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  • Archive for July, 2017

    Increased opportunities drive investment growth

    2017 - 07.05

    Investments into alternative assets including timberland, forestry and agriculture have continue to grow as opportunities become more widely available.

    In the past, such investments were the remit of wealthy institutional investors, however times are changing as private investors from all backgrounds seek income-producing assets with less volatility than common stocks.

    Recently, timberland has been singled out as a particularly valuable commodity. Such high-profile investors as the Church of England and the Yale Endowment Fund have invested heavily in forestry over the past decade, many of whom saw value increases of around 24 per cent in 2016.

    As trees are a renewable resource, woodland provides a yearly stream of income, and should the price of timber fall, management can decide to postpone a harvest that year until prices return to previous levels.

    Although it is still a common belief that timber investment is particularly risky due to infestations and potential forest fires, the truth is that only 0.5 per cent of the return is lost annually due to these causes. This risk can also be reduced by diversification.

    Overall, the timber market is strong and the growing investments within this sector reflect this.

    PhD student uncovers hope for future of Amazon

    2017 - 07.04

    The University of Bristol have released a report suggesting the Amazon rainforest may be more resilient to the threat of deforestation than previously thought.

    The region, which spans eight countries accounts for about a quarter of carbon absorption from the atmosphere by global forests each year. Consequently, deforestation and the loss of valuable forest cover could have a detrimental effect on climate change.

    Previous data from the University appeared to reveal that a large part of the Amazon forest was susceptible to a 'tipping point'. However, a fourth year PhD student in the Bristol Centre for Complexity Sciences, Bert Wuyts, uncovered a new perspective when he decided to revisit the data for a project.

    “I decided to take a fresh look at the data and a very different picture emerged when I controlled for seasonality and took out all the data points from satellite images that represented locations that had been subjected to human influence.”

    After making this discovery in the first year of his PhD, Wuyts teamed up with Professor Alan Champneys, a theorist in the Department of Engineering Mathematics, and Dr Jo House, an expert on land use change from the School of Geographical Sciences, and for the past two years they have been examining these findings rigorously.

    The positive outcome of their theory is as there is some forest left, deforestation will not lock currently forested areas into a savannah state. This means that recovery of the forest in deforested areas should happen as soon as these areas are released from human pressures.

    The new research casts a hopeful glow over the future of the Amazon rainforest, although there is much more analysis that needs to be done to gain a fuller understanding of this region and the best actions that can be taken to protect it.

    Study links sustainable forestry and food security

    2017 - 07.03

    A new report has outlined the crucial links between forestry and food security and nutrition.

    'Sustainable Forestry and Food Security and Nutrition', a study commissioned by the Committee on World Food Security, found that forest conservation is not only important for safeguarding biodiversity and the environment, but also for maintaining the diversity of diets and aiding the nutrition of communities worldwide.

    A team of experts took two years to complete the report which provides comprehensive global analysis on sustainable forestry and nutrition as well as the trade-offs between this interplay and pressures from market demands.

    Terry Sunderland, who led the research, said: “What our research found is that people living in proximity to forests and tree-based landscapes have better diets than their compatriots, regardless of poverty,” says Sunderland. “If we’re serious about global food security, we can’t ignore the role of forests and trees in direct provisioning for both foodstuffs as well as ecosystem services.”

    The report will be unveiled at various global conferences and summits this year, and it's hoped the findings will lead to efforts to promote forests as food sources and expose communities to the importance of naturally diverse diets. In recent years, there's been a shift to packaged and processed food products, as well as a trend of addressing food security issues by growing more simple carbohydrates.

    “By 2050, there will be an estimated nine billion people in the world,” says Sunderland. “In response to the growth in global population and incomes and to the evolution of diets, a continuation of recent trends would imply that global agricultural production in 2050 to be significantly higher than present. However, with the findings of this report we would hope such expansion would take into account the critical role of forests and trees for food security and nutrition.”

    The goal of this study will be to increase collaboration across sectors to address this issue and improve governance by encouraging communities to work together.