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UK winter storms mean tree losses; more diverse species are needed

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 02/12/2022 - 01:02
As the extent of the damage from winter storms on trees across Great Britain is revealed for the first time, woodland owners have been encouraged to plant and manage more diverse and resilient forests of varying ages and species in the face of climate change. Source: Timberbiz Updated Forest Research assessments released show almost 12,750 hectares of tree loss was caused by storms last winter in Great Britain, with approximately 3,350 hectares of damage recorded in England. The damage overall is relatively modest equating to around 0.2% of England’s tree cover and will not impact on tree planting targets. Over 90% of trees which fall as a result of storm damage will be replanted, meaning only a small percent of forest is actually lost in the long term where it is not possible to restock. In light of the findings, Sir William Worsley, Chair of the Forestry Commission, has called for landowners and forest managers to consider planting more diverse and resilient tree species and better designed woodlands in the face of a changing climate. Their long-term prosperity will depend on their resilience to threats caused by climate change, such as stronger gales, drought, emerging pests and diseases, evolving weather patterns and more frequent, severe weather events. He said the woodlands of the future need to be planted and managed differently if they are to not only survive but thrive in the future. The tree loss figures were made up of assessments of the damage using a combination of satellite imaging techniques and machine learning. An additional citizen science project was then carried out, where foresters, land managers and landowners could report the damage on the ground. This project, combined with improvements to the machine learning algorithms used within the satellite data and mapping work, allowed smaller areas of damage (less than 0.5ha) to be captured. This significantly improved the accuracy of the damage assessment.

Wooden TreeCard raises $23M for its program

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 02/12/2022 - 01:02
TreeCard, the provider of a wooden Mastercard debit card that channels profits from merchant surcharges into reforestation programs, has raised US$23 million in a funding round involving Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, World Fund and EQT, Seedcamp, Episode 1 and various angels. Source: finextra Eco-friendly search engine Ecosia bought a 20% stake in TreeCard in 2020 for £1 million. The startup raised a further US$5.1 million in February last year ahead of its launch in the UK. The wooden debit card comes with an app that lets users track spending, split bills with friends and monitor how many trees have been planted as a result of user spending. Operating over the Mastercard network and using back-end card processing services from Synapse, TreeCard acts as a fully-fledged debit account, able to receive top-up from a user’s regular bank account, with support for chip and PIN, contactless transactions and mobile payments. TreeCard makes money from the interchange and promises to invest 80% of profits into sustainable causes, including reforestation in partnership with Ecosia. The company claims to have planted 200,000 trees since its launch. The new funding comes as the company gears up to enter the US market, where it has a waitlist of 250,000 people.

Canadian Women in Forestry summit

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 02/12/2022 - 01:01
Women represented just 17% of the forestry labour force in 2016 in Canada but representation is gradually increasing as key industry players lead the change on gender equity. Source: Timberbiz Inspired by their ongoing efforts to dismantle the barriers that prevent or discourage women and under-represented people from entering and advancing in the industry, Canadian Forest Industries, Pulp & Paper Canada, Canadian Biomass and Opérations Forestières et de Scierie are again hosting a digital day of discussion around gender and diversity in the forest sector. The event will be held on 7 March 2023 and will feature some of the biggest influencers in the Canadian forest products sector as well as women who have trailblazed in their careers. The Women in Forestry Virtual Summit offers a live panel discussion, presentations and on-demand sessions where speakers will explore the importance of fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce, share career advice and real-life experiences, recommend actions companies can take to recruit female employees and advance them to leadership positions, and much more. Speakers are expected to cover the following themes: The executive perspective on gender and diversity programs Balancing work and family life Hearing from the ally Indigenous inclusion and leadership Effective (and ineffective) workplace diversity policies Strategies for recruiting a more diverse workforce Talking to the boss: How to communicate with leadership International Women’s Day 2023 theme of #EmbracingEquity.

