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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.

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Private equity jumps into the woods: Morbark acquired by Stellex Capital Management

Private equity jumps into the woods: Morbark acquired by Stellex Capital Management | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Morbark, LLC, announced that an affiliate of Stellex Capital Management has acquired the Company. The acquisition is focused on providing growth capital and resources to significantly expand the Company in the future.

 

The stock purchase is a strong fit for the new owners with a portfolio focus of identifying companies with solid market and product presence that can benefit from growth capital and aggressive management and operating strategies.

 

“Our acquisition of Morbark is a great fit for us. We believe the Company is well positioned to grow in the coming years, and we are confident that the capital and resources we bring will fuel that growth,” said David Waxman, Principal of Stellex.

 

He continued, “Morbark is exactly the type of company we look to invest in – strong history, market presence, products, and an outstanding workforce. In addition, we believe with the right investment and resources they represent a significant growth opportunity in the coming years.”

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Loggers feel impact of paper industry downturn

Loggers feel impact of paper industry downturn | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The recently closed paper mills in central and northern Maine might not be geographically close to the midcoast, but the impact of the shutdowns is taking a toll on loggers and harvesters in Lincoln County and surrounding communities. As paper mills shut down, it not only leads to job losses for workers and contractors at the industrial plants themselves, but also a loss of market for the low-grade wood harvested for paper and pulp throughout the state, creating a negative effect on a number of trades connected to the mills. “The loss of mill jobs is a drop in the well of the larger economic impact,” said Eric Carlson, of C&L Forestry Inc. in Edgecomb. Carlson sees the disappearing market for low-grade wood as a big factor impacting individuals and businesses in the pulp and paper industry across the state.
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Of late, the closure of a pulp mill in Old Town and the Verso Paper Mill in Bucksport, in addition to the filing of bankruptcy by Lincoln Paper and Tissue and layoffs at Verso’s Androscoggin Mill in Jay have created a dearth of capital in a once wide-open marketplace.
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Specifically, despite the downturn in the region’s paper industry, high-quality paper with higher density, smoothness, and gloss, produced predominantly from hardwood trees, helps hardwood remain a marketable asset, while the once-booming market for paper produced from softwood pulp continues to dry up. “Getting rid of softwood is the biggest key of all. Selling hardwood is no problem, but if people can’t cut softwood, everyone is only going to look at hardwood,” said Wade Bartlett, a logger from Jefferson. This focus on harvesting one type of timber not only impacts logging operations’ bottom lines, but can lead to strands of low-grade wood being left on woodlots, since loggers cannot sell the product.
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One potentially growing market for low-grade wood lies with the use of wood chips and wood pellets in biomass to be turned into biofuel to power utilities. The sustainable biomass industry has experienced substantial growth over the past decade, but record-low prices for fossil fuels have hurt the industry.
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Additionally, Carlson said that despite the emerging market for biofuel, the new outlet for products does not replace the funds derived from the paper and pulp industry in past years. “It doesn’t come close to making up for the loss of the whole pulp and paper industry,” Carlson said. He also said chipping wood into pellets requires a sizable investment in equipment that may be beyond the reach of many local businesses.
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With the pronounced downturn in existing markets, the importance of the mills still open is heightened, notably the paper mill owned by Verso Paper in Jay. Will Hickey, of Hickey Logging & Tree Work in West Gardiner, said the importance of the Jay mill to the industry cannot be underestimated.

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New timber exchange seeks to tackle illegal logging

New timber exchange seeks to tackle illegal logging | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A pioneering Brazilian carbon trader is launching a timber exchange that aims to tackle another intractable environmental problem — how to source legally harvested timber from tropical forests.

Pedro Moura Costa’s Rio de Janeiro-based company, BVRio, plans to use big data to assess whether potential sellers are in compliance with US and European restrictions on illegal wood imports. The issue of illegal logging is one of the thorniest facing the $250bn global wood-based products industry.


BVRio plans to open the Responsible Timber Exchange in January or February but the group is taking its first step on Tuesday by launching an app that allows buyers to assess the provenance of a wood order by entering its barcode.


“Our plan is that it becomes an effective tool to shift away from the current mode of doing business in the Amazon, which is through agents and a bunch of dodgy characters, to something of the 21st century,” Mr Costa said. “If Uber managed to change the taxi industry and Airbnb [can challenge the hotel business], why can’t we do that with the timber trade?”

