Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: May 24, 2016

Business & Politics

Turf battles everywhere

by Todd Whitcombe
Prince George Citizen
May 23, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada

…The Softwood Lumber Agreement, on the other hand, is not about saving face. It is about standing up to a bully – the American lumber industry. It has trouble competing with their Canadian counterparts on both price and quality. The result? A free market at play? A capitalist approach with the best player winning? No. Instead, when American firms are not competitive, they turn to the government for help. They bring in tariffs and barriers. They sue. And they’ve based their litigation on an interpretation of the Canadian lumber system which has been shown to be wrong on more than one occasion.

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U.S., Canadian Officials to Meet on Softwood Lumber

Bloomberg BNA
May 20, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

Reaching agreement to avoid a new softwood lumber dispute later in 2016 will top the agenda for Canadian and U.S. officials meeting in Ottawa next week, International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said May 20. Freeland told parliamentarians that she met separately, during the week of May 16, with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark on the issue, and that the bilateral officials’ meeting will carry forward the process of reaching a new deal. “I am pleased to report to this House [of Commons] that a U.S. negotiating team on softwood lumber is coming to Ottawa next week to continue our negotiations,” she said in response to questions from opposition politicians. She was responding to accusations by British Columbia Member of Parliament Todd Doherty, a member of the opposition Conservative Party, that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is falling behind on its commitment to forge a new softwood agreement.

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Norbord’s High Level, Alberta Mill Resumes Production

Canada Newswire press release
May 23, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

TORONTO, – Norbord Inc. (TSX and NYSE: OSB) today announced that its OSB mill in High Level, Alberta resumed production over the weekend following a fire that occurred on May 4th. As previously reported, in the afternoon of May 4th, a fire broke out in the mill yard which, as a result of the hot, dry, windy weather conditions in northern Alberta, quickly spread to the log storage area outside the plant. As a precaution, Norbord immediately suspended production at the mill. Shipping from finished goods inventory resumed the weekend of May 6th.

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Principal Stakeholders and KGI Enter into a Letter of Intent for a Potential Acquisition of Catalyst Paper

Catalyst Press Release
May 23, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Richmond, (BC) – Catalyst Paper Corporation (TSX:CYT) announced today that its board of directors has received a copy of an expression of intent among Kejriwal Group International (“KGI”) and the four largest shareholders of the Company holding or controlling approximately 79% of its outstanding common shares, including Mudrick Capital Management, L.P., Cyrus Capital Partners, LP, Oaktree Capital Management, LP and Stonehill Capital Management LLC (collectively, the “Principal Securityholders”). The Principal Securityholders have completed Schedule 13D filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, including a copy of the expression of interest.

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Pulpmills in Eastern Canada more competitive

IHB – The Timber Network
May 23, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

Pulpmills in Eastern Canada have become more competitive following sharply declining wood costs the past four years. In fact, wood costs reached their lowest levels in 15 years in the 1Q/16, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review. Wood costs for pulp mills in Eastern Canada have fallen dramatically the past four years, and the region has some of the lowest wood fiber costs in North America, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review. In 2012, pulp mills in Ontario and Quebec had some of the highest wood fiber costs on the continent. 

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USA softwood lumber imports rose by 43%

EUWID
May 23, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

On account of a considerable rise in imports from Canada, USA imports of softwood lumber increased by 43% over the course of the first three months by comparison with the preceding year to 10.51m m³. Imports from Canada, at a total volume of 10.04m m³, also increased by 43%. The value of imports from Canada, however, only increased by 11%. Imports from Europe also increased, at +16% to 126,285m³. Whilst imports from Austria (-22%) and Latvia (-19%) remained below the preceding year’s figures, statistics of the US Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) show increases in imports from various other European countries, some of which are significant.

