In the same year that Brigham Young began to develop Salt Lake City in the Territory of Deseret based on Mormon principles, another group of pioneers in Europe began to manage forests based on scientific principles. In 1873, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) was founded in Vienna, Austria. Since then, IUFRO has provided a forum for researchers to share the best available science on forests by conducting an International Congress every four years.
This week, Salt Lake City will host the 24th International Congress, only the second time in IUFRO's history that the United States has hosted this world's largest international gathering of forest researchers and practitioners. More than 2,500 forest researchers, managers, and policy-makers from over 100 countries will meet at the Salt Palace Convention Center to discuss the state of the world's forests.
Why is this important? Forests provide food, water, shelter, water, and spiritual and cultural sustenance for people around the world. Forest science provides key information on sustaining forests and the people who depend on them. As our global population passes the 7 billion mark, forests around the world are under stresses such as expanding urbanization, greater demand for timber, conversion of forest to agricultural use, and changing climate regimes. In our own backyard of the Intermountain West, the mounting invasion of the pine beetles due to warmer winter temperatures is destroying large segments of our conifer forests, turning green mountainsides to brown.