The success of the forestry market in Scotland and north-east England is creating strong demand for marginal farmland for the creation of woodland.

According to Farmers Weekly, investors are paying premiums above land’s agricultural value in a bid to find suitable land for woodland creation, with sheep units often considered strong options.

In fact, Jamie Adamson, Savills’ head of forestry investment, has stated that the market for agricultural land in Scotland is “one of the most buoyant” sectors in 2016.

Adamson added that many investors were avoiding mountainous terrain and prime arable or grassland in favour of upland farms that were suitable for woodland growth. Location was reportedly also considered important, but any land physically plantable generated significant interest among investors.

“Land within conservation designations are often not viable, and planting on deep peat soils is prohibited – those issues are considered show stoppers,” he added. “Other barriers can be site specific such as access, geology, soil type, surrounding forestry and proximity to mills, which can affect how attractive the land is.”

Chris Edmunds, director at Davidson & Robertson Rural, also highlighted the rise in the amount of land being sold to forestry investors in Northumberland, stating that middle hill land was particularly viable.

“If land can be planted then it is underpinning land values and usually [achieving] over and above agricultural value,” he said.

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Climate change offers a huge opportunity to attract funds into low-carbon investments and sustainable forestry, create jobs and boost economic growth, according to experts.

However, in spite of trillions of dollars that could potentially be made available for climate investments and the success of poorer countries such as India in sustainable energy schemes, it will be a major challenge to ensure the world’s poorest benefit from these opportunities, a World Bank meeting heard last week.

Speaking at the discussion, former US Vice President Al Gore stated that climate change could offer the biggest opportunity in the history of the world, but argued world powers need both a clear vision and policy leadership to ensure the world community was brought together in seeking the finance needed to tackle the issue.

Gore, who added that the United States was more than 50 per cent likely to remain in the Paris climate change agreement, said: “What the world needs is the vision that the solution to our global economic malaise is precisely the solution to the climate crisis.”

Commenting on the issue of finance, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim stated that financing climate action and sustainable energy could be the ideal target for $8.5 trillion in negative interest bonds, $24.5 trillion in low-yielding government-type bonds and around $8 trillion in cash. However, he mirrored calls for a clear strategy for distributing investment.

“Quite apart from what you think about climate change, there are opportunities for investments that will give you higher yield than any of those investments in which over $40 trillion is sitting right now,” Kim said.

Addressing the issue of ensuring the poor also benefit from climate change and sustainable forestry investment, he added: “The poor say we have the boot of climate change on our necks every day. We cannot forget the social justice element of climate action.”

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Sequestering carbon dioxide is only one of the crucial climate solutions inherent to the world’s forests, according to a new study that revealed forest conservation may be more important than first thought.

Experts have long stated that deforestation can lead to both increased direct emissions and the removal of a valuable carbon sponge, but a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests the world’s scientists may be underestimating the extent to which forest conservation can help to curb rising global temperatures.

Trees were also found to be a crucial regulating factor in the cycle of water and heat exchange between the surface of the Earth and the atmosphere, suggesting that they play a vital role in regulating climates and temperatures.

Kaiguang Zhao, an assistant professor of environment modelling and spatial analysis at The Ohio State University and a co-author of the study, confirmed in a statement that forests are playing a more important role in the cooling of the Earth than was previously thought. “This really affirms the value of forest conservation and protection policies in the fight against climate change,” Zhao said.

The researchers added in the study: “We find that forest cover gains lead to an annual cooling in all regions south of the upper conterminous United States, northern Europe, and Siberia — reinforcing the attractiveness of re-/afforestation as a local mitigation and adaptation measure in these regions.”

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Forest management officials in Vietnam has announced the country’s aim to increase nationwide forest coverage to 42 per cent by the year 2020, and 45 per cent by 2030.

The targets are set to be introduced as part of the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) programme, which has recently been approved by Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc to run from 2017 to 2030 with a focus on the conservation of forests, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

According to the prime minister, the programme will be focused on areas of the country hit by deforestation and forest degradation, with the ultimate goal of reducing emissions and increasing forest coverage.

The government has also announced a secondary aim of stabilising the country’s natural forest acreage between 2021 and 2030, which it hopes will contribute to a new target of reducing emissions by eight per cent.