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Sheridan wood-preserving company fined for water pollution

Statesman Journal
May 24, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

State environmental regulators have fined a Washington company $7,217 for discharging pentachlorophenal and copper to the South Yamhill River above permitted levels at its Sheridan wood preserving facility. Both chemicals, used in wood preserving, are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms. Tacoma-based McFarland Cascade Holdings purchased Sheridan’s Pacific Wood Preserving of Oregon in 2013. McFarland Cascade Holdings is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stella-Jones Inc., a Canadian company with 32 wood preserving operations in North America and sales of $1.6 billion last year. It produces railway ties, utility poles, residential lumber and industrial products.

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Verso Paper’s first-quarter loss declines from a year ago

Portland Press Herald
May 23, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

The papermaker with a mill in Jay lost $88 million in the quarter, down from $122 million a year ago. Verso Paper Holdings LLC, the bankrupt owner of Verso Paper and NewPage, on Monday reported a net loss of $88 million for the first quarter, an improvement from the $122 million loss it reported for the first quarter of 2015. The Memphis, Tennessee-based company reported $144 million in restructuring charges in the first quarter as its bankruptcy proceeding advanced toward a resolution in which $2.3 billion in unpaid debt would be converted to equity and distributed as shares to creditors. Once the primary supplier of glossy magazine paper, Verso Paper filed for bankruptcy reorganization in late January, seeking protection from creditors for a business that has been devastated by market shifts and changing consumer habits.

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Japanese gluelam timber output down 4.5%

EUWID
May 24, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

Japan made 4.5% less gluelam timber in 2015 than in 2014 with a total of 1.485m m³. Last year was the second year in a row that manufacturing had declined. According to data from the Japan Laminated Wood Products Association published in the Japan Lumber Journal, production of gluelam timber for structural applications in the construction sector fell 4.4% to 1.347m m³, but its proportion of total Japanese gluelam timber output held steady at the previous year’s level at 90.7 %.

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Forestry needs plan to meet global demand

Austrlian Associated Press in the West Australian
May 24, 2016
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

Australia’s forestry and wood products sector requires more investment and planning if it is to take advantage of growing global demand for fibre, paper and packaging, construction materials and bio-fuels. A report prepared for Forest and Wood Products Australia says that, as the global population grows and becomes wealthier, demand for wood fibre will increase strongly. Consumers will want more processed foods, which require paper packaging, and hygiene products, such as tissues and paper towels, according to the report by accountancy and financial consultancy firm Ernst & Young. Demand for timber for housing is also set to grow and there is expected to be increased demand for food fibre to supply new energy and bio-chemical products. Choosy customers are expected to seek sustainable forestry products.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Timmins Men’s Baseball League adds fifth team, moves to wood bats

Timmins Press
May 23, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada East, Canada


TIMMINS – A new team and some new lumber will help usher in a new era for the Timmins Men’s Baseball League (TMBL) this summer. The expansion Pirates will join the Red Sox, Orioles, Brewers and 14-time defending champion Whiskey Jacks in time for the 2016 season, upping the league’s total to five teams. TMBL president Jamie Dallaire explained that the league will also be making the move to wood and composite-wood bats only this summer. “That should speed up the games, make it a truer game of baseball, maybe less errors, a few more opportunities to make defensive plays, and just a better game all-around,” explained Dallaire, who added the decision was made after comments received from players and a vote by the league board. “It will also be safer for pitchers and people on base as well — the ball doesn’t come off as fast on wood bats as it does on aluminium.”

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VIDEO: Supertall skyscrapers take over the skyline

CBS News
May 22, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

VIDEO: New residential towers – super-high and rail-thin – are on the rise and changing big city skylines one expensive condo at a time. Lee Cowan reports. [If you jump ahead to about 3:22 minute mark, the story switches to wood and CLT].

