Woods West Article
Forest-Net - April 11, 2005
Over the last few years, Bruce Craig has seen a lot of wood moving down the roads of western P.E.I.. While he recognizes that harvest activity is important to the local economy, he and many others are keenly aware that much of that wood is going to support economic development in other places. Today, as chair of the Wood-West Network Initiative, Bruce also believes that local wood products manufacturers need to do a better job of catching some of this wood before it leaves so that they can add value to it and create more and better jobs in the West Prince region.
However, there is a problem with this vision - land owners and local harvest companies are often unaware of small local markets and the types of raw products they are looking for; therefore, unprocessed wood continues to be shipped out to benefit other places. Many harvest companies find it easier to service large volume markets for products such as studwood, firewood, or pulp.
Land owners usually rely on these companies to harvest their wood so they too are often unaware that there are lucrative but smaller volume market opportunities in the local area.
Many businesses in western P.E.I. recognize that all too often, there are logs in those loads which could be used to make high end furniture, flooring, decking, moldings, and many other valueadded wood products and employ more local people in the region. The Wood-West Network Initiative group was formed last year to help these wood users find ways to access usable wood before it is shipped out. They are working together to raise awareness of local opportunities with land owners and contractors to see if they can generate more interest in developing strong local markets for value-added forest products.
On April 15, 2005, the Wood-West Network Initiative group is hosting a special workshop to bring woodlot owners, harvest contractors, wood products manufacturers, and interested citizens from West Prince together to discuss this matter and see if they can develop cooperative strategies which address many different needs. This initiative is sponsored by Resources West and the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry with support funding from the Canadian Forestry Service's P.E.I. Model Forest Partnership Program. It is open to the public, woodlot owners, truckers, harvest contractors - large and small, in fact anyone with an interest in western P.E.I..
The workshop will focus on local opportunities for wood and non-timber products, and feature small business success stories from the region, examine how certification can help land owners to find new markets, and explore new cooperative opportunities for entrepreneurs, land owners and contractors to work together to create more benefits for the area. Wood-West will distribute a directory of local wood using businesses to help contractors and land owners find markets for raw products. Several local businesses will also be on hand to show the range of wood products