Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily news for October 18 2019

Today’s Takeaway

Pinnacle pellet deal with Japan good news but is it sustainable?

The Tree Frog Forestry News
October 18, 2019
Category: Today's Takeaway

BC applauds Pinnacle’s pellet deal with Japan for its value-added and clean energy aspects, while others wonder if there’s enough wood waste to go around given sawmill closures. In other Business news: builders remain upbeat despite drop in US housing starts; Western Forest Products and the USW are back in mediation; and Weyerhaeuser’s ex-finance manager is charged with theft

In Wood Product news: prefabricated wood-frame construction boosts mid-rise affordability in BC, the US Congress and EU eye wood buildings as a carbon sink; and watchmaker Swatch’s Swiss headquarters is a head-turner. Meanwhile: critics speak out on BC’s wolf kill; Trump’s plan to log the Tongass; and Indonesia’s palm forest recovery program; and scientists point to downside of tree planting as a solution to climate change.

Finally, microscopic mites as a biological weapon against the bark beetle.

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Business & Politics

Pinnacle inks deal with Japan for wood pellets

By Nelson Bennett
Business in Vancouver
October 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Rob McCurdy

A contract signed today with a Japanese company will boost exports of wood fuel pellets from B.C. by 5%, says Premier John Horgan. The question – will there be enough wood waste to meet the increased production, if sawmills in B.C. continue to shut down. Secondary processors …rely on wood waste from sawmills, which have been falling like dominoes in B.C. …“…there’s a bright, bright future for forestry,” Horgan said. The present isn’t so rosy, however. A lack of wood fibre put a serious dent in Pinnacle’s production and share value recently. …Jim Girvan, a forestry consultant, has estimated that 13 sawmills will need to close in B.C, due to a long-term decline in the annual allowable cut. …Since sawmills provide pulp mills and other secondary producers, like wood pellet makers, with wood waste, there are fears that that is the next segment of B.C.’s forestry sector that could be hit with curtailments or closures.

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Value-added forest exports create new opportunities for B.C. forest workers

By the Office of the Premier
Government of British Columbia
October 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The Government of British Columbia welcomed a long-term export contract for B.C. forest products that will create long-term stable jobs for forest workers and forest-dependent communities. Premier John Horgan joined Robert McCurdy, CEO of Pinnacle Renewable Energy, and Fumiaki Miyamoto, president and CEO, Mitsui & Co (Canada) Ltd., as they signed a contract that will see Pinnacle export 100,000 tonnes of industrial wood pellets to Japan annually… The contract will generate significant new revenue for B.C.’s economy. …“The end of the mountain pine beetle harvest and low lumber prices, and the ongoing Canada/U.S. trade dispute are creating real uncertainty in many interior communities,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests. “But the value of wood pellet exports continues to grow, and I believe that as forest companies and communities come together to map out their futures, value-added wood products like mass timber and industrial wood pellets will become more important.”

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Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

By Tom Fletcher
BC Local News
October 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Japan’s major buyer for B.C. wood pellet fuel has increased its contract with Pinnacle Renewable Energy to 100,000 tonnes per year, a bright spot for B.C.’s troubled forest industry. Pinnacle, with production facilities across the B.C. Interior, signed a new contract Thursday with Mitsui and Co., which uses the wood pellets to fire a new biomass energy project in Japan. The contract was signed at a ceremony in Vancouver, with representatives of the companies and Premier John Horgan. “Contracts such as this will allow Pinnacle to expand operations, to hire more people and to build the type of British Columbia that we all want,” Horgan said. “It means that we can take the wood waste that used to sit on the forest floor and lead to some of the wildest fires in recent memory, and we can take that fibre and put it to useful economic benefit.”

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Pinnacle Renewable Energy Announces New Off-take Contract in Japan

By Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc.
Cision Newswire
October 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

VANCOUVER – Pinnacle Renewable Energy announced that it has entered into a new long-term, take-or-pay off-take contract with Mitsui & Co. Ltd. in Japan. Under the terms of the contract, Pinnacle will supply 100,000 metric tons per annum of industrial wood pellets to Mitsui beginning in Q3 2023. The industrial wood pellets will be used by a biomass power generation plant in Japan. …”Our growing order book in Japan underscores both Japan’s strong commitment to decarbonization and the strength of our competitive position in this market. We are also pleased to support the B.C. economy through our growing exports of industrial wood pellets to Asia,” said Robert McCurdy, Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle. “I am excited about this new partnership between Pinnacle Renewable Energy and Mitsui & Co, which uses B.C. wood waste to generate good jobs in B.C. and power clean, renewable electricity in Japan,” said John Horgan, Premier of B.C.

