The Rajala Woods Foundation purchases land or receives land donations with a focus on forested areas where long-lived tree species have historically grown but are not now present in abundance. Typically, foundation foresters will visit a parcel of land and determine its restoration potential. After land is acquired, foundation foresters and scientists develop a forest management plan to break the current short-term rotation cycle, and reintroduce the historical, natural long-term forest rotation.
The Rajala Woods Foundation uses a “working forest” management approach to restore northern forests. This approach includes timber harvesting, replanting and natural regeneration, along with tending and periodic thinning of the forest to promote the establishment and enhancement of biodiversity and longer-lived trees such as white pine, red pine, and spruce. Because they can live to several hundred years or more, these “old-timers” sequester atmospheric carbon for much longer periods of time than do short-rotation tree species, such as aspen and balsam fir. And because the end products of long-lived species are typically durable wood products, such as saw boards or timbers, carbon remains sequestered even after harvest.
While the ecologic benefit of long-rotation forests in some areas is clear, we also know that many people welcome the opportunity to visit and enjoy regenerating and older-growth forests. Our land management philosophy, including the establishment of conservation easements, means that foundation-owned lands are open for public use and enjoyment, including hunting and fishing. We will also strive to develop walking trails and access points without compromising the natural character of lands owned by the foundation.
Jack Rajala, Forest Advocate