$100,000 available for innovative market-based solutions to natural resource issues benefitting U.S. National Forests and Grasslands
Electronic Submission Deadline:
Friday, March 16, 2012 at 5pm MDT
The ChallengeSome of the most contentious environmental debates in the United States today concern the appropriate management of natural resources. This is especially true for the 193-million acre National Forest System. Concern for the many values of public lands (e.g. natural resource extraction, fish and wildlife habitat, wilderness, recreation, grazing, water, and other ecosystem services) have been contentious, but there is growing agreement around the need for practicing adaptive management. The renewed emphasis on multiple use priorities has resulted in a variety of economic, ecological, and political debates over what constitutes sustainable forest management. At the heart of these debates are differing value orientations (and priorities) for the environment and about human relationships to natural systems. Conflicts that result from value clashes are among the most intractable problems facing natural resource managers.
There has been a significant and consistent increase in large-scale wildfires across the United States, which appears to be exacerbated by climate change and past forest management practices. With the growing number of homes in immediate proximity to public resources and fires threatening high value personal property, how to reduce the risk of fire through active management is increasingly complex. Additionally, change in climate patterns is driving conservation leaders to think about ecosystem resilience, and researchers are looking at the potential species composition and silvicultural prescriptions that will need to be in place for future forests to persist and continue to provide diverse benefits.
Natural resource managers and civil society alike are constantly evaluating decisions about their environment in a much more nuanced way than they have historically. With a warming climate, spreading populations of invasive species, and spikes in insect infestations, the need for creative approaches to forest management is plainly before us. Decisions are always reached in the social context of our time. As communities learn to deal with larger scale fires and poor air quality during an annual “fire season,” values are changing, and there is growing recognition that with so many pressures, “healthy forests” require human intervention. There is the additional reality that our forests represent a renewable resource at a time when economic and job growth is stagnant within the United States.
The Need for InnovationThe Business Plan Challenge (BPC) aims to provide an integrative learning experience for participating undergraduate, graduate, or post-doctoral students. The BPC challenges academic teams to work in a cross-disciplinary effort to develop business plans that focus on the challenge of finding market-based incentives to address forest stewardship challenges on National Forest System lands.
It is intended that business plans developed for the National Forest Foundation (NFF) BPC will reflect real opportunities. It is important that the participants learn about the new venture creation process through their team's efforts, their work with cross-disciplinary faculty, and their presentations to the judges.
While the Contest is referred to as a "business plan" challenge, it is really about developing creative solutions to addressing forest health and restoration on National Forest System lands.
There is a difference between a new venture that is getting off the ground and an existing initiative, and the Contest judges will consider both.
The AwardThe Barrett Foundation Prize has been established to create an incentive for fresh, creative ideas regarding public land stewardship. It challenges academic teams to work together to formulate innovative solutions to the escalating problems of natural resource management in the context of an economic slowdown, demographic changes, changing American values, and increasing anthropogenic impacts on natural systems.
Through a pre-proposal selection process, ten teams will be selected as finalists and invited to submit complete business plans for the challenge. Each final team will be eligible for reimbursement of start-up expenses of up to $1,000. From the ten final teams, a first prize winning team will be selected and will receive a $50,000 cash award. Four runners up will each receive a $10,000 cash award.
ObjectivesThe BPC has four primary objectives:
- To educate students through the process of creating and evaluating new approaches to forestry
and integrated natural resource management;
- To prepare students to work in an interdisciplinary, team-oriented work environment to seek
practical solutions to complex challenges;
- To stimulate creative thinking that leads to harnessing the unique ideas generated through
the planning process; and
- To provide real world solutions that satisfy the multiple goals of forest health, sustainable
use and job creation.