Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: February 22, 2016

Froggy Foibles

What Is Forest Bathing and Should You Be Doing It?

BRIT + Co
February 21, 2016
Category: Froggy Foibles
Region: United States

…The ancient practice of Shinrin-yoku, also known as “forest bathing,” is all the rage in environmentally-savvy spas. By taking a slow guided hike through the woods, walkers are encouraged to reconnect with their senses and pay attention to the gentle rhythm of the natural world. …You know that intoxicating forest smell? That’s from phytoncides, a chemical produced by trees that can reduce the stress hormone cortisol in the body. Researchers in Japan who study the effects of forest bathing believe that spending time in Mother Nature could be an affordable solution for people suffering from anxiety, weak immune systems and mood disorders.

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Business & Politics

Domtar cites 68% reduction in emissions at Kamloops pulp mill

Kamloops This Week
February 21, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Domtar said it has reduced particulate emissions at its Mission Flats pulp mill by 68 per cent over the past seven years, a time period during which it has spent more than $35 million in new technology. The information is contained in a report from Domtar going to Kamloops council on Tuesday. While documenting emissions-reduction as a percentage per year, the report does not include the volume of emissions the percentages represent, nor does the report include a baseline number for emissions in 2009, when the seven-year project to reduce emissions began. The report from Kristin Dangelmaier, Domtar’s environmental manager, notes the company has reduced particulate emissions from the pulp mill’s four boilers incrementally since embarking on a seven-year plan in 2009.

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Alberta producers hope to avoid trade war over wood

Global News
February 19, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Lumber producers in Alberta hope the federal governments in Canada and the United States are able to quickly hammer out a new softwood lumber deal before a trade war breaks out. The softwood lumber deal agreed to in 2006 by the two countries expired in October 2015. Under the terms of that deal, the U.S. can’t launch a trade complaint for a full year, but many expect it will once the year is up. “The U.S. side is going to shoot for the moon, you know, retroactive duties, huge percentage duties,” said Neil Miller, president of Alberta Spruce Industries, a small mill just west of Edmonton. About 30 per cent of Miller’s exports go to the United States, and he fears a renewed trade war between the two countries could cut those sales in half.

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Western Forest Products reports 4Q net income of $9.9 million

Lesprom
February 20, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Western Forest Products Inc. announced results for the 4Q and year ended December 31, 2015. The Company reported 4Q adjusted EBITDA of $29.6 million in 2015, compared to adjusted EBITDA of $14.8 million in the same period of 2014. Adjusted EBITDA growth was achieved by leveraging the Company’s flexible operating platform to capitalize on sustained demand for specialty lumber products while reducing its exposure to weak commodity log and lumber markets. The Company reported revenue of $265.6 million in the 4Q 2015, as compared to $232.6 million for the 4Q 2014.

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Weyerhaeuser completes merger with Plum Creek

PR Newswire
February 19, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

FEDERAL WAY, Wash., — Weyerhaeuser Company (NYSE: WY) today announced the completion of the merger with Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc. Shareholders of both companies approved the transaction at separate special meetings of shareholders held on Feb. 12, 2016. The combined company retains the Weyerhaeuser name and continues to be traded under the WY ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange. The combined company owns more than 13 million acres of diverse and productive timberlands and operates 38 wood products manufacturing facilities across the country.

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Port subsidizes ‘ghost riders’ for exporters

February 22, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Log trucks rumble back and forth along Gateway Avenue at the Port of Astoria each weekday, hired by Astoria Forest Products to move timber from the company’s storage and processing yard on Pier 3 to the union longshoremen on Pier 1 who load the logs on oceangoing carriers. The company is also obligated to pay for so-called “ghost riders” from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to ride shotgun on the trucks, because the union has jurisdiction over cargo on Port property. But Astoria Forest Products has balked at paying for “ghost riders” to stack logs at Pier 1 before ships arrive, so the Port has been temporarily covering the tab. Over the past several months, though, the company has stopped paying at all, and according to Port financial staff, still owes the agency more than $72,000 in back wages for the longshoremen.

