The mission of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources is to develop and disseminate knowledge in the natural resource sciences associated with the protection, management, and sustainable use of forests and related ecosystems. The resources these ecosystems contain include fish and wildlife, outdoor recreational opportunities, timber, and water. The department also has as part of its mission, to develop and disseminate knowledge in wood science and technology.
Knowledge in the natural resource sciences is developed thorough basic and applied research, with particular concern for natural resource problems of the people in the state and region. Knowledge is disseminated through undergraduate and graduate teaching programs for traditional students and through extension and continuing education programs for forest landowners and managers, vendors of forestry services, natural resource professionals, various kinds of forest users whose activities have a significant impact on forest ecosystems, and technicians and managers in the wood products industries. Knowledge is also disseminated through natural resource educational programs designed for the general public, including public interest groups. Indeed, the department recognizes it has a responsibility for providing intellectual and unbiased leadership in the natural resource sciences and related public policy development and implementation.
Ecosystems are communities of plants and animals characterized by a variety of complex interactions and interdependencies. Forests are highly diverse and an important kind of ecosystem, covering about 30 percent of the earth’s land surface. Throughout history, humankind has been dependent on forests as a source of food, fuel, fiber, and construction material. The dependency is even more profound, however, because of the influences that forests have on micro-climate, wind, soil, stream flow, water quality, and fish and wildlife populations. Additionally, the forests of the world serve as a critical source of biological diversity on which humankind depends and will increasingly depend for a variety of purposes, including food production, and the development of new medicines. In other words, forests provide a multiplicity of human benefits, including environmental services and natural beauty that continue to grow in number and importance. More knowledge is needed about forest ecology and ecosystems so they can be better protected and managed and the yields of the resources they provide are sustained.
Northwestern Indiana was a complex ecosystem of tall-grass prairie, wetlands, and scattered woodlands, most of which was converted to agricultural use. Prairie and wetland ecosystems provide many human benefits and should be better understood so the areas remaining can be protected and studied. Hence, the department includes among its activities, study of interrelationships among prairie and wetland organisms and their biotic and abiotic environments.
Wood requires comparatively little energy to convert it into many useful products. Consequently, the environmental impacts of the production of wood products are usually less than substitute products made from other raw materials such as aluminum, cement, plastic, and steel. In addition, substantial accomplishments have been made in wood science and technology, especially during the last 50 years, in increasing the efficiency with which wood products are produced and developing new products that require less wood. Indeed, more unit of product output can be produced today per unit of wood input than ever before, effectively extending the nation’s timber supply. Development and application of technologies for re-use of wood in existing buildings also extends the supply of timber.Thus, responsible use of wood products wood science and technology contribute in a significant way to achieving a quality environment, including healthy, sustainable forests.
A goal is a statement of intention to achieve a specified result compatible with the mission of the department. Goals for the several functions of the department are listed below.Teaching
The goals of undergraduate teaching in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University are to educate students:
- on the principles, technologies, and analytical techniques of natural resource management so they are able to occupy responsible positions in industry, the public sector, and education;
- to understand and appreciate the complexity of natural resource management, including the need for integration of the physical, biological, social, and management sciences as well as the wide range and variety of interests of the public;
- on the need to establish and maintain a code of ethical conduct and to pursue life-long learning; and
- on the importance of maintaining the diversity and stability of forest ecosystems so the resources they provide can be sustained.
The goal of graduate teaching associated with the Master of Science degree is to provide students with additional knowledge in selected areas for the purpose of advanced employment or to establish a foundation for the pursuit of a Ph.D. degree in one of the natural resource sciences.
The goal of graduate teaching associated with the Ph.D. degree is to provide qualified students with the opportunity for scholarly work and original research in their area of specialization, ultimately for employment in higher education or with public and private research organizations.
The goals of the research program in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources are:
Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences: To develop and disseminate new knowledge about aquatic animals and their habitats, including aquaculture; population and community interactions; relationships between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems; and fates and effects of pollutants; and appropriate management practices for the protection and use of aquatic ecosystems.
Forest Biology: To advance basic knowledge of forest ecosystems, as well as the physiology, genetics, and growth of hardwood trees, and to provide for the health and sustained productivity of the forests of the Central Hardwood Region, in both in rural and urban settings.
Outdoor Recreation and Tourism: To develop new knowledge on public attitudes and preferences in outdoor recreation and cost-effective methods for monitoring and protecting natural resources, and to increase the quantity and quality of outdoor recreation and tourist opportunities in the state and region.
Quantitative Resource Analysis: To develop integrated systems of quantitative techniques for assessing and analyzing forest and associated ecosystems and the resources they contain and evaluating forest management strategies.
Wildlife Science: To increase and disseminate knowledge about wildlife species, populations, and communities and how they relate to ecosystem structure and functioning and respond to environmental change for the purpose of wildlife and natural ecosystem conservation.
Wood Science: To assist wood product manufacturers and consumers in gaining the greatest benefit from responsible use of wood by developing new knowledge to increase utilization of wood raw material; to improve processing technologies; to develop uses for hardwood residues and by-products; to encourage innovation in product development; and to make wood finishing less costly, safer, and long lasting.
Extension and Continuing Education
The goals of extension and continuing education are to disseminate knowledge in the natural resource and wood sciences to forest landowners and managers, consultants, loggers, natural resource professionals, wood products industry personnel, and the general public, concentrating on forest ecology and management, wildlife ecology and management, rights-of-way vegetation management, urban forestry, wood processing and utilization, and furniture and cabinet manufacturing.
The Department of Forestry and Natural Resources is the organizational location of the Purdue University component of the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College, whose mission is to foster stewardship, conservation, and appropriate use of the resources of Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes Region through research, education, and advisory services. The goal of the extension component of the Sea Grant Program is to disseminate knowledge to communities and businesses on coastal zone and water resource management, water quality, fisheries, and aquaculture, and recreation and tourism.
International Cooperation and Assistance
The goals of the international cooperation and assistance component of the department are to provide an educational and research environment that promotes an understanding of an interdependent world, including the exchange of information, ideas, and experiences, and to provide direct assistance as part of international projects, providing tangible benefits to the people of the receiving country, enhancement of the expertise of participating faculty, and progress in the achievement of departmental goals. Service
The goals of the service activities of the faculty of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources are to promote the functioning of the department, school, and university, including faculty governance; to provide service in a professional capacity to the people of the state and region; and to contribute to the advancement of professional societies and scientific organizations with which the faculty is associated.