working to form the
Blue Ridge Forest Landowner Cooperative.
Briefly, a forest landowner cooperative is a way
to produce more income for a forest landowner. This is done by: pooling
resources with other local forest landowners, by adding value to the forest
products, and with centralized marketing to get the highest returns possible.
This higher return allows the forest landowner to practice sustainable forestry
(taking the worst, leaving the best, and implementing strong
In Virginia, a Cooperative
is a Corporation in which each shareholder has one share and one vote.
Shareholders are typically producers since they have the most to gain from
formed, primarily, to increase the financial return to the producer by
marketing products and/or reducing the cost of supplies. However, they can
have many more functions and benefits including working toward common
environmental, ecological, and social goals.
typically based on a producer’s contribution—in this case, based on forest
products sold thru the Co-op, however members are under no obligation to sell
to the Co-op. The size of the landowner’s forest is irrelevant- ten acres or
1000—all are needed to restore our forests at the local and landscape levels.
Co-op’s increase the
value of the producer/member’s raw materials. (Notable examples include Ocean
Spray and Southern States.) Value addition is the key to maximizing returns,
which often makes forest restoration work pay for itself.
(All are based on a “Take
the Worst-Leave the Best” harvesting criteria)
Be sure to read the
"Notable Example" below...
v Based on
Timbergreen Forestry’s experience, by taking lumber and converting it
to flooring, paneling, molding, or trim the value of the finished product ranges
from 20 to 70 TIMES the stumpage price of the tree. This is the power of value
v By pooling the timber of 130 members,
Woods Cooperative of Lone Rock, WI has the resources of over 10,000
acres to draw from. Members have invested only $100 for their stock and $2 per
natural acre of forest (average of 80 acres per member, or $160.) They also use
a “market stock” tool at 10 cents per board foot to reserve a place in the
production schedule—so if you were going to harvest 30,000bf within the next 3
years you’d need to purchase $3000 worth of market stock. Market Stock is
redeemable after the timber is supplied to the Co-op.
v Dividends are based on the percent
contribution to yearly production. In the case of the 30,000bf contribution
above, if this were out of an annual production of 300,000bf, then 10% of the
Cooperative’s profit would be paid out to you.
v Projections done by the Kickapoo Sustainable
Woods Cooperative indicate (with all the costs accounted for) a Coop member
would net $9,500 more than a non-Coop member would--assuming each landowner did
the same management and harvesting practices over a 10 year period..
A Notable Example
…of the compounding interest effect of leaving
the best trees, and the power of adding value to your forest products…
A 12inch diameter oak
that would have been worth $3.15 twenty years ago has grown to be a 16” tree and
is now worth $31.83. That’s roughly a 900% increase in value. (...but you also see
why selling timber isn't a big money maker unless you have a lot to sell, or
you're selling only very high quality trees!)
If you sawed that tree
(scaling 200 board feet) into lumber (with a band sawmill, you’ll get about
300bf) and sell it green, you’d get, on average, $120 for the lumber. If you
kiln dry it you’ll get $500, and if you make it into flooring you’ll get
If you were a member
of a Coop, you wouldn’t have to invest in, nor maintain, the equipment to
produce these products—yet you’d still reap the benefits of adding value to the
products of your forest.
Let’s say this tree
was still healthy at the harvest scheduled above, so you let it keep growing for
another twenty years, and it becomes a 20-inch diameter tree. Even if
lumber prices didn’t go above today’s levels [a highly unlikely scenario,] the
tree would be worth $55.20 on the stump, $199.80 as lumber, $750 kiln dried, and $1500 as
illustrates the wisdom of leaving the trees that are growing well to keep
growing. …as well as the benefit of adding value to your forest products.
Other considerations to keep
folks follow a “management philosophy” of benign neglect: just let the forest
grow! There’s nothing wrong with this philosophy, but it isn’t “management!”
You CAN manage your forest, keep it looking like a forest, make money, and
maintain—even improve—the health of your forest.
A Cooperative will put
you in a position to realize your forest management goals, conserve and improve
your forest health, make money, and nudge your forest back toward old-growth.
It cuts out the intermediaries who, in the traditional system, make most of the
profit and disregard their ecological, environmental, and social consequences.
A Cooperative is a
community of like minded forest landowners participating in, and enjoying the
benefits of, a synergistic relationship: Conservation, Education, Professional
Forest Management, Marketing, Financial Planning, Value Addition, Group
Purchasing of Supplies, Co-owning Equipment, and More.
If you have forest land in
the Central Blue Ridge area and are interested in Certified Sustainable Forest
email us at:
If you're in another area
contact the Community
Forest Resource Center on our
to find out if there's a Co-op near you. They also have information on
starting a Co-op, complete with resources like sample By-Laws, experts, books,
and links to others who can help.