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Spotlight on: Aaron Hogan’s research on root functional traits in Hainan, China

GFIS - Tue, 22/08/2017 - 21:31
Aaron Hogan, a PhD student at Florida International University (FIU), recently returned from leading a field campaign at the ForestGEO Jianfengling site in Hainan, China.

Aaron Hogan (left) and Shojun Ling (right) extracting a root sample (photo by Dr. Han Xu: PI of the 60-Ha Jianfengling plot).
At Jianfengling, Hogan studied the relationship between the quantification of root and leaf functional trait plasticity, such as intraspecific variation, and the soil and forest age gradient. Days were spent sampling root and leaf traits, while nights were spent washing, scanning, drying, and weighing root samples. Root functional trait will be related to leaf level traits, specifically focusing on chemical traits as they relate to soil chemistry.
Hogan became interested in studying below ground functional traits about a year ago when he started his PhD work. “Oscar Valverde-Barrantes introduced me to the joy of digging, looking at, and studying tree roots.  The more I got into the literature, the more I realized how little we know about roots and most belowground processes in tropical forests, compared to leaves or aboveground processes,” Hogan said.

A scanned root from a Lithocarpus pseudovestitus Fagaceae (oak family) individual illustrating the root morphology of a dominant species in the Jianfengling forest.
“I think one of the greatest potential findings that may result is the quantification of root and leaf functional trait plasticity (i.e. intraspecific variation) across a soil and forest age gradient. The sampled transect spans two mountain peaks from secondary forest deep into the more primary forest area of Jianfengling, Hainan, which incorporates a substantial amount of environmental variability found in the area,” said Hogan. 
Hogan has been an active collaborator with ForestGEO since 2011, when he volunteered to participate in the tree census at the Luquillo site in Puerto Rico. Hogan will continue his PhD studies at FIU, and ForestGEO looks forward to his future research findings within Jianfengling and other forest sites.
You can read more about J. Aaron Hogan's research on his website and blog here: http://www.jamesaaronhogan.com/.  
List of collaborators:
Dr. Hong Liu from (FIU), Dr. Ding Qiong (Hainan University) and Dr. Xu Han (Chinese Academy of Forestry). Field taxonomists from the local forest bureau, including Shaojun Ling, Yaxin Xie, Jaming Wang, Suhui Ma, Siqi Yang, Wenguang Tang, Zhiting Ma, Qiqi Zhang and Jiazhu Shi and Mr. Yu.

Funds available for forest thinning through Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program

GFIS - Tue, 22/08/2017 - 19:13

Texas A&M Forest Service is accepting applications for the 2017 Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program. Through this cost-share program eligible forest landowners can receive financial and technical assistance related to reducing the threat of future SPB infestation

How one town learned to live with venomous rattlesnakes

GFIS - Tue, 22/08/2017 - 19:10

Predators like the timber rattlesnake are often the most hated and persecuted wildlife, says William Ripple, a distinguished ecology professor at Oregon State University. This is alarming to scientists, given new research that suggests predators are not only vital to healthy natural environments...(more)

Additional Information: Full StoryWilliam Ripple

Orange is the new green: How orange peels revived a Costa Rican forest

GFIS - Tue, 22/08/2017 - 17:10
In the mid-1990s, 1,000 truckloads of orange peels and orange pulp were purposefully unloaded onto a barren pasture in a Costa Rican national park. Today, that area is covered in lush, vine-laden forest.

Targeted forest regeneration: A blueprint for conserving tropical biological diversity?

GFIS - Tue, 22/08/2017 - 15:24
Targeted forest regeneration among the largest and closest forest fragments in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania and the Atlantic Forest of Brazil can dramatically reduce extinction rates of bird species over time, new research shows.


GFIS - Tue, 22/08/2017 - 14:47

ALERT member Philip Fearnside, arguably the world’s leading authority on Amazon conservation, tells us about a chilling recent events in Brazil:

The last two months have seen a spectacular series of blows to Brazil’s environmental licensing system and other eco-protections. 

These have occurred in the days and even hours leading up to a congressional vote to begin impeachment actions against president Michel Temer, based on serious revelations of corruption.

Environmental Nightmares

There have been so many environmental and political setbacks recently that it’s difficult to know where to start.

For one thing, President Temer supported the notorious “land-thieves law” — reneging on an earlier promise to oppose it.

This intensely controversial law (see here and here) legitimizes illegal land claims of up to 2,500 hectares in area (the size of 5,000 football fields), many of which are in the Amazon rainforest.  

