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How a Maine paper mill learned to love not making paper

How a Maine paper mill learned to love not making paper | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Sappi Paper’s mill in Westbrook has remained standing in the 21st century by learning to let go. The mill staked its future on paper with the key of not sticking to things, allowing paper-backed patterns to be pressed into synthetic materials, laminate flooring, leather and other products.

 

The mill has shed thousands of jobs since hitting peak employment levels in the 1950s but carved a path to profitability through a spate of tough times and recent closures in the industry.
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During the early 2000s, the Westbrook mill completed a long shift away from publishing markets, converting lower efficiency, turn-of-the-century paper machines to what’s called release paper, research that began when the mill was still in the hands of S.D. Warren Co. That paper, coated with various textures, can be used to create a range of products, including patterned car interiors, flooring, shoes and soccer balls.
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Mike Standel, the mill’s managing director, said the company’s market research focuses now on forecasting quickly changing fashion trends. Those quick changes, he said, give it an advantage in competing with other methods for pressing textures into a material, such as using stainless steel belts or plates. “It’s always important to be first, and we can provide something unique that can let our customers have exclusivity or be first to market,” Standel said.

 

The Westbrook mill produces about 40 percent of the global market for release paper, according to Standel, who said Europe and China are key markets in the business for which about 92 percent of its product is exported.

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Genetic profiling of trees helps convict timber thieves

Genetic profiling of trees helps convict timber thieves | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
University of Adelaide forest DNA forensics research has helped convict National Forest timber thieves in a landmark case in the United States.


Four defendants prosecuted for stealing Bigleaf maple wood from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest have pleaded guilty, in a case that marks the first time the US government has prosecuted for illegal interstate trade of wood products under the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act is a US wildlife protection law that was amended in 2008 to include plants, making it illegal to trade in illegally sourced wood products.


DNA evidence developed by a consortium of experts led by the University of Adelaide was an important element of the government's case against the timber thieves.


Researchers from the University's Environment Institute developed DNA markers for the Bigleaf maple population. They joined the US Forest Service and timber-tracking specialists Double Helix Tracking Technologies, with help from World Resources Institute, to develop the first DNA profiling reference database for the species. It's the only one of its kind for trees that has been validated for use in court proceedings.


Just like individual humans, each tree has a unique genetic fingerprint, making it possible to match pieces of sawn wood with the stumps of the trees from which they were cut, using a technique called DNA profiling.


"With this technology, wood buyers can verify whether or not Bigleaf maple has been legally harvested," says Professor Andrew Lowe, Chair of Conservation Biology at the University of Adelaide, and Chief Scientific Officer of Double Helix.


"Our database indicates that, with these markers, the likelihood of two trees having the same DNA profile is as low as one in 428 sextillion; there are thought to be approximately 70 sextillion stars in the universe."

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Boston Dynamics' Atlas Robot Tested in the Woods

Sam Radcliffe's insight:

How long before timber cruisers are robotized?

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Fighting Forest Fires Before They Get Big—With Drones

Fighting Forest Fires Before They Get Big—With Drones | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
AT 10 AM on Friday, May 15, wildland fire season kicked off in California. Officials from the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, and a few other agencies gathered at the Kern County Fire Department Headquarters in Bakersfield to, if not celebrate, at least observe the moment. Everyone knew they were looking at a rough year. The ongoing western drought will make sure of that.

Now, a team of researchers believes they may be able to help. The idea is to enable early location and identification of fires using drones, planes, and satellites mounted with special infrared cameras. They’re calling it the Fire Urgency Estimator in Geosynchronous Orbit—or Fuego—and once fully operational the system could spot new wildfires anywhere in the Western US barely three minutes after they start. “All year round is going to be fire season now,” says Carlton Pennypacker, an astrophysicist at UC Berkeley and lead researcher on Fuego. “That makes this more urgent.”
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Weyerhaeuser and DuPont Pioneer Enter Technology License Agreement

Weyerhaeuser and DuPont Pioneer Enter Technology License Agreement | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Weyerhaeuser Company  today announced a technology license agreement with DuPont Pioneer that will advance seed technologies to help meet growing global demands for food, feed and fiber.


