Mountain Forest Corporation (MFC) was founded by John Conlan, CEO of AET, in 1992 to profitably reclaim, through reforestation, former coal strip-mined land in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. MFC was the first Ohio company to go public via the internet (2003) and was acquired by AET in a non-cash transaction in 2007.
The company develops and propagates a hardwood plant species, Paulownia tomentosa, that is self-sustaining, very valuable and grows to maturity in approximately 20% of the time as other domestic hardwood species such as oak, maple and ash.
Paulownia tomentosa, the species of choice for Mountain Forest Corporation, can grow in poor soil which makes it a natural choice for reclamation projects. The tree can grow as much as 30 feet in a single season, making it ideal for reforestation projects. MFC, following 3 years of research at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (O.A.R.D.C.), has developed a superior and efficient protocol for growing this species of tree.
The Paulownia, native to China, has naturalized on the Cumberland Plateau within the last 150 years. The hardwood from the tree is used for veneer, furniture, musical instruments and mill work. The target market for Pawlonia tomentosa seedlings is primarily coal companies seeking a return on the large investment in land formerly used in their strip mining operations. In order to have their Reclamation Bond released by the Department of Natural Resources, coal companies are required to return the land back to its natural, pre-mined condition.
With it’s durable tap root system able to seek out sources of water, the Paulownia tree grows straight and swiftly. The hardwood often will command as much as 4 times the price of other native hardwood trees.
Characteristics of The Paulownia Tree
Self Perpetuating: Stumps of harvested trees will grow new trees, thus perpetuating the timber stand. This is particularly important to buyers who are denied continuous revenue.
Excellent for Reclamation: Thrives on depleted, worn out soils, strip mined areas or lower quality areas of farmland.
Rapid Maturity: 10-20 years compared with 75-100 years for oak, ash or walnut. The Pawlonia can grow more than 12 feet in it’s first year.
Increased Production Time: Seedlings are now grown by Mountain Forest Corporation in 11 months vs 2 years.
High Quality: Paulownia tomentosa is a high grade hardwood used for veneer furniture, millwork and musical instruments.
High Demand: High demand in Japan and China with even higher demand expected to develop in the US as alternative woods are needed.
Very Hardy in Growing Zones 6 and 7: A plantation should experience a conservative field loss rate of of only 13% over a 20 year period.
High Value: Current Value of Paulownia is 4 times that of veneer grade Black Walnut.
Environmentally Friendly: Scrubs air of Sulfur Dioxide , the precursor of acid rain, with its large, heart shaped leaves.
Superior Woodworking Capability: Wood breathes to eliminate warping and is easy to work and carve.
Minimum Alteration: The lumber air dries with a minimum of bow or twist and virtually no cupping, casehardening or honeycombing.
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