Kentucky Specialty Forest Products Workshop a Success

Our friends over at Rural Action give us a rundown of the March 9 workshop. Be sure to check out the video at the end of the post!

On Friday, March 9th, 2012 Rural Action’s Sustainable Forestry Program convened a successful specialty forest products workshop in Jackson, KY. This event, titled “Managing Woodlands For Specialty Forest Products,“ was co-organized with the University of Kentucky Forestry Extension program, and was designed to help draw connections between traditional forest management strategies and the production of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP’s). This is the second regionally-focused workshop Rural Action has helped organize this year. Traditionally Rural Action has focused our efforts on Appalachian Ohio, but have enjoyed the opportunity to work regionally with partners through the Central Appalachian Forest Alliance (CAFA).

NTFP’s can offer landowners the opportunity to develop products that will be ready for market in a short period of time and can be sustained on short harvest rotations. In many cases the historic practice of “high-grading” have resulted in lower quality timber stands that are in need of time and management to help them recover. This is a slow process that happens over many years, or even decades. Having alternative income opportunities in the mean time can be a real asset for landowners. Connecting landowners with these types of forest-based economic opportunities and fostering better land stewardship is at the core of the CAFA partnership.

Six species were selected for the day’s topics in order to provide a diversified  educational experience for workshop participants. Crops were selected based on their marketability, cost of production/profitability, uniqueness/appeal, history in the region, and for their compatibility with forest management activities. Topics covered included American ginseng, goldenseal, pawpaw, shiitake mushrooms, bee keeping and forage management, ramps, and of course woodland resource management. Speakers for the day included Dr. Deborah Hill and Billy Thomas, extension foresters with the University of Kentucky, Dr. Kirk Pomper, principal horticultural investigator and pawpaw researcher also with the University of Kentucky, and Tanner Filyaw, NTFP Specialist from Rural Action.  In all 40 landowners and natural resource professionals attended the event, representing 4,515 acres of forestland ownership!
Overall the organizing partners were very pleased with the turnout and success of the event. We will be looking forward to collaborating on more events like this in the future and expanding sustainable forest management in the region.