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Forest Products

Wood is a renewable material produced by trees in a forest. A tree synthesizes wood with atmospheric carbon dioxide, water and energy from the sun (photosynthesis). The process releases oxygen and stores carbon in trees and in products made from wood. Many forest products are essential for everyday life. According to the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), the U.S. forest products industry employs about one million workers and accounts for approximately six percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, placing it roughly on par with the automotive and plastics industry. The forest products industry is among the top ten manufacturing sector employers in 48 states and generates over $200 billion a year in sales and about $54 billion in annual payroll. In 2011, it recovered 66.8% of paper consumed and is the leading generator and user of renewable energy.

Countries with large steady quantities of industrial wood use are more likely to maintain their forest base. Forest products research promotes responsible use of wood. Forest managers and land owners can recover management costs from revenues generated by selling wood. This will incentivize forest land owners to maintain their forest base and prevent them from converting forest land to other use. New products and technology from forest products research will also create jobs, especially in rural communities and stimulate economic growth.

The Forest Service has been conducting product research for over 100 years. Most of Forest Service forest products research is performed at the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison Wisconsin, the only federal laboratory that is dedicated to forest products research. Several other Forest Service research stations also conduct forest products research with a focus on regional interest. For example, Utilization of Southern Forest Resources research at the Southern Research Station; wood utilization research in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest at the Pacific Northwest Research Station; Appalachian hardwood research at the Northern Research Station; and utilization of biomass derived products at the Rocky Mountain Research Station.

Research Activities

  • Green Buildings
  • Nanotechnology
  • Value add products from underutilized wood
  • Biotechnology/Microbiology
  • Buildings
  • Composites
  • Hardwood
  • Pulp and paper
  • Wood quality
  • Economics, marketing, life cycle assessment
  • Wood preservation
  • Wood Science
  • Codes and standards

Forest Service Forest Products Research

Forest Products Laboratory

Northern Research Station

Southern Research Station

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