The Scottish government has a much better understanding of the importance of forestry to the country’s economy than it has for decades, industry body Confor has said.

Its chief executive, Stuart Goodall, said forestry is now regarded as a”high political priority” with its scale and importance well understood.

After giving evidence to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee at Holyrood, Mr Goodall said he was “optimistic” about the £1 billion sector’s future in Scotland, expressing hope the same will happen in England.

Stuart Goodall said: “It was great to hear the committee say that forestry is a priority and that they understand its scale and importance as a significant rural enterprise delivering £1 billion in annual economic value and providing more than 25,000 jobs.”

He added: “I will be giving evidence to the EFRA committee at Westminster on 6th December. We have highlighted the potential for forestry to deliver 7000 new jobs and to reduce carbon emissions in our evidence and in an earlier Confor report – as well as its potential to reduce flood risks, encourage biodiversity and provide tremendous social and recreational opportunities.

“Scotland has really grasped the nettle and understood the wide-ranging benefits of forestry – and we are working hard to ensure that Westminster politicians do the same.”

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Forests that die because of deforestation, drought, heat or beetle infestations could significantly impact ecosystems far beyond their local environment, according to researchers at the University of Washington (UW).

Wiping out an entire forest can have significant effects on global climate patterns and alter vegetation on the other side of the world, the team found.

“When trees die in one place, it can be good or bad for plants elsewhere, because it causes changes in one place that can ricochet to shift climate in another place,” said lead author Elizabeth Garcia, a UW postdoctoral researcher in atmospheric sciences. “The atmosphere provides the connection.”

Just as conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean can have distant effects through what we now understand as El Niño, the loss of a forest could generate a signal heard around the world — including by other plants.

Forest loss is known to have a nearby cooling effect, because without trees the Earth’s surface is more reflective and absorbs less sunlight, and loss of vegetation also makes air drier. These local effects of deforestation are well known.

But the new study shows major forest losses can alter global climate by shifting the path of large-scale atmospheric waves or altering precipitation paths. Less forest cover can also change how much sunlight is absorbed in the Northern versus the Southern hemispheres, which can shift tropical rain bands and other climate features.

“People have thought about how forest loss matters for an ecosystem, and maybe for local temperatures, but they haven’t thought about how that interacts with the global climate,” said co-author Abigail Swann, a UW assistant professor of atmospheric sciences and of biology. “We are only starting to think about these larger-scale implications.”

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The government is set to be seven years late in hitting its target of planting 11 million trees, forecasts from industry body Confor suggest.

Confor said government ministers including Andrea Leadsom and her predecessor Elizabeth Truss have repeatedly said that 11 million trees will be planted in the 2015-2020 parliamentary term.

But analysis of Forestry Commission statistics show just 1.35 million trees have been planted since the Conservative government came to office in the May 2015 election – an average of 75,166 trees per month.

“At that rate, it will take 12.2 years, taking us into late summer 2027, before the target is hit,” said Confor’s chief executive Stuart Goodall. “This simply isn’t good enough and much more needs to be done.

“We are very heartened by the recent announcement of the £19 million Woodland Carbon Fund – and the fact that it is targeted at schemes of more than 30 hectares.

“It is larger-scale planting that will really make a difference in hitting the target as well as delivering a wide range of economic, environmental and social benefits to our rural communities. We really encourage the industry to support this scheme and get more trees in the ground.”

“The more fundamental problem is what is described in the planting figures as ‘a slower uptake of the new grant’ under the Countryside Stewardship scheme. Confor and others warned that the scheme would be cumbersome and unattractive and that proved to be the case.

“Defra and Forestry Commission England are seeking to understand the practical barriers to planting trees and there is a strong argument to follow Scotland’s lead where a former Chief Planner Jim Mackinnon was appointed by the forestry minister to examine what those barriers are and how to overcome them.”

Scotland has planted an annual average of 7,000 hectares of trees per year over the last five years and the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, has committed to meeting the annual target of 10,000 hectares, which equates to at least 20 million trees every year.

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Great news for anything wanting to invest in Brazil’s forestry sector: the country is on its way out of recession, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In its annual review on the state of the Brazilian economy, the IMF notes that Brazil’s economic problems are “nearing their end” – but it warns that the country’s government must kick on with its reform plan if it is to really succeed.