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STRIKE: Western Forest Products and United Steel Workers are back at the table for mediation

By Tyson Whitney
Victoria News
October 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Western Forest Products and the United Steel Workers Local 1-1937 (USW) are back at the table trying to hammer out an agreement that will hopefully end the workers’ strike that has been going on since the beginning of July. Brian Butler, President, USW Local 1-1937, issued a press release on Oct. 17 confirming that the union’s bargaining committee is “currently involved in mediation with Western Forest Products.” Butler added the parties have agreed to a media blackout while mediation is underway, and there will be “no further updates until either an agreement is reached or one party or the other breaks off talks.” The workers have been on strike since July1, 2019.

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Council to keep tabs on rural fund commitment

BC Local News
October 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Shane Brienen

Houston mayor Shane Brienen says he and council will be keeping watch on the provincial government’s promise to revive its Rural Dividend Fund. News that the province diverted $25 million from the program to help finance its recently-announced $69 million package to aid workers affected by samill operating cutbacks or closures resulted in wide-spread criticism last week among local governments who had applied for money. “Rural communities have collectively been pressuring minister Donaldson on this file,” said Brienen. …The diversion of money from the rural dividend program to the forest worker aid package shelved several local applications for money. …Meanwhile, B.C. Liberal MLA John Rustad who represents the Nechako Lakes riding which includes Houston slammed the diversion decision.

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On topic: Forestry woes in the B.C. Interior

Kamloops This Week
October 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Kamloops This Week has questioned Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo candidates on a number of topics. Next on the list is FORESTRY WOES IN THE B.C. INTERIOR as we ask those who seek to be MP. Q: Many communities are in the midst of an economic crisis. While forestry itself is a provincial responsibility, an issue like the softwood lumber dispute is a federal role. What, if anything, can Ottawa do to help the situation that has so many towns and employees facing a dire future? Read more to see candidate answers…

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Ex-Weyerhaeuser finance manager charged with fraud, theft

The Associated Press in the Seattle Times
October 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

PORTLAND, Oregon — Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against an ex-finance manager from Weyerhaeuser who is accused of stealing at least $4.5 million from the timber business. 60-year-old Susan Tranberg is charged with mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. …Tranberg also faces a temporary restraining order in federal court, barred from liquidating or transferring any of her assets at Weyerhaeuser’s request. …“Tranberg offered to give up her 12 weeks of banked vacation pay, retirement and 401K to try to make things right. Weyerhaeuser in February referred the fraud case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gavin W. Bruce says Tranberg defrauded the company for about 15 years.

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A giant Finnish timber mill explores sustainable forestry

The Economist
October 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

In Finland’s vast forest lives a monster with a voracious appetite. Once, it would have been called a pulp mill. But after a recent makeover costing €1.2bn ($1.3bn) it is now known as a bioproducts mill—and as such is one of the biggest in the world. This sprawling plant, near Äänekoski, a town in the centre of the country, consumes 6.5m cubic metres of wood a year. That translates into the delivery of a large lorryload of felled tree trunks every six minutes, day and night, together with yet further logs arriving on 70 railway wagons a day. Apart from a brief break for maintenance once a year, the mill never stops working. …Metsä Group, which operates the Äänekoski mill is ultimately controlled by a co-operative belonging to more than 100,000 families who have each owned large chunks of the forest for generations. For every tree harvested, four saplings are planted. 

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Finance & Economics

Builders Remain Upbeat Despite a Big Drop in Housing Starts

FX Street
October 17, 2019
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, United States

New home construction continues to gain traction, despite… a 9.4% drop in overall starts in September. All of last month’s drop was in multifamily, which likely reflects growing caution on the part of lenders and developers amid slowing job growth and this past summer’s inverted yield curve-fueled recession scare. …While apartment construction is showing signs of topping out, single-family appears to be regaining momentum. Single-family starts rose 0.3% in September to a 918,000-unit pace, marking their fourth consecutive increase and the highest level since January.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

How wood boosts affordability, value and innovation

By David Wylie
The Journal of Commerce
October 18, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, Canada West

VANCOUVER – Project manager Paul Warwick is proud of King Edward Villa, a seventy-seven-unit rental project achieving LEED® Platinum status in East Vancouver that Performance Construction built—it’s six storeys high and was built entirely using prefabricated wood-frame construction. It was a pioneering project, launched not long after city building code amendments increased the allowable height of wood-frame residential construction to six storeys. …More multi-family developers are discovering that the innovative use of wood and mass-timber construction doesn’t just save money, it can be an advantage that sets you apart in a sea of condos that begin to all look the same. …In the case of King Edward Villa, Warwick and his team introduced double-insulated prefabricated walls and floor trusses to the project. Those techniques boosted energy efficiency significantly and helped the project achieve LEED Platinum certification, all the while keeping costs down. 

