Forestry Co-ops Take Root
By Jane Braxton Little Cooperative is providing support and critical links that are
helping them manage their forests sustainably for wood,
Editor’s note: Little is a California-based writer. water, wildlife and recreation. Ultimately, the co-op may make
the difference between lands that remain forested and those
hen Don Flournoy decided to thin a portion that become parceled into smaller and smaller tracts that are
of his 235-acre Sugar Bush Farm, he wanted no longer economically productive or ecologically functional.
to use a “light-on-the-land” logging method Other forestry co-ops in different parts of the country are
that would not damage his property. He knew providing similar services to landowners.
right where to find help: The Ohio Forestry A “bootstrap” operation first incorporated as the Ohio
Cooperative. Premium Pine Cooperative (OPPC) in 2004, the co-op began
The organization of Ohio forest landowners put Flournoy as a group of tree farmers who banded together to market
in touch with a horse logger who uses lightweight equipment their pine products. As they worked to improve their pine
suited to his mixed-hardwood forest. The results left him plantings that had been established on “beat-up” hill farms,
satisfied — “very satisfied,” says Flournoy, an international some members realized that the services of the cooperative
telecommunications consultant and professor at Ohio could, and should, be extended beyond pine to sustainable
University in Athens. management and marketing of their members’ hardwood
For forest landowners such as Flournoy, the Ohio Forestry forests, as well.
14 March/April 2009 / Rural Cooperatives
They recently reorganized as a “holistic” forest technical assistance and targeted services
cooperative, offering landowners services that around financing and marketing.
range from marketing and logging contract The Ohio Forestry Co-op is in the process
preparation to forest management plans. of applying for certification under the Forest
Stewardship Council for its members’ forests,
Forest needs vary greatly which total more than 5,000 acres and
Not all forests need the same treatment, says