Within the framework of the project “More Efficient Use of Forests” researchers are investigating and promoting the possibility of replacing the consumption of finite resources with the efficient exploitation of renewable resources. Examples of research fields are comparative studies of concrete and timber building construction, energy conservation, and bio-energy.
“The research findings indicate that timber building construction, energy conservation, and bio-energy can help reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases,” says Leif Gustavsson, professor of ecotechnology at Mid Sweden University.
The researchers are also examining the attitudes of home owners to various heating systems and what factors govern their choice of system. Studies of how demolition materials can be used to bring down net emissions of greenhouse gases are another topical field of research.
The County Council of Jämtland, which is supporting the project financially, commissioned the external assessment. The first phase, covering 2002-2004, has been evaluated by Professor Arto Usenius at VTT-Technical Research Center of Finland.
Regarding the development of expertise, Arto Usenius finds that the project “has already made clear contributions to the acquisition of long-term knowledge and expertise and established an international research team in very little time and without a tradition of running graduate programs.” During the second phase of the project, 2005-2007, five
doctoral candidates are expected to complete their dissertations.
“More Efficient Use of Forests” has thus far resulted in 31 academic publications. “This is much more than one might have expected. Normally publications begin to appear after a couple of years. The articles are also of sound academic quality,” writes Arto Usenius.
Building bridges to different parts of the world
The project has chosen to give priority to international
collaboration. “The project has been highly successful in building bridges from Östersund to different parts of the world,” the assessment states. Arto Usenius notes further that the project “has led to the establishment of a research platform in the field of ecotechnology that can boast internationally acknowledged research competence.”
He writes moreover that the industry has begun to show its interest in the project and that the project has been instrumental in expanding educational offerings at the Mid Sweden University Östersund Campus, especially the
master’s program in Ecotechnology and Sustainable´Development. Finally, Arto Usenius stresses that the project director, Professor Leif Gustavsson, “has succeeded in creating a fine environment in which project participants can thrive.”
The second phase of the “More Efficient Use of Forests” project is to be carried out in 2005-2007. “I take this favorable evaluation as proof that we are working in the right direction,” says Leif Gustavsson.