Thursday, October 31, 2019

Who Will Own the Forest? 15 - The Premiere Timberland Investment Conference in the Pacific Northwest

by Byron P. Krempl, Headwater Forests Program Manager, Tuolumne River Trust

Joseph Furia, Executive Director of the World Forestry Center,
giving welcome remarks at WWOTF15

We are arguably facing some of the most rapid and profound change ever seen in human history. Population growth, climate change, demographics, and technology are changing at an unparalleled pace. If today’s forest professionals want to be able to succeed tomorrow, we need to be aware of these changes. With change comes uncertainty; with uncertainty comes risk; with risk comes opportunity. If we understand our context (where we’re at), our desired future condition (where we want to be) and our decision-making process (how we’ll get there), we can take advantage of this change to ensure our continued success. Whether an institutional investor, a logger, or a professor, we have a unique opportunity to make a difference, and inspire others while doing so. The Who Will Own the Forest? 15 convention highlighted these changes that we need to be aware of and set the context that surrounds our decision-making processes.

Diversity was highlighted in every aspect of the WWOTF? 15 convention. Diversity of forest types, of products, of location, demographics, and of thoughts and ideas. There is no one solution to modern problems in the timber space. There is no cookie-cutter answer to the problems of tomorrow. There is only opportunity for today’s leaders to rise up, take initiative, and try. We must try to slow deforestation, to create new markets for our forest products, to learn how to utilize private finance for conservation, and to become aware that the three pillars of the triple-bottom line (economic, social, and ecologic) are not separate, but instead uniquely intertwined. Rather than focus on any one pillar of sustainability, the convention highlighted the need for diversity in thought process, approach, and solution.

Eric Freed, keynote speaker at WWOTF15
Eric Freed, the Keynote Speaker for the 15th WWOTF convention, se the stage for the convention by highlighting that, “the modern environmental movement has failed us”, and by instilling a sense of urgency around climate change. In the face of such a global challenge, he presented a simple solution: trees. With forests being the only scalable challenge to combat climate change, and the ability to remove up to 50% of carbon from the atmosphere every decade, we have the tools needed to address the problems of our own making. Mr. Freed also highlighted the value of mass timber—buildings constructed from mass timber sequester carbon instead of releasing it, outperforming modern technologies such as carbon and steel. Mass timber, be it cross laminated timber, mass plywood panels, or any other engineered wood product, is gaining popularity. It can be produced at a lower cost, with minimal environmental impact, have high fire resistance, and can be cost competitive. While there are barriers such as antiquated building codes, rapid growth has been seen in this sector. Given the technologies of today, Mr. Freed presented the case that we have the ability to leave our planet a better place for tomorrow’s generations.

Mr. Freed’s point was further highlighted during a panel session on mapping risk in the face of climate change. Reforestation as a cost-effective natural solution to climate change was highlighted, as well as the need to slow deforestation in tropical forests. As environmental stewards, managers need to “play both defense and offense”, leveraging, conserving, and restoring our natural resources, and creating innovative ways to bring private equity to the table. Highlighting the value of environmental and social goods (ESG) and products, divesting from fossil fuel investments, and utilizing timber as an investment opportunity are key components to the large-scale approach we need to undertake to address climate change.

Panel at WWOTF15 focusing on the social aspect of ESG
Within the framework of forest management, it is important to keep in mind the social in ESG. Social dynamics are proving to be major drivers of the financial sector; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are topics that are integral to the decision-making process and should be at the forefront of any decision maker’s mind. Thomas RaShad, the Assistant Dean of Community and Inclusion at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, went one step further by highlighting Access as a key component of the DEI framework, creating the useful acronym, ‘IDEA’. This highlights the significance of this topic for any context and group; whether a small firm or a large corporation, ideas should be formed while considering IDEA.

Climate change and ESG weren’t the only topics discussed during the convention. The impacts of changing demographics on the timber industry along with a generational shift in priorities are affecting consumption. With massive demographic shifts and changing fiscal and monetary policy explaining the two inflation regimes of the last 60 years, new approaches to fiscal and monetary policy and a shrinking labor force suggest the market’s complacent consensus about inflation is too low. While regional supply and demand will continue to be a key factor, timber income streams suggest a positive outlook for timber as an asset class overall.

Regionally, the U.S. South has begun to see a plateau in sawmill investments. Trade dynamics have injected uncertainty in the market, and while regional employment has proven to be stable, the microeconomy has proven to be a significant scale in the South. Workforce, access to mills and ports, and timberland has allowed some areas to see continued growth, while other areas in the South lagging. Maintaining relationships and making decisions on a risk-adjusted basis are key to continued success in the U.S. South.

Even with this plateau in sawmill investments, it is still possible to mitigate the risks of forest investments in the U.S. South. By capitalizing on concentrated regions and microeconomies, efficiencies and economies of scale can be achieved in the South. Georgia, while undergoing social and demographic transformations, still produces the higher timber volumes of any state. A strong representation from groups such as the Georgia Forestry Association ensure that the forest sector continues to have a voice in the legislature and among consumers, creating a comparative advantage against many other states and regions.

Likewise, the U.S. hardwood universe is currently a mixed bag, with high value species such as hard maple and yellow birch continuing to appreciate, but with a general shift from grade product to industrial product overall. Hardwood prices have decoupled from housing starts since the Great Recession and are now increasingly dependent on export markets. Due to this, volatility created from tariffs has impacted this market. The U.S. hardwood markets have also been losing share internationally, with China, Russia, and neotropical countries beginning to inject more supply into the global market.

Globally, China’s economy is slowing, but is still outpacing the U.S. China is shifting from a manufacturing to a service-based economy and is transitioning to utilizing domestic forest products for production and is increasing its utilization of Russian forests. While transportation of forest products continues to be a limiting factor for Russian forest products, China is actively leasing large tracts of Russian forests, allowing for value to be unlocked in this forest landscape. China is continuing to ramp up production of pulp and paper and is turning to Vietnam for materials to meet this upscaling. Other nations, such as Thailand, may also benefit from China’s increased appetite for forest products.

Russia still faces bottlenecks in its production system, such as distances between forests and mills,
but continued investments will allow for growth through 2030 in this market. Likewise, India is poised to see an increase in demand for forest products. With a rapidly expanding middle class, India can become a large demander of North American Exports. While barriers such as certification currently exist, major companies are promoting their products to the Indian market and are capitalizing on increased urbanization and a current housing shortage.

