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Timber Smuggling Could Eliminate Senegalese Forests In Two Years

Timber Smuggling Could Eliminate Senegalese Forests In Two Years | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Illegal timber smuggling is devastating the lush Casamance region of Senegal and could strip it completely within two years.

That’s the predication of Senegalese environmentalist and former minister Haidar El Ali.

Casamance in southern Senegal contains the country’s last remaining forests, an area of 74,000 acres that could be depleted by 2018 as smugglers feed the demand for rosewood furniture in China, said El Ali.

Exporting timber from Senegal is illegal, so traffickers smuggle it to neighboring Gambia for shipping to China.

Gambian exports of rosewood to China totaled $238.5 million between 2010-2015, the second highest in West Africa after Nigeria, he said. Gambia has only 4,000 hectares of forests.

“This unacceptable trafficking is devastating for our forests and it has to stop,” Haidar told a news conference.
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‘New Conservationists’ Push for Logging to Prevent Wildfires

‘New Conservationists’ Push for Logging to Prevent Wildfires | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Over his 27 years as director of the Oregon Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Hoeflich helped reinvent the role of conservationists by allying with the timber industry to promote restoration logging in both public and private forests. Hoeflich has made ample use of his smarts and charisma in an effort to alert the public and elected officials to what he calls the “ever degrading forest condition” of national forests, Bureau of Land Management tracts, and industrial timberlands, thanks to high-grade logging, livestock grazing, and wildfire suppression.

These unhealthy forests, according to Hoeflich, are at high risk of devastating wildfires, which threaten ecosystems and human communities alike. His solution is the expansion of “fuel reduction” logging to restore forest health, protect homes from burning, and provide a source of renewable “biomass” energy. 
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However, not everyone’s on board with the new conservationists’ agenda. Some forest ecologists, hydrologists, and more traditional, wilderness-centric conservationists contend that groups like The Nature Conservancy aren’t helping the forest, but instead are doing the bidding of the timber and bioenergy industries by inflaming fears of natural wildfire and “greenwashing” logging as restoration. Far from a forest remedy, they see this “log the forest to save it” mentality as a major threat to the nation’s carbon-storing forests, one of our best buffers against climate change. 

Has The Nature Conservancy found a more realistic, and ultimately effective, approach to conservation by teaming up with an industry long despised as the enemy? Is Hoeflich, as some of his toughest critics suggest, merely an industry shill in environmentalist’s clothing? Or is the rift the result of two very different views on the relationship between humanity and the natural world? 

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Alibaba’s Jack Ma Buys $23 Million Property in New York’s Adirondacks

Alibaba’s Jack Ma Buys $23 Million Property in New York’s Adirondacks | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire and co-founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has quietly made a new acquisition: a 28,100-acre property boasting trout streams, woodlands and a maple-syrup operation in New York’s Adirondacks. Mr. Ma paid $23 million for the sprawling upstate New York property, which he bought principally for conservation purposes, but also plans to use as an occasional personal retreat, according to a spokesman.


The estate, known as Brandon Park, includes more than 9 miles of the St. Regis River, as well as lakes, streams, ponds, forests and a 1940s log camp behind its gated entrance. There are two homes on the property, as well as lean-tos and a horse barn.

The land was originally part of neighboring Bay Pond, a private nature preserve created around the turn of the last century by William A. Rockefeller Jr., a co-founder of Standard Oil. In 1939, Brandon was acquired by the family of Wilhelmina du Pont Ross. The Ross family in 1999 transferred the property into Brandon LLC, according to public records. Brandon was first listed for sale in 2012 with an asking price of $28 million. In 2014 the asking price was lowered to $22.5 million.

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MeadWestvaco sells nearly 5,400 acres of East Edisto tract

MeadWestvaco sells nearly 5,400 acres of East Edisto tract | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A large chunk of MeadWestvaco's massive 72,000-acre East Edisto tract will go to conservation.

The paper giant recently sold 5,359 acres, or about 7 percent, of the sprawling property, near County Line Road in southwestern Charleston County to Cantusee Timberlands LLC for $14.25 million.

The buyer of the property near the Edisto River is affiliated with Conservation Forestry, a New Hampshire-based timberland investment firm.

Conservation Forestry is headed by John Tomlin, whose company harvests trees for profit while permanently protecting surrounding forests from development.

