W. Wallace (Wally) Covington, PhD

Wally Covington 195x291

Subject-matter expertise

  • Forest ecosystem health
  • Forest restoration
  • Land management
  • Fire effects on forest ecosystems


Wallace "Wally" Covington, Regents’ Professor and Director of the Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI) at Northern Arizona University, is one of the world’s leading experts on forest restoration.  

Dr. Covington's research has lead to decades of improved conservation techniques, as well as driving a future resurgence of the timber industry. He's been studying the ecology of southwestern ponderosa pine forests since the mid-1970s when he came to NAU fresh out of Yale University's doctoral program.

Under Dr. Covington's leadership, the ERI is working on the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, a bold and collaborative project that seeks to restore 2.4 million acres of land in northern Arizona. Their innovative approach to forest restoration and land management has led to new conservation and timber industry methods that will have implications for the rest of the mountain west and worldwide.

Dr. Covington takes his service message to local, regional and international communities. He also presents invited testimony before congressional and state natural resources committees, and before both the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service and the Secretary of the Interior. He frequently travels the globe, helping foresters, students and communities develop forest ecology programs. He's also currently leading an effort to bring new industry to the Flagstaff area using a sensible approach to restoring area forests, while increasing economic growth from harvesting traditional lumber and creating innovative products. Covington says that it is all part of the team approach to problem solving that is prevalent at the university.

Publications (selection)

Awards and recognitions

  • Member representing the scientific community, USFS Planning Rule National Advisory Committee, 2012-present
  • Society for Ecological Restoration International, Theodore M. Sperry Award, 2009
  • Arizona Governor’s Forest Health Advisory Council, 2004-present
  • New Mexico Forest and Watershed Health Committee, 2004-2006
  • Arizona Governor Hull’s Forest Health/Fire Plan Advisory Committee, 2001-2004
  • Commission Member, National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry, 2000-2004
  • Chair, Science and Policy Working Group, Society for Ecological Restoration, 1997-2000
  • Lead author on interagency restoration ecology synthesis paper, 1998.
  • Invited testimony before Congressional Committees, 1994-2004.
  • Governor’s Pride in Arizona Award for Environmental Leadership, 1999.
  • Chair, Research Working Group, Society for Ecological Restoration, 1994-1997.
  • Outstanding Teaching Scholar Award, Northern Arizona University 1982, 1989, 1997

Special groups and committees

  • Director of the Ecological Restoration Institute


B.A., University of North Texas, 1969

M.D., Ph.D. program, University of Texas

M.S., University of New Mexico, 1972

M.Ph. in Forestry, Yale University 1974

Ph.D., Yale University, 1976

Web pages