Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily news for January 27 2020

Today’s Takeaway

Alberta one-ups BC, allows 12-storey wood buildings province-wide

The Tree Frog Forestry News
January 27, 2020
Category: Today's Takeaway

Citing affordable housing and support for the forest industry, Alberta one-ups BC by allowing 12-storey wood buildings province-wide. In other news: BC’s forestry strike heads into its seventh month; Nova Scotia offers loans to contractors impacted by the closure of Northern Pulp; and notwithstanding the rise in US housing starts—the home ownership rate has tumbled.

In Wildfire news: the Coulson family heads to Australia to investigate its air tanker crash, as the three American firefighters who died are identified. In related news: the Australian forest industry seeks access to burnt timber in parks; NRCan’s Werner Kurz calls the wildfires a climate warning; and the US Forest Service is building a new air tanker base in Colorado Springs.

Finally, good news on the tree planting; tree measurement and tree survival front.

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Business & Politics

Dug in: Vancouver Island forestry strike heads into seventh month

By Justine Hunter
The Globe and Mail
January 26, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Western Forest Products is set to provide its next fiscal update for investors in February. The news is unlikely to be good. …In its most recent quarterly financial report disclosed it had already sold most of the inventory that wasn’t behind a picket line. …For the 2,400 members of United Steelworkers Local 1-1937… settling in to see how long the company can cope with an empty timber yard and a vanishing profit margin. …The company says a string of regulatory changes made by the BC NDP government since 2018 may have the unintended consequence of compounding those conditions… [and] the B.C. government is expected to introduce changes this year regarding the future of old-growth forests. …Even if a settlement can be reached, Western Forest Products’ investors must recognize there will be no returning to business as usual.

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Rustad disappointed as Donaldson remains Forests Minister

By Mark Nielesn
Prince George Citizen
January 24, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

John Rustad

Doug Donaldson will continue to be the provincial New Democrats’ point man on dealing with B.C.’s struggling forest sector – and John Rustad will continue to keep an eye on him.  As part of a minor cabinet shuffle this week, Premier John Horgan opted to keep the MLA for Stikine as his Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development. Rustad, the Opposition B.C. Liberals’ critic for the portfolio, expressed disappointment.  “Quite frankly, I was very surprised,” said Rustad, the MLA for Nechako Lakes. “The forest industry is in chaos around the province.” In what has been described as a “perfect storm,” the forest industry in B.C’s Interior has been caught in a squeeze between rising costs related to a shrinking timber supply and American duties on softwood lumber and weak demand due to a lagging U.S. housing market.

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Woodlot owners left with scraps in wake of McNeil’s decree

By Henry Van Berkel
The Chronicle Herald
January 25, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

In his Jan. 11 column, Jim Vibert opined that the transition fund established by the province to help affected sectors of our economy cope with the closure of Northern Pulp is not sufficient. Let me crunch some approximate numbers. The day after our premier made the announcement that will most likely close the Pictou mill, the price of timber paid to woodlot owners in Nova Scotia dropped $30 per cord. There are over 30,000 small woodlot owners in the province. I estimate that, on average, they have an inventory of around 75 acres of marketable wood containing about 30 cords per acre. The loss: over $2 billion. $2 billion! The premier announced, a few days ago, that $11 million will be taken out of the $50-million transition fund to help the forestry sector. It is not clear to me if any of that will actually go to the woodlot owners to compensate for the drastic reduction (30-50 per cent) in stumpage rates.

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Province guarantees loans for forestry contractors caught up in Northern Pulp shutdown

By Jean Laroche
CBC News
January 24, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

Forestry contractors who need money to try to weather losses from the Northern Pulp shutdown are being offered up to $180,000 in short-term loans. It is an effort to tide them over while they search for new buyers for their wood. Jeff Bishop, executive director of Forest Nova Scotia, helped create the new program. He said much of the money would go to forest workers dealing with payments for equipment. By freeing up loan payments, Bishop said there might be money to pay workers or to cover other business expenses. But Bishop said it would not help everyone in the industry who is struggling with big bills. …The Nova Scotia government is guaranteeing the loans, meaning taxpayers will be on the hook if any of that money cannot be repaid. The province is setting aside roughly $5 million for the program.

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Donald Trump, Tree Hugger?

