The 2017 SAF National Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will explore how forestry and natural resources professionals might transform the way they approach forestry by integrating a social-ecological perspective to research, education, and management and by adapting forestry to a rapidly urbanizing, globalizing, and diversifying environment. Plenary speakers will discuss:
Our first plenary will reflect on the history, ecology, and management of Southwest forests and will highlight the prominent role they continue to play in protecting and providing water, cultural resources, livelihoods, and recreational and spiritual opportunities.
Jose Varela-Lopez has served as executive director of the New Mexico Forest Industry Association for the past six years. He is the past chairman of the Soil and Water Conservation Commission and has served on the commission as Region II commissioner since 2007. He has served as a supervisor on the Santa Fe-Pojoaque Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) since 2005 and is involved with many entities tied to his SWCD, including the New Mexico Coalition of Conservation Districts (where he is the current president), the Greater Rio Grande Watershed Alliance, and Central New Mexico Cooperative Weed Management Area. Jose is a former Santa Fe County Commissioner and University of New Mexico alumnus with a degree in international business management. He is the immediate past-president of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, a member of the New Mexico Federal Lands Council, and board member of the Northern New Mexico Stockmen’s Association. Jose is also a rancher near the village of La Cieneguilla in northern New Mexico where his family has been since the early 1600s.
To thrive as a profession in a changing world, our profession is continually challenged to examine the methods we employ to educate our future practitioners, perform our jobs, communicate within society, and reach out to the diverse constituencies we serve. The integration of science and policy, of biological/ecological sciences and social sciences, of research and management, of public outreach and professional education, and making linkages across geographic and temporal scales are necessary to a successful endeavor. To advance forestry into the future, it is critical to: (1) recognize the need for continuous effort on multi-faceted integration and adaptation; (2) learn from previous successes and failures; (3) learn from other disciplines about ways to innovate; and (4) engage in critical self-reflection to identify when incremental changes are sufficient and when paradigm shifts are necessary.
Forestry and natural resource management is continuously adapting to the changing social needs of the public and the need to thrive in a changing climate with greater urban, economic, and social needs. This moderated discussion will focus on the integrated systems needed to transform the way we approach management of important resources, in this case water, and how knowledge exchange is integral to adapting our approaches to increasingly complex problems. As special interests continue to arise, how might we as professionals need to grow and change–for what might we want to look out in a newly emerging social paradigm? As professionals working within stakeholder groups how can we adapt our approaches to integrate various viewpoints?