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Pearl District’s 12-story timber tower moves forward, gets more ‘affordable’

Portland Business Journal
May 23, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

It’s not out of the ground yet, but a proposed 12-story high rise in the Pearl District made out of Cross-Laminated Timber is moving forward into its next phase of design, development and testing. A project from Portland-based LEVER Architecture and project^, Framework would rise from the corner of Northwest 10th Avenue and Glisan Street on a quarter block that is currently home to Albina Community Bank. …The project now moves into a second phase of research, which will focus on seismic and fire testing that could pave the way for the city and the state to issue building permits. The testing is expected to wrap up by October, which had initially been a tentative groundbreaking for the project.

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?Living the high life

CBS News
May 22, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

But in a forest in Southern Oregon, nature’s renewable skyscrapers — trees — may just provide a more sustainable answer. As they grow, trees take carbon out of the atmosphere, and even after they’re harvested they store that carbon. So Lone Rock Logging has decided to send some of its trees to a special mill that turns them into a new kind of “green” high-rise building block. “It’s going to change the way we build here in the U.S.,” said John Redfield, the chief operating officer at that mill, D.R. Johnson. It’s the only lumber mill in the U.S. certified to make cross laminated timber (CLT).  Though man has been building with wood since we’ve been building anything, what makes CLT unique is that it’s as strong as steel — and up to five times lighter than concrete, making CLT panels perfect to build a high-rise.

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Maine’s forest products industry gets USDA grant to expand

Associated Press in the Idaho Statesman
May 22, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

BANGOR, Maine The U.S. Department of Agriculture is giving the Maine Forest Service more than $380,000 to assist the state’s wood products industry. The USDA is supplying a pair of Wood Innovation Grants to the state. One is $250,000 toward a program called “Strengthening and Expanding Maine Wood Markets.” The rest of the money is to help establish a Maine State Wood Energy Assistance Team. The team is expected to coordinate technical and financial assistance. It will also promote low-emissions heating technology. The team will include industry members, government representatives and people form the non-profit community.

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It’s finally here: first Australian CLT plant to open in 2017

By Nathan Johnson
Architecture and Design
May 23, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

Australia’s first cross-laminated timber (CLT) manufacturing plant will be built in the Albury Wodonga region by mid-2017. The facility will produce 60,000m3 of CLT each year and will be owned and operated by Xlam, a CLT company who’ve been manufacturing the building material at the their New Zealand-based plant for the past five years. While the announcement comes as no real surprise, it will be welcomed news for those Australians who’ve been considering the product but have had trouble accessing it. In an interview back in February, Rob De Brincat, Business Development Manager at Xlam Australia, did tell Architecture & Design that Xlam were planning on setting up shop in Australia to address the growing demand for CLT on our shores. But he couldn’t disclose where at the time.

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Albury or Wodonga to host $25 million timber processing factory expected to lead to 54 jobs

The Border Mail
May 23, 2016
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

COST will be the decisive factor in whether a $25 million timber-processing factory is built in Albury or Wodonga. Manufacturer XLam trumpeted on Monday it would build Australia’s first cross laminated timber factory on the Border with plans for 54 jobs. The exact location is yet to be decided with XLam business development manager Rob De Brincat saying his firm was negotiating with Albury and Wodonga councils to secure the best deal. “We’re considering a couple of site options with a decision likely to be made in coming weeks,” he said. Rob De Brincat “We’re speaking about a staged approval process with both councils and we’re hoping to start construction in the next six weeks. “It’s looking at different land and build costs, because they’re both in close proximity cost is the main driver.”

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Forestry

Demand for ‘Forest Schools’ soaring in Calgary

By Annalise Klingbeil
Calgary Herald
May 24, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

…Forest Schools, the concept of moving kids out of desks and into the woods for play-based, child-directed and inquiry-based learning (even when it’s chilly outside) has long been popular in Europe and is catching on across Canada, especially in Calgary.  “Of all the different dimensions of our work, Forest Schools specifically, and more broadly a general interest in getting young kids outdoors is this burgeoning area for Alberta,” said Gareth Thomson, executive director of the Alberta Council for Environmental Education, a decade-old organization that helped host the recent workshop. “We’re having trouble keeping up with demand, and it seems to be an idea that is completely resonating with Albertans and Calgarians,” he said. 

