Feds Give Smithsonian $443,010 to Study Tree Biodiversity – in China

September 19, 2013 - 2:32 PM

Forests Climate Change

This undated file photo from the Colorado State Forest Service shows pine trees killed by beetles near Grandby, Colo. (AP Photo/Colorado State Forest Service, Jen Chase)

(CNSNews.com) – The National Science Foundation has awarded a $443,010 grant to study tree biodiversity in China.

The grant – which funds the project from April 30, 2013 to Aug. 31, 2015 – is designed to “establish an international research coordination network that combines two existing forest networks in the United States with a set of forest plots in China, to advance understanding of how tree biodiversity determines the functional aspects of forests and to test hypotheses concerning the resilience of forests to global change.”

The grant abstract posted on the NSF website states that “an ultimate goal is to develop detailed models of forest composition and its genetic and functional basis, to be simulated over a range of climatic predictions.

“This integration across multiple dimensions of biodiversity will enhance understanding of how forests are structured, a critical step towards predicting how forests will respond to global change,” the abstract states.

The Smithsonian Institute did not respond to numerous requests by telephone and e-mail to answer the following questions about the taxpayer-funded grant.

1. What is meant by "global change" in the grant abstract?

2. Why was China chosen as the site for study in this project?

3. Is any of the cost of this project being funded through the federally appropriated budget for the Smithsonian Institution?

“This project will implement a series of capacity building and training initiatives to expand science and enhance collaboration between the United States and China,” the abstract states. “The strengthening of the network of forest research plots in Asia and the Americas will provide information crucial to determining the role of forests in a changing global environment.”

The funds will also pay for an “exchange program” that will send American students and “early-researchers” to China. The abstract states that China will pay for scientists from that country to come to the United States.

The Smithsonian Institute is seeking $869.2 million in federal funding, according to its budget request to Congress for fiscal year 2014.