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11th May 2020 Newsletter
Forestry and the Black Swans: Covid-19 Reflections
“Yes, change is the basic law of nature. But the changes wrought by the passage of time affects individuals and institutions in different ways. According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.
Applying this theoretical concept to us as individuals, we can state that the civilization that is able to survive is the one that is able to adapt to the changing physical, social, political, moral, and spiritual environment in which it finds itself.”
We hear the phrase Black Swan, but few realise its roots. It comes from a much used induction/deduction lesson in philosophy. The famous statement “all swans are white” – was ‘induced’ from the weight of Northern hemisphere experience. Because they all were, in their experience, so the statement appears true. But it extends beyond the experience, beyond the available data.
That doesn’t mean ‘inducing’ beyond is bad. It isn’t. Every advance in human kind has involved someone imaginatively extending beyond some trap of paradigmatic proportions, where someone will be wanting to yell “Heretic!” and build bonfires with a stake in the middle.
The curious point about our desire for the certainty of ‘deduction’ – internal to the logic and data – is that, while appearing unthreatening and on point, a focus on deduction alone actually increases the chance of our not being ready for a Black Swan event, because the head down in the spreadsheet doesn’t look up at the bull charging from across the field.
So the lesson is that Black Swans are inevitable, and you’d best be thinking about them. Thinking inductively, out beyond the observed experience, is a strength. Call it foresight if you want. But foresight doesn’t just imagine the white swans.
The conclusion, “all swans are white,” was based on the experience at the time … to date. There was no counter …. until some European explorer ‘discovered’ the Australasian Black Swan. A Black Swan event. Previous assumptions are laid bare. The complacency of established knowledge is shifted.
There is a rethink. A reimaging.
You won’t find Black Swan events in a model, because they are not even known as a prerequisite for being acknowledged, let alone thought about. They are beyond probabilistic statistics, because there are no statistics. They are uncertainty, immeasurable. And that is wherein lie the lessons Black Swans provide.
We will be surprised. Life is inherently uncertain. There are things that are not within our control. It’s why many refer to the inherent complexity and uncertain development of a connected complex *child* - and who can guess their child’s future? – as a far superior metaphor to some set-apart, reducible, deterministic, robotic, measured factory. Systems, not machines. Robust Post-industrial thought, not the fragile Frederick Taylor industrial trap.
Resilience & Evolutionary Thinking
Being open to Black Swan events is effectively a Resilience Theory and Evolutionary Theory context. Adaptability, not the perfect in the now, survives. See the quote above. And that context is in direct contrast with the certain, controllable space of industrial thought. Resilience and Evolution are centred around change, uncontrollability and the need for broader synthesis perspective; because change can come from anywhere; social, environmental or economic. And it’s adaptability that is the key to survival and the realisation of potential.
From Resilience Theory to post-industrial Economies of Scope, the rising tide of new systems thinking is heartening. To those who are listening.
Acknowledging the likelihood of Black Swans shifts the emphasis – from technical and tactical to strategic and cultural. The heart gets a role as at least part of the replacement for recipes and prescriptions, because it’s in culture and thought and judgment where much resilience and robustness resides.
Because you cannot know the future, and in order to better adapt, you build the capacities – social, cultural and biophysical – within your wider system. You build foresight, which requires a culture of observation, thought and open dialogue without an assumption that an administrative hierarchy has any relation to a knowledge hierarchy.
You build the capacity to cope across the social, economic and environmental domains – which means you ask what are the necessary functions underpinning the self-organised integrity of the wider system. And it isn’t just agronomy and finance.
You build adaptability into people and culture, economic structure and environment. You build community, and the ability to reimagine and change. You replace a mechanical view – the factory – with a systems view.
And with that shift, you reject the perfectly engineered, linear structures that diminish all – foresight, knowledge systems, the ability to take a hit, imagination, cooperation and adaptability. Because such clonal structures are evolutionary dead ends.
MPI Forestry Strategy Initiative
MPI brought a few people together late 2019 to discuss a future forestry strategy. I thought the thinking was very tactical, with one expressing the need to focus on the next two weeks. Which pretty much said it all from a forester’s perspective. There was little appreciation of resilience and systems thinking – besides one economist and Iwi representatives.
The dominant worldview was dominated by the metaphors of machines wheeling away within a certain and controllable world, rather than any evolutionary idea of adaptability.
Rather than coming to the table to discuss the “two strategies” approaches, most came with a defence of the beloved colonial strategy to which we are in thrall – undifferentiated commodity, least-cost, corporate structures, economies of scale not scope, homogeneity, large centralised continuous-throughput mills, a forest as a feedstock of fibre for the dominant mill, never mind market position, a forest as isolated from the wider landscape and community, analysed internally, a forest as a manifestation of a few crops at best rather than key multi-functional elements within a functioning landscape and socialscape. The invisibility of any scope of potential other than through the pre-existing industrial lens where narrow agronomy and irrational finance rule, that abyss down which we have descended for some decades now.
There are exceptions, mostly smaller private firms in the South Island.
The workshop came across as dominated by tacticians believing in certainty and predictable control, rather than strategists who could imagine a biblical ‘seven years of famine’ (especially after the last 30 years of feast), and what could be reimagined in order to deal with surprise.
