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    Extra funding for timber transport announced

    2017 - 02.27

    The Scottish government is to put an additional £5 million into funding for timber transport in the country in a move described as “fantastic news” for the forestry sector.

    The extra money for the 2017 Strategic Timber Transport Fund (STTF) will help minimise the impact of timber lorries on the rural road network, as well as those moving timber by sea or rail.

    The investment means the STTF now has a total of £7.85 million to offer as co-funding to support forestry and woodland projects in Scotland.

    Since its launch in 2005, the STTF has supported 136 projects which have reduced the impact of timber lorries taking 29 million tonnes of timber to market.

    Confor, which promotes sustainable forestry and the woodland sector, welcomed the investment.

    “This additional funding is fantastic news. It is a real vote of confidence in Scotland’s £1 billion forestry sector and the 25,000 jobs it supports,” said Stuart Goodall, Confor chief executive.

    “Accessing Scotland’s maturing forestry resource can put pressure on the rural road infrastructure and this additional funding is a vital contribution to bringing more of that to market. This is also very good news for Scotland’s rural communities, supporting local employment and reducing lorry miles on public roads.”

    Announcing the funding as part of the agreed Scottish budget for 2017-18, Scotland’s rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Forestry is a burgeoning, £1 billion rural industry that is producing around seven million tonnes of timber a year and is expected to increase this to 10 million over the next decade.

    “This will generate significant benefits for our rural economy but we must also do all what we can to mitigate the impact on local communities. This fund seeks to address the impact of increased timber traffic for minor rural roads, many of which need to be improved to deal with heavy vehicles,” he added.

    Scotland’s forestry sector is an important part of the country’s economy. The combined forest industries, including sustainable construction, pulp and paper, woodfuel and biomass and research and innovation, contribute nearly £1 billion to Scotland’s economy each year.

    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.”

    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.”

    Brazil and India sign agricultural co-op agreements

    2016 - 10.20

    Brazil and India have signed co-operation agreements to help foster opportunities in the agriculture and pharmaceutical sectors.

    Speaking at a BRICS trade event in Goa, Brazil president Michel Temer said he and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi had agreed to expand relations in these areas.

    In the agricultural field, Brazil’s Agricultural Research Corporation team signed two agreements with the Indian government.

    One will see co-operation with India’s Department of Animal Reproduction, Dairy and Fisheries India on developing bovine genome and assisted reproductive technologies.

    The other, with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, will expand knowledge in the areas of ​​genetic resources, agriculture, animal husbandry, natural resources and fisheries, signed with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

    Agreements in the pharmaceutical industry will see work on product regulation between the National Health Surveillance Agency and the Central Organization of India Quality of Medicines Control Directorate General of Health Services.

    The moves could prove to be good news for people thinking of investing in timber and timber plantations in Brazil.

    Brazil’s economy is largely defined by its forestry – the country has 7.7 million hectares of certified forest and has the third-largest ‘frontier forest’ – forests classed as undisturbed, intact natural forest ecosystems.

    Indonesia ‘should reduce deforestation’, says UN chief

    2015 - 02.17

    Speaking to the Jakarta Post, UN Development Programme (UNDP) head Helen Clark has suggested that Indonesia needs to reduce deforestation in order to meet global climate control targets.

    One of the front-runners to fill the seat of UN secretary-general in 2017, the former New Zealand prime minister recently visited Jakarta to meet President Joko Widodo to discuss the country’s role in the upcoming Paris Climate conference.

    Commenting on the country’s current climate change targets, the former prime minister stated that Indonesia would fail to meet its targets for a 26 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases without tackling deforestation, which currently contribute to 80 per cent of the gases produced across the country.

    She continued: “This is a critical political agenda that Indonesia needs to do for its own sake. But it also has a position of global leadership and Indonesia should keep that leadership.”

    According to Ms Clark, Indonesia is likely to become a large player in the support of other countries when it makes its statement of intended national contribution to climate change in March, and as such should take an active stance on the fight against deforestation in order to meet those goals.

    Companies such as Greenwood Management have already pledged to support sustainable forestry and are working hard to contribute towards the reduction of greenhouse emissions.

