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”.