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Plum Creek supports career training for new foresters

KCBY
February 19, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

COOS BAY, Ore. – Plum Creek Foundation is investing in training for future professional foresters to maintain a healthy natural resources workforce, Southwestern Oregon Community College officials said in a news release Friday. The Foundation has awarded a $10,000 grant to SWOCC’s two-year forestry degree program. The donation is being made to the Southwestern Oregon Community Foundation and the College to help pay for full-time faculty to complete to program’s two-year start up. “Our business and industry partners need professionals trained with today’s technology to replace their retiring foresters,” said Dr. Ross Tomlin, Vice President of Instruction & Student Services at Southwestern. “

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Could we get that in writing? Montanans want more than Weyerhaeuser’s word on public access

The Missoulian
February 21, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

…Weyerhaeuser now owns nearly 1 million acres of Montana. Incredibly, more than 600,000 acres of Plum Creek’s land is committed to various conservation projects. And laudably, by and large, Plum Creek has allowed unfettered public access to nearly all of its acres. At some point, Weyerhaeuser may seek to sell some of those acres to other owners. It may choose to continue in Plum Creek’s footsteps by entering into deals to sell some of its land to conservation groups. In the meantime, Montanans understandably would like to continue camping, hiking, hunting and otherwise enjoying the use of the places we have been able to access for decades. It would cost Weyerhaeuser nothing, and in fact would buy it a whole lot of goodwill. On the other hand, if the company breaks that tradition and institutes the same permit-only policies it requires in other states, the backlash from Montanans will be severe.

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EDITORIAL: Weyerhaeuser’s welcome news

Daily Inter Lake
February 21, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Flathead Valley residents breathed a huge sigh of relief last week when timber giant Weyerhaeuser announced it intends to keep Plum Creek’s manufacturing facilities open and retain open-access policies to the company’s timberlands as it completes the merger of the two companies. We had hoped for the best and braced for the worst following Weyerhaeuser’s announcement in November it intended to buy Plum Creek for $8.44 billion. Rumors quickly circulated that it was possible, perhaps even likely Weyerhaeuser would shut down public access to Plum Creek’s 770,000 acres of Montana timberland, given the company’s policy of requiring paid permits for access and use of Weyerhaeuser lands in other areas. There also was speculation that local manufacturing plants could be closed or curtailed.

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Lumber industry shows improvement after 2008 recession

The Exponent Telegram
February 21, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

CLARKSBURG — While the lumber economy is improving, it still has a long way to go to fully bounce back from the 2008 recession. For the consumer, this means cheaper prices for raw wood materials needed to build houses, make home repairs or other do-it-yourself projects. “Oh heavens yes,” said Frank Brewster, the owner of Sun Lumber Company in Weston. “For DIY (do it yourself) or something like that, definitely, this is the time.” …“[Business] has come up some, but the prices are still phenomenally low, and we’re still looking at where it was,” Brewster said. “It was, at one time, a national market. We’re now looking at an international market, and we have to play the market the way everybody else does, and that’s very difficult.”

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Concerns development at Triabunna mill on Tasmania’s east coast could have been scaled back

ABC News, Australia
February 21, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

The State Government is concerned a proposed $50 million development at the site of the former Triabunna woodchip mill on Tasmania’s east coast has been reduced. Entrepreneur Graeme Wood’s plans to develop the old Triabunna woodchip mill site have been stalled for almost five years. The environmentalist promised high-end tourist accommodation including a cooking school and botanic gardens.Mr Wood and fellow environmentalist Jan Cameron bought the woodchip mill in 2011 and it has since been dismantled. The State Government held an eight-month inquiry into the sale and subsequent closure of the mill and recommended the Government now assist Mr Wood with his proposal for the site.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

London firm creates niche for mid-rise wood construction

Daily Commercial News
February 22, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada East, Canada

In a growing sector, the construction of mid-rise wood buildings is attracting numerous new competitors and London, Ont.-based Strik Baldinelli Moniz (SBM) is successfully creating a niche for itself with a growing client list and specialized software. SX-N-WD software analyzes wood building construction criteria for a variety of factors including earthquake and wind loading. It also takes into account material costs — an industry first. Construction of residential buildings in wood is hardly new. It was commonplace in Canadian cities 100 years ago. But it was largely eclipsed by modern concrete and structural steel construction and only in recent years is making a comeback as developers and builders find they can construct just as well with wood.