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Board to audit forestry activities near Squamish River

BC Forest Practices Board
May 20, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

VICTORIA – The Forest Practices Board will examine the activities of SN Forestry Operations Ltd. on forestry licence to cut A82551, during the week of May 30, 2016. The auditors will examine operational planning, harvesting, roads, bridges, silviculture and wildfire protection practices for compliance with the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act. The operating area for this forest licence is in the Sea to Sky Resource District near the Squamish and Elaho Rivers. In 2015, part of the operating area was affected by a large wildfire in the Elaho Valley. Once the audit work is completed, a report will be prepared and any party that may be adversely affected by the audit findings will have a chance to respond. The board’s final report and recommendations will then be released to the public and government.

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Love in the time of climate change: Grizzlies, polar bears hooking up

Washington Post in Idaho Statesman
May 23, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

BARROW, ALASKA – …They’re known as pizzlies or grolars, and they’re a fusion of the Arctic white bear and their brown cousins. It’s a blend that’s been turning up more and more in parts of Alaska and Western Canada. Textbooks say these two species aren’t supposed to inhabit the same environments. Polar bears are marine mammals; grizzlies are terrestrial. But as the Arctic warms, sea ice is shrinking and the tundra is expanding. And the bears’ disparate populations are meeting, mating and creating a new breed that’s capable of reproducing. Bears sharing both species’ DNA have been recorded several times over the past decade. So why are these two species linking up? It’s called flexible mate choice: The bears are mating with the best possible partners as opposed to not mating at all, and they’re mating because they share relatively close territories and the same branches of the same evolutionary tree.

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B.C. government orders wildlife rehabber to collar controversial bear cubs at own expense

By Larry Pynn
Vancouver Sun
May 23, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

The B.C. government has ordered a wildlife rehabilitation centre to put GPS collars on two controversial black bear cubs spared death by a conservation officer last year to find out if they get involved in human conflicts upon their release back to the wild. The non-profit North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, which has no experience with radio-collaring bears, is also being ordered to pay the full costs of the collars. “They want them collared and we have to pay, so that’s fun,” Julie Mackey, the centre’s wildlife manager, said in an interview. “They’re $5,000 to $6,000 a collar, so it’s not a cheap program to take on.” The centre welcomes public donations to help pay for the collar program on its website, niwra.org.

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Women in Timber awards scholarships

The Humboldt Beacon
May 19, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Four local high school students and four college students received scholarships last week from the North Coast Chapter of Women in Timber. Each student was awarded a $500 scholarship to assist with their pursuit of natural resource related careers. The students were treated to an outdoor dinner at Camp Bauer in Korbel prior to receiving their scholarships. “These students are passionate about one of our local industries,” said North Coast Women in Timber Chairwoman Lizzie Ebert, referring to forestry and timber production. “All who applied were outstanding candidates, and all incredibly impressive.”

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Study shows trees moving to higher, cooler elevations

Lake Country News
May 24, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Signature tree species in the high Sierra Nevada forests – including mountain hemlock, red fir and western white pine – are shifting toward higher, cooler elevations according to new research by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This study foreshadows how climate warming may significantly alter entire habitats for multiple species. The CDFW researchers found that large areas of Plumas and Sierra counties no longer have much mountain hemlock, as much of the northern Sierra Nevada lacks the higher mountains the trees now need to persist. These conifer species that are shifting to higher elevations provide food for insects, birds and mammals, and help to build forest soil. The report was published this week in the California Fish and Game 2016 Winter Issue.

