Timberland Investment
91.4K views | +0 today
Follow
Timberland Investment
Timber Industry | Deals & Transactions | Investment Rationale | Financial Performance | Investors | Asset Managers
Curated by Sam Radcliffe
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Cameroon moves to curb forest loss linked to Chinese investment

Cameroon moves to curb forest loss linked to Chinese investment | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A rise in Chinese companies operating in Cameroon’s timber sector, combined with weak law enforcement, have fuelled a surge in illegal logging that is fast depleting the nation’s forests, experts warn. But the government is hoping a new association it has set up for Chinese firms exploiting forests will strengthen links with officials and enable those companies to work within the law.


Every night, trucks laden with logs negotiate hundreds of kilometres of bumpy earth roads, headed to the port in Douala, Cameroon’s commercial capital, where the wood – some of it logged illegally – is shipped to foreign markets.


“We have observed a surge in timber trade activities with the increased presence of Chinese business operators in the sector,” said Bernard Njonga, coordinator of Cameroon-based NGO Support Service for Local Development Initiatives (SAILD). “The illegal forest exploitation and logging business has been compounded by weak laws applied to some groups of persons and not others,” he added.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

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.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Global Forest Partners Alleges $9 Million Theft

Global Forest Partners Alleges $9 Million Theft | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

***
A criminal complaint filed under seal in U.S. District Court in Concord in December and unsealed Oct. 15 charges Roberto Montano, aka Jorge Roberto Montano Pellegrini, with wire fraud. The civil lawsuit, filed by Lebanon-based Global Forest Partners and an affiliate of the California Public Employees Retirement System, alleges that Montano, 49, California biofuels developer Kirk Haney, and companies they control are guilty of breach of contract, theft, fraud and other violations of the law.
***
Global Forest Partners manages an investment portfolio that is nearly as valuable as Dartmouth College’s endowment and includes about 2 million acres of timberland in Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, New Zealand, Uruguay and the southeastern United States. Global Forest has 24 professional employees.
***
By the beginning of this decade, Global Forest had amassed more than $3 billion in assets. That made it a big player in an often overlooked corner of the investment market that TimberLink, a consulting firm, estimated in 2011 comprised about $30 billion in assets.
***
In 2007, according to an affidavit filed in court by an FBI agent, Global Forest began investing “about $45 million to $50 million” from a large pension plan to develop teak plantations in the Peten region of Guatemala.

The investor was the California Public Employees Retirement System, or Calpers, which has more than $300 billion in assets. Calpers participated using Sylvanus LLC, an affiliate with nearly $500 million invested in forest land. A Calpers spokesman confirmed the giant pension fund’s ownership interest in Sylvanus, but referred other questions to Global Forest.
***
Eventually, Calpers provided most of the $45 million to $50 million that was used to pay for land, supplies, equipment and labor needed to plant, maintain and harvest teak trees on a new plantation, according to the FBI affidavit, which describes but doesn’t name the giant pension fund. In 2010, investors organized by Global Forest began forking over $25 million more to fund a second plantation.

The plantations aimed to capture a slice of the global market for teak which, according to a 2012 report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, is one of “the tropical hardwoods most in demand for the luxury market and heavy duty applications.” While natural teak forests are found only in India, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, more than 75 percent of the global supply comes from plantations.

The Guatemalan teak plantations that were financed by Calpers and other investors who ponied up tens of millions of dollars — at least $70 million, according to the FBI affidavit — covered as many as 25,000 acres. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that in 1998 Guatemala had had only about 4,000 acres of teak.

Montano played a key role, according to court filings. He “held himself out as the chief executive officer” of Green Millennium, the company that Global Forest and its investors hired to manage the Guatemalan project, according to the affidavit.

Montano opened multiple spigots to boost his illicit personal cash flow, according to the affidavit, which alleges that he pocketed $2.6 million in operating funds, $1.4 million in subsidies from the Guatemalan government and at least $5.3 million in proceeds from loans that improperly mortgaged properties owned by Global Forest investors.
***
Montano is also a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed in Grafton Superior Court in November by Global Forest, Sylvanus and other investors seeking to recover more than $10 million that was allegedly stolen. The lawsuit also names Haney, a San Diego investor and entrepreneur, as a defendant. Haney and Montano were the co-owners of Green Millennium, the lawsuit says.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

OSC lays out 'road map' for fraud case against Sino-Forest executives

OSC lays out 'road map' for fraud case against Sino-Forest executives | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Hugh Craig, counsel for OSC staff, spent about an hour Tuesday laying out a “road map” to the commission’s case against former Sino-Forest chief executive Allen Chan, pictured, and four other senior executives.


