Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: August 21, 2019

Today’s Takeaway

Lumber sales remain flat despite improving housing market

The Tree Frog Forestry News
August 21, 2019
Category: Today's Takeaway

Lumber sales remain flat despite steady improvement in the US housing market. In related US news: custom home construction trends lower; commercial and multifamily starts vary by city, and previously owned homes sales reach a five-month high

In other Business news: Home Depot and Lowe’s buoyed despite low lumber prices; Fort Frances lobbies for Resolute’s wood supply; Fort St. James, BC extends financial crisis; and resilience key to surviving BC’s forest sector downturn.

In Forestry news: Canada’s newest national park; BC’s mule dear winter range enhancement; Oregon’s conifer drought damage; California’s slow start to the wildfire season; and record wildfires in the Amazon.

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor 

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Business & Politics

Stay resilient, find opportunity amid slumping forestry sector

Edwina Nearhood, 30-years of experience in the appraisal industry, Fort St. John
Kamloops Matters
August 20, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

B.C. forests have been hit hard in so many ways, from past years’ fires, timber supply, allowable cut, pine beetle, spraying, caribou protection plans, tariffs, loss of a softwood lumber agreement, political pressures, and more. Systems are designed for the outcomes achieved. Our forests are in trouble — environmentally and systemically. How does every facet work together to achieve a balance in the industry? Globalization is also a contributor to these opposing market forces. …Northern economies are very dependent on forestry. …We have a strong community and we are resilient. Contractors will need to react quickly to remain competitive for a smaller market share. Larger organizations will need to downsize to cut unnecessary costs. The fallout in the community trickles into the service shops, the supply stores and retail sector. It is a time for tightening the belt and spending less for the forest industry and their employees.

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Fort St. James extends Financial Crisis

By Ethan Ready
My Prince George Now
August 19, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Bev Playfair, Mayor of Fort St James, along with the District of Fraser-Fort St James has been left with no option. Last Friday (Aug. 16) would have marked 30 days since the financial crisis had initially been implemented, however, the decision to extend it has been made. Melany Helmer, Chief Administrative Officer for the District of Fraser-Fort St James, told MyPGNowthat Playfair and the council don’t feel their concerns raised have been addressed by the provincial and federal government. …The District has been calling for support to the workers and businesses that have been impacted by the closure of the Conifex sawmill, as well as the current situation surrounding the lumber market and its instability. At the time of it being announced, it was said that 226 workers were directly impacted by the sawmill’s closure. Conifex announced in June that they plan to sell the sawmill to Hampton Lumber for $39 million.

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Fishermen’s groups seek candidates’ stance on Nova Scotia pulp effluent

The Guardian Charlottetown
August 21, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

A coalition of Maritime fishing associations that oppose plans by a Nova Scotia pulp mill to discharge effluent into the Northumberland Strait is bringing their concerns into the federal election campaign. In a joint statement released Monday, the coalition says it will be seeking the position of all local federal election candidates on Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent pipeline. …“Exploration of effluent treatment options that allow the mill and fishery to co-exist in a sustainable manner for the future, preserving jobs in both the fishing and forestry sectors is a preferred outcome but not at the expense of the fishery in this region. We are not interested in tearing communities apart but rather maintaining viable and profitable communities in every sector,” the groups’ joint statement said, insisting support for a land-based treatment facility is the responsible option.

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Fort Frances lobbies two cabinet ministers over wood supply

By Gary Rinne
Thunder Bay News Watch
August 20, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

OTTAWA — A delegation from Fort Frances sat down Tuesday in Ottawa to discuss the future of the former Resolute pulp and paper mill with two influential members of the provincial cabinet. Mayor June Caul, Chief Administrative Officer Doug Brown and two councillors met with Natural Resources and Forestry Minister John Yakabuski and Northern Development Minister Greg Rickford. …In a statement, the Fort Frances delegation said the ministers expressed interest in working with the town and other stakeholders “to put in place a process to determine the wood fibre needs of current and future forest industry participants in the district.” The lack of a wood supply will prevent any possibility the mill can resume production under a new owner. …Coun. Douglas Judson said the ministers are looking at the tools available to them to ensure the regional wood supply can support communities in the Rainy River district.

