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    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.”

    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.

    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.”

    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.

    Companies call for global deforestation solution

    2015 - 07.01

    A growing number of businesses are recognising the importance of combating deforestation and are taking steps to implement a global solution.

    Asia Pulp and Paper is one such company. A representative from the business, Aida Greenbury, spoke to Business Green recently about the growing number of businesses exploring zero-deforestation policies.

    Asia Pulp and Paper announced their policy back in 2013, but since than big household names have followed including McDonalds and Johnson & Johnson.

    Ms Greenbury explained that the plan is to restore some 150 million hectares of land that has been either degraded or entirely deforested by 2020. The challenge is increased with plans to restore 350 million hectares by 2030.

    She noted that in order to reach these targets more collaboration will be needed in addition to financial support: “We would like to see more governments and businesses, including community-based enterprises, adopting zero-deforestation policies as well as commitments to landscape-scale forest conservation.

    “For success, scale is required, as is greater multi-stakeholder collaboration.”

    Companies like Greenwood Management are already working to build services that naturally help to avoid deforestation.

    Ten per cent of Amazonian deforestation occurring in protected areas

    2015 - 06.17

    Ten per cent of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is taking place within protected areas, a new report has suggested.

    Using spatial analysis, Imazon examined deforestation in the Brazilian section of the rainforest between August 2012 and July 2014. It found that 158,400 hectares of the 1.531 million hectares cleared in the Amazon during the two-year period took place within 160 officially designated conservation units.

    The vast majority (87 per cent) of the loss that occurred in protected areas came from zones in just two states: Para and Rondonia, Mongabay.com reported.

    While deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has sharply declined over the past decade, forest loss has been rising steadily in recent months, Imazon found. It is believed that Brazil’s weakening currency along with a sharp reduction in state funding of a key Amazon protection program are the main contributing factors to the apparent reversal.

    Imazon is a non-profit research institution focused on promoting sustainable development in the Amazon. The organisation’s most recent study says that the tree loss was highest in areas where infrastructure was expanding or management plans and funding were lacking. Consequently, the researchers recommend tougher law enforcement and the eviction of non-traditional settlers from illegally occupied forests, as well as a crack down on fake land titles, and targeted already-deforested lands for state resettlement schemes.

    Greenwood Management supports projects that aim to reduce deforestation, along with research that draws attention to this critical issue.

    Thousands protest against Romania deforestation

    2015 - 05.13

    Thousands of people have taken part in protests against the mass logging and deforestation of forests across Romania, which is currently being sanctioned by the country’s government.

    Demonstrators took part in a march through the city of Bucharest on Saturday, stating that they blamed politicians for allowing deforestation of the crucial European woodlands to take place.

    Carrying banners with slogans including “united we can save the forests”, the protesters accused the country’s political parties of allowing the mass logging of large areas of woodland for profit and failing to maintain control of illegal deforestation.

    Although strict protection of Romania’s forests was ended following the downfall of communism in 1989, the country has continued to keep tight control of the woodland until illegal logging began to increase at the start of the millennium.

    Aside from the trees themselves, the illegal logging of Romania’s 6.6 million hectares (16.3 million acres) of forests also threatens the lives of the brown bear and wolves that reside within it.

    Commenting on the recent protests, President Klaus Iohannis stated that the demonstrations were “legitimate” and pledged to discuss the growing problems of illegal logging at the country’s next national security meeting.

    Despite the increasing problem across Romania and many other countries, many businesses including Greenwood Management have already begun their mission to contribute to the reduction in worldwide deforestation.

    China fights deforestation with ‘great wall of trees’

    2015 - 04.29

    A new study has shown that China is helping to offset global deforestation through it’s tree planting initiative, known as the Great Green Wall.

    According to a study published in Nature Climate Chance, China’s planting scheme has helped to replenish around 81 per cent of the total biomass of trees that the world has lost since 2003.

    Yi Liu of Australia’s University of New South Wales, lead author on the study, stated: “The increase in vegetation primarily came from a lucky combination of environmental and economic factors and massive tree-planting projects in China.”

    The research has also found that the level of carbon dioxide absorbed by trees around the world has increased by four billion tons in the same length of time.

    The project, also labelled as the “world’s largest ecological engineering project”, has seen the planting of a large band of trees spanning 2,800 miles in the northern part of the country on the edge of the Gobi desert.

    Since 2008, China has used this initiative to plant the equivalent of 32 million acres of new forest, which are helping to offset the large number of trees still falling around the country.

    This attitude towards deforestation is now being replicated elsewhere in the world, where many other governments and organisations such as Greenwood Management are also doing their bit to reduce deforestation.