NAU’s Ecological Restoration Institute hires director of forest operations and biomass utilization

Han-Sup Han

The Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI) at Northern Arizona University has selected Han-Sup Han as the new director of forest operations and biomass utilization.

In this newly created position, Han will coordinate and advance ERI’s efforts to establish a forest operations and wood utilization research, development and applications center in northern Arizona, helping accelerate the pace and scale of restoration in frequent-fire forests of the West.

Han comes to ERI from Humboldt State University as a top researcher with 20 years of experience evaluating the economics and operational efficiencies of various timber and biomass harvesting systems. As a director of forest operations and biomass utilization at ERI, he will work collaboratively with NAU forest scientists, private industry and land management agencies to improve the efficiency and economics of harvest operations and the utilization of wood for a wide range of forest products. His work also will focus on lessening the environmental impacts that potentially occur from thinning treatments aiming to reduce fire danger and improve forest health.

“I am excited about my opportunity here at ERI and NAU,” Han said. “In my experience working with forest ecologists, silviculturists and policymakers, the challenge to improving forest health and achieving restoration is finding the right operational tools and setting up optimal operational logistics to get the work done that is environmentally acceptable and financially reasonable. Lack of market and utilization of biomass resulting from those treatments have been identified as key barriers. I’d like to bring my experience to address those challenges.”

Han’s work will be critically important in the Southwest, and particularly in northern Arizona, as large-scale collaborative restoration projects, like the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, ramp up.

“There is a growing need to develop an efficient, modern forest operations and utilization industry to address the abundance of small-diameter trees and biomass, which is the byproduct of restoration,” said Wally Covington, executive director of ERI. “Dr. Han will help unlock that critical bottleneck through collaboration and innovation at ERI and NAU.”

NAU President Rita Cheng lauded the ERI’s contributions to Flagstaff and surrounding regions and said she looked forward to Han’s influence on forest research and health.

“ERI and NAU have been at the forefront of forest health, a critical issue in the Southwest, in Arizona and in the greater Flagstaff region,” Cheng said. “We anticipate Dr. Han will enhance the effectiveness of our program as he uses his knowledge and experience to advance important restoration initiatives.”

About the Ecological Restoration Institute

The Ecological Restoration Institute is dedicated to the restoration of fire-adapted forests and woodlands. The ERI provides services that support the social and economic vitality of communities that depend on forests and the natural resources and ecosystem services they provide. The institute’s efforts focus on science-based research of ecological and socioeconomic issues related to restoration as well as support for on-the-ground treatments, outreach and education. For more information, visit

NAU Communications