Forestry: See the money for the trees

This piece has an US slant but shows the growing awareness of the value of investing in forestry.

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but this could be missing the point. As some institutional investors have found, the trees themselves are valuable. And they tend to become more valuable over time as they increase in height and volume, making their lumber suitable for a wider array of purposes.

Read more here: http://realestate.ipe.com/infrastructure/forestry-see-the-money-for-the-trees/10007051.article

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Google-powered map helps fight deforestation

Google are working with Global Forest Watch to provide satellite images on an online platform that provides reliable and up-to-date data on forests worldwide, along with the ability to track changes to forest cover over time.

Launched a year ago by the World Resources Institute (WRI), the platform has brought an unprecedented degree of transparency to the problem of deforestation, pointing to ways in which big data, cloud computing and crowdsourcing can help attack other tough sustainability problems.

Read the full article here: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/mar/10/google-earth-engine-maps-forest-watch-deforestation-environment

NASA Finds Good News on Forests and Carbon Dioxide

A new NASA-led study shows that tropical forests may be absorbing far more carbon dioxide than many scientists thought, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas. The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion — more than is absorbed by forests in Canada, Siberia and other northern regions, called boreal forests.

“This is good news, because uptake in boreal forests is already slowing, while tropical forests may continue to take up carbon for many years,” said David Schimel of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. Schimel is lead author of a paper on the new research, appearing online today in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.

Forests and other land vegetation currently remove up to 30 percent of human carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. If the rate of absorption were to slow down, the rate of global warming would speed up in return.

Read the full article here: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4424

Investing and Divesting for the Climate

Investors are starting to change their tactics to only invest in sustainable businesses that actively work to reduce their contributions to climate change. Could this be the vanguard for a shift in investment approaches that drives environmentally unfriendly companies to review their business models in order to survive..?

Full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/renat-heuberger/investing-and-divesting-f_b_6660522.html

 

Booming demand for timber fuels surge in profits at Scottish Woodlands

SCOTTISH Woodlands has highlighted the importance of the forestry sector in Scotland after it achieved record trading results amid strong sales of timber.

The company, which manages forests for owners ranging from individuals to local authorities, increased pre-tax profits by around 80 per cent annually, to £1.1 million in the year to September.

Scottish Woodlands harvested more than a million tonnes of timber during the year, when sales surged by around 15 per cent annually, to £74m.

The employee-owned company said the growth reflected strong demand for domestically grown timber in the UK.

Scottish Woodlands’ customer list includes sawmills, fencing producers, paper mills and biomass energy firms.

The company noted the growth was also driven by strong interest in woodlands among investors.

It said new woodland creation and re-stocking following harvesting led to stable demand for forest management services.

Managing director Colin Mann said the company’s growth demonstrated the importance of the forestry industry to Scotland.

“The forestry and wood sector in Scotland is delivering a powerful combination of sustainable economic growth and significant environmental benefits,” said Mr Mann.

Economists have estimated the industry supports 40,000 jobs in Scotland.

The monthly average number of employees at Scottish Woodlands was 141 in the latest year.

Scottish Woodlands has 13 offices in Scotland, from Strathpeffer in the Highlands to Castle Douglas in the south west.

Mr Mann said the firm’s success was based on the bedrock of the involvement of employee owners. Scottish Woodlands is 80 per cent employee owned, with the remainder held by sawmiller James Jones & Sons.

Source: http://www.heraldscotland.com/business/company-news/booming-demand-for-timber-fuels-surge-in-profits-at-scottish-woodlands.118325555

AXA Invests in Forestry because it is a ‘safe-haven investment’, with ‘resilience to crisis’.

AXA Real Estate has made its first foreign forest acquisition, buying three estates in Finland.

The investment manager paid €11.2m ($12.5m) for the assets, which cover 3,700 hectares.

The estates were bought for AXA Insurance from forestry company UPM, which will maintain its role as asset manager.

Christophe Lebrun, head of forest investment, said investor appetite for alternative asset classes had seen a “marked increase in recent years”, with demand for strong and sustainable returns.

“As a sector, forestry is underpinned by robust economic fundamentals,” he said.

The sector was, he added, a “safe-haven investment”, with “resilience to crisis”.

AXA said that, as part of its alternatives investment strategy, it was looking to grow its forestry portfolio for clients, targeting Western Europe and the Nordics.

The move into Finland by AXA Real Estate is, it said, part of a strategy to diversify into countries where forestry-related industries account for a significant proportion of GDP.

AXA Real Estate’s forestry assets under management total around €100m, comprising more than 17,600 hectares.

Globally, the 1.2bn hectare timber market is worth an estimated €600bn, the investment manager said.

Source: http://realestate.ipe.com/news/investors/axa-real-estate-sees-through-the-trees/10006880.article

International partnership to restore giant panda habitats

The giant panda is one of the world’s most endangered species and efforts to restore its natural habitat are at the heart of conservation plans. At a time when two of Edinburgh’s most famous inhabitants are giant pandas from China, Forest Research is building international links with Chinese counterparts to help conserve the species in the wild.

For more info refer to the original post:

source: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/beeh-9sgkgt

What is a lignofuel?

This was the question I posed for myself after reading about an event called Lignofuels 2015 in Madrid this week. Foolishly I thought a quick visit to Google and the worldwide web and I would have the answer.

But no, it was not as simple as that; I could find lists of events where lignofuels were meta tagged, or formed the title, but no straightforward answer. So, I posed the question in different ways to try and find a definitive Wikipedia, or similar, definition that I could reference and use as the basis to answer my question. But no matter how I posed the question the results were always the same – lots of event titles but no definition that neatly summarised ‘A lignofuel is xxx…’

So, after trawling through at least 20 pages of Google search results and optimistic viewings of related web sites I decided to ask GIS’s Biomass expert, Roland Jansen, about this term and he gave me the literal answer – ligno is Latin for wood therefore lignofuels means fuels from wood – I should have spoken to Roland earlier and studied latin…

In my search the closest I had found to a definition was posts about Lignocellulosic biomass on wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lignocellulosic_biomass)  and a WordPress blog on lignofuels (see link below).

Having read a little around the subject in my search for a definition my interest was piqued by lignocellulose so I continued down this route as a related extension to my original question. Lignocellulose is a term that refers to dry plant matter, which I had known as biomass, or to be more specific I should now know as lignocellulosic biomass; the most abundantly available raw material on Earth for the production of bio-fuels such as bio-ethanol.

I also learnt that there is a lot of research being undertaken at the moment to release the potential of lignocellulose to maximise its efficiency as a fuel. Much revolves around disconnecting the lignin from the cellulose to allow the sugars in the cellulose to ferment into a biofuel. Further detail on how that works is beyond my basic chemistry to add any value to what has already been written so if you are interested in further information this can be found on the wikipedia page above and from https://lignofuel.wordpress.com

However, as part of my research into lignofuels this morning I also watched a video about a Volvo project to fuel trucks using a bio-fuel called Dimethyl Ether (DME) – the results are very promising and show the potential for alternatives to fossil fuels and I look forward to more developments in this field and a day when our reliance on petrol and diesel will change.

Volvo reference:
http://www.volvogroup.com/group/global/en-gb/responsibility/infocus/events_projects/biodme/Pages/biodme.aspx

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

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140725163557.htm

Guy Conroy

Technical Forestry

21/08/2014