    Users can now download up to date forest data

    2014 - 02.19

    Raw data showing the changes in the forest cover in the Brazilian Amazon and other forests worldwide can now be downloaded by ordinary internet users as well as scientists.

    The global forest map was published last year and users were able to look at the information, but not actually get to grips with the figures. It’s hoped that the release of the full data sets will help both conservationists and government agencies formulate better responses to changes more quickly if they can access up to date information immediately.

    The project is being spearheaded by a number of partners including search engine giant Google and the University of Maryland in the US. The information can also be viewed via Google Earth.

    Matthew Hansen from the University of Maryland told Monga Bay: “People will use these data in ways we can’t even imagine today. Brazil had used Landsat data to document its deforestation trends and to inform policy and they also shared their data publicly

    “But such data has not been widely available for other parts of the world. Our global mapping of forest cover lifts the veil – revealing what’s happening on the ground in places people could only conjecture about before.”

    The work of ethical companies such as Greenwood Management play a key role in ensuring the rainforest is managed sustainably for future generations.

    Forestry investment report makes for interesting reading

    2012 - 03.02

    A new report details the most attractive timber investment locations in the world, providing a valuable insight for anyone considering investing in timber and forestry.

    The Global Tree Farm Economic Review by RISI has just been released and it has already been welcomed by investors thanks to its positive news about timber demand in China.

    Although it’s plain to see that China’s appetite for timber seems pretty insatiable at the moment, some have claimed that it is dropping off. However, this recent report shows that 2011 demand hit record levels and that there was also a 30 per cent rise in the timber demand deficit in China, totalling per 150,000 cubic metres.

    The report looks at geographic, political and economical factors that could have an impact on the forestry industry in each country. It found that timber demand is also on the increase in several other nations, including India, which is also experiencing massive economic growth.

    The report added that tree plantation schemes, such as the one operated by Greenwood Management, for example, in Brazil, are becoming popular for the production of timber for emerging markets.

    China driving demand for forestry products claims expert

    2011 - 08.12

    The demand for timber is being boosted by the growth in China’s Gross Domestic Product, according to a new report from FIM services.

    The report argued that timber is increasingly a global market as countries like China and India joint the major markets for forestry products. Robert Daniell, a consultant at the firm, said, “Due to high freight costs, timber was usually shipped to only the nearest country in the past. But timberland is becoming an increasingly global market, spurred by growing demand particularly from the BRIC countries.”

    He added, “By 2015-16, China’s fibre gap, for example, is predicted to be equal to the equivalent of Canada’s 2009 total timber harvest.”

    In terms of investment, an article by Investment and Pension Europe (IPE) claims that timberland investments have outperformed commercial property, gilts and UK equities for the past ten years. This is based on figures from an IPD forestry index.

    The article continues to talk about the tax efficiency benefits of investing in forestry – there is no capital gains tax to pay on money made as a result of trees growing.

    Mr Daniell added that investing if forestry has the added bonus of being able to hold off on selling the asset if prices have fallen: “It is also an asset backed investment and in times of low timber prices you simply let the trees grow and harvest later.”

    He concluded that the outlook for timber is very positive as a result of the global boom in demand for commodities, particularly form emerging economies.

    Lean green forestry

    2009 - 12.16

    Investing in forestry has become more topical of late with growing pressure on forestry plantations to increase yields and  protect natural forests by reducing the rates of deforestation. There is a noticeable surge in interest  in the Genetic Modification(GM) of forestry species.  Genetic Modification of agricultural crops has been practiced for many years, for various crops of commercial importance. However, with respect to forestry, despite the numerous investigations being performed in the sector, there are no commercial plantings of GM forestry within many of its species. Several experiments in the laboratory and field are being conducted in several countries and some successful trials have been announced by the forestry companies themselves. Reasons of commercial sensitivity keep these kind of news announcements to a minimum no doubt within the competing forestry businesses.

    In no particular order, here are examples of countries involved in GM forestry

    Belgium was the first country to field test GM trees in 1988.

    United States  has the largest number of trials with GM trees is performed in the USA. In excess of 300 field experiments have been or are being conducted.

    Chile – Research is focused on Pinus Radiata and Eucalyptus consortium of multinational companies such as GenFor (joint venture between Canada’s Silvagen, American Interlink and Fundación Chile).

