Dovetail Partners Inc

Scandinavia2I wrote yesterday about Dovetail Partner Inc.’s new report, The Power of Silviculture, promoting intermediate treatments as silvilculture that provides win-win outcomes for the forests, forest economy, and forest-reliant communities. Monday’s DuluthNews Tribune featured a front page article making the same case through the practices of logger Mike Zauhar, an independent logger practicing in St. Louis County and elsewhere in the region. Zauhar has reengineered his John Deere logging tractor to be lighter on the land, and is using it to experiment with intermediate treatments that increase the forests’ productivity and timber values. As Zauhar told DNT, “We don’t need to go to Europe to learn forestry ideas… We want it so Europeans are coming here to learn.” Way to go, Mike!


ScandinaviaThey are rare in the often rough and tumble world of forest policy and practice, but sometimes it’s possible to point to tools that are especially helpful in delivering multiple public benefits from our forest resources – tools that are true silver bullets.

As described in a Dovetail Partners, Inc. report just out, The Power of Silviculture: Employing Thinning, Partial Cutting Systems and Other Intermediate Treatments to Increase Productivity, Forest Health and Public Support for Forestry, intermediate treatments have the potential to be a silviculturalists’ silver bullet.

Authored by Jim Bowyer and other Dovetail Partners, Inc. staff, the report is one of the products of Vital Forests/Vital Communities 2009 study tour project, Seeing the Forest AND the Trees: How to Make the Most of Minnesota’s Woods. As the report’s title suggests, a key “take away” from the study tours was the ability of intermediate treatments to increase multiple benefits – social, economic, and environmental – forests offer, AND increase public support for forestry. Blandin Foundation commissioned the report to support the work of one of the tour’s follow-on action teams, this one focused on the goal of increasing the use of intermediate treatments in Minnesota across ownerships.

As noted in the report, “There is now a considerable body of knowledge that suggests that wider adoption of intermediate treatments could increase both forest productivity and forest health. The possibility that public interest in and support for forestry might also be enhanced provides a win-win combination that could improve the outlook for profitable production of diversified forest products, including biomass in renewable energy production.”

When I put a copy into the hands of DNR State Forester Dave Epperly, who came by the Foundation today for a meeting with USFS Region Nine Forester Kent Connaughton, he brightened. “We at the DNR have been trying to increase the use of these treatments for several years; this report will help us make the case for why.”

I’m happy to pass along Dovetail Partners’ new report, “Community-Based Bioenergy and District Heating: Benefits, Challenges, Opportunities and Recommendations for Woody Biomass”.

This report specifically focuses on the thermal uses for wood as it applies to (1) district (community) heating and (2) combined heat and power (electricity) applications (cogeneration or Combined Heat and Power, CHP). District heating and CHP have enormous potential in the upper Midwest, including Minnesota. The opportunities and challenges of expanding district heating projects in the region are explored in this report. Lessons learned from around the U.S. and from other parts of the world are presented, as well as recommendations for further domestic development.

Earlier this week I had the pleasure to meet up with Seeing Forest AND the Trees Productivity travellers who gathered to preview a rough cut of the video documentary being produced for the tour by John Whitehead, of Fretless Films.

John’s talents are well displayed in the Bell Museum’s Minnesota, History of the Land series, and we were excited to see what he had made in film of our study project. These members of the tour’s “building a constituency for productive forests” action team had so much feedback for John that he may not emerge from his editing studio again for several weeks. Seriously, he was a very good sport as we inundated him with our reactions and suggestions. More on John’s film later this summer, when it makes its public debute.

Today I can share with you a new resource presented to the “Building a Constituency” team, developed as a result of the study tours — a report written by our friends at Dovetails, Inc. Building a Constituency of Forest Productivity Advocates: What do we know about Minnesotan’s Natural Resource Priorities? uses polling and public survey research to provide insights into what policy changes and actions people are likely to support, and where opportunities for engagement and creation of a “forestry constituency” may exist. Katie Fernholz summarized the report findings in a .ppt to the committee, which you can view here.

The recommendations are practical and visionary. Getting them done will require, as usual, vision and collaboration, and oh yes, that unique quality we heard so much about in Finland…. sisu.

This week’s news release, from Dovetail Partners, Inc. summarizing the learnings to date from a the Manomet Center’s study of carbon credit options for Aitkin and Cass County Land Departments, reports that the carbon storage on these lands represents the annual carbon emissions of more than 5 million cars. Check out the news release here .