New Forests launches new fund with a target of $600M

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:59
New Forests has launched a new fund targeting of $600m to invest across forest, land and agriculture markets in Australia and New Zealand. Source: IPE Real Assets The global forestry manager’s new vehicle, the Australia New Zealand Landscapes and Forestry Fund (ANZLAFF), will have its first close between January and March next year, expecting to raise $300m. Mark Rogers, senior managing director, Australia, New Zealand and the US, at New Forests, said that two existing investors were in late-stage due diligence. “We would probably raise half of what we are targeting at the moment by our first close next year, and we will likely have a second close soon after raising the full $600m,” he said. Among the investors is a Swedish pension fund believed to have invested with New Forests since its first fund was launched 12 years ago. Mr Rogers said the latest fund was attracting strong interest from European investors drawn to positive sovereign risks and the outlook of the sector in Australia and New Zealand. The 15-year ANZLAFF fund will target investments into core forestry plantations in selected investment regions, alongside processing and logistics companies, with some exposure to primary agriculture commodities. Additionally, it will aim to enhance climate mitigation through carbon sequestration and emissions reduction opportunities. ANZLAFF is New Forests’ fourth round in its Australia and New Zealand landscapes and forestry strategy. Mr Rogers said that between the first fund and this fund, the investment theme had switched from buying distressed forestry assets to reverting to agriculture to the reverse. “With our fourth fund, we want to buy agricultural land with the potential to put it into forestry. We will manage both agriculture and forestry as combined assets,” he said.

Biosecurity agreement to establish national forest pest surveillance

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:58
A new Biosecurity Collaboration Agreement will establish a National Forest Pest Surveillance Program to improve the early detection of exotic forest pests and the likelihood of their eradication. Source: Timberbiz This agreement will enable industry and government to carry out risk-based forest pest surveillance activities to early detect and manage new pest incursions in Australia through a well-coordinated national surveillance program. Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said this agreement was timely, given the increasing levels of trade, movement of people and commodities, and climate change contributing to an upward trend in the number of exotic forest pest incursions. “A nationally coordinated surveillance program supported by an effective diagnostic network is needed to effectively mitigate the risk of exotic forest pests establishing in Australia,” Senator Watt said. “Our forests represent the seventh largest forest estate in the world comprising native, commercial, and urban forests. “Ensuring that forest stakeholders and government agencies work together in partnership is critical to achieving these aims,” he said. “The landmark agreement is the first of its kind, committing to a consistent and harmonised approach with targeted expert surveillance, training and support of various stakeholders, and planning and reporting. “This is a great example of how strong partnerships across governments and industry can improve our national biosecurity system. “It is also very timely as we know climate change can stress trees, making them more susceptible to pests, and a warming climate is changing the movement and range of pests to threaten new areas of forest.” Plant Health Australia CEO, Sarah Corcoran said the early detection of exotic plant pest and diseases minimised the potential significant economic and social risks and improved the chances of eradication before these impacts occur. “The National Forest Pest Surveillance Program demonstrates how connected strategies, collaboration and co-ordinated plant pest and surveillance activities strengthen the plant biosecurity system not only for the benefit of plant industries but for economy, environment, and community,” Ms Corcoran said. Signatories to the agreement include the Commonwealth government, the Australian Forest Products Association, Plant Health Australia, all State and Territory governments, Forest Wood Products Australia, Invasive Species Council, and NRM Regions Australia. “This new national surveillance partnership aims to improve biosecurity measures including, better collaboration between government and industry, so if pests arrive in Australia they can be dealt with quickly and more effectively. Time is a critical commodity when dealing with biosecurity matters and this agreement prioritises that necessity,” AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said. “Furthermore, biosecurity risks are on the rise with movements across Australia’s borders expected to increase over coming decades, increasing the risk of an accidental pest introduction, while climate change can also make trees more susceptible to pests and diseases. Continually improving biosecurity and surveillance measures are essential to protects Australia’s forests, urban amenity trees and our forest industries. “I commend all of the stakeholders and the Federal Government for bringing this new agreement partnership forward, so Australia’s trees and forests can be as best protected as possible from biosecurity risks,” Mr Hampton said. More information on the Program can be found at https://www.planthealthaustralia.com.au/national-programs/national-forest-pest-surveillance-program/

