Category: Blog

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.

 

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International Fellow Spotlight: Andrea Cornejo from Nicaragua

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Each month, you can learn about one of the WFC’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.

Where are you from?

I was born in Chinandega, a city of Nicaragua that is considered the hottest city in our country. Nicaragua is half the size of Oregon with double its population. We are called the land of lakes and volcanos as we have two big beautiful lakes and 28 volcanos, seven of which are active.

What attracted you to the World Forest Institute Fellowship Program?

The fellowship program seemed to be the right fit for me at the moment. I had just recently finished a master degree on Environmental Management at the University of Queensland, Australia, and I wanted to have the opportunity to focus on a research project concerned with small forest landowners and their organizations. So it was really what I was looking for. I found out that Oregon had some resources that I could use and hopefully take lessons from. At first I couldn’t believe this opportunity appeared so my decision to apply was a no-brainer.

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

I wanted to get a closer look and understanding at how the organizations of forest landowners (those who do not have industrial operations) work, especially at the grass-roots level, and see the benefits for members and how these organizations get the necessary funding to accomplish their mission.

I also wanted to gather enough information to present an article about this issue to a peer-reviewed journal, and I am still working on that.

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

Portland has some beautiful places to go in very short distances such as Mount Hood and Trillium Lake. Public transport is also good and I like the fact you can find many options for international food. Another highlight for me has been Powell’s books. I like that people stay late to look for books and read, making more equal the need of reading than another kind of entertainment.

On the other hand, it has been quite shocking for me, even when I have seen poverty before, the situation of the homeless people in the city of Portland. It’s very sad and you feel quite impotent because you can’t help much. I hope the city and the citizens of Portland find a long-term solution for this situation and be able to prevent more people getting into homelessness.

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

People in general are very down-to-earth, kind and helpful. Oregon’s forests are just beautiful. One of the most wonderful memories I take with me is Crater Lake. I have seen stunning places before and Crater Lake has earned its own place among those.

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

I will miss the Fellows, the people at the World Forestry Center, my evenings reading at the Director’s Park in downtown, and the pizza near my place!

How has your Fellowship experience changed you?

The fellowship has increased my confidence in my work and in my abilities to connect with people on a professional intercultural context.

It has changed my view about some things in forestry and I realized that we really have to be objective and take into account all stakeholders before making a decision or defending a position. We should strive to get a fair view of things and get rid of prejudices and misconceptions in forestry, as in life in general.

If there is one thing you could bring with you from Portland or Oregon when you return to your country, what would it be?

I would take back the hope to many of the landowners that it is possible to practice forestry that is both environmentally and economically sustainable.  Many people in Nicaragua just don’t see that and need training in how to achieve that balance.

I also would like to take with me the trend of integrating more wood in construction projects.

What else can you tell us about yourself?

I love reading, singing, and cats. Actually one of my absolutely favorite authors is Edgar Allan Poe. I am a fan since I am 12 years old. Due to schedule constraints I could not accomplish a personal goal of visiting Yellowstone while I was in the US, so I think you will have me back someday.

Gifford Pinchot Inducted into Leadership Hall at World Forestry Center

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By Andrea Watts, associate editor of The Forestry Sourcegifford-pinchot-pic-docx

In the World Forestry Center Leadership Hall, there is a notable forester whose name is not among the 200 handcrafted black walnut chests that bear the names of individuals who have “made significant contributions in advancing forestry and forest products worldwide.” After nearly fifty years since the establishment of the Leadership Hall, this oversight was remedied at the 2016 SAF Convention. In conjunction with SAF and Pinchot Institute for Conservation, the World Forestry Center raised the funds to induct Gifford Pinchot into its Leadership Hall; these funds will be used to support the Center’s educational efforts.

Eric Vines, executive director of the World Forestry Center, explained the reason for Pinchot’s inclusion. “Pinchot’s words and his works are as relevant to today’s challenges in sustainable management of forests as they were to the challenges faced in his time. Through the institutes that Pinchot and his family established and endowed directly and those that came later, but have equal claim to his conservationist mantle, Pinchot’s scientific and philosophic achievements still guide natural resource management today.”

Will Price, president of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, accepted the award on behalf of the Pinchot family. “I’m not sure what to make being the person to accept an award honoring Gifford Pinchot,” he said. “It really is all of us celebrating his legacy—everyone in SAF involved in the many facets of conservation and forestry.”

