By Rob Riley, Center President

The Center’s board and staff met for our third virtual board meeting at the end of June, and while we can take care of business this way, we are itching to get back to meeting face-to-face in the Northern Forest region. We’re eager to walk through the woods, communities, and businesses to hear directly from those we serve – entrepreneurs, community leaders, and other stakeholders – who are working for a New Forest Future.

Though we couldn’t be physically out in the region, we brought a sampling of voices and perspectives to our meeting, albeit virtually, through partners who shared the challenges and opportunities the global pandemic has created for them. We heard about concern of the unknown, the loss of daily community connections, and heart-wrenching decisions business owners have had to make to enable their businesses to survive long term, even at the near-term cost of people’s livelihoods. 

Andrew Pearce and bowlWe learned about entrepreneurial spirit from Andrew Pearce, owner of Andrew Pearce Bowls, a Hartland, Vermont-based wood products company, who immediately shifted his emphasis from wholesale and retail-store sales to web-based sales and promotion, realizing a dramatic increase in revenue for this May compared to May 2019.

By Rob Riley

The Spaces In BetweenSo much has changed over the past few weeks. We know people’s lives have been turned upside down and our friends and neighbors are doing what they can to put food on the table, stay connected with others and maintain a sense of hope for the future.
In these tumultuous times, our team is doing what we do best: asking questions, listening deeply, adapting our strategies, and continuing to work toward a vibrant future. Here are a few examples of how we’ve adapted our programs to serve immediate needs:

By Lianna Lee

2019 Gift Guide Web’Tis the season for us to help you find beautiful gifts that are as exciting to give as to receive! In the spirit of shopping local and celebrating the Northern Forest region, I gathered recommendations from my Northern Forest Center colleagues. Our staff spend hundreds of hours on the road to work with community partners, assist rural businesses, and help create bold possibilities that give rise to vibrant Northern Forest communities. Along the way they see some great gift ideas.

In the spirit of Living the New Forest Future, we hope you’ll consider shopping local and supporting family-owned businesses that help connect their customers and communities with our forested landscape this year.

By Maura Adams and Rob Riley

Climate change is scientifically complex and politically fraught, yet very clear. Long-term data combined with local observation tell us that natural cycles are changing, and with significant effect. 

Maine forest webAt the Northern Forest Center, we pay special attention to news and studies about the role forests and forest products play in mitigating climate change – and to media stories that mischaracterize the carbon impact of using wood in our context. And there are many.

For example, we would have expected a more nuanced piece from climate activist Bill McKibben when he attacked every form of biomass energy in a recent New Yorker article: “Don’t Burn Trees to Fight Climate Change – Let Them Grow” (8/15/19). Like others, he fails to recognize essential lifecycle distinctions that affect the equation for carbon impact of using wood for energy in places like New England. 

By condemning use of wood for energy under all circumstances, McKibben and others dismiss an important means of reducing carbon emissions: displacing fossil fuels by instead heating homes and buildings with advanced wood heating systems using regionally-produced wood pellets or chips from managed forests. In many cases these pellets are made of sawdust that is the by-product from dimensional lumber, furniture, flooring, and other wood products manufacturing.