It works by pooling money with a nonprofit such as the Nature Conservancy to buy large wooded tracts. Conservation Forestry may put up 75 percent of the purchase price for the right to harvest timber and the Nature Conservancy puts up the rest and receives a conservation easement that ensures the forest will forever remain a forest.

The arrangement ensures a steady return for investors, the state retains its property tax base and the public gets wildlife and open space.
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MeadWestvaco placed a restriction on the property before it was sold that limits any development to low density, according to Ken Seeger, the company's president of community development and land management.

Sam Radcliffe's insight:

At $2,659 per acre this property must be exceedingly well stocked...

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Conservation group wants to buy burned forest

Conservation group wants to buy burned forest | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A conservation group says the wildfire that burned more than 10 square miles of private timberland outside Bend has not dampened its desire to buy the property.


The Two Bulls fire broke out last Saturday on forest owned by Cascade Timberlands. Although it threatened hundreds of scattered rural homes west of Bend, firefighters managed to stop its spread, and on Friday it was 70 percent contained.


Investigators have said it was caused by people, but have not said whether it was deliberately set or an accident.


The Bulletin newspaper reports that Deschutes Land Trust has long been interested in buying the property to create a Skyline Forest. The goal is to preserve it from development, protect wildlife habitat, maintain scenic views and use it in education programs, executive director Brad Chalfant said.

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Timber giant Crown Pacific owned the tree farm before going bankrupt in 2002. The land was sold to creditors and eventually came to be owned by Cascade Timberlands, which has an office in Bend. The timber company is owned by Fidelity National Timber Resources, a subsidiary of Fidelity National Financial in Jacksonville, Florida.


Cascade Timberlands also has forests near Gilchrist and Chiloquin, Chalfant said. Fidelity apparently wants to sell all its holdings in Oregon, amounting to about 200,000 acres, so he has been working to draw in partners, he added.

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China bans commercial logging in northern forests

China bans commercial logging in northern forests | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Forestry authorities in China have stopped commercial logging in the nation’s largest forest area, marking an end to more than a half-century of intensive deforestation that removed an estimated 600 million cubic meters (21 billion cubic feet) of timber. The logging shutdown was enacted in large part to protect soil and water quality of greater China, which are significantly affected by forest loss in the mountainous region.


The area is in the extreme northeast portion of China, and comprises a huge swath of dense, temperate forest that stretches into Russia. The landscape is dominated by the Hinggan (Khingan) mountain range that spans more than 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) south towards China’s interior, and supports a diverse array of wildlife. The Hinggan Mountains also form an important climatic divide, taking precipitation from southeasterly winds and fueling watersheds that provide water to a tenth of China’s arable land.


Large-scale commercial logging of the area first began in the 1950s to meet growing economic demands. By the 1980s, the landscape of the region had changed dramatically due to the loss of forest cover, and large trees had all but disappeared. From 2000 to 2013 alone, more than half a million hectares of land were deforested in the region, according to data from Global Forest Watch. Logging activity was focused primarily in the northern periphery of the range, where around 20 percent of the land was deforested.

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olyvia Schaefer and Rachel Shaberman's curator insight, October 14, 2014 5:20 PM

area/geography

The Chinese are trying to stop deforestation by stopping logging in the northern forests. They are trying to end the deforestation of logs because  600 million cubic meters have already been cut down.  Commercial logging was used to help the growing economic needs.

Emily and Kevria's curator insight, October 16, 2014 4:46 PM

Area/Geography

 

The logging was suppose to help protect the water and soil but has become a loss of  21 billion cubic feet of wood.  This is effecting the weather. This fits into the category area and geography because it is talking about chinas largest forest area and how it is effecting the area. 

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Tasmania: Logging on

Tasmania: Logging on | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

MOST people believed the island state of Tasmania had at last found peace after a 30-year war between environmentalists and loggers. Both sides signed a deal two years ago that gave everyone something: secure supplies for timber companies and protection for native forests.

