Guest lecturer discusses future of forests

“What’s likely happened [to] the future [of forests] with and without intervention?”

Dr. Richard B. Waring, professor emeritus of forestry at Oregon State University, addressed this question in his lecture Feb. 29 in Ice Auditorium.

The lecture was one of a series that recognizes Dr. Dirks-Edmunds, Linfield biology professor from 1941 to 1974. Dr. Dirks-Edmunds, an avant-garde ecologist of her time, brought attention to environmental issues that were greatly undermined.

She established The Jane Claire Dirks-Edmunds Endowed Scholarship Fund, which seeks to bring distinguished science-disciplinarians like Waring to speak at Linfield.

Dr. Waring has an extensive background in environmental studies; after earning his masters in forestry, he received a Ph.D. in botany from University of California, Berkeley and began his career at the Quetico-Superior Wilderness Research Center as a research assistant in 1953.

He went on to publish more than 100 peer-reviewed research papers as well as “Forest Ecosystems: Concepts and Management.”

Introduced by assistant professor of biology Chad Tillberg, Dr. Waring augmented his lecture with a slideshow that contained charts and statistics, displaying the change occurring in Western forests, partly answering the question of the future of forests.

Waring addressed the “unprecedented disturbances” on forests that appear to be related to climate change—changes that can be extreme in areas around the Midwest.

Waring described new methods that allow for forests to adapt to their quick-changing environments. He pointed out that in unique places such as Oregon, there is a lack of awareness toward the disturbances occurring in forests across the country.

“We’re talking about trees that are 100, 200 years old…they’ve seen change…and now they’re dying,” Waring said.

Despite the serious threats to forest productivity in the future, Waring did not declare the situation hopeless.

“I’m not saying we can’t do it or shouldn’t try [to preserve the forests] – but it’s going to be difficult,” Waring said in response to a student questioning his optimism on the matter.

Although Waring described the situation as “scary,” he finds hope in a liberal education stating that it provides, “The ability to see different aspects and the implications of things [which will ultimately] make a big difference.”

More information about the effect of climate change on the forests of the Pacific Northwest can be found at

Chrissy Shane
/Staff writer
Chrissy Shane can be reached at

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