On Thursday, February 25th, the Forestry Committee of the Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) released the final report of the Forest Systems Analysis, conducted by St. Albans based Yellow Wood Associates. The year-long project brought together hundreds of members of the forest and wood products industry. The three main takeaways defined a need for:
- increased public awareness of the economic importance of the forest and wood products sector
- industry wide network development; and
- increased consumer demand for Vermont-made wood products.
“We’ve come together to examine obstacles and opportunities and to help chart a return to a thriving forest economy,” said Commissioner Michael Snyder, Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation. “Over the year-long analysis, it was gratifying and absolutely critical that so many Vermonters from such a wide swath of the sector came together to participate. We developed a shared understanding of the problems we face and we inspired each other to consider how we can shape our collective future.”
Additionally, the committee unveiled a new tool to help both industry members and consumers connect. The Vermont Forest and Wood Products Online Directory is an interactive map of many of the wood and forest related businesses and resources in the state. The tool can be utilized for a variety of purposes, including to find a nearby forester or a kiln that dries a particular type of wood. The map is linked to the Working Lands website as well as that of the Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation.
The report and directory were unveiled at the Southern Vermont Forest Meetup, hosted by the WLEB Forestry Committee. The meetup was held at the Marlboro School of Graduate and Professional Studies in Brattleboro and was followed by a tour of Cersosimo Lumber, the largest sawmill in the state. Over 60 industry members and partners were in attendance. The event built on the success of last June’s Forestry Summit, held at Sugarbush Resort, and focused on building connections within the sector.
WLEB Forestry Committee Chair and Consulting Forester Joe Nelson, County Forester Matt Langlais, and Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund Director Ellen Kahler provided remarks. A three-person panel moderated by Ken Gagnon of Gagnon Lumber illustrated Southern Vermont’s value chain. Panelists included Eli Gould, a WLEB grant recipient and owner of Ironwood Brand, Jeff Hardy from Cersosimo Lumber, and George Weir from the Windham Regional Woodlands Association.
Following the meeting, committee chair, Joe Nelson said, “The strong attendance today is a testament to how dedicated these folks are to the forestry sector. And it reinforced how important it is that we reach out and connect to each other across the state to enhance these private-public partnerships in order to maintain and strengthen Vermont’s forest economy.”
Link to Vermont’s Forest Sector Systems Analysis: https://workinglands.vermont.gov/sites/ag_wlei/files/VT%20Forest%20Sector%20Analysis_2016.pdf
Link to the Forest and Wood Products Directory: https://workinglands.vermont.gov/node/736