Enhancing Our Strengths to Ensure Our Capacity for the Future

Environmental and socio-economic shifts are not completely predictable, but we can recognize criticalpatterns and uncertainties and align our organizational strengths in ways to optimize our effectiveness. Such alignment will help to ensure our value and relevance to our stakeholders (both traditional and emerging) while sustaining our ability to develop and deliver critical science. In this section, we establish goals for moving forward in key areas of knowledge development, knowledge transfer, organizational capacity, and adaptability.

Developing Knowledge

As a leader in natural resource research and development, SRS excels in generating and advancing knowledge, transferring technology and applications, and forming partnerships to research emerging issues. We reinforce our commitment to forest health and ecosystem productivity and sustainability, now and into the future, by:

  • Identifying factors impacting forest ecosystems and the human communities that depend on them and understanding the potential responses to these factors;
  • Developing science-based management and forest operations options designed to maintain productive and sustainable forests;
  • Evaluating policy options that potentially improve forest-based ecosystems and their associated human communities.
Our partnership activities move our scientific discoveries into practical use.

Delivering Our Results

Effective communication, sharing of knowledge and technology transfer is an important aspect of thisstrategic plan. SRS scientists work with many partners to learn about and understand biological, physical, ecological, social, and economic factors that play into managing and sustaining southern forests. For example, assisting forest managers with the latest scientific information and tools has long been a focus of SRS. We communicate research findings through tried-and-true methods—peer-reviewed journals, reports, workshops, field tours and face-to-face meetings. We also know that scientific syntheses, from how-to factsheets to guides for prescribing fire and identifying invasive plants and to comprehensive reports on what the future of southern forests under land use and climate change, are highly valued by our stakeholders.

Given increasing demand for scientifically-based information that can be applied to emerging or urgent issues, such as rapidly changing socioeconomic or ecological conditions or rapid response to natural catastrophes, new approaches to knowledge transfer must become integral to the SRS mission. In addition to traditional methods, SRS uses interactive websites and social media to reach new audiences and share information among networks of state, private and other federal partners and customers.

We must continue to recognize and pursue new communication and outreach opportunities. Hence, to ensure and enhance our ability to transfer knowledge to our constituents, we commit to:

  • Promoting and disseminating science in innovative ways that lead to understanding and application by a range of stakeholders;
  • Monitoring and anticipating social, environmental, and technological changes that redefine audiences for SRS research and ways to reach these audiences;
  • Recognizing that our partnership activities help us translate our discoveries into practical use and provide opportunities for new research directions;
  • Connecting with people across generations, cultures, and communities to inform research activities, refine methods of communication, inform science-based restoration and management of southern forests, and grow the next generation of leadership in forest science; and
  • Raising the visibility of SRS as a vital and trusted source of the science and tools needed to sustain and restore southern forest landscapes.

Building Capacity

To meet the goals we’ve outlined above requires that we create and maintain optimal capacity and supporting infrastructure – workforce, buildings, equipment, and technology. We must identify the best investment of our allocated funds to fulfill our research and development mission. We are committed to changes that facilitate the continued success of SRS by:

  • Identifying the right mix of investments in workforce and infrastructure in ways that advance our capacity to deliver on our mission;
  • Defining measures of success in our program content and delivery by envisioning what a successful SRS looks like in short-, intermediate-, and long-term; and
  • Recognizing and acknowledging the barriers to making these changes, seizing opportunities where they appear, and innovating in otherwise limiting situations.

Staying Creative and Flexible

Performing in the present and planning for the future requires creativity, flexibility, and the ability to adapt to the fluctuating dynamics of socioeconomic and biophysical change. SRS is committed to continuing our leadership in developing and delivering the best science to our region, country and world. To do so, we commit to:

  • Anticipating changes and being proactive in responding to challenges and opportunities;
  • Continually asking and finding answers to important questions about our organizational structure and our capacity to deliver results;
  • Putting forth sustained effort to develop effective leaders; and
  • Pushing ourselves constantly in the direction of developing a workforce that adapts to a changing set of research needs and that reflects the region’s and nation’s diversity.

This strategic framework should help SRS achieve its core values, including commitment to forest health,ecosystem productivity and sustainability; knowledge generation, customer service, diversity, and organizational excellence; as well as accountability, collaboration, relevance and transparency.

Comment on the Strategic Framework