Now, though, Tony Abbott, Australia’s prime minister, has reignited the war. Australia, he says, has too much “locked-up forest”. Mr Abbott wants to open up a swathe of Australia’s most fought-over forest and hand it to loggers. His government has asked UNESCO to remove 74,000 hectares (183,000 acres) from the World Heritage-listed wilderness region that covers about a fifth of Tasmania.
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Forests cover half of Tasmania: in Australia as a whole it is less than a quarter. Battles over access to the land harmed the logging industry. Fearing that supplies would be disrupted, customers in Asia had started looking elsewhere for their timber. For this reason alone, many loggers welcomed the calm that came with the peace as much as greens did. Ta Ann, a Malaysian-based outfit that turns eucalyptus logs into veneer, says it was ready to quit Tasmania, but the peace deal persuaded it to stay.
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Questions remain about Mr Abbott’s reasons for stripping 74,000 hectares from World Heritage listing. He suggests the entire area had already been logged, “degraded” or planted with timber to be logged. The Wilderness Society, one of the environmental groups that signed the deal, calculates that just 10% of the area had in fact been logged; about 40% was “old-growth” forest, barely disturbed before; and much of the rest was natural vegetation.


At 7.6% Tasmania’s unemployment rate is Australia’s highest (compared with 6% nationally). Mr Abbott blames “Green ideology” for many of the island’s woes, even for Australia’s lowest life expectancy. He wants a “renaissance” of forestry in Tasmania. The industry employs around 4,000 people, about 2,000 fewer than six years ago. The Australia Institute, a think-tank, reckons that Tasmania’s industry can survive only with government subsidies. Delisting World Heritage regions, it argues, will create hardly any jobs. The World Heritage Committee is due to rule on the Abbott government’s request in June.

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Conservation Finance Aims to Profit from Environmental Stewardship

Conservation Finance Aims to Profit from Environmental Stewardship | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

EKO Asset Management Partners recently landed a big one. In January the New York–based investment management and advisory firm shared in a $53 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies that comes with a unique challenge: Figure out how investors can profit from helping to tackle chronic overfishing. Since 2012, EKO has been exploring ways of encouraging sustainability reforms to industrial and smaller-scale fisheries by luring private capital. Better management of the world’s fish stocks could grow their populations by more than half and boost yields by up to 40 percent, according to the journal Science.


Over the next two years, the Bloomberg funding will support EKO’s work with U.S. environmental groups Oceana and Rare to design and establish financing mechanisms that can help to improve fisheries practices in Brazil, Chile and the Philippines. The firm is one of a handful of financial institutions that are teaming up with nonprofits to pull investors into a nascent market known as conservation finance.
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Devoted to investments that help preserve ecosystems for the long term, conservation finance sees about $10 billion in annual investment and spans sustainable timberland, agriculture and aquaculture; wastewater treatment; and freshwater protection, according to a January report by Credit Suisse Group, the World Wildlife Fund and consulting firm McKinsey & Co. To meet environmental needs the market must grow to 20 to 30 times its current size, or between $200 billion and $300 billion in annual investment, the report estimates. Assuming that philanthropic and government contributions at least double in the near term, its authors say the gap would close if every high-net-worth individual, retail investor and institutional investor dedicated 1 percent of their portfolios to conservation finance.


The market’s multifariousness has held it back, acknowledges John Tobin, Credit Suisse’s Zurich-based global head of sustainability and a co-author of the report. “That doesn’t mean there can’t be investable and very profitable products in the area of conservation finance,” says Tobin, who calls for more thinking on the subject. “Protecting species and supporting protected areas has been a philanthropic endeavor until now. I don’t think many people have approached the topic saying, ‘Hmm, environmental conservation: There’s money to be made here.’”

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Jack D Bridges's curator insight, March 14, 2014 10:06 AM

Another gem of a find from Mr. Sam Radcliffe--thanks, Sam! (http://www.prentissandcarlisle.com/).

 

In the financial world, nothing is more annoying than 'talking one's book' (touting one's investments, in the parlance of our times). So, I'll try not to be a hypocrite. But, conservation finance is an important topic for investors. And, it will only grow in importance as environmental markets continue to attract more capital. Why? 

 

For investors, it matters because there is indeed money to be made--solid, risk-adjusted returns, in fact. For people who value ethics and integrity it matters even more, because at the very least they want their investments to try and avoid the least desirable outcomes of capitalism. 

 

While my experience within conservation finance cannot be measured in decades, I've been lucky to learn from some very smart figures in the field (www.sustainableresourcefund.com). For all of my reading and discussions with far brighter people, it boils down to this: 

 

It's not just possible to combine value investing and traditional market based models with sustainable, ethical businesses. It's imperative. Essential. Indeed, the attitude that suggests otherwise is one of the biggest hurdles impeding the growth of the marketplace.

