Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily news for November 15 2019

Today’s Takeaway

Tolko’s BC operations to take extended holiday downtime

The Tree Frog Forestry News
November 15, 2019
Category: Today's Takeaway

Tolko will be shutting down operations across BC for two weeks over the holiday season, adding to the BC Interior’s economic woes. In related news: BC’s Liberal leader says the NDP has no plan to help the forest sector; coastal mayors beg parties to resolve BC forestry strike; poor newsprint markets have Resolute closing its Augusta Georgia plant; and Conifex reports Q3 improvement despite losses.

In other news: BC seeks public input on old growth forest management; UN seeks to streamline science on boreal forests; and large scale automated forest tree breeding comes to Sweden. Meanwhile, mass timber makes news in Ontario; Quebec; Mississippi; and with Freddie Mac economists.

Finally, the world’s first floating timber tower is unveiled in–you guessed it—Amsterdam.

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

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Business & Politics

Conifex Announces Third Quarter 2019 Results

By Conifex Timber Inc.
Global Newswire
November 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

VANCOUVER, BC — Conifex Timber reported results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2019. Adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations was negative $9.2 million for the quarter, which represented an improvement of $4.0 million over the second quarter of 2019, primarily attributable to increased operating earnings. A decrease in EBITDA from continuing operations of $12.8 million compared to the previous quarter was primarily attributable to a quarter-over-quarter negative variance on our gain from the sale of duty refunds. …“While we are encouraged by the $4.0 million improvement… we anticipate greater sequential improvement in the current quarter primarily due to cost elimination at our Fort St. James mill and cost reduction at our El Dorado mill”, said Ken Shields, Chairman and CEO. 

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High cost of logs hurting lumber mill workers throughout the Okanagan

By Rob Munro
InfoTel News
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Mills throughout Tolko’s B.C. operations will be shut down for two weeks over Christmas the company announced Nov. 14, just a week after revealing the permanent closure of its Kelowna mill. …“Had there been viable cost logs coming into the mills that weren’t so highly-priced, that mill would still be running and still be making money,” Pat McGregor, president of United Steelworkers Local 1-423. “But because the cost of logs, which they’re telling us is over 75 per cent of their overall cost, the mill can’t run.” …The closure in Kelowna has a multi-million dollar economic impact to that city but the shutdowns and the uncertainties also impact other Okanagan towns, such as Armstrong, Lavington and Lumby. …Multiply that by the 200 union workers who lost their jobs in Kelowna and that adds up to an annual payroll of more than $12 million per year.

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Six BC mayors beg negotiators to get a deal done in ongoing forestry strike

By Renee Bernard
News 1130
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

PORT MCNEILL, BC — More than four months into a B.C. forestry workers strike, six mayors, mostly on Vancouver Island, have issued a letter describing how the job action has affected their communities. “As leaders of communities that are severely impacted by the Western Forest Products and United Steelworkers labour dispute, we are compelled to draw your attention to the economic devastation this dispute is causing for the families who live and work in our communities,” says the letter. …Port McNeill mayor Gaby Wickstrom was one of the mayors who put her name on the letter. …“It’s not just the forestry workers. They get strike pay, which is not a lot. But the contractors or businesses that rely the forestry industry – they are not getting anything and they are laying people off.”

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New Democrats have no plan, B.C. Liberal leader says

By Mark Nielsen
The Prince George Citizen
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Andrew Wilkinson

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson is accusing the governing New Democrats of lacking a plan to guide the region – and the forest sector in particular – through the looming economic turmoil. “What’s the five-year plan in terms of where the economy is going to be?” Wilkinson said during a question and answer session with local media. “Because we’re in the midst of a lot of change here. He said such a plan should be drafted in anticipation of future industrial development and the changes that are occurring in the forest industry. …He accused the NDP of relying on “band aid programs” to ease the blow for the forest sector. …Wilkinson said the NDP is scrambling to make ends meet… and “living off the prosperity the B.C. Liberals generated.”

