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Environment, Carbon and Forests

College awards 228 degrees at annual OSU Commencement Ceremony

GFIS - 2 hours 5 min ago

In June 2016, the Oregon State University College of Forestry was thrilled to confer a total of 228 degrees to... (more)

The Appalachian-Cumberland Highland: The Next 50 Years

GFIS - 7 hours 38 min ago
Forecasted scenarios suggest that a variety of pressures could create novel conditions that affect ecosystem structure and function in the Appalachian-Cumberland highland. In particular, dramatic changes in land uses are predicted for the subregion over the next 50 years.

19th Needle/Leaf Interlaboratory Comparison Test 2016/17

GFIS - 8 hours 57 min ago

Dear colleagues,

registration for this test ended in July 2016 - till now 45 laboratories participate (see timetable). For this test three spruce and one pine needle sample were prepared. The results for the elements S, N. P, K, Ca, Mg, C, Zn, Mn, Fe, Cu, Pb, Cd and B will be evaluated. Other elements can be analyzed – especially results of heavy metals like As, Co, Cr, Hg, Mo, Ni, Tl and V are most welcome.…

Corruption and illegal logging: the “twins” of environmental criminality

GFIS - 9 hours 37 min ago
Without serious intervention against corruption, it will be impossible to address the problem of illegal timber trafficking in Europe. Presenting its findings in Rome, the TREES project has successfully shed light on the role that bribes play in encouraging the illegal timber trade in...

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World Bank undermines decades of progress on building protections for the rights of indigenous peoples

GFIS - 11 hours 49 min ago
28 July, 2016

On Wednesday 20th of July 2016, a sub-section of the Executive Board of the World Bank met to approve a draft text called the ‘Environmental and Social Framework’. The text will now proceed to a full Board meeting in August where it is likely to be approved with little or no change.

The Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) is intended to contribute to the so-called ‘twin goals’ of the Bank: eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. It defines the approach that the World Bank will take to assess and minimise negative impacts from World Bank investments, and promote social and environmental goods.

Specifically for indigenous peoples, it defines the mandatory minimum standards that the Bank views as necessary to “foster full respect for the human rights, dignity, aspirations, identity, culture, and … livelihoods” of indigenous peoples.1 It replaces the current troubled Bank safeguard for indigenous peoples, Operational Policy 4.10.2

With lofty ambitions to ‘shared prosperity’ and ‘full respect’ for human rights, it is a significant disappointment to see in the new draft that the Bank has failed to set high standards for protecting the rights and interests of indigenous peoples. The Bank has instead released a complicated, confusing and fundamentally weaker set of standards.

Read our full analysis.

When small meets big in the value chain

GFIS - 12 hours 14 min ago

Smallholder farmers can benefit from partnerships with large organizations, but power dynamics can put them at a disadvantage.

Peat fires stoke global warming – UN launches global initiative

GFIS - 13 hours 10 min ago

By Florian Eisele, UNEP An often neglected ecosystem, and significant contributor to climate change, is peat. When it burns or dries up huge amounts of CO2 are released. The UK Met Office says carbon dioxide levels have seen a surge in recent months as a result of the El Niño climate phenomenon, which has warmed […]

Farmers, fisherman and forestry workers work hardest

GFIS - 18 hours 12 min ago
According to recent data Ireland’s hardest workers are farmers, fishermen and forestry staff. Source: Belfast Telegraph According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) anyone working in these sectors can expect to clock the longest days and rack up an average of 49.1 hours a week. Its review of employment data for the last six years also showed the average working week is 35.8 hours. Among those who run up the lowest numbers for a five-day working week are teachers and others in the education sector who clock up an average of 29.4 hours. Sales and customer service staff also run up low weekly averages of 29.9 hours. The CSO said the country’s 325,500 self-employed workers also ranked high on the longest days with an average working week of 44 hours while managers, directors and senior officials clocked up 43 hours a week. Its six-year review of data from the Quarterly National Household Survey also showed job creation has been growing steadily in Ireland for the last four years with 1,976,500 people now employed.