The agreement brings together agricultural and forestry know-how to sustainably improve crop productivity for corn growers around the world. Based on scientific research behind years of Weyerhaeuser NR sustainable forestry, the manufactured seed technology allows for the storage, nourishment, planting and germination of cells capable of growing into a plant. This technology provides a means to cost-effectively regenerate valuable, limited or fragile plant material.

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The intelligent drones of the future will cut their teeth scanning forests in Finland

The intelligent drones of the future will cut their teeth scanning forests in Finland | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The future of fully autonomous robots may be built by a company that is laser scanning the boreal forests of Finland with drones. Helsinki-based Sharper Shape is already bringing a new approach to forest surveying, which is vital for Finland’s electricity grid. But its founders also want to be the top vendor of intelligence systems for drones—and not just in Finland. Sharper Shape wants to put a brain in every unmanned aerial vehicle worldwide.

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In current practice, a Sharper Shape laser device is attached to a helicopter that flies over the forest to be surveyedAs the onboard lasers scan the ground and plot trees and other objects in 3D, software interprets the data to categorize each object in real-timeThe system then analyzes the data about the forest to provide the most efficient locations for laying power lines. The software can even distinguish between a healthy tree and one that might fall down—that’s vital, as a dead tree could easily fall on a power lineThe laser will eventually allow Sharper Shape to ditch the helicopters in favor of unmanned vehicles.


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NASA: Landsat senses disturbance in U.S. Pacific Northwest forests

NASA: Landsat senses disturbance in U.S. Pacific Northwest forests | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A new way of studying and visualizing Earth science data from a NASA and U.S. Geological Survey satellite program is resulting in, for the first time, the ability to tease out the small events that can cause big changes in an ecosystem.


Called LandTrendr, this computer program is able to find patterns previously buried within vast amounts of scientific data. Still in development, it’s already led to seeing for the first time in satellite imagery an obscured, slow-moving decline and recovery of trees in Pacific Northwest forests.


Comparing satellite data to ground data, scientists uncovered the cause. “It was, as it turns out, bugs,” says Robert Kennedy, a remote sensing specialist at Boston University, who consulted with U.S. Forest Service experts to confirm his observations.

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Ishola Adebayo's comment, July 31, 2013 9:06 AM
good day Sir, pls need help on fixing scan line errors on lansat7 ETM images from 2003 using for example ArcMap9.3 or ENVI4.5 or.........thank you so much
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Bankrolled and bioengineered, China supplants Wisconsin's paper industry

Bankrolled and bioengineered, China supplants Wisconsin's paper industry | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
In silent temperature-controlled labs in a desolate part of Hainan, China's most tropical province, rows of women in medical masks and lab coats clone trees that grow freakishly fast.
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The test-tube forests have helped undo the longstanding natural advantage of papermaking states such as Wisconsin, where hardwood trees are plentiful but can take up to 10 times as long to reach harvesting height. What's more, boosted by billions in government subsidies, China has been building massive new mills with automated machines that can produce a mile of glossy publishing-grade paper a minute.
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Over the course of the last decade, China tripled its paper production and in 2009 overtook the United States as the world's biggest papermaker. It can now match the annual output of Wisconsin, America's top papermaking state, in the span of three weeks.

Paper makes for an exceedingly unlikely focus. After decimating its natural forest cover decades ago, China lacks a fundamental necessity for printing-quality paper: wood pulp.

So China created the industrial-scale plantations.

And it created the world's biggest and most efficient recycling scheme.
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But that is still not enough - for China's needs or its ambition.

China imports the vast majority of virgin timber and processed pulp from around the world - 14.5 million tons last year alone from places like Russia, Indonesia and Vietnam. China has so disrupted the market that 1.6 million tons came from the United States, where loggers and pulping operators are left searching for new customers when local mills close.
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Forget First to Market

Forget First to Market | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The first-to-market business strategy doesn’t reward advanced biofuels or biobased chemical companies because the race to provide drop-in biofuel or renewable chemicals isn’t about brand loyalty or opening a facility first, it’s about a flawless production process.

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Canada teen discovers tree pulp has anti-aging benefits

Canada teen discovers tree pulp has anti-aging benefits | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A Singapore-born teenager who recently moved to Canada won a national science award Tuesday for her groundbreaking work on the anti-aging properties of tree pulp, officials said.