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City of Quesnel hosting open house at new Forestry Innovation Centre

BC Local News
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The City of Quesnel is inviting the community to an open house in the newly constructed Forestry Innovation Centre at City Hall Saturday, Nov. 16. The Centre, which officially opened Sept. 18, is a flexible work environment designed to foster innovation and collaboration. It houses the City’s Forestry Initiatives Program, as well as showcases locally-made structural and finishing wood products, local artisan furniture and art installations. There is also an interpretive centre that explains landscape-level management, fuel management and the future of forestry. The Forestry Innovation Centre won a Wood Works Award, which recognizes the support of the B.C. wood industry. …Fuel management is a big part of the Forestry Initiatives Program’s work… the City is working with partners for fuel treatment on 59 hectares of land this fall as part of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

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Tolko to temporarily shut down B.C. lumber operations over holiday season

By Nick Eagland
The Vancouver Sun
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Forest-products firm Tolko Industries says it will be shutting down operations across B.C. for two weeks over the holiday season due to low lumber prices and high log costs. The Vernon firm made the decision to take the downtime from Dec. 21 to Jan. 6 after looking at log costs, market conditions and “cumulative policy burden”. The company also has divisions in Kamloops, Williams Lake, Armstrong, Coldstream, Lumby and Richmond. …Troy Connolly, vice-president for solid wood, said… it will reduce output by approximately 21 million board feet of lumber production and 10 million square feet of panel production. …In September, workers at Tolko’s Kelowna sawmill who were expecting to go back to work after a six-week shutdown learned that the facility was staying closed indefinitely. …Over the summer, Tolko also permanently closed its Quest sawmill in Quesnel with the loss of 150 jobs.

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Resolute Forest Products closing its doors

Fox 54 News
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – Another manufacturing facility is closing its doors. This time, it’s in South Augusta. Resolute Forest Products announced Thursday, Nov. 14, that they will be idling their facility on Doug Bernard Pkwy, indefinitely. The facility employs 160 people. Resolute Forest Products said the decision was based on “continued challenging market conditions” in the newsprint industry. They said this decision comes after the mill saw “several weeks of production downtime” this year. …”We understand the impact this decision will have on our employees, their families and the local community. The company will work with employees and community representatives to mitigate the impacts of the decision.” …A representative said they will be working to provide benefits and outplacement services to the employees.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

That’s no stack of rocks, it’s an osmosis between man and nature

By Lloyd Alter
Treehugger
November 14, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada East, Canada

Quebec architects propose a 48 storey tower in a forest, “a new relationship between humans and their natural habitat.” There are many ways of defining sustainability and it has always been a moving target, but this new project by MU Architecture called PEKULIARI is particularly peculiar. It is a giant tower full of luxury apartments in the middle of nowhere, well no, it is somewhere:  Diametrically opposed with the concept of urban sprawl, this impressive tower that stands in the heart of the vast forest of Quebec greatly diminishes its impact on nature and the destruction of more and more rural land. Straight out of the imagination, this iconic and enigmatic structure asserts itself as a world’s first. …I love the idea of a sustainable and green “paleo-futuristic tower in the nordic immensity.” They don’t say if it is built out of local NordicLam Cross Laminated Timber, which would certainly add to its vegetal character. 

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Industrial mat company puts down stakes in northwestern Ontario

Northern Ontario Business
November 14, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada East, Canada

Alberta-based Northern Mat & Bridge is opening an office at Fort William First Nation, next to Thunder Bay. The company provides large mats and portable bridges used by crews in the oil and gas industry, mining, forestry, power line and general construction work to move heavy equipment into remote areas for large-scale development projects. With now seven offices across Canada, Northern Mat bills itself as Canada’s leading provider of environmentally responsible access solutions. …A separate manufacturing space is also in the works but the company isn’t divulging where that will be located. …“Through this business alliance, we now have even greater capacity to supply temporary access bridge solutions to industries across Eastern Canada,” said project manager Steve Lessard.

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What Exactly is “Mass Timber” and Why Should We Care?

