Trees are magnificent organisms that have evolved very slowly over millions of years, making it hard for them to adapt to rapid changes in the environment. With climate change imminent, scientists estimate up to 25% of US forests will decline over the next three decades.
In “Future of Forest,” the first film of this 2-part series, we introduce the viewer to forests, the essential services they provide to humans and the planet, and the many ways in which climate change is threatening the health and productivity of our forests. For example, as global temperatures increase, pest or pathogen invasion and drought stress also increases. The researchers in the film present a few solutions that stakeholders are considering to make forests more resilient to these threats, including the use of biotechnology.
In the second film “Saving The American Chestnut: A Case Study,” we explore more deeply the complicated question of using biotechnology to make forests more resistant to climate change. We look to the story of the American Chestnut as an example of how scientists are trying to bring a once-abundant tree back from near extinction through genetic engineering. We also consider the budding genome-editing technology CRISPR Cas-9 as a more precise tool with great promise but also great uncertainty.
The third video is a recording of a panel discussion moderated by SCL producer Rosa Veguilla on February 3, 2022. In this conversation, we asked the speakers follow-up questions about whether we can and should use CRISPR in the natural forest to combat climate change, and if so, what that might look like.
Jason Delborne is Professor of Science, Policy, and Society and University Faculty Scholar at North Carolina State University. He teaches and conducts research at the intersection of environmental policy, biotechnology, and public engagement. He draws upon the highly interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies to explore how policymakers, stakeholders, and members of the public… Continue Reading
Doria Gordon is a lead senior scientist in the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). In addition, she is a courtesy professor of biology at the University of Florida and a research associate at Archbold Biological Station near Lake Placid, Florida. Her research interests include forest restoration, fire ecology, and invasive… Continue Reading
Sofia Valenzuela Aguila is Professor of Forest Genomics at the University of Concepción, Chile. Her research interests include forest genomics, transgenic plants, biotechnology, and biosafety. She is also an avid writer who publishes opinion columns about these issues every two weeks in the Diario El Sur. Valenzuela Aguila received a biochemistry degree from the University… Continue Reading
Jack Wang is Assistant Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources and Director of the Forest Biotech group at North Carolina State University. He is also co-founder of TreeCo, a company that uses CRISPR-based genome-editing tools to produce genetically enhanced trees for the lumber industry. He is a forestry scientist with research experience… Continue Reading