According to the report, Latin America’s largest economy has suffered its deepest recession in decades. Since the beginning of 2015, the unemployment rate has doubled to more than 11 percent and 2.7 million formal jobs have been lost.

But there is good news.

“A gradual recovery is expected to start in the second half of 2016, assuming that reforms continue, political uncertainty diminishes, and that other economic shocks run their course,” the IMF said.

“The IMF projects output growth of -3.3 per cent in 2016 and 0.5 percent in 2017.

“Faster-than-expected progress on the reform agenda represents an upside risk that could spark a more vigorous recovery in investment, boosting foreign interest in Brazil, even as global interest rates remain low.”

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Brazil is in difficult times. Its economy is struggling, the country’s currency has flopped in the aftermath of the Trump result and the country is in one of its deepest recessions. While its football team looks to be firmly on its way to the 2018 World Cup, it’s fair to say Brazil has lived through more prosperous times.

But change is afoot. I’m going to hedge my bets a little bit here, but, I think we could expect to see signs of growth in Brazil’s forestry industry in the coming months. Here are a couple of reasons why.

Michel Temer
Since coming to power just six months ago, Brazil’s President Michel Temer has made waves. Or at least tried to. He didn’t come in in easy circumstances: he replaced impeached former President Dilma Rousseff during volatile political times for the country. But, since then, he has attempted to introduce packages and stimulus to get Brazil’s economy and industry moving again.

These include:

Signing co-operation agreements with Japan and India, with a particular focus on agriculture.
Having Brazil’s central bank cut the country’s interest rate for the first time in four years – 14 per cent from 14.25 per cent, to drive the economy.
Boosting forecasts for GDP. At the start of Temer’s reign, projections for Brazil’s GDP growth for 2017 were 0.5 per cent. Now they’re at 1.2 per cent.

It’s early days, sure, but Temer has started strongly.

With forestry being one of Brazil’s richest industries, go here if you’d like more information on investing in timber there.

Latin America’s strongest economy
We should not forget that, by some distance, Brazil’s is the strongest economy in Latin America. Growth might be modest, but at least Brazil is weathering the storm. Unlike other countries, it is not in severe deterioration. It’s bad, yes, but not that bad.

Analysts say yes
Okay, so some say we shouldn’t pay heed to experts, but I think they know what they’re talking about, don’t you? Brazil’s top minds have been getting out and about recently, reminding the world that Brazil is ripe for investment.

For example: Brazil politicians attended an event at London Business School last month, talking up the country’s prospects and backing Temer’s reform package. Fernando Bezerra, Brazil’s mining and energy minister, said the government was keen to secure private investment for 34 infrastructure, oil and gas projects across the country.

“We are betting that the Brazilian economy will recover soon and it’s already showing signs,” he said. “We’re optimistic that the market will recognise our efforts.”

Brazil’s forestry sector is concrete
The country’s forestry and timber industry is not an emerging one: it’s a central plank in Brazil’s economy and regarded by the government as a major component of the financial success and stability of Brazil. By June 2012, Brazil had 7.74 million hectares of certified forest.

This South American country is home to the third-largest remaining frontier forest on the planet, making up about 17% of the world’s frontier forests, and it has the highest biodiversity in terms of the plants that these forests accommodate.

So not only is the forestry industry one of Brazil’s most successful – the government also recognises its importance, and, one would hope, will do everything it can to keep it strong.

I for one will be keeping a close eye on forestry investment in Brazil in 2017.

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English Carbon Fund welcomed

November 16th, 2016

The forestry industry is pleased an additional £19 million has been invested to support productive planting in England.

Confor said it “strongly welcomed” the announcement by the government.

The money will support the creation of new woodlands over 30 hectares, helping to meet future carbon targets.

“Confor has lobbied hard for greater productive tree planting, and this additional funding will help to provide the resource that the forestry sector needs for the future”, said Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall.

Following the Paris Agreement on climate change, through which countries have pledged to meet carbon targets, Confor cited tree planting as a cost-effective way to reduce carbon in the atmosphere.

“This fund will target the planting of forests over 30 hectares, the scale needed to make a new forest viable for producing future supplies of wood, as well as delivering the wide range of environmental benefits that modern forests provide,” Mr Goodall explained.

