In response, the Southern Research Station and the Southern Region of the USDA Forest Service, in cooperation with the Southern Group of State Foresters, conducted an assessment to identify and better understand factors driving social and ecological changes within the wildland-urban interface, as well as the consequences of such changes (Human Influences on Forest Ecosystems: The Southern Wildland-Urban Interface Assessment). The purpose of this assessment was to provide the foundation for establishing an interdisciplinary program of research and technology exchange within the USDA Forest Service.
The Forest Service, in partnership with the Southern Group of State Foresters and the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, established the Southern Center for Wildland-Urban Interface Research and Information (Center) in Gainesville, FL in January 2002. Activities of the Center present an immediate Forest Service response to critical findings of the Southern Wildland-Urban Interface Assessment and the Southern Forest Resource Assessment.
The Center’s goal is to develop, apply, and exchange information about critical interface issues, serving a diverse audience of natural resource professionals, private forest land and homeowners, planning departments, local policy-makers, and much more. The Center focuses on: 1) disseminating new and existing information; 2) serving as a clearinghouse of WUI information; 3) building partnerships and collaborative efforts and approaches; and 4) facilitating and creating linkages.
Though the initial focus of the Center is on research and technology transfer needed to address fire in the wildland-urban interface in the South, the Center will expand its focus in future years to include social, economic, policy, land use planning, and forest resource management issues.