It also pardons vast sums in fines and debts owed to the government by the powerful agribusiness and ranching sectors (see here and here), while weakening the criteria for definition of indigenous lands.

The president has also supported a controversial highway project demanded by conservative politicians — known as “ruralists” — and backed measures to reduce Amazonian protected areas (see here, here, and here).

Pork-Barrel Payouts

These measures are in addition to Temer handing out over $1.3 billion in pork-barrel appropriations to selected federal deputies — with estimates of future handouts as high as $5.2 billion, not including other other expensive concessions to Temer’s political allies.

The “ruralists” are benefiting hugely from Temer’s generosity with public monies, and are now so powerful that they are blocking impeachment proceedings against him (see here, here, here, and here).

The president’s political handouts are worsening Brazil’s economic crisis, while cutting into funding direly needed by the Environment Ministry, among other government sectors.

This is Brazil today.  A president with dark corruption allegations hanging over his head is willfully sacrificing the country’s incredible environment to save his own political skin — while handing out massive payouts to his pro-development allies in congress.

Cover image: (c) Toa55/Shutterstock; Squirrel monkeys: (c) Jess Kraft/Shutterstock


Smurfit Kappa, One Of The World’s Leading Paper-Based Packaging Firms, Has Acquired The Russian Corrugated Packaging Company, Soyuz, Reinforcing Its Position In The Region

PaperIndex TimesNews - Tue, 22/08/2017 - 12:04
Soyuz, based in Moscow, produces corrugated packaging for a range of sectors and has approximately 300 employees.

Smurfit Kappa already has three plants in Saint Petersburg, Russia producing paper-based and Bag-in-Box® products for customers across Europe.

This acquisition enables Smurfit Kappa to further strengthen its position in Russia and broaden its offering to its multinational and local customers.

The acquisition also establishes Smurfit Kappa as the leading international corrugated packaging supplier in Russia.

Speaking about the latest acquisition, Pim Wareman CEO of Smurfit Kappa North East Europe, said: “I am delighted with the acquisition of Soyuz and welcome its employees into the Smurfit Kappa Group.

“Russia is an attractive growth market for us with exciting potential. We are pleased to expand our footprint in this market and in particular within the growing Moscow region.”

Saverio Mayer, CEO of Smurfit Kappa Europe said: “This acquisition supports our continued drive to increase our customer offering, and our unique packaging business applications will help further develop the Soyuz operations.

“Our wide range of corrugated products, along with our innovative and rapidly growing Bag-in-Box® business, opens up many opportunities for both Smurfit Kappa and our customers in Russia.”

Arctic Paper Improves Production Performance With Greycon Upgrade

PaperIndex TimesNews - Tue, 22/08/2017 - 12:02
Aug 22,2017 --Arctic Paper has contracted Greycon to upgrade to their system with Greycon’s latest scheduling and trim optimisation solutions, opt-Studio and X-Trim.

In 2002 Greycon first implemented S-Plan and X-Trim at Arctic Paper’s paper mills based in Kostrzyn, Poland. Since then Artic Paper has been a long-standing client of Greycon’s.

Arctic Paper Kostrzyn S.A. is the largest manufacturer of offset papers in Poland. The mill produces over 280,000 tonnes of high quality papers both in reels and sheets every year. More than 75% of this is exported to countries like Germany, Great Britain, France and the Benelux.

Greycon’s solutions have been fundamental to the continued success of Arctic Paper’s production. The Greycon planning solution tightly integrated with the Mill’s manufacturing execution systems forms a critical component in the daily management of Arctic Paper’s operation.

Esa Orola, Global Consultancy Manager of Greycon says “We are really pleased with the results and project execution at Arctic Paper. The Kostrzyn team are able to improve their performance with our latest solutions. It has been really nice to witness. Arctic Paper wanted this project managed by Greycon and to work closely with the Greycon team to adopt the recommended best practices across the operation.”

The migration to opt-Studio and X-Trim’s latest releases has delivered additional benefits to Arctic Paper. There is improved usability and performance, compared to the existing daily scheduling solution from Greycon, which kept the mill in operation 24/7. Incoming orders are automatically scheduled into runs and trimmed with market leading algorithms to minimise waste at the winder and cutter machines.

“One of the benefits we are really pleased with in the new Greycon solution is the enhanced functionality. There is quite a lot in there. One exceptional aspect worth mentioning is that the other departments did not even notice that the old system disappeared and a new one came instead. This means of course that the integration was functioning very smoothly from day one. The implementation team were excellent and completed thorough tests to make this happen.” says Mr. Piotr Stolowski, Planning and Supply Chain Manager, from Arctic Paper.

