Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: January 2, 2019

Today’s Takeaway

Looking back on 2018 or forward to 2019, here are the headlines you missed

The Tree Frog Forestry News
January 2, 2019
Category: Today's Takeaway

Looking back on 2018 or forward to 2019, the holiday headline that garnered the most attention was the International Code Council’s decision to allow wood buildings as high as 18 storeys in the US. Notable stories include: New York Times (knotty is making a comeback); Fire Engineering (more planning and education will be required); and Treehugger (the year wood construction took some steps forward, some back). 

Other headlines you might have missed include: the Wall Street Journal on lumber’s collapse; the Canadian Press on Canada’s changing forests due to fires, bugs and climate; Macleans on Canada’s species [most] at risk in 2019; and FPAC’s wish list for Canadian Forestry in 2019.

Finally, Trump’s executive order opening the door for more thinning and biomass use is celebrated as good for the forest and human health.

Best wishes for healthy and prosperous 2019.

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Business & Politics

Behind Lumber’s Collapse: A Perfect Storm of Housing and Trade

By Ryan Dezember
The Wall Street Journal
January 2, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

Lumber futures reached a record in May that was 30% above the old all-time high set in the early 1990s. Still, lumber ended the year as one of the worst-performing commodities. …But lumber suffered an epic collapse. Since hitting $639 per 1,000 board feet on May 17, futures lost nearly half their value. Lumber closed at $333 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Monday, down 26% on the year. A variety of factors had sent prices soaring in the first half of the year. …Then the wheels began to fall off the rally. Wood ordered in a panic early in the year began arriving by summer, filling lumber yards just as the housing market began to cool. A pair of devastating hurricanes slowed construction activity. …Meanwhile, rising interest rates and surging home prices in many of the hottest job markets strained affordability. Housing starts, which had reached a post-recession high in May, slid lower.

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A wish list for Canadian forestry in 2019

By Derek Nighbor, Forest Products Association of Canada
The Province
January 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada

Derek Nighbor

Why is it that Canada, a country with among the most stringent environmental, health and safety, labour and human rights laws and regulations in the world, is facing continued pressure to restrict resource development and losing jobs and economic opportunity in the process? …Working with governments and local leadership to secure a predictable and successful future for our sector’s workers and their families will be central to the work ahead of us in 2019. …One of the most unpredictable forces over the past couple of years has been the Trump administration and its protectionist approach to trade. …Of the things we can control with support from our federal and provincial governments and partners on the ground, FPAC has developed our 2019 wish list: Greater pride in Canadian forestry… A better strategy to supporting species at risk… A transportation system we can count on… Expanded partnerships with Indigenous communities… Doubling down on innovation.

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Softwood Lumber Board Welcomes Six New Directors

The Softwood Lumber Board
December 28, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

West Linn, Ore. – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has appointed six members to serve on the Softwood Lumber Board, Members will serve a three-year term of office beginning Jan. 1, 2019. New members include J.D. Hankins, Ripley, Miss., and Brian Luoma, Tuscaloosa, Ala. who will represent the U.S. South. Todd Payne of Eugene, Ore., and George Emmerson of Bella Vista, Calif., will represent the U.S. West. Kevin Edgson of Montreal, Quebec, will represent Canada East, and Brad Thorlakson, of Vernon, British Columbia, will represent Canada West. The Softwood Lumber Board is composed of 19 members, including 12 domestic manufacturers and seven importers. 

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Ministry’s about-face on Texada Island private forest land leaves millions worth of timber in limbo, forestry firm claims

Business in Vancouver
January 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Selkirk Mountain Forest Ltd. is taking the provincial government to court, claiming the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development wrongfully denied the company private timber marks on eight parcels of land on Texada Island. Selkirk filed a petition in BC Supreme Court on December 10 to set aside the ministry’s decision denying the marks, which allow the transport of timber from privately held land. The company owns 2,500 hectares of land on the island, and the marks it applied for concern more than $2 million worth of timber on the “disputed parcels,” according to the petition. The parcels were originally sold by the Crown in the 1880s for as little as $160 and as much as $431 in 1888.

