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USDA Forest Service publishes wildland-urban interface assessment

(Asheville, NC) -- The USDA Forest Service recently released "Human Influences on Forest Ecosystems: the Southern Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Assessment." A companion study to the Southern Forest Resource Assessment (SFRA) published last fall, the WUI Assessment examines the urban and rural fringes of the Southern landscape where multiple land uses meet forested lands.

Rapidly increasing human populations and spreading cities and suburbs throughout the South are creating both opportunities and challenges for natural resource managers. SFRA found that urbanization will have the "most direct, immediate, and permanent effects on the extent, condition, and health of forests." The WUI Assessment examines these effects, provides a framework for addressing issues of sustaining healthy and productive forests in the South, and identifies critical research and information needs.

One of the primary driving issues that led to the WUI Assessment was the major wildfires in Florida in 1998. The complex challenges the 1998 wildfire season presented to the people who live and work in the wildland-urban interface pointed out the need for more information to support quality decision-making and policy development by local agencies. Other critical issues in the interface relate to land use change, economics, water, wildlife habitat, and invasive species. In addition to examining current interface conditions, the WUI Assessment establishes a framework for future research and development, technology transfer, and policymaking.

Co-Team Leaders Ed Macie, of the Forest Service Southern Region's Urban and Community Forestry Program in Atlanta, and Annie Hermansen, of the Southern Research Station (SRS) Southern Center for Wildland-Urban Interface Research and Information, in Gainesville, FL, used data from focus groups conducted in several States to gather information for the Assessment. They compiled additional data and worked with selected scientists to provide
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Contact: Annie Hermansen
ahermansen@fs.fed.us
352-376-3271
Southern Research Station - USDA Forest Service
12-Feb-2003


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