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Environment, Carbon and Forests

Workshop held to consolidate interagency law enforcement mechanism in China

GFIS - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 17:05
Haikou, Hainan, June, 2018—China’s Ministerial Level Coordination Mechanism for Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade  was enhanced through a training workshop jointly -organised by the Department of Wildlife Conservation and Nature Reserve Management, State Forestry and Grassland Administration (SFGA), TRAFFIC and the China Wildlife Conservation Association(CWCA).

Insights from the Uganda study tour: a journey without a map

GFIS - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 11:57
In June 2018, the New Generation Plantations (NGP) platform held a study tour in Uganda. Hosted by the New Forests Company (NFC) and WWF-Uganda, this was NGP?s first African study tour outside South Africa. It brought together more than 50 participants from Uganda and six other African nations, as well as from Europe, China and the Americas. They included representatives from forestry companies, NGOs and the finance sector.The five-day tour included a one-day workshop in Kampala, visits to NFC plantations, conversations with outgrowers and community members, and opportunities for reflection and guided discussion. This document provides the context for these discussions, and summarizes some of the insights we gleaned.

Are Holistic Value Chains Key to Smallholder Forestry?

GFIS - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 01:56

Founder of one of Canada’s largest private forests invests with smallholders. Peter Schleifenbaumn is well known in forestry – Besides developing one of the largest privately held forests in Canada – Haliburton Forest – he is known for his leadership in sustainable forest management worldwide. At 100,000 acres, Haliburton Forest was Canada’s first forest certified […]

The post Are Holistic Value Chains Key to Smallholder Forestry? appeared first on Taking Root.

Forestry agency uses a web application to support economic development in East Texas

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 21:09

June 21, 2018  —  LUFKIN, Texas — Angelina Forest Products, LLC recently announced plans to open a $100 million sawmill in Lufkin, Texas.  The softwood mill is expected to be in place by spring of 2019, creating 100 full-time jobs and contributing $52 million to the Texas economy in its first year.  “We made the

SDG Report 2018 Finds Conflict, Climate Change, Inequality Hindering Progress

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 20:08
The SDG Report 2018 shares progress on the 2030 Agenda and identifies areas where progress is currently insufficient to meet the SDGs by 2030. The report explores the interlinked nature of the SDGs and finds that conflict, climate change, inequality and persistent areas of poverty and hunger are key challenges in countries’ efforts to achieve the SDGs.

EU Looks Towards Enhancing NDC with New Renewables and Energy Efficiency Targets

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 19:44
The EU has agreed to increasing its renewable energy target from 27% to 30% of the energy mix by 2030, alongside an increased energy efficiency target of 32.5%, up from 30%. Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner, highlighted that the increased targets would enable the EU to raise the level of ambition of its NDC to increase its 2030 emission reduction target to 45% from 40% in the current NDC. Civil society organizations have called for the EU to further strengthen its targets to reflect the urgency of the climate crisis and bring them in line with the Paris Agreement objectives. In a bilateral summit, German and French ministers have outlined their commitment towards an enhancement of the EU’s NDC by early 2020, also underscoring the economic opportunities of the transition to GHG neutrality.

Youth Celebrate, Innovate for the Environment

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 19:35
UNEP announced the names of 35 young entrepreneurs and innovators selected for a global competition to identify and support ideas with positive environment impacts. The UNCCD organized a youth engagement event to celebrate the World Day to Combat Desertification and discuss how youth can fight land degradation.

WWF, Partners Challenge Stakeholders to Take Action for 2030 on Forests, Food and Land

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 19:21
WWF and partners estimate that actions to meet their 30X30 Challenge can result in 30% of the “climate solutions” needed by 2030. Part of the Global Climate Action Summit, the challenge also aims to encourage greater ambition from national governments through concrete actions from a broad range of stakeholders including businesses, state and local agencies, multilateral organizations, scientists and civil society. Stakeholders are asked to, among others, halve food loss and waste, consume conscientiously and sequester one gigaton of carbon per year in forests and other natural and working lands.

