Tag: Forestry

Clean Over Current

As leaders, parents, investors, and coaches, we often make decisions with imperfect and incomplete information. Therefore, we benefit by having an approach or philosophy for dealing with uncertainty. When screening and evaluating analysis, I start by confirming that what we have in hand is clean and accurate. Building a history of clean, error-free, detail-oriented work builds trust and puts you in a better position to influence decisions and lead the room.

Errors Inject Doubt

For strategic questions and market projections, I prefer clean data and analysis over rushed, subjective intel. Ideally, we have both, but if given the choice, I want things clean, with an “as of” date, over speculation on today’s unconfirmed events. It’s how we report things at Forisk, since we, like many market analysts, rely on government data and other sources that often lag actuals by weeks, months, or quarters, and this data often gets revised in future months. 

If the report I have has multiple errors, then I doubt everything it contains. If it’s clean but a little behind, we can still make decisions and assess performance. We can also evaluate the likelihood and implications of the most recent market intel when it comes in. Without a clean, verified understanding of historical events, we are poorly positioned to evaluate new theses or announcements. However, with a clean dataset and framework, we can develop intuition and scenarios on how changes affect the market and our clients.

Understand How Things Work on the Ground

When conducting forest industry analysis, teams I work with are mindful of the fact that “operations come first” to truly understanding how things function on the ground. If our analysis and understanding is inconsistent with what mill managers or procurement foresters see, then we have something to reconcile. In our role, we add value by connecting information across markets and over time, which prioritizes clean analysis to make our work credible for clients who need to make decisions. 

If we hear a piece of market intel that could change our thinking, we call local contacts working in the field and ask, “is this true? How could this affect you?” As with many things, news is often a rumor, and the impact is regularly overstated. 

Conclusion

There are situations and occupations where the most recent intel has more value, such as on the battlefield, in the operating room, or at the trading desk. However, for strategic questions and projections, and given the choice, I’ll take clean over current.

Tough Trees and Growth Rings

The late Dr. Alex Shigo, author of accessible books on trees and former Chief Scientist of the U.S. Forest Service, described trees thusly:

“Trees are superior survival organisms. They live longer, grow taller, and become more massive than any organism ever to inhabit earth.” 

Dr. Alex Shigo

In short, trees are tough. Street life for a tree involves air pollution, yard sale signs, climbing kids, tire swings, knife carvings and car accidents. In the woods, trees endure drought, floods, fires, deer stands and enumerable pathogens. Regardless their environment, trees document their travails in their annual growth rings. These concentric increments, made of light and dark cells, indicate the amount of wood added in one season.  

The mechanics of trees, so orderly and resilient, fascinate. Let’s take a moment to peel back the bark and appreciate what comprises a tree and its growth rings:

  • Bark: this outer layer protects the tree from extreme temperatures, certain bugs and diseases, and even fire.
  • Phloem: also called the “inner bark,” the phloem transports sap produced in the leaves down and throughout the tree. Compare this role to that of the sapwood (xylem).
  • Cambium: amazing layer of thin cells that produces inner bark (phloem) on one side and sapwood (xylem) on the other.
  • Xylem: sapwood conducts water and necessary nutrients up the tree, versus the phloem which transports ready sap down the tree. When looking at the cross-section of a tree, the relatively youthful sapwood is lighter, partly because it has more water than the…
  • Heartwood in the middle of the stem, which is comprised of older, inactive cells that provide structural strength. 
  • Pith: central core of the tree and in twigs.

In most of North America, the growing season for trees starts in the spring when the cambium produces larger cells with thin walls that form lighter-colored “springwood” or earlywood. Growth slows later in the summer when trees produce the smaller and thicker walled cells that for the “summerwood” or latewood that is the darker part of each annual growth ring.