The Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center (ACRC) at the University of Alaska Southeast is a relatively new research center that focusses on the north Pacific coastal temperate rainforest (PCTR). This ecosystem extends from central British Columbia to southcentral Alaska, and includes the largest remaining old-growth forests in North America, supports some of the most robust fisheries on the continent, and is home to tens of thousands of people who depend on a resource and tourism-based economy for their livelihoods. It is also a region characterized by an intricate geologic and evolutionary past, a rich cultural history, and complex linkages among ecosystem components. The social-ecological systems of the PCTR are being transformed by climate change, as well as by global economic drivers such as tourism, energy prices, and timber demand.
ACRC builds partnerships and catalyzes collaborative ecological, economic and social research in the PCTR to support vibrant and resilient communities and ecosystems. ACRC’s current focal areas are advancing Alaska/British Columbia transboundary ecosystem ecology and climate change research and partnerships; and building a program around forestry, forest ecology, and forest products in the PCTR. ACRC-affiliated researchers are involved in projects focusing on carbon and nutrient cycling in terrestrial and aquatic systems; icefield-to-ocean ecosystem interactions along the Gulf of Alaska; stream discharge, snow cover and soil moisture modeling, and how these relate to yellow-cedar decline; characterizing the market for yellow-cedar wood products; and building research and teaching infrastructure at the Heén Latinee Experimental Forest north of Juneau.
ACRC began in 2009 as a collaborative effort to expand and enhance education and research opportunities among six cooperating partners: the University of Alaska Southeast, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, the US Forest Service Alaska Region, and the City and Borough of Juneau. ACRC is supported and funded by the University of Alaska Southeast, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Pacific Northwest Research Station, and the US Forest Service Alaska Region, and is co-located with the Juneau Forestry Sciences Laboratory adjacent to the UAS Juneau campus.