriented workshop on challenges and opportunities facing forestry. There were 5 main subjects discussed during the workshop such as science, policy, economics or society. The main idea behind this workshop was to encourage international students to share their experiences and knowledge about forestry situation in their home countries, and discuss also challenges and opportunities for forestry in the future.

workshop at WFGRS 2017
Workshop about the future of forestry.


Overall, there were 21 oral and 31 poster presentations at WFGRS. Most of the presentations were focused on forest ecology, forest management, wood industry, education or forest economics. I would like to shortly describe only few selected, which I participated. I could not take a part in all as they were running in two parallel sessions together with posters presentations.

READ ALSO: There ain’t no free lunch in forestry – an interview with Bob Izlar

One of the first speeches that I saw, was the presentation of Pipiet Larasatie, who was sharing her research about understanding the public perceptions of tall wood buildings. By the use the qualitative interviews, Pipiet tries to better understand people’s opinions and main concerns regarding tall wood buildings. Her preliminary results indicate that most of the repondents had a positive perception of the use of wood as the main material in tall buildings and the adoption of tall wood builidngs in the United States. According to answers of respondents, tall wood building are valuable because they look nice, are environmentally friendly, have fewer emissions and wood is a renewable material. However, respondents worried mostly about the amount of wood required to build them, possible deforestation, unsustainable management of forest resources, fire performance, structural strength, durability, stability and safety of such buildings.

READ ALSO: World’s tallest wood building has 53 metres

Spalted Maple Guitar. Photo credit: Paul Watson

Another interesting presentation that I saw was the performance of Patricia Vega Gutierrez from the Department of Wood Science and Engineering, who was researching and looking for the presence of spalted wood in pieces belonging to the Habsburg era in Spain during the 16th century. First time, I have heared about a spalted wood, and it was a very interesting topic to learn for me. Spalting is any form of wood coloration caused by fungi.

READ ALSO: Do you know what is the oldest and rarest tree in the world? You never find out!

Very inspiring to me was also a poster presentation of Julia Olszewski from Department of Forest Engineering, Resources and Management at OSU, who conducted a research about the application of LiDAR in detection of changes in forest fuel structure. Julia tried to assess the effectiveneess of fuel reduction projects. She investigated whether LiDAR (remote sensing technique) can be used to quantify changes in fuel metrics folowing restoration treatment in the Malheur National Forest. Her preliminary results showed that the use of LiDAR can bring significant contribution in the research of forest fires, not only in the U.S.

READ ALSO: Forest attrition distance reveals: deforestation was considerably higher in the western U.S.

My presentation was one of the last ones. On behalf of my collegues, Dr. Latta from the University of Idaho, and Greyson Nyamoga from Norwegian University of Life Sciences, I was presenting our current study and preliminary results about effects of price, income, population and internet use on global demand of forest products. Rafal Chudy WFGRS Oregon State University USA

I will describe our study more deeply, after we will get our final results. In this presentation, I showed only a small excercise how to project wood charcoal consumption in the United Republic of Tanzania, based on our new income elasticities and Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs received from IASA).

Our final results, I will present at Western Forest Economist meeting in Fort Collins (Colorado, U.S.) at the beginning of June 2017. So stay tuned!

Main photo credit: Main logo of the WFGRS 2017. 

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