ALWRI launches wilderness science planning

Trappers Lake and the Flattops Wilderness Area

The Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute is developing its next science strategic plan.  This plan will orient the institute’s work over the next five-to-ten years, and, we hope, move us toward the Institute’s vision…A world where science, wilderness, and relationships between all people and wild lands thrive.  

To ensure the plan is underpinned by a robust, and broadly defined, understanding of wilderness research needs within the United States and internationally, we have established information sharing opportunities at several steps in the planning process.  Over the next several months, we hope to learn about wilderness research needs, and their relative priority, from myriad partners, for example, management agencies and bureaus, tribes and other Indigenous communities, universities and other science partners, outdoor recreation organizations, NGOs, and others interested in wilderness.

In this first step (and the first opportunity to provide input), our goal is to develop a “universe” of potential research needs relevant to wilderness, including science to support stewardship of wilderness and nearby social-ecological landscapes, instances where wilderness provides a unique opportunity for scientific endeavor, and perspectives on effective knowledge exchange.  To offer a place to start, we reviewed policy and management documents at the Institute, from the last thirty years, as well as peer-reviewed literature.  After removing redundancies, we identified nearly 200 potential research questions or needs.  We know this list is incomplete.  This is where you come in.

For those interested to participate, we have developed a basic web-interface that allows for review of potential research questions (sorted by topic) and the opportunity to add as many research topics and/or questions as necessary to represent your needs.  All input will be gathered, sorted, and in time, shared with all respondents and broader communities.  More specifically, the accumulated questions will be sorted and categorized into research topics by scientists at the Leopold Institute.  These research topics will provide the basis for the next step, roughly scheduled for May 2021, an opportunity to rank research topics from highest to lowest priority.  More information on this next step is forthcoming.

To provide input by adding your own topics and questions, please follow this link:  The link will remain active for three weeks, through April 19, 2021.  Instructions are provided in the application.  

Lastly, if you need assistance with the web-interface, have other questions, or simply want to submit your research needs by email, please contact Teresa Hollingsworth (, interim Deputy Director at the Leopold Institute.

Thank you, for ensuring your needs help to shape the next decade of wilderness research at the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute.