During the past six months, the global COVID-19 pandemic has uprooted the nature of all human interaction. Like many other sectors of society, collaborative work has faced a stark contrast to ‘business as usual.’ At the SGPC, for example, we were forced to cancel our Annual Meeting and postpone our yearly field trips (among other changes). This was troubling, as effective forest collaboration necessitates ongoing interaction to enhance the pace and scale of forest restoration work. Not to mention that face to face interaction and discussion are hallmarks of collaboration and consensus-building. As such, forest collaboratives in the PNW and beyond have had to adapt to these changing conditions by finding novel ways to interact with diverse stakeholders. Starting in April, the SGPC made the move to conduct all meetings remotely using Zoom.
Although remote meetings present a unique set of challenges (e.g., connectivity/functionality, ability to engage with members of varying technological comfort levels), attendance at monthly meetings has remained relatively stable. In fact, several members have even reported that remote meetings make it easier to regularly attend due to the lack of travel required and the associated reduced time commitment. Furthermore, remote monthly meetings have also made it easier to feature guest speakers (e.g., Drs. John Bailey, Matt Reilly, Mark Swanson, Dave Peterson) from around the region whom have shared their expertise with the Collaborative on topics such as wildfire and early seral habitat—issues of direct relevance to current and future SGPC projects and FS planning efforts. The Collaborative is also currently planning a remote ‘field trip’ to highlight some of the important work that has been done on the ground, despite COVID-19.
While SGPC members are certainly eager to meet again in-person (when conditions/restrictions allow), it’s good to know that collaboration and collective learning can happen in the meantime—even if only while sitting at our computers in the comfort of our own homes.

Categories: News Article