By Jann Swanson
Mortgage News Daily
November 14, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

Look closely and you will see that a lack of new home construction is behind almost every problem facing housing today.  Residential construction has simply not recovered from the financial crisis and the experts see it only growing worse.  Freddie Mac’s economists estimated the long-term shortfall between the supply of homes and the demand could be 2.5 to 4.0 million units each year. The National Association of Homebuilders’ (NAHB’s) Paul Emrath says since 2006 builders have never matched the average of 1.5 million homes they built each year from 1961 to 2000. While there are many reasons builders aren’t building, two of them are the costs of construction making it risky for builders to assume they can make a profit, and the lack of appropriate skilled labor. One type of building that is attracting a lot of attention with its ability to help with both is the use of mass timber. …There are a ton of environmental benefits to mass timber.  

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Mississippi could lead the region and country in applications of mass timber building technologies

By Becky Gillette
Mississippi Business Journal
November 14, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: US East, United States

Mississippi is a timber state. …Right now, there is a collaborative effort to get even more from the state’s 18.6 million acres of timber assets with innovative mass timber building technologies. …Mississippi Forestry Association and partners such as the City of Quitman could expand the use of these products potentially creating more markets and more economic impact from one of the state’s most important natural resources. “Mass timber products are an opportunity to develop a new market sector in innovative mass timber building technologies,” said Jacob A. Gines, School of Architecture, Mississippi State University (MSU). …The design studio at the School of Architecture is looking at the application of these wood products and how to encourage their use in new and innovative ways within architecture. The School also works closely with the MSU Department of Sustainable Bioproducts, formerly known as the Forest Products Group, which works to develop new wood products.

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Waterstudio unveils the world’s first floating timber tower

By Nicole Jewell
Inhabitat
November 14, 2019
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

Amsterdam-based design firm Waterstudio is already well-known for its incredible floating architecture, but it continues to break ground in the world of innovative design. Now, the firm, which is led by Koen Olthuis, has unveiled the world’s first floating timber tower. Slated for the waters of Rotterdam, the tower is made out of CLT and will house office space, a public green park and a restaurant with a terrace. …The 130-foot-tall tower will be made out of cross-laminated timber, making the structure much lighter than concrete builds. Additionally, working with CLT means the building will be made with a renewable resource, providing the city of Rotterdam with a cutting-edge sustainable landmark. 

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Forestry

Investigators fan research flames to study wildfires

By Barb Glen
The Western Producer
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

When a fire is burning out of control, the usual priorities are to fight, control and extinguish it. Research is not top of mind. But there is a place in Alberta where fire research is paramount: the Pelican Mountain FireSmart Vegetation Management Research Site in northern Alberta near Sandy Lake. David Schroeder, the prescribed fire program co-ordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, said that site and other studies represent a new era of research underway to better predict fire behaviour and manage fuel to mitigate its damage. It includes tests at the research site as well as prescribed burns to protect communities. “Our prescribed fire program in Alberta within the forest protection area, it is very much focused on burning grass,” Schroeder said during a public presentation at the University of Lethbridge. …“Burn, learn and then return,” is the motto, said Schroeder.

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Harvesting plans presented

By Richard Froese
The South Peace News
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

HIGH PRAIRIE, ALBERTA — Forest products companies operating in the High Prairie outlined their proposed harvesting plans at an open house Nov 5. West Fraser and Tolko Industries presented their proposed plans as part of the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Forest Management Plan. “We’re still on track to submit the regional forestry management plan to the provincial government before October 2020,” West Fraser planning forester Constance Schanzenbacher says. “The map shows the potential forest stands that could be harvested in the next 20 years.” West Fraser operates High Prairie Forest Products. …Tolko has a smaller territory in the plan area.

