Forests and Related Resources


Contact Dr. Charles Cleland, NPL for SBIR Forests and Related Resources at or (202) 401-6852 regarding questions about the topic area or to arrange a telephone consultation.


The Forests and Related Resources topic area aims to address the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations through the development of environmentally sound approaches to increase productivity of forest lands, improve sustainability of forest resources, and develop value-added materials derived from woody resources. New technologies are needed to enhance the protection of the Nation’s forested lands and forest resources and help to ensure the continued existence of healthy and productive forest ecosystems. Proposals focused on sustainable bioenergy and development of value-added biofuels from woody biomass, and on the influence of climate change on forest health and productivity are strongly encouraged. Proposals that utilize nanotechnology in their approach to developing new wood-based products or that utilize wood-based nano-materials are also encouraged.

To meet the identified needs in forestry and wood utilization, the program’s long-term goals (10 years) are to achieve increased utilization of woody resources for value-added products from wood; healthy and sustainable forest ecosystems that are more resilient to wildfires and the impact of pathogens and insects; improved environmental and economic methods of sustainable harvesting; and improved growth and yield of forest species that will lead to more efficient use of forested lands. This topic area meets the NIFA Strategic Goal 1: Science; Catalyze exemplary and relevant research, education and extension programs; SUB-GOAL 1.2: Advance the development and delivery of science for agricultural, forest, and range systems adapted to climate variability and to mitigate climate impacts; and SUB-GOAL 1.3: Optimize the production of goods and services from working lands while protecting the Nation’s natural resource base and environment.

FY 2018 Research Priorities:

Examples of appropriate subtopics for research applications from small businesses include, but are not limited to the following:

1. Growth and Yield

Improving growing stock, tissue culture, genetic manipulation or vegetative reproduction of forest trees, and other means of increasing the regenerative abilities of forests; developing systems to increase the survival of newly planted trees through mechanical, physical or chemical means that are environmentally safe and through improved nutrient/water utilization; reducing the adverse impact of pathogens and insects by developing better methods to monitor infestations and improved control strategies for combating insects and pathogens that attack important woody species.

2. Increasing the Utility of Forest-Grown Material

Research to improve the yield of lumber, pulp fiber and specialty chemicals from trees; utilizing a greater percentage of the tree through improved techniques of production, for the creation of new or improved reconstituted products; developing better methods for manufacturing wood-based products and testing products for performance and durability; and developing improved methods for the production of paper.

3. Reducing Ecological Damage by Forest Operations

Research to reduce soil erosion, compaction, water degradation or other alterations caused by harvesting and/or other forest operations, provisions for the economic recovery of resources from forests while raising potential productivity and reducing impacts to the ecological structure of the area of operation.

4. Urban Forestry

Research to promote the growth of forested land in urban areas, such as greenways, parks, and strategically planted urban trees, to address problems of forest fragmentation, the introduction of invasive species, and the impact of urban forested land on air and water quality and quality of life improvements.

5. Climate Change

Research to address the issue of ecosystem adaptation to climate change, ways to enhance carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, development of decision support tools for forest managers and markets for forest ecosystem services.

6. Developing Technology that Facilitates the Management of Wildfires on Forest Lands

Research that provides systems for detecting and managing wildfires; systems for reducing fuel loads in forests; tools and equipment for improving the efficacy and safety of fire fighters on the ground and in the air; and communication and navigation systems for improving the coordination of fire management activities.

7. Sustainable Bioenergy and Development of Value-Added Products From Forest Resources Research for development of improved methods for the conversion of forest biomass into cellulosic biofuels (e.g. ethanol, biobutanol, jet aviation) and biobased products, including intermediate chemicals; development of new wood-based composite materials; development of local scale energy conversion projects that generate electricity and/or useful heat; and development of technologies that will mitigate carbon release from combustion.


Other Key Information

  • The applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the NPL regarding the suitability of research topics.
  • Applications that deal with the development of biofuels derived from non-woody agricultural crops should be submitted under topic area 8.8 Biofuels and Biobased Products.

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