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Conference paper - Peer-reviewed, 2010

Sustainable Biomaterials and Bioenergy – Examining how we think about Forest Products, from Education to Global Policy

Goodell, B; Howe, J; Militz; H; Rodriguez, J; Daniel, Geoffrey


We would like to stimulate a discussion among conference participants on the direction of the field of wood science and forest products, and how to best present the importance of wood science, wood technology and related educational efforts to the public as we move into the future. Humankind has become increasingly disconnected from natural resources as the industrial processing of biomaterials and biofuels has advanced. Further, there has been a growing disconnect between the practices used to improve wood efficiency, and the impacts these practices have upon the natural resource. This disconnect has affected how the fields of wood science and forest products are viewed by perspective students, and by the public in general. While there has been increasing interest regarding the areas of environmental protection and conservation of the resource, there has been a decline in interest associated with the processing of the biomaterials needed to sustain human activities. This has negatively impacted the image of forest industries in general and for wood science educational programs, it has meant a loss of students from educational programs. Perhaps less understood, this trend also has had a broader impact on natural resource management. Enhancing the public’s perception of the field by expanding their view of what we do beyond that of the traditional forest products industry is vital if experts in the field are to have a greater impact on issues ranging from resource conservation and utilization, to global policy issues. To address these issues it may be necessary to expand how we view ourselves, and the scope of our efforts, starting with education. Broadening our scope to include other lignocellulosic materials in addition to wood may be needed to increase the public’s acceptance of wood science and forest products within the context of sustainable biomaterials and bioenergy issues. Rebranding may also help to capture the public’s interest while helping the field shed current negative perceptions. Efforts such as rebranding may be more effective with unified organizational goals that permit more rapid public acceptance, while helping to limit current confusion regarding similar organizations and institutes having different identities

Published in

Book title: Proceedings of the International Convention of Society of Wood Science and Technology and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe - Timber Committee : Geneva, Switzerland, October 11-14, 2010
ISBN: 9780981787602
Publisher: United Nations


International Convention of Society of Wood Science and Technology and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe – Timber Committee

Authors' information

Goodell, Barry
University of Maine
Howe, Jeffrey
Dovetail Partners
Militz, Holger
University of Göttingen
Rodriguez, Jaime
University of Concepcion
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Products

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

URI (permanent link to this page)