One of Maine’s pioneering logging environmental programs will get international recognition, possibly for the first time, when a group of Japanese logging contractors visits the state for three days next week and tours several logging contractor operations and mills, officials said Thursday.
The six logging professionals and a university professor from Miyazaki, Japan, will study the Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands’ Master Logger Certification Program, which since its inception 11 years ago has helped 88 state logging contractors meet high, third-party-certified standards for environmental stewardship and workplace safety, said Leslie Beardsley, an outreach coordinator for the trust and for the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine.
“They are from Himuka Ishin no Kai,” said Beth Ollivier, the trust’s executive director. “In English, that means Association of Evolving Forestry in Himuka, which is what they used to call the area they are from.”
“My understanding is that it is a region of Japan that [is] heavily forested and that they are [from] a prominent industry in that region,” she added. “They probably have been harvesting for a long time. For them it could be that they are trying to take a concerted effort in understanding the science of environmentally sound logging practices.”
The Japanese will visit a logging operation in Brunswick on Monday for their first glimpse of how one of the state’s 88 master loggers works to meet the self-imposed goals of the master logging program — logging practices that include harvest planning, water quality protection, soil productivity maintenance, forest ecosystem sustainability, workplace safety, and the management of forest aesthetics.
On Tuesday they will tour the wood yard and a work site in Milo with Madden Timberlands Inc., a Passadumkeag logging contractor that employs 33 workers, owner Scott Madden said. They will also visit Treeline Inc. of Lincoln. The visit will be the first by an international logging group to a master logger’s operation, Madden said.
“I think it is great. Anytime we get to share any of what we know and can learn back and forth it is very good,” Madden said.
On Wednesday the group will visit the sawmill at Pleasant River Lumber in Dover-Foxcroft and the Maine Woods Pellet mill in Athens to see how sustainable forest practices are maintained and valued by loggers’ customers, Ollivier said.
Maine loggers voluntarily established the master logger program 11 years ago to encourage the continuous improvement of industry standards, and since then it has spread to New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York. It involves an eight-month review, extensive training, costs about $3,800 per contractor, plus an annual fee of $300 to $800 to maintain, Ollivier said.
“They are going to be using our program as a model for their program. That’s what is so unique,” Ollivier said. “Here they are halfway around the world and modeling their program after us.”