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Wooden Buildings as Strong as Steel

Newsweek
February 20, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

Portland, Oregon… is emerging as the hub of a potential construction revolution… Buildings as high as 12 stories made from … cross-laminated timber engineered from Douglas fir cut down in the state’s forests—are cropping up across the city with hopes of spurring new projects here and across the country. Erecting tall buildings—normally the domain of steel or concrete—with engineered wood, or “mass timber,” has already been done in Australia and Europe, but this type of construction is nearly nonexistent in the United States. Done right, the buildings are cheaper to build and safer in disasters than steel and concrete ones, say proponents. And despite all the dead trees they entail, they’re also more environmentally friendly: The buildings actually sequester carbon in their wooden frames, whereas concrete manufacturing emits large amounts of carbon dioxide.

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Oregon researchers tout potential of new manufactured wood in building industry

The Register-Guard
February 20, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

CORVALLIS — Oregon wood researchers hope to bring a new type of engineered lumber to market after tests to make sure it meets state building codes. Oregon State University has been notified that it will receive a $447,000 grant from the federal Economic Development Administration for the testing of cross-laminated timber, or CLT. The testing will allow the development of manufactured wood products that meet state building codes so the products can be approved for the construction of large buildings, said Geoff Huntington, director of strategic initiatives for OSU’s College of Forestry. “Our objective is to make CLT and other innovative uses of mass timber products technically feasible, economically viable and accessible alternatives for architects and developers seeking to use Oregon products to meet growing consumer demand for healthy, sustainable buildings,” he said.

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Boise Cascade Announces Release of Tall Wall Design Included in Release of Next-Generation BC CALC®

February 22, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

BOISE, Idaho, Feb. 19, 2016 — Boise Cascade Company, headquartered in Boise, Idaho, has announced the addition of new tall wall design capability in the release of the next generation of BC CALC® analysis software for engineered wood products (EWP), available immediately and exclusively to Boise Cascade wholesale distributors and lumber dealers. Tall wall design in BC CALC® is a new feature providing analysis and specification capabilities for Boise Cascade EWP in common wall design profiles and is now being offered with BC CONNECT® — a fully integrated package of cloud-based tools and applications helping distributors and dealers manage their EWP business.

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Wave Eco Cabin can pave your way to off-grid living

Ecofriend
February 22, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

Scotland-based venture Echo Living recently unveiled their creative project named Wave Eco Cabin. The company promoting tiny house movement has created an off-grid cabin geared to offer self-reliance to its owners and residents. Designed with the aim to use resources efficiently and produce minimum waste, the cabin offers sustainable solutions for better and greener living. Entitled Wave Eco Cabin, the cabin name is inspired by its distinctive red cedar cladding and decking which curves over the building giving impression of a continuous rolling wave. …The exterior fitted with CLT panels comes with 150 mm sheep wool insulation, thus making it accessible for any year. To protect cabin from weather effects, the roof and rear of the building is provided with weatherproof layer profiled tin, which lies beneath the timber cladding.

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Murman Arkitekter completes tent-shaped restaurant for a Swedish ski resort

Dezeen
February 20, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

This mountainside restaurant by Murman Arkitekter has giant triangular gables and is set at the top of a ski slope in northern Sweden. Architect Hans Murman and his Stockholm-based studio designed the restaurant for a spot beside a ski lift and a row of birch trees in the resort of Hemavan, a site that takes in panoramic views of the mountains and valley to the south. …The prism-shaped building has glazed triangular gables and is made from glue-laminated timber beams. This structure is left visible both inside and outside the building, and paired with panels of untreated wood that are designed to weather over time. …”We wanted to make a landmark and a building that reveals how it is constructed from a distance,” he added, “a distinctive and unique look that feels natural on the site and at the same time easily constructed with prefabricated parts.”

