Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: September 17, 2019

Today’s Takeaway

BC Forest Industry looks to a high-tech future

The Tree Frog Forestry News
September 17, 2019
Category: Today's Takeaway

The BC Council of Forest Industries released its plan for a strong, competitive future, as the gov’t prepares assistance for laid-off workers. In related news: BC’s stumpage system blamed for crisis; and Ontario’s Kenora sawmill curtailed indefinitely. Meanwhile: Chinese lumber imports are up; New Zealand log exports are down, the US economy faces headwinds; Canadian forestry stocks are up; and wood pallets are at risk in a post-Brexit world

In Wood Product news: Perkins+Will use mass timber to create a new office paradigm; while researchers seek product advancements via spider silkmicrofluidics and the self-shaping tendency of wood.

Finally, for some green activists, trees are the new black. Coal black.

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Business & Politics

COFI Releases Plan to Secure a Strong, Competitive Forestry Future

By Mina Laudan
Council of Forest Industries
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Vancouver, B.C. – The BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) today released a plan – “SmartFuture: A Path Forward for B.C.’s Forest Products Industry” – with 60 policy choices that can be made today to secure a stronger future for B.C.’s forest sector. …COFI and its member companies are actively participating in these discussions along with many other groups. …“B.C.’s forest industry is an industry in transition,” said Susan Yurkovich, President and CEO, BC Council of Forest Industries. …”we are putting forward our ideas for a path forward – one that will help attract investment, secure jobs, deliver value and sustain economic benefits across the province.” …The 60 choices for a better future are outlined under five major areas:

  1. Invest in, and protect, our working forest land base
  2. Have smart rules that protect the environment and encourage investment
  3. Strengthen participation of Indigenous people and partnerships with communities
  4. Double down on market and product diversification
  5. Be the global hub for expertise in low-carbon, green building

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B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

By Tom Fletcher
BC Local News
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

As the B.C. and federal governments prepare relief for laid-off forest industry workers, the industry is looking past shrinking log supplies and idle sawmills to following Europe’s path to a value-added future. BC Forests Minister Doug Donaldson and Labour Minister Harry Bains are announcing assistance for laid-off forest workers Tuesday in Prince George. Mill closures. …The B.C. Council of Forest Industries has issued a report called “Smart Future”. …Don Kayne is the new chair of COFI and CEO of Canfor Corp… said B.C. is in a similar position today to European producers 15 years ago, and Premier John Horgan’s commitment to feature wood in public construction is an important step. …“You’re seeing some brands get involved in our industry that never would have considered it before”. …“Microsoft, Google, Sidewalk Labs, Facebook, companies that in the past would probably not have looked at lumber as a product for their training centres.”

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B.C. finance minister facing her toughest test yet

By Keith Baldrey
The NewWestminster Record
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Carole James

Well, it looks like the economic wave the BC NDP government has been riding since coming to power two years ago is about to hit the beach. …It’s not so much about what is going on right now, but on what is about to come. Finance Minister Carole James has slashed her ministry’s forecast of economic growth in the current year by almost one third. …James preferred to take the “glass is full” approach at her news conference, stressing the budget is still headed to a surplus this year. …However, worrying signs abound. …Then there is the forest industry, which is the local economy for scores of small towns and communities outside of Metro Vancouver. So far, 6,000 forestry workers either have been laid off or have had to sit idle as their mills are shut down for weeks at a time.

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Stumpage system driving the crisis in BC’s forestry industry

By Karen Graham
Digital Journal
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Vancouver – High log prices and dwindling timber supply are driving the crisis in British Columbia’s forestry industry that has devastated communities and kneecapped the provincial economy. …With close to 4,000 forestry industry workers laid off in British Columbia already, advocates are calling for urgent government action to stem the bleeding. …Besides the increase in the number of wildfires, low harvest levels because of mountain pine beetles, an increase in protected areas for caribou, and high log prices, it seems the provincial government is not interested in “wholesale” changes to the stumpage system. …In a nutshell, the BC Forest Ministry says the current stumpage fees are based on the scarcity of the timber supply caused by the mountain pine beetle outbreak and has been “exacerbated by several severe fire seasons.” …”any interference in B.C.’s market-based timber pricing system would lead to an increase in softwood lumber duties levied by the U.S.,” the ministry said.

