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  • Archive for December, 2016

    France’s Total to invest $1bn a year in Brazil

    2016 - 12.28

    A unit of Total, the French oil and gas giant, is to invest $1 billion (£814.5 million) a year in Brazil, according to reports, in what could be seen as a sign of companies’ growing confidence in the Latin American economy.

    Reuters cited Brazil’s financial newspaper Valor Econômico as saying that Total E&P do Brazil, Total’s local unit, is planning annual investments of $1 billion per year. The confirmation came from Maxime Rabilloud, who heads up the Brazil operation.

    The expansion of Total’s Brazilian activity follows its $2.2 billion acquisition of assets from Brazil’s state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

    Total purchased stakes in oilfields and thermal power stations from Petrobras are a part of the latter company’s asset sales programme.

    “Valor quoted Rabilloud as saying Total and Petrobras will keep in contact regarding the possibility of making other deals and forging future partnerships,” Reuters reported.

    Brazil president announces more stimulus measures

    2016 - 12.22

    Brazilian president Michel Temer has announced a fresh package of measures designed to boost the country’s recession-hit economy, in a boost for its woodland sector.

    Reuters reports that Temer wants to introduce a number of measures, including:

    Allowing workers to make early withdrawal from their severance funds.
    Easing regulation on temporary work.
    Making collective agreements between unions and companies trump labour legislation.
    More changes to Brazil’s labour laws.
    Brazil is in a deep recession, with many analysts expecting it to last into next year.

    The severance measure would allow workers to take out up to 1,000 reais from their severance funds, known as FGTS funds.

    Currently, money can only be withdrawn from FGTS is an employee is sacked, retires or wants to use the money to buy property.

    “We are very close to launching the modernisation of the labour code,” Temer was quoted as telling reporters.

    “It will very likely happen in January, practically by common accord with unions and the business sector.”

    Community group buys historic Scottish forest

    2016 - 12.21

    A community group has bought a 2,500-acre historic pine forest in the Scottish highlands that has a very colourful history.

    Arkaig Community Forest in partnership with the Woodland Trust has acquired Loch Arkaig near Spean Bridge. They were given first refusal on the land by Forestry Commission Scotland after launching a fundraising appeal in April.

    Loch Arkaig has a rich history: soldiers trained in it in World War Two, it’s thought that gold to fund Bonnie Prince Charlie’s 18th century Jacobite Rising was hidden in it and, more recently, it was used as a location for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

    So far, nearly £3 million has been raised to go towards buying the forest and funding restoration projects. The community group eventually hopes to raise £4.5 million.

    Gary Servant of Arkaig Community Forest said: “This is a great moment.

    “The land has been bought and we have a fantastic opportunity to work together to restore these native woodlands and to reconnect local people with their forests.

    “Everyone is very excited and we give heartfelt thanks to all who have supported us and have contributed to the appeal.”

    The Woodland Trust’s Scotland Director Carol Evans said: “We are going to consult widely on our detailed plans for the wood.

    “We want to see this special place established as a benchmark for the joint regeneration of both its native forest and local community.”

    Simon Hodge, chief executive of Forest Enterprise Scotland, said: “This was one of the last applications to the National Forest Land Scheme.

    “It has been great to see the way Arkaig Community Forest and Woodland Trust Scotland have worked in partnership to achieve their joint aims.”

    Joinery sales are on the rise

    2016 - 12.19

    Joinery sales in the UK have risen for the 10th successive quarter and manufacturers are also confident about a promising finish to 2017 in good news for people interested in the wider forestry investment market.

    Figures from the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) show that despite concerns over Brexit, the wood industry posted a healthy sales performance in the third quarter of the year.

    The BWF’s Joinery State of Trade Survey shows manufacturers are confident sales will improve in the next quarter, with a balance of 50 per cent predicting an increase for Q4 2016 and a balance of 45 per cent predicting an increase over the next year.

    More than half of joinery businesses had increased their investment in product improvement, and 41 per cent reported increasing their labour force in the last year, with 36 per cent anticipating creating more new jobs in 2017.

    However, increasing labour and material costs are taking their toll, the survey shows, with more than two thirds facing higher labour costs and 86 per cent expecting increases in the coming year.