    China- More than one million GM Populus have been planted since 2002

    Germany – At present, there are experiments being conducted in experimental fields at the Universities of Freiburg and Tübingen.

    Israel – experiments have been conducted with Populus, Eucalyptus and Pinus, aiming to obtain higher cellulose content, faster growing trees and superior fibre properties.

    Japan – many species have been genetically engineered by Japanese scientists, including eucalyptus, Japanese cedar, poplar and acacia.  Some of the field experiments have been conducted in Japan, whilst others have taken place in Vietnam and Indonesia.

    Brazil – The field experiments include studies with genetically modified eucalyptus, engineered for rapid growth, reduction and modification of lignin for pulp production, improved wood quality and tolerance to herbicides. These experiments have been conducted mainly in the states of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul

    Focising on Brazil for a moment, all experiments which involve Genetic Modification, both in the laboratory and in situ on the plantation must have relevant authorisation from the regulatory bodies.  The National Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio), established in 2005, provides advice to the Federal Government in the formulation, updating and implementation of the National Biosafety on genetically modified crops including forestry products. The authority is responsible for establishing the technical standards of safety and technical advice concerning the protection of human well being and the environment.

    The transformation of forestry species depends on the “in vitro”  cultivation of the trees in the laboratory. However, the technique can be seen as an important ally to the breeding programs of forest species. Due to slow growth, long periods of life,  sexual incompatibility and seasonal cycles of growth, changes in developmental stages over the years, wood formation and adaptation of long-term environmental variations, the traditional breeding takes tens of years for trees with superior characteristics to be naturally selected before being used for cloning in forestry plantations.

    An successful of GM example to be cited is Genolyptus project, whose objective was to evaluate the genome of Eucalyptus and isolate genes of economic interest. The forest species that has been most researched in the field of genetic transformation are the Poplar and Eucalyptus and main characteristics are genetically engineered (i) reduction or alteration of the reproductive cycle, (ii) modification of plant architecture, (iii) manipulation of lignin and cellulose, (iv) resistance to diseases and pests, and (v) tolerance to herbicides and abiotic stresses.

    Since its creation, all institutions and public or private companies who wish to do research laboratory or field of GMOs, must submit a formal request for registration of laboratories or field trials, following high standards of biosecurity. After the trial, the Commission may or may not grant the request for the experiments. Several applications are submitted each year for forest species, especially species of the genus Eucalyptus, which are reviewed and judged.  Among the companies that have already obtained permission for field trials with GM trees in Brazil are Suzano, International Paper, ArborGen, Alellyx Applied Genomics and Monsanto.

    The Timber Investment Blog is sponsored by Greenwood Management. For more information on investing in Forestry please click here

    Forestry standards via the Smartwood Alliance Programme

    2009 - 11.30

    In the South American forestry sector,  the “SmartWood Alliance Program” has developed a generic standard to verify the “Legal Origin Verification”VLO) of forestry products for its end users and investors in forestry. The VLO will be used to assess and verify forest products and will  have legal right under the laws and regulations applicable in its jurisdiction in the forestry industry. The standard will verify all points along the supply chain which use forest products and maintain systems to document and track the chain of custody for the timber.
    Leonardo Martim Sobral of the  Forest Certification Management Institute and Agricultural and Forestry Certification (Imaflora), stated that, with this standard, companies receive a statement of verification and should use the documents to prove that the wood has been verified. “In addition, the company may communicate publicly that they have verification of the legality of origin to their products.”

    Imaflora explained that “audits shall be conducted on the forestry company premises and encompass a range of areas within the forestry company ranging from  proper approvals and licenses, royalties, harvest rates, compliance with laws relating to environmental protection, fauna, conservation of water and soil sampling standards, health and safety, relationship with the communities and “maintaining a chain of custody system”.

    “The final audit  is aimed at building a more robust forestry standard. The assessment period is 30 days, but this does not prevent new contributions can be sent during any stage of the process, The standard applies to prodcers and traders in forestry as well as individual companies within the supply chain”.

    The Timber Investment Blog is sponsored by Greenwood Management. For more information on investing in Forestry please click here