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Ellison’s home improvement at Lowe’s is paying off

By Michelle Chapman
The Associated Press
August 21, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

Lowe’s blew past second quarter profit expectations, buoyed by strong demand for spring goods and sales to contractors. Even though the home improvement retailer wrestled with lower lumber prices and rough spring weather, CEO Marvin Ellison said Lowe’s saw growth in same-store sales across the U.S. …“We are confident that we are on the right path to capitalize on solid demand in a healthy home improvement market,” he said. Ellison, a one-time Home Depot executive who took the top job at Lowe’s last year, is trying to reshape the culture at the home improvement retailers. Wall Street likes what he’s doing. …On Tuesday rival Home Depot also beat second quarter profit expectations, but the company cut its full-year sales forecast on declining lumber prices and the potential impact tariffs may have on its customers.

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Execs starting to worry about tariffs’ effects on consumers

By Michelle Chapman and Josh Boak
The Washington Post
August 20, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

…Corporate America is starting to worry out loud that President Donald Trump’s tariffs will depress consumer spending and undermine the economy. Home Depot, the nation’s largest home improvement chain, said as much on Tuesday, when it reported higher-than-expected profits for the quarter but cut its sales expectations for the year, citing the tumbling price of lumber and the “potential impacts to the U.S. consumer arising from recently announced tariffs.” …But housing starts have tumbled 3.1% so far this year, according to the Census Bureau. This has reduced demand for lumber and caused wood prices to tumble roughly 20% over the past 12 months, according to government figures.

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Domtar Plymouth Paper Mill to stay in Martin County, N.C.

By Tyler Hardin and Sydney Basden
WCTI NewsChannel 12
August 19, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

PLYMOUTH, Martin County — New economic incentives are keeping one of Martin County’s largest manufacturers and taxpayers in the area. The Domtar Plymouth Paper Mill is staying in Martin County, according to city officials. Martin County Manager David Bone says it took nearly a year for the county and the company to reach an agreement, which comes with incentives for the mill. He says county commissioners passed the economic incentives last week. The incentives, according to Bone, are essentially a tax cut. The company must invest $90 million into the Domtar plant, but 70 percent of the taxes on the investment will be reimbursed. He also says the incentive comes with stipulations. If the mill closes within the next eight years, the money must be paid back. The deal is also off if the plant does not employ 30 full-time employees with $64,000 salaries.

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A Belfast startup paid nearly $2M for this abandoned paper mill

By Lori Valigra
Bangor Daily News
August 20, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

A Belfast startup said Tuesday it has secured the former Madison Paper Industries mill in a nearly $2 million deal that could be an economic boost for the area. The town lost its paper mill three years ago, when more than 200 workers lost their jobs. GO Lab, a building products manufacturing startup, plans to make wood fiber insulation from softwood chips that it claims will be renewable, recyclable, nontoxic and perform as well or better than products now on the market. It expects the price of the chips to be competitive with existing insulation. “The primary insulation products in the home are based on fossil fuels, which produce cyanide when they burn,” said Josh Henry, president of GO Lab. “That has made residential houses and buildings so dangerous to firemen.” …Henry said 96 percent of his company’s insulation will be made from softwood reclaimed from the refuse from board cutting, so it will be safer.

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Shanying to build new recycled pulp mill in the US

EUWID Pulp and Paper
August 19, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

Chinese paper group Shanying International Holdings is continuing to invest in the USA – a market that the company only recently entered. According to a news release from the state of Kentucky, Shanying’s US subsidiary Phoenix Paper wants to install a new recycled pulp mill with a capacity of 700,000 tpy in Wickliffe. The company put the investment sum at $220m. The Kentucky state government, which will likely provide Phoenix Paper with financial support in the form of tax incentives, said that the project will create 150 new jobs and construction work is slated to begin before the year’s end. The project is reportedly set for completion within 14-18 months. Shanying bought the Wickliffe site from Verso Corporation last autumn and renamed it Phoenix Paper.

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Finance & Economics

A slow-selling lumber market continued through mid-August

By Madison’s Lumber Reporter
Wood Business – Canadian Forest Industries
August 20, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, United States

…Madison’s quotes a large-volume North America softwood lumber trader in describing this mid-summer 2019 construction framing wood demand as a “s-lumber” market. As further sawmill curtailments were announced, specifically (again) in BC, many lumber-selling players literally took the beginning of August off “gone fishin’.” The latest housing starts data out of the U.S. continued to show steady improvement, providing zero insight into why lumber sales are so uninspired.

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U.S. Sales of Previously Owned Homes Rise to Five-Month High

By Reade Pickert
Bloomberg Markets
August 21, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

Sales of previously owned US homes increased in July to a five-month high, underscoring stability in the residential real estate market that may be starting to get a boost from falling borrowing costs. Contract closings rose 2.5% to a 5.42 million annual rate.  …The median sales price increased 4.3% from a year earlier to $280,800.

