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.


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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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Organisers are hoping that the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio will turn Brazil’ economy around, giving the host city a chance to shine.

The Olympic organisers would love to see the city emulate the 1992 Olympian transformation of Barcelona, with major infrastructure projects nearing completion. Stadiums, a new tramway, metro extensions and a dedicated express bus lane are all hoped to contribute towards the economic uptick of the country as a result of the famous Games. Indeed, Mayor Eduardo Paes last year said that Rio would “leave Barcelona in the dust.”

Rio will be able to serve 66 per cent of its population with public transport by the end of the Games on 21 August, compared to just 38 per cent currently. One of the biggest projects will see the popular Ipanema neighborhood, with its famous beach, connected to Barra, where the Olympic Village is located. Rio’s deputy transport secretary Bernardo Carvalho described this as the “biggest legacy of the Olympics.” The journey between the two spots will only take 13 minutes compared to the current car drive of between one and two hours.

The Olympic Park will also be turned into facilities for locals following the Games, with the Olympic aquatic sports center becoming two swimming centres and the handball arena rebuilt into four public schools. The Deodoro park will also be opened to the public.

Other Olympic installations will remain in place but will be given new uses. According to the office of Mayor Eduardo Paes, one of the gymnasiums will be turned into an experimental sports school and another similar gym will be transformed into a high-level training centre.

Locals are also calling upon Games officials to clean Guanabara Bay, the natural harbor where the sailing and windsurfing portions of the Olympics are due to take place.

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According to a new study, the large animals that call the Amazon rainforest home have now been hunted to the extent that it has affected the makeup of the forests themselves.

The study, which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that the animals had been so thoroughly hunted that the ability of the rainforest to store carbon has been lowered. This in turn has affected the ability of the tree cover to slow the effects of climate change, the report said.

Overhunting could lead to the forests of the Amazon losing as much as 5.8 per cent of their natural ability to store carbon, which could mean an estimated 690 billion pounds of carbon left unabsorbed. The impact of this on the world’s carbon markets could be catastrophic, with an economic effect of between $5.9 and $13.7 trillion.

In order to compile the data, a team of researchers from the UK’s University of East Anglia and various other institutions looked at 166 forest areas, the majority of which were subject to some hunting pressure. Often, the researchers found, these areas were no longer home to any of the larger animals such as woolly monkeys and spider monkeys that normally call these areas home.

As many of these larger animals are fruit eaters, they help to boost healthy forests by distributing seeds in their droppings, so this element of forest protection was also removed due to hunting.

Carlos Peres, a professor of conservation ecology at the University of East Anglia and the study’s lead author, said: “The issue of unsustainable hunting within tropical forest protected areas has been flagged in all major tropical land masses, and the Amazon is no exception.”

Mr Peres and his team have called for more efforts to protect forests from defaunation – the removal of the animals that reside within them. “Protecting forest cover alone but failing to protect the forest wildlife is not enough to ensure that these forests continue to exercise ecosystem services such as carbon retention,” Mr Peres went on to say.

Companies such as Greenwood Management have long been working to protect forests and hope that this research will shine a spotlight on how crucial it is to work to preserve our forests and the wildlife that call the area home.

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Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio has confirmed that his philanthropic foundation will invest a further $15 million into the protection of forests, oceans and clean energy across the globe.

Mr DiCaprio – best known for films such as Romeo and Juliet, The Wolf of Wall Street and The Beach – spoke at the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award Ceremony in Davos, Switzerland, regarding his ongoing commitment to global environmental causes. He hopes the money, which follows a vast amount of other funding his foundation has already invested into the arena, will also help to advance the rights of indigenous people all over the world.

Mr DiCaprio said: “Generosity is the key to our future. Currently, less than three per cent of all philanthropic giving goes to defending our planet. So much can be done if we work together. With your help, we can quickly identify and fund the most innovative and effective projects that have the greatest potential to avert the crisis we face.”

The major chunk of the new funding – $6 million – was awarded to Oceana and Skytruth for their Global Fishing Watch, which is a specialist platform that makes use of satellite data in order to track fishing activities. A further $3.4 million was awarded to Clearwater and the Ceibo Alliance in a bid to help the groups to stamp out oil extraction on indigenous and community lands in South America.