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Sikh millworker lodges human rights complaint against Interfor, again

By Tom Zytaruk
BC Local News in the Surrey Now-Leader
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

A Delta lumber mill worker’s complaint against Interfor alleging discrimination based on religion and disability will be heard by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. The tribunal rejected lumber giant Interfor’s application to have the complaint lodged by a former Sikh employee at Delta’s Acorn Mill dismissed. Mander Sohal filed his complaint against Interfor Corporation… claiming he was subjected to discrimination based on religion and physical disability before being fired from his job. …Sohal made national headlines in 2008 when he filed a human rights complaint against Interfor challenging a policy it implemented in 2007 requiring all employees to wear a hardhat. In that case Sohal, who wears a turban, also alleged religious discrimination and both parties settled with him being re-assigned a job in which he didn’t need to wear a hardhat.

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New timber license up to 444,000 m3, Hampton says

By Blair McBride
Burns Lake Lakes District News
September 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The size of the Conifex timber license that Hampton Lumber seeks to acquire could have an annual allowable cut (AAC) as large as 444,000 cubic metres. “But we expect that to be reduced somewhat through future actions by the Chief Forester,” as Steve Zika, Chief Executive Officer of Hampton Lumber told Lakes District News. To put that license size in perspective, the current AAC for the Lakes District Timber Supply Area is 1.6 million cubic metres. It was set in 2011 and the new determination is expected to made in the fall. Many people in the region are anxious that the new AAC might be significantly lower. Zika’s comments on the Conifex license come a few months after Hampton announced it planned to buy Conifex’ timber license and its sawmill in Fort St. James.

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Fort Frances mill owner says it needs ‘hundreds of millions’ in repairs

By Gary Rinne
Thunder Bay News Watch
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

FORT FRANCES, Ont. —  Resolute Forest Products said it spent almost $35 million to maintain its Fort Frances mill in a “hot idle” state after it was shut down in 2014. Despite that, the new owner of the mill says the paper machine and other infrastructure is in a state of serious deterioration. …Justus Veldman of Riversedge Developments said it would take an investment of “hundreds of millions” of dollars to get the mill and its equipment back in shape. “Every single wire in the place has condensate in it, meaning it all needs to be done. Every electric motor, every pump, every switchgear, every transformer needs to be either replaced or redone,” he said. Damaged equipment, Veldman said, includes the papermaking machine which he described as “seized and rusty.” Fort Frances Mayor June Caul isn’t taking Veldman at his word.

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Kenora sawmill suspends production indefinitely

The Thunder Bay News Watch
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

KENORA, Ont. — Kenora Forest Products is blaming a weak lumber market and American lumber duties for the indefinite shutdown of its sawmill operations. The shutdown will begin on Sept. 23, affecting about 115 employees. In a statement, the company said “the decision to curtail the operations is primarily based on sustained weak domestic and global lumber markets which are having a detrimental impact across the forestry industry.” …Kenora Forest Products stated that it had deferred the shutdown as long as it could out of consideration for its workers. Manager Glen Hansson said “we are very confident and optimistic that this is short-term,” but added “the market is going to dictate that.” Hansson indicated that the market rebound will have to be significant, however. 

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CO2 solutions announces the filing of a notice of intention to make a proposal to its creditors under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act

By CO2 Solutions Inc.
Yahoo Finance
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

QUEBEC CITY – CO2 Solutions Inc. announced that it has filed a notice of intention to make a proposal pursuant to the provisions of Part III of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. The filing of the Notice follows the review of the Corporation’s strategic alternatives by a committee… of significant cost overruns in connection with the completion of the CO2 capture unit located at the pulp mill of Resolute Forest Products in Saint-Félicien, Québec. At the recommendation of the Special Committee, the board of directors of the Corporation determined it would be in the best interest of the Corporation and all of its stakeholders for the Corporation to seek protection from its creditors, given the Corporation’s current financial position.