While timber markets in Russia and China are seeing new growth, countries like Japan have poorly performed. An aging workforce coupled with small private lots and steep slopes has caused timber markets within Japan to lag. However, new policies and tax advantages have created opportunity for the timber sector to be revitalized.

As timber markets internationally continue to develop and change, foreign investors continue to find foreign direct investment in the U.S. timber space to be attractive. While there are many complexities involved in tax-efficient investing, investors typically want to ensure that by investing in the timber space they do not subject any additional unrelated non-U.S. business activities and investments to U.S. tax jurisdiction. As markets continue to change, foreign direct investments will continue to be a strong part of the story.

Joseph Furia presents the Award for
Forest Investment to Bill Bradley
Domestically, investments through Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS) are a prominent strategy. Timberland as an asset class has grown, and while most commercial timberland remains in private markets, it can be publicly traded. Valuing REITs can be challenging, with contrasting approaches to determine the ‘true’ value of a share. This is accentuated by the fact that the timber space is still relatively small, and most analysis that occurs is conducted by forest products and packaging analysts. This uncertainty highlights the fact that we are still unsure whether timberland belongs in the public markets, creating risks and opportunities for REITs as an asset.

Whether through the lens of REITs or private ownership, timberland valuation is an evolving field. As George Box famously said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful”, raising the questions of how wrong the models are, and how useful they can be. As such, we shouldn’t expect the truth from models—instead they provide us with useful information to help facilitate decision making. Static variables and dynamic variables should be analyzed, and sensitivity analysis can be utilized to ensure that risk is appropriately accounted for. By utilizing the data and processes we have, such as an array of site-specific growth and yield models, as well as forecasting, we can know all knowable information, ensuring the most accurate valuations for timberland can occur.

The 15th WWOTF convention focused on change and diversity, preparing forest professionals to solve unforeseen problems in new and innovative ways. Both domestically and internationally, forest professionals must continue to adapt and grow, anticipating unforeseen changes to forestry, valuation, products, and markets, guiding our planet toward a healthy and sustainable future. To learn more about forest finance, changing environmental, social, and economic factors, domestic and international market trends and drivers, and emerging markets/market products, come to the WWOTF? 16 convention in Portland next year.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

2020 World Forest Institute International Fellowship Program – Applications from July 1 to October 15, 2019

The award-winning WFI Fellowship program brings natural resource professionals from around the world to our World Forestry Center headquarters in Portland, Oregon USA. The Fellowship is a 6-month professional development program designed to help you take your career to the next level. You will join a global cohort of professionals in weekly study tours around the Pacific Northwest learning how natural resources are managed in this part of the world. You will conduct interviews with experts in your field of study and visit people and places that will advance your knowledge and skills. Fellows return home with new ideas and new motivation to create change in their home countries (2019 videos of lessons learned).

Sharing about the forests of your country
We are looking for motivated early and mid career professionals (3- 5 years of relevant work experience) who want to explore, expand their knowledge and networks, and engage with others in forestry/ natural resource management. Fellowships are open to any country, including U.S. citizens. The Fellowship program offers partial scholarships through the Harry A. Merlo Foundation, but applicants must be able to cover at least 50% of the program fee ($5,000). Over two decades, 148 Fellows from 47 countries have participated to date. The Fellowship term is 6-months with a non-negotiable start date of April 6, 2020. Application deadline is Oct 15, 2019.

Scholarships Available based on qualifications and need!!

For more information and how to apply, please visit:
Fellow's Project Results Presentations in video by cohort year: Click and watch what fellow's learned in past years!!!

Showcasing natural regeneration
Visiting a drinking water watershed
Hiking in US Parks
Learning from the forest industry

    Friday, August 30, 2019

    From Fancy to Functional Wood Products

    Date of visit: August 22, 2019
    Type of event: Study tour
    Topic: Wood Products
    Organization: Tropical Salvage, The Joinery.
    Location: Portland, Oregon
    Hosts: Kim Allchurch-Flick and Tim O'Brien (Tropical Salvage), Cassandra Jackson (The Joinery)
    International Fellows: Richard Banda (Malawi), Fen-hui Chen (Taiwan), Temitope Dauda (Nigeria), Zhongyuan Ding (China), Ana Kanoppa (Brazil), Will Maiden (United Kingdom), Romain Matile (France),
    WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager

    Many different products can be produced from wood, from native or from planted forests. The utility of these products will depend on your needs. The range in the market is extensive, ranging from low-volume, high-quality home decor products that utilize unique designs to high-volume, low-cost lumber. On our final group study tour, the International Fellows set out to investigate this range of products.

    Raw material is from salvaged wood. Tropical Salvage has never felled a single tree. 

    In the morning, our first stop was a visit to Tropical Salvage, a store dedicated to selling furniture hand-crafted in Indonesia using hardwoods salvaged from rivers, volcanic lahars, and land conversion. Tropical Salvage prides themselves on having never cut down a single tree to create their products. The company has created local jobs in Indonesia and directly employs 45 people in Jepara in north-central Java. Furthermore, part of the sales revenue is used to buy small areas of land to plant and conserve tropical forest. Tropical Salvage’s target market is consumers concerned about good values in the supply chain and focused on Fair Trade and sustainability. They also look towards consumers who appreciate the natural beauty present in timber, as each piece of furniture is unique. Many people in Portland are attracted to buy this variety of custom-made products using local design. The story of not exploiting new areas of forest whilst contributing to protecting biodiversity and improving the welfare of people in Indonesia give the furniture store a positive message for the consumer.

    At Tropical Salvage, wood products are made with a “no waste” attitude 
    and an appreciation of variation in natural appearance. 

    Our second visit on the study tour was to The Joinery, a high-end manufacturer of furniture based in Portland. The Joinery was founded by Marr Gaudin as a furniture refurbishing and repair business in 1982. Today they employ a team of highly-skilled people to design, build, and sell furniture. The Joinery is recognized for its extensive commitment to sustainable business practices. The majority of their wood is either locally sourced from Oregon and Washington, FSC-certified, or both, including Cherry, Western Walnut, Eastern Walnut, Maple, Oregon White Oak, and Madrone. With most furniture built today destined for a landfill within a few short years, the lifetime guarantee on The Joinery’s products ensures that valuable natural resources are used wisely. To avoid 1,200 pounds of sawdust being sent to a landfill every week, they recycle or reuse scrap lumber and machine-compact sawdust into wood briquettes that they provide to the community for free. Additionally, their delivery truck runs on biodiesel fuel, their facilities are powered by solar and wind energy, and they use high-efficiency lighting throughout their facilities.

