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UF/IFAS rethinking forest protection; hosts UN expert as lecturer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With trees, we enjoy healthier air, shade, a way to store carbon, economic opportunities and much more. Without them, we could wind up with a devastated ecosystem and much lost revenue, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers say.

In fact, Florida’s forest industry generated $12.5 billion in sales in 2016, according to recent UF/IFAS economic research.

If people need more reason to care about forests and trees, just look out the window, said Jiri Hulcr, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of forest resources and conservation.

“Most people in Florida have trees in their backyard, many of which are being attacked by invasive insects and plants,” Hulcr said.

To learn more about the importance of protecting trees and forests, Hulcr invites the public to register for the John Gray Lecture and panel discussion at 3 p.m., Feb. 9, at the state Division of Plant Industries, 1911 SW 34th St., Gainesville, Florida.

Shiroma Sathyapala, a forest health and protection officer with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, will give the lecture. This marks the first time anyone from that office has spoken in the Southeast, Hulcr said.

Her topic is: “Invasive species, climate change, plantation forestry, timber consumption and trade are changing the definition of forests. Can the Southeastern U.S. lead the way?”

The lecture and discussion are open to the public, and seating is limited to 100 people. For more information, and to register for the event, click here: http://bit.ly/JohnGrayLecture.

Hulcr hopes the lecture and discussion will help put UF/IFAS’ research and Extension programs at the forefront. Those who have already registered to attend include policy makers and those who work for organizations that help pay for UF/IFAS forestry work.

Hulcr wants the public to know about UF/IFAS work in forest research and Extension.

“I invited Shiroma and 20 other people so we can have a serious discussion about proactive approaches to maintaining forest health and timber sustainability here in the Southeast,” Hulcr said.

Part of Sathyapala’s job is to organize and work with government agencies to help everyone learn how to deal with threats to forestry.

“We want to show our visitors from the UN and from Washington, D.C., all the great research accomplishments have had here and that we are doing here and to show her the possibilities that we have, ranging from research to Extension to how teaching works here,” Hulcr said.

The panel discussion will include:

  • Jackie Burns, dean for UF/IFAS Research and director of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.
  • Trevor Smith, director of the Division of Plant Industries, which is part of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
  • Michael Bowers, national program leader with the Division of Climate Change at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the USDA.
  • Tom Fox, vice president of research and sustainability for Rayonier, a timber and private land trust company.

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By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

 

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