World Wildlife Fund Asks “Can Forensics Save Forests?”

Researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) have partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to investigate whether wood from products sold in the United States is accurately labeled. The forensic expertise of FPL botanist Alex Wiedenhoeft was key in this research, and the findings of the study were recently published in a journal article in PLOS One.

For an easily-accessible explanation of the research, check out this story from WWF. It’s full of great photos that give you a behind-the-scenes look into Alex’s forensic work and the world’s largest research wood collection, housed here at FPL in the Center for Wood Anatomy Research.

FPL botanist Alex Wiedenhoeft and his team in the Center for Wood Anatomy Research.
Photo credit: Jim Schnepf, WWF-US

Researcher Honored with Distinguished Science Award

Xiping Wang, a Forest Products Technologist at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), recently received a Forest Service Research and Development Deputy Chief’s Distinguished Science Award.

Xiping Wang was awarded a Research and Development Deputy Chief’s Distinguished Science Award. (L to R: Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, Xiping Wang, Forest Service Deputy Chief of Research and Development Alex Friend.) 

Wang was recognized for his exceptional contributions to the discovery and development of technologies that enhance the use of wood materials, mitigate the spread of invasive species, and further the use of wood in engineered materials.

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Forest Service Awards $8.9M in Wood Innovation Grants

Public–private partnerships spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service create jobs, support fire-safe communities, restore healthy forest conditions, and spur environmentally sound innovation. Recently, the Forest Service awarded over $8.9 million through the Wood Innovations Grant program. Thirty-nine business, university, nonprofit and tribal partners in 20 states are matching the grants with an additional $8.8 million.

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Assessing Wood from Hurricane-Downed Trees in Puerto Rico

After Hurricane Maria made landfall in September 2017, the storm left hundreds of thousands of downed trees in its wake. Many of the trees were species with commercially valuable wood, but which ones?

A huge pile of logs from hurricane-downed trees in Puerto Rico.
Wood from hurricane-downed trees in Puerto Rico. Species identification was needed to decide how to best use or dispose of the material.

To find out, an assessment of the post-hurricane wood, stored at 21 different locations around the island, was requested by Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, or DNER. The Federal Emergency Management Agency supported this request through the Natural and Cultural Resources Recovery Support Function.  The Department of the Interior contacted the USDA Forest Service, and scientists Mike Wiemann of the Forest Products Laboratory and William Gould from the International Institute of Tropical Forestry developed an assessment of the species mix and log quality of the downed trees.

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Wood Tornado Shelter Provides Safe, Affordable Storm Protection

USDA Forest Service researchers have developed a tornado shelter made of wood that provides powerful protection at an affordable cost.

With safety and security in mind, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) engineers designed the residential tornado shelter to resist the high wind pressure and debris impacts generated by high-wind events.

Most importantly, the wood shelters can be built into an existing home using readily available materials and tools.

A F3 tornado sets down in a field. Image credit: Clint Spencer via iStock
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