Announcing the new fund, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “This new fund will encourage large scale planting, helping us reduce our carbon footprint, while creating new forests to enjoy for generations to come.”

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A consultation that could alter the way forests are managed in Scotland is set to end.

The Scottish government’s proposals include creating a new body to manage the country’s forests, new legislation and a Holyrood Forestry Division.

While some forests are managed on a UK-wide level, Scotland’s government wants devolution of the sector, which is worth £1 billion and supports 2,500 jobs, the BBC reported.

Holyrood sets policy for forestry in Scotland but the management of it is overseen by the Forestry Commission.
Under the plans, in the Forestry Commission’s place would see a new agency, Forestry and Land Scotland, created to manage all publicly-owned land and plantations.

The Forestry Act of 1967 would be replaced with what ministers call “a modern approach to the development, support and regulation of forestry”, the BBC reported.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Firstly, we think that forestry should be directly accountable to the people of Scotland through the Scottish government and the Scottish Parliament. This bill will do that.

“Secondly, of course forestry is hugely important to Scotland, employing 25,000 people and generating £1bn a year – and it can be even more successful still.

“So we have ambitious targets to plant more trees to achieve our environmental targets and also further to grow a very successful part of Scotland’s rural economy.”

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Small agriculture projects have the potential to damage the rainforests, a new study has found.

A researcher at Lund University in Sweden mapped the effects of smaller farmers on forests in south-east Asia and found significant long-term effects on environmental impact, biodiversity and the economy.

Yann Clough, a researcher at the Faculty of Science at Lund, has mapped the choice of trees and agricultural methods of small-scale Indonesian farmers.

With a group of 40 researchers from Germany, Indonesia, Switzerland and New Zealand, Clough has assessed the biodiversity and ecosystem functions in natural forest, in traditional agroforests and in monocultures of palm oil and rubber trees, as well as interviewing 450 small scale farmers.

“For the great majority of small farmers, chopping down diverse forests and investing in a single species of tree – monoculture – is the simplest and quickest path out of poverty. Productivity increases, the financial risk drops and income rises,” Clough said.

“Since the small farmers earn more with monoculture, sustainability aspects and the effects on nature currently are almost entirely unheeded. Changing the production methods of small farmers requires financial incentives along with political will; otherwise there is a risk that rich and productive agricultural land will have disappeared altogether in 20 years,” Clough added.

The study is presented in an article in the online scientific journal Nature Communications.

Find out more about investing in Brazil’s forestry sector here.

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Brazil ‘ripe for reform’

November 4th, 2016

Brazil’s economy could be reformed as part of an effort to restore its long-term growth, the government’s finance minister has said.

Henrique Meirelles told local media that the Brazilian economy is “ripe” for reforms, the Brics Post reported.

Brazil’s economy, the biggest in Latin America, is in deep recession, having contracted significantly this year. Some analysts expect the country’s gross domestic product to shrink by 303 per cent this year alone.

Economists’ forecasts for inflation and interest rates have also been cut, the website reported.

A potential package of reforms could revitalise the country’s finances after years of heavy spending, which has caused a growth slowdown and reduced confidence in the Brazilian economy.

“There is no doubt that the resumption of growth will be a slower process than in previous crises,” Mr Meirelles was quoted as saying.

Find out more about investing in Brazil’s forestry sector here.

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Air pollution is a growing problem in urban areas all over the world. How to solve the problem? Planting more trees could be a good – and cost-effective – way to do it, according to new research.

A study by a team at the US-based Nature Conservancy found that when particulate matter is close to a tree it reduces, on average, by between seven per cent and 24 per cent, the BBC has reported.

Particulate matter is the name for the mix of solid particles and liquid droplets that are found in the air. These can include dust, dirt and soot. It’s possible to inhale particulate matter – and it can cause serious health problems. The Nature Conservancy forecasts that it could claim the lives of more than six million people every year by 2050.

Planting trees in urban areas offers lots of benefits to city dwellers, said Dr Rob McDonald, the lead author of the study.

“The average reduction of particulate matter near a tree is between seven and 24 per cent while the cooling effect is up to 2C (3.6F),” he told BBC News. “There are already tens of millions of people getting those kinds of benefits.”