Meanwhile, $3.2 million was handed to Rainforest Action Network and Haka in order to assist them in their work to protect one of Sumatra’s last intact rainforests, the Leuser Ecosystem. The Solutions Project was granted the remainder of the money in order to continue its work promoting the community-level clean energy projects in the United States. The Nature Conservancy also benefited from some funds to put towards its debt-for-nature swap in the Seychelles.

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A new report has confirmed the important role the central Amazon rainforest of Brazil plays in global weather patterns.

An international research team that was led by Penn State University carried out a nine-month long study in the Brazilian rainforest. Their findings will likely now be put to use to allow climate prediction models to measure the Amazon’s impact on weather patterns in the future.

Jose D. Fuentes, professor of meteorology at Penn State, said: “The Amazon rainforest plays an important role in the southern hemisphere by transpiring moisture that is transported by clouds to many places that need precipitation. However, there’s a big gap in our knowledge of the underlying processes that influence the formation of clouds.”

The research team looked at the levels of trace gases, including ozone, as well as wind speed and precipitation. They discovered that convective storms were able to carry air particles from the Earth’s atmosphere to the surface, therefore increasing the surface ozone levels dramatically.

“Deep, convective storms have two channels, one with upward moving air and another with downward moving air. Downdrafts bring ozone molecules down from the upper troposphere (the lower layer of Earth’s atmosphere) to the surface where they can mix and react with other chemicals,” added Mr Fuentes.

The team also found that the process of cloud formation can be accelerated in the rainforest, when the ozone mixes with hydrocarbons. As the rise in ozone at the Earth’s surface can bring about many atmospheric chemical processes, it is likely that some of these will affect cloud formation due to the linked reaction of hydrocarbons emitted from plants. Water vapour then rises and condenses into particles that act as cloud condensation, following which, a visible cloud will form when enough water vapour condenses on the cloud condensation. In the rainforest, the proliferation of hydrocarbons – which are hydrogen/carbon molecules emitted by vegetation – ensures that the reaction is faster and greater, leading to a higher amount of cloud formation.

“The more we know about the rainforest’s atmospheric chemistry and how that can influence cloud formation, the more we’ll understand the Amazon’s role in global weather patterns – and how changes in the rainforest could affect those patterns,” Mr Fuentes went on to say.

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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As long as more forested land is not cleared for rearing cattle, boosting the level of beef production in Brazil could help to lower its national emissions, a new report has found.

The report, which was published in Nature Climate Change, found that emissions across the country could be lowered if beef production were raised because the amount of carbon stored in pastureland would rise.

The country is home to over 200 million cows and is one of the biggest exporters of beef in the world. While greenhouse gas emissions are produced as a result of converting land into pasture for cows to graze, and transporting animals, the report has argued that the industry – previously one of the biggest drivers of deforestation in Brazil – could actually now be a positive in terms of lowering emissions.

The link between deforestation and beef production is now broken, according to the authors of the report,
Prof Dominic Moran, an economist at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and Rafael de Oliveira Silva from the University of Edinburgh and SRUC.

While beef production levels have been rising since 2005, deforestation rates have been falling since that time. This shows, say the authors, that deforestation is no longer linked to beef production and this means that the beef industry could work to lower its emissions.

Between 10 and 20 per cent of the country’s total national annual emissions could be deleted if farmers worked towards higher beef demands and got more out of their existing pastureland, says the report. This would then boost the level of carbon the land was able to store. As Brazil is the twelfth largest emitter of CO2, in the world, these figures are significant.

Long term, there would come a time when the grasses on the pastureland would reach their limit in terms of how much carbon they were able to store. This, however, would not be reached for around half a century, the researchers said.

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The tree farm said to be the forerunner of sustainable forestry is celebrating 75 years since its establishment.

The Clemons Tree Farm near Montesano in Grays Harbor County, Washington state, was the first tree farm in North America to be certified under the American Tree Farm System. Today, Washington state has 35 tree farms that have been sustainably managed under the ATFS certification program for over 50 years. A further 204 tree farms have been managed in this way for more than 25 years.

The long-term benefits that come from sustainably managing forestland include a cleaner water supply, carbon sequestration and an improved fish and wildlife habitat.

