The World Forest Institute Story
In 1989, the World Forestry Center established a program called the World Forest Institute (WFI), to meet a growing demand for forestry information. As the forestry sector becomes increasingly complex, there is a greater need for international collaboration and exchange of information on forest trade, regulation, management, and forest resources. In response, WFI created the International Fellowship Program. This Fellowship Program provides a unique collaboration between the research community, private industry, and the public sector.
Founder Harry Merlo
The establishment of the World Forest Institute was the dream of chief benefactor and founder Harry A. Merlo, who is a legend within the forest products sector, and now a well-known philanthropist to many youth-oriented causes. In 2011 he received the Association of Fundraising Professionals Outstanding Philanthropist Award, and in 2010 he was recognized as an outstanding forestland owner by the Oregon Tree Farmer of the Year Awards.
Long before others in the forest industry, Harry Merlo recognized that forestry is a global sector. He understood the importance of having access to information worldwide, and of developing a network of contacts abroad. He dreamed of a place where information on world forestry could be sourced and shared. When he created the World Forest Institute in 1989, he did so to serve the forest sector as a whole.
Harry’s mother, Clotilde Merlo, taught him his life’s mantra: Chi non lavora, non deve mangiare. Translation: “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” With that simple admonition, Harry Merlo’s mother set in motion the life of a boy who would grow into a hugely successful businessman, steward of the land, philanthropist, winemaker, sportsman and friend to many.
Harry’s career would take him from a small logging town in Stirling City, California, to eventually becoming Chairman and CEO of Louisiana Pacific, a major building products company. It was under Harry’s visionary leadership that Louisiana Pacific became a Fortune 500 company, propelled by its investment in Oriented Strand Board (OSB) production. At a time when old growth logging was beginning to wane, Harry saw the advantages in producing a product that used wood waste and small diameter logs. To this day Harry is known as the “father of OSB” not for its invention (it was invented much earlier), but for producing it at affordable prices which consumers and builders could embrace.
Harry Merlo passed away on October 24, 2016.
To learn more about Harry Merlo, pick up a copy of his autobiography Vintage Merlo: Reflections on a life well-lived. Find and download the digital Kindle edition of Vintage Merlo.