Using science to optimize forest management

Unity College professor to review best practices using social science and spatial analyses April 28

UNITY, Maine – How can data help produce better forest management in Maine?

“Informing sustainable forest management practices in Maine through social science and spatial analyses” is a Fishbowl colloquium series talk at Unity College that will address the topic.

Kathleen Dunckel, Assistant Professor in Computers and Geographic Information Systems for the Center for Natural Resource Management and Protection at Unity College, will give her presentation from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday, April 28, in the Parsons Wing of the Student Activities Center on campus, 90 Quaker Hill Road in Unity. The talk includes free lunch and a coffee discussion in the student center immediately after the discussion.

Dunckel asserts Maine’s forest-dominated landscape and position at the leading edge of the hemlock woolly adelgid invasion provides an excellent opportunity to examine values and social attitudes toward forest resources and woolly adelgid management preferences that can contribute to establishing sustainable forest management recommendations. She says mapping eastern hemlock in Maine will be crucial to response efforts by anticipating where woolly adelgid infestations will occur.

She began her career as an environmental scientist in the Adirondack Mountains of New York and is pursuing a PhD in Forest Resources at the University of Maine. She holds an MS in Environmental Science form Alaska Pacific University and a BA in Environmental Science from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.

Dunckel said she began her career as an environmental scientist in the Adirondacks and became attracted to the environmental science field “because it is truly interdisciplinary.”

“I wanted to study the social sciences alongside the natural sciences, and this major allowed me to do that. I found a unique environmental science program in Alaska where I was fortunate to spend a couple of years working with local high school students and native Alaskans in remote villages on various resource management issues.

“I continue to be interested in ecology and natural resource management and the interaction of the two,” Dunckel said. “I am particularly interested in using geospatial technology, better known as remote sensing and geographic information systems or GIS, to inform decision making in resource management and land use planning.

“GIS is a powerful tool because it adds spatial awareness to decision making. Our goal at Unity College is to give our students the tools they need to affect change. An applied understanding of GIS is certainly one of those tools.”

Unity Fishbowl Talks is a colloquium series for Unity College faculty and invited outside speakers to discuss ideas on pedagogy and to present their scholarly work.

About Unity College
Unity College proudly celebrates its 50th year in 2015. The first institution of higher education in the nation to divest from fossil fuel investments, Unity is committed to educating the next generation of environmental professionals. Sustainability science lies at the heart of its educational mission, with 16 environmentally focused undergraduate majors. For more information, visit

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