Most solid wood forest industries are limited to harvesting mature healthy trees with trunks that measure twelve inches or more in diameter. Such practices leave behind thickets of smaller diameter, defective, and diseased trees and create conditions that contribute to poor forest health and high fire hazard. The big saw logs are more efficient to log, transport, and mill into large quantities of lumber and are therefore more attractive from an economic viewpoint. This creates a challenge to the community of forest owners, foresters, wood producers, and manufacturers that want to create an ecologically viable and economic means of utilizing small diameter forest products so that a cycle of sustainability can be formed.
A Business Model for Small Diameter Utilization
The best business model for sustainable harvest of small diameter timber will include the entire cycle from forest planning, treatments and harvest, through manufacture and sales of products. It will generate income to support the harvest of these normally undesirable materials. It will also involve individual property owners, foresters, wood producers and wood products makers, the consumers and the community in a joint effort for optimum results.
Steps to Meet the Challenge:
Identification of forest resources and development of value-added forestry services
Education of forest landowners and managers on forest conditions and methods, and on their interdependence with forest product businesses
Development of product lines designed to utilize small-diameter timber - furniture, railings, fencing, entryways, pole products, ladders, siding, flooring, paneling, cabins and cabin components, etc. -- rather than massive biomass projects that create fewer jobs and community benefits
Using custom and individualized labor-intensive production instead of mass production so that waste is minimized, more jobs are created, and more value is realized to enable quality forestry treatments
Analysis of equipment needs, sources, purchases, and maintenance
Creating a market for both products and services and linking them for best results
Supporting the community though job creation, forest health projects and fire hazard mitigation programs
Creating a collaborative association of landowners, foresters, wood producers, and wood products users through innovative networks and relationship building.