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The changing nature of Canada’s forest supply as fires, bugs, and climate bite

By Ian Bickis
Canadian Press in the Prince George Citizen
December 28, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Mills in the heart of Canada’s timber industry have fallen quieter this winter as wildfires and infestations made worse by climate change have made vast tracts of once valuable forest into barren stands of dead trees.  After seeing record high softwood lumber prices earlier this year, Canada’s forestry industry is facing an uncertain future due to falling demand from a cooling U.S. housing market, increasingly frequent and intense forest fires and the continuing damage from pests such as the mountain pine beetle. “We’re kind of at that point in the cycle where, unfortunately, permanent reductions have to happen,” said Ed Sustar, a forestry products analyst at Moody’s Investor Service. “It’s going to be a relatively sizable part of the B.C. lumber industry, but it’s not a surprise.” …The decrease in the amount of healthy B.C. forest has pushed companies to expand further into the U.S. or abroad, said Sustar.

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Resolute Completes Sale of Catawba, SC, Paper and Pulp Mill

By Resolute Forest Products
Cision Newswire
January 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

MONTREAL – Resolute Forest Products Inc. today announced that, on December 31, 2018, it completed the previously disclosed sale of the Catawba, South Carolina, paper and pulp mill to New-Indy Containerboard, LLC, pursuant to the terms of the asset purchase agreement dated October 2, 2018. The total purchase price of about $300 million consists of $260 million in cash, before customary closing adjustments, and the assumption of approximately $40 million of balance sheet liabilities, largely net pension benefit obligations. “We are pleased to have completed the sale of the Catawba mill to New-Indy and wish the new team every success with its investment in the diversification of the mill’s operations,” stated Yves Laflamme, president and chief executive officer of Resolute. “We want to thank our employees for their hard work and dedication toward this successful outcome, and are pleased that the community will continue to benefit from the mill’s economic and social impact.”

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Federal shutdown affecting wildlife, forest product and water research conducted in Madison area

By Kyle Farris and Rob Schultz
La Crosse Tribune
December 30, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

Some La Crosse-area programs are halted while others are motoring along, as the federal government shutdown rolls into its second week. Triggered when President Donald Trump and Congress failed to reach terms on a southern border wall, the shutdown has forced 420,000 federal employees to stay home and another 380,000 to work without pay. …Centers for wildlife health, forest products research and water science are among the federal offices in the Madison area that have been closed. …The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Products Laboratory, located on the UW-Madison campus, also has been closed. Its employees include 60 research scientists.

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Paper manufacturers win by snagging exclusions to China tariffs

By Sean Higgins
Washington Examiner
December 28, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

The industry that produces bulk paper was the big winner in exclusions to Chinese tariffs announced Friday by the U.S. trade representative’s office. The largest single area of items made tariff-free were the parts for paper manufacturing machines. The American Forest and Paper Association got approval for exclusions of at least nine items it requested from the administration, according to data released by USTR and posted in the Federal Register. The items were originally meant to be hit with 25 percent tariffs levied by the Trump administration against $34 billion in Chinese products. The exclusions covered several components such as frameworks, rollers, and scrapers for paper machines and will be retroactively applied as of the July 6, 2018, the date tariffs were enacted. Only two dozen items total were excluded, though USTR said it would “continue to issue decisions on pending requests on a periodic basis.”

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Timber industry still a driving economic force

By Scott Shindledecker
The Daily Inter Lake
December 30, 2018
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

COLUMBIA FALLS — After being with F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Co. for more than four decades, Chuck Roady is encouraged about the future of the timber industry more than he has been for several years. …“I’m biased, but I like to see forest management. There are people who would like to let Mother Nature run its course, but we’re kind of past that.” …Stoltze has been in business in Montana since 1912 and the current mill began operation in 1923, so it has learned to adjust to changing times. Part of its diversification efforts include the co-generation plant that began operating in 2013. It runs on sawdust and woody materials, producing steam that powers Stoltze’s daily operations as well as providing electricity to thousands of homes.