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B.C. government seeks public input on old growth forest management

By Scott Weston
CTV News
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

BC’s old growth forests are being scrutinized and an independent panel is being charged with gathering input on managing the forests for ecological, economic and cultural values. In July 2019, the government appointed panel members Garry Merkel and Al Gorley to lead an old growth strategic review and provide a report to the Minister of Forests. The primary purpose of the review is to inform future policies and new old growth strategies for B.C. …The panel was tasked with looking at old growth management from a variety of perspectives, including employment and economic benefits, social, cultural, and environmental value and the need to address climate change. …British Columbians can share their views on old growth forests in B.C. through the panel’s website online here. Feedback is open until Jan. 31, 2020,

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Huu-ay-aht First Nations ‘optimistic’ about Bamfield road upgrades

The Alberni Valley News
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Huu-ay-aht First Nations announced this week that the Nation is “optimistic” that Premier John Horgan’s recent visit to the Nation’s main village will lead to significant upgrades to the road. Horgan travelled the Bamfield Main road to Anacla on Thursday, Nov. 14 and met with stakeholders—including Western Forest Products, Mosaic, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the City of Port Alberni, the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District and MLA Scott Fraser—to discuss future upgrades. During Thursday’s meeting, Horgan directed Ministry representatives to form an action group with Huu-ay-aht and other key stakeholders to create a plan to upgrade the road. …Dennis says that an engineering report carried out by the province does not dispute that there is an urgent need for upgrades, but focuses on what approach to take.

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Recreationalists concerned over forest access after Wagner Forest Management posts no tresspassing signs

By Jeff Walters
CBC News
November 15, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

An abandoned railway tunnel, where many people from Thunder Bay, Ont., choose to hike or walk, now requires an access permit from a forestry company. The Flett Tunnel, located west of the city near Shabaqua, was part of the former CN Rail tracks than ran through to Graham and Sioux Lookout, Ont. The tunnel itself is on Crown land, but Wagner Forest Management controls the forestry blocks in the area. Recently, the company put up signs telling those who want to access the entranceways to the tunnel require a permit. “The forest companies are not able to limit access,” said Michelle Nowak, an outreach specialist with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

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Down to earth forestry

The Belleville Intelligencer
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

BATAWA, ONTARIO — Local residents have been invited to attend the 30th Annual Trenton Woodlot Conference for an opportunity to ‘Return to Our Roots with Down to Earth Forestry,’ hosted by the Ontario Woodlot Association and Hastings Stewardship Council. This premier forestry event, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 22,  is designed to inform woodlot owners and those who love forests in the community. Sebastian Belliard, soil management specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, will present “What’s Under the Leaf Litter. …Thom Snowman, retired professional forester will present “The Inclusive Forest: Wetlands, Water, Wildlife and Wood. …For more information click here.

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US forest chief, New Mexico governor sign stewardship pact

Associated Press News
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Michelle Lujan Grisham

SANTA FE, N.M. — The chief of the U.S. Forest Service and New Mexico’s governor signed an agreement on Thursday aimed at strengthening relations as they work to represent diverse interests concerning natural resources on public forest lands. New Mexico became the ninth state to sign a so-called shared stewardship agreement, as Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham met at the base of a mountain basin that safeguards urban water supplies for the state capital. The agreement urges more collaborative planning and highlights concerns about wildfire, invasive species, drought and forest insects and disease — describing the increasing severity of wildfires. No specific funding is part of the agreement. …The U.S. Forest Service is asking a judge to reconsider an order that has halted commercial tree-cutting across five national forests in New Mexico and one in Arizona.

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‘How is climate change affecting autumn?’

By Sara Peach
Yale Climate Connections
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

…As the climate has warmed during the past few decades, the onset of fall colors across much of the Northern Hemisphere has been delayed. In the eastern United States, fall foliage arrives an average of two weeks late compared to the 1980s and 1990s, said Yingying Xie, an ecologist at Northwestern University. …But extreme weather also plays a role. Droughts can cause abnormally early leaf drop and strong winds can cause leaves to die suddenly, cutting fall foliage season short. But abundant moisture can cause delayed leaf coloring. Even summer heat stress can influence when fall colors arrive. The upshot is that researchers are still investigating the variables that influence how trees will respond to climate change during the fall, Xie said: “This is kind of still a black box.”

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Should Ohioans Care About Keeping Wild Places Wild?

