News Center Maine speaks with Shaler, Weiskittel about Maine forest industry
News Center Maine spoke with Stephen Shaler, a professor and director of the University of Maine School of Forest Resources, and Aaron Weiskittel, a professor of forest biometrics and modeling at UMaine, about how Maine’s forest industry is adapting to a world with a decreased demand for paper products. “Now we are in the era of ecosystems services, so how much carbon does the forest provide? What type of habitat does it provide for various animals and plant species; water quality, and then all the questions around emerging markets, like should we do biofuels versus traditional lumber products?” said Weiskittel. “Wildlife, habitat, carbon, water quality; all of those things now have a monetary value beyond just the fiber.” People from UMaine along with those in the forestry industry, including landowners, loggers and manufacturers, are coming together in a coalition called FOR (Forest Opportunity Roadmap) Maine, News Center Maine reported. In the past year and a half, the industry has seen almost $1 billion worth of investment, but there is a long road of recovery, innovation and conversation ahead, according to Shaler. “I think one in every 24 jobs in the state is still related to the forest products company; one of every 20 gross domestic product dollars is from the forest products industry. It is huge and impactful. Yes, it is changing, but it is very large and it is not dying. It is evolving,” Shaler said.