    The Joinery creates beautiful, quality wood furniture of modern and classic design that you can use for a lifetime.

    The Joinery recycles their scrap lumber and sawdust into wood briquettes 
    that they donate to the local community. (left) 

    Each piece of furniture crafted at The Joinery is wholly built by a single woodworker 
    and receives the company plaque and builder signature. (right) 

    Our third and final stop on the study tour was to the US institution that is Home Depot. Here, our aim was to see how timber products are sold to the American consumer. In contrast to Tropical Salvage and The Joinery, the timber sold here is aimed at structural purposes, and visual aesthetics of the timber are secondary in comparison to structural performance.

      Home Depot stocks sustainably-sourced wood products (left). 
    Much of the engineered timber products on sale are domestically produced (right).

    Most homes in the US are manufactured from timber. Timber is relatively inexpensive and allows for quick erection of buildings. The timber products on sale at Home Depot cover all aspects required within construction, from structural timbers to engineered wood products. Douglas fir makes up most of the timber used for structural purposes. The timber has excellent load-bearing qualities and is easily workable. Douglas fir has a large internal demand within North America and is also in demand globally as a high-grade structural wood. Home Depot stocks a range of timber products for the interior studwork of a home. Here the primary species used is Western hemlock, noted for its low resin content and strong nail and screw-holding ability. This makes it the ideal choice for finishing the interior of a property. Where timber is required for an outdoor situation, Western Red Cedar provides a naturally rot and insect resistant timber that has historically been used for exterior cladding, roofing shingles, and picket fencing. Home Depot stocks timber from certified sources under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. This helps to ensure that timber comes from forests managed in a manner which is less damaging to the environment

    In addition, products such as plywood and oriented strand board are sold. These manufactured timber products are a crucial element in the construction of US homes, providing a lightweight solution to covering large spans within the framework of a structure.

    International Fellows' Thoughts and Perspectives

    Both Tropical Salvage and The Joinery market their products to a high-end, niche market. The products tell a story of supporting small communities in Indonesia and specialist timber producers in the US, respectively. Customers who purchase these wood products are willing to pay a premium to purchase an item of furniture with this provenance. In contrast, Home Depot sells large quantities of timber at relatively low prices. Here, consumers are maybe more concerned with getting value for their money in the products they purchase. It has been interesting as, over the course of the Fellowship, we have seen the complete process required in the timber industry, from seedling production, tree farm management, and processing within sawmills. Visiting Home Depot has allowed us to see the final products these processes aim to achieve.

    International Fellows in their Portland uniform (left to right):
    Ana Kanoppa from Brazil, Will Maiden from Britain, and Fen-hui Chen from Taiwan

    Thursday, August 29, 2019

    Mount Saint Helens: Weyerhaeuser Company

    Date of Visit: August 9, 2019
    Type of event: Study tour
    Topic: Industrial Forest Management
    Organization: Weyerhauser Company
    Location: Mount St Helens, Skamania County, Washington
    Hosts: Molly Rasor /Inventory Forester, Mark Sheldahl / Forester
    International Fellows: Richard Banda (Malawi), Fen-hui Chen (Taiwan), Temitope Dauda (Nigeria), Zhongyuan Ding (China), Will Maiden (United Kingdom), Romain Matile (France), Rodolfo Vieto (Costa Rica)
    WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Program Manager

    WFI International Fellows with Weyerhauser hosts (in center), Mark Sheldahl and Molly Rasor

    Weyerhaeuser Company is one of the world's largest private owners of timberlands, owning or controlling nearly 12.4 million acres of timberlands in the U.S. and managing an additional 14 million acres of timberlands under long-term licenses in Canada. In 1904, after years of successful Mississippi River-based lumber and mill operations, Frederick Weyerhaeuser moved west and founded the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company. The Homestead Act contributed significantly to the successful story of the Weyerhaeuser Company. Frederick Weyerhauser was able to secure many land properties from forest landowners, which had earlier been procured from the government as part of its contribution to economic development in the Pacific Northwest. In 1929, the company built what was then the largest sawmill in the world in Longview, Washington. 

    The company's operations are divided into three major business segments:
    1. Timberlands—growing and harvesting trees in renewable cycles.
    2. Wood products—manufacturing and distribution of building materials for houses and other structures.
    3. Real estate, energy and natural resources—all surface and subsurface resources in timberlands that are worth more than the timber itself. 

    Our hosts explaining their work
    in a second-growth Douglas fir stand
    All of Weyerhaeuser’s operations on timberland comply with state and federal laws on management and conservation. Weyerhaeuser manages its forests intensively to get the most yield in such a way that does not compromise future wood supply while protecting other resources on their land, such as elk, salmon, and so on. Many considerations are taken regarding biodiversity, water quality, and other ecosystem services. The tree species planted depend on site suitability as Weyerhauser’s objective is to maximize each site’s productivity for its economic returns. On their timberland in Washington state, Douglas Fir is the dominant “tree crop”. Another indicator of the company’s sustainable forest management practices is the provision of recreational opportunities to the public. Weyerhaeuser sells permits to the public allowing access to camp, hunt, and other recreational purposes on their land. Native American tribes are also allowed to collect some food on Weyerhaeuser land like fish, huckleberries, etc. Weyerhaeuser runs its own nursery to meet their seedling demand and also supplies to other landowners. They also have a seed orchard which is a repository of their surplus trees. 
    At Weyerhaeuser, harvesting is a pre-planned operation. Usually, harvest planning starts five years before actual operations. An inventory is conducted to check the volume of wood available on potential sites. Harvesting operation starts with delineating the boundaries of the plot to be harvested followed by water stream typing into fishing or non-fishing, and perennial or seasonal. A 25-foot buffer is created along non-fishing streams, while 50-foot buffers are created along fishing streams. When all this on-ground work is done and certified by the company’s forest managers, they proceed to submit their intended operation to the state forestry department for review, which takes about 30 days, after which recommended adjustment are made and harvest takes place. 