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Wood Dr.: Six ways to deal with tight hardwood supply in 2019

By Karl D. Forth
Woodworking Network
January 1, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

As we move into 2019, companies of all kinds are continuing to look for truck drivers and other employees. We recently saw a maker of laminate casework offer up to $80,000 salaries for over-the-road truckers. In past discussions, Gene Wengert, FDMC’s Wood Doctor, mentioned that the lack of logging truck drivers (part the lack of 18-wheeler drivers nationwide for all types of cargo) was causing difficulty for sawmills to have enough logs for sawing.  There are also many logs going directly from the woods into overseas shipping containers. We are seeing higher log costs in order to get logs into the local sawmill…. “There will be even less emphasis and profit for the sawmill to make the hardwood log entirely into lumber, which in turn will mean that lumber availability will shrink. …but most of us will find that getting enough lumber means paying a lot more,” Wengert said. 

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Construction Concerns: IBC 2021 Heavy Timber Proposal

By Greg Havel, Town of Burlington Fire Department
Fire Engineering
December 28, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, United States

The present edition of the International Building Code (IBC) limits heavy timber buildings to 85 feet in height. …Had the Brock Commons at 190 feet in height been subject to the current IBC, it could not have been built. …For more than two years before submitting proposals, the International Code Council’s (ICC) committee on tall wood buildings has studied mass timber construction, including both engineering studies and fire performance tests. The committee seems confident that the fire and life safety performance concerns have been addressed in the proposals. …if our state or municipal government adopts the new edition of the IBC in its entirety, we may find ourselves …fighting fires in combustible high-rise buildings. …It is not too soon to begin reviewing our current operational procedures and drafting the modifications that these new buildings will require.

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2018 The year wood construction took some steps forward, steps back

By Lloyd Alter
Treehugger
December 27, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, United States

Lloyd Alter

Some dramatic changes this year will have a big impact on the future of wood construction. Last year at this time, I called 2017: The year wood construction grew like a weed. This year, I am a bit more circumspect; there were lots of steps forward, with really interesting new wood projects built, but there were also a few significant steps back. There were also what I will call steps sideways, where I am not absolutely convinced that they are steps in the right direction.
Step back: Tall wood faces troubles in Britain…
Step forward: Tall wood gets closer to being legal in USA…
Step back: Framework Tall Wood Tower in Portland gets the chop…
Step forward: Other mass timber techs grab the spotlight…
Step back: Is wood construction really as green as we think it is?…
Step forward: Andy Thistleton’s new book on CLT…

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Log Cabins? No, These Wooden Buildings Are High-Rises

By C.J. Hughes
The New York Times
January 1, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

Developers have not used wood for much other than houses since the horse-and-buggy days. But the knotty building material is making a comeback. Seeking greener projects, which many consumers continue to embrace despite an anti-environmental mood in Washington, builders are choosing timber for offices, apartments and campus buildings, rather than the concrete and steel that dominated construction for decades. …Concerns persist about wood’s flame resistance and strength, as well as its cost, which can be 30 percent more than traditional materials. But proponents scored a huge win last month when the International Code Council, an influential advisory group in Washington, concluded that some wooden buildings could climb as high as 18 stories without compromising safety. …Winning acceptance for mass timber seems especially challenging in New York, which appears to have lagged other cities in proposals. But a handful of projects are underway in Brooklyn.

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Danish home champions wood over concrete for lower carbon emissions

Inhabitat
December 21, 2018
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

Danish architecture firm Tegnestuen LOKAL recently completed TK-33, a modern and energy-efficient home that promotes building materials considered more sustainable than those typically used in Danish residential construction. To reduce the carbon footprint of the project, the architects designed the home with a timber structure rather than the more commonly used load-bearing concrete walls. Triple-glazed windows and a flexible floor plan also add to the home’s environmentally friendly cachet.  …Driven by a desire to reduce carbon emissions in Denmark, the architects focused on replacing the most emission-heavy elements of typical Danish construction with more eco-friendly alternatives. In place of brick-clad concrete — commonly used for outer walls that the firm said account for nearly 30 percent of the total emissions associated with the construction of a typical home — the architects used a wooden frame clad in a thin layer of brick shingling. 

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Forestry

These are the creatures Canada has failed

By Rosemary Counter
MacLeans
December 25, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada

Like almost everything else in 2018, the Living Planet Report Canada from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was bleak: of 903 monitored vertebrate species in the country, half are in decline. Of those, the average decline since 1970 is—you might want to take a year-end whisky shot here—a massive 83 per cent. Globally, some 26,500 bird, mammal, amphibian and other species are threatened with extinction, and more than 500 currently sit on Canada’s Species at Risk list. So where do conservationists begin? At the WWF, a select few are declared “priority species” worth extra attention. But choosing them can be a heartbreaking task, admits Emily Giles, senior species specialist with WWF-Canada. “Some are selected because of their ecological importance, significance to Canadians, representation of an issue or even social appeal,” she says—though really, any reason that will make Canadians notice, care and take action will do. Here are three species that the WWF wants you to know need help in 2019.

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North Cowichan postpones vote on logging in municipal forest reserve

By Robert Barron
Cowichan Valley Citizen
December 24, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

A decision on whether logging plans in a section of North Cowichan’s 5,000-hectare municipal forest reserve should move forward has been postponed in a unanimous vote by council until more information is received. More than 200 people crowded into the council chambers on Dec. 19, raising concerns about fire regulations around capacity in the room, as the local government heard numerous delegations and presentations regarding the forest reserve. Many of the speakers spoke in favour of pausing logging in the reserve until a thorough community discussion has been held, while numerous professional foresters and others spoke on how well the reserve is managed by the municipality, and how suspending logging would impact North Cowichan’s bottom line.

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Flexibility key as B.C. faces new wildfire reality, forests minister says

By Bethany Lindsay
CBC News
December 29, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

It’s been a trial by fire from day one for Doug Donaldson. When he stepped into the job of forests minister in July 2017, the province was already in a state of emergency because of out-of-control wildfires in central B.C. That summer saw fires consume more of the province’s landscape than any year on record, as well as the largest evacuations in B.C. history. It wasn’t an aberration. Even more of B.C. burned in the summer of 2018, and a state of emergency was declared once again. Now eighteen months into the job, Donaldson says it’s clear we need to adjust to a new reality. “When you see the types of fires we’ve had the last two seasons, when you see that fire behaviour, when you factor in the effects of climate change, then yes we have to be innovative, we have to be responsive, and we have to be flexible,” he told CBC in a year-end interview.

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Ways to deal more efficiently with forest fibre in B.C.

by Jim Hilton, professional agrologist and forester
BC Local News
December 23, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

We have got to rethink the Timber Supply Areas (TSA) approach to managing our forests in B.C., especially in the larger TSAs with significant areas remote from usually only one delivery centre. Changes should also consider the efficient delivery a variety of wood fibre products to the most efficient location and not just the movement of logs to centralized lumber mills. …A quick review of the relative amounts of forest fibre may be helpful at this point. According to the BC Hydro report when a green log is delivered to the saw mill the following products result: 47 per cent is lumber or veneer, 33 per cent is wood chips for pulp, eight per cent is shavings, seven per cent is sawdust and five per cent is hog (bark).

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Logging watchdog probes government agency over felled B.C. old-growth trees

By Chad Pawson
CBC News
December 23, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

A provincial watchdog is investigating allegations that the government agency responsible for cutting timber on public land did not follow provincial rules to preserve old growth trees outside Port Alberni. For the past year, the environmental group Ancient Forest Alliance has been chronicling the logging of massive trees, many hundreds of years old, on Vancouver Island, particularly the Nahmint Valley. In June, the forest alliance complained to provincial officials about B.C. Timber Sales, the agency that regulates logging on public land. Now, the watchdog group, the Forest Practices Board, is heading to the area to review what was felled and conduct interviews. In May, the forest alliance discovered what it described as one of the biggest Douglas firs in Canada in the Nahmint, which is the territory of the Hupacasath and Tseshaht First Nations.

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N.S. prepares for worst on controversial pulp mill: ‘No easy solution here’

By Keith Doucette
Canadian Press in CTV News
December 26, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s premier says he’s keenly aware of the continuing need to diversify the province’s economy in 2019, especially with the future of a key economic player up in the air. Questions around the potential closure of the Northern Pulp mill in Abercrombie, N.S., will grab a share of the headlines in the coming year and Stephen McNeil isn’t downplaying the need to prepare for the worst. The paper mill has become a flashpoint — it proposes to dump more than 62 million litres per day of treated waste into the rich fishing grounds of the Northumberland Strait.  The plan has pitted forest industry workers against fishermen, environmentalists and even the P.E.I. government. Halifax-born movie star Ellen Page has attempted to rally her 1.4 million Twitter followers against it.

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Prince of Wales: Environmentalists object to Tongass logging plan

By Jacob Resneck
KRBD.org
December 31, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Environmentalists are objecting to proposed old growth logging on Prince of Wales Island. The Forest Service says the plan is part of its commitment to the timber industry in the Tongass National Forest. Alaska’s Regional Forester Dave Schmid highlighted a project on Prince of Wales Island that he says would help feed Southeast’s timber economy.  “You know we’ve got a big effort on Prince of Wales, the Prince of Wales Landscape Assessment,” Schmid said in a Dec. 12 interview. “That’s a project that’s going to define a couple million acres over the next 15 years.” Prince of Wales is home to Southeast Alaska’s last mid-sized sawmill. The family-owned Viking Lumber operation near Klawock employs about 40 people. “While it’s not very big, it’s a very important piece of those communities,” said Schmid, who worked as a forestry ranger on the island earlier in his career. “

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Aerial surveys show dead trees in Arizona, New Mexico

By Felicia Fonseca
Associated Press in the Durango Herald
December 24, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Aerial surveys of forested land in Arizona and New Mexico show large swaths of dead trees following an unusually dry winter that aided pests such as bark beetles. Arizona saw its largest uptick in tree mortality since the early 2000s when about 1.7 million acres were affected. New Mexico saw a similar pattern, though surveys done earlier this year don’t account for an expected loss of pinon trees, said Andrew Graves, an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Southwest Region. …Graves said the Forest Service will use the maps it created while flying above the treetops to identify those areas where it can take a closer look on the ground next year, particularly in areas popular for recreation. Officials will use the information to produce a report on forest conditions.

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Major logging, prescribed burning and restoration project approved near Helena

By Tom Kuglin
Helena Independent Record
December 20, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The U.S. Forest Service greenlighted a major forestry project near Helena this week. The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest issued its final decision Wednesday for the Ten Mile-South Helena Project, which will include logging, prescribed burning, some trail work and stream restoration. The project calls for work on more than 17,500 acres within a 60,000-acre project area southwest of Helena that supplies one of two sources of water for the city.  “I feel this decision is well informed and addresses several community concerns related to public safety and changing fuel conditions, primarily as a result of tree mortality,” Helena District Ranger Heather DeGeest said. “As always, I was impressed with the surrounding community and their passion for the national forest system lands surrounding Helena. We asked the public, several times, for feedback on our adjustments to the proposal to be sure we understood and incorporated their input accurately.”

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Third lawsuit over barred owl killings dismissed

By Mateusz Perkowski
The Capital Press
December 20, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

A federal judge has dismissed a third lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s experiment with killing barred owls to protect threatened spotted owls. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken has ruled that Friends of Animals, a nonprofit group, lacked the legal standing to file the complaint in federal court. Barred owls are blamed for displacing the smaller and less aggressive spotted owls in their habitat and occasionally attacking them, contributing to the species’ population decline. While protections for the spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act have greatly restricted logging in federal forests, the bird has nonetheless continued to struggle. In 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife approved a controversial plan to experiment with shooting barred owls to see if their removal will aid the spotted owl’s survival.

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Irish Wildlife Trust: ‘Plantation forestry is a disaster’

By Breifne O’Brien
Agriland
January 1, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: International

“Plantation forestry is a disaster” according to the campaigns officer of the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT). Padraic Fogarty of the IWT has voiced his concerns on plantation forestry in response to forestry stakeholders, who said that “ill-informed NGOs” were “berating the growing of commercial forestry”. Fogarty outlined that he believes there is another way.  “We can have a forestry system that produces multiple benefits to wildlife, water and jobs; but the monoculture model does not really provide these things.” He believes that the IWT was “likely among the ‘misinformed’ NGOs” mentioned by some forestry stakeholders. He added: “We don’t feel like we are an ill-informed NGO. The IWT has been involved in the debate about forestry for decades.”