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First Half 2019 Commercial and Multifamily Construction Starts Show Varied Pattern by Top Metropolitan Areas

Dodge Data & Analytics
August 21, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics

During the first half of 2019, six of the top ten U.S. metropolitan markets for commercial and multifamily construction starts ranked by dollar volume registered greater activity compared to a year ago, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Of the top twenty markets, thirteen were able to register gains. At the U.S. level, the volume of commercial and multifamily construction starts during the first half of 2019 was $101.4 billion, down 6% from last year’s $107.4 billion.

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Share of Custom Home Construction Remains Flat

By Jann Swanson
Mortgage Daily News
August 20, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics

Residential construction has been famously slow for several years and some new analysis by NAHB shows that the lack of robustness is shared in the custom home sector. Dietz says the last four quarters… down 1.7 percent compared to the prior four quarters (172,000). As measured on a one-year moving average, the market share of custom home building in terms of total single-family starts is now 20 percent, down from a cycle high of 31.5 percent set during the second quarter of 2009.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Flat-packed cities: wooden skyscrapers sprout over concrete concerns

By Rina Chandran
Reuters in the National Post
August 20, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, International

HONG KONG – For more than a century, countries have raced to build the world’s tallest buildings with concrete and steel. Now, a quiet contest in constructing tall wooden buildings… underlines growing environmental concerns over concrete. With rapid advances in engineered wood, and authorities relaxing building codes, wooden structures are sprouting across Europe, Canada, the United States, and in the Asia Pacific region. …“The interest is definitely being driven by environmental concerns” said John Hardy, a sustainability expert in Bali, Indonesia. …Concrete is also blamed for rampant sand mining. …Authorities in several U.S. states are exploring the use of carbon-injected concrete that will use less cement while trapping carbon emissions. Meanwhile, policy initiatives are hastening the move to wood from steel and concrete. In New Zealand… British Columbia… Tasmania have adopted a “wood first” or “wood encouragement” policy. …Japan has a law to promote use of wood in public materials.

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The solution to Britain’s housing crisis

By David Hopkins, director Confederation of Timber Industries
Timber Trades Journal
August 21, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

David Hopkins

There is near universal agreement that the UK is in a housing crisis …Along with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Timber Industries (APPG), the CTI is bringing together experts from across the timber supply chain to investigate how timber can help solve Britain’s housing crisis. …For the timber industry, delivering to the scale needed remains a challenge. There are potential supply issues which could arise from Brexit, a ticking ‘time bomb’ in the size and demographics of the industries workforce which, as the Farmer Review identifi ed, could see a 20-25% decline in available labour force within a decade, and of course regulatory issues following the Grenfell Tower fi re. However, there are also opportunities. …Only through political willpower, understanding, and a partnership between government and industry, will we be able to reach both our housing and emissions targets.

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Forestry

Canada Invests in the Future of Intact Boreal Forests

By Jennifer Skene
Natural Resource Defense Council
August 20, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada

Canada has delivered on a promise that will benefit Canadians and people around the world for generations to come. With the announcement of a CAD $175 million commitment to fund 67 conservation initiatives, the Canadian government has invested in a more sustainable, healthier future by protecting some of its treasured landscapes, including in the boreal forest. As logging and other industrial development continue to chisel away at globally important intact boreal forests, this announcement takes a critical step toward protecting these forests for the benefit of all. …Canada has lagged on its commitments to protect the boreal forest… Under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Canada pledged to safeguard 17 percent of its lands and inland waters by 2020. …Yesterday, the government announced that $175 million of this will go to fund conservation projects across every province and territory. While this won’t get Canada across the 17% finish line, it’s a promising start.

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Caribou recovery plan still deeply flawed

By Dan Davies, MLA Peace River North
Energetic City
August 20, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Dan Davies

On April 15, Premier John Horgan appointed former BC Liberal MLA Blair Lekstrom as a Community Liaison tasked with engaging residents of the Peace Region and reviewing a pre-negotiated Partnership Agreement on caribou recovery. Up until this point, the NDPs caribou recovery plan was in serious trouble. Negotiations had been held behind closed doors exclusively between the federal and provincial governments, and the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations. The broader community quickly discovered that that Horgan’s so-called consultation process amounted to little more than a public- relations campaign designed as an after-thought. …Lekstrom’s forthright and blunt assessment indicated that the draft agreement excluded 97 percent of the people who live, work and recreate in the region, and as such was doomed to fail. …The real danger here is the simmering racial tensions left in the wake of the Partnership Agreement.

