Wood for Energy Focus of May “Update”

fpmuupdateThe latest Update from the Forest Products Laboratory’s Forest Products Marketing Unit (FPMU) is now available!

The May 2016 Update focuses on wood for heat and power. The Update reveals the winners of the National Wood Stove Competition and outlines the accomplishments of 21 state wood energy teams. It also includes exciting news about a new tribal sawmill operation that runs on biomass, as well as a calendar of upcoming classes, events, and workshops.

If you would like to receive the FPMU Update via email, send a message to asarnecki@fs.fed.us to be added to the distribution list.

It’s All About Mass Timber! April FPMU Update is out!

fpmuupdateThe latest Update from the Forest Products Laboratory’s Forest Products Marketing Unit (FPMU) is out!

The April 2016 Update sums up the successful Mass Timber Conference held in Portland, Oregon, last month and offers some highlights from the event. It also includes exciting news about the grand opening of the first all-cross laminated timber hotel in the U.S., as well as a calendar of upcoming classes, events, and workshops.

If you would like to receive the FPMU Update via email, send a message to asarnecki@fs.fed.us to be added to the distribution list.

Certifiably Sustainable: Systems That Safeguard Forests

Researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) work with several different certification authorities when developing new technology.

Researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) work with several different certification authorities when developing new technology.

Unlike metals and fossil-fuel-based products (such as plastics), our forest resource is renewable and with proper management a flow of wood products can be maintained indefinitely.

The importance of forest-based products to our economy and standard of living is hard to overemphasize — half of all major industrial raw materials we use in the United States come from forests.

However, the sustainability of this resource requires forestry and harvesting practices that ensure the long-term health and diversity of our forests. Unfortunately, sustainable practices have not always been applied in the past, nor are they universally applied around the world today.

Architects, product designers, material specifiers, and homeowners are increasingly asking for building products that are certified to be from a sustainable source.For the forest products sector, the result of this demand has been the formation of forest certification programs. These programs not only ensure that the forest resource is harvested in a sustainable fashion but also that issues of biodiversity, habitat protection, and indigenous peoples rights are included in land management plans.

More than 50 different forest certification systems in the world today represent over 700 million acres of forest land and more than 15,000 companies marketing certified products. These programs represent about 8% of the global forest area and 13% of managed forests. From 2007 to 2008, the world’s certified forest area grew by nearly 8%. North America has certified more than one-third of its forests and Europe more than 50% of its forests; however, Africa and Asia have certified less than 0.1%

Approximately 80% to 90% of the world’s certified forests are located in the northern hemisphere, where two thirds of the world’s roundwood is produced. In North America, five major certification systems are used.

  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
  • American Tree Farm System (ATFS)
  • Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
  • Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) schemes.

In terms of acreage under certification, the FSC and the SFI dominate in the United States. These two systems evolved from different perspectives of sustainability. The FSC’s guidelines are geared more to preserver natural systems while allowing for careful harvest, whereas the SFI’s guidelines are aimed at encouraging fiber productivity while allowing for conservation of resources.

The growing trends in green building are helping drive certification in the construction market in the United States. Helpful online tools provide more information and data on forest certification, including the Forest Certification Resource Center and Forest Products Annual Market Review.

For more information, please see The Wood Handbook, Wood as an Engineering Material.

Forest Products Marketing Unit Launches Monthly “UPDATE”

The Forest Products Marketing Unit (FPMU) at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) works collaboratively and strategically with Forest Service and external partners to advance high-value, high-volume markets for woody biomass.

Even small investments in woody biomass utilization can have substantial impacts. (www.bugwood.org)

The FPMU UPDATE looks to connect people across the forest-to-product market chain. (photo: www.bugwood.org)

To keep folks across the “forest-to-products” marketing chain informed and connected, the FPMU is sending a monthly UPDATE to those in industry, research, forest resource, forest management and other partners. The first UPDATE is now available on the FPL website.

Each monthly UPDATE will feature a current program, highlighting important connections between the forest to market supply chain.  Key information on upcoming events and recent news will be provided, as a means to strengthen wood utilization and marketing.

If you would like the FPMU UPDATE delivered right to your inbox, simply send an email with your request to Ann Sarnecki at asarnecki@fs.fed.us

To achieve forest restoration and foster resilient forests, support for existing markets and development of emerging markets is critical.  FPMU focuses on utilization and marketing opportunities for products and residues from forest timber harvest, land restoration activities, fuels reduction, natural disaster recovery and urban forestry.


As Axes Fall, Local Economy Rises: Cutting Costs While Cutting Trees

Taking care of urban forests may include the removal of diseased and damaged trees. Sometimes, the axe must fall, and professionals must be called in to remove trees due to storms, disease, or invasive insects. The removal costs can add up quickly — in some cases, to the tune of several millions of dollars. Through careful planning however, researchers, marketing teams, and industry professionals can find more affordable solutions — ones beneficial to the forests, the bottom line, and the local economy.


Trees harvested from Kenosha County, in southwest Wisconsin, will benefit several communities around the area.

Kenosha County, Wisconsin is ground zero for a large-scale urban wood utilization project where a mechanized cut-to-length (CTL) tree harvester is removing 5,400 trees that have succumbed to Emerald Ash Borer. These trees are located across the community, including in county parks and golf courses — but despite the scale of this operation, the cost to remove them is relatively low — just $13 a tree.

For the removal operation, Kenosha County enlisted the help of Don Peterson, Executive Director of Sustainable Resources Institute, and an important Forest Service program delivery partner. To keep costs down, Peterson sought out local businesses wherever possible — the winning bid for the harvesting, for example, went to a logger from nearby Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Use of the CTL harvester provides usable wood for a variety of local industries, too, and the actual tree removal is not the only part of the project to benefit local business. Several entities plan to reuse the removed wood locally. Recovered products (pulpwood, sawbolts and hardwood sawlogs) all went to local Wisconsin forest products companies. By ensuring the diseased trees have a future before the first cut is made, the forest to market supply chain is kept intact.

The Forest Service hopes to apply what they learned in Kenosha County to tree harvesting operations across the United States.

In addition, Kenosha County hosted a workshop for city arborists and others interested in urban wood utilization. The day-long event was partially funded by the US Forest Service’s Wood Education Resource Center (WERC) and the Forest Products Laboratory’s Forest Product Marketing Unit (FPMU). Through this workshop, the public was able to learn about the operation, and see first-hand the methods employed to manage our urban forests.

The Forest Service hopes learn a thing or two from the Kenosha operation too. FPMU believes that the project demonstrates the effectiveness of “forest to market supply chain” thinking. Similar efforts could efficiently remove and utilize woody biomass from land restoration and fuel reduction projects in our clogged forests — particularly in the western United States, where fire danger continues to climb.

As researchers continue to find new uses for low-value wood through emerging technologies like nanocellulose, the demand for such material will only increase. Keeping costs low will be important for making urban wood utilization operations attractive. The tree removal project in Kenosha County shows that by considering the supply chain, utilizing local businesses, and educating the public, tree removal can benefit the local communities as we cut costs and trees alike.