CalForest WRX

The CalForest WRX3 is an alliance of private, nonprofit, academic, tribal and government partners formed to create social, economic, and environmental sustainability by removing biomass and smaller diameter trees on all lands. We are growing a complementary, innovative forest product business ecosystem that uses low-value fiber to produce value-added products for market and non-market benefits.

Background

Healthy, functional forests deliver significant social, ecological, and economic benefits:

  • SOCIAL: Scenic and cultural resources important to sense of place, community stability and identity. Essential products like firewood, residential and commercial building products, livestock fodder, food, and floral products.
  • HEALTH & WELLNESS: Clean air and water important to public health, municipal water supply and agriculture. Opportunities for bonding and personal growth.
  • ENVIRONMENT: Ecosystem services like carbon storage and sequestration, nutrient cycling, wildlife species habitat, water storage and release.
  • RECREATION: Recreational and cultural opportunities important to the quality of life of Californians, including scenic views, trails, and water resources important to California lifestyle and tourism.
  • ECONOMICS: Jobs and labor income in rural communities and reduced risk to infrastructure create economic stability.

Problem

Past timber harvest practices and more than a century of fire suppression have resulted in forests overstocked with biomass (low-value wood and wood residues) and small diameter trees. Forest health and its related benefits are at a high risk from drought, insects, and catastrophic wildfire. We lack market mechanisms, business investment, and infrastructure needed to correct forest overstocking and address catastrophic wildfire effects at the pace and scale we need to avert this crisis.

Solutions

CalForest WRX3 is creating a market driven approach to forest fuels reduction. That means we are working to support businesses that use biomass in innovative products and create supply lines to markets and buyers, while simultaneously reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfire. We encourage investment and expanding forest products processing facilities to increase revenue generated from biomass and increase the state’s capacity to harvest and process forest fiber. Through investment and collaboration, we create opportunities to use smaller diameter tree for manufacturing products with market value to reduce fuel loading, create revenue generating opportunities for the forest products industry, and expand associated workforce sectors. CalForest WRX3 delivers key outcomes in five broad problem areas with innovative partnership thinking.

Key Outcomes

  • Reduced High-Severity Wildfire Risk – Reduce forest fuels near communities and at strategic landscape locations to decrease the risk of high intensity fire and catastrophic damage to communities, habitats, water supplies, and other high value resources.
  • Climate Change Solution- Sequester carbon and reduce carbon emissions from forests and related to forest products.
  • Affordable Housing – Increase the rate of housing construction, availability, and affordability by using sustainably sourced smaller-diameter wood and biomass.
  • Rural/Urban Equity– Create and sustain living-wage jobs in rural communities by expanding the forest-products sector to new markets, reducing risks to communities, and bolstering tourism.
  • Resilient Ecosystems – Reduce the high-severity wildfire risk on ecosystem services by thinning forests.

Key Strategies

  • Develop organizational capacity to implement strategic actions.
  • Expand forest fiber processing capacity by reducing risks to private enterprise.
  • Diversify value-added forest product processing and manufacturing in rural communities by incubating businesses.
  • Cultivate a complementary business ecosystem by inviting businesses that utilize excess feedstock streams, are critical to building out a value-added supply chain, and respond to strong market demand.
  • Promote unique regional assets and quantify Nature’s Benefits (ecosystem services) to attract investment.
  • Pursue non-traditional funding sources using Conservation Finance tools.
  • Develop financial instruments to incubate forest product businesses and subsidize forest management where needed.
  • Engage key institutions that are foundational in launching a forest products business innovation ecosystem, like lumber mills, the Harbor District, and educational institutions.

Current Focus Industries

  • Building and Construction Technologies:

    • Mass Timber Production - Large wood building components for floors, walls, roofs or structural elements made from dimensional lumber for low to high-rise buildings. Currently no manufacturers are in California. Industry experts project demand for mass timber in the U.S. to double every two years through 2034.
    • Panelized Building Fabrication – Develop construction fabrication facilities that use mass timber.
    • Building sheathing, Roofing, and Flooring – Mineralized biomass for home sheathing, roofing, and flooring.
    • Wood Fiber Insulation – High-performance boards, batts, and loose fill, sequesters carbon and recyclable.
  • BioEnergy:

    • Biomass Energy –5MW cogeneration plant using mill waste through California’s BioMAT Program. Reduces mill waste costs and disposal risk, produces energy and heat for kilns, essential to create mass timber products.
  • Other Agricultural Products:

    • Textiles – Biomass transformed into innovative textiles– E.g., Mushroom leather from tan oak biomass – Doc Marten, Adidas, Hermes product lines using vegan-leather.
    • Biochar – Soil amendment to build structure, store nutrients, and build soil carbon storage capacity.
    • Industrial Scale Vermiculture – Biomass for vermiculture (worm compost) that cleans dairy and winery wastewater.
    • Biomass Oil – Carbon removal technology that converts biomass to a stable carbon-rich liquid, pumped deep underground for long-term carbon storage.

Figure 3: Geographic Scope

Map of the Scope of the project including; the extent of Calforest WRX and other relevant elements.

Figure 2: State Fire Threat Data

Thematic Map of California Fire Threat; from Low, Moderate, High, Very High, and Extreme

Figure 3: Forest Thinning Demo

Photograph of thinned forest

Documentation

CalForest WRX logo
  1. Ryan

    Ryan Heitz

    Economic Development Coordinator
    Phone: (707) 476-4804