The Ontario Securities Commission laid out a sweeping case against former executives of Sino-Forest Corp. Tuesday, pledging to call more than a dozen witnesses and evidence to back up allegations of multiple instances of fraud at the disgraced Chinese timber company.


Sino-Forest raised $3-billion in Canada’s capital markets before a short-seller’s allegations of fraud and revenue inflation — and the subsequent OSC investigation — felled the firm and wiped out the holdings of scores of shareholders. “The risk of this loss was always present, given the flaws in Sino-Forest,” said Hugh Craig, counsel for OSC staff.
***
He said there were multiple individual instances of fraud, which included “the fabrication of assets and revenue.” The commission’s staff also plans to call witnesses and evidence to back up claims that Sino-Forest’s offshore executives hid relationships between the company and key supplies and customers. “No investor could make an informed decision whether to buy or sell Sino-Forest securities,” Mr. Craig said, adding that while there may be evidence presented about different business practices in China, there is no getting around the fact that Sino-Forest raised money in Canada’s markets.


The executives are accused of backdating purchases and sales of timber assets, and misleading independent directors, auditors, and OSC investigators.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Feds suspect wetlands illegally drained at NCSU's Hofmann Forest

Feds suspect wetlands illegally drained at NCSU's Hofmann Forest | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Two federal agencies are investigating whether the managers of N.C. State University’s massive Hofmann Forest violated the Clean Water Act by illegally draining wetlands.


An N.C. State University foundation is in the midst of selling the 79,000-acre forest to a company headed by a large-scale farmer from the Midwest. A small group of foresters and environmentalists is fighting the $150 million deal in court.


Regulators from the Army Corps of Engineers visited the forest in January to check the ditches there after the N.C. Coastal Federation asked the Corps about the history of several thousand acres of cleared land in the forest. The regulators found extensive draining by ditches. Mickey Sugg, a regulator with the Corps’ Wilmington office, said in an interview this week that at least some of the drainage work appeared to be illegal.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also is involved in the investigation, and it will determine whether the ditching falls within anexemption in the Clean Water Act that allows some drainage improvements for tree farming, Sugg said.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Harvard Overpaid for Timber as Romanian Agent Held for Bribery

Harvard Overpaid for Timber as Romanian Agent Held for Bribery | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

An investment agent who represented Harvard University faces charges in Romania that he took more than $1 million in bribes to induce the school to buy forest land at inflated prices.


Dragos Lipan Secu arranged with unnamed sellers to artificially boost prices that Scolopax, a Harvard-owned company, paid for timberland between 2007 and 2009, anti- corruption prosecutors said in a statement Jan. 21, the day after Lipan Secu was arrested.

***

The matter is an unseemly one for Harvard, the world’s wealthiest university, which prides itself at identifying esoteric investment opportunities such as third-world forestry, said Jack Lutz, a consultant on timberland investing at Forest Research Group in Rowley, Massachusetts.


“They’re going into some risky places but maybe here’s one that isn’t going to work out well for them,” said Lutz, who formerly worked for Boston-based Hancock Timber Resource Group, the world’s largest timberland manager for institutional investors.

***

Harvard Management has been increasing investments in natural resources in foreign countries, including timberlands that are farmed for paper and wood products.


Jane Mendillo, president and chief executive officer of Harvard Management, began exploring timberland as an investment in the 1990s when she was a vice president. The company sold its U.S. tree farms in the past decade and began making similar purchases overseas, including in New Zealand and most recently in Brazil.


Ziarul Financiar, a daily newspaper based in Bucharest, reported in 2011 that Harvard had emerged as the largest owner of forests in Romania after the state government, controlling 35,000 hectares through Scolopax, as well as 2,000 hectares of farmland in the country. 


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

In Russia's Vast Far East, Timber Thieves Thrive

In Russia's Vast Far East, Timber Thieves Thrive | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Forests cover about half of Russia's land mass, an environmental resource that President Vladimir Putin calls "the powerful green lungs of the planet."