    Schematic showing steps from plantation to harvest
    at the Weyerhauser Tree Farm
    Lessons Learned 

    One of the recurring lessons we have seen over the past few months is that old-growth forest contains a higher density of wood than secondary forest, and this is again seen on Weyerhaeuser forest land. Although Weyerhaeuser is the largest private timber owner in the world, it has not stopped improving. It is constantly looking for better ways to increase its income, maximize profit, and manage sustainable forest. It has made us realize that instead of thinking ”I have made it, and I am the best”, we should ask ourselves ”How can I do better?’ 

    International Fellows’ Thoughts and Perspectives

    As a century-old company, the long-term success of Weyerhaeuser is dependent on a healthy, sustainable supply of resources (e.g. trees) and well-performing, long-term management. Usually, the term “sustainable forest management” is more theoretical than practical but Weyerhaeuser has proven that their business is sustainable indeed. For example, irrespective of the timber market trends, they maintain a 2% annual harvest on their timberlands and follow their long–term harvest plan. At present, the third generation Douglas-fir seedlings are planted on-site.

    Weyerhaeuser is very holistic in its management. Its management comprises a tree seedling nursery, a seedling plantation, herbicide spraying for weed control, commercial thinning, aerial fertilization, and planned harvesting. Decisions such as when should a tract be fertilized, thinned, pruned, and harvested are based on a wide range of operational systems, such as a tree breeding system, a GIS-based inventory system, a 3-year-circle checking system, a wood stock selecting system, and so on.

    Tuesday, August 27, 2019

    Love Wins - Changing the Conservation Narrative One Yard at a Time

    Date of Visit: August 15, 2019
    Type of Event: Study tour
    Topic: Habitat Restoration and Conservation
    Organization: West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
    Location: Portland, Oregon
    Hosts: West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District staff - Jim Cathcart/ District Manager, Michael Ahr / Forest Conservationist, Michelle Delepine / Invasive Species Program Coordinator, Ari DeMarco / Seasonal Conservation Technician, Scott Gall / Rural Conservationist, Indi Keith / Field Conservation Intern, Kammy Kern-Korot / Senior Conservationist, Michele Levis / Controller and Budget Officer, Mary Logalbo / Urban Conservationist, Renee Magyar / Outreach and Communications Manager, Sam Mularz / GIS and Field Conservation Intern, Randi Razalenti / Office Manager, Laura Taylor / Conservation Technician
    International Fellows: Temitope Dauda (Nigeria), Richard Banda (Malawi), Fen-hui Chen (Taiwan), Zhongyuan Ding (China), Ana Kanoppa (Brazil), Rodolfo Vieto (Costa Rica) Will Maiden (United Kingdom), Romain Matile (France).
    WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Program Manager.

    The World Forestry Center received an August visitor indeed as we welcomed the staff of the West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District led by a very good friend of the International Fellows, Jim Cathcart. The Fellows were honored with the presence of the “faces behind the scene” of one of the leading conservation agencies in Multnomah County. It was a delight to listen to each member of the agency introduce themselves and their role in moving their conservation agenda forward. It was also exciting to learn about the “Dust Bowl” disaster of the early 1930s which compelled the US Congress to make a decision intended to solve the problem of soil degradation. A model soil conservation law was passed that brought about the creation of conservation districts in every state. Initially, this was targeted for only rural areas (agricultural lands) where the impact of soil degradation is felt the most since they are often the food bank. However, as time progressed, the mandate of this agency expanded to include landscape-scale conservation for soil and water. The overall goal of any Soil and Water Conservation District is to conserve and protect soil and water resources for people, wildlife, and the environment.

    WFI International Fellows and WMSWCD staff with Farhat Arhar and her husband Ezra on their property

    In Oregon, the West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (WMSWCD) was established in the early 1940s. WMSWCD is charged with the responsibility of helping landowners west of the Willamette River in Multnomah County manage their land. Currently, they have about 14 people on staff. To further advance their work, they partner with other sister organizations on projects that promote conservation and protection of natural resources within them. An example that easily comes to mind is the Backyard Habitat certification program- a conservation program that helps small landowners with usually one acre or smaller to manage their land in a manner that is consistent with both the conservation goals of the agency and the interests of the landowner. This program also promotes social interaction, as participating landowners connect with each other to learn and exchange ideas. The agency works with larger landowners as well to help them plan, design and manage their land according to their interests while also considering the public good. Generally, WMSWCD aims to provide services for the public good on private land, but it is voluntary for landowners to participate. WMSWCD’s conservation agenda is basically to restore habitat for wildlife and native plants, conserve water and soil, manage healthy forest land as well as eradicate invasive species. Canopy weeds program, water quality monitoring, erosion, healthy streams program, stormwater programs, and urban watershed mentors are some of the programs they have. Their work is funded by the government, but they also receive grants from other funding or donor organizations. In most cases, they operate through cost-share initiatives, in which case the organization provides some sort of technical support. They also give grants to qualified landowners.
    To give the International Fellows a good view of what they do, we visited three properties where WMSWCD works.

    Our first stop was the Forest Heights Natural area, which is a 200-acre property that houses a cedar mill wetland. Here WMSWCD is working on urban riparian and upland restoration, beaver conservation, backyard habitat partnerships, stormwater management and invasive species control. The Japanese beetle is one of the priority invasive species, and the early detection and rapid response program (EDRR) has sets of methodology used to address this disaster. This stop was concluded with a mouthwatering lunch for the Fellows before we proceeded to the property of Farhat Azhar. The landscape of the 5.3-acre property belonging to Farhat Azhar is beginning to witness glorious days with the support of WMSWCD. It is transforming from a previously shrubby land covered with blackberry, a very invasive plant, to gradually improving woodland. The long-term goal of the owner is to restore the land to a healthy forest with native species diversity that will provide habitat for wildlife with little or no invasive species.

    The property of Malinowaski was our last stop. The Malinowaski farm is 59.2-acre agroforestry farm. The activity done here was to restore the pond that was overflowing and oak woodland habitat. To achieve this, money made from thinning the oak woodland was used to fund the restoration in a cost-share model with WMSWCD. This is an example of a land that can pay for itself. This property is a conservation hotspot because of the presence of oak woodland that now covers about 8% of the property. The day ended with another social gathering with the staff of WMSWCD.