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Forestry

Tall trees turning Port Renfrew into tourist hot spot

Chek News
February 19, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

The discovery of a grove of massive and unusual cedar trees six years ago has slowly been attracting more and more tourists from around the world to the tiny community of Port Renfrew. And now the business community says it’s better for the local economy to move on from logging, and set its sights instead on ecotourism. …TJ Watt discovered the unusual and massive cedars while exploring the area with a friend in 2009. … Watt’s group the Ancient Forest Alliance along with the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce campaigned to have the area saved and in 2012 the provincial government declared Avatar Grove a protected area and word of it’s unique beauty started to spread. …But for many in the area the tall trees remaining are a sign of transformation, for a town ready to cut ties with its logging roots and plant a new seed for a future in tourism.

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Province announces plans to use Conair airtanker for firefighting season

Abbotsford News
February 19, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Finance Minister and Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong was in Abbotsford today (Friday) for a series of announcements at the Abbotsford Airport, including news of a pilot project involving Conair Group Inc. De Jong announced that the provincial government will use Conair’s Avro RJ85 AT airtankers across B.C. during this year’s forest firefighting season According to the Conair website, the RJ85 “provides excellent low-speed and high-speed performance, making this aircraft an ideal airtanker in any terrain. To the airtanker operator, this means firefighting excellence.” Representatives from Conair, as well as others in the aerospace industry, were present for the announcement on Friday afternoon.

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What is the future of forestry?

by Dr. Leitch, associate professor in natural resource management
Chronicle Journal
February 20, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

‘Wood is good” is the motto of the Lakehead University Wood Science and Testing Facility (LUWSTF). The group believes wood is the answer to many issues we are having in the world today where growing trees will assist in global climate issues and the use of wood from renewable and sustainably grown trees will move us to a greener society. On top of the carbon storage that trees and wood products do for society, wood has always had a warm, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing place in people’s hearts. Whether it be a piece of furniture, the structural members holding your house up and together or a warm fire burning to heat your house, wood is a versatile material that has literally thousands of uses in society. My talk will look at how we use wood currently, how we can use wood in new products and how all this can bring us closer to a greener society.

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Balanced management needed for Oregon forests (OPINION)

By Bob Van Dyk.  Oregon and California policy director at Wild Salmon Center in Portland and part of the North Coast State Forest Coalition, which advocates for balanced management of state forests.
The Oregonian
February 20, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Linn County recently announced a $1.4 billion lawsuit against Oregon. The dispute arises over money that counties receive when trees on state forests are harvested. The county claims that state law mandated more intensive logging of state forests to produce timber revenue for Linn County and other government taxing districts. Three timber companies and the Oregon Forest Industries Council say they are helping pay for the suit. The stakes of the lawsuit are high for Oregonians, not only because of the dollar figure, but also because the suit includes the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests that blanket the Coast Range between the coast and the Portland metro area. 

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Forest Service plans prescribed burns near Helena, Townsend

Helena Independent Record
February 20, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Helena and Townsend Ranger Districts are preparing to implement prescribed burns in and around the Helena and Townsend areas. Prescribed fires will begin as weather and fuel conditions allow and could continue into early summer. Reintroducing fire into a historically fire adapted ecosystem, using low-intensity broadcast burning, aims to reduce surface fuels that are the primary carrier of fire. This includes dead plant matter, pine needles, and small woody debris. As part of this type of burning, reducing the amount of smaller trees is desired to reduce encroachment and ladder fuels that will help create a more fire resistant forest condition long-term, the Forest Service said in a news release.