International workshop on green timber supply chains opens in China

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 17:00
The International Workshop on Global Green Supply Chain of Forest Products and Dialogue with Chinese Leading Timber Enterprises opened in Beijing, China, on 21 June 2018 with the aim of establishing and promoting green timber supply chains. In his opening address, ITTO Executive Director Gerhard Dieterle said that the workshop is central to ITTO’s mandate to promote the expansion of international tropical timber trade from legal and sustainable sources. Dr Dieterle said that Chinese manufacturers of timber products are placed right in the middle of the tropical timber supply chain, from production, through processing to the marketing of finished wood products in international markets. They face challenges, therefore, but also have the opportunity to be major drivers of sustainable forest management through green supply chains.

Proposed ‘Tree Fund’ will fill an important gap in forest expansion in Africa

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 16:49
Uganda Plantations for Africa’s Prosperity Study Tour Reveals… The plantation industry potential all over the world is huge. Plantations can provide a route out of poverty for rural communities, contribute to moving fast-growing economies along a sustainable trajectory, take pressure … Continue reading →

Uganda hosts 6th annual forum on illegal timber trade

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 11:09
Kampala, Uganda, 21st June 2018—This week, Uganda played host to the 6th Annual East Africa Timber Trade Stakeholders’ Forum jointly hosted by WWF Uganda and Uganda’s Forestry Sector Support Department under the Ministry of Water and Environment.