 

Let me close with this: It is not easy to find investments that offer inefficient markets, great risk-return profiles, within an ethical framework. But, at least for this writer, it's easy to see the promise that lies ahead for environmental markets and assets.

 

In the future, I hope to post an interview with an expert or two on the subject--so stay tuned, please.

JDB

 

Thanks again, Sam, for finding the article!

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Minnesota: St. Louis County, DNR ready to make land trade

Minnesota: St. Louis County, DNR ready to make land trade | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A land exchange is in the works that would put the nation’s single largest wetland “bank” in the Sax-Zim Bog of St. Louis County, one of the state’s most important bird conservation areas.


Under the deal, a private wetland mitigation company would acquire and rehabilitate some 22,000 acres of former swampland in the Sax-Zim Bog area near Meadowlands to its original, pre-settlement condition before ditches drained the fields for farming.


In exchange, St. Louis County and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which now manage the swampland, would get thousands of acres of upland forest land.

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The deal is being brokered by The Conservation Fund, one of the nation’s largest land conservation organizations. No price tag has been put on the deal, since the private forest land has yet to be acquired, but those involved say it’s worth multiple millions of dollars.


The Conservation Fund would buy the forested land from private parties, trade it to the county and DNR for the swampland, and then sell the ditched swampland to Ecosystem Investment Partners.


The company would then restore the wetlands and recoup its costs by selling credits to developers, road builders, mining projects and other projects that have to replace wetlands lost in construction.

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Megaregions: What are They and How Will They Affect Rural Land?

Megaregions: What are They and How Will They Affect Rural Land? | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Just this week, the topic of our broker’s meeting focused on eleven regions throughout the U.S. that are connected by a number of social, political, and environmental networks. Regional planners classify these corridors as megaregions and predict the majority of our nation’s population and economic growth will take place in these eleven regions in the foreseeable future.

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Rural land use will play a pivotal role in achieving the objectives necessary to ensure a bright future for all eleven megaregions over the next four decades. A large landscape conservation initiative has emerged as a cross-boundary movement that focuses on the preservation of watersheds throughout an entire geographic region and relies on the support of communities across state lines.

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This new conservation initiative for rural lands is an excellent indicator of evolving land use policies for rural lands located in a megaregion corridor. In addition to paying close attention to this initiative, buyers and sellers of rural land should recognize that the implementation of new infrastructure in the form of roads, light rail, and development required for changing transportation and settlement patterns will undoubtedly have serious impacts on rural land values in these areas.

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Altaira Wallquist's curator insight, May 25, 2015 8:01 PM

This article uses charts and maps to describe and show where the more populous rural regions are and the areas that are likely to receive an increase in population.

 

This connects to the Unit 5 TEK on rural distribution. It shows population and general rural lang uses and predict rural land use in the future.

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Wisconsin conservation groups hope to ward off stewardship program cuts

Wisconsin conservation groups hope to ward off stewardship program cuts | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Wisconsin's massive land conservation program could once again be in the cross hairs of Republican legislators who want to cut funding for it.


The threat is prompting pre-emptive strikes from conservation groups and others, including the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, which are pressing lawmakers and saying reductions in the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program could impair the state's ability to preserve critical land and habitat.

The program has helped fund everything from developing bike trails and electrifying campsites to providing the lion's share of funding for blockbuster deals such a $35.1 million transaction, the Wild Rivers Legacy Forest, involving more than 64,000 acres in Florence, Forest and Marinette counties in 2007, 2009 and 2010.


The program's central aim is to buy or gain access to land through the use of easements for myriad purposes, ranging from hunting and fishing to bird watching and snowmobiling.


In recent years, advocates say the program has been able to parlay tens of millions of dollars for deals with paper companies, which have increasingly sold off timber holdings as they concentrate on their manufacturing operations.


But interest costs of the stewardship program are growing at a time when Republicans controlling the Legislature are pushing for tax cuts and shrinking the size of government.

***

Two years ago, with the state in fiscal dire straits, Gov. Scott Walker and lawmakers pared the program from $86 million annually to $60 million a year.


Republicans are debating whether to make more reductions than Walker's budget calls for, and they're privately tossing around figures on how much to slash, Darling said.