To support Vietnam’s goal, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will reportedly adjust planning for forest usage to ensure the country hits the target of 16.2 million hectares of agricultural land in 2020 and boost forest law enforcement.

Following the launch of an agricultural restructure project four years ago, the ministry has already reported positive results across the country. In fact, figures show that forest coverage has increased from 39.7 per cent in 2011 to 40.84 per cent in 2015.

Forestry production value has also risen significantly, reaching an average growth level of 6.57 per cent a year, compared to just 5.03 per cent during 2010-12, the ministry revealed.

Three tasks are now ready embraced by the government as it pushes to continue this success, including environmental protection, improving forest productivity and quality, and increasing the competitiveness of forestry products around Vietnam.

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More than 18,300 hectares of forestry were sold across UK last year at a total value of £83 million, marking the best period for the sector since the 1980s, according to a new industry report.

Speaking at the launch of a report published by Savills and Scottish Woodlands, Savills’ head of forestry investment James Adamson stated that the data signals the prospect of a long-term upward trend in timber pricing, making the industry confident in the future of forestry as an asset.

“High-yield class, well-managed commercial spruce forests with good access to timber markets will remain in strong demand, and offer an excellent long term investment option,” Mr Adamson said. “Looking towards a post-Brexit-world, a revision of EU timber trade regulations could enable UK forest products to be used more widely in construction.”

According to Mr Adamson, the research also revealed that plantation values will increase over the medium term, with a growth in forest values of 32 per cent expected over the next five years.

Scottish Woodlands business development manager David Robertson added that Scottish government policy is increasingly geared towards the benefit of woodland, with Scottish Parliament increasing its tree planting target for 2025 from 22 million to 33 million trees per year. This equates to a rise from 10,000 to 15,000 hectares of forestry land, with grant funding boosted from £36 to £40 million in 2017/18.

“In addition, a £19 million Carbon Woodland Fund has been announced in England aimed at increasing planting of woodlands to contribute to the Westminster target of 11 million trees in the lifetime of the 2015-20 parliament,” Mr Robertson added. “In summary, we are potentially witnessing the best period for forestry expansion since the 1970s and 80s, supported by Government policy on both sides of the border.”

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Brazil has the largest biodiversity of tree species in the world, according to new data from Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).

New figures released by the organisation have revealed that Brazil is home to 14 per cent of the world’s tree species, with global numbers found to have reached 60,065 species.

Colombia was found to have the second highest number of species, with 5,776 living across the country, while Indonesia came in third with 5,142 species.

The study, published by BGCI in its Journal of Sustainable Forestry, used a network of 50 botanical gardens across the globe to collect the data, registering a total of 375,500 tree registrations in over two years.

According to the group, the aim of the study was to both identify the world’s rare tree species and to prompt awareness in a bid to prevent their extinction. Currently, more than 300 species have been classed as being under threat of extinction, having just 50 or less of its kind living in nature.

In fact, the research found that 58 per cent of tree species are found in just one country, making them particularly vulnerable to climate change and deforestation if not properly managed by environmentally aware businesses and traders.

Despite the concerns raised by the data, the BGCI also revealed that conservationists discover around 20,000 new trees each year. To ensure all countries can keep up with efforts to conserve all of the new (and more established) species, the BGCI has launched online database GlobalTreeSearch, while is updated with all new tree species as soon as they are recognised.

BGCI secretary general Paul Smith commented: “A lot of the data is not readily available to the public. The digitisation of this data, in effect, is the culmination of centuries of work.”

“Getting location information, such as which countries do these trees occur in, gives us key information for conservation purposes.”

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A Brazilian government programme created to distribute land to thousands of small-scale farmers is successfully helping the country to protect its forests, research has revealed.

Launched in 2009, the Legal Land Programme has reportedly distributed more than 20,000 property title deeds to farmers living within the Amazon rainforest, with data showing areas where the title deeds were distributed have two per cent more forest left intact when compared to those without titles.

“The programme is an effective way to reduce deforestation,” said Dimitri Szerman, a senior analyst with the Climate Policy Initiative research group in Rio de Janeiro. “There is no silver bullet on deforestation. Two per cent is actually an aggressive result.”