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Emerald ash borer could cause $82 million impact in metro Denver, report says

About 15 percent or more of Colorado’s urban and community forests are made up of ash trees, making this insect a huge threat statewide due to the human transport of infested wood.
The Denver Post
February 18, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

An exotic pest that has damaged trees in Boulder is expected to spread to metro Denver and could cost millions of dollars in dead and dying trees, according to a new report on the health of Colorado’s forests. The emerald ash borer, a wood-boring pest native to Asia, “has the potential to be the most devastating insect Colorado’s urban forests have ever seen,” according to a 32-page report released by the Colorado State Forest Service. “The potential economic impacts of (emerald ash borer) in the metro Denver area alone could be as high as $82 million, based on a loss of annual services provided by the canopy cover, and not including potential costs for ash tree removal, treatment and replacement,” the report said.

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Forest Service objectors question fate of collaborative projects

The Missoulian
February 21, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Objectors to commercial logging in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area won their battle to have the hillsides on Missoula’s northern fringe mostly left alone. But they wonder why they had to fight in the first place, and whether a larger war over collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service is worth the struggle. “Now they’ve pulled back 80 percent of what they were proposing to do,” said Cass Chinske, who helped draft the original congressional legislation designating the Rattlesnake as a wilderness and recreation area in 1980.  “We’re not going to litigate at this point. But we’re going to really monitor their attempts to keep to the standards they’re bound by. If they do work to the standards, we’ll be pretty successful. But I have huge doubts. I don’t think they understand what they are.”

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USDA invests $1.2 million in La Pine Area Forest Restoration

myCentralOregon.com
February 21, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

La Pine, Ore. – Public and private forests in the greater La Pine area will soon undergo much-needed restoration, thanks to $1.2 million in funding this year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The funding is provided through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership, a partnership between two USDA agencies—the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)—to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public and private lands meet. …The overall goals of Joint Chiefs projects are to reduce wildfire threats, protect water supplies, improve wildlife habitat and support rural economies.  

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What Will Colorado’s Forests Look Like in 90 Years?

February 22, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The pine beetle damage of the past few years has underscored how vulnerable Colorado’s forests are to climate change (scientists say that the pine beetle’s spread was hastened by warmer winters).  But ponderosa pine and the Colorado blue spruce (beset by another pest, the spruce beetle) aren’t the only tree species at risk. A new interactive tool from the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies underscores just how much Colorado’s forest landscape could change in the next 90 years depending on how effectively humans rein in greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

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Environmental group sues to stop logging in Loup Loup watershed

Conservation Northwest: Logging will cause erosion, mudslides
Methow Valley News
February 18, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

An environmental organization has appealed the state’s plans to log 1,200 acres of timber that burned in summer 2015 in the Loup Loup watershed because they say that clearing forests with heavy machinery?—?particularly after a fire?—?poses serious risks of erosion. “Research has shown this type of logging dramatically boosts soil erosion, crushes forest regrowth and undermines forest recovery,” said Conservation Northwest in a statement about the complaint, which was filed in Okanogan County Superior Court on Feb. 10. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) proposed the West Fork Fire Salvage Timber sale in December. The area is in the Loup Loup Creek watershed, which feeds into the Okanogan River and provides spawning habitat for endangered steelhead trout, according to the complaint.

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More forest land to be logged, closed to the public under bill passed by Assembly

Wisconsin State Journal
February 19, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

The Assembly passed a bill 62-32 Thursday that would open up more forest land in a state conservation program to logging and allow more of those lands to be closed to the public. The Managed Forest Law program, run by the Department of Natural Resources, allows landowners to pay reduced property taxes in exchange for committing to sustainable forestry practices. …About 3.3 million acres are currently enrolled in the program, two-thirds of which is closed to the public. Environmental groups have registered in opposition to the bill, saying it’s a giveaway to timber companies and wealthy landowners. Landowners have complained about not being able to lease enrolled land for recreation.

