UMaine Center for Research on Sustainable Forests to lead NSF-funded effort to better measure, monitor and manage U.S. forests

The Center for Advanced Forestry Systems (CAFS) at the University of Maine has received $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to continue its work in addressing the challenges facing the wood products industry, landowners and managers of the nation’s managed forestland.

Projects will address national and regional technology at multiple spatial and temporal scales — molecular, cellular, individual-tree, stand and ecosystem levels.

Aaron Weiskittel, director of UMaine’s Center for Research on Sustainable Forests, leads CAFS, a multi-state, multi-institution Industry/University Cooperative Research Center established in 2007. Partner universities are North Carolina State University, Oregon State University, University of Georgia, Purdue University, University of Idaho and University of Washington. 

The initiative aligns with the University of Maine System R&D Plan.

Healthy forests are vital to the world’s ecological, social and economic health. Wood is a major economic commodity that serves as the raw material for building and as a feedstock for bioenergy, biofuels and biomaterials. This is particularly relevant to Maine, where forests and their associated industry sequester over 75% of the state’s annual fossil fuel emissions, create one in 20 jobs, and have a direct economic impact of $8 billion to $10 billion — one of the highest relative contributions to a state’s gross domestic product. 

CAFS’ interdisciplinary research supports the forest industry in sustaining healthy forests with newly developed decision-support tools, remote sensing, and a particular focus on precision forest management. CAFS scientists and industry work closely together with emerging technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and light detection and ranging (LiDAR), to better measure, monitor and manage forests, particularly in regard to the variety of issues that forests currently face, such as climate change, wildfires and invasive pests.

The goal of this research by CAFS scientists on a wide range of technological capabilities is to sustain healthy forests that will support the US forest industry by solving problems with targeted, applied and collaborative research, says Weiskittel, UMaine professor of forest biometrics and modeling and Irving Chair of Forest Ecosystem Management. He has led CAFS since 2016.

More information on the Center for Advanced Forestry Systems is online

Contact: Meg Fergusson, 207.581.3794;