The role of academic research in forestry is essential to ensuring the sustainability of forests. Advancements in research can help land owners make sustainable forest management decisions; it plays an increasingly important role in how forest land owners manage their land, both as a natural climate solution and for their livelihoods. International Paper recognizes the important role of this research and has taken action by offering $500,000 in academic research grants since 2019.
Since 2019, International Paper has asked U.S. universities for research proposals to explore innovations in four key areas:
- Remote sensing technology
- Timber supply modeling
- Understanding and managing risk from the forest to the mill
- Relative advantages of important global wood baskets
Over the past two years, six programs at four universities were selected for grant funding. North Carolina State University (NCSU) and Mississippi State University are researching timber supply modeling with the ultimate goal of improving market models that predict resource trends and prices. Virginia Tech and Texas A&M are exploring remote sensing technologies that will help characterize forest attributes. Virginia Tech is evaluating satellite and aerial imagery to estimate stand characteristics over large areas, whereas Texas A&M will be studying the use of space-borne and aerial sensors. Mississippi State University and NCSU are also conducting a comparative assessment of global wood fiber production.
Jim Rakestraw, Forest Research Manager at International Paper, states: “This grant funding shows IP’s commitment to critical academic research needed to support sustainable practices for working forests and to getting essential information into the hands of forest owners.” The universities started their research in 2019, and while it may be too soon to report findings, International Paper is offering the promising program again in 2021.