Logging halted in Tasmania by Swift parrot

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:58
Sustainable Timber Tasmania has halted logging in a patch of northeast forest that was the site of an environmental protest over the Swift parrot. Source: The Mercury Environmentalist Bob Brown was arrested last month during the protest at Snow Hill in the Eastern Tiers. Protesters said the logging was illegal because the coupe contained not only Swift parrot habitat, but birds foraging and nesting. At the time STT said there had been no verified sightings of the critically endangered parrots in the logging area. However, a parliamentary committee was told on Thursday the presence of parrots had been confirmed. “Within the time the harvesting was going on there were sightings of Swift parrots broadly in the Easter Tiers. Now there’s specific evidence that we shouldn’t continue harvesting and we have stopped,” said STT CEO Steve Whiteley. General manager land management Suzette Weeding later clarified logging would be halted “until such time as we choose to go back”. Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said the cessation of logging at Snow Hill vindicated the environmental action. “It took the work of conservationists to halt logging in the Eastern Tiers Swift parrot forests. The Rockliff Government, through its forestry GBE, would have continued trashing the critical habitat, unchecked unless forest defenders and citizen scientists had been there to defend the remaining habitat of the fastest bird on earth,” Ms O’Connor said. Also, during the hearing Resources Minister Felix Ellis flagged a renewed push into contested areas of native forest to “unlock” more timber. As legislation will need to pass the parliament for the Future Potential Production Forest (FPPF) to be accessed, Mr Ellis turned the questions on Labor via committee member Shane Broad. “You could indicate whether there would be bipartisan support for that Dr Broad?” Mr Ellis said. Dr Broad said it was up to Mr Ellis to answer questions during the hearing. The FPPF land had been set aside for reserves under the former Tasmanian Forest Agreement. Any effort to open the forests to logging will be met with strong resistance from environmentalists. Mr Ellis and Ms O’Connor had a heated exchange over his use of the term “wood bank” to describe the FPPF land. “It’s a carbon bank you troglodyte,” Ms O’Connor said. She then withdrew the word “troglodyte” after Mr Ellis took offence.

Christmas stand downs at Maryvale mill

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:57
Opal Australian Paper is preparing to stand down workers at its Maryvale mill on Christmas Eve, in the wake of a pulp-log shortage brought on by environmentalists’ legal action. Source: Weekly Times “VicForests’ operations remain suspended and as a result, the lack of wood supply is continuing to impact the Maryvale Mill,” Opal stated. “We anticipate that our white paper production may be potentially impacted from the third week of December onwards. “As a consequence, temporary stand downs or a reduction in working arrangements affecting a small number of work groups at the Maryvale Mill may become necessary.” About 220 of the mill’s 850 workers operate Maryvale’s white paper processing and converting room, producing the company’s signature Reflex copy paper from mainly native forest hardwood pulp logs. “This is a challenging situation with the potential to create financial and production difficulties for Opal Australian Paper,” the company stated. “Opal is investigating a number of alternative wood supply options however, unfortunately, to date, sufficient volumes are not available. “We are continuing to consult on this issue with our team members” and “work through this situation with our customers”. VicForests, which supplies Maryvale and 12 sawmills with hardwood logs, was forced to halt harvesting last month in its most productive forests – the Central Highlands and East Gippsland, following a Supreme Court ruling. Justice Melinda Richards ordered that all coupes must be resurveyed to protect greater and yellow-bellied gliders and slashed the quantity of timber that could be harvested in coupes where the possum was detected. The re-survey work will take months, with VicForests and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning bureaucrats pointing their fingers at each other on who is responsible. Harvest and haulage contractors have warned that even if the survey work is redone, the gliders are so common most coupes will be unviable. Meanwhile, VicForests has moved to stop harvesting in the Tambo region, to protect itself from legal action, until it sorts out what it can do in the wake of the judgement. Up until now contractors were able cut down 60 per cent of the trees in a coupe, leaving 40 per cent either standing in the harvest zone or in stream-side buffer and protection areas around trees where gliders had been spotted. But Justice Richards has ordered VicForests and its contractors can cut only 40% of the timber available in the harvestable area of the coupe where a possum is found, excluding buffer and protection zones. The powerful Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union has also accused Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning of undermining attempts to source logs for the Maryvale mill.