But Putin himself acknowledges that Russia, the world's biggest exporter of logs, is having its timber stolen at an unprecedented rate.


The demand for high-value timber is fueling organized crime, government corruption and illegal logging in the Russian Far East. The hardwood cut in the endless forests often ends up as flooring and furniture in the United States, Europe, Japan and China.


At a meeting on timber management earlier this year, Putin said that illegal logging has increased by nearly 70 percent over the past five years, and he added that timber thieves have no problem selling their product.


Illegal loggers are often linked to violent organized crime, and together, they undermine what officials say could be sustainable forests and contribute to Russia's endemic corruption by paying off local officials.

more...
Nicole Kearsch's curator insight, October 25, 2014 1:28 AM

I never thought that timber would be something that was a top priority on any thieves list.  It almost makes sense though.  People with the permits to harvest the wood in east Russia and they happen to harvest a few pieces here and there and create a huge market for discounted lumber.  The problem not only lies legally but environmentally as well.  An excess of trees which produce oxygen are being cut down, but the homes of the SIberian Tiger are being taken away.  Legally this is becoming a big problem for companies such as Lumber Liquidators, known widely throughout America for its cheaper prices on wooden flooring.  This company has been the target of investigation because of the fact that it has been potentially knowingly been buying its lumber from illegal sources.  This whole operation needs to be stopped.  The corruption of governments taking money from companies needs to be controlled and there needs to be a plan put in place to stop this illegal logging. Legally it is a problem but very importantly it is an environmental issue that is going to end up affecting everyone. 

Kaitlin Young's curator insight, October 27, 2014 8:44 AM

Russia’s large forests are one of its most viable resources, considering the size and climate of the country. Russia exports large quantities of high quality wood to the United States, China, and Japan, but at what cost? The value of this industry has sparked government corruption, illegal logging, and organized crime. Legality issues in any natural resource based industry usually results in a major decrease in sustainability. One of Russia’s most well-known animals, the Siberian Tiger, is being affected through loss of habitat and destruction of the food chain at a lower level. Beyond environmental destruction, lumber is being illegally harvested and exported to companies that do not realize that the wood is illegally obtained. Russia must find a way to control logging while enforcing sustainable practices in order to maintain one of their greatest resources.

Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

EU looks to stop illegal timber

EU looks to stop illegal timber | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Measures to prevent illegal timber, which is estimated to account for 30% of the global trade, from entering the EU come into force on Sunday.

***

Operators, which refers to "those who first place a timber product on the EU market" - through a "due diligence" system - are required to "make every effort to ensure that the wood they trade in is legal".


The due diligence system (DDS) comprises of three elements, including access to information relating to shipments' country of origin, quantity and suppliers' details; evaluation that the timber was produced in compliance with the laws of the country of origin; taking additional steps to ensure the legality of the timber if there is any doubt over its provenance.


In addition, the EUTR requires traders ("those who sell or buy the timber already on the EU market") to keep "adequate information so that the wood they deal in can be easily traced".

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Carbon credit boiler rooms: What you need to know and what to do if you’ve been scammed

Carbon credit boiler rooms: What you need to know and what to do if you’ve been scammed | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

REDD-Monitor has reported several times on sales of carbon credits in the UK, from what seem to be boiler room operations. The Metropolitan Police recently put out, “The Little Book of Big Scams” (pdf file, 3.9 MB), explaining how to avoid these and other scams and providing advice on what to do if you are the victim of an investment scam.

***

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has a warning page on its website about carbon credit scams: “The reality is victims are handing over their savings for worthless vouchers from an unregulated market, with individual losses running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.” NFIB’s website includes the following information and advice:


    • If you buy carbon credits you WILL NOT make any money no matter what the salesman says.


    • Companies will not offset their carbon allowance by buying carbon credits from individuals – as the salesman claims.


    • Companies will purchase carbon credits from other companies/brokers and these deals take a lot of time to set up and are heavily regulated – for this reason carbon credits are not investments that an individual can make money on.


    • There is a heavily regulated market for carbon credits and this is the market that the salesman will be referring to. However individuals do not invest in this regulated market. What the salesman will actually sell you is what is known as a “voluntary” carbon credit where environmentally conscious small businesses and individuals pay to off-set their carbon emissions. This is not a “regulated” carbon credit.