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Randall Brothers acquires PMC Building Materials

The LBM Journal
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

ATLANTA — Randall Brothers, now entering its 135th year in business as a supplier and manufacturer of architectural moldings, millwork and related building materials in the Southeastern US, completed its previously announced acquisition of Atlanta-based PMC Building Materials LLC on Aug. 21, 2019. In announcing the acquisition, the company said the combination will create a Southeastern professional dealer “with plans to leverage its unique offerings to better serve its most prominent customer segments, including custom home builders, remodelers and general contractors.” With five locations, the new company will have the ability to increase its focus and growth in the Metro Atlanta and surrounding markets, the company announced.

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Much accomplished, more to do

The Timber Trade Journal
September 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

Thomas Goebel, chief executive of German Timber Trade Federation GD Holz, was recently appointed the new secretary-general of the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF). His mission is to develop its role further as a voice to government, a communication platform and a plug into the global marketplace. …We must also underline the wider worth of timber and the timber sector, working with wood supporting initiatives across Europe and learning from the experience of other industries. …The timber sector across Europe, including the UK, whatever the outcome of Brexit, faces a lot of issues in a fast-changing world. We regret that the UK TTF decided to leave the ETTF, the European body representing the trade. But, regardless, we all need to work together.

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Forestry industry officials gloomy about log trade

By Eric Frykberg
Radio New Zealand
September 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

NEW ZEALAND — Forestry industry officials are still feeling gloomy about the log trade, ten weeks after a collapse in sales to China caused layoffs and left logging trucks lying idle. Volumes of log sales are still well down, but prices have inched up slightly, though to nothing like what they were. …China has long been New Zealand’s largest log market by far. But a sudden crunch in early July left New Zealand logs stranded on Chinese wharves, with buyers further inland reluctant to take on new product. …At the time, the price fall in China was estimated at 15 percent, but has since been revised to 25 percent. Forest Owners Association chief executive David Rhodes said there had been a marginal recovery in prices since then. 

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The lowly pallet could be highly problematic for Britain in a post-Brexit world

By Paul Waldie
The Globe and Mail
September 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

As Britain scrambles to prepare to leave the European Union as early as next month, one unlikely product has emerged as a symbol of the fear and frustration that surrounds Brexit: wooden pallets. …Once Britain leaves the EU, the country’s wooden pallets and crates will have to meet the bloc’s regulations on heat-treated wood. Those rules are based on a global standard adopted nearly 20 years ago designed to stop the spread of tree-eating insects. Britain has been exempt from the EU rules because it’s a member and because the island country doesn’t have the kind of bugs that cause horticultural havoc. …The fallout could be substantial since just about everything that’s shipped between Britain and the EU sits on a pallet at some point. …The rule dates back to early the 2000s, when forests in the United States and Canada were being ravaged by insects. [A Globe & Mail subscription is required to access the full story]

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Finance & Economics

It’s “time to buy the trees again; Raymond James

By David Leeder
The Globe and Mail
September 17, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada

Raymond James analyst Daryl Swetlishoff feels below-cost commodity pricing in the building materials sector is “unsustainable,” pointing to “encouraging” US homebuilding data and commentary as well as “material” curtailment-related shipment declines. Accordingly, Mr. Swetlishoff said it’s “time to buy the trees again.” …That led Mr. Swetlishoff to raise his ratings for a trio of stocks. [Interfor, West Fraser and Western Forest Products].

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Softwood lumber trade was up 5% in first half of 2019, with China reaching record-high imports in 2Q

By Wood Resources International
Lesprom Network
September 16, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, International

Softwood lumber trade was up 5% in the first half of 2019 on a worldwide basis, with China reaching record-high imports in the 2Q. …China imported almost eight million m3 of softwood lumber in the 2Q 2019, a new quarterly high. …The Nordic countries have steadily expanded their shipments to China over the past year and were the third largest suppliers behind Russia and Canada in the 2Q 2019. Import prices have trended downward for the past 18 months and in June hit their lowest levels since early 2016.

