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  • Carbon uptake by Amazon forests ‘matches region’s emissions’

    2017 - 02.22

    Since the 1980s carbon uptake from mature Amazon forests has matched the combined carbon emissions from deforestation and fossil fuels across all nine Amazon nations, new research from the University of Leeds suggests.

    Leeds University’s School of Geography found that since 1980 about 430 million tonnes of carbon has been absorbed by pristine Amazon rainforest each year – almost four times the UK emissions for 2016.

    Study authors said their findings reveal the “sheer scale” of the ecosystem service Amazonian forests are providing.

    “For the nations of the Amazon basin as a whole this means that since 1980 the carbon uptake has matched the entire combined emissions from deforestation and fossil fuels,” said lead author Professor Oliver Phillips.

    The Amazon rainforest’s carbon sink, also known as carbon sequestration, is the process by which the forest removes and stores carbon from the atmosphere.

    In the study, published in the journal Carbon Balance and Management, researchers compared estimates of the Amazon rainforest carbon sink to fossil fuel emissions data from the nine countries where mature Amazon forests are found – Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

    They found in almost every Amazon nation the average annual carbon uptake into mature forests has been at least twice the size of the nation’s fossil fuels emissions.

    Co -author Dr Roel Brienen said: “This reveals the sheer scale of the ecosystem service the Amazon forests are providing.

    “We’ve known that the Amazon rainforest forest provides a ‘carbon sink’ but until now no one had looked at those absorption figures in the context of national boundaries. We found that in nearly every nation carbon uptake has outstripped emissions from fossil fuels.”

    Wales launches forestry inquiry

    2017 - 02.22

    An assembly committee has launched an inquiry into forestry and woodland policy in Wales.

    The National Assembly’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee will look at the Welsh government’s delivery of the Woodlands for Wales strategy and canvass the views of Welsh citizens.

    The review will assess the delivery of Woodlands for Wales based on the success of its four strategic themes: responding to climate change, serving local needs, developing a competitive and integrated forest sector and focusing on environmental quality.

    The committee will also measure whether the programme is contributing to the delivery of duties under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Environment (Wales) Act 2016.

    “Forests and woodlands cover more than 300,000 hectares in Wales, and the industry is worth half a billion pounds to the Welsh economy,” said Mark Reckless, Chair of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee.

    “We will be taking a close look at this sector, examining how the Welsh government is balancing the sustainable environmental and commercial priorities.

    “We would be interested to hear what anyone with an interest in forestry and woodland in Wales has to say.”

    Conifex invests $80 million in Arkansas sawmill

    2017 - 02.15

    Forestry and sawmilling firm Conifex Timber is to invest $80 million in modernising and restarting a sawmill complex in El Dorado, Arkansas in a project set to create 120 new jobs.

    Conifex said its investment would give it access to lumber and timber markets in the southern US.

    The sawmill site, formerly owned by Georgia Pacific, will be completely modernised into a state-of-the-art facility producing 180 million board feet initially.

    The Conifex investment is a sign of growing confidence in timber markets all over the world and positive news for people interested in forestry investment.

    As a result of the financial commitment, 120 new, full-time jobs will be created.

    “This project provides Conifex with access to lumber and timber markets in the US south. Our commitment of $80 million to this facility will ensure the long term sustainability of this site and contribute to our overall company growth,” said Conifex CEO Ken Shields.

    “We are pleased by the warm welcome and professionalism of the government and private sector partners we have worked with here in El Dorado and throughout the state.”

    Conifex is mainly engaged in producing structural grade spruce pine fir dimension lumber. Sawtimber purchases are expected to amount to 700,000 tons per year, or $30 million, from suppliers within an approximate 60-mile radius.

    Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who joined the company’s leadership and local officials at an announcement day in El Dorado, said: “Timber plays a vital role in our state’s economic vitality.

    “The industry directly employs more than 37,200 workers in Arkansas, and I’m thrilled to welcome Conifex to the state. This will have a significant economic impact on many families throughout South Arkansas.”

    Brazil timber exports rise in 2016

    2017 - 02.13

    Despite a year full of uncertainty for the country’s economy, Brazil’s timber industry enjoyed a relatively positive one, with timber exports up across the 12 months.

    In promising news for people interested in investing in woodland in Brazil, figures from the Brazilian Association of Mechanically Processed Timber Industry (ABIMCI) show that exports of pine plywood, pine sawnwood and pine veneer were all up.

    Brazil’s timber is shipped all over the world, to countries including the US, UK and Belgium.

    According to the Timber Network, ABIMCI data shows that pine plywood export volumes in 2016 were 1,730,467 cubic meters, the highest volume over the past 10 years and a 16 per cent increase compared to the volume shipped in 2015.