During his acceptance speech, Price described Pinchot’s accomplishments which went beyond being a forester—“he is considered the father of rural electric cooperatives, kept navigable waterways in the public domain and preserved forests that are irreplaceable, all the while he urged and advanced the sustainable management of the nation’s timber supply for the greatest good in the long run.”

Price concluded his address by remarking, “Pinchot never shied away from controversy and instead he pushed the envelope. He believed that quote ‘Unless you are taking flack, you’re not over the target.’”

Pinchot Vines.jpg – At the 2016 Society of American Foresters Convention, Eric Vines, executive director of the World Forestry Center, announced the induction of Gifford Pinchot into the World Forestry Center’s Leadership Hall. Will Price, president of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, accepted the award on behalf of the Pinchot family.
(Photo credit Josh Zytkiewicz, www.focalflame.com)

Bill Hagenstein’s Legacy: Telling the Public about Forestry

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By Steve Wilent

Bill Hagenstein, who died in 2014, left generous bequests to the World Forestry Center and SAF that have funded a series of public Hagenstein Lectures.

Bill Hagenstein, who died in 2014, left generous bequests to the World Forestry Center and SAF that have funded a series of public Hagenstein Lectures.

No Society of American Foresters member has ever been as passionate about forestry as Bill Hagenstein, as anyone who knew him will tell you. Hagenstein, who died at age 99 in 2014, served as executive vice president of the Industrial Forestry Association for 35 years and as SAF president from 1966 to 1969, and in 1966 he helped establish the World Forestry Center (WFC) in Portland, Oregon. He described his remarkable life in Corks & Suspenders: Memoir of an Early Forester (See The Forestry Source, June 2010). Before he died, Hagenstein earmarked generous bequests to SAF and the WFC and directed that they be used to educate the public about forests and forestry. “I want to have lectures to the public by foresters,” he wrote, blunt and to the point, just as he was in life.

In October, SAF and the WFC fulfilled Hagenstein’s wishes by inaugurating the Hagenstein Lectures, a series of public talks designed “to create a robust and ongoing local-global conversation about real opportunities to advance sustainable forestry in the 21st century. The Hagenstein Lectures are intended to be a catalyst for action.” The October 9 event, entitled “Emerging Voices in Forestry,” featured five leaders in the field of forestry under the age of 45 (see hagensteinlectures.org); about 150 people turned out on a rainy Sunday to hear them. A Hagenstein Lecture focusing on forest policy is in the works for 2017 in Washington, DC, and will be led by SAF.

WFC executive director Eric Vines, wearing Bill Hagenstein’s hard hat, introduced the speakers as accomplished foresters who are “working hard on contemporary issues in forestry, people who are balancing the demand for wood products and ecological services. These are tough choices, tough things to balance. In our complex society today, there are many constituencies that each have a view of what they want to happen with our forests. Forestry is grounded in science. The ability to practice forestry is affected by sociology and politics and anthropology and all of the cultural issues that make us an interesting society. We ignore those influences at our peril as we try to manage forests.

“We want to bring to light the tough, complicated issues and choices that we face in managing our forests—those remarkable assets that we all depend on,” Vines added. “We really need the public to understand how sustainably managed forests affect everything—and forests do connect to everything. Social justice, water security, human health, housing—you name it, you can draw a connection to forests.”

It’s about People

Aaron Everett, Washington state forester and policy director at the state Department of Natural Resources Office of the Commissioner of Public Lands, was the first featured speaker.

“At the Washington Department of Natural Resources, we’re about a 1,500-employee organization managing extensive forest and agricultural land, aquatic tidelands and bedlands, fighting wildfires, conserving natural landscapes, assessing geological hazards, conserving rare species, and regulating timber harvests. But that’s not really what we do,” Everett said. “We help children have a place to go to school, help people have clean drinking water. We help protect people’s way of life. We protect them from wildfires; we protect them from landslides, tsunamis, and earthquakes. We help people’s communities improve by caring for their trees and forests. We help Native peoples have healthy salmon runs to carry on their thousands of years of culture. We help people find joy in being outdoors. We help people have a home, a roof over their heads, a place to raise their families. That’s my job. Those are some of the things that inspired me to [become a forester].”

Forestry, he added, is not about commodities, regulations, recreation, or revenue: “We need to be skillful at those things, to be certain, but that’s not what our work is about. It’s about people. It’s about connecting with the natural world in a way that cares for their needs and for the environment.”

