Building Markets for Nontimber Forest Products
In western North Carolina, funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is providing the means for local producers to develop markets for regional timber and nontimber forest products.
On November 16, 2009, SRS awarded the Land-of-Sky Regional Council (LOSRC), a local government planning and development organization based in western North Carolina, a grant to manage $1.9 million in ARRA funds awarded to SRS by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to create a cooperative marketing network for regional timber and nontimber forest products.
“SRS is proud to help implement the ARRA and to play a role in building the networks that will position forest landowners for more prosperity,” says Jim Reaves, SRS director. “The project will create employment opportunities for people working with timber and nontimber forest products as well as marketing specialists, community organizers, and forest products advisors.”
LOSRC, which has over 30 years experience providing natural resource planning, economic development, and land management services to the region, proposed several projects, based on their experience working locally, to help build the capacity of local forest producers and create a sustainable marketing network for the region.
Projects focused on timber production include developing a small-diameter wood market, marketing high-value wood for crafters and custom builders, and supporting certifi ed and other greenlabel timber production. Proposals also include supporting the local production of woodland herbs and herb products and producing and marketing forest-based foods such as mushrooms and ramps.
LOSRC will help grow the local economy through the grant administration process itself. They will use western North Carolina organizations to manage the project, staff the project with local forest producers, and use a “bottom-up” planning and economic development approach.
“We propose to assemble groups of forest producers to help them to be more effi cient as demand for their products returns,” says Ron Townley, the LOSRC project manager who will be responsible for oversight of the new project. “We hope to solve the production and marketing problems that forest producers identify, particularly in the areas of more effi cient production, more profi table products, and better marketing.”
Land-of-Sky Regional Council: