Category: Blog

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World Forest Institute Fellows Enjoy MC Ranch Field Camp and speak at Eastern Oregon University

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Before climbing off her horse, Shreejita Basu, WFI fellow from India, flashed a big grin and unwound one of those crowd pleasing elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist-wrist waves worthy of any Rodeo Princess in America. After several long, hot days of travel, site visits, and tours, Shreejita and seven colleagues in the WFI international fellowship program stood with the horses at the corral and laughed and reminisced with local hosts Rex and Catherine Christensen of the MC Ranch.

“We learned so much! Thank you Rex and Cathy!” they cheered, followed by hugs all around.

For the past 12 years, the award winning MC Ranch, located in Oregon’s Blue Mountains southwest of LaGrande. The ranch hosted an intensive multi-day field forestry practicum for the WFI fellows to learn about Eastside forestry issues and options for private landowners to actively manage dry forest landscapes to meet diverse economic, social, and environmental objectives. The original MC Ranch forestry project and the field camp for WFI fellows was started by Harry Merlo, retired CEO of Louisiana Pacific. Merlo passed away in 2016.

More than two dozen local land owners, managers, loggers, mill operators, biologists, fire fighters and guests met with the WFI fellows June 19-23 to cover a wide range of topics such as buying and selling timber in Eastern Oregon, reforestation, forest practice laws, stream restoration and habitat enhancement, climate change, insects and disease, forest fuels reduction, firefighting, cattle ranching, hunting, fishing, tourism, and opportunities for biomass.

Fellows also toured the Integrated Biomass Campus and Enterprise High School biomass boiler in Wallowa County. “It is amazing how this all works” observed Oscar Hernandez, WFI fellow from Guatemala. “It is really all about the community and the local people. You can’t do this level work without good people all along the forest value chain.”

Midweek, the fellows traveled to Eastern Oregon University to deliver a “Forests Around the World” seminar for the community and attend a reception hosted by EOU President Tom Insko. The fellows also inspected forestry projects on the Umatilla National Forest and met with multi-generational small woodland owners near Mount Emily. Evenings were spent on the banks of the Grande Ronde River swapping stories about the day, travel, and forestry projects around the globe.

WFI fellow from Scotland, Hebe Caras, observed “Seeing forestry as a working landscape on the dry side of Oregon was fascinating, and with many different challenges from western Oregon. I saw the huge challenges of balancing the need for fuel load reduction, tree regeneration / planting, maintaining elk populations as hunting quarry, all within the context of attempting to deliver ecological integrity across a landscape. I had some great discussions about how we did things in Scotland, where we have equally complex but different issues to overcome. I really valued the honest exchange of viewpoints and ideas; that was the best part of the trip, plus of course getting to ride a horse Western style.”

MC Ranch Manager Rex Christensen and his team – Cathy, Kyle, Heather and Blair — were thoughtful and generous hosts. “Their love of the land, record of stewardship at the ranch, and passion to share Harry’s vision and legacy of leadership with guests from all over the world is appreciated beyond words,” said Sara Wu, Acting Director of the World Forestry Center. “The MC Ranch trip is central to the success of the WFI fellowship. We are grateful to Flo Newton Merlo and the Merlo Foundation for supporting this high impact learning experience.”

Many thanks to WFC board member Nils Christoffersen and his crew at Wallowa Resources, Tom Insko and his staff at EOU, Jamie Knight of the Oregon Department of Forestry, and the many local experts who volunteered their time and expertise make the 2017 MC Ranch forestry field camp one of the best ever.

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Press Release – World Forestry Center to Host Half-Day Event Focused on Global Forestry Initiatives

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Read the press release announcing the half-day event to be held at the World Forestry Center on July 19, 2017, When Small is Big: Forest Initiatives Around the Globe – A conference exploring issues of climate, conservation, and forest management in a global context.

Press release linked here.

June 13, 2017
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    
World Forestry Center
Media Contact: Chandalin Bennett, 503-488-2137

World Forestry Center to Host Half-Day Event Focused on Global Forestry Initiatives

Portland, Ore.- On July 19 from 8:30 am – 1 pm the World Forestry Center will host a special event showcasing global forestry initiatives featuring the eight 2017 World Forest Institute International Research Fellows. This half-day event will focus on issues of climate, conservation, and forest management, showcasing unique solutions and challenging projects that are being implemented around the world.