Undisturbed ancient rainforest in an African volcano

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 00:42
Standing in a pit in the red soil of a mountaintop forest in northern Mozambique, Dr Simon Willcock was dirty but very excited. “Undisturbed forest is incredibly rare,” he said. “That is why we scaled a 125-metre-tall cliff with a pickaxe.”  Source: The Guardian Willcock, from Bangor University in Wales, knew of no other rainforest in Africa that scientists can confidently say has not been disturbed by humans. “It’s a unique site in Africa,” he said, plunging the axe down into the chest-deep hole with a whump. Like a villain’s fortress in an old James Bond movie, Mount Lico rises vertically from the land around it, the ancient centre of a volcano with the forest nestled in its crater. It was discovered by Dr Julian Bayliss, who examined satellite imagery looking for an undisturbed tropical rainforest. When he spotted Lico on Google Earth, he said, the forest on top “was isolated and appeared totally undisturbed”. With a smile, he added: “That makes it very exciting.” Bayliss, from Oxford Brookes University, had form: he is known for having found Mount Mabu, the largest rainforest in southern Africa, as well as a number of new species of butterflies and other creatures in the area since then. Rainforests are the oldest living biomes on Earth and contain roughly half the known species of life. They also store more carbon for longer than any other living system. Some tropical rainforests date back to the dinosaur age, but virtually all show signs of past human activity. Bayliss wondered if there were mountaintop forests that might be untouched. He remembers thinking: “What would a forest like that look like?” The answer was Lico. But the mountain’s formidable geography – its circling rock wall rises 700 metres above the plain – raised a whole new series of questions in terms of accessibility. Bayliss decided to focus on a “shorter” cliff of about 125 metres on one side, and to put together an expedition that would place scientists on the top of Lico via that vertical rock. But how would they be able to get up there? It took two years to assemble the 28-person dream-team of biologists, logistical crew, plant experts, and researchers for the first expedition that took place last month, led by Bayliss. Funded in part by Ranulph Fiennes’s Transglobe Expedition Trust, UK-based Biocensus, as well as the African Butterfly Research Institute, the project was an academic partnership between 13 universities, museums and research institutions on three continents. From his home office in a converted chapel in the Welsh mountains, Bayliss contacted Jules Lines and Mike Robertson, professional climbers widely regarded as two of the best in the UK. Robertson famously ascended the Eiffel tower solo in protest against French oil company Total (and was subsequently arrested by the French police). Lines is known in climbing circles as The Dark Horse for his solo climbing without a rope. The climbers scaled the rock face above the scientists’ base camp and secured two ropes from the top all the way down to the bottom. Patiently they taught the scientists how to get up and down safely. “Learning to ascend a 125-metre cliff in the jungle is a lot to ask of people,” said Robertson, with a certain understatement, holding the safety line for 29-year-old Ana Gledis da Conceição Miranda, a Mozambican biologist working at the Pringle and EO Wilson laboratory. Like most of the researchers, she struggled with the rope ascenders but didn’t give up. “These scientists are bloody gritty and determined; it’s impressive,” Roberston said. Ferrying gear and supplies, the two climbers went up the ropes more than 40 times. Despite a medical emergency as a result of an extreme infection, everyone was able to get up and down the ropes safely. But the risk remained. “There is no rescue here,” said Lines, taking a break at the top. “We are it.” Bayliss believes Lico could be one of the most pristine forests on Earth. Willcock and his colleague, Dr Phil Platts from the University of York, dug for two days to get to the forest bedrock to read the soil layers like a history book of Lico’s past. Every fire that ever burned here, many of the plants that grew, even millions of caterpillar droppings are all recorded in the soil. (Caterpillars are everywhere on Lico, so numerous in the trees above that their droppings fall like a dry, soft rain.) “This forest provides a unique insight into the effects of climate change on forests over time,” said Platts, shovelling from the pit. After 10 days of discovery, the team was back at base camp in Lico’s shadow. The hole in the forest had been refilled, the topsoil replaced, and Colin Congdon, a veteran lepidopterist, was comparing finds with Bayliss. Among their small translucent papers was Lico’s first confirmed new species: a butterfly. The scientists expect it will be far from the only one. There is a line-up of potential new species to be confirmed in the months to come, from snakes to frogs, toads, a snake-like amphibian called a caecilian, a shrew, a snub-nosed rodent, more butterflies, crabs and even a flowering plant. Cataloguing potential new fish species, Vanessa Muranga, a 27-year-old marine biologist from Mozambique’s Natural History Museum, had two wrapped in gauze in front of her. “It’s so exciting when you find something that might be new,” she said. Lico contains other mysteries, too, including partly buried ancient pots that the team discovered near the source of the main stream. According to the local community, no one in memory or legend has ever been on top of the mountain. How did the pot-makers get up the sheer cliff? Was the land around Lico higher then? Could the soil analysis help date them? Anthropologists from Mozambique’s Natural History Museum are investigating. From a South African herpetologist to a Brazilian biogeographer, a botanist with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to a mammal expert from Swaziland, the expedition to Lico represented a successful collaboration between local and international research institutions. This, […]

DNA database will trace illegal logging

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 00:41
Jakub Bednarek headed into the forest near his home in Leavenworth, Washington, and collected samples of maple leaves to send to a lab for DNA analysis. Mr Bednarek, who also works as a biologist in his day job, is one of 150 volunteers in a project that stretches along the Pacific Coast. Source: Fast Company The project’s aim: to create a genetic map of a particular species of maple, which can then be used to help identify illegally harvested wood. DNA testing has been used on black market timber in the past, in a case in 2015, for example, when a sawmill owner was convicted of trading illegal wood, scientists used DNA analysis to identify the exact stumps of the trees that had been cut down. But it can also be used at a broader level; by mapping how the genetics of a particular species of tree changes by region, it’s possible to identify where particular timber came from. The current project is studying one particular species, the Bigleaf maple, which are prized for their patterned wood and often illegally harvested. “The goal with this is that we have enough samples distributed widely enough across this geographic range that we can say we’re pretty sure that this was sample from a national forest in Washington,” said Meaghan Parker-Forney, a science officer at the nonprofit World Resources Institute’s Forest Legality Initiative, one of several partners on the project. “If somebody’s claiming it came from Northern California, we can say no, that’s actually not true.” Working with volunteers makes the project feasible. Adventure Scientists, a nonprofit that trains volunteers with outdoor skills to gather high-quality scientific data, is coordinating volunteers in the project to collect both samples of leaves and wood from the maple trees. It takes advantage of the fact that the volunteers already want to spend time hiking. “Since there are already a lot of people going out into these areas for recreation, why not contribute to this larger project?” said Bednarek. When the project is complete, if the Forest Service suspects that a particular batch of wood was illegally harvested, it can test a sample to compare to the reference library. Knowing that this process exists may help deter tree poaching. “I do think that there’s definitely an element of Big Brother is watching,” said Parker-Forney. “I think you start to illustrate that you can do this type of work and that these guys are going to get busted, and I think there’s a lot more fear involved on their side. I feel like that’s a potential behavioral change when they know that this type of technology is out there. Hopefully, this deters them from going farther, knowing that something as solid as DNA evidence can convict you.” The same technology can also be used to help sustainably managed forests prove that timber is coming from the place it claims. Ecolabels for wood, while helpful, aren’t always fully reliable. “I think that’s a perfect use case for genetics,” said Parker-Forney. Researchers are interested in creating similar reference libraries using other types of technology, such as “automated wood anatomy,” tech that is like facial recognition for trees. They also want to do the same for other species, such as the coastal redwood, and in other areas. The project’s funders, the US Forest Service and Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, see it as an initial proof of concept that could expand globally. The partners plan to soon begin similar work in Indonesia. Globally, up to 30% of all internationally traded timber is thought to be illegally sourced.