Land Management Decisions

Following Everett’s talk, three speakers took part in a panel discussion: Sue Baker, a research fellow at the School of Plant Science at the University of Tasmania, Australia; Eric Farm, coastal operations and marketing manager at Barnes and Associates Inc., a forest-management consultancy based in Roseburg, Oregon; and Abraham Wheeler, a lead forester with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) who is charged with helping to manage 2.4 million acres of Oregon and California Railroad Revested Lands in western Oregon. The discussion was moderated by Travis Joseph, president of the American Forest Resource Council, a regional trade association representing forest-products companies. What follows is an edited excerpt of the conversation.

Joseph asked Wheeler about involving the public in public land‒management decisions.

Wheeler: A big part of my job up to this point has been involving the public. First, we all have to understand the legal authorities we work under and what are the sideboards. Not everybody comes to the table knowing that, but this is the information age, and people have more information at the touch of a finger than they’ve ever had in the history of humanity. So you can become an expert on something within hours…. That being said, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, too. Look up BLM forest management, and you’ll get just as much good information as bad. When I’m involving the public in [forest-management] projects, the beginning is to establish a common understanding of the legal authority and the scientific basis for what we do. But then you’ve got to hear people. They came to that meeting room to be heard. They have something that they want to say, something that they care about deeply. You have to hear them—not just hear them shine them on, but hear them make an effort to incorporate their ideas into what you do, if possible. It’s not always possible, because at some point as decision-makers we need to take all this input and decide on the path forward. That’s the challenge—folks say, ‘Well, that’s not exactly what I wanted.’ But it might be a combination of what everyone we talked to wanted to see.

Joseph: When you’ve gone through a public process—you’ve listen to people, you’ve responded to their concerns to the best of your ability and made the best decision that you think is right for the land—there are still times when the BLM gets protests and objections. How does the agency and how do you personally deal with attacks that can sometimes be very personal?

Wheeler: There’s an administrative process for protests, appeals, and litigation, and that’s how the American system is meant to work. If the government has done something wrong, if we haven’t followed the laws and haven’t used the best science, and if we don’t have a logical path that makes sense to a reasonable person, then we need to know about that. I think the system is good. Sometimes it may not be a misunderstanding—it may be that they just don’t like that kind of project, and they’re going to use whatever reasons they can come up with to stop it. How does that affect me on a personal level? If I’ve worked in full faith to bring everybody to the table and incorporate their ideas into these projects to the greatest extent possible, and then I see [an article about a protest or litigation of the project], it hurts me personally. It’s been difficult to deal with on a professional level. I’ve seen it churn through people, and it can affect morale. That being said, we can’t let that affect us personally—we have to separate ourselves from that and know that we’ve done the best that we can. This will be an ongoing challenge.

Farm: It’s going to be incumbent on our generation to be more pragmatic in how we’re going to solve these problems. We’ve got to find a balance between economics, the environment, and community, and if any one of those is out of balance, the plan is just not going to work…. There will never be zero impact on any one of those. If there is zero impact on the environment, then there will be a big impact on the community. It may have a great economic impact, but there may be [negative] environmental and social impacts. We need to look at these things in a more balanced way. Yes, there are going to be impacts, so how do we balance them?

Joseph: Are you seeing movement away from controversy to solutions-oriented processes? Yes, we’re all creatures of our past and our history, and there have been major social and political controversy in the past—not just here in Oregon, but all over the world in terms of natural-resource management. Do you think that our generation has the ability and the temperament to move beyond that historical baggage?

Baker: I think science can be part of the solution—what’s more objective than science? If there’s a debate about something, often we don’t know what the answer is. The forest industry can engage with the universities and independent scientists to help find solutions. To me the most inspiring example of that was on Vancouver Island in the 1980s, where something like 600 protesters against clear-cutting were arrested in one year. McMillan Bloedel, which managed one of the biggest areas of industrial timberland there, engaged the scientific panel. They had the environmentalists nominate some of the scientists, the government nominate some of the scientists, and the lumber company nominated some scientists, and then they sat back and let the scientists work together to come up with a solution. McMillan Bloedel promised to phase out clear-cutting and to use variable retention harvesting. The company was bought out by Weyerhaeuser, which continues to do 100 percent variable retention, and they were bought out by Western Forest Products, and they’re still doing variable retention harvesting today. And to my knowledge, there haven’t been any protests about logging on Vancouver Island. It was scientists working together with communities, environmentalists, and the lumber companies that found a solution that’s been able to stand the test of time. That’s been incredibly inspiring to me, and it’s what we’re trying to do in Tasmania.