    Lesson Learned 

    Conservation at a landscape scale can be achieved in little bits (site-scale) without compromising the overall goal of creating connectivity, resilience and integrity for the landscape. When approaching conservation projects, it is very important that the goals be well-defined and well-established. Another important lesson here is that people are a very important part of any conservation agenda; they are the center of any conservation project. Thus, any successful conservation project is a reflection of a people well managed. Also, it is very important that their goals and ambitions should be reflected in order to be able to achieve this long-term goal. The occurrence of invasive species, although initially harmless and safe, can eventually create a disaster; the case of the Japanese beetle is indeed a take-home lesson. So, exceptional care should be taken when migrating from one region to another so as not to spread invasive species that can eventually lead to huge social and economic disaster.

    An International Fellow’s Thoughts and Perspectives 
    Temitope Dauda, International Fellow from Nigeria
    and Conservation Planner,
    thinking about how to change conservation narratives

    The work of WMSWCD is, in the long run, part of an effort for the mitigation and adaptation of climate change, the significance of which makes it pertinent for us all to play a role. Their approach to conservation and sustainable management is simplistic yet very potent: promoting the use of native species, resisting invasive species, all in an effort to restore the landscape to its original state of occurrence and thus improve its resilience. WMSWCD is changing the narrative of conservation by restoring and improving habitat to wildlife and plants, connecting landscapes and creating corridors even in the smallest parcels of land and getting people involved by connecting people in a journey of conservation and restoration of landscapes. Their work advances the creation of a peaceful co-existence in perpetuity for all living things. For the love of the people in the present and future, the love of plants and animals and for their continuous existence, the love of supporting systems on which this component relies, this agency is daily pushing the edge for a better world. In the end, all we need is love.

    Friday, August 16, 2019

    Beers and Payment for Ecosystem Services? Wine not?

    Date of Visit: August 7, 2019
    Type of event: Study tour
    Topic: Payments for Ecosystem Services
    Organization: City of Astoria
    Location: Bear Creek Watershed, Astoria, Oregon
    Hosts: Brian Kittler / Forest program Director of Sustainable Northwest, Ben Hayes /City of Astoria Forester (Springboard Forestry)
    International Fellows: Richard Banda (Malawi), Fen-hui Chen (Taiwan), Temitope Dauda (Nigeria), Zhongyuan Ding (China), Ana Kanoppa (Brazil), Will Maiden (United Kingdom), Romain Matile (France), Rodolfo Vieto (Costa Rica)
    WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Program Manager, Rick Zenn / Senior Fellow

    One of the local microbreweries
    in Cannon Beach, Oregon
    You may have heard that the best craft beers can be found in the Pacific Northwest, right? But what is the real reason why a small town on the Oregon coast is among the best brewing cities in the USA? We went to check it out.

    My colleagues from the World Forest Institute’s International Fellowship Program and I visited Bear Creek Watershed, an important water treatment plant that, during the summer, supplies around 4 million gallons of drinking water a day to the approximately 15,000 people of the city of Astoria.

    Faced with an area of about 3,800 acres of forest with native species (Western Hemlock, Douglas-fir, and Cedar) and the need to unlock funds, local policy-makers made the decision to avoid intensive timber harvest, as this method could threaten local water quality. Instead, in 2014, they came up with an innovative financing mechanism, a Carbon Project. The project’s objective is Improved Forest Management with the intent of increasing carbon stocks throughout the project period through three tools: i) Extending the harvest rotation of already established plantations; ii) Delaying harvest; and iii) Reducing the volume of harvest in the future (they cut 25% of the growth).

    Bear Creek Reservoir

    Hosted by the City of Astoria forester Ben Hayes (Springboard Forestry) accompanied by Brian Kittler, Forest Program Director from Sustainable Northwest, we had the opportunity to see a low-impact harvest model that avoids sediment runoff.

    The finance mechanism adopted by the city of Astoria was the concept of payments for environmental services. Reducing the volume of timber harvested in the Bear Creek Basin increased the carbon stocks that were traded (or sold) on the voluntary market. From January 2014 to September 2015, the project is estimated to have resulted in the removal of 262,154 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mtCO2e) emissions and the generation of approximately $2 million in revenue for the city. The transparency of the project’s process is guaranteed through the American Carbon Registry and an agreement with The Climate Trust.

    Add Low-impact harvesting reduces sediment runoff
    But what about the benefits? The revenue from the sale of carbon credits were invested in the city’s public services, including the local library, city parks, and fire trucks. There is also the added benefit of maintenance of water quality. And here is the key point! As is well known, over 90% of beer is made up of a substance called H2O. So, to make good beer, in addition to malt and hops, you will also need a forest! In summary, as Ben Hayes mentioned, a healthy forest is the highest-quality water filter.

    Ana Kanoppa, International Fellow from Brazil
    An International Fellow’s Thoughts and Perspectives 

    Generally, forests, regardless of the region where they are located, comprise issues that go beyond environmental subjects (and may include economic, social, and political aspects). For example, in my home country, Brazil, this means that maintaining forest cover can increase water security in large cities, promote the rural economy by helping the agricultural sector, and mitigate climate change. In fact, as we can see, the benefits are collective! So, if I could make a slogan for the special Pacific Northwest region, it would be: keep calm, plant trees, and drink good beer! Cheers, Saúde, Salud, Santé, 干杯,(Gānbēi!), 乎乾啦(ho da la)!

    Friday, August 9, 2019

    Small is Beautiful: Zena Forest Products

    Date of Visit: July 17, 2019
    Type of event: Study tour
    Topic: Small Forest Land Ownership
    Organization: Zena Forest Products
    Location: Rickreall, Oregon
    Hosts: Sarah Deumling / Owner and Forest Manager, Ben Deumling / Owner and Sawmill Operations Manager
    International Fellows: Richard Banda (Malawi), Fen-hui Chen (Taiwan), Temitope Dauda (Nigeria), Zhongyuan Ding (China), Ana Kanoppa (Brazil), Will Maiden (United Kingdom), Romain Matile (France), Rodolfo Vieto (Costa Rica)
    WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager

    Zena Forest Products is a German-American family-owned business located in the Eola Hills of the Willamette Valley, Oregon. The Deumling family has managed Zena Forest, a 1,300-acre parcel of FSC-certified forestland, since 1987 with a focus on maintaining a healthy and diverse ecosystem. This forested land comprises the largest contiguous block of forest in the Willamette Valley and includes large areas of endangered Oak Savannah and Oak Woodland.