    • These are bought by the salesman for around 50p and sold to victims for a massively inflated priced dressed up as carbon credits from the “regulated” market.
      If the salesman believes that the victim has more money to invest they may even give a return on the initial small investment to build confidence in the victim. They will then request a larger investment promising higher returns. The victim will jump at the chance and then lose all their money.


more...
richard's curator insight, December 17, 2013 3:27 AM

If you have bought carbon credits and you want to know the truth you need to take a look at this report.

 

Regardless of what you have been told it is best to come to terms with reality so you don't lose even more money.

 

 

Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Canadian Regulator Extends Sino-Forest's Trading Ban Again

Canadian Regulator Extends Sino-Forest's Trading Ban Again | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The Ontario Securities Commission announced Tuesday the extension of the trading ban on Sino-Forest Corp. 's(SNOFF) securities until the regulator's fraud allegations against the timber company are settled.


The OSC first introduced the ban in August 2011, alleging the Canada-based company, whose assets are mainly in China, and five of its former executives fraudulently exaggerated the value of the company's timber assets. Sino-Forest conducted an internal investigation into the allegations, but executives have denied fraud.


In the wake of the allegations and trading ban, Sino-Forest in March 2012 sought bankruptcy protection to restructure, and that court process is largely set to end sometime this week.


In an statement issued Tuesday, the OSC said the trading ban was extended "until the final disposition of the matter related to the statement of allegations, including, if appropriate, any final determination with respect to sanctions and costs."

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

China Fuels Illegal Trade in Timber, Report Finds

China Fuels Illegal Trade in Timber, Report Finds | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
China’s growing appetite for rosewood dining sets, hardwood floors, plywood and printer paper is helping propel a booming trade in illegally harvested timber and spurring the destruction of fragile ecosystems across the globe, a British environmental organization said in a report released on Thursday.
Related

The organization, the Environmental Investigation Agency, said the Chinese government has largely turned a blind eye as wood importers and furniture makers, some of them state-owned enterprises, have profited from a $4 billion industry that harvests wood illegally from Myanmar, Mozambique, Indonesia and other countries with weak law enforcement and widespread corruption.

“Illegal logging and the trade in stolen timber are among the most destructive environmental crimes occurring today and directly threaten the world’s vital forests,” the report said.
***
Last year China was the destination for roughly 30 percent of all the logs traded on the world market, making it the top importer of raw timber. The value of that wood was $9.3 billion, a nearly 30 percent increase over 2010, the report said.

The group estimated that at least 10 percent of China’s timber imports were illegally harvested, an amount that would fill 200,000 shipping containers. It said state-owned enterprises were responsible for purchasing nearly half the tropical wood imported into the country.
***
Beijing’s apparent tolerance for illicit timber imports stands in marked contrast to its domestic restrictions, which environmental groups say have effectively halted the clear-cutting of Chinese forests in recent years. The government has been credited with an ambitious $31 billion tree planting program that, over four years ending in 2008, increased forest cover to more than 20 percent of the country.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Cambodian villagers fight against powerful timber industry

Cambodian villagers fight against powerful timber industry | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Hang Serei Oudom told his 7-month pregnant wife that he was going out to meet a source. A journalist for Vorakchun Khmer Daily, he was investigating illegal logging for luxury woods in the jungles of Cambodia's northeastern Ratanakkiri province.


Three days later, on Sept. 11, he was found in the trunk of his car, which had been abandoned in a remote cashew nut plantation. “According to the autopsy report, his head was beaten in with a sharp tool, like an axe or a machete,” said investigating judge Luch Lao. 

***

They needn't look much further than Oudom's last article, activists contend. On Sept. 7, he had published a piece accusing local military police captain Ing Sieng Lay of smuggling timber in military vehicles. Oudom, 44, “wrote many articles on illegal logging, social issues and land grabbing,” according to his editor-in-chief, Rin Ratanak.


Oudom is the third victim this year whose murder appears related to logging and land grabbing in Cambodia. Dozens of villagers and activists have been jailed or injured trying to defend forests and land rights.

***

Until the early 1990s, Cambodia’s tropical jungles remained mostly untouched. Large conservation areas were created in 1993. However, decades of ineffective environmental protection and several years of government-approved logging caused forests to dwindle.


About 2.8 million hectares — an area nearly the size of Belgium — was lost between 1990 and 2010, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which estimated that 10 million hectares, or 57 percent of the country, remained forested in 2010.


Since then, forest losses have dramatically worsened following an upsurge in illegal logging of luxury wood species, and a rapid increase in large-scale forest clearing by licensed agro-industrial companies.


Luxury wood species, often referred to as rosewood, are protected in all Mekong region countries, but Chinese demand is driving a rampant black market trade, according to the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency.


The brownish-red wood is prized in China for traditional luxury furniture sets that “now fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the agency said in a February report. An unprocessed cubic meter of rosewood is worth up to $50,000 in China.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Russia blames al-Qaeda for European forest fires

Russia blames al-Qaeda for European forest fires | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Fires that devastated large parts of European forestry have been blamed on al-Qaeda by Russia’s security services who accuse the terrorist group of waging “forest jihad.”


Southern European countries including Spain, Portugal, and Greece suffered another summer of ravaging fires, with many fires the work of suspected arsonists. Now, the director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSS), Alexander Bortnikov, has blamed al-Qaeda for the fires.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

U.S. agents move against illegal timber imports from Amazon

U.S. agents move against illegal timber imports from Amazon | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
U.S. agents searched the offices of a California-based wood importer this week as part of a broadening government crackdown on imports of illegally harvested timber, according to a previously unreported federal search warrant seen by Reuters.

The Department of Homeland Security agents are probing whether privately held Global Plywood & Lumber Inc violated U.S. and Peruvian law by importing wood that officials say was taken from the Amazon without proper permits, according to the warrant filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego on Monday and executed on Tuesday.

No charges have been brought against the company. A Homeland Security spokesman in Houston said the investigation was ongoing.

Kenneth Peabody, Global Plywood manager, declined to comment on the warrant, the latest sign of increased U.S. efforts to curb logging of rare forest species.

In February, wood flooring giant Lumber Liquidators Inc agreed to pay more than $13 million in criminal fines and forfeitures to resolve a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the import of wood illegally logged in far eastern Russia, home to many endangered species.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Genetic profiling of trees helps convict timber thieves

Genetic profiling of trees helps convict timber thieves | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
University of Adelaide forest DNA forensics research has helped convict National Forest timber thieves in a landmark case in the United States.


Four defendants prosecuted for stealing Bigleaf maple wood from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest have pleaded guilty, in a case that marks the first time the US government has prosecuted for illegal interstate trade of wood products under the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act is a US wildlife protection law that was amended in 2008 to include plants, making it illegal to trade in illegally sourced wood products.


DNA evidence developed by a consortium of experts led by the University of Adelaide was an important element of the government's case against the timber thieves.


Researchers from the University's Environment Institute developed DNA markers for the Bigleaf maple population. They joined the US Forest Service and timber-tracking specialists Double Helix Tracking Technologies, with help from World Resources Institute, to develop the first DNA profiling reference database for the species. It's the only one of its kind for trees that has been validated for use in court proceedings.


Just like individual humans, each tree has a unique genetic fingerprint, making it possible to match pieces of sawn wood with the stumps of the trees from which they were cut, using a technique called DNA profiling.


"With this technology, wood buyers can verify whether or not Bigleaf maple has been legally harvested," says Professor Andrew Lowe, Chair of Conservation Biology at the University of Adelaide, and Chief Scientific Officer of Double Helix.


"Our database indicates that, with these markers, the likelihood of two trees having the same DNA profile is as low as one in 428 sextillion; there are thought to be approximately 70 sextillion stars in the universe."

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Ernst & Young agrees to pay $8 million to settle Sino-Forest allegations

Ernst & Young agrees to pay $8 million to settle Sino-Forest allegations | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The Ontario Securities Commission has agreed to an $8 million settlement agreement with giant auditing firm Ernst & Young LLP over its work for two defunct companies operating in China. The deal with Ernst & Young, approved Tuesday by OSC vice chairman James Turner, is the first time that a new “no contest” rule is being used. That means Ernst & Young neither admits or denies the allegations set out by the OSC staff in the cases of Sino-Forest and Zungui Haixin Corp.


