FRA and our partner, the Arkansas Timber Producers Association, are well into production of the third In-Woods Expo, a three-day world-class logging and forestry demo on a Weyerhaeuser forest near Hot Springs, Arkansas. Reserve the dates now: May 19-21 (Thursday through Saturday) to attend the largest live logging demo in the United States.
"Our model for In-Woods Expo is the famous Elmia Wood Fair in Sweden, which has created a truly astonishing venue for live equipment demonstrations in a forest setting," comments FRA President—and In-Woods Expo co-manager—Richard Lewis. "What better place to stage a U.S. harvesting and forestry fair than in the U.S. mid-South, still the world's leader in forest products volume?"
In-Woods Expo 2011 will be the third such collaboration between the two associations. In-Woods Expo 2007, also staged on a Weyerhaeuser forest near Hot Springs, drew a total attendance of 4,887 loggers, foresters, landowners, and others to view equipment in action on forested sites up to six acres in size. Over 605 landowners, loggers, and foresters participated in continuing education sessions at the same site.
Four years ago, loggers and mills were both looking toward an industry in contraction and a cloudy prospect for market recovery.
This year? Well, you decide. The economy, the forest industry, and the wood supply chain can barely recognize themselves, looking back. The word "restructure" has had such continuous play in news stories about mill and landowning organizations that it is also good to remember that loggers, wood suppliers, and mill wood supply units aren't quite what they looked like four years ago, either.
Product demand has changed. As the prognosis for building products recovery revised its timeline, it sent a shiver of new thinking into pulp residuals procurement. As new biomass markets advanced, retreated, and advanced again, it became clear that yesterday's merchantable tree was different from what tomorrow's would be—and tomorrow's forest, too, might well shape itself, however gradually, to meet new realities.
What landowners—both private and institutional—need and expect has also changed. New product demand means new thinking about thinning and thinning cycles. New land ownership paradigms, with their own management goals, financial goals, and business models, pose new challenges to foresters and loggers and to their forest management and harvesting recommendations.
Into this environment of transformation emerges the theme of In-Woods Expo 2011: New Growth, New Iron: Delivering Sustainability. Loggers, landowners, and mills all have decisions before them—based on forecasting not only the size but the features of forest product market recovery. For the next round of investment in logging equipment, is "production" the decision word? How about "flexibility"? Is what we know about optimum harvesting tract size today going to be good going forward?
Equipment manufacturers, like loggers, have been placing their bets on all of these questions, and their marketing teams have been in the field, making connections between what forest owners, loggers, and new and old mills will expect in supply chain management.
For our part, we're hearing that landowners are looking for more integrated product models—not only extraction of forest products to new specifications and harvesting regimes, but moving hunting leases from a passive supplement to their businesses to a significant profit stream, apart from this option's implications for insurance, tax valuations, security, and public relations. In-Woods Expo, for the first time, will feature hunt club and wildlife management exhibits. Look for a new focus on equipment, products, and services to improve wildlife habitat for deer, turkey, quail, and other game and non-game species. FRA's Richard Lewis invites you to "come and see the latest technology used under actual field conditions to create wildlife openings and to develop food plots. Find out what professional products and services are available to help you manage your lands for maximum wildlife populations."
In 2007, biomass markets were expanding, and that year's Expo made a point of inviting enterprises serving that industry onto the site, both for live demonstrations of chipping and grinding equipment and for more conceptual exhibits at the tented Biomass Pavilion. Four years onward, both biomass markets and the government policies shaping them have expanded—although at this writing, the word "volatile" describes both. Where are the technologies, the supply systems, and the trends in biomass demand heading? We have invited our exhibitors to address the "New Growth, New Iron" points, both in their live demos and in the 2011 Biomass Pavilion, which will again feature manufacturers, research and information services, and other support enterprises showing how innovative tools and knowledge-based systems can add value to this growing, but risky, new stream.
Morbark's Patrick Andres affirms that the growth in biomass "has kept us very busy developing our line to stay on top of our customers' needs. It's been four years. We'll have a lot to show." For Deere's David Althaus, "We are looking forward to the In-Woods Expo this May. The last two shows, in 2004 and 2007, were very good experiences for us and for our dealer partner Warrior of Arkansas. We are excited about the recovering forestry market and the chance to get back in the woods with our customer at this event!"
We are again pleased to welcome the Southern division of the Council on Forest Engineering (COFE) to join us during the Expo show dates in Hot Springs for their annual meeting and presentations—an added bonus for those who want to probe some of these very same themes in seminar settings. On the in-woods showground, itself, the very popular Training & Education Tent will offer programs directed to loggers and landowners, in fulfillment of Logger Training & Education credit requirements and, in some cases, Society of American Foresters CFE requirements. The Arkansas Timber Producers Association's Director of Continuing Education, George Lease, will again take charge of that program.
Caterpillar again plans to stage its Prentice Loader Championship event, running all three days on the In-Woods Expo site, and for those who aren't spending every minute discussing lift, reach, torque, and lubrication systems with exhibitor personnel, the STIHL Ironjack Show will run throughout the Expo, with its displays of chain saw operators' skills and traditional lumberjack capabilities at a designated exhibition area.
In-Woods Expo co-manager Larry Boccarossa, of the Arkansas Timber Producers Association, comments, "Everywhere I look, I see new demands placed on loggers but new opportunities, too. It's true here in Arkansas, but I believe it's true everywhere—change is here, more change is coming, and it's better to stay on top of change. I'd like to welcome loggers and foresters everywhere to spend two or three days with other people like themselves at our In-Woods Expo and take a few more steps toward positioning themselves for the future."
New Growth, New Iron: Delivering Sustainability. Please visit www.in-woods-expo.com.
Neil Ward, FRA's Director of Communication, is the Promotion and Publicity Manager for In-Woods Expo 2011.