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Eight recession signals flash orange, none flash red

By Gregory Daco
The Hill
September 16, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

The U.S. economy is now in its longest but also its slowest expansion on record. While it has been growing for 123 months since June 2009, the pace of GDP growth has averaged only 2.3 percent. …Combined, these “longest” and “slowest” factors have brought back misguided fears that expansions “die of old age.” But while slow growth certainly exposes an economy to potential adverse shocks, long expansions are not more strongly correlated with recessions than shorter ones.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Perkins+Will Change the Office Paradigm

By Christele Harrouk
Arch Daily
September 16, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States, US West

Perkins+Will propose an innovative and resilient office building in Southeast Washington, D.C, created to survive calamities and withstand natural disasters. The project reinvestigates the relationships between humans and nature. Entitled “Revolution: Changing the Office Paradigm”, the project offers “power solutions in the event of an electric grid failure, clean water if water pressure fails, and construction that keeps the community dry in case of flooding”. …The building includes penthouse event spaces, active public retail and is very close to mass transit. On another hand, the materials used in this sustainable intervention are heavy timber and carbon sequesting concrete, laminated timber beams and columns, and sustainable chemical-free finishes. …Finally, the project is net-zero carbon, net-zero water, net-zero waste, and net-zero energy.

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Wood effect: Microfluidic devices made from wood

By Jon Evans
separationsNOW.com
September 16, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

Microfluidic chips have been made from several different materials, including glass, plastic and paper, but to this list can now be added a new material: wood. According to Govind Rao and his colleagues at the University of Maryland in the US, their novel wooden microfluidic chips offer several advantages over versions made from other materials. They’re cheaper and more environmentally friendly than chips made from glass or plastic, and they allow fluid flow to be manipulated in more complex ways than possible with those made of paper. “We were inspired to use wood during a hallway conversation, when we noticed one of the co-authors was wearing a watch with a wooden face,” Rao told separationsNOW. “While admiring the fine details in the watch, we wondered if wood could be a viable substrate for microfluidics.” …they fabricated a wooden chip for detecting the presence of microbes in environmental samples

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Mass-timber tower, already to be one of world’s highest, to get a little taller

By Nate Beck
The Daily Reporter
September 16, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

The planned Ascent tower in Milwaukee — which has long been on course to be one of the tallest buildings built with a timber frame — would get a little taller under a proposal before city officials. The project developer, New Land Enterprises, wants to add more units and floors, pushing the height of the structure up from 21 to 23 floors. …The proposal to add to the Ascent tower’s height won of the approval of Milwaukee’s Plan Commission on Sept. 9 and is now scheduled to go before the city’s Zoning Neighborhoods & Development Committee on Tuesday. City officials had initially approved the project last winter. Jason Korb told the city’s Plan Commission last week that the project developer was proposing changes mainly to add insulation to the building’s parking structure.

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Analysis of hygroscopic self-shaping wood at large scale for curved mass timber structures

By Philippe Grönquist, Dylan Wood, Mohammad M. Hassani, Falk K. Wittel, Achim Menges and Markus Rüggeberg
Science Advances
September 13, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

The growing timber manufacturing industry faces challenges due to increasing geometric complexity of architectural designs. Complex and structurally efficient curved geometries are nowadays easily designed but still involve intensive manufacturing and excessive machining. We propose an efficient form-giving mechanism for large-scale curved mass timber by using bilayered wood structures capable of self-shaping by moisture content changes. The challenge lies in the requirement of profound material knowledge for analysis and prediction of the deformation in function of setup and boundary conditions. Using time- and moisture-dependent mechanical simulations, we demonstrate the contributions of different wood-specific deformation mechanisms on the self-shaping of large-scale elements. Our results outline how to address problems such as shape prediction, sharp moisture gradients, and natural variability in material parameters in light of an efficient industrial manufacturing.

