The Terrible Traditional Timber Market
From the forest owner's point of view, the traditional timber market is a dangerous mine field that few forest owners (if any) have ever crossed unscathed. If you really understand this territory, you know the hidden dangers. You see the traditional guides that offer their flashy "professional" services and a hope of fair treatment. Many forest owners enter into what appears to be a good looking program, only to end up with major disappointments and a degraded forest. Government programs often lead an owner right out into the middle of the mine field, with all the assurances that the State says this is the best way, then disappear - leaving the forest owner alone, completely at the mercy of the many dangers. A few are given seemingly "free passes" to encourage others to follow, but if those accepting the passes really knew the whole story, they'd realize they took a big hit too.
There is no good market price information, no way to compare timber values, no reliable business information for forest owners. The industry trend is toward larger harvesting equipment with big monthly bank payments. These machines need big jobs with lots of timber volume, and can't stop for wet weather - they have to make their payments. Most forester's main concern is to put timber on the market to feed the industry. Everything is geared toward big business. The attitude is that trees are for the taking - for today's short-term profit. Timber is cut when it is merchantable, not when it is really mature - ( from the forest owner's point of view).
Despite the recent flood of fancy sustainable forestry talk and print, very little has really changed in the forest. There are some genuine examples of future oriented forest management, but on the whole, our timber is still being over-harvested and high-graded with multitudes of wounded forest owners being the other casualty. Forest owners see this everyday. We know what really happens every day in the forest! There is no way to cross this marketplace and get good forestry, low-impact logging, and a fair price for your timber.
Now there is an alternative. We have learned a new way!
Forest owners can now practice sustainable forestry, producing a steady flow of small timber harvests and a regular income from their timber crops. They can begin harvesting with the worst trees first to improve their forest for the future. Low-impact logging can remove mature timber with "Arthroscopic" precision, protecting the future productivity of the forest. Forest owners can be involved in the planning, the timber marking, and harvesting so that they understand the process and maintain control of their own land. They can learn to work with natural succession and regeneration to build the natural diversity of their forests. They can receive full and fair payment for the harvested trees through value-added processing and creative marketing.
To gain this level of management, forest owners need to do just the opposite of what has been 'business as usual' in the forest industry. They need to learn to take a whole new direction, to go around the mine field, not try and go through it. They must learn to follow the success of other forest owners, not the advice of the traditional "experts" who are really part of the old system.
Information is the key - there is an alternative today!