Forest Economics, Management and Policy Stories
From Forest Floor to Mill Door, FWRC Researchers Keep Wood Moving
Bridge closures due to structural problems are an increasing problem in Mississippi, and they create difficulties for logging transportation. FWRC researchers conducted a two-year study led by principal investigator Dr. Shaun Tanger, assistant forestry professor and extension specialist at the Coastal Research and Extension Center. The team aimed to find ways to streamline the transportation process, saving the industry time and money. Co-principal investigator Dr. Eric McConnell, an assistant professor in the forestry department, said that little research has been done on infrastructure's financial impacts on the industry. Dr. John Auel, former assistant extension professor, found that about 40 percent of the cost of logging goes to transportation, which in 2020, was $665 million in Mississippi alone.
Forestry professor and co-principal investigator Dr. Robert Grala said that the team would look at the state's mills and available timberland around each, while assessing regional roads and bridges, to determine the optimal and most cost-effective forest-to-mill routes. This study serves as a blueprint for how infrastructure impacts an entire industry across the state and could serve as a model in the future for infrastructure's economic impact on other industries state and region-wide.
Assisting Forest Landowners in Marketing Their Trees
America's forests sequester 866 million tons of carbon a year, or roughly 16% of the country's annual emissions. Today, landowners can join carbon programs, which pay them for contributing to the carbon sink by postponing timber harvests for at least one year. FWRC scientists including Dr. Bruno Silva, assistant professor of forest management and economics, are building a formula-based tool for landowners to make decisions on whether to harvest or join a carbon program, depending on the characteristics of their properties and the current market conditions. To that end, the team has been working with companies such as NCX to connect landowners with corporations interested in the carbon sequestration of a landowner's trees. Dr. Shaun Tanger, assistant forestry professor and extension specialist at the Coastal Research and Extension Center, added that the tool developed by the MSU team will help determine which landowners would benefit most from these programs.
Tanger said that extending tree rotations is the cheapest, most effective method for carbon sequestration, and that the tool makes the decision clear and easy for landowners.
Forestry Fair Trade
FWRC scientists help the forest products industry better understand how temporary trade barriers impact business globally and domestically. Dr. Changyou “Edwin” Sun, professor of forest economics, combed through decades of international trade and invention data to determine trends and patterns. His team then built statistical models to analyze these patterns in order to determine the correlation between temporary trade barriers in developed versus developing countries and home in on how they influence factors such as industry employment, forest coverage rate, inflation, and imports and exports of forest products. By providing the industry with a better understanding of the impact of temporary trade barriers, researchers have paved the way for domestic forest products firm to stay both prosperous and ethical in a competitive global market. This research was funded in part by the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, and Southern Research Station.