Janelle Tam, 16, won the $5,000 award in the 2012 Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada for showing that cellulose, the woody material found in trees that enables them to stand, also acts as a potent anti-oxidant.


Tam's work involved tiny particles in the tree pulp known as nano-crystalline cellulose (NCC), which is flexible, durable, and also stronger than steel.


A pulp and paper mill that opened in January in Quebec now serves as the world's first large-scale NCC production plant.


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Eucalyptus developer begins final field trial

Eucalyptus developer begins final field trial | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

FuturaGene, a genetic research and development firm focused on enhancing the eucalyptus tree, has been granted approval to begin a fourth field trial of its genetically modified eucalyptus tree in Brazil.

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Cyberforests help scientists predict the effects of climate change

Cyberforests help scientists predict the effects of climate change | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Considering that it takes hundreds of years for forests to grow, it can be difficult to assess how they'll be affected by climate change in the long term. To address that problem, researchers at Washington State University have created the world's first computer simulation capable of growing realistic forests, using the model to predict how things like frequent wildfires or drought might impact forests across North America.

The new computer simulation allows scientists to grow a virtual forest over the period of a few weeks. Known as LES (after the Russian word for forest), the system simulates the growth of 100 x 100 m (330 x 330 ft) areas of vegetation, that are then scaled up to simulate entire forests. It's more complex than any previous systems, simulating both canopy structures and intricate root systems for each tree. Each leaf competes for sunlight, while beneath the virtual earth, the organisms' roots compete for water resources.

In order to ensure that the model accurately represents real-life forests, the researchers turned to the US Department of Agriculture's Forest Inventory and Analysis program, as well as other forestry databases. They also worked with the US Forest Service to fly drones over and around forests, imaging them to gather further information and develop 3D models, allowing for more accurate vegetation and tree distribution.
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Inventors have high hopes for robotic tree planter

Inventors have high hopes for robotic tree planter | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Nick Birch and Tyler Rhodes hope they are unleashing a bit of forestry’s future in a recently cleared patch of forest in the hills above Maple Ridge: the Tree Rover, a robot capable of planting trees.


The concept is pure R&D at this point — think of it as pre-startup, in the terminology of tech business. The third-year electrical engineering students are pursuing it as part of an entrepreneurial co-op term at the University of Victoria. The exercise is to take an idea and, in four months, create a project that results in a tangible prototype that can be built upon.

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In the current iteration of Tree Rover, the computer-controlled planting mechanism they’ve devised — the heart of the invention — is on top of a bright-orange four-wheeled cart, but they envision a future version on a four-legged vehicle better able to navigate the rugged terrain of a cutblock in a B.C. forest.
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On a recent Tuesday, they brought their prototype to the University of B.C.’s Malcolm Knapp research forest to give a demonstration to the research coordinator, Ionut Aron, and to scout out good spots for a proper test next spring.


For now, the Tree Rover operates mostly by remote control, with some autonomous functions, so Birch toggles keys on his laptop computer to bring it to life and drive it over to a prepared patch of dirt.


A seedling from the Plexiglas hopper on top drops into a hollow spike at the heart of the rover. Then, with a mechanical hiss of compressed air, the machine drives the spike into the ground. Another arm swings down to tamp the plant more firmly in place and it rolls off leaving the bright green shoot behind it.
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“Obviously it’s a prototype,” Aron said. “In it’s current form, it wouldn’t be able to plant trees in cutblock.” However, if the concept can be developed, he said automated systems might be able to improve productivity in tree planting, or have applications in remote locations.

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From axes to iPads: new logging methods replace traditional ways

From axes to iPads: new logging methods replace traditional ways | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The days of the axe and the cross-cut saw are long gone. But if you don't work in the timber industry, you probably wouldn't know that, increasingly, a new breed of bushmen don't even use a chainsaw.

Logging in the native forests on the mid north coast of NSW is done in the air-conditioned comfort of a harvesting machine. It looks like a tracked excavator, with a large mechanical arm that locks on, cuts and even debarks the trees.

Fallers know exactly where they are, thanks to a GPS. There's also an iPad stuck by suction cup to the front window, loaded with an interactive map produced by a radar-like system that uses light instead of a radio wave.