The 2017 International Research Fellows span three continents, representing their home countries of Malaysia, Slovakia, India, Guatemala, Japan, Nepal, Scotland, and Taiwan. They were selectively chosen to participate in the six-month World Forest Institute International Fellowship Program at the World Forestry Center.

Keynote speaker Dr. John Bliss (Emeritus Professor, Oregon State University) and invited moderator Rainier Hummel (Forest Practices District Manager, Washington Dept. of Natural Resources) will draw these international stories together in a meaningful way for us here in the Pacific Northwest.

Sponsored by Oregon-based forest products company Vanport International, Inc and Vanport Manufacturing, Inc, this event will deepen your understanding of natural resource issues around the world and inspire and impact the work being done closer to home.

Tickets: $20, includes lunch
Register at www.worldforestry.org/seminar2017 by July 15

 Founded in 1966, the World Forestry Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and connecting people to the importance of forests, and to create and inspire champions of sustainable forestry. Based in Portland, Oregon, World Forestry Center provides critical programs in convening and professional development of global leaders and practitioners in forestry and related fields. Through its World Forest Institute Fellowship Program, the World Forestry Center has hosted public and private forest professionals from over 30 countries to advance research, networking, and knowledge exchange. For more information, visit www.worldforestry.org. The World Forestry Center is five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 in Portland’s beautiful Washington Park. Visitors are encouraged to ride MAX or take TriMet bus #63.

When Small is Big: Forest Initiatives Around the Globe
July 19, 2017
8:30 am – 1 pm
Registration includes lunch
World Forestry Center
Cheatham Hall
4033 SW Canyon Road
Portland, OR 97221
503-488-2137

 

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Greetings from the Interim Executive Director

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I was once asked, “What’s a nice Asian gal like you doing in forestry?” In fact, I am the daughter of a plywood mill manager. For 20 years my father ran a small mill, first in Singapore and then in Malaysia. My father never wanted his children to be a part of his business. After seven banks turned him down for a loan, he sat my twin sister and me down at the ripe age of 10 and said: “Promise me that you will never run your own business.” Taking on the interim directorship of the World Forestry Center is as close as I have ever been to breaking that pinky promise.

I never worked in my father’s plywood mill. Instead of forestry school, I double majored in economics and religion, and later earned a Master’s in Public Administration. Nevertheless, I understood it was my father’s hard-earned livelihood in forestry that put me and my siblings through college and allowed my family to purchase our first house. When I arrived in the US for college and breathed fresh, clean air for the first time, I began to understand that forests not only provide jobs and homes, but also clean air and water, wildlife habitat, scenic landscapes, recreation opportunities, public health benefits, and vital climate mitigation.

It was my affiliation with the World Forestry Center—first as an intern 24 years ago, then as a program manager, and eventually director of the International Fellowship Program—that opened my eyes to the diverse benefits of forests. I learned that the people who work in forestry all share a passion and respect for the land they are managing, whether it’s on family-owned woodlands, large industrial timberlands, public and private lands, or in urban and rural communities. The forestry community’s willingness to share their time and expertise, sometimes over a sack lunch in the field, rain or shine, never ceases to amaze me. Thank you.

So, what is a nice Asian gal like me doing in forestry? I am humbled and inspired by what my friends and colleagues in forestry do every day. It has been a great honor to work with them, to know that our efforts will make a difference close to home or even half way around the world. Our mission, “To create and inspire champions of sustainable forestry” recognizes that our success in the future rests on engaging and working with people here and abroad. Our International Fellowship Program, which has been bringing leaders in forestry to Portland from over 40 countries, is based on a simple belief: We invest in people so they can sustain the world’s forests.

I hope that you will partner with us and encourage others to join this important work. I sincerely thank all of our members, donors, partners, and friends for your support.

Sara Wu
Interim Executive Director

WINGS ~ WHEELS ~ WHISKEY Gala Photos

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WINGS ~ WHEELS ~ WHISKEY Gala, held on April 8, 2017, honoring the 210 distinguished Inductees of the Forestry Leadership Hall was a smashing success. Thank you to our supporters, sponsors and guests for making the Gala a magical celebration. A very special thanks to Honorary Chair Flo Newton Merlo for hosting the Gala in the Global Aviation Hangar and to our Presenting Sponsor The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation and Arlene Schnitzer and Jordan Schnitzer.