About Greycon
Greycon is the world’s leading provider of production planning, scheduling and manufacturing execution systems that have been designed specifically for roll-based & flat sheet industries. Greycon operates throughout Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. Greycon’s strength is the extensive range of planning, scheduling and MES software solutions for Paper & Board, Plastic Films & Flexible Packaging, Nonwovens, Metals and Converting industries supported by powerful optimisation algorithms and a highly experienced team of consultants.

Neenah Launches Kimdura DualTech Synthetic Paper

PaperIndex TimesNews - Tue, 22/08/2017 - 12:01
Aug 22,2017 --Neenah Paper has characterized its new synthetic paper as “a significant addition” to its portfolio of labels for harsh environments. The Neenah Performance Labels portfolio of high performing, highly engineered substrates is designed for applications in demanding conditions. Its Kimdura line of label stock has been used for more than 30 years for challenging applications – including labels and tags for drum chemicals, hazard communications, health care, industrial, logistical and outdoor. Kimdura DualTech is available at 3.5pt (98g/sqm), adds an option for both inkjet and laser printing platforms, and is compliant with BS 5609 Part 2 and 3.

“Our customers expect Neenah to develop products to fit their evolving needs. Kimdura DualTech demonstrates best-in-class performance and chemical resistance with laser and inkjet printers, even when exposed to a wide range of industrial and household solvents,” said Srinivas Nomula, Senior Director of Marketing at Neenah Performance Labels & Specialties. “Similar products in the marketplace showed little or no resistance to industrial chemicals when printed using laser printers. Kimdura DualTech outperformed other labels, with even barcodes remaining legible during harsh testing environments.”

Gracy Wingkono, Product Manager at Neenah Performance Labels & Specialties, added: “Besides demonstrating exceptional print durability, Kimdura DualTech has was created to respond to our customers who have been asking us to develop a thinner, brighter, whiter label facestock. This new product can serve diverse applications and market verticals, including tire and rubber industries, as well as consumer durables labeling.”

Packaging Corporation of America Announces Agreement to Acquire Sacramento Container Corporation and Conversion of Wallula Mill Paper Machine to High-Performance 100% Virgin Linerboard

PaperIndex TimesNews - Tue, 22/08/2017 - 12:00
LAKE FOREST, Ill.----Aug. 21, 2017-- Packaging Corporation of America (NYSE: PKG) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Sacramento Container Corporation, and 100% of the membership interests of Northern Sheets, LLC and Central California Sheets, LLC in a cash-free, debt-free transaction for a cash purchase price of $265 million. The Company has also announced that it will discontinue production of uncoated freesheet (UFS) and coated one-side (C1S) grades at its Wallula, Washington mill in the second quarter of 2018 to begin the conversion of its 200,000 ton-per-year No. 3 paper machine to a 400,000 ton-per-year high-performance 100% virgin kraft linerboard machine.

The acquisition transaction is structured as a purchase of assets resulting in a full step-up of the assets to fair market value. Under the terms of the agreement, PCA will acquire full-line corrugated products and sheet feeder operations in McClellan, California and Kingsburg, California.

The value of the expected synergies, the tax benefit of the step-up of assets and the operations’ EBITDA result in a purchase price multiple of approximately five times EBITDA. The acquisition will be accretive to earnings immediately.

PCA Executive Vice President Tom Hassfurther said, “The acquisition of these well-capitalized facilities will further enhance our operations both geographically and strategically. Also, the customer-focused employees and strong management teams of Sacramento Container, Northern Sheets and Central California Sheets will be an excellent fit with PCA’s culture. This group has built a successful business based on providing outstanding quality and service to a wide array of customers located in the northern and central regions of California.”

Closing is subject to certain customary conditions and regulatory approval and is expected early in the fourth quarter of 2017. The company plans to finance the transaction with available cash on hand.

The conversion of the No. 3 paper machine at the Wallula Mill is planned for the second quarter of 2018 with an initial production rate of approximately 60 percent of capacity. Ultimately, production will increase to 1,150 tons per day once a new headbox, forming section, and shoe press are added in the fourth quarter of 2018. The capital cost of the conversion is expected to be approximately $150 million. Discontinuing paper operations at the Wallula Mill will result in pre-tax cash severance and other shutdown charges of approximately $20 - 25 million and approximately $45 - 55 million of pre-tax noncash asset impairment and accelerated depreciation charges. Charges of $25 - $35 million are expected to be recorded in the third quarter of 2017. The Mill’s No. 2 paper machine will continue to produce 150,000 tons-per-year of semi-chemical medium.