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Research points to bright future for biomass

Research points to bright future for biomass | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
A potential revolution is unfolding on out-of-the-way logging roads. Foresters and researchers are innovating unique ways to make use of forest residues—low quality trees, tree tops, limbs, and chunks that formerly would have been left in slash piles and burned, or worse, left to rot.


Last year, HSU and 15 regional partners began the Waste to Wisdom project after receiving a $5.88 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to dramatically expand biomass research. The grant is part of the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, a collaborative effort between the Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Now, initial research from that project is beginning to show promising results.


Researchers have long known forest residues—also referred to as woody biomass—have the potential to be used in energy production, but logistics have stood in the way. “Due to the high cost of collection and transportation, woody biomass is a promising but widely untapped source of renewable energy,” says Arne Jacobson, one of the principal investigators on the Waste to Wisdom project who is focusing on developing new biomass-to-energy conversion technologies.


“Our approach is different. We’re adapting our operations to take advantage of the opportunity the waste materials present,” says Han-Sup Han, HSU forestry professor, and one of the project’s lead researchers. “Processes such as briquetting and torrefaction of wood chips at or near the forestry sites add value to existing bio-products.”


According to researchers, the innovations center on improving collection of forest residues and reducing transportation costs. For example, gathering forest residues into dense bails improves the economics of handling, storing, and transporting the raw materials. Beyond analyzing logistics, researchers hope to also to better understand the environmental impacts of processing forest residues on site, and how the forest products market will receive the new products.

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Gord Lee's curator insight, November 18, 2015 9:05 AM

This is really interesting for sure. I will be continuing these posts.

 

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From axes to iPads: new logging methods replace traditional ways

From axes to iPads: new logging methods replace traditional ways | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The days of the axe and the cross-cut saw are long gone. But if you don't work in the timber industry, you probably wouldn't know that, increasingly, a new breed of bushmen don't even use a chainsaw.

Logging in the native forests on the mid north coast of NSW is done in the air-conditioned comfort of a harvesting machine. It looks like a tracked excavator, with a large mechanical arm that locks on, cuts and even debarks the trees.

Fallers know exactly where they are, thanks to a GPS. There's also an iPad stuck by suction cup to the front window, loaded with an interactive map produced by a radar-like system that uses light instead of a radio wave.

It's called LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging. The light 'pulses' from the aerial pass of a plane produce a map that is so detailed you can see a big picture of the landscape at any scale ... the ridges and rivers, rocky outcrops and swamps. But you can also zoom in to identify individual trees that get marked on the map: an 'H' for a habitat or hollow bearing tree, 'R' for a recruitment tree, 'K' for koala habitat tree or 'E' for eucalypt feed trees, which provide a flowering resource over winter for arboreal mammals. After logging, at least six of these feed trees are kept across every two hectares.

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Video: popular misconceptions about the timber industry

Discover the truths to popular misconceptions about the timber industry.

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STATE FOREST BOARD APPROVES MORE SCRUTINY OF LANDSLIDE PRONE SITES BEFORE TIMBER HARVESTS

STATE FOREST BOARD APPROVES MORE SCRUTINY OF LANDSLIDE PRONE SITES BEFORE TIMBER HARVESTS | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Just under seven months from when the devastating Oso mudslide in Snohomish County claimed the lives of 43 people and buried a portion of State Route 530, the main roadway to communities like Darrington, the Washington State Forest Practices Board has voted unanimously to expand the authority of the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to require landowners to provide additional technical information when planning timber harvests near potentially unstable slopes that could affect public safety.

The board reached the decision at its regular quarterly meeting Wednesday.
 
“Current rules prohibit timber harvests and other forest practices where they are likely to influence the further movement of an unstable slope,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “These new procedures will apply an additional level of scrutiny, based on the best science available, to further protect the safety of the public and its natural resources.”
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RISI Highlights Trucking Shortage

RISI Highlights Trucking Shortage | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

RISI’s September International Woodfiber Report, while reiterating ongoing concerns about the logging capacity deficit, notes that “a trucker shortage now tops US timber capacity concerns,” citing—among other sources—published FRA surveys and reports.