In honour of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of sustainable forestry, the Washington Tree Farm Program, Washington Farm Forestry Association and Washington DNR Small Forest Landowner Office is hosting Tree Farm Day, and a 75th Anniversary of Sustainable Forestry Proclamation Ceremony.

Events such as these help to highlight the myriad benefits that looking after forestland can bring to both the local environment and local people.

Companies such as Greenwood Management are working to protect forests around the world and welcome the news of this celebration of sustainable forestry.

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Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), the largest supplier of pulp and paper in the world, has announced that it is to add a further project to the Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) it adopted in 2013.

The organisation will build a $10 million programme to boost the economic development of 500 small villages located close to its Indonesian supply chain. It is hoped the funds will encourage local communities to foster the economic development which will help to protect the surrounding forests.

Dewi Bramono, deputy director of sustainability and stakeholder engagement for APP Indonesia, told Mongabay: “For the 500 villages program, APP and its pulpwood suppliers are prepared to budget up to $2 million per year for the next five years.

“The programme will involve capacity building for the community, and provision of tools, equipment and/or facilities to develop the agroforestry programs either through loans and/or in-kind donations.”

The new programme will see assistance given to local people to plant rice paddies, understory plants – which can grow in the shade – and vegetables, all without damaging the native forest land. Mr Bramono said that low-cost or free seedlings would also be given to local farmers, as well as classes in how to best fertilize and irrigate the land. The organisation also said that it will offer loans in the form of either livestock or money in order to help local people begin their own livestock companies.

“We are currently in the process of identifying which communities/villages pose higher potential threats to deforestation using information from the social High Conservation Value assessment, social conflict mapping and forest threat mapping,” the organisation’s Mr Bramono said.

This data will then be merged with a wide range of socio-economic assessments which together will help to pinpoint which programmes and efforts will help to decrease the deforestation risk in any given forested area.

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The Rainforest Alliance has confirmed it has appointed a new president and that its commitment to preserving and protecting forests across the globe is stronger than ever.

Nigel Sizer has been named as the new chief following posts including global director of the Forests Program at the World Resources Institute, where he launched partnerships such as the Global Restoration Initiative and Global Forest Watch. These two projects have ensured that access to data regarding forests around the world are now available to everyone. Mr Sizer will take up his new position on 1 February 2016.

Mr Sizer also worked to develop efforts to link Indonesian communities with global carbon markets when he was vice president for Asia-Pacific with the firm Rare. Mr Sizer was also the head advisor on climate change and related Asia energy issues to former US President Bill Clinton and has advised the Coalition in Support of Amazonian Peoples and their Environment.

Daniel Katz, Rainforest Alliance founder and board chair, said: “With the recent Paris Agreement underlining the crucial role forests play in fighting climate change, the world is keenly aware that we must work together to ensure forests are conserved and carefully managed for the survival of people and our planet. Nigel has seen first-hand the vital connection between sustainable land-use and forests.”

Mr Sizer said he would be working to “build on the organization’s impressive track record to further green forestry and farming and lift millions out of poverty”.

Companies such as Greenwood Management have long been working to protect forests and promote the importance of this protection on a global scale. Greenwood supports the ongoing work by the Rainforest Alliance to do just that.

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Environmental groups from across the US have urged parts of Canada to ensure that their logging industries continue to put the forest conservation and protection at the top of the agenda.

Thirteen US green groups wrote to the premiers of French Quebec and Ontario, calling on them to ensure forestry stewardship requirements are maintained for the logging sector in Canada’s boreal forests. The boreal forest is one of the biggest terrestrial reservoirs of carbon in the world and also provides one of the largest freshwater sources. It is home to a vast number of migratory birds and many important plant and animal species. Local people also depend on the forests for their livelihoods and for their health.

The green groups included Green America, Friends of the Earth (US), Natural Resources Defense Council and Rainforest Action Network. They said that some members of the logging industry were trying to dilute forest protection and human rights “at the very time that many are looking to Canadian provinces to strengthen conservation.”

The groups also urged the logging sector to “work with, not against, the very system that has given them social license in the marketplace.” The letters sent to the premiers from the green groups read: “We stand ready to work with Canada’s forest products industry to better meet our mutual goals, but we also stand ready to challenge companies that are fragmenting the last intact forest areas in the Boreal Forest, that do not adhere to best practices and, most importantly, that fail to respect the free, prior and informed consent of affected First Nations in their traditional territories.”

