Department of Forest and Biomaterials Science

Reconizing that excessive and non-sustainable use of resources is the main drivers of global environmental problems, we must move away from a mere emphasis on economic productivity to a new set of social priorities that achieve sustainable and environmentally friendly use of natural resources. In other words, we must seek for a new way that enables harmonious coexistence of the earth and the humankind. Globally, forests cover 31% of the land, and they provide various ecosystem services including production of renewable resources. Hence, conservation and protection of forests, in combination with utilization of forest-based resources, are important for the survival of the human kind. More than ever, we need young people who can develop innovative strategies based on scientific understanding of forests and forest resources, in order to tackle global environmental issues.

The Department of Forest and Biomaterials Science promotes research and education on forests and the various forest-based resources. Our unit conducts basic research on forests, including biological and biogeochemical research addressing biodiversity and ecosystem matter cycles. We also analyze chemical and physical properties of wood, cellulose and various organic substances. We also conduct applied research relevant for reduction of greenhouse gas emission. and for achieving a society with sustainable resource cycles. In addition to natural science approaches, we use sociological and economic approaches. Through collaboration of researchers across various fields of specialization, we aim for a transdisciplinary science on forests and biomaterials. In educational activities, we aim to nurture broad perspectives on forest science, as well as to build capacities for investigation through thesis research activities.

The Department of Forest and Biomaterials Science has 17 laboratories, covering a wide range of research topics. They can be grouped roughly in three groups. The six laboratories in the first group, including “Forest Biology”, “Forest Ecology”, “Tropical Forest Resources and Environments”, “Forest Hydrology”, “Forest Utilization”, and “Biosphere Informatics”, conduct basic and applied research on forest ecosystem. The eight in the second group, including the laboratories of “Wood Processing”, “Biomaterials Design”, “Fibrous Biomaterials”, “Tree Cell Biology”, “Chemistry of Composite Materials”, “Chemistry of Biomaterials”, “Forest Biochemistry”, and “Energy Ecosystems”, conduct basic and applied studies on biomaterials. The three laboratories in the third group, including “Forest Resources and Society”, “Landscape Architecture”, and “Erosion Control”, study management of forests and landscapes, as well as disaster preventions in forested hills and mountains. In addition these core laboratories, the Field Science Education and Research Center and the Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere support our research and education missions through their field research center in Hokkaido and Ashiu, or through their large or advanced experimental facilities.

During the first three years of our curriculum, undergraduate students will build foundational and comprehensive knowledge on forest and biomaterilas science through lectures and field and lab courses. The 4th year students belong to one of the 17 laboratories to conduct thesis resaerch. Our goal is to help students obtain specialized knowledge on forests and biomaterials, and build capacity to contribute to research and innovation with high moral standards.

Keywords for Each Field of Affiliation

Field Keywords
Forest Resources and Society Deforestation and conservation, Sustainable forest management, dynamics of forestry and forest industry, silvotourism, forest and culture, forest certification system
Tropical Forest Resources and Environments Functional understanding of forest trees and forest ecosystems, plant functional traits, forest stand structures, light utilization, seedling regeneration, plant-soil interactions, ecosystem matter cycles, sustainable forest management, climate-change mitigation and adaptation, with emphasis on tropical forests in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Forest Utilization Forests’ functions on environmental conservation, biomass production of forests, growth dynamics of trees’ root system、effect of environmental factors on tree growth and xylem formation, plantation management and wood quality
Forest Biology Forest structure and dynamics, Biodiversity conservation, phylogenetic and ecological analysis of forest organisms based on genetic/genomic information, prevention of forest damage caused by wildlife, interaction between forest insects and trees, insect damage control
Landscape Architecture History of gardening, planning and design of gardens, urban parks, nature parks, conservation of landscape and biodiversity, urban afforestation, natural restoration, assessment mitigation of natural environments
Erosion Control Prevention and mitigation of sediment disasters, impact of forest management on rainwater discharge, impact of forest management on sediment discharge, rainwater holding capacity of forest soil, prediction and forecast of debris flow, mechanisms of slope failure and landslides, warning and evacuation system against sediment disasters
Forest Ecology Diversity of forest organisms, material cycle mechanism, soil decomposing organisms, plant behaviors, from the arctic to the tropical
Forest Hydrology Hydrological cycle, carbon cycle, gas exchange, ecosystem fluxes, plant-water relations and eco-physiology, methane dynamics, precipitation-runoff response, water quality formation, longterm monitoring
Biosphere Informatics Geographical information systems, remote sensing, ecosystem modeling, conservation ecology, ecosystem service evaluation, environmental observation methods, ecological/environmental information systems and database
Biomaterials Design Physical properties of forest biomass materials (lumber, bamboo, etc.), elucidation of properties of new wood-based materials, image analysis of wood surfaces, wood and human relations, fracture mechanics, lumber construction mechanics
Wood Processing Technologies of wood processing, nondestructive evaluation of wood property and degradation of wood, and automatic recognition of wood and its processing
Fibrous Biomaterials Structure and properties of cellulose and other polysaccharides, synthesis of polysaccharides by genetically engineered enzymes, functionalization of polymers by magnetic field orientation, development of novel NMR/MRI methods, decomposition of biomass in environmental water
Tree Cell Biology Forest resources of the world, growth of trees, formation and function of cell walls, significance of forms and diversity of organisms, from macro to micro
Chemistry of Composite Materials Precise polymer synthesis, block/graft copolymers, liquid crystalline polymers, biomass-based polymer blends, conversion of biomass to plastic materials, liquefaction and resinification of biomass, biodegradable plastics, bioplastics/nanofiller composites, structure-property-performance relationships of biomass-based functional materials
Chemistry of Biomaterials Organic chemistry of biomass, elucidation of structure, properties, physiological bioactivity, and functions of cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignin, and extracts (tannin) and their utilization, efficient use of tropical forest produce
Forest Biochemistry Material cycle of forests, molecular biology of wood-rot fungi, genetic engineering, genome editing, biodegradation mechanism of wood, biotechnology of fungi, plant tissue culture, DNA/RNA analysis of trees, translocation of sugar in plants, flowering control mechanism, plant molecular biology of bamboo, bamboo grass, and rice
Energy Ecosystems Biomass, bioenergy, biochemicals, bioethanol, biodiesel, high temperature wood chemistry, molecular level thermal degradation mechanism, reaction control of pyrolysis/gasification, supercritical fluids, plasma treatment