“Trees are the answer!” says Seattle-based Weyerhaeuser employee.

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FOREST RESOURCE ECONOMIST
Alicia Robbins

What do you do? I am part of a team [at Weyerhaeuser] that develops long-term strategic options for the tree-growing side of the company. Our work includes identifying opportunities for creating additional value, developing consistent assumptions used across the business, evaluating performance and analyzing market opportunities and risks.

How did you get started in that field? I like to think that forestry is in my DNA, since I had great-grandparents who worked in the timber industry in the 19th century. But the way I got to it was somewhat circuitous, having started out as a China studies major in college interested in how natural resources are managed in different countries. After my first forestry classes in graduate school, I became completely fascinated by how many benefits trees provide for people.

What’s a typical day like? We are always working on a number of projects at the same time so every day is a little different, and we have to maintain flexibility to jump on high-priority items when needed. One day I might be gathering data or working on scenario analysis, and another, I might be out in the woods or at a log yard.

What’s the best part of the job? Working with super-smart, highly collaborative people. And knowing that the industry I work for not only produces material to build homes, but is part of the climate change solution. As a company, we plant more than 100 million trees per year — trees that will grow to sequester carbon and continue to hold carbon after their harvest and conversion to wood products. Trees are the answer!

What surprises people about what you do? Many people are surprised when I tell them that if they want to have more forests and protect the environment, there actually needs to be more demand for things made out of trees that come from sustainably managed forests. The best incentive for making sure our forests last forever is to make sure there is an incentive for making products out of wood.

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