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  • Archive for February, 2017

    Michel Temer: Brazil ‘leaving recession behind’

    2017 - 02.28

    Brazil is emerging from recession and will soon be enjoying economic growth, its president Michel Temer has said, in positive news for people interested in investing in the country’s forests.

    In a statement Mr Temer said that a recent drop in interest rates and inflation shows the country is “starting to grow” again.

    Brazil has announced a number of measures to improve its economic outlook, including cuts to the central bank’s Selic interest rate.

    In January last year, accumulated inflation over 12 months stood at ten per cent, the government said. But after measures were introduced by the federal government since then – including a public spending cap and incentives to encourage entrepreneurship – the inflation finished 2016 at 6.29 per cent, below the target ceiling of 6.5 per cent.

    Michel Temer said: “When you fight recession, you focus on growth and from growth, you fight unemployment.”

    The president said an improved economy would increase trust and credibility in Brazil. “Investments have not started increasing for no reason, foreign investments are coming in and domestic investment is being processed,” he stated.

    Mr Temer also commented on a government measure to allow withdrawals to be made from inactive accounts of the Worker’s Severance Indemnity Fund (FGTS). The Ministry of Planning believes that the initiative will inject around R$30 billion in the Brazilian economy this year.

    “Anyone who has such accounts, may withdraw from them and if so wish, pay debts off, school, travel,” Mr Temer said.

    “In other words, use what was sitting still in the inactive accounts of the Worker’s Severance Indemnity Fund.”

    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.

    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.