    Zena Forest contains the headwaters of the Rickreall, Yamhill, and Spring Valley watersheds and is home for a number of threatened and endangered species. The forest is protected by a conservation easement, through which the Deumling family sold the development rights and carbon credits, both in perpetuity. The conservation easement also mandates minimum harvest levels as well as habitat preservation and enhancement measures.

    An example of Zena Forest Products' plywood flooring. The upper third section of the board
     is the most useful for flooring board surface, resulting in extremely efficient hardwood usage.

    Forest Management
    Zena forest is composed of approximately 50% mixed conifers, dominated by Douglas fir, and 50% broadleaf species, dominated by Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana, ±75%), and Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) and Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia, 25%).

    The overall management goal of the forest is to create an ecologically sustainable and economically viable, uneven-aged and mixed-species forest, including all tree, plant, and animal species native to the area. In practice, this translates into:
    · No clear-cutting: Single trees are selected to harvest based on the overall health of the forest, not on maximum profit.
    · No compaction: Equipment is operated on permanent, widely-spacede skid trails instead of on the forest floor.
    · No chemicals: Invasive species are removed by hand (i.e. with machetes).

    Additionally, Oak and other broadleaf species are managed at high densities to improve tree shapes.


    Zena Forest Products counts on a small-scale, sawmill facility with a production close to 50,000 bf/year of the aforementioned hardwood species (Oregon White Oak, Bigleaf Maple, Oregon Ash) and occasionally-purchased Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) logs. This facility runs for eight hours a day, five days a week.

    The Deumlings are currently focused on lumber, countertops, wooden heat registers, handmade stair parts, cabinets, and flooring plywood. In addition, oak sawdust for mushroom production is a by-product of their sawmill operations.

    Their log supply partially comes from nearby landowners, who, in many cases, are changing their land use from Oak Savannah to agricultural uses. This regional hardwood log supply is unstable, and the Deumlings fill in the supply gaps with their own wood, while procuring maximum efficiency from their use, as illustrated by their flooring plywood production, which is their hardwood star product. 


    The drying process includes air drying to 20% humidity, followed by kiln drying. Some small volumes are slowly dried to acquire higher value. Because of the strong cell walls of Oak wood, this product is particularly good for barrels after the drying process is finished. In contrast, some green wood is sold for canoe and boat construction due to its pliability. 


    The Deumlings are strongly focused on developing high-quality hardwood products that will differentiate them in the market. 

    An International Fellow’s Thoughts and Perspectives 
    Rodolfo Vieto, International
    Fellow from Costa Rica

    Learning about the family history behind the creation of Zena Forest Products, their forest management approach and learning process, and specially about the determination they have put into developing and maintaining their own business model is a great source of inspiration for me during my Fellowship program.

    As a Costa Rican, I have had the opportunity to experience freedom, at least in the most standard way of conceptualizing it: what gets me close to the way Americans value and pursue freedom. As I learned from E.F. Schumacher during my early university years, I give all my admiration for the way the Deumlings are demonstrating that “small is beautiful”.

    Monday, July 15, 2019

    Tribal Land Management: Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation

    Date of Visit: June 21, 2019
    Type of Event: Study tour
    Topic: First Foods Upland Vision
    Organization: Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
    Location: Pendleton, Oregon
    Hosts: Eric J, Quaempts / Director, Department of Natural Resources; Andrew Addessi / Supervising Forester; Gordy Schumacher / Program Supervisor, Range, Agriculture and Forestry; Brian Endress / Assistant Professor, Oregon State University, Eastern Oregon Agriculture Research Center
    International Fellows: Temitope Dauda (Nigeria), Richard Banda (Malawi), Fen-hui Chen (Taiwan), Zhongyuan Ding (China), Ana Kanoppa (Brazil), Rodolfo Vieto (Costa Rica) Will Maiden (United Kingdom), Romain Matile (France).
    WFI Staff: Vivian Bui / Professional Programs Coordinator, Rick Zenn / Senior Fellow

    International Fellows with CTUIR tribe members and hosts at the Nixyaawii Governance Center in Pendleton, Oregon
    The study tour trip of the 2019 International fellows to eastern Oregon would not have been complete without learning about the local Native American tribes. For this reason, we headed out to visit the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) on our return trip to Portland on June 21, 2019. We were welcomed at the Nixyaawii Governance Center in Pendleton. At the Center, one could notice the intentional effort and dedication put in place to create an atmosphere of culture, from the display of beautiful handmade traditional crafts that represent the rich culture of the CTUIR to the exceptionally warm reception that we received. Instantly, an aura of appreciation of Native culture and traditional values filled the air. Another reflection of their warm hospitality was the gifting of beautiful tribal accessories to all the International Fellows.

    The CTUIR includes three Native American tribes - the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla-Walla - who all share the reservation. Originally, the reservation covered 6.4 million acres of land, which was ceded to the US government in 1855. This amount of land represents the minimum area needed for CTUIR ceremonial and subsistence needs. Currently, the CTUIR have about 172,000 acres of land within their reservation boundary, which constitutes just 3% of the ceded land. 

    One of the most interesting cultural aspects of the CTUIR is their tradition of First Foods. First Foods constitute an array of products collected from the land by the CTUIR. These foods serve a fundamental role in the health, wellbeing and cultural identity of the tribes. The CTUIR consider these First Foods as the minimum ecological requirements necessary for the sustenance and cultural needs of their members. The CTUIR’s First Foods are water, salmon, big game, roots and berries, and they represent the grouping of similar species. For example, the salmon category also represents the other fish species collected by tribes. Among the CTUIR, the First Foods have a serving order, and observing this protocol is very important. The CTUIR creation belief has it that this serving order is based on the order in which each of the First Foods volunteered to take care of humans in the time before people. In their narrative, the creator asked the plants and animals, “Who will take care of the Indian people?” Salmon was first to promise his knowledge, then came the other fishes lined behind him. Next was Deer and other big game, then Cous and other roots, then huckleberry and other berries. In return, the CTUIR people promised to respectfully harvest and take care of the First Foods. The First Foods serving order is followed during festivities and in homes. The serving order serves as a reminder of the promise by the First Foods. It also signifies the tribe’s reciprocal responsibility to respectfully harvest and take care of the First Foods.