Dr McDonald added that the research found planting trees to be a cost-effective method for cooling and cleaning air.

“On that front, trees are cost competitive with other options,” he explained.

“When you change a bus from diesel to gasoline, for example, you reduce particulate matter pollution, and trees are certainly in the same ballpark.”

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In yet another sign of the growing appetite for investment in Brazil’s many sectors, its trade and investment agency says it should sign agricultural contracts worth $1.2 million following a successful appearance at a major food trade show.

The Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex Brazil) enjoyed a successful appearance at SIAL, the world’s largest food innovation exhibition, held recently in Paris.

As a major meeting point for international agribusiness firms, Apex Brazil is confident it will sign contracts worth more than $1 million over the next 12 months, news it said it “highly welcomed”.

During the five-day event, more than 100 food and beverage companies showcased their products and services to the trade visitors, leading to more than 11,200 business meetings.

“50 years ago we were mainly an importing country,” said Roberto Jaguaribe, president of Apex Brazil. “The technological and agricultural revolution we’ve experienced enabled us to completely reverse the trend and become the number three world exporter in agribusiness. The SIAL is one of the best places to promote our assets.”

Apex Brazil said its major focus at SIAL was to promote its sustainable agribusiness offering. Brazil’s Forest Code, established in the 1960s, is the “most restrictive and sophisticated legislation of its type in the world”, Apex Brazil said. The code stipulates that a proportion of Brazil’s rural land should be permanently maintained as forest.

And since 1977, production has been multiplied five-fold, whereas production surfaces have decreased. The agency said Brazil can more than double its production capacity without adversely affecting the country’s native vegetation.

Brazil is the second-largest producer of agribusiness products, exporting $88.2 billion to 200 markets. It;s also the third-largest exporter of food products, especially orange juice, sugar, coffee and soybean.

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This week I’ve read that Confor, the sustainable forestry organisation, is calling on the government to put more money in so we can grow more trees, boosting the forestry sector and helping us comply with the recent Paris Agreement on greenhouse gas emissions in the process.

Well, hurrah. About time too. A committed, modern, forward-thinking approach to forestry development? Who would have thought it.

As a forestry investor – one who’s green-minded too, this is great news. Confor have written to Therese Coffey, the Forestry Minister, to make the case for more funding to plant forests in England.

Confor want new forests to grow more productive softwood trees – these trees grow fast, hold carbon quickly and, when they’re harvested, lock that carbon up in wood products, especially when used in production.

This carbon can be counted when the UK does its greenhouse gas reporting because the wood comes from UK forests. It’s a win-win.

“Tree planting is a low-cost way to meet the UK government’s carbon reduction targets, and now that the UK has signed the Paris Agreement, Confor believes that additional funding should be provided to support more new planting,” Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall said.

Confor also say that planting more ‘productive forestry’ would support the English forest and timber industry, which could do with some help, as it’s facing a shortfall of wood over the coming years that, it’s feared, will damage the rural economy.

“The UK saw milling, panel board and wood energy sectors are facing a falling off in supply from the 2030s, threatening hundreds of jobs in rural areas where there are often few alternative sources of employment,” Confor said.

Since the publication of a report called Combating Climate Change, it’s been clear that planting trees is a low-cost way to sequester carbon and help the Government meet its demanding greenhouse gas reduction targets – it plans to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050. Trees planted now will have particular impact in the 2030s and 2040s when the UK will be struggling with ever harder actions to reduce emissions ahead of 2050.

UK forests are generally agreed to be good places to put your money. Figures on returns vary, but you should (and I say should) be able to expect healthy bang for your buck. Figures from the IPD Annual Forestry Index show a total return of 10.8 per cent for 2015, easily beating returns on many other asset classes.

However, be mindful of additional costs. You’ll have to pay maintenance fees to keep the land in tip-top shape. This will of course eat into your costs, but, on the whole, forestry investment can be well worth your while. Consider speaking to a forestry investment expert if you’re interested learning more about it. That’s what I did.

Til next time.

John.

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Brazil’s central bank has cut the country’s interest rate for the first time in four years as it attempts to dig itself out of a deep recession.

The bank’s monetary policy committee, Copcom, cut the benchmark short-term interest rate (known as Selic) 25 points to 14 per cent from a long-term high of 14.25 per cent.