Sawdust dump on fire for three years

GFIS - 18 hours 12 min ago
Environmentalists in Siberia are expressing concern over an ongoing fire at the world’s largest sawdust dump — a fire that’s been burning since 2013 and will continue to do so for years to come. Source: Gizmodo As The Siberian Times reports, the monumental mountain of sawdust — which caught fire three years ago — is located in the Ust-Kutsky district of Irkutsk, and measures more than 10.4 hectares (25.7 acres) in size. That’s roughly the size of 800 Olympic swimming pools. According to a council spokesperson: “It is now impossible to extinguish [the] dump with such an amount of sawdust,” adding, “Obviously, it will keep burning for a few more years.” Adding insult to injury, 15 trucks arrive each day from the Trans-Siberian Forest company carrying 70 cubic metres of sawdust waste. They’re literally adding fuel to this fire. Estimates place the total amount of sawdust at the site at about two million cubic metres. To prevent the spread of smouldering flames, the company has constructed a “mineral border line” around the dump (guessing that means a bunch of rocks) and a fire crew is on permanent standby. “Over the past three years this fire has caused dangerous smoke to Ust-Kut and nearby settlements multiple times, with overall population of about 50,000 people,” Alexander Yaroshenko, head of the Forestry Programme of Greenpeace Russia said. “That is an emergency situation of at least regional scale.”

UN report backs timber for building

GFIS - 18 hours 13 min ago
Using timber in green buildings is a key way for the forestry industry to assist in the transition to a low carbon economy, according to a new United Nations report. Source: The Fifth Estate Released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Forestry for a low-carbon future: Integrating forests and wood products in climate change strategies report also analyses the economic case, policy opportunities and bottlenecks for each stage of the forest lifecycle. “Forests are at the heart of the transition to low-carbon economies,” the report states. “Forests and forest products have a key role to play in mitigation and adaptation, not only because of their double role as sink and source of emissions, but also through the potential for wider use of wood products to displace more fossil fuel intense products. “Indeed, a virtuous cycle can be enacted in which forests increase removals of carbon from the atmosphere while sustainable forest management and forest products contribute to enhanced livelihoods and a lower carbon footprint.” The use of carbon pricing schemes to increase uptake of forestry-based mitigation was highlighted, and the importance of forest management strategies that maintain soil carbon stocks and promote high-value uses for sustainably harvested timber than ensure the carbon stored in the wood remains stored for as long as possible. Building with timber was one of the uses examined in detail. The report noted that in terms of uptake of timber in building, policy settings and risk aversion on the part of builders were two of the biggest barriers in the developed world. This was not the case for the detached dwelling sector – where North America and Europe led in timber construction – but in the medium and high rise sectors. In Australia, it said the average use of wood products per unit of floor area had “decreased significantly over time”. Reversing this trend could have significant CO2 mitigation benefits. In NSW, for example, in 2009-10 the EPA reported the residential sector was the second highest source of GHG emissions in the state. Increased use of wood could offset these emissions. A 2013 study by Fabiano Ximenes and Tim Grant, cited in the report, quantified the lifecycle impact of substituting materials such as concrete and brick with wood for two standard dwelling types in Sydney. The GHG outcomes incorporated the extraction, manufacture, transport, use in construction, maintenance and use over 50 years, and disposal of wood products and other building materials across two variations – single storey and double storey. In the “timber-maximised” alternative, the research found wood substitution in the substructure of the building would have the largest GHG impact because of the original design’s concrete components, followed by the walls, because of the substitution of bricks. Overall, the timber-maximised designs would result in approximately half the GHG emissions of a conventional design, which could offset between 23 %and 25% of the total operational energy of the houses. The FAO report also said that while the use of timber in high-rise buildings was currently the subject of a lot of recent interest, buildings in the mid-rise sector – between four to 10 storeys – could have greater mitigation potential overall “because they are more prevalent and thus represent a larger material volume”. The use of timber for furniture and non-construction elements such as doors, window frames, cabinets and packaging could also contribute to mitigation, the report said, when these substitute for relatively high emissions products such as steel, plastics or aluminium. The report found that acceptance of wood as a green building material had been low despite a growing body of evidence regarding benefits and competitiveness, “The building construction industry is known for a tendency to be risk averse,” it said. “In some countries, consumers and construction professionals perceive wood as being of poorer quality and durability than more established construction materials and may associate wood with lower market value and social housing. “Construction firms are frequently satisfied to meet only the minimum requirements of environmental legislation and building codes, and few consumers pay attention to the building’s structural frame or environmental impacts when they make housing decisions.” It noted that where green building principles to reduce energy use are used in conjunction with timber in construction, outcomes could result in substantial mitigation. However, it said not all green rating systems for the built environment were highlighting and weighting the lifecycle of materials as a factor in overall ratings. Instead, the majority focused on the operational energy use, not the embodied carbon footprint.