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Amazing New Material Combines Wood Fibers and Spider Silk

By Markus Linder, Aalto University
SciTechDaily
September 16, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

Achieving strength and extensibility at the same time has so far been a great challenge in material engineering: increasing strength has meant losing extensibility and vice versa. Now Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland researchers have succeeded in overcoming this challenge, inspired by nature. The researchers created a truly new bio-based material by gluing together wood cellulose fibers and the silk protein found in spider web threads. The result is a very firm and resilient material which could be used in the future as a possible replacement for plastic, as part of bio-based composites and in medical applications, surgical fibers, textile industry, and packaging. According to Aalto University Professor Markus Linder, nature offers great ingredients for developing new materials… The advantage with both of these materials is that, unlike plastic, they are biodegradable and do not damage nature the same way micro-plastic do.

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Forestry

“Enough smoke to blot out the starts”: Watching the world burn in British Columbia

By Naomi Klein
Vanity Fair
September 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, United States

The news from the natural world these days is mostly about water, and understandably so. We heard about the record-setting amounts of water that Hurricane Harvey dumped on Houston. …Yet, for large parts of North America, Europe, and Africa, the summer of 2017 was not about water at all. In fact, it was about its absence; about land so dry and heat so oppressive that forested mountains exploded into smoke like volcanoes. …For millions of people from California to Greenland, Oregon to Portugal, British Columbia to Montana, Siberia to South Africa, the summer of 2017 was the summer of fire. And more than anything else, it was the summer of ubiquitous, inescapable smoke. …Over the next week, British Columbia blazed through the record books. By mid-August, the fires had broken the provincial record for the most land burned in one year: 3,453 square miles. 

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The conflicting ideas of economy and ecology examined in Ellingsen’s work

By Mike Davies
The Campbell River Mirror
September 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Cortes Island photographer David Ellingsen has a fair bit of internal conflict as a proud, self-described environmentalist whose family history is in logging old growth trees. In fact, Ellingsen’s family name is attached to one of the historic leaps forward in west coast logging, the Ellingsen jack. …“But while my father was taking down and milling trees, he was also working towards getting a sustainable, eco-forestry program going on Cortes Island, putting the local community in charge of the rate of harvest on any public lands on the island,” Ellingsen says. “He was thinking not only about the present… but also looking towards the future and realizing that current system of forestry in B.C. and reflected all around the world, for the most part, is not sustainable for the long term.

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Report into massive B.C. wildfire forwarded for consideration of charges

Canadian Press in Victoria Times Colonist
September 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — The RCMP investigation into the cause of a massive wildfire that destroyed homes and charred nearly 2,000 square kilometres of land in British Columbia has now been passed to the BC Prosecution Service for consideration of charges. RCMP Sgt. Janelle Shoihet says the probe into the Elephant Hill blaze in 2017 was complex and lengthy. She says the prosecution service will make a determination about which, if any, charges may be appropriate. Details of the report examining the cause and origin of the blaze will not be released while charges are under consideration. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development told CFJC Today news that no charge approval decision had been made and no timeline had been set.

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Do log exports take away jobs in BC?

By Jim Hilton
The Quesnel Cariboo Observer
September 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

During a radio talk show about the forest industry problems, the topic of log exports came up again. The industry representative was adamant that log exports did not reduce jobs in B.C. …When it comes to exporting logs anywhere, the devil is in the details, and that is made apparent in an article entitled Waste Not, Want Not? Post-Harvest Residual Fibre by Jim Girvan in the Winter 2018 Truck Logger BC magazine. The author describes how more low-quality fibre needs to flow from the primary harvest. …Without a solution, mill closures and job loss may be on the horizon.” Girvan includes information on work done in the interior that may help. FPInnovations Fibre Supply group has developed a new guide to support those wanting to address the issue of how to best use residual material.

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Port Blandford mayor objects to province’s plans to use access road for forestry harvesting

By Jonathan Parsons
Cape Breton Post
September 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

PORT BLANDFORD, N.L. — Port Blandford Mayor Chad Holloway said the province’s most recent attempt to access nearby forest for harvesting is both against zoning regulations and dangerous on the highway through town. In an interview Holloway said he found out last month the department of fisheries and land resources wanted to approve harvesting activity in the area surrounding Port Blandford. The clearcutting debate has a storied history for the town. In the beginning of 2018, many residents of the area protested clearcutting and advocated the prevention of planned harvesting both inside and around Port Blandford boundaries. After many public consultations … the town of Port Blandford opted to rezone the areas within the town marked for cutting, and to prevent harvesters from using a resource road in the town to access the cabin country area near the outside of the town. It cited the road’s designated use did not allow for commercial forestry activity.