Demand for sawn softwood remains satisfactory in Europe

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 00:41
The sawn softwood production of most European sawmills is currently at a high level due to the increased demand for structural timber in Europe and continuing brisk demand in the USA and China, among others. Source: Euwid This can be seen in the 2017/2018 Annual Report of the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry (EOS); the Annual Report was presented at the Summer General Meeting organised by the Norwegian Timber Industry Federation in Oslo on 15 June. However, sawmills cannot expand their production capacities to some extent due to a shortage of logs. Representatives of various state associations also report that the supply of residual saw timber is too high. The demand for sawn hardwood is increasing compared with previous years. However, cutting cannot be increased in many European producer countries due to an insufficient supply of round timber. The increased exports of hardwood logs to overseas markets in recent years should be countered with appropriate measures to maintain the competitiveness of European hardwood lumber producers.

Australian designers in Tulipwood

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 00:40
Eight of Australia’s most highly regarded designers have re-imagined their works in American tulipwood. The designs were launched at Denfair, one of Australia’s premier design showcases, in Melbourne from 14-16 June 2018. Source: Timberbiz Anne-Claire Petre, Adam Goodrum, Adam Markowitz, Coco Reynolds, Dowel Jones, Jon Goulder, Ross Gardam and Tom Skeehan rose to the challenge of replacing the timber they normally use for their signature designs with American tulipwood. Tulipwood has been favoured in Europe for generations, but is little known in Australia. Replaced is a study of how to use a sustainable material sustainably. Encouraged to embrace the natural variation in the material provided, the designers have confronted the Australian preference for uniformity in timber. As one of the most prolific hardwoods in the US forest resource, the designers and the Australian design community were exposed to the rate at which the timber used in the project is rapidly replaced through natural regeneration.

Kauri in the High Court

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 00:39
The Northland Environmental Protection Society has argued in the New Zealand High Court and the Court of Appeal that it is unlawful to send swamp kauri overseas in the form of table tops and slabs. Source: Radio New Zealand Those courts have rejected the society’s arguments, saying the law as it stands allows it. But the society’s president, Fiona Furrell, is hoping the Supreme Court will see things differently. “I’m very pleased that we’ve got this far, but I don’t believe we should have had to … to protect the environment of Northland,” she said. The conservation group has campaigned for years against the extraction of the ancient buried timber from Northland wetlands. “We have some exceptionally good lawyers who believe that what we are taking to court is important for New Zealand as a whole,” Ms Furrell said. She said the group was challenging the export of swamp kauri in relatively raw forms and the definition of “finished objects” in the law. It was also arguing that swamp kauri should come under the umbrella of the Protected Objects Act. The Ministry for Primary Industries is defending its interpretation of the Forests Act which regulates the harvesting and sale of native timber.   