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The world’s largest 3D printer spits out a 5,000 pound boat made from wood

By Robert Dalheim
Woodworking Network
October 17, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

ORONO, Maine – Federal and state officials, business executives, and officials from the University of Maine gathered last week to witness the university’s latest achievement: The world’s largest 3D-printed object from the world’s largest 3D printer. A 25-foot, 5,000 pound boat made from CNF, a wood-based plastic. “Maine is the most forested state in the nation, and now we have a 3D printer big enough to make use of this bountiful resource,” said Sen. Angus King. “Today marks the latest innovative investment in Maine’s forest economy, which will serve to increase sustainability, advance the future of biobased manufacturing and diversify our forest products industry.” …Printing with 50 percent wood promises to open new markets for the pulp, paper and forest products industries, says UMaine. As a forest product, CNF could rival steel properties, and its successful incorporation into plastics shows great promise for a renewable feedstock suitable for additive manufacturing, says UMaine. 

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Congress eyes buildings as carbon emissions driver

By Wes Wolfe
The Brunswick News
October 18, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

Jimmy Rutland

It’s a lot easier for people to imagine dealing with emissions from motor vehicles than other sources… But structures themselves drive a significant amount of the energy use that results in carbon dioxide emissions. Thursday, the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis took up the issue. “More resilient and efficient buildings not only pollute less — they also cost less to operate and to insure,” committee Chairwoman Kathy Castor, D-Fla., said. …U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, opened his questioning of the invited panel by asking Jimmy Rutland — president of Lowder New Homes in Alabama and representing the National Association of Home Builders — about the climate and economic impacts of timber. …“Timber draws carbon out of the atmosphere — it’s very important. …it’s a big part of our economy. We know that throughout the United States, the annual amount of carbon that’s stored by forest products is over 70 million tons.”

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Waugh Thistleton selected for key EU wood construction project

The Timber Trade Journal
October 18, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

Kirsten Haggart

Waugh Thistleton Architects has been selected as the UK partner in a consortium receiving significant EU innovation funding to explore ways of increasing the use of wood in construction, a key step toward combatting climate change. The new EU €8.6m Build-in-Wood project targets the reduction of CO2 emissions through increased use of wood for multi-storey buildings. The project is made up of a consortium of 21 partners and its goal is to make wood the main choice of material for construction of multi-storey buildings. The consortium partners represent the entire value chain from building materials to the finished structure with input from universities who will test the system and material prototypes. … “The system will be used as an exemplar of timber technology to dispel the barriers to timber adoption within the industry.”

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Can I build a house from wood?

By Anthony Thistleton, Waugh Thistleton Architects
The Financial Times
October 18, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

We are in the early stages of building our next home and want it to be as sustainable as possible and built from timber. But we are concerned that timber is a fire hazard. There is a common misunderstanding that timber construction is more susceptible to fire than other building materials. The cause of most domestic fires is electrical faults or people, such as smoking or kitchen accidents — fires very rarely start in the structure. The fact is that all materials have some vulnerability to fire, for example, steel softens and concrete explodes. The key therefore is to protect the structure to ensure that the building retains its integrity to enable inhabitants to escape and allow time for fire fighters to deal with the blaze. 

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Shigeru Ban covers Swatch headquarters in vaulting timber shell

By Jon Astbury
Dezeen Magazine
October 17, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

A double-curved timber shell constructed from 7,700 timber pieces forms the Swatch Headquarters by Shigeru Ban in Biel, Switzerland. The watchmaker’s campus centres on a 240-metre-long timber vault – one of the largest wooden structures in Europe, claims the practice. …The 7,700 timber pieces forming the gridshell roof of the Swatch building were engineered with a precision of 0.1 millimetres. The architecture studio said the design is “playful, innovative and provocative” and demonstrates the capabilities of timber construction at a large scale. Inside, a triple-height atrium leads to three storeys of office space sitting within this wooden shell. The timber superstructure has been left exposed where it meets the edge of each floor plate and on the ceiling of the upper level.

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Forestry

Wolf kills, wilderness protection and caribou recovery

Letters by Patrick Longworth, Ken Sumanik and Charlotte Dawe
BC Local News
October 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Re: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou Patrick Longworth, Penticton – Killing wolves has been the “white man’s way” since we invaded First Nations’ territories prior to and after 1867. Wolves are predators, caribou are prey, but recent documentaries by researchers have shown wolves to have a beneficial impact on more than prey numbers… Ken Sumanik, Richmond – The mountain caribou saga drags on with each new attempt by a fresh batch of bio-miracle-workers determined to reverse the inevitable… Charlotte Dawe, VancouverI almost spit my coffee out when I read the quote “Caribou are declining in Wells Gray Provincial Park….where there has been no modern-day industrial disturbance.” The Wells Gray caribou herd’s range extends far beyond Wells Gray park…

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Considering the Washington Wildfire Season That Wasn’t

By Don Brunell
The Nisqually Valley News
October 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Don Brunell

The Oregonian characterized the 2019 wildfire season as the “season that wasn’t!” That’s good news for West Coast states; however, it doesn’t mean we are permanently out of the woods. Worldwide, wildfires are down as well. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there were 6,000 fewer wildfires this year compared with 2018. About 4.4 million acres were burned compared with roughly 10 million acres in 2017. The previous two years featured bad fire seasons in Washington, Oregon and California. …Megafires are polluting our air, endangering our health and safety, and burning a bigger hole in our pocketbooks. By thinning, logging and replanting, we save expenses, create jobs and bring in needed revenue to government.