PM strongly endorses sustainably managed native and plantation timber

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:56
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has provided a strong endorsement of Australia’s sustainably managed native and plantation timber industries and their vital role in achieving Australia’s net zero emissions goal and global partnership to end deforestation. Source: Timberbiz Speaking at the Australian Forest Products Association Members Dinner in Canberra this week Mr Albanese congratulated AFPA and the National Farmers Federation for leading a joint agriculture and forestry delegation to the climate talks just concluded in Egypt and was adamant that Australia’s signing of the Forest and Climate Leaders Partnership (FCLP) at COP27, initiated by the UK, is completely consistent with supporting climate smart forestry such as is practiced in Australia: “The Partnership is consistent with our sustainable native forestry practices and it will see us focus on promoting sustainable production and trade, along with scaling up regional carbon markets,” he said. “We will work together to meet our commitments and provide new and yet-to-be-developed renewable forest materials to help move Australia to a net zero economy.” Mr Albanese also backed the vital role of Australia’s timber plantation sector in meeting Australia’s net zero emission goals and committed to working with the sector to maximise its opportunities in the carbon market by removing regulatory barriers in the Emissions Reduction Fund. “I know the plantation industry wants to play its part in achieving net zero emissions, and we want to work with you in doing just that. “One thing is we’re particularly keen to do is to ensure that your sector can fully participate in generating and benefiting from carbon credits,” he said. “We are undertaking an independent review of our carbon credits system so Australia can benefit from a strong and credible marketplace, and we’ll continue to work with you to remove barriers to investment in plantations and farm forestry including changes to the water interception rule.” Chair of AFPA, Diana Gibbs, said, “Our sustainable forest industries were privileged at our Members Dinner to have Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Murray Watt, both speak so forcefully and passionately about the vital role forest industries in this country must play in delivering climate goals, timber for our homes, regional jobs and sovereign capability. “I was very pleased to have the opportunity to thank them both for the more than $300 million in election commitments which have been delivered in the budget. These commitments will help us drive innovation to deliver more timber from the sustainably used forests we already have as well as start the urgent business of adding more production trees to the estate. “The Federal Government has committed to seeing another billion production trees planted to ensure we have the timber for our children’s homes. We are well behind on this goal. As well as stocking the hardware shelves, a billion more trees will also be a major down payment on the Government’s 43% emissions reduction target, so we really are in a position to deliver a win-win if the policy settings are right,” she said. “Importantly, we also have bipartisan support for these policies, and we thank Shadow Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Jonno Duniam, for speaking in support of these policies last night and being such a passionate supporter of Australia’s sustainable forest industries.”

Opinion: Hugh Christie – Tas farmers understand the need for sustainable production