The report was presented at VF/VC’s recent conference: Forest Values/Carbon Markets: Opportunities for Minnesota. A full copy of the report is available on the Foundation’s web site.

Thanks to Dovetail Partners Executive Director Katie Fernholz for news that the Aitkin SWCD’s Forestry Services have recently completed the first annual audit of its forest certification program.

Membership in the program has doubled since it began in 2006. This success significantly advances a key objective of Blandin Foundation’s Vital Forests/Vital Communities Initiative — to increase the number of acres of private woodland and number of forest product companies under third party certification. Please join all of us on the Blandin team in congratulating Aitkin SWCD Director Dennis Thompson, his staff and members, on crossing this important milestone. And consider joining them on Saturday, August 16th for a hands-on demonstration of responsible and low-impact logging techniques.

11 AUGUST 2008
CONTACT: Dennis Thompson, 218-927-6565

Aitkin SWCD Forestry Services Grow
Logging Demo August 16th

(Aitkin, MN ) – The Aitkin County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) recently completed the first annual audit of its forest certification program. The program has continued to grow since it was started in 2006.

“We’ve doubled the membership in the program since the initial group signed-up, and members are now able to market everything from certified pulpwood and sawlogs to balsam boughs and burls,” says Dennis Thompson, Aitkin SWCD Forester.

The opportunity to certify non-timber forest products such as burls for wood turning, balsam boughs, natural Christmas trees, and spruce tops was recently added to the program.

“Some landowners may not have a timber harvest planned for their land, but are interested in other products they can market. Now our program can help them responsibly manage non-timber forest products to the same high standards,” says Thompson.

The program was started with support from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) and a grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“The opportunities offered by the Aitkin SWCD are unique in the state, and I hope landowners in Aitkin County continue to sign up for the program,” says Katie Fernholz, Executive Director of Dovetail Partners and project partner.

The Aitkin SWCD, Minnesota Forestry Association (MFA), and the Northwoods Forestry Cooperative are hosting a logging demonstration on Saturday, August 16th. Landowners are welcome to come learn about responsible and low-impact logging techniques.

For more information about the certification program or logging workshop, contact Dennis Thompson at the Aitkin SWCD, 218-927-6565.

Folks interested in enhancing the role forest-based industries play in sustaining our region’s economy, environment and quality of life have plenty of reasons to attend next week’s Crisis or Opportunity? – Sustaining and Strengthening Forest-Based Industries in the Great Lakes Region conference in Madison.

The June 23-25 meeting is being organized by the Great Lakes Forest Alliance, a non-profit organization established to foster and facilitate cooperative efforts that enhance the social, economic and environmental values of forests in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario.

Besides sessions on forestland ownership trends, conservation easements, and forestry’s role in the bioeconomy, participants will have a chance to attend the world premiere of a new video, Forest Floor to Showroom Floor: Marketing “Green Forestry” in Minnesota. Produced by John Whitehead and Fretless Films for Blandin Foundation’s Vital Forests/Vital Communities initiatives. The thirteen-minute documentary examines the impact on forestry, forest products and local economies of Aitkin County Land Department’s now ten-year commitment to third party certification through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

The video includes footage from Aitkin County’s latest FSC audit, follows Aitkin County’s local, value-added chain-of-custody for certified forest products, and illustrates how third party certification supports the county’s overall approach to practicing ecologically-based and economically-viable forestry. [John Whitehead also produced and directored another Blandin-commissioned video product, Minnesota: A History of the Land – The Northern Forest, which chronicles efforts to understand and restore Minnesota’s forest landscape in the face of the increasing threat of parcelization and fragmentation.]

A newly updated report to be released at the conference provides the larger context for the Aitkin story. Prepared by Dovetails Partners with support from Blandin Foundation, The Great Lakes Region: A Forest Certification Hub documents the Great Lakes Region’s continued leadership in forest certification efforts, representing 29% of all the certified forestland in the United States. And in just the first six months of 2008, at least 120 new companies in the region have achieved chain-of-custody certification, allowing them to label and market certified products.

From Forest Floor to Showroom Floor does a great job of telling the human story behind this success, including the importance of local vision and leadership, in Aitkin’s case, provided so ably by Aitkin’s modest but impressive Land Commissioner Mark Jacobs.

To order a copy of the Forest Floor to Showroom floor video, email

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