The South American country is in one of its worst recessions, but it’s hoped the cut, along with progressive moves being made by its government, will help steer it out through tough times. With forestry being one of Brazil’s richest industries, go here if you’d like more information on investing in timber there.

Copcom members said the bank would embark on a “moderate and gradual” easing cycle, assessing the pace and magnitude of monetary easing over time.

“The magnitude of monetary easing and a possible speeding up of its pace will depend on a favourable evolution of factors that allow greater confidence on meeting the inflation targets at the relevant horizon for the conduct of monetary policy,” committee members said.

Analysts say the lower rates will help Michel Temer, Brazil’s president, bolster an economic recovery. In recent days Mr Temer has announced a number of co-operation agreements with other countries to foster progress in Brazilian industries including agriculture.

The bank said it forecast inflation at 4.3 per cent in 2017 and 3.9 per cent in 2018, but confirmed that private estimates remain above the 4.5 per cent of the official target for both years. Annual inflation is currently 8.48 per cent.

For nearly 10 years, Brazil’s central bank has held the central rate as it struggled to bring down inflation. But a recent slowdown in inflation gave Copcom members the confidence to approve the interest rate cut.

Commentators said the cut could be a sign that more rate cuts are on the cards.

“We believe the central bank will have enough elements to step up the pace of easing to 50 basis points at its next meeting despite the caution expressed today,” economists at Sao Paulo-based investment house Haitong told Reuters.

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Brazilian landowners are clearing more rainforest than government figures would suggest, a study by US researchers shows.

A team at Brown University found that an area of the Amazon rainforest about the size of Puerto Rico was cleared between 2008 and 2012 – but it wasn’t picked up by Brazil’s official deforestation monitoring tool, known as PRODES.

The Brown scientists, whose research is published in the journal Conservation Letters, said while PRODES had done a lot of good work in curbing Brazilian deforestation, landowners were finding ways to “work around it”, destroying important forests in the process.

They compared data from the PRODES tool with two independent satellite measures of forest cover and found close to 9,000 square kilometers of destroyed forest missing from the PRODES monitoring.

PRODES, or the Monitoring Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by Satellite Project, monitors deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon and the government has been producing annual deforestation rates using its data since 1988.

It has been a success: according to the tool’s data, the amount of destroyed rainforest has dropped from 25,000 square miles in 2003 to an average of 5,300 square miles between 2009 and 2013.

The Brown team say the PRODES data should be regarded as inaccurate because the tool only monitors ‘prime’ Amazon rainforest – not dry forests, secondary forests and forest plots smaller than 6.25 hectares.

“PRODES essentially masks out these regions and treats them as non-forest,” said Leah VanWey, who co-authored the research and is senior deputy director at Brown’s institute and environment department.

“We wanted to compare the PRODES maps with satellite sources that just look at canopy cover, without those exclusions. We showed that while deforestation in large plots of primary rainforests has declined, it has expanded in these areas not tracked by PRODES.”

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Rebecca Evans, Food and Farming Deputy Minister, has announced details of the new Wales Rural Development Programme.

The new programme agreed between the European Commission and the Welsh Government includes initiatives aimed at managing and sustaining forests as well as improving rural community developments.

It has been allocated over £400 million throughout its lifetime. Initial sign ups to the various schemes will open at the end of the month.

The financial breakdown for the schemes has also been announced, with the food business investment scheme receiving £14 million and the sustainable production grant allocated £6 million.

Woodland restoration and management schemes will also receive a significant boost in funds. £2.3 million has been made available for the Glastir woodland restoration scheme, as well as an additional £1 million for the Glastir woodland creation scheme. This funding is anticipated to help fight against Phytophthora Ramorum disease, which is commonly found in larch trees.

Mrs Evans commented that she hopes the new programme would promote collaboration between rural communities and would help sustain, improve natural resources and deliver benefits to the countryside.

Mrs Evans added: “It is broader than before, more ambitious and supports a wide range of investments designed to increase the sustainability and resilience of our natural environment, land-based sector, food businesses and communities.”

Companies such as Greenwood Management have long been working to protect forests and promote the importance of these schemes on a global scale.