It's called LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging. The light 'pulses' from the aerial pass of a plane produce a map that is so detailed you can see a big picture of the landscape at any scale ... the ridges and rivers, rocky outcrops and swamps. But you can also zoom in to identify individual trees that get marked on the map: an 'H' for a habitat or hollow bearing tree, 'R' for a recruitment tree, 'K' for koala habitat tree or 'E' for eucalypt feed trees, which provide a flowering resource over winter for arboreal mammals. After logging, at least six of these feed trees are kept across every two hectares.

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How do you plant 1 billion trees a year? With drones, of course

How do you plant 1 billion trees a year? With drones, of course | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Instead of doing surveillance or carrying out military missions, the drones from BioCarbon Engineering are taking on a decidedly more progressive task: planting trees and reversing deforestation.


Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have taken off in popularity recently, with hobbyists and professionals alike using these small remotely-guided devices for everything from delivering packages to surveying wildlife populations, but one startup has a very ambitious plan for their drones, and one that could have a huge positive impact on global deforestation.


"We are going to counter industrial scale deforestation using industrial scale reforestation. Destruction of global forests from lumber, mining, agriculture, and urban expansion destroys 26 billion trees each year. We believe that this industrial scale deforestation is best combated using the latest automation technologies." - BioCarbon Engineering


BioCarbon Engineering, based in the UK, has developed a system of planting trees with drones, at just a fraction of the cost (15%) of traditional reforestation methods, and at a speed that manual planting can't match - up to 10s of thousands of trees planted per day - and aims to plant 1 billion trees per year using this technology.


This approach, using an industrial-scale reforestation method, isn't quite ready for prime-time, but its prototype, which won £20k in funding from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship last year, is expected to be built into a fully functioning platform by the end of the year.


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The Next Big Thing You Missed: How We Can Manufacture Forests Like Toyota Makes Cars

The Next Big Thing You Missed: How We Can Manufacture Forests Like Toyota Makes Cars | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

For a young industrial engineer, Shubhendu Sharma couldn’t have landed a gig much sweeter than Toyota. As the originator of “just-in-time production,” Toyota pioneered the lean manufacturing movement that helped make it a dominant global automaker. But when a venerable Japanese forestry expert visited the company’s Bangalore factory to plant some greenery, Sharma was captivated by the idea of engineering a new kind of efficiency.


He wondered if Toyota’s wildly successful strategy for quickly and efficiently making cars could be applied to growing trees. The result is a startup called Afforestt.
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By repurposing the basic model behind Toyota’s car-making process, Sharma believes he has developed a system that can compress the process of reforestation into one-tenth of the time nature would take on its own. “We needed to standardize the process of forest-making,” he explains. “Today, we can make a forest for as low as the cost of an iPhone.”


Akira Miyawaki, the forester who inspired Sharma, is an expert in regenerating native habitats on land wrecked by industrialization. His approach involves densely planting dozens of native species to encourage a full-blown ecosystem to quickly take root. Sharama’s goal with Afforestt, which he founded in 2011, is to adapt Miyawaki’s approach for ready use anywhere in the world. In the unavoidable jargon of the startup world, he wants to create a platform for forest-making.
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Afforestt is a for-profit company that has worked with corporate and government clients on reforestation projects. Its broader goal, Sharma said during a recent talk at the TED ideas conference in Vancouver, is to open-source the approach to create a one-click system. Part of that effort involves creating a database that would give anyone in the world what amounts to a shopping list of native plants they need to seed a new forest. Internet-connected soil probes also could let Afforestt monitor forest growth from afar and help would-be urban foresters anywhere on their progress.

Sam Radcliffe's insight:

If you can "make a forest for the cost of an iPhone" then I guess we have to define what you mean by "forest".

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Savannah Rains's curator insight, May 27, 2015 1:57 AM

This scoop is about the industrialization of nature and essentially turning it into an effective assembly line item like cars or other goods. What this means is a young engineer has come up with an idea to reverse the effects of deforestation and plant trees and grow forests in as little as a year. This would help the environment, lower temperatures, and cause a tremendous uproar around the world, causing life to improve. 

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Waste Wood to Coal-Like Biofuel Technology Commercialised in U.S.

Waste Wood to Coal-Like Biofuel Technology Commercialised in U.S. | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Kingsport, Tennessee based clean energy technology company, EnviraCarbon, is to commercialise its patented and proprietary technology which molecularly alters renewable biomass feedstock, such as wood wastes into EnvirAnized Biofuel (EBF).