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Revival of forest giant: Mainers work to bring back American chestnut

Bangor Daily News
February 22, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

VEAZIE, Maine — Glen Rea walks with satisfaction and even affection along the rows of young American chestnut trees he helped plant 11 years ago in the Buck Hill Conservation Area. Some trees are thriving, stretching their branches well above the head of the 73-year-old retired stockbroker from Bangor. Others look less healthy, with the telltale red dots of the dreaded chestnut blight fungus spreading lethally across their bark. But every tree in this small breeding orchard is important because each one has a part in a national effort to restore American chestnut trees, which were nearly wiped out a century ago by the accidental introduction of the chestnut blight.

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Melisa Love’s forestry career spans 40 years

Opelika Observer
February 18, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

The woodlands of Alabama are not only beautiful to see and experience, but are significant in many other ways. Among the fifty states, the state ranks second in pulp production, seventh in lumber production and eighth in wood paneling; all this makes a significant economic impact on Alabama. In 1976, a young woman from Washington, D.C. completed her studies at Virginia Tech with a Bacholers of Science degree in Forest Resource Management. Upon graduation, she worked five years as a senior forester for Georgia Kraft, now MeadWestvaco, in Waverly. She then continued her education, earning a Masters of Science degree in Forest Economics from Auburn in 1995. …During the four decades of her forestry career, Love has spent a lot of time tromping through the woodlands, under every condition nature could throw at her.

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Natural soil treatment ‘could help trees resist ash dieback’

Trees could be protected from the devastating ash dieback disease with the help of a natural soil treatment, researchers have claimed
The Guardian
February 22, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: International

A newly developed “enriched biochar”, which combines a purified form of charcoal with fungi, seaweed and worm casts could help ash trees resist the Chalara disease, according to research by tree and shrub care company Bartlett Tree Experts. A study by the company’s research labs on 2,000 established ash trees over three years in Essex found that while a third of the established trees monitored have become infected with Chalara, none of the 20 trees which had enriched biochar applied to their roots were hit. Chalara ash dieback, which could kill millions of ash trees, was first identified in the UK in 2012 and experts fear it could have the same devastating impact on the country’s woodlands and landscape as Dutch elm disease in the 1970s.

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PNG Forestry Minister defends logging tax collection

Radio New Zealand
February 21, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: International

Papua New Guinea’s Forestry Minister says operations of the Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau in his country are monitored closely. This follows a new report by the US-based research group, the Oakland Institute, which exposes a web of tax evasion and financial misreporting by logging companies operating in PNG. The Institute investigated the financial records of dozens of companies, including Rimbunan Hijau and its many subsidiaries, which have reported little or no profit for over a decade. The Minister, Douglas Tomuriesa, claimed that his department collects comprehensive taxes from loggers in PNG including Rimbunan Hijau.

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Clark hosts Asia Pacific forest industry confab

Manilla Bulletin
February 19, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: International

Over 700 government and forestry officials, representatives of international and non-government organizations and forest industries from 33 countries are expected to gather at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga for the five-day “Asia Pacific Forestry Week” starting Monday to tackle effective integration of forest management and sustainable development. Spearheaded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Asia Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC), in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the event will be among the largest and most important forestry events in the region in this year. 

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Malaysian Borneo’s air quality hits hazardous levels as forest fires rage

Reuters
February 22, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: International

Forest fires spread over 500 acres in the north of the Malaysian state of Sarawak in Borneo island have raised air pollution to hazardous levels on Monday in areas close to the inferno, government data showed. The fires have spurred an emergency response from the state fire and rescue department, which is at the same time scrambling to manage nearly 8,000 people displaced by floods in Sarawak’s southern region as of Monday morning, according to the Bernama newswire. Sensors located in the coastal town of Miri – which is closest to the fires – registered an air pollutant index reading of over 300 parts per million (ppm) as at 9 a.m., though it went down to 185 ppm as at 3 p.m., the data showed. Readings above 300 ppm are deemed a health hazard.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Pacific Northwest could become hub for methanol production

Associated Press in The Washington Post
February 21, 2016
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

SEATTLE — The Pacific Northwest could become a major hub for methanol production if three proposed refineries are built along the Columbia River and Puget Sound. A China-backed consortium, Northwest Innovation Works, has proposed two plants in Washington and a third in Oregon to convert natural gas to methanol, which would be shipped to China to make plastics and other consumer goods. But those plans are running into opposition. On Friday, the company temporarily put its project in Tacoma on hold, saying it has been “surprised by the tone and substance of vocal opposition.” …Methanol, a wood alcohol, is used to make olefins, a component in everyday products such as eyeglasses, insulin pumps and fleece jackets, said Mandy Putney, a company spokeswoman.