By Marsha Mercer
The News & Advance
January 26, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

Nobody would mistake President Trump for a tree hugger. …But Trump announced during a campaign-style speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the United States would join in the forum’s 1 Trillion Trees initiative. What? …Trump’s comments in Davos reflect the shifting politics of climate in Congress. House Republicans who recognize they’re losing young voters concerned about climate issues, are developing an alternative to the Democrats’ Green New Deal. Rep. Bruce Westerman, Republican of Arkansas, is drafting a Trillion Trees Act that will set a target for growing more trees “for the purpose of sequestering carbon”. …Planting trees makes people feel good, but that by itself won’t come close to solving the climate crisis. …We should plant trees as a first step, but we, the Trump administration and Congress will need to do more to fight climate change.

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Paper mill conversion to packaging materials could preserve jobs in Duluth

By Peter Passi
Duluth News Tribune
January 24, 2020
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

The future soon could look considerably brighter for Verso Corp.’s Duluth paper mill and the 240 people it employs. But the company is looking for some public assistance — to the tune of a $2 million forgivable loan from the state and $242,000 in local economic development funds.Come Monday, the Duluth City Council is expected to act on the request, which would leverage at least a $20 million investment by Verso, and likely much more. While demand for the glossy coated paper that has long been the Duluth mill’s bread and butter continues to dwindle, Verso is eyeing a new market and a new staple product — packaging. In the challenging paper industry, this particular segment stands out as a unique area of promising growth as e-commerce continues to take off, fueling demand for materials such as cardboard.

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Finance & Economics

Housing Is Still In Rickety Shape, So Hold The Celebration

By Larry Light
Forbes Magazine
January 27, 2020
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: United States

Well, so much for the housing slump, right? According to reports, housing starts rose 4% last year, and new home sales climbed 11%. Sure enough, Wall Street is all smiles. …Hold the bubbly. The housing industry still is bedeviled by affordability problems. Perhaps some of the lackluster recovery in housing is due to millennials’ wanderlust. …The overall housing picture is dour. The seasonally adjusted home ownership rate has tumbled to 64.8% as of 2019’s third quarter, down from 69.4% in 2004, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. And that’s despite a drop in U.S. 30-year mortgage rates, to 3.6% from 4.9% in late 2018. 

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Edmonton sees affordable housing opportunity with new provincial building code

By Scott Johnston
Global News
January 27, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, Canada West

Michael Green

In its efforts to build more affordable housing, City of Edmonton staff will find their dollars will go a little further after the province changed the building code for wood-building construction. Instead of limiting construction to six storeys, use of fire-resistant material will now be allowed for 12 storeys. …“Not only will this decision support the forestry industry and land developers, it will provide affordability to homebuyers, bolster employment and give Alberta a competitive advantage,” he said. Christel Kjenner, Edmonton’s director for housing, said that wood construction is considerably cheaper than concrete. …While calling it a good policy move for other reasons, she said that so far, no affordable housing buildings over six storeys have been built in Edmonton.

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Province to allow 12-storey buildings made of wood

CBC News
January 24, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, Canada West

Kaycee Madu & Kent Fargey

Alberta will allow construction of 12-storey buildings using engineered wood starting this spring in advance of the new National Building Code that will be published later this year. The announcement was made in Edmonton by Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu and industry representatives who say the technology is safe. Kent Fargey, president of Western Archrib, an Edmonton firm, said the product, also known as mass timber or tall wood, performs better in a fire than an exposed steel beam. …Alberta currently allows the construction of wood buildings up to six storeys. The height of buildings using engineered wood will double under the building code changes. The provincial government heralded the announcement as an initiative to “reduce red tape” that will create jobs in the construction and forestry industries. 

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United Conservative Party government to ease restrictions on wooden buildings in Alberta

By Michael Franklin
CTV News
January 25, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada East, Canada

CALGARY — Construction companies will be able to go twice as high with new wooden buildings in the province, thanks to the United Conservative Party government’s decision to change the building code.  Currently, Alberta and national building codes only allow wood-building construction projects to reach six storeys, but the new code, expected to come into effect later this year, will increase that to 12 storeys. Officials say Alberta is the first province in the country to allow the practice province-wide.  “Not only will this decision support the forestry industry and land developers, it will provide affordability to homebuyers, bolster employment, and give Alberta a competitive advantage,” said Kaycee Madu, Alberta’s minister of municipal affairs in a release.  Madu says the buildings will also meet all necessary standards.

