Case Studies: FORREX

FORREX Integrates Knowledge and Technology for Natural Resource Management

FORREX

Forest Research Extension Partnership (FORREX) is a non-profit charitable organization. The organization provides access to science, experiential and indigenous knowledge to support sustainable natural resource management decisions in British Columbia. FORREX helps put natural resource knowledge to use by offering services in needs assessments, extension, information management and evaluation. The organization operates in partnership with more than 70 government, non-government, aboriginal, academic and industry partners representing British Columbia, Canada and international organizations.

"Sustainable management of natural resources is intimately linked to our ability to share knowledge. With LISTSERV, we are able to link more people to current information that supports learning objectives and decision-making."

FORREX recognizes that natural resource managers make decisions every day and that sound decisions require the integration of knowledge from many sources and disciplines. In 2001, FORREX recognized the need for better communication. The organization needed a tool to maintain regular contact between staff, partners and clients. In addition to archiving knowledge for future use, the tool had to provide people with the flexibility to maintain control over the information they received.

"The purpose of FORREX is to link people to natural resource information. Key to our success is keeping staff on the same page regarding organizational developments, and keeping our clients connected to events, publications and researchers in the natural resource sector," Trina Innes, a FORREX extension specialist, said.

To help build these connections, FORREX requested assistance from L-Soft. A strong supporter of environmental causes, L-Soft donated the LISTSERV® software.

In 2001, FORREX launched three LISTSERV email lists: one to build awareness about FORREX's services, a second to share information about current articles in FORREX publications (BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management and LINK), and a third to encourage the rapid exchange of information and ideas related to the Natural Resources Information Network.

With approximately 1900 subscribers, link@listserv.forrex.org is the organization's most widely read mailing list. LINK is the electronic version of FORREX's newsletter. It provides newsletter highlights and allows subscribers to link directly to the full Web-based versions of newsletter articles. Subscribers enjoy linking quickly to articles that are of most interest to them.

After learning how to integrate LISTSERV into its existing technology, FORREX created a number of templates to improve the efficiency of launching and managing new lists. "LISTSERV is a powerful tool with countless settings that we can customize. Once we created a standard mailing list, it became very easy to launch new lists using LISTSERV's 'clone' feature," said Mike Ratch, technical lead for FORREX's LISTSERV activities.

Between 2002 and 2003, FORREX launched eight new lists. Almost 1100 people subscribe to WatershedExt, and more than 400 people subscribe to ConservExt. These are bi-monthly mailing lists that summarize news, events and courses related to watershed management, conservation biology and ecosystem management. Other lists support the exchange of information relating to high-elevation forests in British Columbia, technology development support and issues relating to forest science and technology.

Staff, partners and clients of FORREX now receive more regular communication. They can also customize their participation. They subscribe to topic-based lists containing information most relevant to their area of interest. They may receive this information in individual email messages or periodic digests.

"I am not aware of any other tool that offers so much flexibility. With a very user-friendly interface, LISTSERV makes it easy to create new lists and manage a large number of subscribers," Ratch said.

"Sustainable management of natural resources is intimately linked to our ability to share knowledge. With LISTSERV, we are able to link more people to current information that supports learning objectives and decision-making. We look forward to launching more lists and discussion forums, and would like to thank L-Soft for contributing to our communication infrastructure," Innes said.

Case study written in July 2003 by Trina Innes and Mike Ratch, Natural Resources Information Specialists of FORREX.


 


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