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How Chaos Will Unfold if Trump Opens the Tongass to Logging

Wired Magazine
October 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Trump administration this week proposed ending the so-called Roadless Rule, which banned logging, development, and road construction in Alaska’s Tongass, the biggest national forest in the US. …If you’re thinking that opening up the Tongass for road-building and logging might have some environmental consequences, it’s actually far worse than you can imagine. …When logging removes trees, it doesn’t just assault the biodiversity of the local vegetation. …That natural process is supercharged if humans modify the environment. “Once you have a clear cut, then the remaining trees or the edge of the forest becomes much more susceptible to what we think of as windthrow, or wind disturbance,” says Northern Arizona University ecologist Michelle Mack.

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Green groups flag threat to Indonesia forests recovered from palm planters

By Michael Taylor
Reuters
October 18, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: International

KUALA LUMPUR — Swathes of rainforest Indonesia plans to recover from oil palm planters must not instead be handed to the mining and timber sectors nor used for infrastructure, green groups said. Jakarta last week said it could take back 1.4 million hectares of forests under a ban on clearing land for palm plantations to produce the popular oil. Gemma Tillack, forest policy director at U.S.-based environmental group Rainforest Action Network, said the move was “a welcome signal… (But) it is critical that lands spared from conversion to oil palm plantations are not reallocated for other destructive uses.” …The slash-and-burn practices involved in palm oil production are often blamed for Indonesia’s annual forest fires, which cause health-damaging air pollution across the region.

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How a ‘biological weapon’ can save forests in Siberia & North America

By Ronald Lewis
Stock News Brief
October 17, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: International

Wildfires are not the only serious threat to pine forests across our planet. Bark beetle outbreaks in North America and Siberia have ravaged natural forests so extensively that in some areas the tree death toll has neared 100%. Scientists from the University of Tyumen have come up with a solution that may surprise you: to use microscopic mites as a sort of natural, “biological weapon.” Fluctuating temperatures and severe droughts … weakened pine trees across North America, making them more vulnerable, they also made normally harmless mountain pine beetles [more dangerous]. …Scientists from the University of Tyumen have a promising solution. Their studies of the Typographus bark beetle (European spruce bark beetle) show that the beetle population may be controlled with a specific “biological weapon” – microscopic mites that feed on beetle eggs. …Mites seem to be an ideal weapon against beetles, because they are only associated specifically with the bark beetle species.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Planting a Trillion Trees Will Not Halt Climate Change

News Wise – Texas A&M
October 17, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, International

A group of 46 scientists from around the world, led by Joseph Veldman, Ph.D. … at Texas A&M University, are urging caution regarding plans to address climate change through massive tree planting. …“While tree planting can be good in some deforested areas, tree planting in Earth’s natural grasslands destroys plant and animal habitat and will not sequester enough carbon to compensate for fossil fuel emissions,” Veldman said. “Few people realize that planting trees in the wrong places can actually damage ecosystems, increase wildfire intensity and exacerbate global warming.” …In their critique… serious methodological flaws led to a five-fold overestimate of the potential for new trees to mitigate climate change. …The study also neglected the fact that coniferous forests in boreal and high mountain regions absorb more sunlight and emit more heat than treeless areas, and actually exacerbate rather than mitigate global warming.

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Drax strengthens biomass sustainability policy

By Drax Group
Biomass Magazine
October 17, 2019
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: International

Will Gardiner

Drax has strengthened its biomass sustainability policy and set up an independent advisory board of scientists, academics and forestry experts to ensure the biomass the company uses to generate renewable electricity meets the highest standards. In the updated policy, Drax has outlined how it will use the latest science and best practice and work with academic institutions and non-profit organizations to meet its core commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, protect the natural environment, support people and communities and carry out research and outreach. Drax also details the evidence the company will gather to increase transparency on its biomass sourcing and impacts. These include using big data and satellite images to evaluate the impact on forest cover and biodiversity in areas that supply the biomass the company uses. …Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said, “We’re committed to continuously raising standards in biomass sustainability, so our sourcing policies must evolve as the science develops.

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