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Chestnut-killing wasp threatens major harvest

By Sylvia Smith
BBC News
December 25, 2018
Category: Forestry
Region: International

Chestnuts are increasingly being incorporated into vegan and vegetarian diets – as well as being a Christmas favourite. But a small, invasive wasp from China is threatening the chestnut harvest in Spain. Now government scientists are considering releasing another non-native insect into the environment to keep the wasp population under control. Under the dense green cover of the Genal Valley in southern Spain, Julio Ruiz, a thirty-something farmer is collecting sweet chestnuts (castañas) with his father, mother and brother. They are picking up the prickly nuts from the leaf-strewn earth, recognising through experience those that will contain the prized, large-sized chestnut. But this year there are far fewer chestnuts to gather not just on the Ruiz family’s 30-hectare farm, but throughout the 4,000 hectares of the lush Genal Valley famed for its plentiful chestnuts thanks to its micro-climate.

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University of Montana emeritus professor gets international science award

By Keila Szpaller
The Missoulian in Helena Indepdendent Record
December 28, 2018
Category: Forestry

Robert Pfister

If Dave Roberts could choose just two tools to manage the forest, he would select an increment borer, which cores trees, and a special classification system promulgated by Robert Pfister. The latter is the forest habitat type classification system, a “fundamental level of analysis and inventory for all of the national forest in the Northern Rockies.” “It’s become the backbone of the U.S. Forest Service’s natural resource management system” in the Northern Rockies, said Roberts, a vegetation ecologist. …This year, the International Association for Vegetation Science honored “Bob” Pfister, an emeritus professor at the University of Montana, for his “outstanding contributions to vegetation science in the Northern Rocky Mountains,” work that provided the scientific basis for resource management on public lands in the region. 

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Trump issues executive order on forest management

By Erin Voegele
Biomass Magazine
December 31, 2018
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States

An executive order on forest management issued by President Trump in late December addresses how rural economies can benefit through the utilization of byproducts created by forest restoration efforts. Trump issued the executive order on Dec. 21. It is officially titled “Promoting Active Management of America’s Forests, Rangelands and other Federal Lands to Improve Conditions and Reduce Wildfire Risk.” …The USDA and Department of the Interior are directed to develop goals and implementation plans for wildfire prevention programs. …The Secretary of Agriculture is directed to review 2019 budget justifications and give all due consideration to establishing several objectives, including treating 3.5 million acres of Forest Service lands to reduce fuel load. …By March 31, the Secretary of Interior and Secretary of Agriculture are also directed to identify salvage and log recovery options from lands damaged by fire during the 2017 and 2018 fire seasons, insects, or disease.

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Forest can take care of itself

Letter by George Wuerthner
Payson Roundup
January 1, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

George Wuerthner

Your recent article supporting burning up our forests for biomass swallowed lock, stock and barrel, the Industrial Forestry Paradigm. As a fire ecologist, I continuously see the timber industry promoting misinformation about wildfire. First, numerous studies have shown that thinning the forest is ineffective and inefficient at preventing fires in communities. The Camp Fire that burned Paradise burned through an area that was logged just 10 years before. Most of the homes that burned down were not touched by the flames, rather it was wind-blown embers that caused them to burn to the ground. Furthermore, logging typically puts more fuel on the ground. A recent FS research paper documented that thinning put 2.7 times more fine fuels on the ground compared to untreated stands.

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Biomass mandate could save lives as well as the forest

By Pete Aleshire
Payson Roundup
January 1, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

Need another good reason to turn thickets of small trees into fuel for biomass power plants besides restoring a couple million acres of ponderosa pine forest to healthy conditions? How about saving thousands of human lives? Recent estimates suggest a projected, massive increase in wildfires nationwide will increase deaths due to things like asthma, lung disease and heart disease from about 15,000 annually to about 40,000 annually. The shocking link between wildfire smoke and deaths adds one more benefit to a plan to convert millions of tons of brush and small trees into electricity. The Arizona Corporation Commission is considering whether to require utilities to buy enough biomass to generate 90 kilowatts of electricity annually. Thinning 50,000 acres of ponderosa pine forests would provide enough fuel to do that — since the biomass too small for sawmills amounts to about 26 tons per acre.

 

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