The push for the success of the programme was prompted by recent deforestation figures, which rose by 29 per cent last year following years of decline, according to Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE).

Analysts have suggested that the sudden rise was fuelled by a lack of property rights, with vacant lands and public areas making up more than one-fifth of Brazil’s total area.

According to Szerman, these lands are often illegally occupied by individuals or investors who are willing to ignore deforestation regulations. “In the long-term you need to solve the problem of property rights to bring down deforestation,” he said.

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The Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has announced that it is pushing for the full implementation of a forest conservation strategy aimed at helping to reduce the impact of climate change across the country.

DENR’s Forest Management Bureau (FMB), which is working alongside the German government’s Environment Ministry, is reportedly aiming to implement the global Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) strategy to help to reduce the impact of climate change by protecting and sustainably managing forests countrywide.

The DENR-FMB and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the latter being the German government’s international development cooperation agency, have worked side by side to promote the sustainable management of forests through the joint project “Preparation of a National REDD+ Mechanism for Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Conservation of Biodiversity in the Philippines” or the National REDD+ System Philippines, according to the government. The groups revealed that the ultimate aim is to create a national REDD+ network across the Philippines while taking into account ecological, social and governance safeguards that need to be in place.

The global REDD+ climate change strategy is a strong contributor to the conservation of forests, data shows, and specifically helps the Philippines to meet 40 per cent of its 70 per cent carbon emission reduction target, which was committed to by the country’s government as part of the United Nations Paris climate conference in 2015.

Trees have been a particular target in the push for climate change as they sequester carbon from the atmosphere, which can significantly lower the global temperature. In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that the global forestry sector was the second leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity in 2007, after the energy sector. These statistics mean the forestry industry accounts for roughly 17 of emissions due, in part, to large scale deforestation.

So far, the currently successful project being conducted by GIX and the FMB has removed around 467,000 tons of carbon dioxide across three areas, with much of this success prompted by co-management with local communities and indigenous people. Aimed at long-term fostering forest conservation, these tenure arrangements have been integrated into a forest land use plan that covers more than 366,000 hectares of forests in the Philippines.

To support forest conservation activities and help to boost their success, around P24.3 million has been donated through around 18 contracts with local partners, including small government units, academe and the Philippine Eagle Foundation.

The FMB and GIZ have announced that they are organising the REDD+ project closing event on in April 2017 to mark the project’s achievements so far and to encourage even more support to enable it to continue in the future. The event will also allow for the issuance of appropriate laws and policies for the country’s full REDD+ implementation, which is expected to take place at some point in the coming years.

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El Salvador, considered the most deforested country in central America, has voted against mining activity, it has been revealed.

Communities located around the Cinquera Forest Ecological Park, which spans 5,001 hectares (19 square miles), have taken it upon themselves to protect the forests in the area, most recently taking to the polls in a municipal referendum and voting to ban all metallic mining activities.

“Due to demographics, even just because of that, there’s more pressure on natural resources,” Angel Ibarra, the country’s vice minister of the environment and natural resources, said. “We have a lower percentage of forest and vegetation cover than the other [Central American] countries.”

According to Global Forest Watch, the country lost 6.2 per cent of its tree cover between 2001 and 2015, with tree cover loss in the Cabañas department, where Cinquera is located, was 8.6 per cent during the same time period. Only two percent of the nation’s existing forests are primary forest, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

“But the important thing about this issue of deforestation, which is linked to the loss of biodiversity, linked to the loss of soil fertility, and linked to unsustainable farming practices and more, is starting to be tackled by the state,” Ibarra added.

Ibarra and other high-level officials attended Cinquera to support a referendum on mining. Due, in part, to the country’s small size and environmental challenges, the government has a moratorium suspending all administrative actions regarding mining, and do not grant any new permits or licenses.

San Salvador Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas has since led a march to the legislative assembly, calling on lawmakers to pass a bill permanently banning metallic mining in the country. FMLN legislator Guillermo Mata has since announced that the legislative assembly’s multi-partisan environmental committee had approved the text of a law banning metallic mining, with the bill set to go to the floor for a vote this week, according to Mata.
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Brazil has invited Turkish oil and gas companies to invest in the country’s energy sector as it begins a revitalisation process due to continue throughout 2017 and 2018.

