New US study links the removal of air pollution with improved human health…

The first broad-scale estimate of air pollution removal by trees nationwide, U.S. Forest Service scientists and collaborators calculated that trees are saving more than 850 human lives a year and preventing 670,000 incidents of acute respiratory symptoms.

While trees’ pollution removal equated to an average air quality improvement of less than 1 percent, the impacts of that improvement are substantial. Researchers valued the human health effects of the reduced air pollution at nearly $7 billion every year in a study published recently in the journal Environmental Pollution.

The study by Dave Nowak and Eric Greenfield of the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and Satoshi Hirabayashi and Allison Bodine of the Davey Institute is unique in that it directly links the removal of air pollution with improved human health effects and associated health values. The scientists found that pollution removal is substantially higher in rural areas than urban areas, however the effects on human health are substantially greater in urban areas than rural areas.

“With more than 80 percent of Americans living in urban areas, this research underscores how truly essential urban forests are to people across the nation,” said Michael T. Rains, Director of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory. “Information and tools developed by Forest Service research are contributing to communities valuing and managing the 138 million acres of trees and forests that grace the nation’s cities, towns and communities.”

The study considered four pollutants for which the U.S. EPA has established air quality standards: nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in aerodynamic diameter. Health effects related to air pollution include impacts on pulmonary, cardiac, vascular, and neurological systems. In the United States, approximately 130,000 PM2.5 related deaths and 4,700 ozone-related deaths in 2005 were attributed to air pollution.

Source: Science Daily

Guy Conroy

Technical Forestry



Tobacco farming is brisk business in Zimbabwe.

Whilst most of Zimbabwe’s agricultural industry remains in crisis, tobacco plantations are flourishing. Zimbabwe’s rose and horticulture export business, formerly worth $87 million a year, has largely disappeared and corn, once an export crop for Zimbabwe, now needs to be imported, with 97,000 tons bought from South Africa since the beginning of May.

However the exception to this agricultural decline is tobacco.

According to the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, in 2000 Zimbabwe produced 236 million kilograms of tobacco. During the turbulence of the farm takeovers in 2008, tobacco production plunged to 48.3 million kilograms. In 2014 it is making a strong comeback with this year’s crop of 166.7 million kilograms earning about $612 million.

The recovery of the tobacco industry has provided a boon for the new growers of this crop; mostly black, newly resettled farmers who have stepped into an industry that was once the preserve of the country’s 4,500 white commercial farmers.

According to the government’s Tobacco Industry Marketing Board, 65% of this crop was grown by 110,000 small-scale farmers, of which 39.5% are women. Women in Zimbabwe are fast becoming tobacco tycoons, holding their heads high in the midst of male tobacco farmers, who traditionally dominated this field.

With regard to the crop itself, Chinese buyers acquired $197 million worth of tobacco while Belgium bought $102 million.

August 21, 2014
Roland A. Jansen

Biokerosene from Hybrid Tobacco!

An initiative by Boeing and South African Airways (SAA) to develop a renewable jet fuel sector in South Africa has announced it is to collaborate with SkyNRG on a project to produce jet biofuel from a new energy-rich, nicotine-free hybrid tobacco crop. The crop, known as Solaris, has been developed by Italian company Sunchem and test farming is already underway.

SkyNRG has teamed with Sunchem to scale up production and both Boeing and SAA will provide active support in securing further project financing and offtake agreements. The partners believe biofuel production from large, and small farms, can be expected within the next few years with oil from the plant’s seeds initially being converted into jet fuel.

Boeing and SAA are working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) to help farmers with small plots of land to grow biofuel feedstocks that provide socio-economic value without harming food supplies, fresh water or land use.

Southern Africa has long been associated tobacco crops and it is an important income source for many farmers in the region, despite declining global production.

SkyNRG claims the Solaris feedstock can help to significantly reduce cost price levels towards fossil parity and has the potential to reduce 80% of CO2 emissions compared to fossil kerosene. In addition to producing vegetable oil, Solaris can also be used to generate valuable animal proteins and biomass for rural electrification purposes, says the Amsterdam-based world market provider of sustainable jet fuel.

August 21, 2014

Roland A. Jansen


Innovative Heating Project in Holland

The city of Rotterdam together with the ING bank, the utilities Eneco, E.On, Ministry of Economic Affairs, province of South Holland and the largest waste converting utility AVR have launched the “Heating Roundabout Project” which should be realised by 2020.