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Vernon teen leads protest against Tolko Industries

By Dominika Lirette
CBC News
August 20, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

A 16-year-old teen joined forces with the climate advocacy group he helped co-found, Earth Strike Vernon, to hold a protest on Monday outside of Tolko Industries’ head office in Vernon. Kieran Grandbois along with some group members protested, because they are concerned about the lumber company’s proposition to log an area about 500 metres away from one of the North Okanagan city’s water supply sources at Duteau Creek. …In a statement, Tolko said: “We all depend on the Duteau Creek Watershed for our water supply. This is why Tolko has worked hard to develop a good relationship with the Duteau Creek Watershed Technical Advisory Committee and the Regional District.” The area of concern is in the planning stages and must still go through more assessments.

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‘What our ancestors meant:’ Canada, First Nations create new park reserve

The Canadian Press in the Coast Reporter
August 21, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

LUTSEL K’E, N.W.T. — A deal on a vast new national park reserve in the North is being called a model for future relationships between First Nations and Canada. …Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories… protects 26,376 square kilometres of pristine waters and healthy forest in and around the east arm of Great Slave Lake. …It is to be co-managed by Parks Canada and the Lutsel K’e First Nation. Neighbouring communities will have a role in developing the park plan. …It’s the way of the future, said federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna — especially if Canada is to meet its internationally promised target of 17 per cent of its land under protection by 2020. …Thaidene Nene brings Canada’s inventory of protected areas to just over 12 per cent, an increase of two percentage points under the Liberal government.

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Mule Deer Winter Range Enhancement and Wildfire Risk Mitigation Project Sees Positive Outcomes in Williams Lake Community Forest

Forest Enhancement Society of BC
August 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Pre- and post-treatment forest

Williams Lake, BC—The Williams Lake Community Forest (WLCF) is situated in two separate geographic areas around the City of Williams Lake covering a total of 288 square kilometres. As a 50/50 partnership between the Williams Lake Indian Band and the City of Williams Lake, the community forest is a vital resource having contributed both financial support as well as employment opportunities into the communities since 2014. Work to protect this asset from wildfire while enhancing Mule Deer Winter Range attributes through a project funded by the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC) is ongoing. “This project is critical to our community forest,” said Kent Watson of C+P Management Ltd., the company that manages the WLCF. …“Through this funding, we identified over 60 hectares of treatment areas and completed the density reduction work while lowering the fuel loading and fire hazard rating for these areas,” said Watson.

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Wolastoqew loggers face charges of unauthorized timber harvesting in New Brunswick

By Nic Meloney
CBC News
August 21, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

Three members of a First Nations firewood harvesting association are facing charges in New Brunswick provincial court Wednesday of illegally harvesting timber from Crown lands.  One of the men charged, Patrick Paul of St. Mary’s First Nation in Fredericton, was the subject of an investigation earlier this year by New Brunswick conservation officers. At the time, Paul said he believed the officers were targeting his clients to eliminate the market for First Nations harvested firewood, and by not charging him, were deliberately disallowing him the chance to use Aboriginal rights in a court defence. The Wabanaki Loggers, most of whom run individual firewood operations, harvest the timber from areas of western New Brunswick in their traditional Wolastoqew territory, without provincial logging licences.

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Western Oregon conifers continue to show damage from drought

By Kym Pokorny
The Oregonian
August 20, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

CORVALLIS – Even though we’ve had a mild summer, conifers in Oregon are still getting hit hard by several years of drought, to the point that many are dying. “Beginning in 2013-14, we started to see significant impact on Doug-firs in western Oregon,” said Dave Shaw, a forest health specialist with Oregon State University Extension Service. “Since evidence of drought often doesn’t show up until the following spring, we are still experiencing problems from the last several dry years.” It’s past the point of just Doug firs dying. Many conifers, including western red cedar, incense cedar, grand fir and even valley ponderosa pine are succumbing, as well. …People don’t think about watering big trees, Shaw noted, but that’s the best method to prevent death or possibly bring a not-too-stressed tree back to health.