According to Milton Cosa Filho, of the Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute (OBP), the country has now developed the technology to extract fossil fuels located as far as 300km offshore in “ultra-deep”waters.

“I think that 90 percent of the oil and gas production in Brazil comes from offshore. Brazil is doing a good job, but we need to transform our industry and we need to attract companies to invest in Brazil,” Mr Filho said.

Brazil has revealed that any investments made over the next two years will be operated under frameworks currently being overhauled by Brazilian regulatory agencies.

According to official data, more than half of the $150 billion in investments due to take place over the next four years tracked by the National Development Bank will be made within the oil and gas sectors. Mr Filho stated that some of the sectors requiring the most significant investments include logistics, infrastructure, terminals and pipes.

He added: “In 2017, we are going to have four bid rounds and in 2018 we will have three bid rounds. We are going to need lots of construction companies, and this is a good opportunity. Now is the perfect time to jump into the Brazilian market.”

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Brazil is set to partner with Mexico in a possible deal focused on the trade of yellow corn, as uncertainty surrounding the future renegotiation of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) persists.

According to Jose Calzada, Mexican Agriculture Secretary, the country is currently unclear about whether the United States will propose the continued trade of corn between the US and Mexico, which is currently the former’s biggest corn buyer.

“We do not know what the United States will propose for NAFTA and we have to anticipate so that when we get to the negotiating table we will be certain that we are starting from a position of strength,” he said.

In Mexico’s Congress, Senator Armando Ríos Piter has also proposed that a new deal with Brazil, as well as its fellow South American country Argentina, would gradually reduce dependence on the United States, regardless of the outcome of NAFTA.

“Perhaps corn producers were being deceived by Donald Trump saying that Mexico is the only nation that benefits from NAFTA, because once they take note of the magnitude of the problem, they have a different opinion,” he said.

Yellow corn is currently one of the products Mexico imports from the United States in the most significant quantities, and is currently only surpassed by gasoline, diesel and natural gas.

In 2016, Mexican imports of yellow corn from the United States reached over $2.3 billion, or 10.36% more than in 2015, according to data from the Mexican Ministry of Economy. However, imports from Argentina were only $17.7 million and imports from Brazil were only $10 million in the same period, suggesting there is plenty of room for growth should Mexico transfer its trade interests to South America.

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Dozens of global investors representing more than $617 billion in assets under management are insisting that companies take a “zero deforestation” approach across Brazil and the rest of Latin America to help combat the effects of climate change.

According to Green Century Capital Management, a firm representing the investors, thirty-nine individuals and organisations have joined together to urge companies to adopt a similar policy to Latin America’s soy moratorium, which helped to reduce deforestation across the Amazon rainforest by two-thirds.

Commenting on the move, Kate Kroll, who coordinates the management firm’s forest protection campaign, has stated corporations that source food from areas where large chunks of land have been cleared of forests face risking their reputation.

“Companies are increasingly concerned about this issues. They’re looking to decouple their supply chains from deforestation,” Ms Kroll said in an interview. “The market has punished non-compliant actors.”

“If companies fail to protect themselves (from exposure to deforestation) then their brand may be damaged significantly,” she added.

According to Green Century, forest destruction accounts for almost the same level of global greenhouse gas emissions as the international transportation sector. However, Kroll added that food companies could gain both an increased reputation and boost returns for investors by increasing production on previously deforested land rather than cutting down additional trees across Latin America.

In Brazil, the country that holds the world’s largest tropical forests, deforestation rates have increased since 2015 following years of falling, increasing pressure on companies to improve their approach to ethical agriculture.

Experts have credited some of the previous success to the soy moratorium, and Ms Kroll has suggested that expanding it into northeastern Brazil could be an effective tool in preventing further losses to forests around the country.

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Speaking in a meeting with ambassadors, Brazilian President Michel Temer has reassured representatives of importing countries of the quality of Brazilian meat following a recent corruption probe.

President Temer told diplomats that the Brazilian government hopes to rebuild confidence in its agriculture industry following enquiries from the European Union and China, who expressed concern for operations

One of the world’s leading meat producers, Brazil faced significant controversy when it was revealed that inspectors at the Agriculture Ministry are being investigated for taking bribes to overlook the use of chemicals to improve both the appearance and look of expired meat.