PCA Chairman and CEO Mark Kowlzan said, “Our strategy is to improve the overall profitability of the paper business for PCA by focusing our people and investments on increasing our competitiveness and ensuring a sustainable future in the office and printing & converting markets with our mills in International Falls, MN and Jackson, AL. In addition, at our current containerboard integration rate of 95%, the low-cost conversion of the No. 3 paper machine at our Wallula Mill provides us with much needed linerboard capacity, allows us to integrate over 200,000 tons of containerboard to our Sacramento Container acquisition, and enables further optimization and enhancement of our current mill capacity and box plant operations. The conversion will significantly enhance the mill’s profitability and viability.”

Paul LeBlanc, Vice President – Paper, added, “We will work closely with our customers to ensure a smooth transition as we wind down production of the current grades we make on our No. 3 paper machine at Wallula. Throughout this transition, all customers will continue to receive the high quality products and service they are accustomed to.”

PCA is the fourth largest producer of containerboard and corrugated packaging products and the third largest producer of uncoated freesheet paper in the United States. PCA operates eight mills and 93 corrugated products plants and related facilities.

From raindrop to faucet: Thank a tree for your clean, cool water 

GFIS - Tue, 22/08/2017 - 02:22

Do you know where your water comes from?

Stitching Together Forests Can Help Save Species, Study Finds

GFIS - Mon, 21/08/2017 - 22:00
As the world’s forests are carved up by roads and farms, the animals in them are vanishing. A simple fix may help.

Climate Change Solutions: Bringing Forests to Center Stage

GFIS - Mon, 21/08/2017 - 20:55
By Nancy Harris and Donna Lee Forests play a huge role in mitigating climate change. Photo by Aaron Minnick/WRI Forests are natural heroes of the climate change story. They soak up nearly a third of fossil fuel emissions, with the potential to absorb even more. But when cleared, they become as villainous as smokestacks, emitting carbon back into […]

Why better soil could mean peace and prosperity for African farmers

GFIS - Mon, 21/08/2017 - 15:50

Food assistance needs in 2017 are unprecedented, say FEWS-Net, an early warning system pioneered by the US government. Famine threatens South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. Ethiopia is also included within the top 5 areas of highest concern....

The post Why better soil could mean peace and prosperity for African farmers appeared first on Agroforestry World.

What is CGIAR doing on soil carbon and climate change?

GFIS - Mon, 21/08/2017 - 15:12

Soil carbon could help mitigate significant greenhouse gas emissions, while also supporting food production and adaptation to climate change.

The post What is CGIAR doing on soil carbon and climate change? appeared first on Agroforestry World.

Interview with CEPI Director General Syvlain L'hôte in Belgian daily newspaper Le Soir (in French)

GFIS - Mon, 21/08/2017 - 15:11

CEPI's Director General Sylvain L'hôte sat down recently with journalist Jean-Francois Munster of Belgian daily newsaper Le Soir to talk about climate change, innovation and CEPI's 2050 'Investment Roadmap'

Read the full article in French below


Help Make Certification SMART – get involved with the PEFC Stakeholder Dialogue

GFIS - Mon, 21/08/2017 - 13:19
Participate, partner, promote or pitch a solution: there are many ways you can get involved with the 2017 PEFC Stakeholder Dialogue: Making Certification SMART. And we are looking forward to hearing from you! Our two-day dialogue (16-17 November 2017; Helsinki, Finland) will explore and discover...

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Shaping the future of forest and farm landscapes in Africa

GFIS - Mon, 21/08/2017 - 10:03

As part of a new interdisciplinary partnership, IIED will be working with sector experts, scientists and practitioners to better understand and manage the growing competition for land in sub-Saharan Africa, as governments seek to balance food production with forest conservation targets.

Africa's forests are disappearing faster than anywhere else in the world, losing almost three million hectares a year between 2010 and 2015 – an annual loss nearly the size of Belgium. Most of this loss was caused by agriculture expansion. 

Increasing competition for land: food vs. forests  

This forest loss is likely to continue, largely out of the need to produce food for the continent's growing population. The population of sub-Saharan Africa is set to more than double to 2.1 billion by 2050 – far outstripping growth in any other region. To meet this increase, food supply to sub-Saharan Africa must also more than double. 