Ross Hammond, the US campaigns director for ForestEthics, one of the environmental groups involved, highlighted the importance of practicing sustainable forestry for many reasons, from a natural resource perspective to a corporate selling power angle. He said: “Companies with billions in buying power use the FSC [Forest Stewardship Council] label to indicate responsible logging practices. The provinces and the logging industry need to recognize the potential economic consequences of abandoning FSC certification.”

Previously, the Quebec Forest Industry Council (QFIC) had threatened to remove the FSC certification from the Quebec forests due to limits on the level of industrial logging.

Danielle Droitsch, NRDC senior policy analyst, Canada Project, told the National Observer: “Decades ago environmental groups and the logging industry worked together to found the FSC as an independent, science-based forest certification program.

“Fifty million hectares of Canadian forest is FSC-certified, with the majority in the heart of Canada’s Boreal Forest. The logging industry must meet higher environmental standards in these forests, but customers recognize and reward the effort.”

Populations of Canada’s woodland caribou continued to fall over the past year, despite a federal mandate directing provinces to help the species recover.

In related news, the number of Canada’s woodland caribou – which are related to European reindeer – has continued to fall over the last 12 months, as a result of the ongoing destruction of its boreal forest habitat, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society said in a new report.

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Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, is said to be eyeing fiscal changes that would work to stimulate and boost the country’s economy, an official has confirmed.

Rousseff is considering structural alterations to tax, labour and pension laws that would bring positive change to Brazil’s economy without forcing an end to the Government’s austerity drive. It is thought that these measures could mean more positive times ahead for the country’s ecomomic situation.

The anonymous official told Reuters: “The country needs stimulus measures, but without incurring fiscal costs. We are not going to give more tax breaks or cheap credit. We are not going to use the past model.”

Last week, the President said that the Brazilian Government’s planned changes would “deepen democracy and strengthen the foundations of sustainable growth.”

The news of the planned reforms come shortly after Rousseff signed off on the country’s 2016 Budget and just weeks after new finance minister, Nelson Barbosa, was appointed.

Juan Jensen, partner with Sao Paulo-based consultancy 4E Consultoria, told the publication that it was hoped the changes would bring a positive uptick for the Brazilian economy, saying: “The announcement of economic reforms sounds like the best option at this moment.”

Rousseff told a press conference that the Government would do everything it can “to guarantee growth in some sectors” of the economy, while also mentioning that state development bank, BNDES, will need to provide financial support to smaller, “fragile companies”, in order to boost success.

Rousseff also reaffirmed her commitment to returning Brazil to economic stability, as well as reiterating her Government’s fiscal goal. The goal includes hitting a primary budget surplus of 0.5 per cent of GDP this year, excluding payments on interest.

“Our objective is to return as much as possible to the center of the inflation target. Reestablishing fiscal balance is fundamental to reduce inflation,” said Rousseff.

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One of the world’s leading forest certification schemes has endorsed New Zealand’s Forest Certification Scheme, meaning that sustainable forestry can now be promoted across New Zealand through independent, third-party certification.

The Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), agreed to certify New Zealand’s scheme earlier this week in Switzerland. Dr Andrew McEwen, chair of the NZ Forest Certification Association (NZFCA), said: “We are delighted to be the 37th national scheme endorsed by PEFC and to be able to offer this scheme to New Zealand forest owners and managers, processors and others in the value chain.”

PEFC oversees more than 268 million hectares of certified forests across the globe and works to promote sustainable forest management by linking the entire supply chain to boost good practice in forests. It also works to ensure that wood products produced by these forests are done so to high social, ethical and ecological standards.

Ben Gunneberg, CEO of PEFC International, said: “New Zealand has a long standing reputation for the quality of its forest management and wood manufacturing. The availability of PEFC certification will enhance that reputation in its extensive overseas markets.

“With the endorsement of the New Zealand system, the country’s forest owners can now obtain PEFC certification for their responsible forest management practices, enabling processors and others along the forest products supply chain to procure PEFC certified material from local, sustainably managed sources as well as access to new markets”, added Mr Gunneberg.

Companies such as Greenwood Management are working to protect forests around the world and welcome the news of this forestry certification scheme being rolled out to New Zealand.

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