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Forestry

Central Westcoast Forest Society is searching for wood and trees

Nora O’Malley
Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News
January 26, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Central Westcoast Forest Society (CWFS) is sourcing large quantities of wood for restoration projects. The environmental non-profit requires over 1000 pieces of large wood to place in damaged rivers throughout Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds to help rebuild the local salmon population. “Conifers are the most valuable wood for this kind of work, with cedar the most rot-resistant. Ideally, we are seeking trees 5-12m long and 20 cm or greater in diameter with the root wad still attached,” said CWFS operations manager Megan Francis. …“We would love to take your trees off your hands. It’s a case by case sort of situation, so please get in touch,” said Francis.

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Cold snap fatal to spruce beetles will ‘knock back’ infestation, say experts

By Yvette Brend
CBC News
January 25, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Bark beetle experts say a recent cold snap has likely killed some spruce beetle infestations in northern B.C. — especially if the frigid temperatures hit fast, before the bugs could ramp up their protective “antifreeze.” That could make a dent in the worst outbreak of the spruce beetle this province has seen. Provincial entomologist Jeanne Robert said… I think this should knock them back”. …How many die will depend on how much snow was present and how sudden the change in temperature was, said Allan Carroll, the director of the UBC’s forest sciences program. …Provincial surveys are underway now to gauge the recent cold snap’s kill rate. The beetles must be warmed up for several days to see if they reanimate… [and] 95 per cent of the overwintering beetle larvae must die off to stop an outbreak.

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Landowners’ group claims Galiano Island wrongfully restricts residential buildings on privately managed forest lands

Business in Vancouver
January 24, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

A group of Galiano Island landowners is taking the community’s local trust committee to court to overturn a bylaw that they claim wrongfully restricts residential buildings on privately managed forest land. The Galiano Forest Lot Owners Association and members … filed a petition in BC Supreme Court on January 15 naming the Galiano Island Local Trust Committee as a respondent. The owners’ association, according to the petition, has about 50 members and was formed to “advocate for residential dwelling rights” on privately managed forest land. The petitioners claim a land-use bylaw adopted by the island’s trust committee in 1999 unlawfully restricts residential buildings, allowing for only “a single non-residential unenclosed building or structure with a floor area not exceeding 93 square meters.” …The petition’s factual basis has not been tested in court, and the Galiano Island Local Trust Committee had not filed a response by press time.

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2020 BC Council of Forest Industries Forestry Scholarship Now Open for Applications

Council of Forest Industries
January 24, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

The BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for the 2020 Forestry Scholarship. Each year, twelve $1500 entrance scholarships are awarded to students pursuing post-secondary education or training in B.C. in a skilled trades program associated with the forest industry. “COFI is pleased to support the next generation of students as they pursue their education goals and learn about the forest industry of the future,” said Susan Yurkovich, President and CEO of COFI. …COFI established its scholarship in 2007 with the goal of encouraging young people in B.C. to choose a professional, technical or trades career in the forest sector. Last year, COFI increased the number of recipients from ten to twelve in recognition of the growing financial commitments of post-secondary programs.

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BC Community Forest Association January Newsletter

BC Community Forest Association
January 27, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

2020 Indicators Survey Launched: Our goal is for 100% of the operating BCCFA members to complete the survey. To support this, we have made revisions to our survey process including: coaching on how to efficiently respond to the jobs indicator, streamlined storytelling through a separate 2 page template, and greater incentives for participation in the survey. The power of the data we collect through the survey cannot be underestimated. It informs our efforts as we advocate for recognition of the unique responsibilities and mandate given to community forest agreement holders by government and for the policies that support them. …The Case for Forest Tenure Diversification was a topic of a panel session at the recent Truck Loggers Association annual convention.  BCCFA Executive Director, Jennifer Gunter, and Charlene Higgins, CEO of the First Nations Forestry Council spoke to why diversification is good for communities and First Nations. The session was moderated by Bruce Blackwell. 

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Community protests Clack Creek logging

By Sean Eckford
Coast Reporter
January 24, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

More than 100 people turned out Friday to protest logging in a cutblock on Mount Elphinstone known as the Clack Creek Forest.  Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF), which has prevented the timber harvesting that began Jan. 12 from going any further by putting up a roadblock, organized the protest along with its Living Forest Institute.  Squamish-based Black Mount Logging will be in Vancouver Supreme Court on Jan. 28 hoping to get an injunction against ELF. BC Timber Sales awarded Black Mount the cutting rights in the area last year and ELF lost a court challenge to have the cutblock auction stopped, and has so far failed to get the province to agree to its proposal to have the company granted cutting rights to another block instead.

