Accelerating Adoption of Sustainable Practices for Small Forest Producers

Project Overview

OW14-003
Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2014: $47,167.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2017
Grant Recipient: Northwest Natural Resource Group
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Lindsay Malone
Northwest Natural Resource Group

Annual Reports

Information Products

Commodities

  • Additional Plants: native plants, trees, ornamentals

Practices

  • Crop Production: forestry
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, focus group, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance, risk management
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration, afforestation, biodiversity, habitat enhancement
  • Sustainable Communities: urban/rural integration, sustainability measures

    Abstract:

    Through the project, Accelerating Adoption of Sustainable Practices for Small Forest Producers, NNRG focused efforts on understanding information needs of forest producers and how they make decisions. We collaborated with Ecotrust to introduce producers to tools and examples to inform decisions and consider active forest management. This process included interviews with 9 producers and collecting stand measurement data from their forests to model scenarios in Ecotrust’s Forest Planner. 

    Producers indicated that they made decisions to actively manage their forests based primarily on their understanding of their forest’s health and their income needs. The most important factors guiding their decisions were their forest management plans and recommendations from forestry professionals who had reviewed their site specific issues. Producers indicated it was critical to have information specific to the conditions of their forests, considered their management objectives, and the status of markets (e.g. timber prices, contractor availability, and the availability of seedlings) in order to make decisions.

    We respond to producers’ interest in tools for evaluating forest health and desire for economic examples, by introducing producers and natural resource managers to Ecotrust’s Forest Planner, the Biodiversity Field Assessment, and sharing case studies about restoration thinning and selective harvests conducted by other producers.

    In 2015 and 2016, NNRG hosted two workshops for forest owners reaching 36 producers, and held one training attended by 20 natural resource professionals. NNRG provided more than 33 one-on-one field visits with producers managing more than 4,000 acres of forestland.

    From 2015-2017, NNRG worked directly with eight producers to evaluate and complete commercial thinning projects across 262 acres in the Puget Sound region of western Washington. These projects generated more than $1.4 million for the regional economy and contributed to more than 159 weeks of contractor activity for three logging operators.

    NNRG completed three case studies of producers considering active forest management and conducting harvest activities. We used ESRI’s Story Map platform to share the case studies and are distributed these accounts of producers’ management experiences through newsletters and social media to more than 3,000 people in our network.

    Through interviews and site visits, NNRG incorporated feedback from producer impressions of Forest Planner to share with Ecotrust to further refine the mapping program.

    Project objectives:

    The goal of the project was to empower forest producers to switch from non-management to active ecological management and remove barriers to sustainable forest management by giving producers and professionals better information about expected long-term outcomes.

    We focused our efforts to accomplish this goal by disseminating information through trainings and one-on-one field visits to forest producers and natural resource professionals about decision making tools and encouraging active forest management through uneven-aged silvicultural methods. NNRG worked toward this objective by:

    • Hosting two workshops for forest owners reaching 36 producers, and one training attended by 20 natural resource professionals; overall, reaching 56 producers and professionals.
    • Conducting 33 site visits with forest owners on more than 4,000 acres across western Oregon and Washington.
    • Interviewing nine forest owners to understand their goals for forest ownership and how they make decisions.
    • Developing three case studies of landowners practicing active forest stewardship by using uneven-aged management techniques.
    • Assisting eight forest producers in carrying out commercial thinning harvests on 262 acres of forestland. These harvests generated more than $1.4 million for the regional economy and contributed to more than 159 weeks of work for three logging contractors.
    • Distributing examples of forest producers’ management experiences and goals through mailings and social media to more than 3,000 people.
    • Introducing producers to Ecotrust’s Forest Planner which now has 700 registered users and an average of 100 uses per month.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.