    The need for the CTUIR to ratify their own agreement to take care of the First Foods has made forest and landscape management of great importance to them. The CTUIR’s management of their land predates pre-European times, as evident in the description of their wild land and food production system. The CTUIR have been described as hunter-gatherers or foragers. Traditional knowledge and intuitions passed down through generations have been used to manage their land and resources, taking into consideration the need to respect the land. For example, fire is used in such a way that both promote the prevention of future wildfire and their traditional values. So, for the tribes, management of their land to continue producing goods in perpetuity has been more like a lifestyle and a significant part of their tradition. Although the current size of the CTUIR reservation does not stop traditional management practices, it significantly limits certain activities and the flow of management practices due to multiple land ownership types within the reservation. Within the reservation, the type of land ownership determines land management. The types of land ownership found within the CTUIR reservation are:
    • Fee land
    • Allotted trust
    • Tribal trust, and
    • Tribal fee

    Currently, the CTUIR manage their land with a variety of management practices. This includes, but is not limited to, pruning, sowing seeds after harvesting, thinning, and coppicing. The land is managed for:
    • Maintenance and improvement of timber, grazing, wildlife, fisheries, recreation, aesthetic and cultural or other traditional values
    • Regulating water run-off and minimizing soil erosion
    • Healthy, resilient and dynamic upland ecosystems able to support the continued natural production of First Foods

    Although the types of management practices applied allow commercial thinning to some degree, CTUIR land is not predominantly managed for economic profitability. Ecosystem services, cultural values and habitat seem to be of greater interest to the management of tribal land. Somehow, they all go hand in hand. For example, the use of fire as a tool for forest management allows Native Americans the privilege of restoring ecological functions as well as tradition, as fire was used in the past in 20- to 25-year intervals.

    Lessons Learned

    Land ownership systems have great impact on management. In places where the land ownership system is not well-structured, or where the land is too fragmented, there could be negative consequences for sustainable management. The First Foods approach is important to the local Native American tribes, and, in turn, the land is important to First Foods - the relationship is mutual. This has led the CTUIR to constantly explore better ways to manage their land and resources sustainably.
    The idea that the people must harvest the first foods as part of their responsibility to the first foods is legendary and very consistent with the concept of sustainable management. It promotes use and not preservation. The concept of ‘no logging’ or ‘no collection’ is not sustainable management; rather, use in a very respectful manner is. 

    Every landscape has a story behind it. Learning about the story of this landscape and the traditional practices behind it can contribute significantly to sustainable management. One way to do that is by incorporating indigenous peoples in the decision-making and planning process.

    Temitope Dauda, International Fellow
    from Nigeria, in her "Yor-Walla" outfit,
    a combination of a CTUIR tribal necklace
    and a Yoruba (from Nigeria) dress
    An International Fellow’s Thoughts and Perspectives 

    Among the Yoruba tribe of southwest Nigeria, there is a saying that no matter how much clothing a child has, he would never have as many rags as an elderly person. In a conservation and sustainable management context, modern science is the child’s new clothing, and traditional knowledge is the elderly person’s rags. The role of indigenous knowledge in the sustainable management of forest and landscapes cannot be overemphasized, and this has become very evident. Not that modern science is irrelevant, but for a holistic solution to a sustainable management problem, exploring the insight from local people on their ways and manners in which forest and landscapes have been managed is very useful. For example, among the Yoruba, it is considered taboo for women to enter certain forests, which are called sacred groves. Women who do so forcefully do not live to tell the story. Over the years, this restriction has helped to maintain forest ecosystems. Some of the oldest and largest trees in Nigeria can be found in such forests. The logic behind this is that women constitute the greatest disturbance to the forest through the collection of fuel wood, wood bark, etc. This taboo restricts their movement and, as such, promotes the wellbeing as well as sustainable management of these forests. So, finding out about the First Foods upland vision approach and restoring its practice will promote sustainable management, as evident on CTUIR land. 

    Furthermore, the First Foods upland vision approach is holistic at a landscape scale. It encourages sustainable use and management of certain products from across all landscapes for the CTUIR, and, interestingly, these resources follow an elevation gradient, from the lower-elevation river, wetland, and riparian systems (water and salmon) to the higher-elevation grasslands (roots) and forests (berries), highlighting the importance of the entire landscape to support and produce the full array of First Foods. Also, big game occupies the full elevation gradient, with several species like mule deer and elk seasonally migrating across the ecosystem. So, it’s a whole landscape thing. This idea gives in to the fact that all landscapes are connected and constantly interacting, and management of landscape should be done at a scale that incorporates such interactions and connection.

    One very important take-home lesson for me is to learn more about culture and traditions as well as historical trends of landscapes when addressing conservation issues. This, with the realization that current landscape habitants (flora and fauna) may have different interestsand that the wicked problem of our changing climate shapes a lot of things, will help change the lens through which we view conservation and thus promote a more sustainable landscape.

    Friday, July 12, 2019

    Long-Term Ecological Research: HJ Andrews Experimental Forest

    Dates of visit: June 27-28, 2019
    Type of event: Study tour
    Topic: Long-term ecological research
    Organization: HJ Andrews Experimental Forest (Oregon State University)
    Location: Blue River, Oregon
    Host: Don Henshaw / Information Manager
    International Fellows: Richard Banda (Malawi), Fen-hui Chen (Taiwan), Temitope Dauda (Nigeria), Zhongyuan Ding (China), Ana Kanoppa (Brazil), Will Maiden (United Kingdom), Romain Matile (France), Rodolfo Vieto (Costa Rica)

    International Fellows with Don Henshaw (right) in front of a trailhead in old-growth forest
    Introduction of the history of H.J. Andrews
    Experimental Forest and its 71st anniversary
    After a week-long “cowboys and cowgirls” adventure at MC Ranch, the 2019 International Fellows went on a 2-day science extension adventure to attend HJA Day at Oregon State University's (OSU) H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, where we met many ecosystem scientists and postgraduates, as well as nature artists and historians. HJA Day is an annual field gathering to share information about research, outreach, education, management, and arts and humanities, and is hosted by the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest’s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program This year’s event marked the 71st anniversary of the 1948 establishment of the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest. The H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest is a world-renowned center for research, natural resource management, and the humanities. It has been a charter member of the National Science Foundation's LTER Program since 1980, focusing on the study of ecosystems over the long term and to allow those long-term measurements and observations to inspire ecosystem questions. 