In a bid to reduce concerns, the president revealed that only 33 of 11,000 of the inspectors were found to be corrupt following an investigation by the Federal Police.

Temer added that Brazilian agricultural goods have succeeding in winning the approval of consumers across the world in terms of both agricultural inspection and defence. He said: “The federal government wants to reiterate its confidence in the quality of our national product.”

Speaking at the presidential palace, he added: “This standard of excellence is that over time it has opened the doors of more than 150 countries, with permanent audit, monitoring and risk assessment.”

According to the president, the government will also create a task force with the aim of speeding up the investigation of any meat production plants targeted in the police operation.

Meanwhile, Temer told the visiting ambassadors that the Brazilian Agricultural Ministry is set to release a lost of all countries that may have been affected by the scandal, as well as the name of the meatpackers responsible for the issues.

Adding to President Temer’s comments, Minister Blairo Maggi said: “Whoever is to blame will answer for the problems. We can not accept that the great majority of the companies and servers that make up this great business that is Brazilian agriculture are put in check by few people.”

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Representatives of some of Brazil’s key industries, including forestry, think the country has “extremely positive” growth prospects for 2017 thanks to proactive measures taken by the federal government.

During a meeting with Brazil President Michel Temer this week, industry figures including Joao Henrique de Almeida Sousa, the president of the SESI National Council, think Brazil will enter growth in the months to come.

The Latin American economy is in one of its worst recessions in living memory but a number of stimulative measures taken by the federal government are believed to be providing the antidote.

The meeting with Mr Temer at the Presidential Palace included de Almeida Sousa, Roberto Braga de Andrade, the President of the National Confederation of Industry and heads of state-level industry groups.

Discussing infrastructure, economic measures and local demands of different stakeholders, the industry representatives said measures including labour and pension reforms would be “essential” to the start of growth in Brazil.

“The measures President Michel Temer has been taking throughout his administration will certainly yield very positive results for our industry, and consequently to Brazil,” the SESI president said.

The meeting was the fifth in a series being held between Temer and business figures at state level. At this discussion, four states were represented: Rondonia, Roraima, Mato Grosso and Tocantins. Two more meetings are set to be held in due course, giving business representatives from all over the country the opportunity to speak to the President.

Brazil’s transport system was also discussed at the meeting, particularly the state of the country’s highways.

“The businesspeople [coming to the meetings] can highlight state-level infrastructure issues that need to be addressed in order to foster development,” said the SSI president.

“These meetings have been very productive. They are a good opportunity for businesspeople, who can hear directly from the President of the Republic what he is doing for Brazil.”

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Brazil is in recession but the country’s agriculture sector is powering ahead, adding R$52.9 billion to the economy in the final quarter of 2016 – the best result since the first three months of 2015, in positive news for forestry investment.

Figures from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) show that Brazil’s agricultural GDP grew by one per cent between the fourth and third quarters of last year.

Brazil’s government said the positive boost is a result of increased production and job creation in the agri sector as farmers prepare for 2017’s ‘super harvest’. Release of funds from federal funding programmes has also allowed landowners to buy machinery.

“The latest numbers in agriculture, drawn by the prospect of a new record harvest and increased exports, produced a record GDP for the fourth quarter,” the government said.

“Only between October and December, the agriculture sector generated R$52.9 billion in wealth for the country.”

However, overall, Brazil still ended 2016 with a decline in GDP for the second year running. Both the agriculture sector and the country as a whole ended the year in the red, with 6.6 per cent and 3.6 per cent decreases respectively.

But looking ahead to the rest of 2017 and the outlook is more positive. Assessments from Brazil’s financial experts, reported in a survey released by the country’s Central Bank, suggest agricultural GDP is expected to grow over the next few years: by 3.20 per cent in 2018, three per cent in 2019 and three per cent in 2020.

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Brazil is to invest $200 million in its technology sector as it seeks to grow its semiconductor base and create more than 1,000 new tech jobs.

In a sign of renewed optimism for Brazil’s economy, the federal government is to partner with foreign technology businesses to construct a high-tech semiconductor chip plant and train the next generation of Brazil’s engineers.

Brazil’s president Michel Temer said the agreement represents the “resumption of economic growth” for the Latin America economy.