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A new tool developed at the University of Maryland could significantly aid and help combat deforestation, researchers have claimed.

The tool, which will work alongside other information gathering tools, uses images from two of NASA’s Landsat satellites, and will send high-resolution photos every eight days.

For comparison, the current tool used by Brazil’s Real Time System for Detection of Deforestation (DETER) takes low-resolution emails from NASA’s Terra satellite and can alert the officials to large-scale land clearings. They are unable to show small-scale deforestation operations.

The new tool, alongside its developed software, can sift through millions of images in seconds, giving almost real-time views on deforestation activities. It can also detect tiny changes such as small roads, which is usually an indication of the beginnings of deforestation programmes.

Global Forest Watch are planning on putting the alerts sent by the app to its website on 2 March 2016. The system works by assessing if trees have disappeared from an area every eight days. If trees are found to be missing, its associated pixel will turn red and an alert will be sent out.

Mikaela Wiesse, a research assistant at Global Forest Watch, commented on the new app and its potential for fighting deforestation:

“It’s really something we see that can be used as an early warning, and hopefully give people a jumpstart on taking action to combat deforestation as it occurs — not just after the fact.”

The main issue with this new tool is its reliance on satellite images. This requires visual evidence from the ground. Clouds can block the rainforests from the satellites. But already organisations are working out ways to improve the tool and software.

Lillian Pintea, vice president of Conversation Science at the Jane Goodall Institute in Virginia, is working in conjunction with Global Forest Watch to create a sister app. The other app will be put into the hands of local communities and officials trying to combat deforestation, so they can use the real-time alert system as well.

Pintea said: “By identifying forest areas in the process of being exploited or converted to other land uses, local stakeholders will have a chance to do something about it, instead of just documenting deforestation.

“Improving both our eyes in the sky while empowering local communities and decision-makers to access and use this information is a great model that will assure that new technologies and big data are actually used to improve conservation decisions.”

Companies such as Greenwood Management have long been working to protect forests and are pleased technological advances are being made to help combat deforestation.

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February 23 marks the first opportunity for regional leaders to come together and explore how a new global deal on climate change is relevant to both forestry management and the area of Asia-Pacific.

Among the important issues, is finding collaborative ways between the countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve efforts to combat climate change.

In a press release announcing the week, Patrick Durst, senior forestry officer for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) stated:

“Now that the dust has settled on the Paris climate change conference, countries around the world are regrouping to see how they can translate the lofty commitments made in Paris into practical action on the ground.”

The event, which takes place over five days, is the largest of its kind this year. It will focus on the key changes to legislation introduced in Paris.

Over a thousand forestry and natural resources officials will attend the event from more than 30 different countries. More than 70 parallel sessions, workshops and seminars will take place on topics such as climate change, forestry and people, green investment, and future trade and markets.

A new FAO report will also be released this week on community-based forestry. This report will explore and reinforce the positive impact of community-based forestry.

The report will also look at ways of improving political legislation in strengthening the rights of communities and people in managing forest resources, while also making the case for the creation of a national forest database to continue to monitor the effectiveness of community-based forest projects.

The result of this week is anticipated to improve future collaboration in the region, as well as identify key political policies and recommendations moving forward, all of which will have an impact on national and international forestry-related issues in the Asia-Pacific region up until 2020.

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More than one hundred civil society organisations and networks have called for bioenergy to be excluded from the next EU Renewable Energy Directive.

A declaration has been published by one hundred and fifteen organisations and networks from all over the globe to urge the form of energy to be removed from the directive. Their arguments will now be submitted to a consultation that will investigate the directive’s renewal for 2020 onwards.

Rather than slashing emissions and helping to combat climate change, bioenergy is wreaking havoc on forest land across forestland across Europe, North America and South-east Asia and leading to high levels of carbon emissions. The declaration, say the groups, provides huge amounts of strong evidence to support the exclusion of all forms of bioenergy from the new legislation.

The World Rainforest Movement’s Teresa Perez, said: “The devastating direct and indirect impacts of large-scale bioenergy must be fully recognised and reflected in the new RED.

“We’ve joined with 115 other groups to send a strong signal to the EU that it must change its mind on bioenergy or risk doing far more harm than good. It’s clear that support for bioenergy in the EU is directly impacting forests internationally and the people that depend on them, promoting industrial tree plantations, as well as incentivising even greater carbon emissions.”

