Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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

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

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.

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!

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 acornejo@worldforestry.org

Friday, August 5, 2016

The frontline of forests: forest canopy and climate change impact

Date of Visit: June to August, 2016 
Type of Event: Field study 
Topic: Canopy microclimate monitor
Organization: EPA
Location: Soap grass, Tall creek, Woods creek (NSFS)  
Host: Peter Beedlow, Ron Waschmann and Sky Lan
International Fellows: Rebecca Hsu (Taiwan)

EPA climatologist Ron Waschmann 
working at a weather station on 
an old-growth noble fir tree
A vast area of the Pacific Northwest (west of the Cascade Mountains) is comprised by Douglas-fir associated in moist forests, which is Oregon's main timber specie. Recent studies indicate that canopy structure and microclimate might influence the degree of Swiss needle cast (SNC) incidence on Douglas-firs, which impacts significantly the local timber industry. It turns out that water dynamics are important because leaf wetness during May- August drives the success of needle colonization. During current climate change, research related to 'the dynamics of canopy microclimate with this emerging disease' is urgently needed.

During my fellowship at WFI, I was invited to do field work with EPA, installing weather stations, and measuring canopy allometry on old-growth Douglas fir trees.
Following are the lessons learned during the past few months.

How to rig a tree
Peter using a crossbow to
shoot a fish line to the canopy 

To access the canopy of a 'wild tree' (a tree that has never been climbed before) the first step is to rig it. This is usually the most difficult part of canopy research. First, old-growth forest are always very dense, making it hard to see through the canopy and very difficult to shoot the rope to the canopy. EPA researchers use a crossbow (150 lbs or bigger) to shoot a fish line into the desired branch, connect it to a thicker line, and then to a climbing rope.

My husband Brian Chiu helped to 
get leaf samples from old-growth 
Douglas during his visit
The tree canopy is always an unknown. When you ascend a rope there are many obstacles to overcome, and in my opinion: pulling ropes is certainly a much harder task than climbing. Very often, when you arrive to the supporting anchor you find out that you are hanging of a dead or broken branch, and then is when it get really scary.     


How to climb a 'wild tree' by using a single rope system


Using rope wrench & prusik hitch to 
climb tree, a new skill I learned 
I learned a convenient climbing technique from a professional arborist  in Portland Oregon, Brian French. And I was able to practice the newly learned climbing technique doing field work with EPA. The single rope system is lighter weight than other systems and it will be of great benefit on my long hiking expedition in Taiwan.
The first time I used this technique for a long descending the rope was burned black! I went back to Brian and he told me how to improve the 'prusik hitch'. Using borrowed gear can be tricky but once I learned to work with it field work became much more enjoyable.      
Sky Lan conducting canopy allometry measurements

How to measure canopy allometry

For me the canopy allometry measurements probably were the hardest part of that field work. Thus, it is the only (and cheapest) way to understand the canopy structure of an ancient tree in the old-growth forest. I hope Lidar technology improves in the future to eliminate this step. But until then we will have to hang on the canopy for hours to days to measure a tree girth every 6 feet, and branch characteristics (eg. angle, direction, width, leaf ration etc). Imagine a 200-feet tree with more than 100 branches! Then science stops being romantic!

How to install a weather station

My main research interest is in monitoring canopy microclimate. The EPA climatogist Ron was so kind to demonstrate how he installs a weather station and shared his tricks on modifying weather sensors and other equipment's. EPA has been collecting high quality climate as well as tree data for more than 20 years! As a field ecologist, I know how devoted and determined those guys are. I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet these serious scientists in the Oregon!


Ron demonstrating how to install a simple and short-term weather station 

International Fellow Reflection
  • Microclimate and canopy structure are crucial for knowing the whole picture of healthy forests
  • Experience and practice are crucial for improving climbing technique
  • Accuracy and luck are crucial for rigging a tree
  • Patience and fitness are crucial for measuring canopy allometry
  • Calibration and custom modification are crucial for monitoring long-term climate change

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Carbon-certified Bear Creek Watershed (Astoria)

Date of Visit: June 30, 2016
Type of Event: Study Tour
Topic: Carbon credits for watersheds and forests
Organization: City of Astoria
Location: Bear Creek Watershed, Astoria, Oregon
Host: David Ford / L&C Carbon
International Fellows: Abiodun Solanke (Nigeria), Adam Wasiak (Poland), Andrea Cornejo (Nicaragua), Ana de Miguel (Spain), Karishmaa Pai (India), Samantha Kwan (Malaysia), Yu Lei (China)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Rick Zenn /Senior Fellow, Michael Zhan (Intern)

The Bear Creek Astoria watershed presents an interesting forest management initiative where the 3,700 acre catchment has been carbon certified. This has provided an innovative and generous economic benefit for the city, amounting to $2 million earned through the sale of carbon credits on the voluntary market in just the first 2 years of management (project extends to 50 years). It is important to clarify that the case of the Astoria Watershed is unique; the land is own by the City of Astoria which allows the city to manage the forest for carbon credits.

How it works:
Carbon credits are awarded when a company or forest land (in this case) go beyond the baseline to store or improve carbon sequestration and reduce carbon emissions. The Bear Creek forest area accumulates carbon credits through 3 actions which result in a longer storage of carbon within tree stands and extends the life of the ecosystem within:
  • Extending their rotation
  • Delaying timber harvest
  • Reducing volume of harvest
Carbon credits are not mandatory in Oregon, as is the case in California, so the voluntary action for the watershed has reaped many benefits in terms of growing carbon stocks, ecological benefits as well as additional revenue for the City for other public services. The sale was mediated by Portland-based The Climate Trust, processed under the American Carbon Registry (ACR) protocol and the credits were purchased by a power plant to offset their Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

Facts in a Nutshell:
  • Carbon credits bought: 245,000
  • Greenhouse gas equivalent: 51,000 passenger vehicles
  • Project cost: $ 175,000
  • Project income: $ 2,000,000


Thursday, July 21, 2016

International Fellow SpotLight: Karishmaa Pai

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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tualatin Hills Nature Park

Date of Visit: June 22, 2016
Type of Event: Study Tour
Topic: Urban forest park and habitat restoration
Organization: Tualatin Hills Nature Park
Location: Beaverton, Oregon
Host: F. Scott Wagner, Park Ranger, Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District
International Fellows: Abiodun Solanke (Nigeria), Adam Wasiak (Poland), Andrea Cornejo (Nicaragua), Ana de Miguel (Spain), Karishmaa Pai (India), Yu Lei (China), Samantha Kwan (Malaysia)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Michael Zhan / Intern from China

On this day, we went on a study tour to the Tualatin Hills Nature Park located in Beaverton, Oregon.

The main objective of this study tour was to learn about restoration strategies for an urban forest park. During our visit, we also learned about wetland mitigation, trail building and corridor habitat improvement.

This 220-acre urban park covered with evergreen deciduous forests, wetlands and meadows represents a high value habitat for wildlife. This park is a great example of how an island type of forest habitat can be reconnected and restored with adjacent land to create wildlife migration corridors.

Restoration sites: 
  • Tadpole Pond
    • Enhanced five tadpole ponds and surrounding area
    • Improved habitat for the red-legged frog, Rana aurora, a species listed in Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Sensitive Species List
Red-legged frog




 





Monday, June 20, 2016

International Fellow SpotLight: Abiodun "Abi" Solanke

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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

International Fellow Spotlight: Samantha Kwan


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. 

Join us at the World Forestry Center headquarters in Portland on May 26th for a unique opportunity to meet these global leaders in natural resources management from eight different countries. Read more and RSVP here.