Under the four-year deal, the government and foreign firms including tech giants Qualcomm and ASE will work to create the “legal and structural conditions required” for the development of a high-complexity semiconductor industry in Brazil.

The new plant, set to be built in Campinas, south-east of Brazil, will manufacture chips that will be used in 4G and 5G smartphones and internet of things (IoT) devices.

Temer said the investment should generate more than 1,200 jobs. “This agreement is particularly important at this time, as the economy starts breathing again and Brazil is in need of investments.

“We will enter a phase of economic growth and upturn in employment,” he said.

Qualcomm and ASE will help train Brazilian engineers, bringing professionals from their own factories to encourage skills and knowledge sharing.

“As the world’s leading company in integrated circuit assembly and testing, we are excited about the opportunity to expand our presence in Brazil and generate value for the Brazilian high-tech industry through the development and manufacturing of our advanced System-in-Packaging (SiP) technology,” said ASE director of operations Tien Wu.

The agreement was signed at the Presidential Palace by the Ministries of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC) and Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC), the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and the São Paulo Investment Promotion Agency (Investe SP).

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Landowners in Louisiana, US, are to benefit from $1.1 million in funding to help them implement productive forest management practices under a five-year project announced by Drax Biomass and the American Forest Foundation (AFF).

The initiative, called the Morehouse Family Forests Initiative (MFFI), sees Drax Biomass and the AFF “invest in the future” of small family landowners who are based close to Drax’s Morehouse BioEnergy facility in northeast Louisiana.

The project will give forest owners tools and resources to manage their land effectively, increasing the commercial, recreational and ecological value of their land and maintain habitat for the region’s diverse wildlife.

Drax Biomass makes wood pellets produced from working forests. AFF is a forest conservation organisation.

Under the MFII initiative Drax and the AFF hope to increase the number of family landowners in north-east Louisiana and south-east Arkansas who actively manage their lands in accordance with the principles of sustainable forestry.

This includes encouraging habitat improvements, forest diversity and certification in the American Tree Farm System, a certification programme designed for family and small forest owners.

“Our business is built on a commitment to sustainability, and this commitment compels us to work closely with our suppliers – both current and prospective – to promote greater adoption of sustainable forest management practices.

“Healthy forests benefit everyone, so we look forward to working with AFF and our neighbours on this important effort,” said Pete Madden, president and CEO of Drax Biomass.

The project is designed to protect the future of southern US forests. AFF research published last year found family forest owners, who own around 60 per cent of the forests of the south, are crucial to ensuring the sustainability of the region’s green spaces.

Its research found that 87 per cent of landowners say the protection and improvement of wildlife habitat is a top reason for owning land, with 72 per cent having already implemented one of more forest management practices that support wildlife conservation. 73 per cent said they would like to do more projects that support wildlife conservation.

However, the research also found that the cost of improving wildlife habitat is a key barrier to action. “In many cases, the potential revenue generated from harvesting operations, including thinning for improved stand productivity, can help offset these costs and incentivise greater implementation of forest management practices,” the AFF said.

85 percent of surveyed landowners who harvest or thin their forests have also implemented other wildlife-improvement activities, as opposed to only 62 percent of those landowners who haven’t harvested or thinned.

Landowners who are part of the MFFI project will receive technical assistant and other resources to help them create specific land management plans.

“Today’s announcement shows that Drax Biomass is ‘stepping up to the plate’ to ensure that more and more of America’s family-owned forest lands are managed sustainably,” said Tom Martin, AFF president.

“At AFF, we are committed to working with family landowners so that our forests continue to be healthy and productive. When we are successful, the world can get the energy it needs from sustainably produced biomass, while wildlife will get the habitat it needs to support healthy populations. By partnering with Drax Biomass, we will be able to expand our work into a new region of the country.”

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Not enough trees are being planted on Welsh farms, according to new research – despite financial incentives for farmers to create new woodlands.

The latest Woodlands for Wales report shows that only 141 hectares of new woodland was planted across Wales in the 12 months to March 2016, comprising 102 hectares of broadleaves and 39 hectares of conifers.

But in each of the five years to 2014 an average of 658 hectares was planted, some way below current levels. Overall, there are about 78,000 hectares of farm woodland in Wales, representing about a quarter of all the woodland in the country.