They're also talking about selling off some land - especially parcels that could be used for farming - and they are mulling using a smaller amount of funding and earmarking it for maintenance of existing holdings and increasing public access, according to Darling.


From 1990 to June 30, 2012, the Department of Natural Resources purchased or bought easements to more than 560,000 acres, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

The cost: $527 million, with the federal government spending an additional $62.4 million on land and land-related purchases.

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Hancock sells development rights to 43,000 acres in Washington

Hancock sells development rights to 43,000 acres in Washington | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

King County, reaching one of the biggest deals of its kind, has agreed to buy development rights on a 43,000-acre forest stretching from Enumclaw to Greenwater along the White River.


County Executive Dow Constantine announced the $11.1 million deal with Hancock Timber Resources Group at a news conference Thursday, saying it will expand the county’s “green wall against sprawl.”


The deal, approved Thursday by the Hancock board of directors, is subject to approval by the Metropolitan King County Council. Councilmembers Larry Phillips and Reagan Dunn, chair and vice chair respectively of the council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee, declared their support for the agreement.


Constantine said the forest is the largest block of privately owned land in the county that isn’t already protected from development. It would continue to be operated as a working forest, with the public allowed to use the land for recreation.


The biggest deal of this type was King County’s 2004 purchase of development rights on Hancock’s 89,000-acre Snoqualmie tree farm.

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Sam Radcliffe's comment, March 21, 2013 6:18 PM
Let me do the arithmetic for you: that's $258 per acre
Jack D Bridges's curator insight, March 22, 2013 9:03 AM

$258/an acre seems like a great deal for King County--though, I haven't seen the terms of the transaction (for some reason the writer avoided calling it an easement).

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CalPERS to sell 20,000-acre Sonoma County forest

CalPERS to sell 20,000-acre Sonoma County forest | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A national conservation group has reached an agreement to buy nearly 20,000 acres of timberland in northwestern Sonoma County, a move that derails the long-disputed, forest-to-vineyards conversion project pushed by CalPERS, the giant state workers pension plan.


The $24.5 million purchase of the so-called Preservation Ranch, to be completed by the end of May, is led by The Conservation Fund, based in Virginia. It would contribute up to $6 million toward the purchase.

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The Conservation Fund owns and manages 55,000 acres of forest in Mendocino County and would use the new property for sustainable timber production and possibly for the sale of carbon credits.

The purchase would eliminate the threat of subdivision for rural estates and commercial vineyard development.

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Weyerhaeuser commits three million acres in WA and OR to support the reintroduction of the North American Fisher

Weyerhaeuser commits three million acres in WA and OR to support the reintroduction of the North American Fisher | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Weyerhaeuser Company plans to commit up to 3 million acres of private timberland in Washington and Oregon to support a variety of conservation efforts focused on reintroducing the North American Fisher (Fisher) throughout the West. The Fisher reintroduction and conservation effort is being led by a variety of partners including: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), state wildlife agencies, conservation organizations and private forestland owners, like Weyerhaeuser.


Today, the USFWS took a constructive step by recognizing the positive benefits of working forests when it determined the Fisher is not warranted for listing as a threatened or endangered species in the Northwest. Instead, it will cooperatively work with private landowners to encourage Fisher conservation. The USFWS has structured conservation agreements with private forestland owners like Weyerhaeuser, which are called Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs). The agreements last for 20 years

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Timbervest restoring Yolo habitat

Timbervest restoring Yolo habitat | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Timbervest, an Atlanta company, has announced that it restoring and preserving 85 natural habitats representing approximately 30,000 acres — including streams and wetlands — across the U.S., including southern Yolo County.


The projects, a record number of active restoration ventures for Timbervest, are comprised of mitigation and conservation banks that generate money through the sale of credits to companies, municipalities and other entities that have adversely affected the environment. These banks enable Timbervest to restore, preserve or create habitats set aside permanently for wildlife.
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Timbervest creates and manages mitigation and conservation banks through subsidiaries such as Wildlands, a habitat development and land management company. Since its founding in 1995, Timbervest has helped restore or preserve over 30,000 acres of wetland and more than 40,000 acres of threatened or endangered species habitat.
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More than $200 million of Timbervest’s investment portfolio, which includes nearly 600,000 acres of timberland valued at more than $1 billion, is dedicated to ecosystem restoration initiatives, also known as Crossover AssetsTM. Timbervest is among the largest investment managers within this asset class in terms of both assets under management and number of projects.

