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Publication #FOR 124

Forest Resource Information on the Internet: Connecting to Today's Online Resources1

Chris Demers2

In 1997, the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation (SFRC) published Forest Resource Information on the Internet, which provided detailed information about the Internet: its history, structure, and how to use it. It also provided a sample of forest resource websites. Much has changed since the first publication. This is the fourth revision of this document, providing updated information on the latest landowner assistance websites available. These state, regional, and national resources can serve as a springboard to a wide variety of natural resource information and programs.

Figure 1. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Software

If using a laptop or desktop computer, you will need an operating system that has the standard Internet communication protocol program (TCP/IP stack is included in most Apple and Microsoft operating systems) and a web browser. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Google and Safari are popular browsers that retrieve web page files from web servers and interpret the hypertext markup language (HTML) or other code to display information and images. Browsers will also allow you to print and download documents and graphics. The Adobe Acrobat Reader is the tool most commonly used to display online documents in a read-only, print-friendly format. This software is usually available for free download where print-on-demand format (PDF) documents are provided on the web. As always, respect copyrighted material and bookmark or store in your file of favorite sites the uniform resource locators (URLs) or web addresses of useful websites so that you can return to them with a simple click.

You can also access the Internet with smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices that are equipped with similar browsers used on computers. Your ability to connect will vary depending on your location and service provider. Some, but not all, websites are designed with these mobile devices in mind. Sites designed for desktop or laptop computer use may be more difficult to read or use if accessed with a mobile device.

Plugging In

As the Internet grows in size and popularity, so does the number of ways to connect. Telephone lines, cable lines, satellite, and mobile networks are the means by which most individuals are using the Internet. Table 1 in the appendix of this publication briefly summarizes these technologies and their approximate speeds and costs. Note that with all the graphics, media, and information available on the Internet today, it is almost a requirement to have a high-speed connection (digital subscriber line [DSL] or better). Modems do not have the capacity to allow the user to load all the data contained in audio and video files from the web. Wi-Fi is now a popular technology for homes and businesses that allows an electronic device, such as a laptop computer or tablet, to connect to the internet wirelessly using ultra high frequency (UHF) radio waves. Wi-Fi networks are available in many businesses, like coffee shops and hotels, and usually require a password for access.

Forest Resources Information on the World Wide Web

Today the web is packed with natural resource information, so it is helpful to have a few centrally organized websites bookmarked to aid in your search. The resources introduced here, in alphabetical order, are good starting points for looking for more specific information and assistance.

American Forest Foundation http://www.forestfoundation.org/, a nonprofit organization, encourages the long-term sustainability of America's forests, restoring wildlife habitat, and developing quality environmental education programs to assure that Americans today and in the future enjoy healthy, growing forests.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Landowner Assistance Program http://myfwc.com/conservation/special-initiatives/lap/ provides wildlife-related assistance with land-use planning and habitat management.

Florida Forest Service http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest-Service is a very useful resource for those seeking forestry information in Florida. Major sections include conservation and management, the latest silviculture best management practices, fire and forest protection, recreation, and landowner assistance.

Florida Forestry Association http://www.floridaforest.org/ brings together those who grow and those who use Florida's forests. The Association's mission is to promote the responsible use of Florida's forest resource.

Florida Land Steward http://floridalandsteward.org/ is the website of the Florida Land Steward Partnership, a partnership of agencies and organizations with landowner outreach as part of their mission. Florida Land Steward is a portal to the partners’ web resources and is divided into sections dealing with planning for the future of your land, knowing your land, working your land, and protecting your land. The site also links to the Partnership's calendar of events, news blog, and Facebook page.

Forestry Index http://www.forestryindex.net/ is a useful index of natural resource publications and web pages organized by topic. This site also has a search engine that allows users to find web pages on specific subjects.

Forest Productivity.net http://www.forestproductivity.net/ provides forestland managers with the most current, unbiased, science-based, forest productivity information available in support of best management decisions on forestlands. A key objective of the website is to equip and enable natural resource managers to make better, cost-effective forest management decisions to optimize forest productivity.

Forestry USA.com http://forestryusa.com/ is a website on forests and forestry in America. It provides access to the Internet sites of the federal and state governments, the forest industries, service and supply companies, associations and nongovernmental organizations, consultants, education and research, forestry news, employment opportunities, and more.

National Timber Tax Website http://www.timbertax.org/ was developed to be used by timberland owners, as well as a reference for accountants, attorneys, consulting foresters, and other professionals who work with timberland owners regarding the tax treatment of timber related activities.

Southern Regional Extension Forestry http://www.sref.info/ is especially useful for those seeking information about current forestry research and outreach projects in the southeastern United States. The State Resources page provides easy access to each state's forestry extension department, along with forestry schools, forestry agencies, and associations, and other useful information. It also features regional programs, projects, publications, and services.