Sino-Forest, a forestry company, was listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange while Zungui Haixin, a footwear and apparel company, traded on the Toronto venture exchange. Both companies raised millions from investors in Canada, but eventually questions were raised about fraudulent practices with overstated assets and revenues.
***
As well, Chisholm noted that Ernst & Young officials have agreed to co-operate with the OSC in an ongoing case against Sino-Forest’s executives, including making partners and executives available to testify.
***
In a statement of allegations filed in 2012, the OSC said Ernst & Young failed to conduct their audits in accordance with relevant industry standards, including performing sufficient audit work to verify Sino-Forest Corp.’s ownership and existence of its most significant assets.
***
Hearings are currently under way at the OSC against five former executives of Sino-Forest Corp. accused of fraud.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Japanese firms importing illegal Russian timber

Japanese firms importing illegal Russian timber | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Significant quantities of illegal timber products from the forests of Siberia and the Russian Far East are flowing into Japan, according to a new report by the US-based nonprofit Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). While the United States and European Union have recently enacted new policies that prohibit the import of illegally sourced wood and wood products and require companies to conduct heightened due diligence in their sourcing practices, Japan’s failure to enact similar measures makes it an open market for illegal timber products from around the world.


The report, The Open Door: Japan’s Continuing Failure to Prevent Imports of Illegal Russian Timber,[i] details supply chains for illegally cut Siberian pine, bought by Chinese traders and imported to China, manufactured into wood products and sold on markets all over Japan. In undercover interviews, officials from San Xia, one of the largest Chinese importers of Russian timber, detailed how they purchase this timber from illegal loggers deep inside Siberia and launder this timber across the border using documentation from their forest concession. In factories across northeastern China, San Xia transforms this timber into edge-glued lumber, 90% of which is sold to Japan for housing construction.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Harvard Puts Romanian Timberland Associated with Bribery Case Up for Sale

Harvard Puts Romanian Timberland Associated with Bribery Case Up for Sale | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Harvard has put a large portion of its controversial forest holdings in Romania up for sale, according to documents filed in the country at the end of January. The documents advertising the sale were posted in Romanian provinces two days after Dragos Lipan Secu, a former contractor for a University subsidiary, was arrested on charges of bribery and money laundering.


Scolopax, a Romanian company owned by Phemus Corporation, a subsidiary of the Harvard Management Company, posted the fliers at the end of January in 21 Romanian provinces.
***
Secu allegedly committed the crimes while purchasing timberland on behalf of the University between 2007 and 2009. University spokesperson Kevin Galvin wrote in a statement in late Januray that Secu’s relationship with Harvard ended in 2012. Romanian authorities say Secu conspired with sellers to artificially inflate the price the timberland in exchange for a series of bribes, including 4.45 million lei, or $1.3 million, a 2007 trip to the Canary Islands, and a Chrysler Sebring car.
***
Scolopax is attempting to sell over 32,000 hectares, according to the documents. It is unclear what percentage of Scolopax total holdings this figure represents, but in 2010 Sven Rutgersson, a Scolopax official, said that the company owned “around 35,000 hectares of forest and 2,000 hectares of farming land.” According to data from Romania’s Environment Ministry sent to Ziarul Financiar, a Romanian financial newspaper, those holdings made Scolopax the second-largest owner of forestland in the country, behind the government.
***
Scolopax’s assets totaled more than $126 million in 2011, according to University tax filings. It began purchasing timberland in Romania in 2005, a few years after the University first began investing in timberland in 1997.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Hedge fund downgrades stock over company's links to illegal logging in Russian Far East

Hedge fund downgrades stock over company's links to illegal logging in Russian Far East | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A hedge fund manager has downgraded Lumber Liquidators' stock over the company's alleged links to illegal logging in the Russian Far East, reports The Wall Street Journal.


Speaking at the Robin Hood Investors Conference on November 22, Whitney Tilson, the founder of Kase Capital Management, said Lumber Liquidators' stock price may be inflated due to purchases of illegally sourced timber from Russia, which is less costly than legitimately-sourced wood. He set a two-year price target of $53 for the stock, which was trading at $115 at the time. The stock plunged 12 percent after the presentation.


Tilson's remarks were based on a recent report published by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). A multi-year undercover investigation by the green group found that Lumber Liquidators (NYSE:LL) has been buying illegally logged timber smuggled from Russia into China. EIA said the practice violates the Lacey Act, which holds U.S. buyers criminally responsible for buying illegal forest products.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

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.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Interpol Arrests 194 in Illegal Logging Sting

Interpol Arrests 194 in Illegal Logging Sting | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Interpol’s first international operation against illegal logging and forest crimes has resulted in nearly 200 arrests and the seizure of millions of dollars’ worth of timber and some 150 vehicles across Latin America.


