The Interactive Digital Environmental Assessment Laboratory (IDEAL) is a multi-use research facility that investigates a number of current topics relevant to Forestry, Psychology, and Computer Science. The predominant use of this facility is the presentation of environmental information to the "public" in order to more fully elucidate issues regarding perceptions of those environments. IDEAL houses a state of the art collaborative decision-making and distributed multimedia presentation system designed to allow users to interact with and be exposed to a wide variety of environmental data presented in a multitude of forms.

IDEAL researchers employ a wide range of interactive and collaborative techniques within a controlled scientific setting. For example, a user's response to experimental conditions has the ability to modify information presented to that user as well as the possibility of modifying data presented to other users that can be involved in the same experiment concurrently. In this way participants are actively creating their experimental conditions based on their own responses rather than simply responding to them.

This research promises several advantages in natural resource management and forest landscape planning including; improved communication with experts and non-experts alike (making science more understandable and accessible to people); easier access to resource data and wider participation by affected communities in decision-making; and more effective visioning of possible future scenarios. This is essential in meeting the Faculty of Forestry's goal of "smart forestry" and by focusing on issues of social license surrounding the forest industry IDEAL hopes to facilitate a truly open and candid discussion of the relevant issues surrounding this contentious topic.

As these techniques and methodologies are developed by the laboratory's contributing members they will be extrapolated to many different communities, regions, nations and the global community via standard Internet technologies. This research represents an opportunity for UBC to be at the forefront of these emerging technologies, and to step into a leadership role in their application to issues surrounding social aspects of global communities in light of informed public opinion.

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