Robinson Forest is a teaching, research, and extension forest administered by the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources in cooperation with the Robinson Center for Appalachian Resource Sustainability at the University of Kentucky. Its ~14,800 acres are located in the interior rugged section of the Cumberland Plateau. Robinson Forest is part of the mixed mesophytic forest, the most diverse forest region found in temperate North America. From the top of the fire tower, one can see that the main block of Robinson Forest has been isolated due to human activities such as surface mining of coal. Today, Robinson Forest contains some of the least disturbed watersheds in eastern Kentucky. It is also a source of valuable information about forestry, forest hydrology, wildlife, and ecological relationships. More than that, it is a unique place where research and applied resource management come together through extension and teaching activities.

What is the Purpose of Robinson Forest?

Robinson Forest was given to the University in trust and is managed to conform to its legal requirements in a manner that is consistent with the spirit of the trust and the goals and objectives of the land grant mission of the University of Kentucky. The trust stipulates that what is now known as Robinson Forest be used “... for the purpose of agricultural experimental work and teaching, and for the practical demonstration of reforestation.”  It further indicates that the “… proceeds of the sale of said property or any part thereof and the net revenues derived from the operation of said property of the University shall be used to further the purposes of the trust hereinabove defined, and for such other purposes as will tend to the betterment of the people of the mountain region of Kentucky as may be agreed upon by the parties hereto.” A quote from Mr. Robinson provides more insight into his intent “… to make the mountain section a more profitable as well as a more comfortable place in which to live and work, and to fit its people to live and do that work.” (Smith 1981, Kentucky Agriculture Experiment Station).

Extension Activities in Robinson Forest

Demonstration sites and materials have been developed specifically for use in extension programming helping educators to more effectively teach about water quality, forestry practices, wildlife, and forest resource management. These sites and their associated materials have been used by a broad range of groups, including high school and vocational educators, natural resource professionals, and environmentally concerned organizations

Research at Robinson Forest

Research projects spanning a broad range of forestry and natural resource disciplines, including forest hydrology, silviculture, ecology, and wildlife are being conducted at Robinson Forest. Many research sites, as well as information generated from these studies, are available for use by groups. Please see the map for locations and descriptions of selected research projects.

Teaching at Robinson Forest

Students of the University of Kentucky's forestry and natural resource program attend camp at Robinson Forest each year to learn field techniques in dendrology, ecology, and forest sampling, silviculture, timber harvesting and utilization, wildlife management, and soil and water conservation. Throughout the year, various classes use the forest for field trips to learn about ecology, entomology, watershed , management, and plant identification. Robinson Forest, along with the Wood Utilization Center located nearby at Quicksand, KY, has also been used for technical programs for Forest and Wood Technicians.

Tree with stream.

Deer at Robinson Forest

Extension activities at Robinson Forest.

Big brown Bat

Water testing Robinson Forest.