Nationwide, for all trucking sectors, one trucking association estimates a current shortage of 35,000 “qualified” drivers, “with that number expected to surge five-fold in ten years,” in view of high turnover rates.


For forest product haulers specifically, the raft of burdensome regulations—CSA, above all—as well as other federal regulations and state and local restrictions pinch the driver pool, as do rising insurance rates, while volatile diesel prices and new engine standards add additional operational expenses.


RISI cites several recommendations that have emerged from FRA’s engagement with the issue: work to reform CSA; improve communications between mills, loggers, and truckers; make reducing truck turnaround time a priority; and enact gross vehicle weight reform.

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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.

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Review now required before logging near risky landslide areas

Review now required before logging near risky landslide areas | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Timber companies that want to harvest near potentially dangerous landslide areas will now have to conduct geologic reviews before getting a logging permit from the state, officials said Friday.


Under the new standards announced by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, the state will require a geotechnical report when there’s a potential risk to public safety — even if the harvest area itself doesn’t include unstable territory.

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The Seattle Times reported in the wake of the mudslide that state officials had been relying on an outdated map to determine where loggers could harvest trees above the slide hill. A clear-cut can increase groundwater flows and destabilize landslide-prone slopes.


Had state officials utilized a newer map at the landslide hill, regulators likely would have restricted most of the 7.5 acres that were clear-cut in 2004.

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State rules have required timber companies to conduct geotechnical reports when harvesting on potentially unstable slopes. Under the new procedures, DNR will examine sites to determine whether there are potential public-safety risks due to unstable slopes outside of a harvest area.


DNR said sites will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis, and the state would require the geotechnical reports if it feels public safety could be an issue.

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U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin pushing for federal forest management reform

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin pushing for federal forest management reform | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin saw enough on her visit to Forest County in August to be convinced that Wisconsin’s 1.5 million-acre national forest is being under-harvested and change is needed.


The first-term Democratic senator now says supporting the state’s timber industry is among her top priorities and she pledged to work for reform of the forest management system. Her efforts include calling for increased funding to support additional logging and clarifying regulations to promote environmentally sound harvesting.
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Records showed that the U.S. Forest Service could have cut 1.3 billion board feet of wood in the past decade under its forest management plan, representing $110 million in revenue. Instead, just 755 million board feet was cut in the forest that spans 11 Wisconsin counties.


National forest officials say a lack of federal money has limited their ability to harvest more timber in the Northwoods. Foreign competition, mechanization and volatile markets have also led to decreases in jobs tied to forest products across Wisconsin.


In December, Gov. Scott Walker said the national forest was being “underutilized” and launched a new $49,000 initiative from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to begin studying stewardship programs.

Baldwin sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, allowing her to play a key role in forest policy change.


In December, she called on the Obama Administration to build a new budget plan into the 2015 budget to break the “diversion cycle.”
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“In six of the last ten years, Forest Service funds available to Wisconsin forests have been diverted through the practice of fire borrowing and reallocated to fight fires,” Baldwin wrote. “As a result, Wisconsin forest management has suffered, and an industry already stretched thin must deal with further delays to complete contracts.”
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Baldwin also asked Farm Bill conferees to provide clarity about a clean water standard relating to forest roads and to extend support for forest stewardship contracts. The stewardship contracts push proceeds from timber sales back into local projects like road maintenance and other targeted management.


The Farm Bill, long-mired in political bickering over food stamps and divides between rural and urban representatives, could provide certainty for loggers in Wisconsin’s Northwoods by clarifying the water run-off rules and investing in stewardship and conservation programs, Baldwin said.

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Is Irving deal a path to ‘scientific forestry’ or loophole for clearcutting?

Is Irving deal a path to ‘scientific forestry’ or loophole for clearcutting? | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A deal Maine struck with Irving Woodlands, made public Friday, has sparked concern among environmental groups that the state has handed the company a “big loophole” to avoid state regulations on clearcutting.


Forestry experts, though, believe those concerns are misplaced and that the deal allows Irving, Maine’s largest landowner, to be more efficient in its harvesting techniques and reflects the evolution of modern forestry practices.