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Apple Partners With World Wildlife Fund on China Forest Initiative

Apple Partners With World Wildlife Fund on China Forest Initiative | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Apple is expanding its environmental protection and renewable energy push in China, announcing that it has partnered with World Wildlife Fund to protect up to a million acres of sustainable forest land in China to produce the fiber used in Apple packaging and products.

The deal will put the WWF in charge of managing as much as 1 million acres of forest in China as Apple works to achieve a net zero impact on the environment for all of the virgin paper products that it uses.

Apple is also partnering with several Chinese power companies to create two more solar farms. The company’s first solar project in China, started only three weeks ago, will produce enough power to run all of Apple’s corporate offices and retail stores in the country.
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UNESCO Protects the Tasmanian Forest From Australian Logging

UNESCO Protects the Tasmanian Forest From Australian Logging | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has voted to protect all Tasmanian forest from logging — striking down the Australian government’s attempt to withdraw 183,000 acres (74,000 hectares) from the U.N. list of cultural and natural wonders.


Canberra claimed that parts of the forest had already been degraded by the timber industry and should therefore be fair game for further logging. However, U.N. delegates in Doha, Qatar, sided with conservationists who claimed that most of the forest was unscathed and that only 8.6% of the 3.5 million acres (1.4 million hectares) had been damaged.


Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that he was disappointed with the decision, believing that the untapped Tasmanian logging would aid his nation’s already floundering timber industry. “The application that we made to remove from the boundaries of the World Heritage listing — areas of degraded forest, areas of plantation timber — we thought was self-evidently sensible,” Abbott said.

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Conserving Landscapes and Ecosystems With Private Investment

Conserving Landscapes and Ecosystems With Private Investment | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Private investors are finding new opportunities to invest in large-scale conservation efforts intended to protect biodiversity and boost "ecosystem services" such as clean water, clean air and carbon storage.


Earlier this year, 50 leading practitioners of "conservation finance" came together for a two-day workshop hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to discuss successful deals and innovative transactional structures. Participants sought to identify scalable and repeatable models that generate returns for investors. The workshop was intended to accelerate the emergence of an investor-driven approach to conservation.


The steering committee for the Conservation Finance Practitioners Workshop included representatives from Coady Diemar Partners, Equilibrium Capital, The Lyme Timber Company, and Credit Suisse.


Some of the highlights and takeaways:

"We're on the cusp of having the attention of institutional investors and that's good news," says Peter Stein of Lyme Timber. The representation at the workshop of Credit Suisse, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs signals growing client demand and deal-making opportunities and conservation finance product development is a major opportunity for Wall Street banks in 2014.
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"The constraint on our business model is the availability of public money" to pay for conservation easements, says Peter Stein. The same is true for New Market Tax Credits, says Bettina von Hagen of Ecotrust Forest Management. In contrast, regulatory frameworks for mitigation credits and offsets create a private-capital market without public funding. Developers seeking a more predictable permit process, "will pay for high-quality compensatory mitigation," says Adam Davis of Ecosystem Investment Partners.
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Workshop participants want to emphasize 'working lands,' not 'forever wild.' In the Brule-St. Croix Legacy Forest project, "Biodiversity couldn't be mentioned, conservation easements couldn't be mentioned," Peter Stein says. "We had to focus on rural economic development."
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Kyung-Ah Park sees the need for third-party credit rating if we are to bring in institutional investors looking for investment grade, plain-vanilla opportunities and suggests a clearinghouse of conservation finance projects in the pipeline could more efficiently match interested investors with opportunities. Dave Chen sees a need for a merchant banking function for raises of $200-400 million. Evan Smith of the Conservation Fund wants to explore ways conservation can monetize reduced government outlays, such as through better wildfire management. "Can we turn future avoided costs into something we can use now?"
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"Count those capital flows over time," recommends Jim Levitt of Harvard Forest. "It's boring, clerical and very important." A starting point could be an inventory of investable products, tagged by their position on the 'S' curve, suggests Logan Yonavjak, a Master of Forestry candidate at Yale University. Two good places to start are The Ecosystem Marketplace produced by Michael Jenkins and his team at Forest Trends and the Summary of Natural Infrastructure Finance Mechanisms by Todd Gartner and team at WRI.