Forestry for Communities

The final featured speaker of the day was Mike Dockry, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a research forester and social scientist with the US Forest Service Northern Research Station in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dockry described forestry as practiced by the Menominee Tribe in Wisconsin since its members were confined to their current 235,000-acre reservation. The tribe practices sustained yield management, following the wisdom of legendary Chief Oshkosh, who said, “Start with the rising sun, and work toward the setting sun, but take only the mature trees, the sick trees, and the trees that have fallen. When you reach the end of the reservation, turn and cut from the setting sun to the rising sun and the trees will last forever.” Dockry noted that the tribe has harvested more than 2.25 billion board feet of timber over the past 160 years, but has more standing volume today than when timber harvesting began in 1854. The Menominee, said Dockry, serve as a model for sustainable forest management.

Forestry in the United States has changed over time, he said.

“In the beginning of our profession, and even 30 years ago, foresters knew the science, we knew the answers. We could go into a forest and see what kind of trees were there, we could understand the history of that landscape, we could think about the ecology and how to move it forward, and we sort of knew what we wanted to do. But nowadays we’re shifting our perspective, as you’ve heard here today. We are starting to see ourselves as servants. We have many tools to do all sort of things in the forest, but we need to work with people to understand what they want and value, and then use our tools to get those values.

“I think forestry can be a game-changer in the 21st century. I think forestry can help us solve not only our ecological, but also our social and economic problems. A forestry that is a people-centered forestry—with people at the center of what we’re doing—that is a vision I have for forestry in the 21st century. What are some of the problems that forestry can help solve? We have problems with the economy. As we’ve heard today, we have rural communities that don’t have a lot of job opportunities. We have sawmills that are closing. We have massive inequality in our society. We have incomes that don’t help people live productive lives. We’ve got manufacturing issues—we hear that on the campaign trail now. We’ve lost some of our manufacturing capacity.”

Dockry said a variety of social problems also must be addressed.

“There is a social isolation that’s happening in our country. People are isolated from one another, communities are isolated from other communities, groups are isolated from each other,” he said. “There is a lack of respect and understanding among people, a lack of respect and understanding of differences. There is inequality in the social realm: there are health disparities, opportunity disparities. Not everyone has the same opportunities in our society. There are educational disparities. We have problems with inclusion and diversity within our institutions and across our society. We can’t separate the people from these problems—they’re all interconnected. And it’s not enough to look only at the science behind these issues. We need to see how communities fit into the picture of the problem as well as the solution.

“Another problem is that we lack a diversity of perspectives. I’m passionate about recognizing different voices, about having gender represented in our discussions. I’m passionate about including ethnic groups, age, income, disciplines. I think we need a diversity of perspectives to really get to the bottom of these problems, because we’re so large and interconnected that none of us can do it alone. That’s why we’re seeing this move toward interdisciplinary studies, a move toward how we work science and [the] humanities together. We really need to find ways to collaborate and bring these perspectives together.”

The answer, Dockry said, is to put people at the center of forestry: “Sometimes we call this community forestry. Community forestry tries to conserve forest ecosystems while at the same time improving and maintaining the well-being of the community. The health of the forest is intimately related to the health of the community. That’s community forestry, that’s putting people at the center of forest management.”

About the Author

Steve Wilent is Editor of The Forestry Source, the monthly newspaper of the Society of American Foresters (www.eforester.org). He has been a forestry and natural-resources instructor at Mt. Hood Community College, in Gresham, Oregon, since 1996.

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International Fellows Share 6 Months of Forestry Research in 7-minute “Lightning Talks”

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It was a full house here at the WFC for our evening of “Lightning” talks from the World Forest Institute International Fellows. Community members from Portland and beyond braved the strong winds and heavy rains to hear our eight research fellows tell their stories about their time in Oregon’s forests through their global perspective. We traveled the globe covering a range of topics from urban forest development in India to private forestland management in Nicaragua and drew comparisons to Oregon’s managed forests. Fellows provided a succinct background on their work here and how it would impact their work, their career, and their forests back home.

It was quite inspiring to see how much these scholars have learned during their time here and the smart applications they’ve developed for their unique situations across the globe. What became quickly apparent from their presentations is how what’s happening in Oregon around natural resource management is having an impact around the world.

Our eight international fellows have brought tremendous energy and enthusiasm to the WFC headquarters in Portland. Staff are very sad to have to say farewell to our visiting fellows, but we look forward to following their important contributions to our forests around the globe.

