The Northern Forest Zone is characterized by predominantly large, privately-owned tracts spanning the northern forested areas of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. In recent decades, much of the northern forestland has changed hands. There has been a drastic reduction in forestry based jobs, and the region has been affected by global pressures in the forest products and services markets.
However, within the rapidly changing forestry sector, there are emerging opportunities. New products and jobs are being created from forest assets. The focus of the Northern Forest Zone Initiative is to help the region adapt to new forest-based opportunities by:
Introducing innovation in wood products businesses to preserve local ownership and jobs;
Replacing expensive and imported fuel oil for residential and institutional heating with locally-sourced woody biomass;
Acquiring and using community forests for economic benefit; and
Developing ecosystem services such as clean water and carbon sequestration as new forest value streams.
Goals and Success of the Northern Forest Zone
Develop policies for and leverage investment in thermal biomass projects
Numerous and substantial success through the Model Neighborhood Project in Berlin, NH.
Encourage state and federal policies that support forests and rural community development
Influenced federal and state policy in support of community-based forestry
Engage wood products businesses and finance forestry-based entrepreneurs to strengthen forest value streams
Since 2005, 27,700 acres in 15 community forests have been acquired.
Support acquisition of community-owned forests for economic development, tourism, recreation, and conservation.
Invigorate the forest value stream with 59 forestry and tourism businesses benfitting.
Encourage benefits from tourism through vendor training and technical support
Stabilized 48 wood products manufacturers through introduction of efficient production models and mass customization
Northern Forest Center
The Northern Forest Center is the Endowment’s grantee and the “managing partner” for the Northern Forest Zone Initiative. Since 1997, The Northern Forest Center has worked to build a shared vision for the region based on three essential ingredients: thriving communities, healthy forests, and innovative and resilient local economies that can support both. This vision made the Northern Forest Center the ideal key grantee for the Endowment. Catalyzed by Endowment investment, the Northern Forest Center and its partners implemented a regional vision characterized by healthy, productive forests, and vibrant forest-reliant communities.
Born out of the Endowment’s initial investment in this Zone, the Model Neighborhood Project was created to instigate and facilitate moving away from imported oil towards a local energy source that would create jobs and investment in the local economy. High efficiency wood pellet boilers meet these criteria. The project began in February, 2011 in Berlin, NH and serves as an example to other communities. The project has provided economic, social, and environmental benefits to the community, including:
To date, 40 pellet boilers installed in homes, collectively saving homeowners $75,000 in heating costs
$5.3 million contributed to the local economy over the lifetime of the boilers; this is new, local wealth that would not have been generated from traditional oil heat
522 net tons of carbon dioxide prevented from entering the air
40% annual fuel savings for an average home
The Northern Forest Center also maintains a dashboard on their website of project progress, successes, and facts. See their dashboard here.