Forest technology research priorities of the southern forest sector

The southern forest sector needs an expanding base of scientific and technical information to prosper in the 21st century. Research to provide this information is under threat, however, from reduced funding directed to forest technology topics and recent declines in industrial research infrastructure.

As part of its response to these challenges, NCASI’s Forest Productivity Working Group conducted a survey to identify forest technology research priorities of forest products companies, industrial timberland owners, and the consultants and businesses that support them. Survey results are presented in “Enhancing forest technology: Research priorities of the southern forest sector” (Southern Journal of Applied Forestry 34: 38-45). The authors are E.D. Vance, B.H. Cazell, H. N. Chappell, H.W. Duzan, Jr., M.A. Jacobson, J. R. Johnson, and J. L. Rakestraw. The abstract follows.

“The southern forest sector has undergone dramatic changes over the past decade, including shifts in land ownership (from integrated forest product companies to organizations with different objectives and time horizons) and losses of forestland to development. The ability to support sustainable biomass production for traditional and emerging markets is at risk because of a decline in industry research infrastructure and because of dilution of government agency and university forest productivity research with other priorities. To assess forest productivity research priorities, a survey was distributed to integrated forest products companies, real estate investment trusts, timber investment management organizations, and consulting organizations based in the South. Environmental services were a top priority for all organization types, cited as a high or very high priority by 74% of respondents, followed by forest management (64%), improving wood quality delivered to mills (57%), and biotechnology and tree improvement (39%). The highest priority individual research needs were to quantify the potential of managed forests to sequester carbon and sustain water quality and biodiversity and to update growth and yield models to account for changing stand, genetic, management, and environmental factors. Respondents rely mostly on university cooperatives and industrial research organizations for both basic and applied/technology transfer research.”

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