Congratulations to our 2016 International Fellows:

Chia-Chun “Rebecca” Hsu from Taiwan.

Samantha Kwan from Malaysia

Karishmaa Pai from India

Abiodun Solanke from Nigeria

Ana de Miguel Munoz from Spain

Adam Wasiak from Poland

Andrea Cornejo from Nicaragua

Lei Yu from China

If you missed out on this event, please be sure to catch the “Lightning Talks” on the WFC YouTube Channel. With each presentation being a short 7 minutes, you can easily travel the globe and be a part of their journeys.

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World Forest Institute Founder Harry A. Merlo Leaves Lasting Legacy

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Harry A. Merlo, long-time WFC Board Director and past Chair of the Executive Board, passed away today on October 24, 2016 at his home in Portland, Oregon.  Harry Merlo grew up in an immigrant community in the tiny lumber town of Stirling City, CA, and would go on to become a legendary wood products man, a Fortune 500 CEO, award winning tree farmer, well known philanthropist, the “Father of OSB,” and lifelong tree planter.  Harry’s boundless energy was transformative, not just organizationally, but also individually, with the many people he mentored.

As an avid proponent of forestry and wood products, Harry Merlo’s contributions to the forestry community were many, but to this organization he brought the “world” to what was then the “Western Forestry Center.”  In a pivotal moment for our organization, he urged our members to look outward, broaden our perspective globally, and to recruit international directors. He funded the new Merlo Hall building on the WFC campus in 1989, and went on to create a new globally focused Institute at WFC.

The International Fellowship Program at the World Forest Institute was Harry’s brainchild, bringing professionals in forestry to Oregon to learn about and exchange information on forest management and forest products. Over a 20-year timespan the Harry A. Merlo Foundation sponsored over 130 Fellows from around the world, a program that continues today to inspire future generations of leaders within the natural resources community.

Harry maintained a close collaboration with WFI that went far beyond funding.  He hosted the Fellows at his eastern Oregon ranch for intensive study tours each year, held special dinners at his home, played harmonica around campfires with them, and often just stopped by for a cup of coffee to check on how everyone was doing.  He was a constant cheerleader to all of us and one of the most recognizable faces on our board to every staff member, from the front desk to the Executive office.

At a time when the world seems inclined to turn more insular and isolationist, Harry was always reaching out to the world.  He saw the globalization trend in forestry long before most, and he understood that the challenges facing foresters here were not dissimilar from the challenges facing foresters elsewhere.  His efforts to bring people together to solve common problems in natural resources made a real impact on lives throughout the world.

On behalf of those of us impacted by Harry’s generosity, we thank him for inviting us to be a part of the endearing legacy that he worked so hard to create. To his wife Flo, and his son and grandchildren, we extend, from around the globe, our deepest sympathies, and our sincere thanks for sharing him with us.

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International Fellow Spotlight: Yu Lei from China

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Each month, you can learn about one of the WFC’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.

Where are you from?

Beijing, the capital of China, which is located in northern China. Beijing is the third most populated city in the world with 20 million people. I work at the Chinese Academy of Forestry as a manager of one of its 22 research centers.

You’ve been here in the United States for three months so far. Tell us a little bit about your journey.

This is my first time in the U.S. I flew from Beijing to Seattle, which took about 12 hours. My journey was much easier than many of the other Fellows!

What attracted you to the World Forest Institute Fellowship Program?

One of my colleagues in China had very positive things to say about his Fellowship experience last year, so I decided to apply. In China – as a developing country – we can learn much from the U.S. in terms of how forestry research is accomplished.

What’s on your wish list of things to accomplish while working at the World Forestry Center?

I want exposure to other forestry research centers. Research centers are a newer development in China, only a couple decades or so in existence. I plan to spend time at the Oregon Wood Innovation Center. It’s part of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. The research center is a bridge between industry and academia by providing new technologies to companies. The companies then apply those innovations to people’s everyday lives.

In China, my goal is to strengthen the relationships my research center has with the industry by helping them understand the model of the relationship in the U.S. There are cultural barriers and very little cooperation happening now between the research centers and industry. My goal is to help raise awareness to eventually increase trust and give both sides an understanding of what’s possible through stronger working relationships. Ultimately, this will help us become more competitive in the global marketplace.

What’s one of your observations so far about Oregon?

