The Woods Hole Research Center was founded in 1985 to address global environmental problems. The 40-member staff engages in scientific research, global environmental policy, and education. Research focuses on the interaction of climate, soils, and living systems, with special emphasis on forests because of their controlling influence on these interactions. Projects include the effects of fire, logging, and land-use change in the tropical forests of Brazil and Central Africa, the boreal forest of Siberia, and in New England. Using satellite imagery, the Center’s remote sensing lab creates computer-generated maps to monitor the earth’s vegetation. The program on Science in Public Affairs works in the international arena to foster agreement on ways to safeguard the health of the planet. The Center created the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development, and the treaty on climate change, now ratified by over 160 nations, was drafted by Center staff. The education program is concerned with training the coming leaders of environmental science in Brazil and Russia and postdoctoral American scholars.
The Woods Hole Research Center’s Gilman Ordway Campus opened in the spring of 2003. The 19,300 square-foot building is intended as a model for 21st century construction in its use of energy, water, and environmentally friendly materials. Photovoltaic panels, ground source heat pumps, recycled woods, and a wastewater denitrifying system are among the sustainable measures employed at the building.