NZ forest industry progresses with Overseas Investment Act amendments

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 00:37
Forest Owners say the government’s announcement that the Overseas Investment Act would be amended to cut out red tape is a very positive signal to potential investors. Source: Timberbiz FOA President Peter Weir says though he still can’t see the point of including cutting rights, instead of land ownership, in the scope of the Overseas Investment Office. But the deepest objection to the working of the OIO seems to have been removed. “We’ve had companies who have invested here for decades and who have demonstrate their commitment by providing stable employment and income for local communities, having to go back to the OIO with another application, as though they were fresh arrivals starting from scratch.” “Same company, same proposal, but an application that took hundreds of thousands of dollars of paperwork and many months to get an outcome.” “We will welcome a more efficient OIO processing system,” Peter Weir said. “Forest Owners said when the Billion Trees in Ten Years government target was formulated during the coalition negotiations that it would be very difficult to achieve that many trees planted if there were onerous obstacles to overseas investment imposed at the same time.” “Our industry as it is, will be planting half of the total, but to get to the billion trees New Zealand will need a lot of additional land, labour and investment.  Investors are very sensitive to market signals, and quite frankly the government signals have been mixed over the past few months.” “We accept that overseas investment is a privilege and not a right.  We know there are rules to be followed and we accept that.  But rules for the sake of rules get in the way of achieving the government’s laudable goals of providing economic boosts to regional industry and more trees are the what the experts agree are the only viable way for our country to achieve its greenhouse gas emission targets.”

Timber education website makeover

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 00:36
FWPA’s WoodSolutions Campus – a collaboration with the University of Tasmania to provide free online timber education – has had a website make-over, and is the subject of a new promotional campaign. Source: Timberbiz The campaign invites timber salespeople and others in the timber supply chain and the design and build industry to “fill your knowledge gap” and will run across print, online and outdoor advertising until October. The purpose of the campaign is to increase awareness of the training platform and increase enrolments in the WoodSolutions Campus. The online campus has recently been given an updated look, and put on a new platform, with filters added to offer an improved user experience. WoodSolutions Campus is a collaboration between FWPA and the University of Tasmania’s Centre for Sustainable Architecture with Wood that aims to provide available-on-demand timber education and skills development opportunities. WoodSolutions Campus knowledge certificates can earn participants credit in the University of Tasmania’s Graduate Certificate in Timber (Processing and building). There are many subject areas available including mid-rise timber construction, building regulations, timber inspection, managing moisture, designing for durability, environmental characteristics and more.

Safety conference highlights culture and technology changes

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 00:33
A major national conference series on forest safety practices is set to showcase how forestry leaders have brought about practical benefits to logging and forestry workplaces through changes in culture and technology. Source: Timberbiz Registrations are now open for the 4th FIEA Forest Safety & Technology Conference to be held in August 2018 in Rotorua and Melbourne. “Some of our leading forest contractors and companies have both developed safety improvements in both culture in the workplace and technologies to reduce harm on the forest floor,” Forest Industry Engineering Association event manager, Gordon Thomson said. “Our speakers are practical leaders talking about real case studies for this year’s conference. “Our August conference series has a great line up of inspiring and practical speakers.  Many of them have already delivered safety outcomes for their teams and clients. “The practical information they bring includes some notable results with industry leading contractors. FIEA (Forestry Industry Engineering Association) has teamed up again with the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) to organise workshops in addition to the one-day conference. “Here in New Zealand we have worked with Fiona Ewing of FISC. FISC will host a morning session after the conference so people can interact in a workshop format,” Mr Thomson said. In Australia, there is a pan-industry workshop on the afternoon before the FIEA conference from 1 to 5pm on 14 August at the Bayview Eden Hotel in Melbourne. FIEA has worked together with Diana Lloyd of Forestworks in Australia as well as Stacey Gardiner from Australian Forest Contractors Association. Some of the keynote speakers are: Jono Brent from Connetics in Christchurch – A practical leader of electrical contractors with a very applicable model explaining how they “do safety differently” so that it works for their practical people working in the field every day with changing conditions, just like those faced by forestry people. Mr Brent’s teamwork results are proven through their results in practice and put in place in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes. Hillary Bennett – A practical thought leader and champion of safety culture change with many forestry crews in both New Zealand and Australia; Dale Ewers, industry innovator and director of both Moutere Logging and international forest automation equipment manufacturer, DC Equipment. The speakers are all practical industry leaders and safety champions. They have come forward to support the FIEA Forest Safety & Technology Conference.  This conference series sold out in 2017. Thanks to great support industry, led by principal event partners McFall Fuel and VicForests, a special on-line early-bird delegate registration offer is now available for a limited time. To take advantage of this offer go to https://forestsafety.events The summit is on 8 August in Rotorua at the Distinction Hotel.  The following week – 15 August – it runs at the Bayview Eden Hotel in Melbourne.  For full conference details see: https://forestsafety.events

