WVU Professor Receives Fulbright Fellowship | WVU today


Robert Burns, professor at Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, received a prestigious Fulbright Fellowship for the fall semester 2021.

A professor at the University of West Virginia who will focus on increased use of visitors to protected areas and green spaces in Austria during the COVID-19 pandemic – including negative effects – has received a prestigious Fulbright scholarship for the fall semester 2021.

Robert Burns, professor at Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, will study at BOKU, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria.

“The parameters of the world’s protected areas are so critical to people, yet the potential for negative impacts is so great,” he said. Burns is director of the Forestry and Natural Resources Division and professor of recreation, parks and tourism.

Burns noted that national parks in the United States have been overrun with people looking for something to do during the pandemic. Austria has also seen an increase in the number of visitors.

“Managers need to strike the right balance between encouraging visitors to use protected areas to alleviate stress and improve their health, while keeping visitor impacts at acceptable levels,” he said. “The latter helps protect the state of natural resources and reduces the potential for disease transmission.”

The United States employs laws, policies, and other elements of governance to influence and determine forest conservation and sustainable resource management. Unlike the United States, Austria focuses on a relational management process to manage its forests.

“In the United States, managers have to comply with a lot of federal regulations, while the European approach allows more flexibility,” he said. “In contrast, US regulations and frameworks offer better tools for transparent measurement and accounting of targets. Collectively, advances in these areas could help define common indicators and standards on both sides of the Atlantic.

In addition to understanding the impacts of increased visitor use, Burns also wants to increase diversity among visitors.

The United States has been very successful in attracting large numbers of people to parks while Austria has been successful in attracting more diverse people. Part of his research will be to understand how Austrian management does so well.

“I would like more emphasis to be placed on people involved in forest management. I want to see a diverse landscape where we have more women and more people of color using forests, ”he added.

Burns believes this opportunity to examine American and European cultures can help define the strengths and weaknesses of each management strategy, ultimately resulting in an international management benchmarking effort – something that has never been done. before. This would provide recommendations tailored to location and culture, while also addressing common issues affecting recreation sites around the world.

“This is a great opportunity to learn more about how another nation handles similar settings,” Burns said. “I’m going to take some of what I know about the American forest system and apply it there. I will learn as much as I can about how they use their forests and bring them back to the United States.

The Fulbright Program is the US government’s flagship international educational exchange program. It offers opportunities for continuing education, advocacy and service for a peaceful and interconnected world.


ln / 7/6/21

CONTACT: Lindsay Willey
Marketing and communications director
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
304-293-2381; [email protected]

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