Many of the people I know have heard that I spent a week in the United Kingdom last fall on a fact-finding mission to learn more about what has made that country so successful in mainstreaming mass timber construction projects. While I was there, I learned that the movement began in earnest when government agencies at all levels made a concerted effort to use wood in buildings because of its unique sustainability features.
In an effort to be more sustainable, government officials showed preference for cross-laminated timber for the buildings over which they had jurisdiction. At the time, a large percentage of the public buildings going up in Britain were schools, so scores of schools were built with wood.
In the process, those involved learned that wood buildings were not only superior from a sustainability aspect, but could also be constructed faster and less expensively than those built with traditional materials. Later, they found that student learning increased in these wood buildings, likely because of the innate affinity humans have for natural materials and daylight.
Environmentally superior, faster construction, less expensive to build and better learning environments. It doesn’t get much better than that.
So what’s all this have to do with Oregon? Last November, Oregonians collectively passed construction bonds in nine school districts totaling more than $1.4 billion. In May, another $1.5 billion in school construction bonds will likely be on the ballot. In all, there could be nearly $3 billion in school construction money made available across 15 Oregon school districts. Design teams and decision-makers in those districts will have multiple material options to choose from to renovate and build new schools – whether that be steel, concrete or wood.
One of these options comes from a renewable resource, requires very low energy to produce and stores carbon to the tune of nearly a ton of CO2 emissions offset for every cubic meter of material used. It offers nearly limitless design potential and can be used to create soothing spaces that enhance learning.
And since Oregon is the nation’s largest producer of this remarkable building material, its use helps provide family-wage earnings for some 60,000 Oregonians, many of them in rural communities that could use an economic boost.
Seems like a no-brainer to me.
Director of Forest Products
Spring break has traditionally been the time for Oregon forest landowners to attend Tree School. Sponsored by the Oregon State University Extension Service, Tree Schools provide an opportunity for small woodland owners, Christmas tree growers and other rural residents to take classes on a variety of natural resources-related subjects.
This year OFRI is teaching classes and having an OFRI display at Tree Schools in Oregon City and Roseburg. The Oregon City Tree School is scheduled for March 25 at Clackamas Community College. About 700 landowners attend this every year, partaking in 60 different classes that include hands-on courses covering topics such operating chainsaws. More information can be found here. On March 31, Tree School – Umpqua will take place at Phoenix Charter School in Roseburg. More than 200 landowners attend this Tree School and partake in 28 different classes. An online course catalog is available here.
At both these Tree Schools, OFRI Public Outreach Manager Inka Bajandas and I will be teaching a class called "Talking Forestry.” Drawing from our experience in public outreach, journalism and educating audiences with minimal forestry knowledge, we’ll offer strategies for talking to family, friends, neighbors, media and the public about forest management, in easy-to-understand terms. We’ll use the latest OFRI public survey data, the new Oregon Forest Facts 2017-18 Edition booklet, mock interviews and social media tips to help you share your stories.
At Tree School – Umpqua, I’ll also teach a class on writing forest management plans. These important documents are required for Oregon Tree Farm System participation, help qualify forest landowners for cost-share funding, and form the foundation for sustainable forest management. A plan is an invaluable communication tool and can help forest landowners focus their work and see whether they are accomplishing their goals. Writing a plan that suits your needs takes a little time, but you gain a wonderful communication tool and a deeper understanding of your property. This class will help participants understand the components of a management plan, identify available resources and get them started on articulating their goals and objectives.
I’m looking forward to teaching at Tree School and hope you’ll consider taking one of our classes.
For the forest,
Director of Forestry
Oregon has seen some record rainfall recently, and after a snowy and ice-filled winter, some signs of spring – or at least a dry spell – would be more than welcome.
Despite the dampness, the winter rains remind me why I love Oregon. The temperate climate and abundant rainfall combine to make this state one of the best places in the world for forests to flourish. Oregon’s forests provide us with timber for the wood products we use every day, as well as many other amenities such as clean air and water, and fish and wildlife habitat. Plus, nothing beats a walk in the woods as a way to find sanctuary from the stresses of daily life.
OFRI’s work to advance public understanding of forests, forest management and forest products all hinges on the fact that in Oregon, we grow trees. The rain – along with sustainable forest management practices and our state’s forest protection laws – makes it possible to grow them in perpetuity.
To learn more about the economic, social and environmental benefits of Oregon’s forests, check out OFRI’s wide range of educational websites, publications and videos that provide information on forest management practices, wood products and the state’s forest-based economy. You’ll find electronic versions of our publications and a wealth of other online resources related to forests and forest management on our main site, OregonForests.org, as well as on our sites for K-12 educators, LearnForests.org, and forest landowners, KnowYourForest.org. Be sure to visit our newest website, OregonForestFacts.org, for the latest data about Oregon’s forests, including forest ownership, forest-based employment and timber harvest levels.
As always, OFRI is planning many exciting and interesting projects, programs and events this year. And there are many ways to stay connected to us, see what we’re up to, and join the conversation about Oregon’s forests:
- eNews: OFRI’s monthly newsletter
- Forestry in the Classroom: OFRI’s quarterly K-12 newsletter
- The OFRI Blog: Fresh takes on forest-related topics
- OFRI Twitter
- OFRI Facebook
- OFRI YouTube Channel
- Ask a Forester
Thanks for showing an interest in OFRI. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about our programs and publications.
For the forest,
The Oregon Forest Resources Institute produces many educational reports and publications. Our most popular has probably been Oregon Forest Facts, the little book that’s big on facts, charts and stats, but small enough to fit in your pocket or handbag.
While updating the 2017-18 edition of Oregon Forest Facts, we thought perhaps the information could stand by itself as a small website, for those looking to learn about and share the most current data on Oregon’s forest sector. So we made one: OregonForestFacts.org.
We’ve used the data, charts and graphs from Oregon Forest Facts to make the handy new website. It’s divided into six sections that correspond to the information in the new publication: forestland ownership, harvest and production, sustainability, watershed protection, fire, and employment.
OregonForestFacts.org has a responsive content design, which means it works just as well on your smartphone or tablet as it does on your computer browser. We’ve also included social media sharing functions on each of the charts, tables, maps and graphs so that if you see something you would like to send to a colleague, or share to your network on Facebook or Twitter, you can do it with a single click.
So check out the new site and share it with anyone who might have an interest in the latest information about Oregon’s forest sector.
Senior Public Outreach Manager