Heat, produced by industrial companies in the Port of Rotterdam, such as chemical companies and oil refineries, will be used in future to heat water and pump it in a gigantic “roundabout” in the province of South Holland to heat 350,000 houses and 1,000 hectares of greenhouses, used for cultivating vegetables and flowers. Holland has the largest flower cultivation industry in the world.

Total costs for the project are Euro 4.3 billion and the benefits are Euro 6.3 billion. The net result will be that 15% of all heating used in the province will come from clean renewable energy with an important reduction in CO2 emissions.

This project is unique in the world. Cities like The Hague, Delft, Leiden and Rotterdam will profit from the “Roundabout” as well as the local flower cultivation businesses as their energy costs will be reduced substantially. At present the majority of greenhouses are heated with energy from gas, which is four times more expensive in Europe than in the USA.

Roland A. Jansen

Roland A Jansen is CEO of Biomass Partners Ltd and a Non Executive Director of Green Investment Solutions, an ethical Forestry Investment Company. For further information please visit:

New Green Bond Index

Barclays has teamed up with index provider MSCI to launch a Green Bond Index in response to ‘high demand’ from institutional investors.

Barclays will launch the index this summer following a consultation period for investors, which closes at the end of July and will help formulate a benchmark index methodology based on how “the market identifies, evaluates and classifies green bonds”.

“With an increase in green bond issuance, we have seen demand from institutional investors for a new benchmark in this emerging and rapidly growing market,” said Brian Upbin, Head of Benchmark Index Research at Barclays.

Remy Briand, Managing Director and Head of ESG research at MSCI, said, “MSCI ESG Research offers institutional investors an independent and objective evaluation of green bond securities with an aim to meet well defined criteria for green bond classification.”

The Green Bond Index will be available for institutional clients to license for their index-linked investment products, such as Exchange Traded Funds, separately managed accounts, and structured products, and may serve as a benchmark for dedicated green bond funds as well as informational measures of green bond risks and return.

Jim Glascott, Global Head of Debt Capital Markets at Barclays, said: “The creation of a Green Bond Index will be an extremely useful tool for issuers and institutional investors, and an important step in the evolution, transparency, and standardisation of the green bond market.”

The index will extend the partnership’s existing environmental, social and governance (ESG) fixed income benchmark index family, which it launched last summer.

“The green bond market has just started to develop and we are expecting the number of components in the Index to keep growing as there is an increasing interest and demand from the market for this type of product.”

Green Investment Solutions offers an innovative Green Forestry Bond. For further information visit

Can Money Grow on Trees?

For around the last two decades environmental campaigners have been warning us about the need to protect the Amazon rainforest.

The world’s largest stretch of rainforests is in South America, spread across eight South American countries and French Guiana, an overseas department of France. This wide band of forests is the one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth.

It produces water vapour that falls as rain within the region, and beyond, and is estimated to hold 60-90 billion tonnes of carbon in its vegetation; helping to combat climate change.

Today the rainforest is being cut down at the fastest rate for three years because the land it sits upon is much more valuable as cleared farmland, which can be used to graze cattle and grow fast growing crops such as soybeans. This is a problem because deforestation (without reforestation) accounts for 20% of world wide carbon emissions.

However, the rainforests themselves provide so-called “ecosystem services”. They influence weather systems on a vast scale, produce rainfall and capture CO2 from the atmosphere, which reduces global warming.

Now a new plan has been proposed to save the rainforest by making it worth more standing than chopped down. A Brazilian forestry institute in the middle of the Amazon is measuring vapour and carbon levels to calculate an exact value for the “services” that the rainforest provides so that this can be given a monetary value. After all if there is no rainforest, there will be less rain falling on agricultural land worldwide and less carbon sequestration.

The institute hopes that the rest of the world will finally realise that if the rainforest is to be saved then the benefitting countries will have to help to pay for it. The goal is to issue bills to governments and polluting companies and make them pay the costs to the Amazon citizens who live in the region and are keeping the forest alive.

In Guyana people hope that when the standing forest’s true contribution to the planet is recognised, the country will be able to charge for an “avoided deforestation” programme.

The government there has issued statements, that it has not received many positive responses, despite this offer being on the table for over two years.

Perversely, under the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce greenhouse gases, there is no mechanism for rewarding a country like Guyana for retaining its standing forest.

Only land that has been deforested and then replanted with trees can attract some payments, despite deforestation being responsible for 20% of world wide carbon emissions, which is a larger figure than the globe’s entire transport system.

Roland A. Jansen

For further information about Green Investment Solutions and our innovative range of green forestry investment products for for sophisticated and corporate investors please visit: