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  • Archive for January, 2016

    US sustainable forest firm makes Brazilian acquisition

    2016 - 01.27

    A sustainable forest management company based in the US has acquired a Brazilian REDD+ project developer in a move which could help to boost Brazil's environmental goals.

    The Miami-headquartered Amazonas Florestal Ltd confirmed that it had purchased Earth Pass LLC – which owns more than 64,000 acres of forest land in Brazil, all of which is eligible for carbon credits. Also included in the purchase was a wood products division entitled Amazon Sustainable Development Corp.

    Ricardo Cortez, chairman of Amazonas Florestal Ltd, said: "Amazonas Florestal, through its new subsidiary ASD, can now officially begin work on the studies that will certify the carbon credits available on the ASD properties. All of the necessary vehicles are now in place to begin the studies in February."

    The firm's IRO, J.C. Ubieto, added that the move "opens many potentially lucrative doors in the large Brazilian nation. We have already been contacted by a number of agencies requesting information and offering project ideas to begin our carbon studies next month.

    "The potential upside of this activity is significant and has focused interest on it. The COP20 meeting in Paris has created noteworthy interest and has focused attention on Carbon Credits and resulted in increased demand on the Voluntary Market for Carbon Credits."

    Amazonas Florestal is committed to innovative, sustainable forest management of large areas of land in the Brazilian rainforests, as well as to the certification and sales of carbon credits. The firm aims to become a leader in sustainable forest preservation and management, protecting the biodiversity of the rainforest ecosystem and enhancing the lives of local people.

    The company also aims to highlight to other organisations that are interested in sustainable improvements to their work that preservation can indeed be a profitable activity in the corporate world.

    Brazil's Rondônia to launch incentives for protecting forests

    2016 - 01.25

    The Brazilian state of Rondônia is following in the footsteps of the state of Acre and planning to launch a series of economic incentives for those who practice good land stewardship, which will protect both forestland and waterways.

    The scheme will see the incentives based in part on a series of payments for ecosystem services that channel money from industry to projects that work to boost forest protection and natural water systems. These projects also aim to lower greenhouse gas emissions from forest degradation and deforestation – which is known as REDD.

    Led by the secretary of environment, Vilson de Salles Machado, the scheme is currently seeking an initial feasibility study partner – several NGOs have already applied for this position. The secretary told Ecosystem Marketplace that the Government was hoping the project would be implemented and last well into the future. Machado said that the state needed to establish a law that was unique and aligned perfectly with the local environment, as well as drawing advice from the one already created in the state of Acre.

    The scheme aims to capture financial investment from REDD, as well as climate finance, in order to roll out the REDD+ initiatives, including supporting the local forest-based communities. It is also hoped that the project will reforest deforested parts of the state as well as bringing new technology to farmers to help them achieve zero-deforestation while boosting their productivity.

    The secretary added that the Government of Rondônia was currently in the process of hiring 60 new forest monitoring fiscal agents in a bid to boost the surveillance over and protection of indigenous lands.

    Organisations around the world such as Greenwood Management have been working for many years to highlight the importance of forest cover to wildlife, the environment and future generations. Greenwood supports the state of Rondônia's efforts to boost forest awareness and protection.

    RISI’s Forest Investment Conference highlights growth of sector

    2016 - 01.20

    Proving the increasing interest in forestry across the globe, the global forest products industry provider, RISI, has announced a Forest Investment Conference will be held this year in New York City.

    The RISI event highlights exactly what a force forestry has become, both as an investment and as a recognised precious resource that needs preserving for future generations to enjoy. Headquartered in Boston, MA, RISI – which also has bases across North and South America, Europe and Asia – works with clients in the pulp and paper, packaging, wood products, timber, biomass, tissue and nonwovens industries to aim to assist them in making "better decisions" as regards forest protection.

    The organisation has confirmed that the two-day Forest Investment Conference will be held on 15-16 March 2016. Based at the Convene Conference Center in New York City, the event will allow for discussions and networking with industry leaders and investors from across the globe.

    Among the discussions that will be held at the event are those focused on the environmental aspects of forestry investment, such as 'The Paris Agreement: What Does it Mean for Forest Investment and Carbon Markets?' and 'Investing in the Forestry Sector in Southern Africa – The Africa Sustainable Forestry Fund and the MTO Group’s Approach to Acquiring, Building and Restructuring Assets.'

    This event and another related one, the Thirty First Annual North American Conference, which is due to be held in October, are both said to be aimed at helping the forest products industry to make decisions regarding sourcing, maintenance and production with the protection of the forests in mind.

    The fact that a major forestry event is being held with the emphasis on decision making with the health of the trees in mind, is a real positive for the future of forested areas all over the world.

    Lake County to spend $1m on expanding protected forest area

    2016 - 01.18

    Almost $1 million is to be spent on protecting forestland in Lake County, which is located along the shore of Lake Michigan.

    Lake County Forest Preserve District officials confirmed that the money would be spent on the expansion of two neighbouring preserves that lie in the heart of the county. The Lakewood and Ray Lake preserves will be boosted, allowing the area to better manage the environmentally important surroundings, according to the forest district's executive director, Ty Kovach.

    "We always look for opportunities to add onto existing preserves," Kovach told the Daily Herald.

    A 20-acre site on Lakewood's north side and an 15-acre area on Ray Lake's southeast side are being eyed for purchase after the plan was approved by the forest board's land preservation and acquisition committee. If the purchase goes ahead, it will see Lakewood, which is already the biggest preserved forest area, reach 2,825 acres.

    According to Forest board president, Ann Maine, the purchase of the land and the protection of the forested area was crucial both for the environment and for local people. "I ride that part of the Millennium Trail a lot… and it looks fabulous," said Ms Maine, referring to the hiking and biking trails running through the area.

    Board member Carol Calabresa, who heads up the land preservation committee, confirmed that the district had been keen to expand the protected area for some time.

    Aside from the Lakewood expansion, the other purchase would see Ray Lake Forest Preserve, which lies north of Lakewood, grow to 610 acres.

    Organisations such as Greenwood Management are increasingly realising the need to work to protect our forests for both environmental and public enjoyment reasons, so are extremely pleased to see forest expansion projects such as this one underway.

    Green group secure Atlantic forest habitat for rare bird species

    2016 - 01.13

    A Brazilian conservation organisation has confirmed it has secured an expanse of Atlantic Forest habitat that is crucial to the survival of an endangered bird species.

    The group, Fundação Biodiversitas, said that the tract of land – part of the Mata do Passarinho Reserve or 'Songbird Forest' in Portuguese – will ensure that the critically endangered Stresemann's Bristlefront bird, and other rare species such as Banded Cotinga, will be protected. The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has also lent its support to the effort. The aquisition of the tract means that a further 766 acres have been added onto the 1,586-acre Mata do Passarinho Reserve.

    This threatened forest region is "is like an oasis in a desert," according to the executive director of Fundação Biodiversitas, Gláucia Drummond. The ongoing threat, and the current state of the area, is due to deforestation. Boosting the area that is now to be protected is "one of the most promising and effective ways to save Stresemann's Bristlefront from extinction" as well as looking after the area's biological heritage, Ms Drummond said.

    The reserve – one of the last remaining swathes of Atlantic Forest in northern Minas Gerais and southern Bahia states – was originally created in 2007 by Biodiversitas and ABC. It provides a safe home for a number of endangered birds and other species including the Brown-backed Parrotlet, Hook-billed Hermitand Bahia Tyrannulet. There are only 15 known examples left of the Stresemann's Bristlefront, making it one of the most endangered species in the world.

    Daniel Lebbin, ABC's Vice President for International Programs, said: "With this acquisition, the Mato do Passarinho Reserve now protects all the forest known to be occupied by Stresemann's Bristlefront."

    This precious part of the Atlantic Forest also helps to ensure the area's human population have access to clean water and air. "We want the reserve to be a source of pride for local communities and for public managers as well as being an opportunity to generate income for these people and municipalities," Ms Drummond added.

    New $5 million forest conservation project launched by US firm

    2016 - 01.11

    A new sustainable forestry project has been launched by the largest producer of wood pellets in the world, something which is of particular interest as the main use for wood pellets, biomass, has long been criticised for its impact on forests.

    The $5 million, decade-long forest conservation project from US firm Enviva will aim to protect and conserve six million acres of forest land located along the Virginia-North Carolina coastal plain. This area is home to three of the firm's wood pellet production plants.

    The project will see non-profit organisations awarded grants which will allow them to work to conserve working forests. Enviva also said that those firms who are able to match the level of funding awarded to them will be given priority, as this will allow the most work to be done.

    Enviva CEO, John Keppler, said: "The commitments we are making today are unique in our industry and we are proud to lead on these important issues."

    Twenty per cent of the area's forested sections are known as bottomland forest, which are low-lying, marshy areas located close to water. Many of the trees growing in such areas are cypress, gum and oak. These forested areas provide a huge range of environmental and economic benefits, so they are being targeted by the project, despite the fact that the majority of Enviva's pellets are not made from such areas.

    Carlton N. Owen, president of the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities, confirmed the myriad benefits of this type of bottomland forest, saying: "Southern forests help clean our water, shield us from storms, and serve as home to many species of wildlife, while at the same providing jobs and economic opportunity for rural families and private landowners."

    Enviva has said that it does not make its pellets from high-grade wood that could be put to use in other ways, but instead from low-grade materials including sawdust and diseased trees.

    Organisations such as Greenwood Management are increasingly realising the need to support sustainable projects that will support forests across the globe and protect the land for the future.

    Rainforest deforestation boosting invasive black rats

    2016 - 01.10

    A new study has suggested that cutting down trees in rainforests is leading to the spread of invasive black rats.

    Researchers writing for the Biotropica publication reported that logging made rainforests a far more appealing prospect for the rats, due to the fact that fallen trees contain a host of insects that provide food for the rodents. The logged forests also offer the black rats far more undergrowth, which provides better cover for them.

    The spread of these rats could be extremely bad news for native mammals that call the rainforests home, as the rats carry diseases that can often lead to extinction of native mammals. Indeed, black rats were traditionally thought to have been the origin of the bubonic plague.

    Study co-author Dr Rob Ewers, from Imperial College London, said: "Logging creates micro-environments that black rats love, helping them move in.

    "This could be bad news for native mammals who might not be able to compete with black rats for food and resources. It's also bad for the forest, as many small mammals are important seed dispersers, helping rainforest plants to grow, and they are also prey for larger animals."

    The researchers focused their studies on the island of Borneo, where huge areas of natural forest have been degraded in recent years. The team found that the rats were especially keen on the type of disturbed habitat that was associated with logging, and were not confined to urban areas of Borneo as first thought.

    The research team said that the widespread destruction of tropical forests is more than likely playing a key role in multiplying the threat from invasive species such as these black rats.

    Dr Ewers concluded: "This study sends a strong message for reducing the impact of logging by minimising the damage to forest structure. For example, trees being felled often pull down neighbouring trees, leaving behind lots of deadwood that is perfect for black rats. Clearing vines that connect trees and accurately aiming where felled trees will land would reduce this debris.”

    Sustainable forest management a top focus for Vietnam

    2016 - 01.06

    According to Vietnam's deputy minister of agriculture and rural development, the forestry sector will place sustainable forest management at the top of its priority list over the coming years.

    Ha Cong Tuan said that the country was aiming to promote the sustainable management and certification of forests and that it would become a real focus for the forestry sector. Tuan made the pledge during a recent conference which reviewed Vietnam's forestry activities over the course of last year and made predictions and plans for the sector's key focuses during 2016.

    Just 157,000 hectares of forest had been granted the certification of sustainable management in Vietnam, the deputy minister said at the event. This year, the country aims to raise its overall forest cover to 41 per cent.

    Meanwhile, the annual forestry production growth is hoped to reach seven per cent, providing a total wood product export value of $7.1 billion, Tuan went on to say. Vietnam hit that target in 2015, achieving 7.92 per cent – therefore accounting for 106 per cent of the country's overall annual plan. This equated to more than 239,000 hectares of forest being planted in the country.

    The deputy minister also went on to say that around 11.6 million hectares of forest were given to forest management companies to oversee, which made up the vast majority – 84 per cent – of the country’s forestland and 71.8 per cent of the total land that was projected for the forestry industry.

    So, while Vietnam did hit certain targets in terms of forest management, it failed to reach the goals set relating to protective forest and special-use forest planting.

    Other issues relating to the country's forests were also discussed at the event, such as the myriad opportunities and challenges that came about as a result of free trade agreements to Vietnam's wooden product exports.

    Mangrove deforestation driven by 'demand for rice and palm oil'

    2016 - 01.04

    Mangrove forests across South East Asia are being destroyed by the rising demand for rice and palm oil, industry experts have warned in a new study.

    The role played by agriculture in the loss of the forested areas has so far been underestimated, the study by Daniel Richards from the National University of Singapore and his team, found. Rice plantations contributed to mangrove loss in Myanmar while forested areas in both Malaysia and Indonesia were destroyed by
    rapidly growing palm oil plantations, researchers said in the study.

    Mangrove forests are made up of numerous salt tolerant trees and shrubs that are able to thrive in low-oxygen conditions. They make up parts of forests in more than 100 tropical countries across the globe.

    However, mangroves are being destroyed at an average rate of 0.18 per cent per year across South-East Asia, the report found, adding that 40 per cent of this loss was due to rice and palm oil plantations. Aquaculture was responsible for the loss of more than 100,000 hectares of forest cover, the researchers said in the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

    Daniel Richards, study co-author, told the BBC that mangrove forests were essential to the livelihoods of millions of people and the loss of the areas was hugely damaging: "Aquaculture has largely been responsible for causing mangrove deforestation, particularly in countries like Thailand and the Philippines. Our study found that aquaculture was still important but we were surprised that in South-East Asia between 2000 and 2012, just 30 per cent of deforested mangroves were replaced with aquaculture."

    "The impact of other drivers, like rice and oil palm agriculture, was greater than we expected," he added.

    Mr Richards went on to say that, while currently Indonesia's mangrove forests in the more remote parts of the country, such as Indonesian Papua, are "almost intact", they will be at risk of deforestation [as a result of] "recent plans to grant concessions and develop the agriculture industry in this region".

    Forests across the globe are being recognised as playing an increasingly important part in the welfare of land for future generations. Organisations including Greenwood Management have been working for years to encourage the protection of precious forests all over the world.