Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
Faculty mentors: Jialing Wang and Stentor Danielson, Associate Professors of Geography, Geology, and the Environment
Student fellows: Phil Abegg, Anna Burtch, Haley Hartenstine, Corinne Rockefeller, Corrina Yobp
Forest Fire Management in Rural Yunnan, China
Forest fire management is a complex social, economic, and ecological challenge worldwide. China is not a forest-rich country. Although the total forest area in China ranks the fifth in the world, the forest area per capita is only about one-fourth of the world average. Chinese government at all administrative levels has treated forest fire as a serious threat to forest resources. Forest fire prevention and control have been key factors in forest resource protection in China. Yunnan, located in southwestern China, has the second largest forest area and is one of the five provinces in China that have the highest number and largest sizes of forest fires.
This SFF project will use a small Naxi ethnic town of Yunnan as the case study area to explore the issues of forest fire management in the rural areas of China with a diverse natural and human environment and an underdeveloped economy. Specifically, the research aims to map the forest
risk zones in this town, to find out the public perception of forest fires and the role of local community in forest fire management, and to explore the approaches to sustainable forest management in this region. Our research team will collaborate closely with professors and students at Yunnan University in China. Students from both institutions will conduct joint fieldwork, including collecting sample points in different land use/cover types, interviewing local residents, and visiting local governmental agencies and relative organizations. Besides the formal interviews, our students will have many opportunities to informally interact with local people and experience local culture through intentionally designed activities such as tasting food from different ethnic groups, attending local performances, and visiting local flower and fish markets.
Throughout this project, students will practice a broad range of academic and professional skills. They will learn to conduct literature review and plan a research project, to collect and analyze spatial data and create final maps using geospatial technologies, to design and conduct interviews with Q-method, and to analyze and chart the interview results using qualitative and quantitative techniques. This project will allow students to practice their written and oral communication skills in different ways, for example, documenting fieldwork, maintaining daily trip blogs, interviewing local people, developing project reports and paper manuscripts, and giving oral presentations at departmental seminar series, university undergraduate student research symposium, and national conferences.
By participating in this project, students will gain hands-on experiences in using geospatial technologies and interview methods to effectively study forest management issues, which will help prepare students for their future job applications. Students who are interested in pursuing graduate education in the future will be encouraged and guided to develop their capstone experiences based on this research project. This cross-cultural immersion experience will also help students develop a global mindset and skills necessary in the globalized world.