The forest coverage in OR can reach almost 55%, which is quite high. That makes it very pleasant to live here. The forest minimizes noise and air pollution and provides shade. In Beijing, coverage is 30%. There are much fewer trees in the center of Beijing, so people don’t feel very comfortable in the summertime. The biggest problem in Beijing is the haze, which has resulted from population growth, increased use of coal to heat homes in the winter, and traffic. It’s hard just to breathe. We have to wear masks. China started addressing this problem five years ago.

What’s on your personal wish list?

This is my first time in the U.S., so I want to see New York City, stand in Times Square and Wall Street, and visit the Statue of Liberty.

What else can you tell us about yourself?

In China, we put our last name first and then our given name. It’s part of our culture to show respect for our ancestors. So for example, we refer to Michael Phelps as just “Phelps.” People thought my first name was Yu when I first arrived to Portland. So I have been introducing myself here as Lei. It’s part of my American experience to go by first name. And it’s a convenience for people here.

You can contact Lei directly at .

If you are interested in inviting Lei to speak with your organization or at an event, please contact International Fellowship Program Manager Shadia Duery at .

The Oregon Woodland Cooperative: Using non-timber forest products in creative ways

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Date of Visit: July 20th, 2016
Type of Event: Study Tour
Topic: Non-timber forest products from small woodlands
Organization: Oregon Woodland Cooperative (OWC)
Location: Beaverton, OR
Host: Neil and Ardis Schroeder
International Fellows: Adam Wasiak (Poland), Ana de Miguel (Spain), Andrea Cornejo (Nicaragua), Karishmaa Pai (India), Samantha Kwan (Malaysia), Yu Lei (China)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager

On this day we visited Neil and Ardis Schroeder’s home office in Beaverton. They welcomed us with warm smiles and fresh grape juice from their backyard’s vines. Neil is the president of the Oregon Woodland Cooperative (OWC), an organization founded in 1980 that currently has 70 members, all private forest landowners who own and manage family forest farms.

The Coop educates its members on forest best management practices and non-timber forest products development for extra revenue. The cooperative also provides support with the marketing and distribution of these non-timber forest products.

Neil Schroeder from OWC showing the WFI fellows
the different products of the Coop

Following are some of the products distributed by the Coop: bundled firewood, essential oils, decorative wood pieces and fresh-vine arrangements which are sold in local stores around the Portland metro area and Salem. The bundled firewood are bundles of 16 x 9 x 9 inches wood pieces. The fresh-vine arrangements also called “evergreen boughs” are sold for decorative purposes to florists.

 

 
Each OWC firewood label showcases a brief story of
the woodland owner where the wood originates


The Coop’s marketing strategy focuses on finding niche markets that already offer local, fresh, organics products to their customers (people that already care about consuming local and sustainable products). The Coop uses strategies like ‘story telling’ of ‘where the product comes from’ to connect the final consumer to the product/producer. For example: Each firewood bundle showcases a different forest farm story, and people like them so much they started to collect them.The work of this small cooperative is really inspiring! 
Currently, the Coop is commercializing 6 kinds of essentials oils in 5 ml bottles: western red cedar, douglas fir, incense cedar, ponderosa pine, grand fir and noble fir. The bottles have a beautiful label paired with an information flyer on the attributes and uses of these evergreen oils.

Non-timber forest products: Six coniferous essential oils

My research project at the WFI focuses on identifying environmental, social and economic benefits of organizing private forest landowners.

In Nicaragua, forest management practices that provide economic benefits to the landowner are critical to reduce the pressure for land conversion to agricultural land.

Small forest landowners have a hard time making a living by managing their land for timber. Timber production is a game of scale and the smaller the land the harder it gets! This is why organizing small forest landowners for developing and commercializing non-timber products sounds like a very enticing model for the small Nicaraguan forest landowner.

Lessons from OWC cooperative:

  • Creativity is a key ingredient in innovation. The Coop is looking for ways to use otherwise residues, defective or overlooked parts of trees to make products that are useful for certain audiences.
  • Sound marketing is a vital part of any business. The Coop looked for the support of marketing professionals and designers to assist them in creating a strong brand. Even as a small business Coop their label designs, packaging and marketing strategy are first class.
  • Dedication and continuous improvement are required to achieve success. The Oregon Woodland Cooperative has leaders dedicated to making their business model a success for all their members. Neil, Ardis and their colleagues are continuously looking for ways to improve their products quality and variety as well as exploring potential new markets for their products.

For more information about the Oregon Woodland Cooperative, please visit www.oregonwoodlandcooperative.com.

For any recommendation on Andrea Cornejo’s project, please contact her at .