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Guest opinion: Protect Montana’s carbon-rich forests, don’t burn them

Billings Gazette
February 20, 2016
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

…Reversing the increasing trend in carbon dioxide levels that is driving climate change will require not only reducing emissions, but also finding ways to take carbon out of the air. As the recent Paris Agreement on climate change recognizes, rebuilding the global forest carbon sink to maximize carbon uptake should be an international priority. …Anyone who doesn’t believe there is a threat of large-scale deforestation to provide fuel for power plants or feedstock for cellulosic biofuels need only look to the Southeastern United States. In that region, diverse bottomland hardwood forests and pine plantations are being cleared to provide millions of tons of wood that is pelletized and shipped overseas to Europe, the U.K., Japan and Korea. …Montana could be a leader in climate-change mitigation, nationally and internationally, if policymakers adopted policies to maximize the ability of forests to store carbon.  

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A future in peril

Arkansas Online
February 19, 2016
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: US East, United States

Two pellet mills under construction in Pine Bluff and Monticello will start operations this year. This has been in the news, but the social cost has not been discussed. To ship 1.25 million tons per year of pellets, over 5 million tons per year of trees will be cut down, plus additional wood to generate power and steam for the mills. Additionally, 700,000 tons per year of fluff from the first Chinese Sun Paper mill in Arkansas will require 3 million tons per year of trees. These three mills combined will clear over 800,000 acres of forests per year. One way to understand the magnitude of this deforestation is to think of 400 40-ton logging trucks on rural roads, every day, making deliveries from the harvest sites to the mills.

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Wood energy industry, hundreds of Maine jobs, at risk

Will lawmakers and Gov. LePage step in to help biomass power plants and pellet mills, which face a pending crisis from cheap oil and shifting energy policies?
Portland Press Herald
February 21, 2016
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: US East, United States

Low fossil fuel prices and shifting government energy policies have combined to threaten the future of Maine’s wood energy industry, along with hundreds of logging and trucking jobs that supply the state’s biomass power plants and pellet mills. Maine is a national leader in renewable energy, and its vast forests provide low-grade wood that generates more than a quarter of the state’s electricity. But Maine’s free-standing biomass plants can’t run profitably without favorable wholesale electricity prices and state laws that offer above-market rates for renewable power. Today, both of those supports are eroding. Wood energy is being hit from two directions.

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Wood Energy Subsidies On The Chopping Block In The Netherlands

CleanTechnica
February 19, 2016
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: International

Despite earlier moves towards the large-scale use of wood-fired (biomass) power plants, it looks as though lawmakers in the Netherlands are beginning to have doubts about the approach — with Dutch parliamentarians recently moving to suspend plans for wood energy subsidies. The concerns highlighted by those in question are that such subsidies will damage the environment, waste money, and draw out the transition away from coal-fired power plants. Wood energy subsidies are fairly common in Europe currently (wood energy is classified as being renewable), despite their obvious association with deforestation, overall greenhouse gas emissions, and rising wood and paper prices.

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Australian foresters look to boost opportunity in renewable energy sector

ABC News Australia
February 22, 2016
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: International

The Australian forestry industry will promote the use of biomass for energy production to diversify the sector and increase profitability. Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston chaired the sixth annual Forest Industry Advisory Council meeting last week. She said the industry recognised a need to take a “less traditional approach” to forestry into the future. …”The industry is very keen to pursue a bio-based economy for forestry to make sure that we are maximising the opportunity for all of the parts of the tree,” she said. …Ms Ruston said using timber as fuel for energy production would make forestry “sustainable into the future”.

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