Wood Innovation Grant from USDA FS awarded to pilot project that aims to connect farmers and landowners with wood product markets in Puerto Rico

May 18,  2020, Río Piedras, Puerto Rico.— A Forest Service Wood Innovation Grant has been awarded to the Puerto Rican non-profit Landscape Conservation Center (Centro para la Conservación del Paisaje, CCP) to fund pilot project: Economic benefits and ecosystem services in private lands near El Yunque National Forest: Connecting practices, products, and markets with innovative wood and other forest products.

This will kick off a two-year collaboration among the CCP, the USDA Caribbean Climate Hub, and the Wood Innovation Grant program to evaluate existing and potential wood product markets in the area surrounding El Yunque National Forest. By connecting climate-smart management with markets, forest products derived through management of nearby community and private forest lands could benefit landowners and local economies. The USDA Caribbean Climate Hub is collaborating in this pilot project in order to promote adaptive strategies to reduce the risks of climate change and extreme climate events.

Climate projections indicate tropical storms and hurricanes will become more intense. Strong winds in severe storms have the potential to generate large volumes of downed trees, wood and vegetative debris. Private landowners may find that they have more fallen trees to manage in the future.

Mahogany for extraction and processing

Photo: Mahogany for extraction and processing. Credit: Edgardo Gonzalez

The CCP’s pilot project will promote connections between local wood markets and forest products through training and capacity building related to sustainable tropical forest management. There are three main components to the project:

  • Mapping the current and potential market landscape.
  • Connecting landowner objectives to practices.
  • Management treatments – connecting practices to products.

The project was one of 35 proposals selected for the 2020 Wood Innovation Grant Program. The Program supports projects that stimulate wood product markets, particularly those that support the long-term management of National Forest System and other forest lands.

Landowners and farmers selected for participation by CCP and the Climate Hub will be aided in the implementation of management treatments that allow them to benefit from downed and managed trees and vegetative materials.

Artisans Wood Products

Photo: Artisan Wood Products. Credit: Edgardo Gonzalez

Downed trees contain valuable wood and material that can be salvaged and used to create a variety of high-quality wood items such as furniture, musical instruments, construction timber, and artisanal products. Other products derived from woody debris are biochar, wood chips, mulch, charcoal and compost. These materials are valuable in conservation and agricultural initiatives, helping to improve soil quality by adding nutrients and retaining moisture.

By demonstrating the economic benefits of forest management for wood product development, the pilot project is designed to support the economic and environmental well-being of communities in the face of climate change.

Secondary Forest Management Workshop

Photo: Secondary Forest Management Workshop. Credit: Edgardo Gonzalez

For more information about local wood salvage, visit: https://caribbeanclimatehub.org/resources/wood-salvage/

For more information about the Landscape Conservation Center (Centro para la Conservación del Paisaje, visit: https://www.facebook.com/manejoregional/

For more on the Wood Innovation Grant Program, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/science-technology/energy-forest-products/wood-innovations-grants

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