The switch to timber is well underway

GFIS - Thu, 21/06/2018 - 00:31
Timber is being used instead of conventional materials in 21 substantial building projects from government housing to hotels and offices, thanks to the hard work of FWPA’s Mid-rise Advisory Program. Sources: Timberbiz, FWPA Developers of a further 262 projects are also expressing interest in making the switch. FWPA successfully spearheaded changes to the National Construction Code in 2016, making it possible to build up to eight storeys in timber under Deemed to Satisfy provisions, and subsequently established a Mid-rise Advisory Program to take advantage of the change, with an initial focus in Victoria and Queensland, in partnership with key industry sponsors. The team has since been hard at work promoting the merits of both lightweight and engineered timber; developing technical materials to facilitate its adoption and providing free technical advice on subjects such as optimising the type of structural timber systems, fire rating, code compliance and acoustics. FWPA’s Lead Program Development Manager (Mid-rise Construction), Gerry Neylan, said that mid-rise and above construction was currently consuming “in the order of” 20,000 cubic metres of timber per year, as a very rough estimate. Most of the engineered timber panels used in the past have been imported, however, Australia now has its first CLT factory, XLam in Wodonga. “We’re working to make the building and property development industry aware of the many advantages timber offers, including cost savings, faster delivery, less disruption to the neighbourhood, improved safety and environmental impact. “As we always say, timber is the only truly sustainable and renewable building material. It’s a renewable crop you can plant and harvest, like carrots and lettuces!” he said. “The great thing is that we’ve gone beyond the point of only one or two leaders working in this space, with a range of builders, developers and consultants undertaking projects, and industry knowledge growing in leaps and bounds.” Projects that have enjoyed input from the Mid-rise team include: 55 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank, VIC – a 10-storey cross-laminated timber (CLT) and Glulam extension to an existing building. Using timber enabled the construction to be taller than the six floors originally envisioned with conventional building materials, because it weighed a fraction of the amount. The existing building remains occupied while construction of the extension, which will be used as a hotel, is underway. Preston Renewal Project Stage 1, Preston, VIC – a 68-apartment social housing project commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services using prefabricated stud framing in three-  and four- storey buildings. 339 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC – a 10-storey mixed-use apartment and office LVL project in a prestigious area with bay and city views, demonstrating timber can be used for the “top end of town”. Monash University Student Accommodation, Frankston, VIC – a five-storey CLT building over a concrete podium, chosen for speed of construction and environmental properties. 752 High St, Thornbury, VIC – a four-storey apartment block originally designed for conventional materials, which proved too expensive, and was adjusted to four levels of CLT over a concrete podium. 19 Merrivale St, South Brisbane, QLD – an 11-storey massive timber or hybrid building, still under design, which will include 132 apartments, a rooftop pool, a restaurant, a car park, and a gym and conference facility. 25 King St, Brisbane, QLD – a nine-storey mass timber building on a podium that will be the world’s tallest commercial timber structure.


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by Dr. Radut