Newsletter Stories

Friday, 10 June 2022
Construction Leaders Focus on Climate-Smart Forestry

 (© Image Credit: Ethan Martin)© Image Credit: Ethan Martin

As the construction industry turns to mass timber to address climate change, the sector is taking a closer look at the main ingredient, wood. At a global level, forests are both a cause and solution to climate change, depending on how they are managed (or mismanaged). To show leaders in the construction sector a wide range of forest management styles, and to discuss climate-smart forestry, FSC worked with Turner Construction to organize a forest tour in Western Oregon.

Starting from Sustainable Northwest Wood in Portland, an FSC-certified lumberyard, the tour began with a stop at Hyla Woods, outside of Gaston, OR. FSC certified since 1997, Hyla is an excellent example of ecological forest management. Owner and manager Peter Hayes inspired the group with his discussion of topics ranging from forest resiliency and biodiversity conservation to the need for greater milling capacity for and segregation of large-diameter wood from longer rotations.

Next, the group stopped at a roadside turnout near the Oregon Coast to look over a large industrial clearcut on steep slopes, as an example of common forest management practices in the region. While the 100+ acre opening made an impact on the group, a key point made was that this was also “sustainable forestry,” albeit not FSC certified. Because the forest is replanted after harvest, the forest will regrow. At the same time, this style of management yields very different outcomes from the perspective of water, carbon dynamics, biodiversity and chemical use.

At EFM’s Garibaldi Forest, the group learned about variable retention harvests and variable density thinning as techniques to generate a return on investment while also increasing diversity and complexity in a forest. The group also discussed a forest carbon project EFM has developed on an adjacent watershed, Moss Creek.

The day ended nearly 12 hours after it began, back at Sustainable Northwest Wood for a cold beverage surrounded by FSC-certified wood products, some from forests we had just visited. While the group was tired, they were also energized. As an example, one participant shared, “that prior to the tour, I wasn’t very interested in FSC timber because it always seems out of reach on the projects I typically work on (K-12 schools and higher-ed). Now I will be looking for any opportunity to source from FSC forests, and to have more robust and informed conversations with clients about the nuances and impacts of forestry practices.”

FSC offers our sincere gratitude to Turner Construction for sponsoring the tour, and in particular to Emi LaFountain and Max Malany who were deeply involved in organizing the event with us. The event would not have been possible without their support.

If you’re interested to learn more about the information shared, download the Forest Tour Handout below.