Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Small Unnoticed Changes

The purpose of this Blog is to examine all of the changes resulting from the shift in timberland ownership. Some changes, like the Temple-Inland land sale, catch a lot of attention. Others changes go pretty much unnoticed but are perhaps of even more significance.

Yesterday's mail carried the death notice of "Forest Focus", thought by many to be one of the best available forest management periodicals targeted at landowners, lawmakers and the general public. "Forest Focus", published by MeadWestvaco, one of the companies divesting itself of timberland, apparently can no longer economically justify the cost of publishing a magazine with a focus on forest management. If MWV owns no forest land, it certainly makes no sense for it to absorb the cost of carrying the forest management banner.

The forest industry had a very serious commitment to communications with the public surrounding forest management issues. The sad thing is that every company in the industry that has divested itself of its landholdings has also divested itself of publications seeking to educate the public about why foresters do the things they do. And this is a gap not being filled by the new timberland owners (at least that I am aware of - tell me if I am wrong). Forest management will be defined by those opposed to commercial forest management if no one picks up the banner! The cost of ignoring the issue will be higher costs and lower ROIs as the forest industry learned many years ago. Now it's the investment communities time to either learn that lesson or to pick up the banner.

I can't mark the end of "Forest Focus" without paying tribute to Casey Canonge. He created and nurtured it into a remarkably effective publication. Well done, Casey!

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