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NASA forest structure mission releases first data

By Jessica Merzdorf, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Phys.org
January 27, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation mission (GEDI) released its first publicly available data on January 21, 2020, giving researchers access to measurements of forests around the world. GEDI (pronounced like the Jedi of “Star Wars” fame) surveys Earth’s forests from aboard the International Space Station, using its three lasers to construct detailed 3-dimensional (3-D) maps of forest canopy height and the distribution of branches and leaves in the forest. By accurately measuring forests in 3-D, GEDI data play an important role in understanding how much biomass and carbon forests store and how much they lose when disturbed—vital information for understanding Earth’s carbon cycle and how it is changing. Data from the mission can also be used to study plant and animal habitats and biodiversity, and how these may change over time.

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‘Blatant manipulation’: Trump administration exploited wildfire science to promote logging

By Emily Holden and Jimmy Tobias
The Guardian
January 24, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

Political appointees at the interior department have sought to play up climate pollution from California wildfires while downplaying emissions from fossil fuels as a way of promoting more logging in the nation’s forests, internal emails obtained by the Guardian reveal.  The messaging plan was crafted in support of Donald Trump’s pro-industry arguments for harvesting more timber in California, which he says would thin forests and prevent fires – a point experts refute.  The emails show officials seeking to estimate the carbon emissions from devastating 2018 fires in California so they could compare them to the carbon footprint of the state’s electricity sector and then publish statements encouraging cutting down trees.  The records offer a look behind the scenes at how Trump and his appointees have tried to craft a narrative that forest protection efforts are responsible for wildfires, including in California, even as science shows fires are becoming more intense largely because of climate change.

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This is certifiably confusing

Greg Walcher – president of the Natural Resources Group
The Daily Sentinel
January 23, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Leaders trying desperately to restore healthy forests and rebuild the forestry economy…need all the help they can get. The not-so-new idea of forest certification could still be a powerful ally. …but any cutting … still faces stiff opposition. …A decade ago there was much fanfare about reducing the political difficulty of forest management by using the term “certified.” It gives consumers a way to know that forest products they use are produced in a sustainable way …Unfortunately, the tool became so popular that a raging controversy developed over who gets to decide what forests, companies, and products can be certified. …Reassuring consumers that forest practices are responsible and sustainable is essential. Certification could still be an extremely effective way to do that… That’s why forest “sustainability” standards must be set by communities of diverse experts working together to improve forests, not organizations seeking money and power.

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Invoices reveal how federal grant was used on ‘Roadless Rule’ work in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

By Elwood Brehmer
Anchorage Daily News
January 24, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

How the Alaska Forest Association spent approximately $150,000 from a federal grant is under scrutiny after the money was used to help the state comment on the U.S. Department of Agriculture plan to repeal the “Roadless Rule” in the Tongass National Forest. The money was primarily spent on consultants and former State of Alaska foresters to study the opportunity for more old-growth timber harvests following the pending repeal of the oft-debated Roadless Rule in the Tongass, but thousands of dollars was also spent on travel, outfitting the hired help with computers and software, and a 12.5 percent administrative fee charged by the Alaska Forest Association, or AFA, according to invoices obtained through a public records request. …State officials said in interviews that they hired the industry trade group in part because years of state budget cuts and a severe 2019 Alaska fire season hampered their ability to do the work themselves. 

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Colorado Springs Airport to be home to regional firefighting base

By Wayne Heilman
The Gazette
January 24, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Colorado Springs Airport and U.S. Forest Service will spend $17 million to build a regional firefighting base at the airport that will allow air tankers to load retardant to battle fires in five states and parts of 10 others.  Construction is scheduled to begin in April on offices, a storage building for retardant, an area where retardant will be mixed and seven stations to load the retardant onto waiting aircraft, according to a joint news release from Colorado Springs and Forest Service. The federal agency has operated a temporary base since 2018 at the airport for military and commercial aircraft it uses to fight wildfires. The permanent base is expected to open in 2021.  …The Forest Service is leasing nearly 3 acres for the base just north of the airport’s military rapid deployment terminal and next to the east runway for 40 years. 

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Montana timberland sale sparks fears about future public access

Associated Press in Lewiston Tribune
January 25, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

KALISPELL, Mont. — Montana officials are worried the sale of hundreds of thousands of acres of timberland may eventually close public access that previous owners have allowed, despite assurances from the buyer that no such changes are planned. Washington-based timber giant Weyerhaeuser is selling its 630,000 acres in Montana to Georgia-based Southern Pine Plantations for $145 million. That deal, expected to be closed later this year, has legislators, industry observers and outdoor recreation advocates concerned about the future of timber production and the access now granted to hunters, anglers and others, the Flathead Beacon reported. The uncertainty is centered on speculation that Southern Pine Plantations might turn around and sell the timberland for development. State Rep. Steve Gunderson, R-Libby, urged the state Environmental Quality Council to advocate for a solution to prevent that from happening.