ACCC approves Metcash bid for HTH

GFIS - 18 hours 14 min ago
Bunnings could soon have a new rival in the $46 billion home improvement market, with Metcash poised to merge its Mitre 10 business with Woolworths’ Home Timber and Hardware business. Source: news.com.au The competition watchdog announced it would not oppose Metcash’s bid for HTH after the supermarket wholesaler promised to let stores buy products from suppliers other than Mitre 10, making Metcash the front runner to buy the hardware store chain. If it is successful, the merged companies will become a $2.2 billion monopoly wholesaler to rival Bunnings, the undisputed king of hardware, boosting Metcash’s market share from 3% to 5%. It will include 800 stores operating under the Mitre 10, True Value Hardware, Home ­ Timber & Hardware and Thrifty Link brands, plus wholesale to unbranded independent hardware stores. The merger would leave the nation with only one full-service hardware wholesaler; Bunnings buys direct from suppliers. Anchorage Capital Partners, the private equity group behind the Dick Smith float, is also understood to have bid for HTH, along with Blackstone Group and a syndicate led by two former HTH executives. If it is the successful bidder Metcash may face a tough battle to keep the merged retailers together, ACCC chairman Rod Sims warned, with a potential exodus of HTH franchisees flagged. “Metcash will have to watch themselves because they’ve got to keep stores viable relative to Bunnings otherwise they’ll lose them and lose business,” Mr Sims said. “And if they don’t look after their stores there’s a chance those stores will break away.” Metcash, which already owns Mitre 10 hardware chain, made a court-enforceable undertaking to address the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s concerns that the deal would leave it as the only full-service wholesale options for independent hardware and home improvement retailers. “We decided to accept Metcash’s undertaking, which should provide independent retailers with the ability to bypass Metcash by using buying groups or negotiating directly with manufacturers. This should also facilitate entry by any new wholesaler that may emerge,” Mr Sims said in a statement. Woolworths’ other troubled home improvement chain, Masters, is expected to be sold separately from HTH; Blackstone Group and a consortium backed by property group Charter Hall are understood to have made offers. Shares in Metcash, widely viewed as the frontrunner for the $200 million purchase of Home Timber & Hardware, jumped 2.4% in the wake of the revelation.  

Waroona pines for more planting

GFIS - 18 hours 14 min ago
One million seedlings have been planted in Waroona by the Forest Products Comission since the devastating Yarloop bushfires in January, with work increasing further into the year. Source: Mandurah Mail Forestry Minister Mia Davies, who visited replanting operations in Mclarty Block this week, said the Federal Government had committed $6.7 million to replant 2200 hectares of damaged softwood. About 2800 hectares of pine plantation were damaged by the bushfires. “The commission is on track to replant 864ha of state-owned plantations this year at a cost of $2.3 million, with 1626ha to be planted next winter,” Ms Davies said. “Replanting this valuable resource will support the sustainability of the softwood industry into the future.” Salvage operations to recover saleable timber from the damaged plantations have been progressing since February. Trees in the damaged plantations ranged from three to 40 years in age. Ms Davies said about 1000 hectares have been cleared. “Logs and timber salvaged from these plantations have been sold to existing domestic markets,” she said. “The commission has also identified new export markets that have used young and below commercial-grade trees for power generation.” Staff at the commission’s nursery in Manjimup have been preparing 3.5 million healthy pine seedlings for planting across the State. Ms Davies said the State Government was committed to growing Western Australia’s softwood industry, which would boost and support regional development. “The timber from these plantations will be processed locally to provide a reliable supply for the Western Australian building and construction industries.”