Experts are warning that the shortfall in planting could lead to a timber shortage.

More than 400 hectares of Welsh land is currently being assessed for Glastir Woodland Creation funding, which is a scheme designed to increase woodland on Welsh farms. But the amount of farm woodland within the grant scheme has actually been falling since 2013.

Current forecasts suggest the fall in new plantings will have a significant effect on softwood availability in Wales, falling to 50 per cent of current levels by 2045.

The Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) said some farmers have been put off applying for farm woodland schemes because of administrative barriers.

“Most notable among these are the fact that account must be taken of numerous species and habitat maps, which are often completely inaccurate and were never created to be used in such a way,” an FUW spokesperson told Farmers Weekly.

NFU Cymru is concerned that under-planting will have a negative effect on the Welsh timber industry and called for planting initiatives to be made more accessible.

“Many farmers wish to explore opportunities to plant farm woodland, which can bring benefits to farm productivity, biodiversity, soils and water,” a spokesperson told Farmers Weekly.

Paul Davies, Wales’ shadow rural affairs secretary, agreed that “tree-planting ticks all the boxes”.

“It is a sustainable industry, it helps prevent flooding, it stores carbon and it is a vital part of the rural economy with a potential for growth. That’s why it needs to be firmly on the political agenda.”

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A Scottish forestry firm is having a very happy 50th birthday with a 20 per cent jump in profits, the launch of a book detailing its history and the planting of 50 celebratory trees.

Scottish Woodlands, one of the Scottish forestry industry’s leading lights, recently posted full-year results to 30 September showing turnover up almost £1 million to £70 million, with profits jumping to £1.6 million from £1.3 million.

The firm, based in Edinburgh and with offices across Scotland and the rest of the UK, is also marking its 50-year milestone with an anniversary book and the creation of a ‘celebration woodland’ of 50 trees at Crieff Hydro hotel, one of its clients.

The book tells the rich history of Scottish Woodlands, which is unique in being 80 per cent owned by its 140-plus employees. It also underwent management buyouts in 1986 and 2005.

Ralland Browne, the firm’s managing director, said the company’s history had mirrored that of forestry in Scotland.

“We became a commercial company in 1967, the year of the last Forestry Act – and, as we turn 50, a new Forestry Bill is coming before the Scottish Parliament.

“The company and the wider forestry and wood-processing industry are both in good health in 2017, and we are optimistic for the future, with a strong focus on driving up tree planting rates.”

Scottish Woodlands chairman Tom R Bruce-Jones, said that in Scotland politically “there appears to be a focus on new planting and restocking, and it is hoped this impetus will continue as well as providing the platform for stronger investor confidence in forestry”.

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Brazil’s central bank has once again cut its benchmark Selic interest rate as it hopes sharp fiscal reforms will see the country out of one of its worst ever recessions.

The bank said this week it could cut the interest rate by 75 basis points to 12.25 per cent, the second such cut in a row, as part of efforts to improve Brazil’s economy – one which was expected to have contracted by more than three per cent last year.

In positive news for people keeping their eye on Brazil’s forestry investment landscape, the central bank explained in a note outlining its reasons for the cut: “The evidence suggests a gradual recovery in economic activity throughout 2017.”

Brazil’s interest rates are very high for a major economy and cuts to the rate are seen as crucial if the country is to recover from one of its deepest recessions.

The central bank’s rate-cutting strategy began in October after inflation began dropping from a high of 10.7 per cent early last year to end 2016 at 6.29 per cent.

“The committee understands that the convergence of inflation to the target of 4.5 per cent…is compatible with the process of monetary easing,” the central bank said.

The Financial Times reported that a weekly survey by the bank of economists found they predicted inflation would be 4.43 per cent by the end of this year and 4.5 per cent next year.

“The cut was in line with expectations given the country’s floundering economy and rapidly easing price pressures. Looking forward, larger cuts could be in the pipeline if incoming economic data remain weak and if the government continues to make progress with fiscal reforms. Given the poor outlook for the economy, our panel of analysts sees the SELIC rate ending 2017 in single-digits, where it has not been since 2013,” said Angela Bouzanis, a senior economist at FocusEconomics.

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