Companies such as Greenwood Management have long been working to protect forests and promote the importance of this protection on a global scale.

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The US Forest Service and USDA Natural Resources Conversation Service (NRCS) have released a statement announcing a federal investment to the tune of $40 million to aid in the restoration and maintenance of forests in the state of Alabama.

The fund is aimed at preventing future wildfire threats, protecting wildlife habitats and supporting rural businesses, as well as maintaining the health of Alabama’s forests. It’s the third year in a row, under the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Partnership, that the two agencies have come together to improve forest ecosystems.

NRCS will be investing $7 million in 11 new Joint Chiefs projects during 2016, and have committed additional investments in 27 other projects that were started in 2014 and 2015 with approximately $33 million being made available.

In addition, a number of local smaller partners including Auburn University, Alabama Forestry Commission and Alabama Forestry Association, are planning to commit a further $11 million in financial assistance across the 38 projects.

Both the NRCS and the USDA have contributed significant investments in maintaining forests and conservation projects. Since the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership was formed, $104 million has been invested to help combat the threat of wildfire and preserve wildlife habitats.

From 2009, the USDA has invested over $29 billion to help producers, businesses and farmers improve conservation improvements working with thousands of farmers and landowners to protect nearly 400 million acres across the US.

Ben Malone, NRCS state conservationist for Alabama, commented on the announced investment: “The Joint Chiefs’ partnership is one of the many ways USDA is working with local partners to help meet the increasing challenge of protecting communities, watersheds, forests and woodlands from the devastating and increasingly expensive impacts of wildfire.”

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There is growing concern amongst Cambodian youth about the largest lowland evergreen forest in the country, and the negative impact deforestation is having on the area.

A recent forum, which was held at Zaman University in Phnom Penh, brought together more than 300 young students to debate the issue of protecting the forest from further deforestation and to shine a spotlight on the importance of forest preservation across the globe.

The event allowed attendees to gain further information about the forest and the worrying issues, such as degradation from illegal logging, it is facing. The 3,600 square kilometre stretch of Prey Lang is known as one of Southeast Asia’s last remaining lowland evergreen forests and the tract covers four provinces: Preah Vihear, Kratie, Kampong Thom and Steung Treng.

Thun Sophorn, the organiser of the Prey Lang Forum, said he believed the forum will lead to further efforts being made to raise support to protect Cambodia’s forested land.

Ms Sophorn told The Khmer Times: “We want the debaters to discuss the decentralisation of Prey Lang, meaning giving rights and responsibilities to the Prey Lang community. We want our audiences to learn more about Prey Lang since many youths still lack general knowledge on Prey Lang. We want youths to listen to comments and concerns of those who know about this issue and preserving the Prey Lang forest.”

According to an independent analyst, the event has had a great deal of impact as it has drawn the attention of the country’s political parties to the issue of forest protection.

One of the students leading the debate at the event, Rim Phatbophaphoung from Khemrak University, told the newspaper that raising awareness of the need for forest protection was key: “The topic debated today is very important for the public to understand the environmental issues, and protecting the environment — especially Prey Lang. The environment is an important source of shelter for animals and humans, as well as a source of living for the community.”

The executive director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, Tek Vannara, confirmed the ecological importance of Prey Lang, saying that it was crucial as a habitat around Tonle Sap lake, as well as greatly impacting local temple tourism. It is also known by many as being a hub of biodiversity around the Tonle Sap area.

While the Cambodian Government was praised by Vannara for its efforts towards stamping out illegal logging, it needs to ensure it has a clear plan of action to ensure the forest is protected in the future. Last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen confirmed the creation of a joint anti-logging task force comprised of district police, military police and forestry officials. Thus far, a series of raids have been carried out, many on economic land concessions, and have resulted in a number of arrests of those carrying out illegal logging activities.

Hoeun Sopheap, a community representative from Kampong Thom province and part of the Prey Lang Community Network, told the Phnom Penh Post: “The timber loggers in Prey Lang forest do not only log the timber, but they also destroy everything,” meaning that the loggers are not only destroying the trees themselves, but also the wildlife and the environmental health of the entire area.

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