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Bob Brown’s High Court challenge to Tasmania’s anti-protest laws delayed

ABC News, Australia
May 24, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: International

The first hearing of a High Court challenge to the Tasmanian Government’s anti-workplace protest laws has been delayed, after a Hobart nurse decided to join the action. Former Greens leader Bob Brown instigated the challenge, after he was arrested under the laws while protesting the logging of native forests at Lapoinya, in the state’s north. At the time, that gave him standing to issue the challenge, but earlier this month the State Government dropped the charges against him. The Government is also seeking to have the case thrown out. Mr Brown said he expected the first directions hearing to take place in mid-June, which is when the Government’s attempt to dismiss the case will be decided.

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EU and United Nations Increase Effort to Combat Illegal Logging

Hardwood Floors Magazine
May 23, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: International

The European Union, United Kingdom and Sweden have contributed a combined $30 million to support the next phase of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Programme (FLEGT), which gives sustainable forestry products producers in foreign companies easier access to the European timber market, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The EU contributed $18 million; the UK, $7.25 million; and Sweden, $5.3 million. “Thanks to global initiatives like FLEGT, illegal timber production has declined by an estimated 22 percent since 2002,” said René Castro Salazar, FAO assistant director-general for forestry, in a statement.

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Roads take a hit from forestry

New Zealand Herald
May 23, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: International


A special rate to cover the damage heavy trucks are expected to create on Whanganui’s rural roads when forest harvesting accelerates is something the district council needs to get serious about. That is the message from Wanganui Federated Farmers in its submission to the council’s 2016-17 annual plan. Branch spokesman Tim Matthews told councillors they should look at what Ruapehu District Council is considering – a special differential rate to recover costs from the forest landowners. Mr Matthews said Whanganui’s rural roads would experience heavy vehicle movements at least four times and possibly 10 times higher than those currently servicing existing farming operations adjoining the forests.

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Indonesia’s forestry ministry follows through on palm oil permit freeze

Mongabay
May 23, 2016
Category: Forestry
Region: International

The Indonesian forestry ministry is on board with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s plan to ban new oil palm permits, and has rejected all outstanding requests to establish plantations in the forest zone, a ministry official said on Friday. Sixty-one palm oil companies have had their proposals rejected, sparing a total of 851,000 hectares of land from conversion, according to the San Afri Awang, the ministry’s head of governance and planning. That’s 12 times the size of Singapore. “We are bringing the president’s directive on [the moratorium] to fruition as best we can,” Awang told foresthints.news. Jokowi announced the palm oil permit freeze in April. It also applies to coal mining licenses. Both sectors are vital to Indonesia’s economy, but lead the way in damaging the environment.

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Forest Fires

Evacuation order lifted for all Fort McMurray oilsands camps

Workers won’t be able to return until health inspections are completed
CBC News
May 23, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

A mandatory evacuation order has been rescinded for the remaining oilsands camps in the Fort McMurray area that were evacuated last week. Workers won’t be able to return, however, until Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and Alberta Health Services complete fire and health inspections to ensure occupant safety. There is no timeline set for these inspections, but they will be completed as soon as possible, said Robin Smith, press secretary for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The mandatory evacuation order for the Fort McMurray and Anzac areas remains in place. The widlfire remains out of control, and currently covers more than 520,000 hectares of land, including 741 hectares in Saskatchewan.

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Smoke clears over Fort McMurray wildfire and it’s bigger than previously thought

Edmonton Journal
May 22, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Rain and cooler temperatures have allowed firefighters to better assess the size of the Fort McMurray wildfire, and it’s bigger than previous estimates suggested. The latest estimates peg the wildfire at 522,894 hectares on the Alberta side, and 2,496 hectares across the border into Saskatchewan, Laura Stewart, an Alberta wildfire information officer, confirmed Sunday afternoon. While the fire was reported to be 504,443 hectares yesterday, Stewart said it hasn’t grown, rather the weather helped to clear smoke in the area allowing firefighters to better assess the size. “Firefighters are making really great progress, taking advantage, of course, of these cooler temperatures,” she said, noting more rain is expected in the Fort McMurray area.