    The monthly average plywood shipment was 144,206 cubic meters, 24,000 cubic meters more per month than in 2015.

    Among the many destinations for Brazil’s pine plywood in 2016 were: the United States (28 per cent), the United Kingdom (16 per cent), Belgium (11 per cent), Germany (9.7 per cent) and Mexico, at almost five per cent.

    The volume of pine sawnwood exported in 2016 totalled 2,166,555 cubic meters. Most of Brazil’s pine sawnwood is used in Brazil itself, mainly in civil construction. Elsewhere, though, the biggest exports buyers were the US (42 per cent), China (13 per cent) and Saudi Arabia.

    Pine veneer exports in 2016 were 30 per cent up year-on-year reaching 70,514 cubic meters. Malaysia (40 per cent), South Korea (24 per cent) and China (11.5 per cent) were the leading destinations.

    Brazil business ‘set to boom’

    2017 - 02.09

    Brazil might be in recession but it could well return to its business days of yesteryear, a new report suggests in what is positive news for people interested in forestry investment in the Latin American country.

    PYMNTS.com Doing Business In report suggests a combination of factors, including a thriving start-up scene and a well-educated workforce, could bring positive benefits for the country.

    Between 1999 and 2008, Brazil was on a growth curve, its GDP rising more than three per cent every year as demand for commodities including oil, sugar and coffee boomed.

    But recent years have been less kind – a troubled administration led by former President Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached last year, and waning investor confidence has sent Brazil into recession.

    But change could well be on the horizon. The Doing Business in Brazil report shows that:

    Brazil’s ecommerce sector grew by 8.6 per cent in 2016
    The country received $75 billion in direct foreign investment in 2015
    Brazil’s population is young, with two-thirds of citizens between the ages of 15 and 64 years old

    The report also points the country’s highly-educated population, a promising infrastructure built up in recent years and more optimistic investors eyeing Brazil’s start-up scene.

    “On-demand startups are rapidly expanding and so is the confidence of international investors like Google, IBM and Visa, which are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into supporting startup accelerators,” PYMNTS.com said.

    “Plus, a new push by President Michel Temer for rapid privatisation of the economy is creating new opportunities for supporting the country’s growing ecommerce appetite.”

    Japan opens more forestry colleges to meet timber demand

    2017 - 02.02

    Japan is increasing its number of forestry colleges as it seeks to rapidly train industry-ready workers to meet demand for timber ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and cut down swathes of trees planted after World War II.

    According to the Japan Times the country’s prefectural governments are ramping up the number of forestry courses as skilled woodland workers are now “actively sought” by industry.

    In 2011, there were just six forestry colleges but today there are 14 and, over the course of this year, new colleges are set to open in the Iwate, Hyogo and Wakayama prefectures.

    One example is the Kyoto Prefectural College of Forestry, established in 2012 and the first forestry college in western Japan. The college’s two-year forestry programme, which trains students to use advanced machinery, has so far graduated 58 students, 90 per cent of whom are actively working in the forestry industry.

    “Graduates of the Kyoto forestry college are actively sought in the industry,” an official of the Forestry Agency told the Japan Times.

    More forestry workers are needed to meet demand for timber to help build facilities for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Japan also has many trees that were planted after World War II which now need to be cut down.

    Tomonaga Nakashima, a Forestry Agency official, said many forestry companies have poor management structures and struggle to develop good human resources programmes to recruit skilled staff.

    “This is why these companies want to hire people who have basic skills,” he said, adding that the need for forestry colleges is expected to grow further.

    Myanmar govt launches forestry scheme

    2017 - 01.31

    Myanmar has unveiled a multi-million-pound scheme to help protect its woodlands and forests in what represents positive news for people interested in forestry investment.

    The government’s Ministry of Resources and Environmental Conservation said the US$5.5 million United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) programme would help it tackle deforestation. Myanmar ranks third globally for forestry depletion.

    The launch of the new scheme took place at the Thingaha Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw and was attended by Ohn Win, Myanmar’s minister of resources.

    Running until 2020, the programme will promote organisations working to protect woodland and the sustainable development of forests. It is being partly funded by Norway.

    “In Myanmar, 44 per cent of land was covered by forests. Our forests play a vital role in the reduction of climate change and this programme will help protect existing forests and upgrade low-quality forests,” said the government’s Ohn Myint.

    The Forestry Department says between 1.2 per cent and 2 per cent of forest has been lost each year over the last 15 years.

    The REDD programme is run by the UN Food and Agriculture Programme, the UN Development Programme and UN Environment Programme.