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Idaho officials OK big increase in logging state lands

Associated Press in the Idaho Statesman
August 20, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Idaho officials are increasing logging on state lands by more than 30 percent and plan to build a seed orchard in northern Idaho to plant trees to replace those cut down. The Idaho Land Board on Tuesday voted to ramp up harvest on the state’s forests over a four-year span to bring in about $20 million more annually for beneficiaries, mainly public schools. Officials with the Idaho Department of Lands told Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little and other Land Board members that a better method of inventorying the state’s timber holdings found significantly more timber available for cutting. The Lands Department says cutting mature stands will reduce the risk of loss due to disease, insects and wildfires.

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California Wildfire Season Is Off to Slow Start

By Jim Carlton
The Wall Street Journal
August 20, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

SAN FRANCISCO — California is off to one of its slowest wildfire seasons in years, giving firefighters and fire-prone communities a much-needed break after last year’s huge and destructive infernos. As of Aug. 18, just 24,579 wildland acres have burned so far this year compared with 621,784 at the same time last year, according to Cal Fire. Emergency officials attribute the quieter year, in part, to a wet, cool spring that has tamped down wildfire activity across much of the West. Fire scientists say a return to abundant precipitation the past few years following prolonged drought has helped replenish forest moisture from New Mexico to Idaho. But they warn that the tinder-dry autumn months—when fires in California historically rage at their worst—are around the corner. …A new state record was also set in terms of total land burned on state and federal land: 1.7 million acres. [a WSJ subscription is required to access the full story]

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Is this the world’s cleanest pellet plant?

BC Local News
August 20, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: Canada, Canada West

Terrace’s new pellet plant is attracting international attention as the transition continues from fossil fuel dependence to more sustainable energy sources. Skeena BioEnergy’s $20 million facility on the west side of Skeena Sawmills is aiming to establish itself as a green energy alternative, using the most modern machinery to minimize emissions and safety risks. Recent regulations from the Ministry of Environment require biomass pellet plants to have the best technology available, meaning everything at the Skeena pellet plant is state-of-the-art. …At full capacity, the pellet plant itself is expected to create an additional 22 to 25 jobs. But the relationship it has with Skeena Sawmills also creates more job opportunities, Johnston says. …Industry experts say both Japan and South Korea are expected to drive most of the demand, due to new policies and projects dedicated to wood pellet electrical consumption.

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UBC plots $20.4-million expansion of emissions-reducing bioenergy heating plant

By Derrick Penner
Vancouver Sun
August 20, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: Canada, Canada West

The University of B.C. is going to spend $20.4 million to expand a wood-waste-burning energy plant, with $7.6 million in federal help, to cut natural-gas use and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. UBC built its initial biomass-fuelled research and demonstration facility in 2012, with Vancouver-based bioenergy firm Nexterra Systems and General Electric, as a $27-million bid to trim carbon dioxide emissions by 4,500 tonnes per year. Now, the $20-million expansion will see installation of a new boiler by the fall of 2020, increasing the plant’s capacity to generate 70 per cent of the hot water needed in UBC’s district energy system, reducing its natural-gas use by half and cutting CO2 emissions by 14,500 tonnes per year. …The plant gets its wood waste from a fuel consolidator that draws from more than 100 sources, Woodson said. However, they were surprised to learn that among those the three biggest sources were furniture manufacturing, sawmill waste and the gardening wood waste from municipalities.

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​How biomass helps farmers make the most of ‘waste wood’

Mother Nature Network
August 19, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, International

Trees are an important part of any farm. They reduce erosion and flooding, absorb air pollutants, provide habitat for insect-eating birds, and cast shade to help livestock stay cool. …In some cases, however, this kind of “waste wood” can hold hidden value as a source of biomass energy. It may only be a small splinter of the overall biomass market, and it won’t save the world from climate change, but it’s still a potentially useful resource for farmers, rural economies and the ecosystems that support all of us. …In the meantime, it could also provide valuable benefits for farmers. And while waste wood may only be a small part of that, at a time when climates and economies are undergoing dramatic change around the world, many farmers need all the help they can get.

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Forest Fires

A record number of wildfires are burning in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest

CBC News
August 21, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

Wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest have hit a record number this year, with 72,843 fires detected so far by Brazil’s space research centre, as concerns grow over right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policy. The surge marks an 83 per cent increase over the same period of 2018, the agency said on Tuesday, and is the highest since records began in 2013. …The unprecedented surge in wildfires has occurred since Bolsonaro took office in January vowing to develop the Amazon region for farming and mining, ignoring international concern over increased deforestation. Brazilian President said on a Facebook Live session that non-governmental organizations could be burning down the Amazon rainforest to bring shame on his government after he cut their funding.

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