Forest Innovation Reviews (FIRz)


A forum for innovation about forests, forest management, forest products, and forest-rich communities

FIRz 2020 Call for Speakers NOW OPEN!

Download Call for Speakers Fact Sheet

Forest Innovation Reviews (FIRz) is a forum for innovative ideas for solving some of today’s most significant challenges. FIRz creates a space for presenting well-formed ideas about forests, forest management, forest products and forest-rich communities, conveyed through short, powerful talks.

The first FIRz symposium took place at the University of Georgia, home of the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources on September 18, 2019. Innovative thinkers from around the world gathered for a day of breakthrough thinking and sharing about the biggest challenges — and potential solutions — that face forests and forest health. Those ideas will be shared publicly via video by the end of 2019. Dr. Scott Merkle, Professor at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia (UGA), and his idea on how to restore threatened and endangered tree species was voted by FIRz attendees as “Most Likely to Make a Lasting Difference” and was awarded a cash prize.

The next FIRz will take place at Oregon State University on Thursday, October 1, 2020.  The deadline for submissions is February 28, 2020, at 11:59 PM Eastern. 

Submissions should be sent by email to with the subject “FIRz Submission” and should include a written abstract or concept overview of not more than 500 words along with a short, 30-second video explaining the concept (videos do not need to be of high quality). Those asked to continue to the next step in the selection process will be notified no later than March 30, 2020. Selected speakers will share their ideas with an audience open to the new, innovative, and in some cases, utterly unheard-of thinking. Then those ideas will be shared around the world via video. The presentation voted by FIRz attendees as “most likely to make a lasting difference” will be awarded $10,000.

Forest Innovation Reviews (FIRz) 2019 Talks

 2019 FIRz agenda

  1. New Tools for Working Forest Conservation Buck Vaughan, Manager of Forest Financial Planning & Analysis, The Conservation Fund
  2. Using Unmanned Aerial Systems in Teaching, Research & Service Dr. David L. Kulhavy, Professor, Stephen F. Austin State University
  3. Can Trees Help Spell the End of the Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone? Jessica Fox, Senior Technical Executive, Electric Power Research Institute
  4. Reinventing Loggers: From Timber Harvesting to Forest Stewards Ewell Smith, Carolina Loggers Association
  5. Building a Community of Competitors to Accelerate Safe Innovation Dr. Kimberly Ong, Vireo Advisors, LLC
  6. A New Wood Product to Replace Plastic: Kim Nelson, GranBio
  7. Blockchain – The Means to Eliminate Illegal Logging Globally Charlie Redden, Director of Supply Chain, Taylor Guitars
  8. How the Utility Industry Can Help Restore the Nation’s Forests Dr. Wayne Lei, Chief Technical Officer, Oregon Torrefaction
  9. A Partnership to Restore Threatened Trees Dr. Scott Merkle, Professor, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources
  10. Designing our Future Forest Zack Parisa, Founder, SilviaTerra

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