Irving signed the five-year deal with the Maine Forest Service in May 2012. It enters the company’s 1.25 million acres, almost all of which are in Aroostook County, into an experimental forestry program known as Outcomes Based Forestry, which was created by statute in 2001. The deal was publicly disclosed for the first time earlier this month in a report the Maine Forest Service prepared for the Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry committee, which met on Friday to discuss the program.

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Under the program, Irving is exempt from certain sections of the Forest Practices Act that cover clearcutting. But the company is still required to abide by other state statutes and sustainability goals, is still subject to oversight by the Maine Forest Service and needs to maintain third-party forest certification from groups such as the Forest Stewardship Council or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

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Irving Woodlands, which harvests more than a million tons of softwood and hardwood from only 2 percent of its land each year, denies it’s being given a loophole to avoid regulations.


“Outcome based forestry — including provisions regarding clear-cutting — requires more accountability measures that must be submitted to the Maine Forest Service on an annual basis,” Blake Brunsdon, Irving’s chief forester, said in a statement to the BDN. “We believe the forest management we practice is sustainable, based on good science and meets the rigorous standards of the independent Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative forest certification programs.”


In its first year of participation in the program, Irving claims its contractors’ earnings have increased 21 percent and its road construction and maintenance budget has decreased by $825,000, according to Mary Keith, a spokeswoman for J.D. Irving Ltd., Irving Woodlands’ parent company.

In addition, Keith said entering the program was “a catalyst and the foundation” of the company’s decision to invest upwards of $30 million to construct a new sawmill in Ashland that will employ 63 people.


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California timber market improves amid concerns

California timber market improves amid concerns | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
With U.S. new home sales rising 23 percent compared to the annual pace of 2015, California timber operators say they're guardedly optimistic about improving markets for harvested logs and lumber products. But they note the outlook can vary greatly, depending on the type of wood, where it's grown, forest health and market conditions.

"The timber market is better than 2008 when the recession hit, but it's not breaking any records," said logger Mike Anderson of Fort Bragg. "Margins now are exceptionally tight because of exorbitant costs of regulation, transportation and manufacturing."

There are many wild cards that can impact lumber prices, Wood Markets analyst Gerry Van Leeuwen said.

"A big element impacting the lumber price outlook will be the industry's schedule or strategy for putting curtailed or even closed sawmill production back online, not to mention whether log inventory companies are willing to build in advance of demand," Van Leeuwen said.

California loggers are back in the woods and busy, Anderson said, noting current market log prices are generally up about 15 percent compared to last year as forest harvest season gets underway.
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Record Precipitation in 4Q2015 has Little Effect on US South Stumpage Prices

Record Precipitation in 4Q2015 has Little Effect on US South Stumpage Prices | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The total amount of precipitation the US South received in the fourth quarter of 2015 was a record high, making it one of the wettest periods of the last 15 years. While certain geographic areas are still recovering from the deluge and the accompanying flood damage, the unusually wet season did not dampen regional stumpage prices and timber markets.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a total of 185 inches of precipitation fell across the US South in 4Q2015 compared to an average of 109 inches that fell in the fourth quarters from the previous 14 years. This represents a 70 percent increase. It also marks a 3 percent increase over the old 15-year record of 180 inches in 4Q2009.

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While prices have increased marginally and some emergency spot purchases have been observed, overall averages remain lower than averages observed earlier in 1Q2015 and for some products, increases are lower than 2014’s seasonal increase. One would expect that record precipitation totals and the end of the calendar year would have converged to create a substantial bump in regional stumpage prices, but they did not. So, what exactly is going on within this market?

While our 4Q2015 delivered data is still being collected, evidence suggests that many mills established deep inventories during 3Q2015 and that demand softened during 4Q. As a result, it is likely that mills held delivered prices in check (as much as possible), thereby forcing the price pressure down the supply chain. The restricted supply is likely to have had more of an immediate effect on wood suppliers’ freight cost and margins, as they were forced to increase haul distances to secure supply.


As the remaining data arrives and is finalized, we will discover the answers. But if these current wet weather conditions persist, we will see that effect become much more pronounced on the stump in 1Q2016. Expect stumpage prices to increase sharply as mill inventories dwindle and delivered prices are forced upward, giving suppliers greater flexibility for better stumpage price offerings.

