Insect Societies Have A Lot to Teach About Healthy Social Living

Ants Macro on Green Leaves, Naypong Studio – stock.adobe.com

Agriculture is widely considered the start of humanity living in large, closely inhabited settlements as opposed to small nomadic tribes. With any behavioral change, there is a cost-benefit. We are currently experiencing a real-time cost-benefit of living in an agricultural society with the development of the coronavirus pandemic. Social living has increased humanity’s ability to do just about everything including pathogen (bacterium, virus, disease causing microorganism) transmission.

However, humanity is not the only agricultural society successfully living on Earth today. If we look closely—very closely—there are tiny, yet massively populated societies facing the same pathogen transmission challenges.

Some of these societies have developed unique strategies to protect themselves—like a certain species of aphids whose soldiers explode their abdomens to seal and defend their colony from disease threats.

Others employ versions that we see in human communities, like developing a diverse gut microbiome for strong immune systems.

Taking a closer look at social insect models could be the key to unlocking more effective human strategies for pathogen management.

Continue reading

Experts Offer “Three Perspectives on Wood” at Madison College Event

The Cabinetmaking and Millwork Program at Madison College recently hosted a speaking event offering their students, as well as builders, designers, and woodworkers, “Three Perspectives on Wood” to understand how to source and use wood properly for best performance.

Chris Hunt, a research chemist at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), was one of the invited speakers. For more than 25 years, Hunt has studied ways to make better use of wood. His presentation, titled “Why Does Wood Do That?” focused on how understanding the structure of wood can improve one’s carpentry and woodworking skills.

Continue reading

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
Continue reading

Celebrate National Forest Products Week! October 21-27, 2018

Happy National Forest Products Week!

For the past 58 years, the third week of October has been deemed National Forest Products Week by Presidential proclamation. Here at the Forest Products Laboratory, every week is Forest Products Week, but we’re extra happy to celebrate this particular week with partners and the public, sharing all the good things trees provide.

To kick off the week, you can read a blog post below featured on the U.S. Forest Service and USDA blogs. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @fsWoodLab and #ForestProductsWeek to keep up with all the fun facts supporting what we already know: Wood is Good!

Continue reading

Wood Packaging Supports Healthy Forests and Strong Communities

The National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) has released “Wood Packaging Supports Healthy Forests and Strong Communities,” a video that puts a spotlight on the vital role wood packaging plays in our communities.

Researchers from the Forest Products Laboratory have partnered with the NWPCA for several years, and are currently working with them to develop life cycle assessments for wood pallets.

Wooden pallets used for shipping purposes in the United States (NWPCA 2016).

NWPCA collaborated with leading forest conservation organizations to produce this video. Participating in this project were Tom Martin, President and CEO, The American Forest Foundation; Larry Selzer, President and CEO, The Conservation Fund; Jay Farrell, Executive Director, The National Association of State Foresters; Carlton Owen, President and CEO, U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities; and Vicki Christiansen, Interim Chief, U.S. Forest Service.

“We’re proud of the work of our members in supporting the missions of these conservation organizations, providing economic and employment opportunities in rural communities, and improving the health of our nation’s forests,” said Brent McClendon, CAE, National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) President and CEO.

“The wood packaging industry is a critical player in advancing the health of our forests because they use the small diameter wood for making pallets that cannot be used in higher end products,” stated, Carlton Owen, President & CEO, U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities. “Without markets for that low value material, we can’t move our forests to a healthier, more resilient condition.”

The 3-minute video is a project of Nature’s Packaging®, a North American initiative to promote the use of wood-based packaging to users seeking sustainable, responsible and economical packaging solutions.