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Forest Products

Logging machinery (photo by Lawrence Lam).

Researchers were surprised to find no evidence of negative effects of logging truck noise on nesting northern goshawks on the Kaibab Plateau

(photo by Lawrence Lam)
Logs at a processing facility near the Coconino National Forest in Arizona (photo by Becca Robinson).

Log sort yards can increase the residual value of forest restoration treatments relative to standard sort landings; however, benefits vary by forest type, the volume of high-value material, and markets for wood products

(photo by Becca Robinson)
The harvesting and burning of woody biomass for energy is an emerging use of forest products.

The harvesting and burning of woody biomass for energy is an emerging use of forest products

Log deck after a salvage operation (photo by Dave Powell, USFS retired, Bugwood.org).

Salvage logging after fire or insect outbreaks can influence tree regeneration and fuel loads

(photo by Dave Powell, USFS retired, Bugwood.org)
Biochar can be used as an amendment to improve soil conditions.

Biochar is a forest product created from excess woody biomass that would normally be pile burned. It can be used as an amendment to improve soil conditions after forest disturbances

Wood is a versatile, durable, abundant, and cost-effective renewable resource that provides many environmental and economic benefits. The Forest Service supports sustainable utilization of wood products across federal, tribal, state, and private land ownerships which also contributes to reducing wildfire risk, addressing climate change, and building vibrant rural economies.  Research and innovation in wood produces supports stronger markets and new opportunities for wood utilization such as wood energy. Wood is one of the world’s oldest materials, but it is also an advanced product with a variety of innovative uses.

Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists are developing innovative uses for wood that contribute new benefits to landscapes and economies. Wood products and techniques studied at RMRS include biochar, biomass, salvage logging, small diameter wood uses, and effects of these industries on rural economies.

Read the Biomass & Wood Products Fact Sheet.

This research focuses on traditional and alternative forest products, including energy sources, and new technologies and markets that contribute to energy security, environmental quality, and economic opportunity. This category includes:

Discover more forest product research:

  • RMRS scientists created an “A-Z” biochar guide that highlights recent science and describes methods to make biochar on site, uses for biochar, and methods for application.
  • RMRS scientists are members of the Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies (BANR). BANR studied how salvage operations conducted in beetle-killed stands could be made more efficient and safer by customizing harvest systems and logistics at the landscape scale.
  • World Wood Day celebrations are hosted by the International Wood Culture Society and the World Wood Day Foundation. RMRS scientists took part in a virtual webinar series, ‘Fire in the West,’ to share their latest research about wood and fire.
  • RMRS science explores wood products for cultural uses in Southeast Alaska, facilitating discussions and fostering relevant place-based youth and community engagement.
  • RMRS scientists studied how biochar, wood chips, and/or biosolids can improve the soil at reclaimed mine sites to begin growing vegetation.
  • A research team including an RMRS scientist conducted an economic feasibility assessment focused on Challis, Idaho, which helped identify the type and scale of forest industry projects that are likely to be successful and benefit the forest and surrounding communities.
  • RMRS scientist are part of the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) project, which has spurred advances in a wide array of biomass and bioenergy related fields, producing products and outcomes that benefit a broad range of stakeholders. Research, development, and outreach activities were conducted in eleven states, and resulted in critical advances in biomass feedstock logistics, conversion technology, bioproduct development, and our understanding of the social, environmental and economic impacts of using forest biomass for bioenergy and bioproducts.
  • A team of scientists compared novel biochars and steam activated carbon from mixed conifer mill residues, yielding results that can be used to operationalize steam activation as a post-processing treatment for biochar and to expand markets for biochar.
  • RMRS scientists and colleagues studied the operational characteristics of the loader in a hot operation and cold operation for harvesting sawlogs and biomass. They found that the number of bins and trucks hauling biomass has a crucial role in the system’s efficiency.
  • A research team used a replicable method to integrate market and nonmarket economic values into a comprehensive economic evaluation of fuel treatment and bioenergy production. In their study, the impact of additional nonmarket values and potential revenue lead to a positive mean net present value.  
  • RMRS scientists and their partners developed and tested a high-capacity biochar spreader that can be used on skid trails and log landings to reduce the cost and facilitate the application
  • RMRS scientist created a roadmap for integrated biochar research, outlining a long-term research program that focuses on biochar as a tool for carbon sequestration.
  • A review describes how biochar can help heal soils that are damaged by overused, climate change, and other disturbances. Biochar production and use on forest sites is a tool to sustain forest and agriculture ecosystems, mitigate the impacts of a changing environment, and deliver continued ecosystem services.
  • RMRS scientists measured soil displacement and soil infiltration rates on sites where biomass had been removed and found that removing biomass does not result in decreased infiltration or increased erosion in the forest.

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