Kauri export concerns

GFIS - 18 hours 15 min ago
Ministry for Primary Industries staff were concerned about the legality of some swamp kauri exports and considered asking for a judicial review to clarify the law, a court has been told. Source: Radio NZ Northland Environmental Protection Society is challenging the ministry in the High Court in Auckland over swamp kauri exports. It believes the ministry has misinterpreted the Forests Act and unlawfully allowed logs and dressed timber out of the country – by defining them as stumps, temple poles and table tops. By law, only stumps and finished objects can be exported. The society’s lawyer Davey Salmon said ministry documents showed its officials had serious doubts about the exports five years ago, and had considered asking for a judicial review to clarify the law. “There was some evidence of concern over stump size,” he said. In one case an official had responded to a photograph saying: “that’s not a stump!” In another document, an official had pondered the question of the timber being exported as tabletops. “When is a table-top not a tabletop,” he asked colleagues. The official noted in an internal email that Chinese investors had come to New Zealand and were excavating the timber themselves, bypassing local firms. They intended to export flitches or planks, claiming them as rusticated tabletops. “These are actually no more than dressed timber, which is excluded from export in the act,” the official said. Ministry officials had also queried the export of logs, saying they exceeded the legal definition of stumps, Mr Salmon said. In spite of evidence that the table tops were being sold overseas as timber to be processed, he said the ministry took the view that if the slabs were capable of being used as a table top its export as a finished product was legal. Justice Toogood noted that one photo showed a slab that was 40 feet long. “I’m not sure what the market would be in China for 40 foot tables,” he said. Mr Salmon said he was also uncertain about that. The group argues the country is losing a valuable and finite resource that Parliament intended to protect for local industry. It has been opposing the mining of swamp kauri for several years, initially on the basis that the industry was destroying wetlands in the Far North. The huge logs are preserved under layers of peat, where they have lain for thousands of years. The conservationists said extracting them had in many cases destroyed habitat for rare species, and changed drainage patterns, damaging fragile dune lakes in the Far North. The ministry, which reviewed and tightened its scrutiny of the industry last year, said all exports had complied with the law. After receiving legal advice, the ministry had departed from its earlier and stricter interpretation of the act, Mr Salmon said. The case is set down for two days in the High Court in Auckland.

NZ tele-operation – another step forward

GFIS - 18 hours 16 min ago
New Zealand’s forestry industry took one step closer to a safer and fully mechanised future with a demonstration of gamer-style remote technology at Trass Valley, south of Nelson. Source: Stuff NZ The new tele-operation technology allows remote use of a purpose-built tracked forest harvester from the safety of a separate cabin and seated console located at the work site. Four cameras attached to the John Deere 909 felling machine transmit live images to monitors inside the cabin console where the seated operator can replicate their tasks. The third stage of development in a quest to make our forestry work sites safer was unveiled near Nelson with a specially designed cabin console providing remote control operation of a John Deere 909 felling machine. The control system follows on from a handheld remote system demonstrated last year. Associate Minister of Primary Industries Jo Goodhew, visited the site of the tele-operation demonstration at Trass Valley, near Nelson. Simon Rayward of Wood Contracting said a shift to mechanised operations was a logical next step to create a safe but productive industry. “Although we are happy with our operators being in the machines 99% of the time, there are some more difficult blocks where we basically don’t want to put them in, or the machine for that matter,” he said. Developers have emphasised the system is still in trial mode as further improvements are made to reduce vision obstacles like sun strike. This breakthrough is part of steepland harvesting, a six-year, NZ$6 million primary growth partnership (PGP) program between the Ministry for Primary Industries and a consortium of forestry companies and contractors led by FFR. Associate Minister for Primary Industries Jo Goodhew also visited the site and acknowledged the benefits of the project in eliminating forestry-related deaths, particularly after the “annus horribulus” of 2013 where 10 people lost their lives. “That really focused everyone’s minds on the potential to get harmed at work, so any technology that can help is fantastic,” she said. “This is really exciting but it’s also New Zealand leading the way in slope safety. Chief executive of FFR Russell Dale said the development of the tele-operation control system brought the forestry industry closer to their ultimate goal of having “no person on the hill, no hands on the chainsaw”. He hoped that as well as ensuring workers stayed safe on the job, young people looking to enter the workforce would see forestry as a more attractive employment option.