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Clemson program prepares women to manage the family forest land

By Jonathan Veit, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences
The Newsstand – Clemson University
September 16, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

CLEMSON – Clemson University Cooperative Extension is sponsoring a new statewide educational program designed to prepare family forest matriarchs for the reality that they could someday be left to make management decisions about their forestland. More than half of South Carolina’s 13 million acres of forestland is in private, non-industrial hands and owned and managed by 207,000 family forest owners. More than 80 percent of South Carolina forestland owners are 55 years old or older and the vast majority of them are men. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 80 percent of wives outlive their husbands. “It is all demographics. 

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

For Some Green Activists, Trees Are the New Black

By Michael Graham
Inside Sources
September 16, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: US East, United States

… “BURNED: Are Trees the New Coal” is a film by the Dogwood Alliance, a self-declared environmental activist group waging war on the forestry and timber industries with the message “The US must cut emissions, not forests.” “The rate and scale of logging in the Southeastern U.S. alone is approximately four times that of South American rainforests,” said Danna Smith, executive director of the Dogwood Alliance. “We don’t have time now for…industry delay tactics or green smoke screens. The large-scale industrial logging of forests in the U.S. poses one of the largest threats to climate progress.” The goal of the Dogwood Alliance… is to paint the forestry and timber industries as the clear-cutting equivalent of Big Oil. They argue harvesting trees endangers the planet and releases the carbon captured by forests… adding to global warming. Their only problem? Virtually all of their claims are factually dubious at best.

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Health & Safety

In light of Friday’s tragedy, New Democrats can scarcely ignore Bamfield Road report

By Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun
September 16, 2019
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada, Canada West

VICTORIA — A dozen years have passed since B.C. forest safety ombudsman Roger Harris got an earful about safety on the forest road linking Bamfield to the outside world. …The ombudsman flagged the growing risks on B.C.’s forest roads in No Longer the Road Less Travelled, a report he produced for the non-profit Forest Safety Council in early 2008. Harris was concerned that as forestry declined on the B.C. coast, logging roads, however narrow and rough, were being used more and more by tourists, campers and other travellers. …The safety ombudsman made 17 recommendations, the prime one being that the province should take over responsibility from the forest companies for critically important links like the one to Bamfield. …his report was greeted with zero enthusiasm by the then-Liberal government. Especially dismissive was Forests Minister Rich Coleman. …Responding Monday to the bus accident, the New Democrats said as little as possible.

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Forest Fires

Indonesia ‘doing everything’ to put out forest fires: President Widodo

Channel News Asia
September 17, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

PEKANBARU: Indonesia is battling forest fires causing toxic haze across southeast Asia with aircraft, artificial rain and even prayer, President Joko Widodo said during a visit to a hard-hit area. Forest fires are raging on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, sending a choking fug across the region – including towards neighbours Malaysia and Singapore. During a visit to Riau province in central Sumatra on Tuesday, Widodo said nearly 6,000 troops had been sent to hot spots to help put out fires. “We have made every effort,” he said. …The toxic smoke caused by deliberate burning to clear land for plantations is an annual problem for Indonesia and its neighbours, but has been worsened this year by particularly dry weather.

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Indonesia sends more people, aircraft to battle forest fires

The Associated Press in the Times and Democrat
September 17, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s president traveled to the area hardest hit by forest fires, as neighboring countries urged his government to do more to tackle the blazes that have spread a thick, noxious haze around Southeast Asia. President Joko Widodo flew to Riau province, where nearly 50,000 hectares have burned, to encourage authorities to get the haze under control. Widodo told reporters Tuesday in the provincial capital, Pekanbaru, that about 5,600 additional military personnel have been deployed to help the 9,000 people currently fighting the fires, which have razed more than 328,700 hectares (812,000 acres) of land nationwide. Forestry and Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said the ministry is investigating 370 plantation companies suspected of intentionally setting fires.

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