 

Photos by Wasim Muklashy | wasimofnazareth.com

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2016 WFI Spanish Fellow publishes article on Oregon forestry

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Each year the World Forest Institute Fellowship Program hosts natural resource professionals as they spend six months in Oregon learning about forestry practices in the northwest.  The program showcases Oregon’s international acclaim as a leader in sustainable forestry, with Fellows visiting forests on private and public lands, wood manufacturers, industrial timberland growers, research agencies and academia.  Our first Spanish Fellow to WFI, Ms. Ana de Miguel Muñoz, just published a new article on lessons learned from her time in Oregon last year. Link here for her excerpt from the Forestry & Energy Review magazine, Vol. 7, Iss. 1, Spring/Summer 2017.

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Who Will Own the Forest? 13 – Registration Opens

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The Who Will Own the Forest? conferences offer a wide range of perspectives on institutional timberland investing, both domestically and overseas.  We invite you to join our discussions as we address this maturing and evolving asset class, and examine the issues that will impact the demand for commercial timber, diversify values from forestland, and maximize returns to investors.  http://www.wwotf.org/agenda/

Why It’s Important to Understand the Connections between Forests, Climate Change, and Health

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Since our founding in 1966, the World Forestry Center (WFC) has connected people to the importance of forests and sustainable forestry. However, in recent years we realized that there is more to the sustainable forestry conversation that needs to be shared: Research has revealed a connection between improved mental health and well-being to nature contact, and climate change is altering our forests, resulting in their diminished capacity to provide clean water, wildlife habitat, and recreation amenities.

“The WFC is particularly interested in human health and climate change because of the intersection of forests, human health, and climate,” said Eric Vines, director of the WFC. “It’s not just because humans are highly dependent upon forests for water use, air filtration, soil stabilization, and a range of products (wood for housing, furniture, musical instruments, paper), we’re also intensely focused on the impacts that climate change has on the ability of forests to thrive in the future. To the degree that forests lack resilience in a changing climate, our health will suffer.”

To share this climate change and human health conversation with the public, the WFC is hosting discussions that feature experts in these fields to share insights and offer solutions for moving forward. Our latest event was on March 2, when we hosted a Climate and Health Conversation to discuss how the research presented at the National Climate and Health Meeting in Atlanta could be applied to the Northwest. (The recording of the Climate and Health meeting is available at https://www.climaterealityproject.org/health.)

Our speakers were Kristi Ebi, director of the University of Washington’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, and Emily York, program lead for Oregon Health Authority’s Climate & Health Program, who both attended the Climate and Health meeting in Atlanta.

Ebi summed the issue very succinctly: “Climate change is here and it’s affecting our health.” One of the numerous examples she shared was the November 2016 thunderstorm asthma outbreak that happened in Melbourne, Australia, which overwhelmed the city’s hospital system and resulted in nine deaths. Although there is a question as to whether a changing climate was responsible this specific thunderstorm event, “we know we’re putting more energy into the climate system, and that’s being expressed in more extreme events,” she said.

For York, she came away from the Climate and Health Meeting impressed that the attendees, which included representatives of foundations, leading researchers, academics, and students, were “ready to step up in a bigger way regardless of where our federal administration goes in terms of support for this [climate change and public health] work,” she said. “It was reassuring to be there with national leaders, hearing that this work is not going away and it’s growing.”

The WFC considers itself part of this growing movement, and we see our role as hosting these type of discussions because we are in a position to bring the public and representatives from a diverse range of disciplines and organizations into the same room for cross-sector conversations.

When considering the climate change and human health issue, it’s easy to become overwhelmed at what steps individuals or organizations can do locally when this is a global challenge. Michael Heumann suggested that the place to start is local, which York seconded. “Start where we are, wherever in the workplace or the neighborhood you live in,” she advised. “We can only do so much on our own, but if we continue to build partnerships and continue to explore working with people who maybe traditionally we haven’t thought of working with, this is one step to build the resilience of the community we live within. Those networks and conversations, like the one we’re having today, are really going to serve as a proactive factor for when opportunities do arise we know who to call.”

That’s how we see the role of the WFC. We cannot solve the challenges of climate change on our own, but we can leverage the work of our partners to further this conversation. We invite you to join us at future conversations, which will be posted at https://www.worldforestry.org/events/.

