Monday, July 09, 2012
KKL-JNF's Afforestation Division hosted two experts on forest products utilization from the United States Forestry Service, in order to learn from their experience and to see how it might be applied in Israel.
Mark Knaebe talks with group at the Hula Valley Pallet Sawmill. Photo: Tania Susskind
KKL-JNF's Afforestation Division hosted two experts on forest products utilization from the United States Forestry Service (USFS), Mark Knaebe
and Larry Swan
, in order to learn from their experience and to see how it might be applied in Israel. Kalil Adar, the director of KKL-JNF's Northern Region Forestry Department, who accompanied the guests during their visit, described the purpose of their trip to Israel: "KKL-JNF is interested in reviewing everything connected to what can be done with the trees that are cut down in our forests due to thinning in both young and mature forests, salvage logging operations after forest fires like the Carmel blaze
, and more, along with what we call slash, a term for the branches and other forest materials that are a product of pruning and forest care
"The wood products of Israel's forests are removed by subcontractors who need markets in order to make it profitable for them to continue working. Today, most of the wood is sold as firewood, but markets are constantly changing and we need to be able to offer various alternatives. Some of these subcontractors are already second or third generation. A study that was conducted by Dr. Uri Korin showed that we actually have some large diameter trees, both pine and cypress, from which it is possible to produce strong and beautiful lumber. In addition, the slash can be and is used for mulch in both agriculture and public spaces.
"We don’t have nearly enough wood to prevent importing lumber to Israel, but KKL-JNF would like to see more cities, regional councils and public sites making use of blue and white timber for garden furniture, picnic tables, and so on. Our American colleagues were very attentive and will be preparing a detailed report and analysis that we hope to receive a couple months from now. We're looking forward to seeing their conclusions."
Fresh lumber. Photo: Tania Susskind
The week-long visit of the two American foresters, who were accompanied by Damian Rawoot
and Drew Gower
of the USFS Middle Eastern International program, focused on KKL-JNF forests
in northern Israel and visits to Israeli factories that utilize wood products in various fashions. For example, on Tuesday, July 3, they visited the Hula Valley Pallet Sawmill, which is owned by Adnan Ibrahim
, a resident of the border village of Rajar. They were accompanied by Kalil Adar
and Aviram Zuck
, KKL-JNF Upper Galilee and Golan Heights forest supervisor.
"I started this business about a year and a half ago," Adnan said. "I buy wood of various diameters from KKL-JNF's subcontractors and cut it into wooden planks for pallets. I also invested in a machine that grinds whatever wood can't be used for lumber into sawdust, which I sell to owners of chicken coops, who use it for bedding. Actually, right now I get a higher price for the sawdust than I do for the pallets. The market changes, but producing pallets is a family tradition for us and I want to keep doing that." One of the problems that Adnan mentioned with the sawdust was that it can't be wet when it's sold as bedding for the chicken coops, and the USFS technologists had a number of creative ideas for how to dry it out cheaply and quickly.
In answer to questions from Larry and Mark, Adnan said that there was no shortage of supply of wood: "I employ eight to ten people on the sawmill, including lifting the logs onto the conveyor belt. It's a very fast machine; I need five to six people at the end to collect the wood as it comes out. I employ another six people making the pallets and to maximize profits, I sharpen the blades myself."
Road to Hula Valley. Photo: Tania Susskind
Aviram commented that if more businessmen would buy wood from KKL-JNF's forests, they could eventually put pressure on the subcontractors to sell it for less. "When dealing with wood products in Israel, ideas that we can implement need to be simple, inexpensive and efficient," Aviram noted.
Larry and Mark were both visiting Israel for the first time, and they spoke about their trip and its goals: "There's a lot of options for thinned logs and slash. Selling the logs for firewood isn't a bad idea, especially since the price here is twice as high as in the United States. We work with over 100,000 acres of plantation thinnings, and as a result, we have experience with many ways of taking advantage of forest products. We're going to be examining anywhere from twenty to thirty different alternatives and writing them up in our report. The strength of this visit is our ongoing professional conversation with our KKL-JNF colleagues."
Mark added that he hadn't realized that Israel was covered by so many forests: "We're both very impressed by what KKL-JNF has accomplished in a semi-arid climate with so little rainfall. It's been a very intense week; we've been out in the field at least twelve hours a day. Kalil has been a wonderful host even if he has us exhausted by the end of the day. All told, our sense is that what KKL-JNF is doing in Israel is really fantastic, and we hope we'll be able to come up with some suggestions that will benefit Israeli forests in both the short and long terms."
L-R: Mark Knaebe, Aviram Zuck, Drew Gower, Larry Swan, Adanan Ibrahim, Kalil Adar, and Damian Rawoot. Photo: Tania Susskind