This month, GrowSmart Maine will be featuring speakers and subject matter experts on the topic of Maine’s New Forest Economy – leading up to our forum on the subject on March 24th in Hallowell. More information and Registration here.
Eric Kingsley is a partner in Innovative Natural Resource Solutions LLC (INRS), a natural resource industries consulting firm with offices in New Hampshire and Maine. NRS believes human use and protection of natural resources are compatible. They believe that strong economic growth need not be sacrificed for the sake of environmental quality, and they strive to assist clients in meeting natural resource challenges while also ensuring a healthy free market economy predicated on recognition of individual rights and responsibilities.
Since joining INRS in 2000, Eric has worked with dozens of parties on the development of new forest industries, and often works to deploy or create unique financial tools to support the industry. He has a Master’s Degree in Resource Economics from the University of New Hampshire, and served for five years as executive director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association, a trade association representing all sectors of that state’s forest industry. Eric was part of a group recognized by TIME Magazine as “Person of the Year” in 2006.
GSM: How did you get involved in the forestry industry?
Eric: I became a forest landowner in New Hampshire while in college, purchasing about 500 acres in the southwest part of that state. My brother and I (he was in high school at the time of purchase, but a full partner) sold the land a few years back, but it remains in forestry. I became involved professionally after grad school at UNH, where I studied Resource Economics. My first job out of grade school was running the NH Timberland Owners Association, the state’s forest industry trade association. It was during my five years there that I forged strong relationships with the landowners (from families to publicly traded corporations), loggers and mills that comprise the forest industry – and serve as a core New England’s rural economy.
GSM: What do you see as Maine’s biggest challenge and biggest opportunity?
Eric: Maine’s biggest challenge is the loss of markets for low-grade wood. Between losses in pulpwood and biomass, Maine has lost nearly 4 million tons of market since 2014. That is about 350 truckloads of wood, every day, 365 days per year. The loss of this market reduced landowners options for sustainable forest management, and threatens the economic viability of many loggers. It is a big deal.
The flip side is the opportunity – we have 17 million acres of sustainably managed timberland, in close proximity to the largest collection of consumers in the history of the world. This is ripe with opportunity – we just need to identify and execute.
GSM: If you had a magic wand and could change something over night, what would it be?
Eric: If I could change one thing, it would be making sure that all landowners have access to professionals when considering timber harvests.
GSM: Where is your favorite thing about working in forestry?
Eric: The thing I love about working in forestry is the people. While sometimes they frustrate me – and see the world through a different lens than the one I am using – I cannot imagine a more genuine, plain spoken and grounded group of people. I am proud to be associated with them.
To read more of our series, check out our Blog.