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:55
They have always understood this need and have been adapting and adjusting to ensure they can keep producing food, fibre and pharmaceuticals for the world. This is seen through the genesis of Landcare launched nationally in 1989, effectively joint recognition from environmental groups that farmers have lUong been playing a vital role in environmental sustainability. This has also more recently been encapsulated in the Dairy industry Sustainability Framework and progressed under NFF’s Australian Agriculture Sustainability Framework; all of which have farmers at the core, demonstrating why farmers look after their key asset long-term – their farm as an investment in the future. I can remember over 30 years ago planting trees on my parent’s property in Western Victoria and the effort that they went to plan how to manage the whole property. This included planting trees to reduce areas of salt, fencing waterways and putting in off stream watering points to reduce erosion (the stock did better with lower salinity water as well). These efforts have progressed across the sector, with improved fertiliser management, shelter belts, adapting farm management practices to viably operate in extreme and changing weather patterns All of which helps to make farming businesses more sustainable. Importantly however, these initiatives have been done not only in the context of a sustainable environment, but sustainable businesses. This is critical as we cannot be environmentally sustainable if we are not economically viable, sustainability is an all-encompassing operating practice, not just a statement. This presents a challenge to Tasmania’s farmers. We have all been working towards more sustainable farms, but when actions have already been taken due to the desire to do the right thing which predate targets such as reductions in methane emissions from 2020 levels, the level of investment to achieve these targets when the low hanging fruit is already captured is significant. The industry has already proactively focussed on evidence-based solutions, for example as demonstrated by the dairy industry in the development of a carbon calculator, now on its 5th version, continuously upgrading it to capture a more accurate and detailed picture. This challenge is only made greater with the market conditions we are all currently experiencing, with a combination of high input costs and natural events making sustainable farming operations increasingly challenging. What is a sustainable future? This is the big question. The TFGA fully supports the need to ensure a sustainable future for the world, however this needs to be done in a way that ensures our farmers can continue to feed us, put clothes on our back, provide timber for our homes and medicine to keep us healthy. Our environmental stewardship is impressive and needs to be recognised and attributed. We want to make sure that investment in research and technology continues to be made, so that farmers can continue to confidently adapt, without bearing an exorbitant economic burden. Tasmania is uniquely placed to play a key role in this with abundant natural assets and advantages such as renewable energy. We just need to make sure we find a way to recognise and value the contributions already made when figuring out how we continue to improve our environmental footprint, recognising that Tasmania is the only Australian state to have consistently achieved net zero emissions.   Hugh Christie is CEO Tasmanian Farmers & Graziers Association

Friday Analysis: Albanese sees the light that eludes Andrews and McGowan

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:54
It was indeed pleasing for the timber industry nationally to have the Prime Minister Mr Albanese this week deliver a strong endorsement of Australia’s sustainably managed native and plantation timber industries. It is a message he has delivered before, and as then, is very welcoming. It is of course in strong contrast to the actions of the Labor premiers of Western Australia and Victoria who are proceeding to shut down the native timber industries in their states. But this has led to some ask the question; why doesn’t the Prime Minister’s support overrule what the premiers want to do? Who has the authority here? The member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath raised the point on her Facebook page. “So, the Prime Minister can see the science, logic and sustainability of our native timber industry yet the Andrews Government refuses to do so,” she wrote. “It is just atrocious what Daniel Andrews is doing to our timber communities and environment. “Premier, have a chat with your Federal Leader.” It’s a good point, but the bottom line is that a) premiers do not need to listen to the prime minister and b) the prime minister can’t force the states to listen. Sadly, it’s as simple as that and it’s not hard to find a recent example. Think back to the peak of Covid. Think back to the last major bushfires. In both cases the Federal Government advised, offered help, and suggested strategies. But the Federal Government could not step in. The Federal Government simply has no power to override the decisions of state Governments except in accordance with the Federal Constitution. And whether we like it or not, the shutting down of the native timber industry is not a constitutional matter. Then there is the next question; why wouldn’t the leader of the Labor Party nationally have some sway over his Labor colleagues who are premiers? Oh, if only that was the case. Try getting the NSW branch of the Labor Party to toe the Federal line. Good luck there. Try getting WA’s Labor Premier Mark McGowan, or recently returned Dan Andrews to toe the Federal line. The Labor party is so controlled by the factions that will simply never happen. It’s a nice thought, but it seems the nation is stuck with the present system. As Sir Winston Churchill once said: “democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried”.


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by Dr. Radut