    Marie Tosa, OSU graduate student, explaining her
    research on mammals and birds
    Sam Schmeiding, OSU historian, showing his collection
    of H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest historical documents
    At HJA Day, the introduction of its history, and this year's 71th anniversary, we moved to four presentation sites. I particularly enjoyed the class on “Mammals and Owls” as it was interesting to see the wide and varied diet of the animals that in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest. This was displayed through food webs and highlighted how the Barred Owl has a more varied diet in comparison to the Spotted Owl. This is one reason for the ongoing decline in Spotted Owl numbers. The “Looking Back to Look Forward” site demonstrated a set of dynamic long-term climate data and how air flows operate in the landscape and influence the temperature. “Art, Humanities and Andrews History” showcased numerous displays about historical documents, illustrations, and photographs. “Science and Management Partnership” discussed the societal perceptions of forest features and functions. Field trips were also arranged to give the attendees a close look at how the scientists do their work, such as exploring the connection between soil and trees within the context of carbon capture and how microclimate gradients influence endophytic fungal communities.
    Zhongyuan Ding, International Fellow
    from China, with his signature pose

    An International Fellow’s Thoughts and Perspectives

    It’s impressive what the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, as well as the LTER program, have been working on. Ecological research with a long-term perspective is crucial, especially with the consensus that long-term phenomena play a central role in ecological science. Moreover, it requires successional leadership and intergenerational cooperation to facilitate meaningful data collection. It’s difficult but it works at H.J. Andrews. In my opinion, the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest it not only records history but is a part of it itself.

    Wednesday, July 10, 2019

    Non-Timber Forest Products: Oregon Woodland Cooperative

    Date of visit: July 2, 2019
    Type of event: Study tour
    Topic: Non-timber forest products from small woodlands
    Organization: Oregon Woodland Cooperative
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon
    Hosts: Neil and Ardis Schroeder
    International Fellows: Richard Banda (Malawi), Fen-hui Chen (Taiwan), Temitope Dauda (Nigeria), Zhongyuan Ding (China), Ana Kanoppa (Brazil), Will Maiden (United Kingdom), Romain Matile (France), Rodolfo Vieto (Costa Rica)
    WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Program Manager

    International Fellows with hosts Neil and Ardis Schroeder (center) underneath their grapevine
    Neil and Ardis, our hosts for this study tour, have known each other since childhood. When they gave us a tour of their backyard forest, we could feel their passion for the trees and land. Neil’s father was also a forester who would ask for extra seedlings of various species from different experimental forests during his work travels. Neil would help his father plant these seedlings on their forestland when he was little. Now, these trees are ready to harvest, and some have just been installed as flooring in Neil’s daughter’s room. So, using timber from trees you have planted yourself is possible.

    Neil Schroeder explaining how to make Christmas
    boughs from Western Red Cedar 
    The Oregon Woodland Cooperative (OWC) currently has 75 members with approximately 30,000 acres of land. During the 1940s and 1950s, loggers purchased timber from small family-owned forests at prices far below normal market value. Sawmills tend to pay less to small private forestland owners than to large timber companies. Additionally, landowners need revenue to pay their land tax. Therefore, OWC was founded in 1980 in order to protect the rights of small woodland owners and to strengthen the local economy. OWC members are all private forest landowners who own and manage family forest farms. The average size of their land is between 45-50 acres. Some members, like Neil, are very active and help the coop voluntarily, while some others are not as active but like to show their support for the OWC’s ideals.

    In addition to timber, the co-op provides many non-timber forest products (NTFPs) from their members’ forests, including products to heat your home (firewood), decorate your surroundings (boughs, rustic furniture), and improve personal health and well-being (essential oils and aromatherapy). The co-op emphasizes providing sustainable, local, consistent, and premium-quality products. Direct delivery from the forest owners to stores is offered. They harvest to order to supply the freshest greens possible. Order far in advance is not necessary. All these aspects make the co-op very successful and competitive.
    Various marketed and potential non-timber forest products of OWC

    You can find more information about the Oregon Woodland Cooperative in our previous WFI blog entry.

    Lessons Learned and Highlights from this year's Fellows:
    1. Learning about NTFPs was very important for me as someone who is looking to increase income generated by forests.
    2. The OWC’s target is a niche market with high-quality products.
    3. Creating a coop allows for the respect of loggers and reaches a niche market which provides members with regular benefits and income.
    4. We discussed issues such as drying firewood to ensure any pest species present leave the wood before it is transported and sold.
    5. We were shown a new forest business opportunity; Neil showed us a variety of products that can be marketed through the aggregation of value to NTFPs but for this to be successful, you need to remove the middlemen from the value chain and encourage joint commercialization.
    Besides regular firewood, OWC also provides
    smaller wood pieces for chiminea use
    6. This is an interesting case study for eco-cultural tours; Neil also shows interest in marketing agroforestry products from Central America.
    7. Discovering the full potential of forests to make forestry more profitable and offer more opportunities for the younger generations.
    8. Woodlands can provide much more economic benefits than just timber.

    An International Fellow’s Thoughts and Perspectives 

    Although the sale of timber remains the primary source of income from forestland, NTFPs are essential for most small landowners because timber supply is inconsistent, and you have to wait for a long time in between harvests. A long period of trial and error is usually required before any product becomes marketable. Neil, who is always willing to learn new ideas, plays a vital role at the co-op, as do some other volunteers.
    Fen-hui Chen, International Fellow from Taiwan,
    immersing herself in various NTFPs

    Telling stories behind the product, and creating connections between the client and the product, is a great strategy and really makes things different. I believe people are willing to pay more money if they know where and how goods are made, especially if it was in a sustainable way.

    Taiwan’s forests cannot be used for timber forest products by law. Local and indigenous Taiwanese people who live in or close to these forests are seeking sustainable NTFPs to improve their livelihood. As a researcher, I am always looking for creative, new, unique, and marketable NTFPs from our forests. This tour helps me to think outside the box!