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Fire risk map shows blue (low) in Alberta, red (high) for Sask.

Saskatchewan has been dry, but rain is in the forecast
CBC News
May 21, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The latest information from Natural Resources Canada shows a big change in the risk for wildfire: Alberta goes blue and Saskatchewan has a lot of red. The data is compiled and presented as part of the federal ministry’s Canadian Wildland Fire Information System. While the risk for wildfire has fallen in Alberta, crews are still battling a fire dubbed “the beast,” which has forced thousands of people to flee their homes. The fire, in the Fort McMurray area, sits at 504,443 hectares — seven times the size of Edmonton. This includes 741 hectares in Saskatchewan. Plans are underway to have some evacuees return home as early as Wednesday.

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Greenstone under a state of emergency due to forest fires

Forest fires lead to power outages, natural gas shut-offs
CBC News
May 24, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada East, Canada

Forest fires continue to blaze across northwestern Ontario, causing one of the region’s largest communities to stay on high alert. A state of emergency was declared as a precaution late yesterday in Greenstone, which located about 260 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. At one point, flames were less than 500 metres from the municipal building in Geraldton, which is part of Greenstone. [The water bombers] saved us because otherwise the municipal office would have burned,” said Renald Beaulieu, mayor of Greenstone.  Greenstone is an amalgamation of Geraldton, Longlac, Nakina and Beardmore, as well as an extensive area of unincorporated territory, including settlement areas like Caramat, Jellicoe and MacDiarmid.

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Forest fire officials say fire bans being ignored in northwestern Ontario

Natural resources ministry spokesperson says people ‘taking the law into their own hands’
CBC News
May 24, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada East, Canada

Wildfire officials in northwestern Ontario say some people have been caught disobeying an ongoing restricted fire zone in the region that bans outdoor fires. The fire ban has been in effect for just over two weeks, and in that time, conservation officers with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have caught people burning camp fires and bonfires, said Deb MacLean, a fire information officer. “I think sometimes people may think ‘well, it rained a little bit here …. or I have a nice fire pit that’ll work,'” she told CBC News on Monday. “I think they’re taking the law into their own hands in a way by deciding on their own to have a fire when there’s legislation in place saying that’s against the law.”

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Saturday forest fires keep N.L. water bombers busy

CBC News
May 22, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada East, Canada

A pair of forest fires in central and southeast parts of Newfoundland had water bombers scrambling on Saturday. The first fire broke out near Fairhaven on the island’s southeast coast. Members of the Norman’s Cove, Bellevue and Fairhaven fire departments were on scene for a period of time to assist in clearing traffic. According to emergency response chief Gary Rideout, the fire was caused as a result of a broken hydro line. In the central region of the island, a forest fire was spotted about six kilometres south of Grand Falls-Windsor. Fire chief Vince MacKenzie said a water bomber made several drops before sunset on Saturday and, at last word, the fire was moving away from the town.

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U.S. Forest Service Plans to Let Blazes Burn Amid Predictions of Fiery Summer

May 24, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States

In the 40 years since fires sparked by lightning have been allowed to burn unabated in a section of Yosemite National Park, ecologist Scott Stephens has watched extensive conifer forests grow back as a patchwork of not just trees, but also meadows with wetland plants. y. …As the U.S. Forest Service revises how it manages its 193 million acres — with three forests in California’s Sierra Nevada among the first to implement a new approach — Stephens and other fire scientists are urging it to go forward with plans to allow more fires to burn through dry vegetation. The accumulation of brush and grasses over decades makes it dangerous to try to put out every fire, he and six colleagues wrote in the journal Science last fall. Suppressing fires repeatedly simply promises more disastrous fires in the future.

