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Report Identifies Research as High Priority for Future of the U.S. Forest Products Industry
Activities in the News: Without a new commitment to research and development the outlook for the forest products sector is uncertain at best.

By Staff
Date Posted: 3/3/2014

                An annual report by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (USEFC) outlines a multiple-pronged approach to support a strong future for the overall forest products industry in the United States.  And a key aspect of this approach focuses on research to develop new markets even though the industry invests less than one-seventh as much as the average U.S. manufacturing sector.

                The report identifies a serious vulnerability in research and market development spending that could undermine its future. Carlton Owen, president of the USEFC, said “In an age when more and more consumers are looking to use green, sustainable products, the forest products industry has the potential to be among the nation’s biggest growth sectors. But, this isn’t likely to happen without a more strategic and collaborative investment in research and development for state-of-the-art science such as green building and wood-based nanotechnology.”

                The USFEC began in 2006, funded by money obtained as part of the Softwood Lumber Agreement between the United States and Canada. Its purpose is to work with public and private sectors to advance positive change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and its forest-reliant communities.

                Recent successes involving the USFEC include: planting the first American chestnut genetically modified to be disease and blight resistant; embarking on the next frontier for the forest industry and green products—nanotechnology; seeking new ways to help minority landowners enhance stewardship of their forests; hosting the second Canada/U.S. Forest Health Summit to enhance strategic collaboration for the citizens and forests of both countries, and joining the Southern Loggers Cooperative to invest in diesel depots to improve timber harvester’s economic viability.

                “America has for decades been the world’s leader in innovation in the forest products sector,” Owen continued. “That leadership is rooted in on-going research and development. Without a new commitment to research and development, and a new model for harnessing the power of public-private partnerships, the outlook for the forest products sector is uncertain at best.”

                “In a post-recession economy where literally hundreds of sawmills have closed and more than 40% of the nation’s pulp and paper mills have been permanently shuttered just since 1990, this report should serve as a wake-up call for the forest industry and the broader U.S.-based forestry sector,” said report author Dr. Robert Kellison, professor emeritus at North Carolina State University.

                To read more information on the opportunities and need for further industry research, visit http://www.usendowment.org to review the whole report.

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