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Oregon considers selling entire forest to benefit schools

Oregon considers selling entire forest to benefit schools | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The state of Oregon will consider selling the whole Elliott State Forest, where legal battles over logging and protections for threatened species have reduced revenues for schools.


Jim Paul, assistant director of the Department of State Lands, said Friday the forest has turned from an asset into a liability, costing the Common School Fund $3 million last year. He says the state has a responsibility to see if it can turn that around.


He adds that selling off the whole forest, whether to a timber company or conservation groups, is just one in a spectrum of possibilities that will be examined by department staff in coming months so the State Lands Board can make a decision.

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The Elliott covers about 90,000 acres north of Coos Bay. It includes some of the last older forest in the Coast Range, where most forests are privately owned and heavily logged. As the state has tried to increase harvest levels in recent years to meet local demands for logs and revenue, it has run into difficulties meeting federal requirements to protect habitat for threatened northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets and coho salmon.


A lawsuit from conservation groups over protections for marbled murrelets, a seabird that nests in large old trees, has resulted in withdrawal of several timber sales. Protesters have occupied timber sales to prevent logging.


The State Lands Board, made up of the governor, state treasurer and secretary of state, decided last December to sell off five parcels from the forest to get a better idea of its value in light of logging restrictions to protect threatened species.


The deadline for bids on three of them was Friday. Paul said the names of the winners would not be disclosed until Wednesday.

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Vermont: Developers, administration chop down forest fragmentation bill

Vermont: Developers, administration chop down forest fragmentation bill | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A proposal to limit forest fragmentation was thwarted by developers who oppose using the state’s land use and development laws as a tool to keep woodlands intact, according to the lead sponsor of the bill that was gutted on the Senate floor Wednesday.


“There are developers in a certain corner of the state that are very concerned that nothing gets in the way of their planned development,” said Sen. Peter Galbraith, D-Windham.


The Senate scaled back a bill Wednesday to use the state’s Act 250 permitting process to prevent forest fragmentation after the Shumlin administration called for a study on how to preserve the state’s forests in harmony with the forest products industry and future development.

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Ohio River partnership pieces together massive conservation trust in Western Kentucky with purchase from The Forestland Group

Ohio River partnership pieces together massive conservation trust in Western Kentucky with purchase from The Forestland Group | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Thousands of acres of lush forests, wildflower-filled meadows and ecologically rich marshes at the confluence of Western Kentucky’s Tradewater and Ohio rivers will be protected for future generations under a landmark conservation deal designed to help preserve the state’s fragile habitat.

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“It is by far one of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen in Kentucky, and there are some beautiful landscapes in Kentucky,” said Terry Cook head of the Kentucky office of the Nature Conservancy.


The private nonprofit land trust on Wednesday closed on a deal to pay an estimated $13.4 million to the land’s owner, North Carolina-based The Forestland Group LLC, before selling the land to the state.


It would further Kentucky’s effort to build “conservation islands” to help preserve the state’s native plants and animals, many of which are struggling as their habitat is lost to cities, farms and roads, as well as such invasive species as the emerald ash borer.


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Supreme Court gives landowners big win in Florida case

Supreme Court gives landowners big win in Florida case | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The U.S. Supreme Court gave the family of a Central Florida landowner – as well as property owners and developers across the state and country – a significant victory on Tuesday with a ruling that stands to make it tougher and more expensive for government agencies to protect the nation’s dwindling wetlands.


In a 5 to 4 decision, the court found that the St. Johns River Water Management District had imposed excessive demands on Coy Koontz Sr., who was denied a permit to build on a 15-acre plot outside of Orlando unless he offset or “mitigated” for paving over wetlands by restoring wetlands owned by the district several miles away.

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[Pacific Legal] Foundation attorney Paul Beard said the ruling would help protect landowners and set a higher bar for government regulators. “Anyone who owns a home or business and wants to make use of it, they will no longer be subject to willy-nilly extortion demands from permitting agencies,” he said.


But environmentalists, echoing dissenting justices, also warned that the ruling could weaken or undermine wetlands protection laws and other land-use regulations. Similar off-site “mitigation” agreements have long been an important tool for federal, state and local regulators trying to enforce a national “no net loss” of wetlands policy established by President George H. W. Bush in 1988.