During the period from September 17 to November 17, 2012, law enforcement agencies in 12 countries in Central and South America worked together under the auspices of Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme.

***

Seizures of wood and other forest products during the operation are estimated at more than 50,000 cubic meters of seized wood, enough to fill 2,000 trucks, with a total value of roughly US$8 million.


But that is a small fraction of the global illegal timber trade, which David Higgins, manager of the Environmental Crime Programme at Interpol, estimates to be worth between US$30 billion and 100 billion annually.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

China's Insatiable Demand For Timber Destroys Cambodia's Forests

China's Insatiable Demand For Timber Destroys Cambodia's Forests | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Cambodia's forests are being destroyed at a dizzying pace, with much of the wood destined for China. Much of the logging is carried out illegally — and people who get in the way of the loggers face violence and in some cases death.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

OSC scolds Ernst & Young in Sino-Forest collapse

OSC scolds Ernst & Young in Sino-Forest collapse | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The Ontario Securities Commission is accusing Ernst and Young of failing in its audits of troubled Chinese forestry company Sino-Forest Corp., which has since collapsed amid allegations of being a massive fraud.


The provincial regulator accused Ernst and Young on Monday of failing to conduct their audits of the company in accordance with industry standards.


The OSC has also accused the accounting firm of failing to do enough to verify the existence of Sino-Forest's most significant assets and conduct their audits with a "sufficient level of professional skepticism."

***

The OSC allegations came as Ernst and Young agreed to a settlement that will resolve the potential civil claims against the firm in connection with its audits of Sino-Forest without any admission of liability.


"Upon approval, the settlement will reduce the uncertainty and future burden on our business, and allow us to focus on our people and our clients," Ernst and Young said in a statement.

***

Sino-Forest, once the most valuable forestry company on the Toronto Stock Exchange, valued at more than $6 billion, has since filed for bankruptcy protection and is working to restructure itself under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Australia passes illegal logging laws, joins EU, US

Australia passes illegal logging laws, joins EU, US | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Australia's parliament on Monday passed laws to ban the import and trade of illegally logged timber, joining the United States and European Union in clamping down on a global trade in stolen timber that Interpol says is worth about $30 billion a year.


The laws, five years in the making, impose fines, jail and forfeiture of goods and oblige importers to carry out mandatory due diligence on timber and timber products sourced from overseas.


"The illegal timber trade is a trade that benefits no one. It risks jobs, it risks the timber industry, and it risks the environment," Forestry Minister Joe Ludwig said.

***

Illegal timber depresses prices, slashes margins and can deter firms from investing in better due diligence.


There were sound commercial and environmental reasons to support the laws, said Ross Hearne, general manager of corporate services for Kimberly-Clark Australia and New Zealand, which makes various products from paper.


"We face cheap paper imports in Australia and one of the factors in cheap imports is illegally harvested timber," he told Reuters, adding supporting the bill had helped protect the firm's brand.


Telling illegal and legal wood and wood products apart is impossible by sight alone, making it relatively easy to mislabel origin and forge import documents.

***

Winners from the laws, apart from forest communities, will be firms that provide timber legality and verification services and timber importers that have already put in place tougher timber sourcing and tracking rules.


One potential winner is DNA testing and timber tracking technology developed by Singapore-based Double Helix Tracking Technologies and used by Australian client Simmonds Lumber, one of the country's largest timber importers.


DNA tests can pinpoint the species and origin of a piece of timber. DoubleHelix, as it is known, can also track timber and timber products from forest to shop to ensure clients' shipments are legal.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Sam Radcliffe
Scoop.it!

Great Southern is a story of 'greed', court told

Great Southern is a story of 'greed', court told | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Investors who have lost their stake in schemes run by collapsed forestry group Great Southern were lured in by the company's misleading statements, a court has heard.


In a mammoth trial that began this morning, more than 20,000 investors are seeking to recover their money and set aside their obligations to repay loans taken from the Bendigo Bank to make their investments.

...

The trial, which is expected to run until early March next year, wraps together 16 class actions brought by investors in forestry, nut, olive and grape schemes and 33 debt recovery actions brought against investors by the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.



more...
No comment yet.