Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Oregon Woodland Cooperative

Date of Visit: Aug 18, 2015 
Type of event: Field trip
Organization: Oregon Woodland Cooperative
Location: Beaverton, Oregon
Hosts: Neil and Ardis Schroeder
International Fellows: Sarita Lama (Nepal), Miguel Sanchez (Bolivia), Robert Mijol (Malaysia), Stuty Maskey (Nepal), Qingxin Liu (China), Enkeleda Pjetri (Albania)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager

Oregon Woodland Cooperative (OWC) is a coop of 70 family small forest owners. OWC serves its members by 1) teaching them how to be good stewards of its resources and 2) by using its aggregate power to bring non-timber products to market under a shared brand. OWC has a list of recommended foresters to advise members on forest management practices.

One of the challenges small forest owners face is to have to pay high taxes even before their farms can generate any revenue from timber sales. OWC shared brand allows co-op members to generate revenue every year from the sale non- timber products like: bundled fire wood and kindling from their thinning practices, conifers essential oils, and bow limbs for Christmas arrangements, among other products.

The Co-op's brand marketing strategy uses "story telling" as a tool to connect the final buyer with the farms were the product comes from, and sells to markets that have higher disposable income.

Co-op members participation is voluntary and when choosing to participate they have to manage their own products to market. The Co-op manager finds the markets and members that want to access those markets with their aggregate brand pay 8% commission the co-op manager.
 International Fellow's Reflections:

Enkeleda Pjetri from Albania - Project / Sustainable Development of Natural Reserves Contiguous Areas
Oregon Woodland Coop (OWC) is a committed and motivated group that is using best forest management practices in the production of primary and secondary wood products. OWC members are able to regenerate revenue from non-timber products by being innovative in the creation of products. Private forest owners showed being very conscious and aware towards caring about nature. In my country private forest owners are not many.

In Albania, the level of respect for natural resources is not as high as in this example, and neither in the pilot area my project is foreseen to be implemented, but advertising such Best Practices would be an additional incentive for enhancing communities commitment toward the sustainable use of the natural resources. This can be achieved only by cooperation among interested stakeholders, and although our society is "allergic" to cooperatives, this is a management practice to be considered.

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