TFS joint venture

GFIS - 18 hours 17 min ago
A subsidiary of TFS Corporation and a joint venture between a Melbourne oils producer and a local indigenous business have been shortlisted for wild sandalwood oil processing contracts with the state government. Source: Business News The Forest Products Commission plans to enter into contract negotiations with TFS-owned Mount Romance Australia, and a new joint venture between Australian Botanical Products and Dutjahn Custodians. Dutjan is a newly formed company, equally owned by three shareholders including Kutkabubba Aboriginal Corporation, which is getting back on its feet after dealing with an internal fraud issue that cost an estimated $300,000. Melbourne-based ABP is an established producer and supplier of oils and fragrances to the pharmaceutical and fragrance industries. Forestry Minister Mia Davies said if final commercial negotiations were successful, the FPC would continue to supply sandalwood to Mount Romance in Albany, as well as introducing the newly formed joint venture based in the Goldfields. “This partnership proposes to distil high-quality oil from sandalwood harvested in the Goldfields region and focus on employment of local Aboriginal people,” Ms Davies said. “The state government started a review of the harvest and haulage sector of the sandalwood industry in 2012 and new oil processing arrangements will complement broader reforms occurring across the state’s sandalwood industry. “The state government has actively sought input into the structure of the industry from a broad range of stakeholders and I am pleased the results of the process can deliver on key government and community objectives, including increased participation of local communities and Aboriginal groups.” The state government also said two other contracts for the processing and marketing of sandalwood were currently being finalised.

Prefab networking

GFIS - 18 hours 18 min ago
A prefabAUS networking event will be held 15 August from 5-7pm in the Brown Theatre, Ground Floor, Electrical and Electronic Engineering Building (193), University of Melbourne. Source: Timberbiz The Singapore Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is leading a study mission to Australia that week. BCA is a strong advocate of prefabrication as part of its construction productivity initiative. The Singapore delegation is meeting with PrefabAUS and CAMP.H that afternoon and has accepted an invitation to the PrefabAUS networking event following. Delegation members include government procurement agencies, developers, builders, architects/designers and suppliers. Join the BCA delegation and PrefabAUS members and four rapid fire presentations: Singapore Building & Construction Authority (BCA) Modular Building Services (M&E) by John Lucchetti of Wood & Grieve Building & Construction: Think differently to achieve productivity gains by Paul Kremer/Rob de Brincat of XLam Michelle Mannering on the Black.ai building performance optimisation technology.

Crisis in New Zealand Log Supply

GFIS - 18 hours 20 min ago
New Zealand wood processing leaders held a hui with senior government officials and political leaders in Whangarei this week to assess the acute log supply shortage to local mills in Northland. Source: Timberbiz The joint industry/government meeting saw statistics that clearly show the completely unsustainable forest harvest rate in Northland, Northland forests being harvested and exported at an immature stage, limited evidence of replanting and certainly no new afforestation. Brian Stanley, Chair of the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association of New Zealand (WPMA), said that the Northland circumstance is severe but he is hearing a clear message from WPMA members that a threatening log supply situation is being observed from Northland right through to Southland. “If New Zealand wants economic growth in its regions, jobs for local people, affordable housing and environmental protection then it needs a viable New Zealand wood industry,” Mr Stanley said. This view was strongly reinforced by Mr Pita Tipene of Taitokerau Maori Forestry Inc, who added the importance to Maori of being able to take the lon- term view on forestry development. “What we are seeing unfold here in Northland is rabid global demand for wood coinciding with short term speculation in the industry,” Mr Stanley said. “The pillaging of our forests cannot continue.  We owe this to future generations. I want to see our forest resources treated as a national strategic asset; held with the same mana, for example, as our land, minerals and fisheries. “Thirty years after New Zealand took the radical step to privatise the industry we are now at the end of one growing rotation of our trees. We need to know where this “privatisation experiment” has landed us. It’s for this reason that I am, today, calling for an urgent review of the industry.  This joint government/industry Rotation Review needs to start in Northland now and extend nationwide.”    

Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, State Lands is hiring

GFIS - 18 hours 44 min ago

The Wood Utilization and Business Development Specialist will promote and facilitate the beneficial use of Utah forest and wood products for a variety of markets including traditional forest products, such as lumber, house logs and posts and poles, along with the use of small diameter and/or low quality logs and woody biomass in value added applications.

New forestry book provides relaxed, jargon-free advice for landowners

GFIS - 19 hours 3 min ago

Backyard Woodland is a practical, jargon-free guide for landowners looking to better enjoy and care for their wooded acreage.


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by Dr. Radut