    New grants released to create woodland

    2017 - 01.30

    The Forestry Commission has launched a new grant scheme to help fund the development of new woodlands across the country.

    In positive news for people interested in woodland and forestry investment, the Woodland Carbon Fund will support the planting of multipurpose woodlands over 30 hectares in size, providing opportunities to work in partnership at a landscape scale and to improve public access to woodland.

    The funding pot, which is now open for applications, offers a maximum grant rate of £6,800 per hectare or £8,500 per hectare for areas around urban fringes and for those who provide permissive access to the public.

    Darren East, senior forestry manager for Savills across the north of England, said: “The Woodland Carbon Fund is a demand-led grant scheme which has been designed to boost the rate of woodland creation in England, whilst also demonstrating how woodland creation can help to meet the government’s future carbon targets.

    “There is no set closing date and this will be very much dependent on uptake so we would advise landowners to apply for this grant funding at the earliest opportunity.

    “This particular scheme will run alongside the existing Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant but will be steered towards larger scale woodland creation with an emphasis on commercially productive species and public access.”

    Private investment in natural world reaches $8.2bn

    2017 - 01.25

    The amount of privately-held cash being put into conservation projects reached $8.2 billion between 2004 and 2015 amid “growing recognition” that forests represent a smart investment.

    Research by Forest Trends shows that the amount of private capital invested into the natural world grew a whopping 62 per cent in just two years, from 2013 to 2015.

    Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace report, which polled 128 banks, companies, fund managers, family offices and non-governmental organisations, found that a “significant amount of investment” is moving into emerging economies, particularly sustainable forestry in Latin America, including Brazil.

    Annual investments in new economies quadrupled to over $500M between 2009 and 2015.

    The private sector is seeing environmental benefits as well as significant financial returns from investing in forests and other natural spaces as ‘conservation investing’ becomes more popular, Forest Trends said.

    Among the report’s key findings include:

    • Conservation investing experienced dramatic growth after 2013, as total committed private capital climbed 62 per cent in just two years, from $5.1 billion to $8.2 billion.

    • Investments in sustainable food and fibre led the way, accounting for $6.5 billion in private capital committed during the decade covered by the report.

    • Investors regard conservation investing as a stable return, with 31 per cent of all investors surveyed anticipating rates of return between 5 per cent and 9.9 per cent.

    • Private capital is beginning to reach emerging markets. While the vast majority of investments in habitat and water conservation remained concentrated in North America, private finance for sustainable food and fibre production was more evenly dispersed between North America (33 per cent), Latin America (29 per cent), Oceania (19 per cent) and Africa and Asia (about 9 per cent each).

    “The findings of this report speak to the growing recognition of our forests, our wetlands, our reefs, and other natural landscapes as smart investments – a notion that would have been unthinkable to most mainstream investors just five years ago,” said Michael Jenkins, Founding President and CEO of Forest Trends.

    “Just in the last two years covered by this report, we’ve seen a huge leap in demand for these kinds of tangible ‘real assets’ from investors. The demand is growing across the globe and from across investment instruments – the only thing keeping these emerging asset classes from surging even higher is the scarcity of investable opportunities; and, as in any emerging market, transparent information is critical.”

    Atlantic Forest regeneration taking place in 9 states, Brazil says

    2017 - 01.18

    An area of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest equivalent to the size of Sao Paulo city has been successfully regenerated over the past 20 years, Brazil conservation and research organisations say in what is positive news for people interested in Brazil’s forestry industry.

    Data from the SOS Mata Atlântica Foundation and the Brazilian Institute for Space Research (INPE) shows that between 1985 and 2015, 219,735 hectares of the Atlantic Forest went through a process of regeneration in nine of the 17 Brazilian states that have the forest.

    According to the Atlas of the Atlantic Forest Remains, which monitors the spatial distribution of the forest, the state of Parana, one of the country’s largest grain producers, reached the largest areas of regeneration in the period assessed, totalling 75,612 hectares; followed by Minas Gerais (59,850 hectares), Santa Catarina (24,964 hectares), Sao Paulo (23,021 hectares) and Mato Grosso do Sul (19,117 hectares).

    “The survey mainly analyses the regeneration of forest formations in early stages of native plant growth, or of areas previously used for pasture, which are now in an advanced stage of regeneration. This process had both natural and induced causes, when native tree seedlings were planted,” the SOS Mata Atlântica Foundation said.

    Over the last 30 years, deforestation has fallen by 83 per cent in the forest, with seven of the 17 states where there is Atlantic Forest already reaching zero deforestation.

    “Now the challenge is to recover and restore the native forests we have destroyed,” the foundation’s executive director Marcia Hirota said.