Magness Memorial Tree Farm gets Sappy

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The World Forestry Center’s resident tree farm manager, Liam Hassett, was out in late February checking the latest sap flows from the farm’s native maples. He is conducting preliminary tests to explore the idea of incorporating a nontimber product such as maple sap into the farm’s forest management plan.

Acer macrophyllum, or the bigleaf maple, is a maple native to the Pacific Northwest and one of the largest of the maple species. It is not popularly known, but bigleaf maple is one of the tree species containing sap that can be turned into a number of food-based consumer products, including syrup! Bigleaf maple has a comparable sugar content to its eastern cousin, the sugar maple (where most of our maple syrup comes from), but the bigleaf maple is considered by some to have a more robust flavor.

On a small working tree farm such as WFC’s Magness Memorial Tree Farm which is just 80 acres, revenue from timber extraction alone is limited. To build additional revenue streams, WFC is looking at ways to develop a full systems approach to sustainable forest management. Using a nontimber forest product, especially in under-utilized areas such as riparian zones, is one way to do this. “We’ve seen demand for sap just within our local community and syrup is just one commodity from this product. This year is a “hobby year” to determine where the sap flows are and in future years we hope to develop a piping system to move this project forward,” says Liam.

Maple and walnut sap flows on Magness Tree Farm appear to have slowed down in the last month, but Liam is excited to welcome the window for birch sap flows that will soon follow. The World Forestry Center hopes this venture can also be another avenue for education about small tree farm management in the region.

International Fellow Spotlight: Adam Wasiak from Poland

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Each month, you can learn about one of the World Forestry Center’s visiting International Fellows who has been selected for a six-month assignment to collaborate with forestry practitioners here in the Pacific Northwest. The Fellows are passionate, engaged in their local communities, and committed to driving change in forest management practices around the globe.

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Adam Wasiak

Where are you from?

I am from Poland, a country in Eastern Europe and one of the 28 European Union member countries. Our population is 40 million in a geographic area only slightly bigger than Oregon! Warsaw, the capitol, has two million people. There are 10 towns in Poland with 500,000 to 1 million people.

What do you do in Poland?

I’m the Senior Advisor to the Directorate General of State Forests, an organization that is very similar to the Oregon Department of Forestry. I focus on state-level planning and operations of forests and how to manage our public forests to achieve positive economic, social, and environmental outcomes.

What attracted you to the World Forest Institute Fellowship Program?

I applied to the program to learn about forestry in public forests in the United States. Forests in Poland are all publicly owned, so I was seeking a fellowship in a place with similar ownership structure. In the eastern part of the US, it’s mostly private forest ownership. In Oregon, forestland is 60% public ownership. Plus, the Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful forests in the world. It is famous because of its Douglas-fir and rate of growth. It’s actually quite rare to find a forestry fellowship program led by an NGO.

What was on your professional and personal wish list of things to accomplish while working at the World Forestry Center?

Most importantly, I came to learn about sustainable forest management in public forests, so I spent much of my time on understanding forest management planning. I was especially interested in the connection between forestry and the wood products industry. Similar to Oregon, wood products are very important to Poland’s economy. The changes the industry has experienced are also similar, such as the new products made of engineered wood like laminated veneer lumber and cross-laminated timber. Overall, the wood products industry in the Pacific Northwest is much more efficient and modern, and sawmills are more automated with modern technology that requires few people to operate them.

You’ve been here in Portland for six months. What are some of the highlights for you?

The trips to the forest were the most exciting for me. It’s been a great opportunity to see all of the forest zones and diverse types of forests in Oregon and neighboring states from ponderosa pine on the eastside to Douglas-fir in the western part of Oregon and redwoods in Redwood National Park. The redwoods is the place every forester has to go in his or her lifetime. No pictures can fully explain the magnificence of these trees. You really have to see them in person to fully appreciate them. I also had the opportunity to see forests never touched by people, which is very rare to find in Europe. All forests in Europe are managed by people, so it was a good opportunity to see how nature manages the forest. In Europe, zero forest fires are allowed. We do everything possible to avoid forest fires, but here in the United States, it’s more part of nature. We have a much bigger danger from forest fires due to our population density.

