Strategic Plan and Science Charter

In 2021, through a collaborative ground-up engagement process, the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute developed a new strategic plan and science charter that addresses high priority wilderness research needs identified by partners and wilderness stakeholders. This strategic plan/science charter lays out a research program that embodies ALWRI’s mission to advance wilderness stewardship through transformational science.  

Recognizing that wilderness means different things to different people, ALWRI set out with the goal of developing a robust and inclusive program of research. We engaged a broad wilderness community, nationally and internationally, in order to gather diverse perspectives regarding priorities for the next ten years of wilderness stewardship research. We received responses from more than 175 people, representing the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Tribal communities, universities, and others, which helped identify research needs. Analyzing their responses helped ALWRI understand myriad wilderness research priorities. Five public workshops were then conducted to share preliminary results and to learn more about the nuances and context within partner priorities. The resulting science charter is founded on the intersection of ALWRI’s expertise and capacity and the highest priorities from this inclusive partner engagement.

Over the next decade, the following Research Priority Areas will form the basis of the Institute’s research and are linked to each other through interrelated research questions.

  1. Biodiversity Conservation: Develop an understanding of the values, opportunities, and challenges for wilderness to support biodiversity conservation in an era of unprecedented change.
  2. Climate Change and Disturbance: Improve knowledge about the impacts and consequences of climate change and climate-disturbance interactions, including wildland fire, relevant to wilderness stewardship.
  3. Stewardship Effectiveness: Examine the effects and effectiveness of wilderness stewardship decisions, including the potential for and effects of management interventions.
  4. Relevance and Inclusivity: Expand our understanding of wilderness relevance, experiences, inclusivity, and use amid social-ecological change.
  5. Shared Stewardship: Improve our understanding of co-production approaches and abilities to harmonize multiple knowledge systems toward more inclusive wilderness stewardship.

The full 2022 Charter and Strategic Plan is available to view and download.