Chadwick Dearing "Chad" Oliver

Pinchot Professor Emeritus

Research Overview

I have been associated with the practice of forestry for as long as I can remember. I have deliberately sought a wide breadth of geographical experience and education in forestry. I have been successful working with field foresters and other resource managers on applied and basic problems in many regions of the United States and in temperate and tropical resources abroad. I hope to continue these efforts.

Much of my early research effort was concentrated on understanding how forest stands develop and respond to manipulations (silviculture and forest ecology).  I continue research in this subject throughout the temperate and tropical world.  I have written and updated a book (with an coauthor) on this subject (Forest Stand Dynamics, 1990, 1996). 

Activities with management and policy groups then led me to examine forestry at the landscape and broader scales, as well.  A gap has been developing for several decades between the disciplines of silviculture on the one hand and forest policy and economics on the other.  Many of my recent activities have been to bridge this gap with the use of emerging technologies.  I have initiated, managed, and am overseeing development of computerized tools that allow planning, management, and visualization of many forest uses over scales of up to tens of thousands of acres and many decades.  The uses include timber, wildlife habitats, carbon sequestration, fire protection.  Computer tools developed from this project are available at: We are continuing to update these tools and apply them in many places in the world.

These activities then led to my involvement with forest policy, at the regional, national, and international levels.  I have testified many times in United States Congressional and Senate hearings and in President Clinton’s Forest Summit, and have Chaired or been a member of Congressional report committees.  I have worked in interdisciplinary groups with policy makers, economists, engineers, loggers, local communities, ecologists, wildlife specialists, wood products specialists, large and small landowners, and others. 

I realize that, to be effective, forestry needs to include all features of the forest, not just timber.  And, it needs to broaden to understand enough about urban, industrial, demographic, social, and other issues not traditionally studied.  I addition, after 100 years of science becoming more specialized, I have concentrated on integrating scientific disciplines.

After first-hand policy experience, I realize that all ecosystems, resources, and people need to be examined for understanding and management in a global context of tradeoffs among values and geographic locations.  I have emphasized the concept of “sustainability” being both intergenerational and spatial equity; that is:  “Each generation should provide and protect its ‘fair share’ of values.”  I have been researching global information to determine global distributions of resources and their behavior. 

Many of my efforts have been to enfranchise others to create a network of people working in a common direction.  I have worked successfully both independently and as part of a team. Because of the nature of my research activities, I am equally comfortable and have dealt successfully with both large and small research budgets.

Outreach as a part of research; and I have organized, chaired, and published the proceedings of many symposia, forums, and workshops.