What’s one of your observations about Oregon or Portland?

People are so open to others here and connected to each other. This is very different from Europe. Even in the workplace, people here are working in a more horizontal management system. In Poland especially, there is much more hierarchy. This influences many things from the atmosphere to levels of efficiency. I think the horizontal management system is partly why the US works well with other countries. You can share information with others and receive feedback about what you are doing. It’s much easier to connect the top with the rank and file. I’m very impressed by the professional environment in Portland and enjoy it very much here.

What are you going to miss the most about your experience here?

The opportunity to simply learn what I need to learn and want to learn. This has been the best time in my whole career–to be able to learn what is most interesting to me. It will be very difficult to repeat this beautiful story.

What else can you tell us about yourself?

I’m a 4th generation forester. My great-grandfather was a forester. My family has over 100 years working with Polish forests. Forestry is a difficult line of work. In the family, you grow up with exposure to these problems. So it’s common for foresters in Poland to be multi-generational. Of course, I have it much easier than my great-grandfather did because we have cell phones now!

 

You can contact Adam directly at .

Be sure to watch Adam’s “Lightning Talk” comparing forest management practices between Poland and Oregon on the World Forestry Center’s YouTube channel.

Exploring the Connections of Forests, Water, and Health at the World Forestry Center

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Panelists Bobby Cochran, Todd Gartner, and Howard Frumkin

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What is the surprising connection between forests, water and human health? That’s the question we posed to our audience and a panel of experts.

In December, nearly 90 professionals from the healthcare, natural resources, nonprofit, and water management sectors attended the World Forestry Center and Carpe Diem West’s Forests – Water – Health luncheon to learn about the connections of forests, water, and health.

“There are so many different places where forests intersect—with human health, water security, access to energy, reducing inequality—it makes the World Forestry Center an interesting place to be, hosting these types of gatherings,” said Eric Vines, executive director of the World Forestry Center, in his welcoming remarks.

Emily Roth, a natural resource planner with Portland Parks and Recreation, attended the event to learn not just about the connections of forests, water, and health—“People always talk about water and streams, but not so much about forests”—but also climate change and urban forest health.

Guest speakers emphasized the role that nature plays in promoting health and the need for integrating systems to enable everyone to access green spaces, as well as sharing the nature message outside of the natural resources and healthcare community.

Todd Gartner, senior associate at the World Resources Institute, advised that “we need to move beyond the qualitative arguments of how important these connections are and be able to quantify and monitor what the successes are.”

Howard Frumkin, a professor at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, emphasized working across silos and pursuing relationships with multiple sectors, even unusual groups, such as law enforcement and K-12 educators, who usually aren’t included in these type of discussions.“If we had a medication that helps as much as nature contact at as low of cost, and with as few side effects, we would not be sitting here, we would be buying stock. We have this incredible tool in nature contact,” Frumkin remarked.

For Bobby Cochran, executive director of the Willamette Partnership, seeing all the work undertaken in the Pacific Northwest, “to me, my hope is we can make Oregon and Washington a national center looking at [these connections],” he said. “We already have the leadership.”

During the group report out, attendees called for the need to reach out to communities of color, and as Gartner later pointed out, “We need to practice what we preach about cross-sector collaboration.”

The luncheon concluded with participants describing projects they’re working on and soliciting help for obstacles they are facing. One member in the urban forestry sector asked for advice on how to connect with the business community to support urban forestry, while another asked how to reach under-served communities and communicate the value of trees.

For many attendees, the luncheon served as a launching point for discussing the connections between forests, water, and health.

“I’ve been managing forests and forestlands, millions of acres, for decades and decades and frankly, today was the first time I heard much, if anything about the public health benefits of forestry and the scientific evidence that was talked about here today,” forester John Wilkinson commented.

Following the luncheon, Vines said, “It’s very heartening that people are so enthusiastic to have these cross-sector conversations. I think we need more of it.”

“I had really high expectations [coming to this event],” Cochran shared. “Looking at philanthropy, healthcare, forestry—that’s what we need to move this conversation forward…and the role of the World Forestry Center is important in conveying this.”

Luncheon sponsors were the Irwin Foundation, with support also provided by the Kelley Family Foundation, Oregon Zoo, PacificSource Medicare, Portland Parks & Recreation, Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, and World Forestry Center Board Member John Wilkinson.