Yale’s Trouble with Timber

Yale University’s endowment fund has a chunk of timber holdings, an effort to hedge against inflation, but the holdings are raising controversy as some believe it puts large expanses of forest at risk. This according to a recent article in Bloomberg.

According to the article, the university owns thousands of acres in New Hampshire, adding that one forest industry veteran complains, “They’re cutting everything, even the growing stock.”

The move by many of the nation’s richer schools to increase timber holdings has been on the upswing for decades, the article says, in large part because these schools are able to “take advantage of endowments’ unusual ability to make investments that might not be easy to sell quickly.” But some living by Yale’s land are concerned about their tree harvesting as well as the lease they signed in 2010 with Hydro-Quebec, a Canadian utility, for a power line that will, the article says, “run through about 24 miles of the university’s forests.”

Yale isn’t the only school that’s running into trouble with forestry investments, says Bloomberg, and some have been pulling back. It cites Harvard’s 2014 sale of Romanian timberland and Wake Forest University’s “slashing its commitment” of timber holdings to 1% of its $1.1 billion portfolio (down from 5% 10 years ago).