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2021: The Year’s Accomplishments In Review

2022 is just days away, and the NNRG team is itching to get to work on some of the new projects planned for the year. But before we continue on our mission to strengthen the ecological and economic vitality of Northwest forests and communities, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on some of NNRG’s most notable achievements and activities of 2021.

1. Launched a project to test climate adaptation techniques for Northwest forests

At the start of 2021, NNRG and partners launched a new demonstration project to test techniques that can help forests endure the kinds of climatic changes that we expect in the Pacific Northwest. The project is testing how thinning to different levels can improve forest health by spreading available soil moisture among fewer trees, increasing the likelihood that each tree will have enough water to thrive, and enabling the forest to continue maturing and providing habitat for species dependent on older forests. It is also testing how cutting small patches in the forest canopy can improve snow retention and year-long hydrology in the forest. The majority of the thinning work and the snow gap cuts were accomplished in September through November of this year, and monitoring of the snow levels in the snow gaps will begin in January. Learn more on the NNRG blog.

2. Wrote 17 forest management plans and conservation activity plans that cover 6,100 acres of forest in Oregon and Washington.

A forest management plan is a landowner’s blueprint for how they will steward their forest. In 2021, NNRG staff wrote 17 plans rooted in ecological forestry for small private woodland owners, conservation groups, and youth camps.

The plans covered a total area of 6,100 acres in Oregon and Washington, and those forests now have a comprehensive evaluation of the natural resources they shelter, and a 30-year timeline of management recommendations to protect those resources. More information on our management planning services is available here.

3. Received a Green Globe Award for being a Leader in Forest Stewardship

Every two years, the King County Executive recognizes individuals and organizations that are leading the way on environmental issues in our region. NNRG is proud and honored to be selected as this year’s winner of a Green Globe Award for being a Leader in Forest Stewardship! The Office of the King County Executive wrote in their press release about the award, “NNRG prepared a systemwide forest assessment to help Parks prioritize stewardship related to ecological health, carbon sequestration, and climate resilience – allowing King County to strategically achieve forestry-related commitments described in the 2020 Strategic Climate Action Plan.” Read more about the Green Globe Award and watch the press release here.

4. Managed 12 harvests covering 376 acres

Forest owners — from land trusts and public agencies to families and small businesses — turn to NNRG for help in designing and managing careful and profitable timber harvests. In 2021, the NNRG forestry team managed 12 such harvests, covering 376 acres in Washington. The harvests were designed to achieve a variety of the landowners’ goals, from creating a more diverse forest structure and species mix to improve habitat for birds and other wildlife, to generating revenue for an outdoor education center’s program, to preparing a family forest for hotter, drier times. With every harvest, our team recommends a cutting strategy that will improve long-term forest health, productivity, and timber quality and value.

5. Hosted seven in-person educational field tours and workshops

While the pandemic has limited our indoor workshop offerings, we have been able to gather outdoors with forest stewards at seven in-person events in 2021. Workshops and field tours are at the core of NNRG’s educational programs—because there’s often no better way to learn about ecological forestry than in-person and in the forest. Our workshops consistently receive positive reviews in feedback surveys, and each year we try to expand our offerings.

In spring of this year NNRG led three thinning & forest health workshops in the San Juan Islands, where many forests are overstocked and at risk of severe fire. The workshops attracted over 60 island forest owners. 

In the summer, Rowan Braybrook, NNRG’s Director of Programs, joined Kirk in leading two field tours in Silverdale and Eatonville, Washington. Participants toured family forests that were  commercially thinned several years ago to learn about the principles of uneven-aged forest management. 

For the first time ever, NNRG organized a chainsaw safety & maintenance class in the San Juans, for forest stewards who wanted to take a hands-on approach to forest stewardship. Also for the first time, NNRG partnered with Snohomish Conservation District to teach a workshop on forest health strategies on Camano Island, Washington, which attracted 15 forest owners and managers. 

6. Helped organize the first-ever Northwest Innovative Forestry Summit

This summer, NNRG and a suite of nonprofit, tribal, and academic partners debuted the Northwest Innovative Forestry Summit (NIFS). The Summit is a venue for regional learning, exchange, and ongoing cooperation to spark innovation in all aspects of forestry and forest-related work in our region. 

Presentations covered topics ranging from the future of life-cycle carbon accounting, to tribal fire management and traditional ecological knowledge, to fostering multi-generational silviculture. The 2021 summit took place online, and attracted over 95 participants to three days of presentations and discussions from and for forestry researchers, practitioners, and educators. 

NNRG and partners are already hard at work organizing the 2022 Summit, which will be in-person, at the University of Washington’s Pack Forest. Learn more about the 2022 Summit here—registration opens in January 2022!

7. Won passage of an FSC® General Assembly motion to map the world’s certified forests

NNRG proposed a motion to the triennial General Assembly of the Forest Stewardship Council to create a map of all the FSC-certified forests in the world — a promising way to increase the accountability and transparency of the world’s most credible forest certification system. All certified forests will be tracked on a map maintained by the international group’s Secretariat, and certified forest owners will have the option of including the boundaries of their forests on a public map of FSC forests.

This year’s General Assembly was held virtually, so NNRG’s campaign for the measure included a series of webinars, a podcast, working with members of the economic chamber to promote it in their caucus, and a podcast. The motion passed with 84 percent of the vote, including 60 percent support from the economic chamber, whose opposition sank a similar motion in 2017.

8. Provided on-site advice at 61 forests in the Northwest

In 2021 the NNRG team visited more than 60 forests – including our FSC-certified members and beginning woodland owners – to advise on and plan forest management activities. In-person site visits are crucial for getting to know the landowners with whom we work. For many on the NNRG team, getting to walk through a forest grove while hearing about a landowner’s vision for their land is one of the best parts of the job. And for landowners, there’s no substitute for having a forester walk through a forest and interpret what the unique composition of vegetation, soil, hydrology, and wildlife mean for the forest’s long-term health. Interested in a free site visit? Let us know!

9. Produced five videos on ecological forestry

This year marked the release of five new videos covering topics related to ecological forestry. In one video, logger J.D. Boehme talked about how the thinning he worked on at a forest near Mount Rainier is going to improve the long-term health of the forest. In another video that’s the first in NNRG’s “Tree Tips” series, NNRG Director of Forestry Kirk Hanson explained how to conduct a basic forest inventory. NNRG also released a video recording of an entire forest health workshop on tree selection for thinning and biochar creation. 

Explore the full NNRG video library here.

10. Managed a Forest Stewardship Council certificate encompassing 198,425 acres in WA and OR

Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certification is a market-based, voluntary system for ensuring that wood products come from well-managed forests. NNRG offers cost-effective access to FSC certification through our FSC® group certificate, which currently represents 32% of FSC certified land in Oregon and Washington (198,425 acres). 

Our certified members include family woodland owners, small-scale timber businesses, public parks, municipal watersheds, non-profits, educational centers, and conservation organizations. Learn more about our group certificate and how to get certified, here.

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