With the leadership of a Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources faculty member, both the college and the university will be working with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) to improve the well-being of people who live in and depend on forests.

Tom Hammett of Blacksburg, associate professor of forest products marketing, is serving as the new scientific liaison officer to CIFOR. His role is to increase collaboration between the organization and North American universities for joint research and development projects with faculty and build resources for international education.

The organization works with universities and researchers to submit proposals for funding research and partners with them on workshops and publications. "My job with CIFOR is to foster and develop these relationships," Hammett explained. "The center funds my travel to look at research sites and to attend meetings."

Through Virginia Tech, Hammett and CIFOR are collaborating with the South-East Consortium for International Development, a non-profit organization of Southeastern universities with the mission of helping developing countries enhance their standard of living. The center also is developing a joint effort with African and U.S. universities to upgrade the training and research capabilities of the African partners.

CIFOR is a worldwide research center based in Indonesia. It acts as a clearinghouse that funds projects for research in forestry, forest products, and the livelihood that comes from forest resources. CIFOR and its partners from more than 40 countries collaborate on forest conservation research. The organization focuses its research on topics such as community forestry, income-generation from forest resources, forest biodiversity, non-timber forest products, forest fires, deforestation and degradation, poverty, conflicts, and illegal forest activities. Last year marked the 10th anniversary since CIFOR was created to solve forestry problems and help international communities that rely on forest resources. Since its creation, CIFOR has played a significant role in raising global awareness on a variety of forest-related issues.

Hammett is the coordinator of international programs for the College of Natural Resources and is associated with the Center for Forest Products Marketing and Management at Virginia Tech. His areas of expertise include international trade, forest enterprise development, niche markets, certified forest products, forest products marketing, forest-based economic development, and non-timber forest products utilization and marketing.

The College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech consistently ranks among the top five programs of its kind in the nation. Faculty members stress both the technical and human elements of natural resources and instill in students a sense of stewardship and land-use ethics. Areas of study include environmental resource management, fisheries and wildlife sciences, forestry, geospatial and environmental analysis, natural resource recreation, urban forestry, wood science and forest products, geography, and international development.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.

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