By Mary Kuhlman
Cleveland Scene
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Alaska may be thousands of miles away from the Buckeye State, but Ohioans still could feel the impact of a Trump administration plan to reverse roadless protections for the country’s largest national forest. A U.S. House committee holds a hearing today on a proposal to fully exempt the Tongass National Forest in southeastern Alaska from the 2001 Roadless Rule. Lexi Hackett has lived in the area all her life and, as a commercial fisher, said she’s concerned that opening the Tongass land for development would hurt crucial salmon habitat and the local fishing industry. “It’s a really breathtaking and special place that deserves to be protected,” she said, “not just out of the philosophy that we should keep some things in their beautiful, natural state in our world, but also because it does provide an abundance of resources.” …Mike Dombeck, former chief of the U.S. Forest Service, said he thinks the timber industry simply is trying to gain more access than other interests. 

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Forest Service Mulls Weakening National Land Protections

Public News Service – NC
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

RALEIGH, N.C. – A 2001 federal rule banning tree harvesting and road construction in national forests is under threat. Developers and the U.S. Forest Service are seeking permission to open Tongass National Forest – more than 16 million acres of old growth forest in Alaska – to development. Former Forest Service chief Mike Dombeck says managing national forests requires a careful balancing of several industries’ interests, not allowing one to lobby for changes that solely benefit it. “And what we have here is, we have a small segment of that interest in largely the timber industry in Alaska, which really wants access to more old-growth timber,” Dombeck states. Experts say that if Congress votes to terminate the 2001 Roadless Rule, national forest land in other states, including 172,000 acres in North Carolina, may be left vulnerable to development. The Forest Service will take up the issue of making changes to the Roadless Rule in a series of public hearings this week.

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UNECE, FAO Promote Forest Restoration and Cooperation on Boreal Forests

By Katherine Benson Wahlen
The International Institute for Sustainable Development
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: International

During the Fifth European Forest Week and Forêt2019, country representatives came together to discuss forest restoration and cooperation on boreal forests. Industry representatives highlighted a market review that predicts the use of dead, overstocked and damaged trees will increase significantly by 2024. The events provided an opportunity to reflect on trends in the forest sector and to discuss the role of forests in a circular economy. …On boreal forests, the UNECE region established a Team of Specialists (ToS) dedicated to streamline science and policy cooperation on boreal forests. The ToS will contribute to increasing awareness on the role of boreal forests in climate change and the bioeconomy, increasing collaboration with the International Boreal Forest Research Association and other boreal-related research organizations, and advising the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section on boreal forest matters.

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Large scale automated forest tree breeding in Sweden

TImberbiz.com.au
November 14, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: International

Södra is investing in large-scale and automated forest tree breeding through an innovative technologies company, SweTree Technologies. SEK 50 million will be invested in a pilot facility in Umeå. Stora Enso, Sveaskog and Holmen are co-funding the project. Source: Timberbiz. “We are hoping for a technological leap that will enable fast and efficient seedling production from the best tree breeding material in Sweden,” …said Göran Örlander, forestry strategist at Södra and chair of the project’s steering committee. SweTree Technologies has been developing a technology for automated seedling production based on somatic embryogenesis for several years. …SweTree Technologies has developed a technology for automated production of forest plants based on somatic embryogenesis. With this technology leap, it is possible to quickly and efficiently produce more plants originating from the best forest breeding material. …“It will be completed within a year.

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Forest Fires

Toll rises in Australian wildfires with more danger ahead

Associated Press in the Longview Daily News
November 14, 2019
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

SYDNEY  — The death toll for wildfires raging across Australia’s most populous state has risen to four as authorities warned Thursday of worsening weather conditions to come. A body was found late Wednesday in a scorched forest near the town of Kempsey in northeast New South Wales, police said. He is suspected to be a 58-year-old man who lived in a nearby shed and had not been seen since Friday when ferocious wildfires across New South Wales killed three other people and destroyed at least 150 homes. About 60 fires were burning around New South Wales on Thursday morning, with 27 uncontained while being battled by more than 1,000 firefighters, the Rural Fire Service said. …At least 50 homes were damaged or destroyed in New South Wales on Tuesday by wildfires that had burnt into the suburbs of Sydney, Australia’s largest city. A weeklong state of emergency was declared for New South Wales because of the extraordinary fire danger. 

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