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Northern Minnesota loggers: ‘Current weather is killing us’

Northern Minnesota loggers: ‘Current weather is killing us’ | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
An unusually warm winter is cutting down on the logging industry’s prospects entering 2016.


But in early 2015, when the winter months produced the usual bitter cold temperatures in northern Minnesota, business was more than good.
Scott Dane, executive director for the Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota, called it one of the industry’s best years in close to a decade because mill inventories were low and demand was high. Considerably lower fuel prices also kept costs down.


“That was good news, it was nice to see a good season for loggers,” Dane said. “However, as we go into next winter, this current weather is killing us.”


Loggers typically need a series of days at 10-below zero to establish the frozen ground in the swamps and woods. Without that, the soft timber tracks have prevented companies from reaching winter stock, and he said anyone in the woods now is getting a head start on cutting summer wood.


The good news of the warmer weather is that if and when temperatures hit the sweet spot, mills will be in need of inventory right away.

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Forest industry leaders plan review of options to strengthen timber hauling

Forest industry leaders plan review of options to strengthen timber hauling | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) released a report–Enhancing the Strength and Vitality of the Nation’s Timber Harvesting/Hauling Network –from a late summer convening of sector leaders that explored opportunities to strengthen the nation’s timber harvesting and hauling link in the forest products value chain. The report contains a commitment by participants to explore and test 21st century solutions to what the group considers the most significant bottleneck in the system – hauling or trucking wood from timber harvesting sites to manufacturing facilities.
“As the economy has rebounded from the Great Recession, it appears that every segment of the business community faces a common challenge – finding and training qualified truck drivers to get their raw materials and products to market,” said Endowment President & CEO Carlton Owen. “This bottleneck is perhaps even more acute in the forest sector than it is in others markets.”
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New Maine program looks to train loggers

New Maine program looks to train loggers | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

With news earlier this week that two more Maine pulp and paper mills were closing their doors for good, laying off hundreds of workers, you may be surprised to learn that there are those pushing to actually create new jobs in the Maine woods.


Next year, Maine's logging industry could see an influx of new and qualified workers. The Professional Logging Contractors of Maine is partnering up with three different community colleges to create a Mechanized Logging Operations Program.


Dana Doran, the Executive Director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine said that the need for wood products will always exist. "Regardless of whats happening throughout the forest products industry right now were gonna have these needs, because there's always gonna be a need for, some type of wood product, and there has to be a logger who can physically do that work, to move the wood to marketplace" said Doran.
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Doran said that wood fiber is still being moved across the state in different directions, as there are still mills in operation. He also says there's been an increase in demand for lumber from home builders. The wood is also being transported around New England and into Canada depending on the market needs. But like we're seeing in the pulp and paper sector the logging industry needs to change with the market.

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World Demand for Forestry Equipment to Reach $9.3 Billion in 2019

World Demand for Forestry Equipment to Reach $9.3 Billion in 2019 | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
World demand for forestry equipment (including both purpose-built and converted machinery) is forecast to climb 4.5 percent annually to $9.3 billion in 2019.  This will represent a moderation from the 2009-2014 pace of increase, a period during which market gains were spurred by a rebound in roundwood production from lows posted during the 2009 global recession, as well as by the institution of new engine emissions standards in the European Union (EU) and US, raising average equipment prices and total spending.  Analyst Ken Long further notes that “sales advances will be driven in part by the ongoing mechanization of forestry operations in developing regions.” These and other trends are presented in World Forestry Equipment, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm.
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Scott Walker's budget restricts DNR review of timber cutting

Scott Walker's budget restricts DNR review of timber cutting | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Tens of thousands of acres of tax-subsidized private forest would be logged without state forester oversight of cutting plans under a proposal in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget.

The budget provision was requested by loggers who say state regulation is costly and unneeded because private foresters usually design cutting operations that adequately protect forests, streams and wildlife.

