Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

Woodworking workshops for sustainable adaptation techniques

PUERTO RICO – Over the past two weeks, the Caribbean Climate Hub, with support from International Institute of Tropical Forestry – State and Private Forestry, organized the first workshops on woodworking as part of the ADAPTA series. These workshops are particularly important for the timber industry and tree and forest management in the island. In the workshops, discussion about lessons learned from the 2017 hurricane season help farmers identify both threats and opportunities for current and future hurricane seasons.

After hurricanes Irma and María in 2017, a wood salvage project was organized. Through their efforts, 4,391,206 cubic yards of vegetative material were collected, from which 60% was estimated to be woody debris. Logs of desirable wood species like mahogany (Swietenia), mango (Mangifera) and padauk (Pterocarpus) were found. These logs were usable for constructing furniture as well as for cabinetry making. Learning to reuse these products provides a way for sustainably dealing with woody debris following a natural disaster.

The event was held at “Taller Escuela”, in the municipality of Carolina, Puerto Rico. This school teaches students about the selection, processing and management of different types of wood for woodworking. The workshop was led by René Delgado, director of Taller Escuela, and wood expert for over 30 years. At the workshop, Delgado discussed the history of wood use in Puerto Rico and the needs of the timber and woodworking industries in the island.

The aim of these workshops was twofold: to teach about the development of wood products as a sustainable adaptation to an increase in extreme weather events and changing climatic conditions, and to teach students adequate and safe wood handling skills. The workshop included a participatory activity at the end, where participants were able to use manual and electric tools for the elaboration of a products made out of the reclaimed wood.

These workshops will be followed by another four; each one focusing on a different aspect of wood handling and processing. The woodworking workshops aim to help participants, mostly woodworkers, landowners and artisans, to strengthen their knowledge in forest management, product development and reforestation through information and practical training.

The ADAPTA series was launched by the CCH in Puerto Rico to develop capacity and knowledge necessary for the implementation of resilient practices upon extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts. State and Private Forestry at IITF supported through technical and financial assistance the implementation of these workshops as part of hurricane recovery and preparedness efforts.

Sample woods from Puerto Rico
At the workshops participants were taught about the types of wood and the needs of the industry in the island. USDA Forest Service photo.
Man addressing a group at the head of a workshop
René Delgado, who was been working with wood for over 30 years, led the workshops. Participants had the opportunity to have a hands-on experience at the workshops. USDA Forest Service photo.