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Financial Adviser Helps Clients Manage Trees for Retirement income

Forests can be managed for supplemental income for landowners and for the health and well being of wildlands and habitat.
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Seattle-based financial adviser Jake Engle has helped several of his clients find some income right where they live--on forested land.

Engle has suggested to these clients that they selectively harvest the trees on their property, which he says can be done in an environmentally responsible way.

Forest Management

"Trees actually do better when the forest is properly thinned every five years or so," Engle says. "You can generate income, improve the forest and increase the value of your land all at the same time."

Without an overall plan, one of Engle's client couples found themselves facing a short-term cash-flow problem. Engle saw a solution in their 80 acres of property, much of it covered in second-growth forest (it had been logged at least once, as recently as the 1950s).

Sustainable Forest Harvesting Company

Engle persuaded the couple to work with a sustainable harvesting company, and provided them with literature from the Sierra Club outlining what factors contribute to a working forest.

FSC CERTIFICATION?

The FSC is a not-for-profit, standards-setting organization that operates internationally and accredits certifiers (auditors) whose programs incorporate and agree to adhere to the FSC's Principles and Criteria for forest management, thereby providing a framework for certification worldwide. The major FSC-accredited certifying agencies in North America are SmartWood and Scientific Certification Systems.  FSC certifiers assess the on-the-ground forest practices of a given operation against FSC standards for the region where it is located (there are national as well as regional standards, all of which are supposed to harmonize with the broad, global framework of the Principles and Criteria). Certifiers also perform audits to track the "chain of custody" of certified wood through the manufacturing process and ensure that the rules for labeling final products with the FSC logo are followed.

Sierra Club was a founding member of the FSC, and the FSC's membership is comprised primarily of organizations, associations and companies, including a large number of environmental groups, such as World Wildlife Fund, Defenders of Wildlife, Rainforest Alliance, Friends of the Earth, U.S, The Wilderness Society, and World Resources Institute.

Forest Revenue Potential

The clients generated $15,000 of income from the first cut on 50 acres. That was five years ago, and the next cut--expected to happen this year--should generate another $20,000.

The extra money played an important role in paying for in-home care when the wife fell ill, and also helped the couple pay for their child's college tuition. Moreover, the income stream is not only sustainable, it's likely to increase. The foresting process selectively removes lower-quality wood and leaves higher-quality trees to grow.

"It's like a dividend stock fund comprised of stocks that boost their dividends over time," Engle says. "Selective cutting is like rebalancing the fund away from stocks that are no longer paying good dividends toward stocks that can maintain or increasing their dividends."

Engle believes the activity improves the stability of his clients' finances by diversifying their income streams, and it improves the chances that the forest will be around for future generations.

Forestry Sustainability

Various states and countries have "working forest" programs and policies in place.  One such program is  "Missouri's Pioneer in Sustainable Forestry," that Leo Drey originally hoped " would demonstrate the potential for developing a viable natural resource-based economy in the Missouri Ozarks" Pioneer Forest has continued to do that as it was the first forest certified in Missouri under a Forest Stewardship Council program.

Additional Resources about  Working Forests

The Sierra Club makes a lesson plan for grades 9-12 available regarding "Forest Management".

Western Canadian Wilderness Committee  

David Suzuki Foundation

Sierra Club

Registered Professional Foresters Association of BC

Discovering the Wonder of Sequoia's


Edited by Carolyn Allen, Managing Editor of Solutions For Green

Publication Date: 12/21/2010
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