UNC Asheville’s NEMAC to Receive Forest Protection Award from U.S. Forest Service

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The ForWarn tool shows evidence of a localized hail event that struck the City of Asheville watershed in early May 2012.UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) will be among an interagency team receiving a Chief’s Honor Award from U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell next month in Washington, D.C. The award comes for NEMAC’S role in the creation of ForWarn, the early warning system that tracks forest disturbances and changes in real time. ForWarn, which was officially released in 2012 in partnership with several agencies, has improved the U.S. Forest Service’s ability to spot, investigate and respond to the variety of threats to forest sustainability, including insects, disease, wildfire, storms, and human activity.

"What makes ForWarn’s Forest Change Assessment Viewer (FCAV) unique is that it brings a large amount of national-scale environmental data together in a single highly usable and accessible web interface,” said Derek Morgan, NEMAC senior research scientist. “Most of this data is developed in collaboration with the experts at the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA. NEMAC plays a primary role in developing and maintaining the FCAV’s data infrastructure and web interface."

The interagency ForWarn team includes scientists and staff from U.S. Forest Service Eastern Forest and Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Centers, the NASA Stennis Space Center, the U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observation and Science Center. William Hargrove, Eastern Threat Center research ecologist and lead ForWarn researcher, will accept the award on behalf of the team.

“It is very rewarding for us to work with this team of nationally recognized scientists and to receive this recognition,” said NEMAC Director Jim Fox. “More important, though, is being able to provide a tool to help identify key environmental threats to one of our nation’s key resources – our forests.”

The Chief’s Awards are among the U.S. Forest Service’s highest honors. The U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, headquartered in Asheville, also won a second Chief’s Award. For more information, see the news release.

Links for more information about NEMAC and ForWarn:

http://news.unca.edu/features/nemac-studying-and-mitigating-forest-threats

http://nemac.unca.edu/projects/forwarn

http://forwarn.forestthreats.org/