Future Forest Industries Initiative

About Strategic Initiatives

To meet our mission of delivering integrated research solutions, NRRI is focused on three strategic initiatives that address the challenges of Minnesota’s resource-based economy. These initiatives are bold and long-term efforts to create the economy of the future by incorporating diverse expertise across NRRI, the University system and with our partners.

Initiative Overview

NRRI seeks to assist Minnesota’s incumbent and emerging forest products industries evolve to offer a robust and competitive portfolio of value-add building products, engineered carbon materials, non-fossil fuels and materials while offering carbon sequestration and agro-forestry options.


To contribute to a clean and vibrant economy, the forest products sector must develop engineered materials that serve contemporary and future societal needs. This evolution must sustain forests and terrestrial ecosystems and maintain a healthy human environment through responsible use of renewable biomass and organic waste streams.


NRRI researchers are developing engineered materials from renewable resources that address market needs through applied science and engineering. Research is guided by a Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment approach with strategic opportunity management tools. Translating this research to industry offers opportunities in natural climate solutions – carbon centric management and novel materials that offer long-term carbon storage – important economic drivers that will support a resilient forest-based industry sector in the coming decades.

Sample Projects

  • Decision support management tools: 
    • Forest Climate Adaptation Simulation Tool (ForCAST) 
    • Minnesota Atlas - an easy-access, online tool with over 500 data layers
  • Thermal modification process for durable decking and cladding materials from regional timber
  • Water-resist and mass timber products with small diameter timber
  • Engineered carbon materials from biomass for metallurgical and water treatment applications
  • Biodegradable polymers for controlled-release fertilizers
  • Biochar applications to reduce methane emissions from landfills and the agricultural industry
  • Protocols for and demonstration of construction and demolition waste diversion and reuse
  • Demonstration of clean hydrogen production from biomass residuals


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  • Public forestland owners
    • United States Forest Service
    • State of Minnesota
    • Minnesota Counties
  • Private Landowners
    • Tribal
    • Industrial
    • Family-owned
  • Habitat Conservation Organizations
    • Ruffed Grouse Society
  • Environmental Organizations and NGOs
    • The Nature Conservancy
    • Bioeconomy Coalition of Minnesota
  • Industry and private sector
    • Minerals and metals  Industries
    • Wood Products Industry
    • Energy and Power Generation Industry
  • City and County Government
    • City of Minneapolis
    • Becker County
    • City of Duluth
  • USDA-Agricultural Research Service

Future Forest Industries Programs

To advance the economic return from Minnesota's forest harvest by developing value-added products. 

Advancing the low carbon economy by developing methods to convert biomass into energy resources.

To research, develop and commercialize potentially useful natural products

Sustainable building materials development, reuse and testing.

Working to establish a diverse and sustainable industry for Minnesota that serves multiple markets for biochar and bio-carbon materials.

Developing hybrid poplar with superior growth and disease resistance for Minnesota’s emerging bioeconomy.

Researching forest use and sustainable management.

Future Forest Industries Projects

The ForCAST tool attempts to provide forestry professionals and land managers with an opportunity to evaluate how a changing climate and changing markets might affect Minnesota’s forests and

Demonstration of a Thermally Modified Eastern Larch Boardwalk to Catalyze New Markets for Low-value Timber.

Recent News

A tree seedling in a clear cup.

DEED funding helps entrepreneur launch unique online sales platform for NRRI fast-growing hybrid tree.

Woman seated on her desk in office.

The Society for Freshwater Science announced that it will present its 2024 Career Award for Environmental Stewardship to Dr. Lucinda B. Johnson, NRRI Senior Research Fellow.

Two men at a wood shop workbench focused on tabletop project.

National conference and partnerships divert usable materials from landfills.

Least Sandpiper (Kolbe)

NRRI study helps inform benefits of shipping channel dredge material for island habitat.