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Forestry industry eyes off fire-hit national parks

By Mike Foley and Noel Towell
Sydney Morning Herald
January 26, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: International

The forestry lobby is calling for more funding and access to national parks to support a “massive harvest and haulage operation” after this summer’s bushfires, but experts warn that logging burnt forests will cause “unacceptable” damage to wildlife. The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) wrote a briefing note to MPs last week, warning that bushfires had caused “unprecedented” damage to the industry through loss of native and plantation stocks. AFPA said there was a “narrow window of opportunity” before burnt timbers degraded and requested for funding for industry and workers to conduct “salvage logging”. “Subject to environmental considerations, state governments should support salvaging timber from all burnt forests across all impacted tenures to clear roads, minimise fuel loads and allow greater flexibility for meeting timber supply requirements,” AFPA said.

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Three American firefighter ‘heroes’ identified

By Laura Chung
Sydney Morning Herald
January 24, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: International

First Officer Paul Hudson, flight engineer Rick DeMorgan jnr and Captain Ian McBeth.

The three US firefighters who died in Thursday’s fiery aircraft tanker crash north-east of Cooma have been identified as First Officer Paul Hudson, flight engineer Rick DeMorgan jnr and Captain Ian McBeth. Firefighting command lost contact with the C-130 Hercules after it made an approach towards a fire in the Snowy Monaro region. The Herald understands a “spotter plane” flying ahead of the water bomber travelled through a valley near Peak View, but the C-130 did not emerge behind it. Mr Hudson spent 20 years serving the United States Marine Corp in a number of positions, including as a C-130 pilot. Mr DeMorgan served in the United States Air Force with 18 years as a flight engineer on the C-130. …Mr McBeth was an experienced pilot who had spent years fighting fires, both in the military and with Coulson Aviation.

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Australian Firefighters Have Saved the Last Groves of a Rare, Prehistoric Tree

By Brigit Katz
Smithsonian Magazine
January 17, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: International

Since devastating wildfires began raging across Australia last year, news emerging from the country has often been dire: 15.6 million acres of land burned, at least 28 people killed, more than one billion animals estimated dead. But this week, there was a heartening development. According to Adam Morton of the Guardian, firefighters have successfully saved Australia’s groves of Wollemi pines, a species of prehistoric tree known to survive only in the Wollemi National Park in New South Wales. Once widespread across Australia, Wollemi pines reached their peak abundance some 34 to 65 million years ago. As Australia drifted northward and its climate cooled and dried, the trees began a steady decline; today, just 200 Wollemi pines grow on the northwestern outskirts of Sydney, in a deep, remote gorge bounded by steep sandstone cliffs.

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Coulson air tanker crash: ‘At the end of the day, this is a dangerous mission’

By Louise Dickson
Victoria Times Colonist
January 24, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: International

Three members of the Coulson family are on their way to Australia following the crash of their C-130 Hercules firefighting air tanker in New South Wales, which killed all three crew members.  “We are all terribly sad about this. It’s devastating for everyone involved,” said Foster Coulson, president of the Coulson Group, based in Port Alberni.  “We look at all our team members in our company as an extended part of our family. It’s a very difficult time for everybody.”  Australian wildfire officials lost contact with the aircraft, operated by Coulson Aviation, on Thursday afternoon. The airtanker was assisting with firefighting activities in the Snowy Monaro area of New South Wales.  Everyone on board — three American aerial firefighters — was killed.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Australian wildfires strike home for ex-pat living in Victoria

By Roxanne Egan-Elliott
The Times Colonist
January 26, 2020
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: Canada, International

Werner Kurz

Tony Aston has heard for a long time that climate change could mean the end of the world for humans. But ever since he learned that his parents had lost their home to the wildfires ravaging Australia, that possibility feels more real. …Werner Kurz, a senior research scientist with Natural Resources Canada, says Australia’s recent experience is a cautionary tale for the rest of the world, including B.C. Kurz, who also leads the Forest Carbon Management project for the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at UVic, was in Australia over Christmas on a trip he had booked a year earlier. …Kurz called the wildfires in Australia and elsewhere a warning about the consequences of continued droughts and extreme weather due to climate warming, and a reminder of the urgency to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions.

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