Ever Eat a Pine Tree?
10.23.2012

Well, I wouldn’t recommend it, but there are a lot more products from forests and trees than just wood. Wild forest goods – also known as non-timber forest products – are booming in Oregon forests, thanks to the work of several groups.

I had the pleasure of attending a Forest Learning Fair sponsored by the Oregon Woodland Cooperative in September near Brownsville. I was surprised by the number of products: basketry materials, berries, boughs, cones, dyes, essential oils, firewood, floral products, wild honey, moss, mushrooms, nuts, resins, seeds and syrups are all being harvested and marketed by Oregon family woodland owners.

The most fragrant product I learned about was “Canopy Essential Oils,” which are distilled, bottled and marketed by the co-op. Foliage from trees and shrubs is steam-distilled in a large stainless-steel still fired by propane. Pines, cedars, Douglas-firs and true firs are all used, and each has its own unique fragrance.

The OWC was formed to help its members market their timber more effectively by having larger lots to sell. However, they’ve grown into a great marketer of non-timber forest products for their members. One of their biggest successes is with bundled firewood.

Bundled firewood represents a premium, value-added product for low-value logs. Prices are steadier year over year than pulp, and more reliable year-round than cordwood. Finally, increasing energy prices also means firewood prices are likely to increase. Bundled firewood is sold at supermarkets, convenience stores and campgrounds.

Two other organizations that are helping family forest landowners market their non-timber forest products are the Institute for Culture and Ecology (IFCAE) and the Oregon Wood Innovation Center (OWIC).

IFCAE is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve human and environmental conditions through appliled research, education and community improvement projects. OWIC is a joint project of Oregon State University’s College of Forestry and OSU Extension Service, aiming to improve the competitiveness of Oregon’s wood products industry by fostering innovation in products, processes and business systems.

Together these groups have produced Wild Forest Goods, a regional directory that links businesses that buy and sell non-timber forest products. This database expands Oregon State University’s Forest Industry Business Directory.

So don’t eat any pine trees, but do remember the thousands of products that are harvested and marketed from our forests.

May The Forest Be With You,
Mike Cloughesy

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