Innovation and forest industry: domesticating the pine forests of the southern United States,1920–1999
The history of forest management in the southern United States has been a process of intensification and the pine forests of the Coastal Plain can be regarded as in the early stage of crop domestication. Silviculture research into tree improvement and other aspects of plantation establishment and management has been critical to the domestication process, which began in the early 1950s with the paradigm shift from natural stand management to plantation forestry. Advances were incremental innovations that relied heavily on basic knowledge gained in other disciplines and from formal university–industry silviculture research cooperatives. These cooperatives played a critical role in the domestication process, especially as they disseminated technological innovations. Sixteen major pulp and paper companies were examined in terms of participation in research cooperatives, expenditures on research and implementation of innovations. Despite a lack of relationship between company size (gross sales)and expenditures on forestry research, implementation of innovations was significantly related to research expenditures, timberland owned and total sales. Adjusting for timberland ownership or annual sales,the companies that spent the most on forestry research did the best job implementing research results. Emerging trends in industry structure and support for research may indicate a new role for public research institutions in the South, and call into question the need for silviculture research cooperatives.