According to the company the EBF is a product which looks, stores, transports, pulverizes and burns like coal, while avoiding the pollution associated with burning coal.


EnviraCarbon claimed that its superfast process changes woody biomass into clean carbonized EBF, drastically condensing a process which took nature 100 million years to accomplish into a matter of minutes.

The company added that because its process forces biomass to take on the physical characteristics of coal it can be directly used by coal-burning or biomass fired power plants and industrial facilities without any modification or retrofitting to their existing boiler systems.


The ability to use EBF interchangeably with coal or biomass eliminates the need for coal burning facilities to spend the billions of dollars in capital expenditures necessary for compliance, according to EnviraCarbon.

The developer of the technology added that EBF has the same heat value as bituminous coal from the eastern U.S. (12,000+ BTUs), exhibits a much greater heat value than wood pellets, and unlike wood pellets, is hydrophobic.

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According to the company, its facilities use only waste wood, or certified sustainable biomass as feedstock, making them environmentally friendly, and require a relatively small footprint to produce large quantities of EBF.

With a commercial facility presently under construction, the company said  that the export of EBF is expected to begin first quarter 2014.

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Jeffrey Wikle's comment, July 4, 2013 4:09 PM
Sounds too good to be true. Let's hope it is true.
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TreeMetrics wins €800,000 ESA contract

TreeMetrics wins €800,000 ESA contract | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Irish-based TreeMetrics has today announced an €800,000 contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to lead a European research project in forestry measurement and data analytics.

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The funding will support the global roll-out of the company's web-based satellite mapping application for the forestry industry. The Enterprise Ireland-backed company said it also plans to recruit a further 10 software engineers over the next 12 months to expand its workforce at its Cork facility to 30. It said it is receiving significant interest from multinational timber growers to develop its proprietary system.


The TreeMetrics’ solution replaces traditional callipers and measuring tape with 3D laser scanners that can quickly and accurately measure the shape, size, and straightness of standing trees. The technology uses this information to predict the quantities of log products that each tree can produce, and their potential value.

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Seeing the wood for the trees

Seeing the wood for the trees | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

SUPPOSE you want to buy a table. But you care about orang-utans, indigenous peoples and carbon emissions, so you don’t want it made with illegally harvested logs. Or suppose you run a chain of furniture shops, and you don’t want to go to jail for buying illegal timber. Either way, you face a snag: how to tell if a log is legal?


Enter DoubleHelix Tracking Technologies, a Singapore-based firm that uses DNA testing to pinpoint where a piece of wood is from. “You can’t forge DNA,” says Andrew Lowe, its chief scientist. The firm sells its services to big retailers such as Lowe’s, B&Q and Marks & Spencer.

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DNA tests face two problems. One is the cost: testing $45,000-worth of merbau will set you back $250, says Jonathan Geach, the executive director of DoubleHelix. The second is that accurate global DNA maps exist only for about 20 species of tree, and the tests are no use unless you know what you are looking for.


Neither problem seems insuperable, however. More species can be mapped, and the cost of testing will fall, as surely as a chainsawed tree. That’s bad news for the $30 billion-a-year illegal logging industry, but good for forests.

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Zack Parisa's Forest Inventory Software

Zack Parisa's Forest Inventory Software | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The Yale grad and co-founder of startup SilviaTerra has developed a new method for taking forest inventories...

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Parisa feeds satellite data from clients’ land into his program, which spits out GPS coordinates for the plots that best represent the forest. He then collects on-the-ground data for those few, choice areas. By comparing the satellite and ground data, Parisa calibrates his program to inventory the entire forest.

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Rayonier moves further toward the cloud

Rayonier moves further toward the cloud | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Rayonier, a leading forest products company with a focus on forest resources, highly-purified cellulose fiber materials, and timberland, is implementing a strategic program to move IT applications and MDM to the cloud. This includes enabling a more flexible, app-centric mobile paradigm for its employees.


As part of this process, Rayonier is migrating away from its BlackBerry Enterprise Server to a combination of supported mobile devices and a cloud-based MDM solution. Before selecting an MDM solution, Rayonier evaluated three MDM solutions ultimately selecting Zencloud(TM) from Zenprise.

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