Southern Group of State Foresters http://www.southernforests.org/ links the state forestry agencies for the southern states, as well as other useful online forestry resources and publications.

UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources & Conservation (SFRC) Extension http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/Extension/ has recently been revised to include Fisheries Department programs. It contains a directory of UF/IFAS Extension SFRC faculty and staff, introductory information on the School's Extension program, and links to forest and fisheries websites.

  • One of these, Florida Forest Stewardship http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/forest_stewardship, is a comprehensive source of forest and forest management information. It features a regularly updated events calendar and bulletin board including natural resource-related news briefs, resources for landowners, and more.

  • The SFRC website is linked to the UF/IFAS Extension website, Solutions for Your Life http://solutionsforyourlife.ifas.ufl.edu/, where information is available related to agriculture, the environment, community development, lawn and garden, and families and youth development.

  • Both of these main web portals are linked to the Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS) http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/, where all the UF/IFAS Extension publications are stored and accessible for downloading and printing.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Florida http://www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov/ assists owners of America's private land with conserving their soil, water, and other natural resources.

USDA Forest Service: Southern Region http://www.southernregion.fs.fed.us/ contains information about national forests, news, state and private forestry, Forest Service research, and more. Most useful to landowners is the state and private forestry section, which has information on income taxes, cooperative assistance programs, forest health, and forest management.

  • Interface South http://www.interfacesouth.org/ is the component of the USDA Forest Service, Centers for Urban and Interface Forestry that focuses on wildland-urban interface (WUI) issues. This website is dedicated to heightening awareness of and providing information about WUI issues and now includes a section on wood-to-energy related topics.

Conclusions

The Internet can be a powerful learning tool if you know how to find the information you seek. Connecting to the Internet is now very simple and affordable with today's technology. The websites introduced in this publication serve as excellent starting points from which to find specific forest resource information, organizations and services.

References

"Computer basics: Connecting to the Internet." (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2017, from http://www.gcflearnfree.org/computerbasics/connecting-to-the-internet/1/

Korhnak, L. V., and M. L. Duryea. 1997. Forest Resource Information Available on the Internet. Circular 1201. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00005212/00001

Tables

Table 1. 

Internet connection comparison.

Connection

Description

Speed

Hardware

Approximate Cost

Pros

Cons

Dial-up Modem

Electronic translator that allows exchange of information between digital (computer) and analog (phone) signals.

Up to 56 Kilobytes per second (Kbps)

modem

$50–$100 for modem

$20–$30/month service

Inexpensive.

Good if not using to load or send large data files (audio, video, and many graphics).

Dial-up required.

Low data capacity and slow—too slow to download audio and/or video files in a reasonable amount of time.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

Carries digital signals to homes or businesses over the copper telephone lines already installed.

128 Kbps to 1.54 Megabytes per second (Mbps)

DSL modem

$50–$200 for modem

$20–$100/month service

Good data capacity and speed.

Ability to transfer voice, video, and data on the same line digitally so users can talk on the phone and use the Internet simultaneously, without interference to either.

Not available everywhere.

Speed can vary widely, and the connection is faster for receiving data than it is for sending data.

Cable

Connects you to the Internet through a coaxial cable, often using the same line that carries your cable TV service.

500 Kbps to 2 Mbps

Cable modem

$75–$200 for modem

$30–$70/month service

Greater capacity and speed than DSL, widely available, relatively inexpensive.

Router required (additional $50–$125) for more than one computer.

Satellite

For rural users that don't have DSL in their area, satellite is becoming a more common alternative for high-speed Internet access.

Downstream up to 400 Kbps,

Upstream limited to 128 Kbps

Satellite dish, Satellite modem

$250–$800 for hardware and installation

$50–$100/month service

Access the Internet anywhere with clear southern exposure.

Widely available.

Upload capacity lower than download speed.

Heavy bandwidth users may be subject to "fair access policy" that limits use.

Wi-Fi

Connects to the Internet wirelessly using ultra high frequency (UHF) radio waves.

Wide range of capacity

Wireless router and modem

Hardware prices range widely from $20 to hundreds of dollars. See DSL or cable for service fees.

Excellent capacity and speed, able to connect anywhere in large proximity to the router, and allows connection to wireless printers and other Wi-Fi devices.

Wide access proximity may pose a security issue.

3G and 4G Mobile Networks

Most commonly used with mobile phones, and it connects wirelessly through your service provider's network

Wide range of capacity

Mobile device

Service prices range widely from $7 to around $35/month

Very good capacity and speed, able to connect anywhere service is available

these connections may not be as fast as DSL or cable. Service providers may also limit the amount of data you can use each month.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FOR 124, one of a series of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date August 2007. Revised May 2014 and April 2017. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Chris Demers, forest stewardship coordinator, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.