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Beyond Certification

Posted by on Aug 14, 2015 in Blog |

Asking forest stewards to practice regenerative forestry without some form of certification is like asking the contractor to build a house without a tape measure.  However in the nearly thirty years since Hyla Woods first became certified under the Forest Stewardship Council program, the concrete benefits to our economic profitability have been elusive at best.  In hindsight, we should have anticipated this.  Over time, in an effort to boost market share, FSC standards have eroded.  At the same time wood comes on the market that is strategically grown to the absolute minimum of the FSC standards.  Given these dynamics it is understandable that those of us who set a forestry standard that is well above the FSC standards will have an increasingly tough time competing in these “race to the bottom” markets. A recent Tedx talk by our friend Connie McDermott, who works on these topics as a professor at Oxford University, sheds light on alternative approaches that aim to address these problems and build stronger incentives for good forestry.  We found it provocative and you may too. http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/The-forests-behind-the-label—2 Here is a short video outlining the app that they are developing:  http://youtu.be/1ZoX9SdYgqk In this vein, here is an example of a process that is helping to better link producers and consumers:...

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An Inspiring Example

Posted by on Aug 14, 2015 in Blog |

At the risk of sounding like a broken record by starting out with “work in the forests in always inspiring……… (blah, blah, blah…)”, here is an story that we think is worth sharing.  All around this region, country, continent, and planet there are terrific working examples of people using their creativity and opportunities to care for forests in ways that both rebuild forest health and provide well for the people involved.  Because this is what we at Hyla Woods aim to do, we always have a sharp eye out for good examples.  We study them and share them. One of the best is close to home for us – The Nature Conservancy’s Ellsworth Forest, or Ellsworth Creek Preserve, in SW Washington.  This recent piece in their magazine provided a good summary of their aims, progress, and challenges:  http://www.nature.org/magazine/archives/beyond-the-timber-wars.xml We have much to learn from their good...

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All But the Squeal

Posted by on Aug 14, 2015 in Blog |

In our forests we believe that there is no such thing as waste.  In our milling operation we are on a quest to have every output of the process serve some useful purpose.  Though it is a destination that will forever elude us over the horizon, for the past ten years we’ve been pleased to make some progress.  Step by step, we have built relationships that convert what many look on as waste products into things that are valuable and useful.  Here are a few of the steps: When a tree falls to the forest floor, from old age, wind throw, or with a chainsaw assist, all parts of the tree are creatively used.  The millable logs head for the sawmill.  Sections of the tree that are too crooked or small to mill head one of three places.  Some will be bucked, split, and sold for firewood.  Some will be left on the forest floor to play the important role of decaying and feeding the health of the soils.  Beginning in 2008, we developed a relationship with the local mycological society where oak that is between three and five inches in diameter is cut into 18″ lengths and sold as bases for mushroom propagation.   Nothing goes to waste. Once the logs reach our mill, the challenge of full utilization continues.  Obviously most to the log it turned into some rectangular form of lumber. But there are two other bi-products which we have been challenged to find a good home for.  We begin the milling process by cutting a slab off of each of the log’s four sides.  These slabs are bucked into firewood lengths, dried, and sold to a network of enthusiastic community members. This leaves us with the sawdust.  For many years we have had good success with using the sawdust as mulch to protect and nourish seedlings we’ve planted in meadow areas, thus avoiding the use of herbicide to kill competing grass. In recent months we’ve had the good fortune to develop a new relationship that’s putting our sawdust to great use.  Nicole Cousino and her colleagues at Nature’s Commode have developed and are testing portable toilets for group events that...

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