Virginia Forestry Summit 2018

At the Virginia Forestry Summit in Richmond. It is fun to hear what people have to say about forestry meet new friends and catch up with old ones. In-person events are important for that. In theory, you could learn more from watching on the web, but you miss the serendipity of unplanned meetings. I also find that I pay less attention if I am on the web. It is too tempting to “multitask” when you are sitting at home.

A good example of the personal contact has to do with CLT. I ran into a guy who works at a major Virginia firm with whom I had discussed CLT production. He said that he wanted to approach his top-management with the idea of making CLT. I forwarded some information and then looked for the DoF guy who works on CLT to make the connection. All of this was unplanned but not unanticipated in the broad sense. Personal meeting is useful.

The meeting started off talking about Carl Schenk. You may not have heard of him, but he is a big deal in forestry. He started the first forestry school in the USA.

Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, lots of people worried about a “timber famine”. We were running out of wood, since forests were being cleared and not regrowing fast enough. Schenk was trained in forestry in Germany. He quickly saw that American forests were different, but adapted techniques. We still are using some of the concepts he introduced,although much modified by our greater understanding. We can see farther because we stnd on the shoulders of giants like Schenk.

Interestingly, we no longer talk of timber famine. In fact we have a kind of “timber obesity” i.e. so much wood available that prices are very low. In the Southeast, we have a glut of mature timber. Given the low number of housing starts in the last ten years, we have an oversupply. One speaker said that we have 35% more standing mature pine in the Commonwealth than we did ten years ago. Even if housing picks up, it will take years to work through this surplus, so we cannot expect prices to go up much for saw timber, even if housing picks up. BTW – the price of lumber is going up much faster, but that is not due to cost of wood.

I will write more later. I have to get going now to attend today’s program.
Virginia Forestry Summit