    Matt Mahony, BWF policy and communications executive, said although BWF member’s sales performances remained strong, there was industry caution over the long-term outlook.

    “Too often talk of manufacturing focuses on automotive and aerospace, with vital sectors such as construction products, twice the size of automotive in the UK, slipping below the radar,” Mr Mahony said.

    “We have fed views into the recent Industrial Strategy consultation and hope this vital work will be fast-tracked and gain full and focused cross-departmental support within government.”

    London event to showcase Brazil’s investment potential

    2016 - 12.07

    An event in London this week will showcase the investment potential in Brazil, especially in its forestry, sustainable agriculture and clean energy sectors.

    On Thursday December 8 companies will gather to highlight Brazil’s transition to a low-carbon economy and promote the investment opportunities in the largest economy in Latin America.

    Leaders in banking and finance, sustainable agriculture, forestry and clean energy will be joined by representatives of Brazilian Ministries to showcase investment potential as Brazil begins to implement its goals around agriculture, land use, clean energy and urban infrastructure.

    Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of sugar and soybeans, the third largest exporter of corn and the fourth largest producer of fibre furnish. It has the world’s largest area of arable land in a single country.

    “Significant opportunities exist to lead in sustainable practices in agribusiness, forestry and paper industries for Brazil,” a statement read.

    “The renewables and energy efficiency sector is well suited to long term green bond funding in support of new infrastructure. Brazil is already the 10th in the world for installed wind capacity.”

    Justine Leigh-Bell, director market development at the Climate Bonds Initiative, said: “The biggest challenge post COP22 is for national policy makers, local market actors and global investors to accelerate the flow of green investment.

    “This ‘Brazil’s New Economy’ showcase is another step in building green capital flows into Brazil via the global green finance hub being established in London.”

    The event takes place at the Guildhall on London’s Gresham Street.

    New platform aims to increase timber transparency

    2016 - 12.01

    A new online tool will enable timber traders to see how sustainable their purchases from timber countries including Brazil and Indonesia are.

    The platforms’ creators, environmental organisation BVRio, say it will reduce illegal practices in the timber sector.

    The Responsible Timber Exchange, launched last week, gives timber buyer pricing, supply chain and certification information on timber and wood products from several countries, as well as FSC- and PEFC-certified suppliers.

    BVRio said its tool has been launched to meet the demand of consumers eager for products made from responsibly sourced products, as well as timber importers required by legislation to state where their wood products have come from.

    “This is the first vehicle that promotes legality and sustainability,” said Pedro Moura Costa, the founder and president of BVRio.

    The platform provides pricing information, current market conditions for different timber and wood products and, for wood imported from Brazil, a due diligence and risk assessment report.

    Big firms work together on deforestation guidance

    2016 - 12.01

    Major brands including L’Oreal, Mars and Tetra Pak have pledged to work together to tackle deforestation and develop better accounting methods for climate change, it has been reported.

    The global project developed by sustainability organisation Quantis aims to realise a comprehensive, centralised set of standards that companies can use to report on greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. They will also allow businesses to account for climate change and set targets for improvement, edie.net reported.

    A range of companies and organisations have signed up to the initiative, including non-profits, government and academic institutions such as the Rainforest Alliance, ADEME and the Sustainability Consortium. Quantis said it wants to publish the guidance in April 2017.

    Deforestation and the effect on land use are thought to represent more than 20 per cent of global emissions. Companies are increasingly being called upon to commit to environmental pledges and work to reduce their emissions. Quantis said firms, especially those working in the agricultural and forestry industries, need to get much better at reporting and tracking their progress on forestry impacts.

    Quantis US managing director and project lead Jon Dettling was reported as saying: “Companies understand the need to reduce the impacts of their supply chains and are increasingly interested in communicating about their efforts. Credible metrics are critical for achieving both.

    “A greenhouse gas accounting method that is conducive to corporate goal setting and supply chain management will allow companies to achieve progress and to communicate credibly on these efforts.”

    As a company with a focus on sustainable forestry, Greenwood Management welcomes the news that major firms have committed to this initiative.