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Burning benefits

Controlled fires can both help prevent combustion and reduce insect attacks
The Economist
May 21, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

THE giant wildfire that raged recently through the Canadian province of Alberta, forcing more than 80,000 people to flee their homes, was caused in part by global warming producing drier conditions. Yet conservation efforts to prevent burning have not helped either, say some experts. Forests can regenerate after being burnt, with much of the tinder-like underbrush being cleared away and dense tree canopies broken up so that young trees can get the sunlight they need to grow. Now a new study finds that fires, whether started naturally or under controlled conditions, can also thwart nasty insect infestations. Like many useful discoveries, this one came about somewhat by accident. Sharon Hood of the US Forest Service was working with the University of Montana and colleagues on the ecology of a forest in western Montana that had been managed in a number of ways to make it more resistant to fire.

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Meet the Australians fighting Canada’s wildfires

ABC News, Australia
May 23, 2016
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

Joel Pecotich and Leo Contziu have known each other since high school. In Sydney they’re normal twenty-somethings with average jobs, but they spend half of each year fighting wildfires out of helicopters in the remote Canadian wilderness. Alex McClintock reports. At home, Joel Pecotich is an arborist; Leo Contziu is a university student. But for five months each year, the Sydney friends work as professional firefighters in a remote region of Alberta, Canada. Working from a base six and a half hours north of the provincial capital Edmonton, the pair are part of an Alberta Department of Agriculture and Forestry 20-man response team. Their job is to travel by helicopter to new forest fires and get them under control as quickly as possible.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Edmonton researchers aiming for X-Prize by making artificial plants

Edmonton Journal
May 24, 2016
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: Canada, Canada West

A carbon-capturing process being developed by a group of Edmonton researchers could land them big money and international fame. The idea? Copying what plants do. “Nature itself can be the best teacher to learn from,” said Ehsan Jenab, project lead for the carbon transformation project at Edmonton’s Ingenuity Lab, a science and innovation lab funded by the Sherwood Park-based Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation. The project has a team of researchers working to artificially produce the carbon sequestering properties of plants by creating the individual steps of the carbon cycle and then putting them together in a bio-reactor. In essence, they’re making trees from scratch.

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USDA Resumes Incentives to Grow and Harvest Biomass for Energy and Biobased Products

Madison County Courier
May 24, 2016
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States

U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that incentives resume this month for farmers and foresters who grow and harvest biomass for renewable energy and biobased products. The funds come through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. “This program expands the types of feedstock that can be used to make renewable fuels and biobased products, laying the foundation for growing more products made in rural America,” said Dolcini.

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Will Europe Stop Trashing US Forests in the Name of Bioenergy?

Natural Resources Defense Council
May 23, 2016
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, International

The European Union finally recognises that burning trees from US forests is not carbon-neutral, but how will they amend European renewables policy in response? …In 2009, the EU passed binding legislation to ensure the EU meets its climate and energy targets, including a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a requirement that 20% of EU energy be generated from renewable sources, and a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, all by 2020. While laudable, the policy package came with a gaping loophole around bioenergy: all biomass, whether wood chips and sawdust from a sawmill or whole trees from old growth forests, was considered “carbon neutral”. In other words, when biomass is burned in European power stations, the EU acts like the carbon emissions coming out of the smokestack simply don’t exist.

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Talking Point: Tassie forests can play role in tackling carbon

The Mercury
May 23, 2016
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: International

WE’RE failing the ultimate test of success in cutting carbon emissions: the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Tasmanian carbon dioxide levels are now above 400 parts per million and rising. That’s one reason the Hodgman Government should look at a new proposal from The Wilderness Society. Another is the continued depressed state of forestry. Trees have many assets, but their most valuable one now is helping to stop the planet’s greenhouse gas budget getting out of hand by taking up carbon dioxide. The more trees in the ground, the better. Doubt about human-induced climate change in conservative politics has limited the scope of Coalition abatement policy and prevented an effective move on smokestack or tailpipe emissions.

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