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Rubber barons: the destruction of forests continues

Rubber barons: the destruction of forests continues | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

ALONG Route 7 in Cambodia’s remote north, dozens of small tractors known as “iron buffaloes” are plying a dilapidated piece of highway. Under cover of darkness, they transport freshly cut timber into nearby sawmills. The drivers wear masks, their tractors fitted with just one dim lamp at the front. Each carries between three and six logs which locals say were felled illegally on or near the Dong Nai rubber plantation, owned by Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG).


Illegal logging and land-grabbing have long been problems in Cambodia. A new report entitled “Rubber Barons” by Global Witness, a London-based environmental watchdog, has highlighted the issue once again. Dong Nai features prominently in the report, which claims that luxury timbers like rosewood, much in demand for furniture in China and guitars in the West, were culled as a 3,000-hectare (7,400-acre) section of forest was illegally cleared.


Global Witness says that local and foreign companies have amassed more than 3.7m hectares of land in Cambodia and Laos since 2000, as governments have handed out huge land concessions, many in opaque circumstances. Two-fifths of this was for rubber plantations, dominated by state companies from Vietnam, the world’s third-largest rubber producer.


The report claims that VRG and another Vietnamese company, HAGL, are among the biggest land-grabbers, and have been logging illegally in both Cambodia and Laos. It says that, through Vietnam-based funds, the two companies have received money from Deutsche Bank, while HAGL also has investment from the IFC, the private-sector arm of the World Bank. The two Vietnamese companies have denied any wrongdoing. Deutsche Bank and the IFC say they are studying the findings.

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Pope Resources Announces $5.7 Million Conservation Sale

Pope Resources Announces $5.7 Million Conservation Sale | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Pope Resources (Nasdaq: POPE) announced a $5.7 million conservation sale to Columbia Land Trust of 2,330 acres on the southern flanks of Mount St. Helens. he sale conserves approximately nine miles of sensitive Pine Creek riparian habitat and adjacent forestlands. Pine Creek is a prime habitat for bull trout, a threatened species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

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This parcel, adjacent to Pine Creek, is part of a much larger Mount St. Helens Forest Conservation Project that is spearheaded by Columbia Land Trust and aims to protect from development 20,000 acres of working forest and critical wildlife habitat around the Swift Reservoir on the Lewis River.  The first of four parcels in the Mount St. Helens Forest Conservation Project was conserved in 2010.  With a Forest Legacy grant procured by Columbia Land Trust, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources was able to buy a conservation easement from Pope Resources in 2010 that permanently protects 6,886 acres of forestlands south of the reservoir from development.  Since the Pope Resources property is one of the county's largest private holdings, project proponents have worked to insure all conserved lands remain on the county tax rolls.


"We are pleased to see the second phase of this innovative project move forward, and we are very optimistic about another state grant that will help us conserve an additional 3,074 acres under a conservation easement," said Jon Rose, president of Olympic Property Group, Pope Resources' real estate subsidiary.

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State forest plan passed by split Michigan Senate

State forest plan passed by split Michigan Senate | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The Michigan Senate voted Tuesday to curtail state regulators' consideration of biological diversity when designating sections of state forest land, over the objections of environmentalists who said the "anti-science" bill would gut a practice in place for nearly 100 years.


The measure was approved 26-11 along party lines in the Republican-led chamber. It is sponsored by an Upper Peninsula lawmaker and backed by the timber industry. They contend the legislation is needed to prevent large areas of state-owned land from being declared off-limits to logging and motorized recreation, although officials say that is not their intention.

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The measure would order the state to balance its forest management activities with economic concerns. It also would delete "biological diversity" from the DNR's list of forest management duties, eliminate a requirement that the DNR promote restoration in managing forests and erase a prior legislative finding that most losses of biological diversity are the result of human activity.

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The state spent years looking for tracts suitable for the "biodiversity stewardship area" designation, beginning in the northern Lower Peninsula. After consulting with interest groups including the forest products industry and environmentalists, the DNR put together a draft plan identifying 678,000 acres that might be suitable.

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But the draft drew opposition from the timber industry. And now Casperson's bill is sparking outrage in the environmental community, which says its scope would affect much more than the Living Legacies Initiative.


"This is terrible legislation. It undercuts one of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' chief missions — to protect and enhance the diversity and splendor of Michigan's woodlands and forests," Brad Garmon, director of conservation and emerging issues for the Michigan Environmental Council, said in a statement.

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