UM Professor Awarded Fulbright for Forest Restoration Research in Chile

January 22, 2016

MISSOULA – Cara Nelson, a restoration ecology professor at the University of Montana, recently received a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research on forest restoration in Chile during spring semester 2016.

Nelson previously was chair of the international Society of Ecological Restoration and the first director of the ecological restoration program in UM’s College of Forestry and Conservation. Her research concentrates on increasing knowledge about ecological processes and applying it toward restoration efforts. Nelson currently is involved with the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and other global efforts to meet the restoration targets set forth by international forums. As part of this work, she recently traveled to Kuwait and partnered with the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research to restore arid land.

While in Chile, Nelson will collaborate with other researchers and focus on two major projects: a holistic assessment of temperate forests needing restoration throughout South America and analysis of the effectiveness of current forest restoration treatments in the region.

Nelson also will teach a graduate-level restoration ecology course at the University of Concepcion (Universidad de Concepción) in Chile this spring. The web-based course will include students from five other South American universities. She plans to contribute to two other undergraduate courses at UdC and work on strengthening relations and developing student exchange programs between UM and other Chilean universities.

“UdC is an ideal place to study forest restoration,” Nelson said. “It is one of the leading institutions in South America in the fields of ecology and natural resource management. In addition, my local hosts and collaborators, Cristian Echeverrίa, Anibal Pauchard and Marcela Bustamante Sánchez, have each made important contributions to the fields of restoration ecology, landscape ecology and invasion biology.”

Ecological restoration has become a globalized effort during recent decades. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity set a goal to restore 15 percent of ecosystems by 2020 and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has similarly challenged countries to restore 150 million hectares of forest by the same year.

The Fulbright Scholar Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program awards teaching and/or research grants to nearly 800 U.S. faculty and professionals in a variety of fields. Currently, the Fulbright Scholar Program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.

For more information on the Fulbright Scholar Program, visit

Contact: Leana Schelvan, UM College of Forestry and Conservation director of communications, 406-243-6693,