IIED research has shown the necessary boost in supply cannot be achieved solely through imports, by reducing food waste − or yield increases. 

When forest governance is weak and market demand is high, yield increase could even drive further forest loss on farm-forest frontiers, as increased profits incentivise and enable further expansion. 

Forests provide vital ecosystem services that underpin sustainable food supply – from providing habitats for species that support natural pest control to reducing nutrient run-off and protecting vital water supplies. In the long term, forest loss could negatively impact agriculture production. 

African governments need to be more strategic in the way they manage the competition for land if they are to find a healthy balance between food production and maintaining forest ecosystem services. This means recognising that there is no easy 'win-win' situation − some forests will inevitably be lost while not all fertile land should be automatically earmarked for agriculture.   

The myth of vacant and underused land 

A closer look into land use policies in Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania reveals that competition for land is intense, and that this has been heavily underestimated. This is partly due to the prevailing perception among decision-makers involved in government land use planning that there are large tracts of vacant or underused land. 

Some of this land is already being used by smallholder farmers or by pastoralists under customary tenure arrangements. Other areas are only marginally suitable for agricultural production due to factors such as soil infertility, and/or a high risk of soil erosion and drought. Moreover, large areas of land, deemed suitable for food production, overlap with forests. 

Food and forest policies: on course for collision

Agricultural policies in Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania encourage further agricultural expansion along with intensification. The governments of all three countries aim to ensure domestic food security, supply international markets to boost economic growth, and create employment for the ever-growing young population. 

Meanwhile, these countries aim to reduce and reverse deforestation and have set ambitious goals for increasing forest cover.  

Not only are these policies at odds with each other, they also severely underestimate the increasing competition for land. Commitments to expand forest cover could constrain certain agricultural development options as resource competition intensifies. On the other hand, meeting food production targets for both domestic demand and international markets will inevitably cause further deforestation. 

Intensification is no silver bullet 

To reduce competition between the agricultural and forest sectors, policies in all three countries rely heavily on increased crop production, such as intensification.

Governments favour expanding large-scale commercial agriculture over small-scale practices, and much greater use of external inputs. But experience suggests conditions in Africa are less favourable for a green revolution, like the type seen in Asia − where yield drastically increased over a short period of time.

Large-scale and intensified agriculture also presents various social and environmental risks such as displacing smallholder farmers or threatening biodiversity.

IIED and partners have been exploring the barriers to more coherent policies and identifying ways to overcome them, to enable strategic management of land use competition between food and forests and more sustainable and equitable agricultural development. 

Beyond technology 

Technical challenges exist. Remote sensing technology, for example, is not currently sophisticated enough to identify the different agricultural drivers of deforestation (as also detailed in this blog). But improved technology alone would not be enough to manage the existing and future competition for land. 

IIED's research has highlighted that a better understanding of the political and economic forces at play is a crucial first step towards shaping a more sustainable future of the forest and farm landscape in sub-Saharan Africa.

These forces are complex, spanning institutional governance issues (such as competing sectoral targets or budgetary constraints), incentives and disincentives of key stakeholders, historical legacies (for example, where the reorganisation of ministries has prevented forest and agricultural government agencies working collaboratively), and social trends.  

An interdisciplinary approach 

To navigate such complexities and identify pathways towards better land use policies, IIED is leading an interdisciplinary partnership with experts, scientists and practitioners in agriculture, forestry and conservation sectors through the Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP).

Through a working group format, partners under SNAPP will work across different sectors to understand and overcome political, economic, institutional, social and technical barriers. This will include exploring how spatial analysis can better enable governments to understand and manage the competition for land.

Improving capacities on the ground 

Building on the work of SNAPP, IIED is leading the SENTINEL (Social and Environmental Trade-offs in African Agriculture) research initiative. This aims to enhance capacities of both UK and African research organisations to conduct interdisciplinary research and engage with research users.

The goal is to provide decision makers in Africa's public and private sectors with better information of the social and environmental impacts of different agricultural development pathways. This initiative focuses on Ethiopia, Ghana and Zambia, while working with a wider group of universities in Africa to share lessons and build capacity.

All this will help inform national discourses on better ways to manage the existing competition between food and forests − crucial for Africa's long-term sustainability.  

Xiaoting Hou Jones (xiaoting.hou.jones@iied.org) is a researcher and Phil Franks (phil.franks@iied.org) is a senior researcher in IIED's Natural Resources research group.


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by Dr. Radut