The change would affect the 3.2 million acres of privately held land — one-third of it open for public recreation — that owners have enrolled in the state managed forest program in exchange for lower property taxes.
The 1986 managed forest law requires owners to file 25-to-50-year plans specifying scheduled timber sales and management practices designed to ensure a sustainable supply of wood for industry as well as preservation of wildlife habitat, water quality and certain recreational opportunities.
Walker’s plan would provide owners with automatic state approval when they file timber-cutting notices if they hire a contractor who participates in the Department of Natural Resources cooperating forester program, which mandates minimum educational requirements and an agreement to use sound practices.
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Hundreds of loggers/truckers hold protest over pay at Boise Paper Mill

Hundreds of loggers/truckers hold protest over pay at Boise Paper Mill | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

In protest of wages, the loggers behind close to 200 trucks chose to not deliver wood to Boise Paper Mill in International Falls, Minn., on Thursday.


The protest participants reflect about 95% of the semis that deliver timber to Boise, according to "Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota" spokespeople.


Loggers and Truckers Executive Director Scott Dane says the protest stems from Boise's refusal to negotiate adequate adjustments in the price paid to loggers for timber.

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Minnesota firewood shortage 'unprecedented', timber exec says

Minnesota firewood shortage 'unprecedented', timber exec says | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

If the first wave of crisp autumn air has you thinking about buying your firewood load to burn this winter, think again. Crimped by a wet spring and summer that kept loggers out of the woods, and on the heels of last year's long, hard winter that saw woodpiles dwindle to nothing, loggers and firewood suppliers say they just don't have any seasoned wood to sell this fall.

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The shortage of wood has hit paper mills, too, with loggers unable to bring in their usual summer supply. Wayne Brandt, executive vice president of the Minnesota Timber Producers Association industry group, called the wood shortage "unprecedented." Wood supplies that dwindle annually in the spring, when conditions are too wet for loggers' equipment, never improved during the summer. "I can't recall any time where it's gone this long, over a pretty broad area, where they couldn't get into the woods. It just kept raining,'' Brandt said.


The industry called on state, federal and county land managers to check future timber sales for land that might be more accessible to log now. "They've helped a lot ... and things have improved a little in the last few weeks," Brandt said.


Mike Schultz, managing director of the Sappi Fine Paper mill in Cloquet, called it "one of the most challenging years that I can recall for wood procurement'' but said the mill has had enough to keep operating. "Our supplies are lower than we're comfortable with,'' he said. "But we haven't run out."
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If you can find firewood for sale, you'll probably have to buy large quantities. And expect to pay more than in recent years -- probably about $200 per logger cord for delivered maple or oak, often with a three-cord minimum.
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And the shortage of wood at mills has pushed up the price companies are willing to pay, luring loggers away from selling to firewood customers and instead taking it to the mills. "The mills have been paying us more, and it's a lot easier to deliver to their wood yards, so any wood the guys can get is going to the mills,'' Flannery said. "It's not leaving much for people to burn."

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Help Wanted: Loggers For Tennessee's $21 Billion Forest Industry

Help Wanted: Loggers For Tennessee's $21 Billion Forest Industry | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Forestry groups are worried about a looming shortage of loggers. So much so that Tennessee’s forestry association and other groups have signed a letter of support for a federal bill allowing teenagers to start logging at 16.
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Ed Moore, a logger on the Tennessee-Alabama border, says not enough is being done to promote the trade.“I couldn’t tell you how many different loggers are in the state. And I could count on one hand the number that are under the age of 50. And their kids don’t want to take over. It’s hard work.”


The Tennessee Forestry Association and several other groups around the country have endorsed a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho.


Labrador is proposing to deregulate the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which bars anyone under 18 from working with logging equipment. An unintended consequence of that law, Labrador says, denies children of loggers “the opportunity to work and learn the family trade until they reach adulthood.”
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Although data from the Tennessee Department of Labor indicates that logging employment has remained relatively stable since the recession, Adam Taylor, who studies the wood products industry at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, said many loggers work part-time, or are in and out of work, thus making it difficult to track their employment status.


Though logging may be stable now, Taylor says the aging population of the industry could have grave consequences in the coming years.
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“It’s a big concern, and a growing concern,” Taylor said. “Logging is becoming increasingly expensive to get involved with. Fuel costs are high. In addition, the cost of equipment is going up. And the old days when you could get by with a small skitter and a couple chainsaws, that isn’t the business model any more. It tends to be bigger, more expensive equipment — and insurance goes up.”

Sam Radcliffe's insight:

The concern about a shrinking logging force extends beyond Tennessee. No region in the US isn't facing the aging demographic with no apparent succession plan.

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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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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.

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