We’ve not even really ‘analysing’ actual trends so much as gliding along in the glow of our own inertia. An analysis of trends should give pause – declining market position, shifting down the grades, declining real radiata prices (until they flattened with Chinese pump priming from 2008), a single dominant market, growing public opprobrium, a disconnect with community, and shock events that were not Black Swans at all, but known by connected locals.
A bit like the extremes of the dairy ‘Industry’, linear, narrow and dependent to point of teetering fragility, which also isn’t sustainable.
I came away from the workshop with the feeling that – to most other than Iwi representatives – we lived in a world where “all swans are white.”
And then along came this Covid-19 Black Swan event. Papatūānuku sends Maui the Trickster to remind us of our place, our context, our hubris. And surely no one wants to be remembered as just another Ozymandias.
Perhaps now, we’ll pause and reflect about the structure and direction of the forestry sector (not an ‘industry’ please), and the real potential of woodlands within the wider New Zealand system.
Or we wait until the next Black Swan.
NZIF Members are invited to share their COCID-19 experiences and any relevant insights they may have learned to other members through the NZIF Newsletter. This a members’ forum. All comments are welcome.
From the Registrar
There are no registrations this fortnight.
REGISTRATION REVIEWS 2020
The following members are due for 5-year review of their status as a Registered Member during 2020;
- Owen Springford
- Nigel Chandler
- Brian Johnson
- Paul Molloy
- Peter Brown
- Peter Clark
- John Hornby
- Allan Laurie
- Brian Rawley
USE OF NZIF WEBSITE FOR APPLICATIONS, ANNUAL DECLARATIONS AND CPD.
As from today all applications for 5-year Reviews and New Applications for Registered Member status should be made using the online facility on the NZIF website. Login and go to the Dashboard and click on Registered Member Application & Review Form. Note that if you do not have time to complete the application in one session there is a “Save” facility that allows you to come back and complete it before submitting.
The annual declaration for Code of Ethics/Professional Indemnity/Real Estate experience can now be entered online. Go to your Profile and click on APC (Annual Practising Certificate) and populate the boxes appropriately – very simple. Those RM’s who have not yet emailed their forms for YE 31 May 2020 should use the online facility. Next year all RM’s will need to use the online entry.
CPD – is still entered online but is Submitted only once each year, as at the end of December. Saving your CPD is not the same as Submitting it. Once it has been Submitted you cannot edit it but if something goes awry please get in touch and we will get the expert (Jay) to assist. The CSV upload facility is available for bulk data and if you require this please get in touch.
Alan Bell, Registrar
NZIF Registration Board
+64 27 444 7779
Nomination of new NZIF Fellows
The deadline for nominating NZIF Fellows this year is May 28th 2020. Fellows are members who have achieved eminence in the profession.
Rules for the election of Fellows are:
- A Fellow of the Institute shall be a Member who has achieved eminence in the profession.
A member should be considered eminent if they have made a substantial contribution to forestry, resulting in large benefits to a region, the nation or the world through forestry. Generally Fellows will be widely known in the sector for their contributions, but in rare cases their contributions, while important, may not be widely known prior to their nomination. These contributions may include such things as exemplary leadership, extensive work in voluntary organisations that benefit people, research resulting in important new knowledge, or major contributions to forest policy and legislation.
- For recognition as a Fellow:
121.1. The Member must have been nominated by two Members who shall be Full Voting Members;
121.2. The Member must be a Full Voting Member other than an Honorary Member at the time of nomination and must have been such a member for at least five years immediately prior to the nomination;
121.3. The Member, at the time of nomination, must have had at least 15 years’ experience in the practice, administration or teaching of, or research in, some branch of forestry, of which at least five years must have been in New Zealand;
121.4. The nomination must have been considered by Council and, if in the opinion of Council, the nominated member fulfils the requirements for a Fellow set out in section 121.3, included in an annual ballot in which all Full Voting Members who are financial when the ballot is held may participate. Any nominated Member who receives a minimum of 100 votes of which a minimum of 80% are in favour of the election of the member as a Fellow will be elected as a Fellow. The ballot must be held prior to the Annual General Meeting of the Institute with the elected Fellows announced at that meeting.
Applications Open For NZIF Foundation 2020 Awards & Scholarships
Applications are invited for the awards and scholarships offered by the NZIF Foundation for 2020. The total value of awards offered is $29,500.
The awards open for application are:
- One Future Forest Scholarship for post graduate research of up to $10,000
- The New Zealand Redwood Company Scholarship of $5,000 for an undergraduate scholarship at the University of Canterbury School Forestry
- Chavasse Travel Award of up to $3,500 to assist a mid-career person to travel overseas or to bring an overseas person to NZ
- Jon Dey memorial award of up to $3,500 to assist research projects in the areas of work study or new technology aimed at improving forest engineering and harvest productivity
- Otago Southland Award of up to $3,000 to assist a project of relevance to forestry in the Otago/Southland region
- Mary Sutherland Scholarship of $1,000 for a polytechnic student
- University Undergraduate Scholarship of $1,000
- Frank Hutchinson Postgraduate scholarship of $1,000
- Student poster prizes at NZIF Conference (1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes of $800, $500 and $200)
Applications are now open. Further details on the Foundation web page available through www.nzif.org.nz, (link on lower right hand side of page).
Applications must be received by the Foundation administrator (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than 5pm on Monday 18th May 2020. The awards will be announced at the Awards Dinner of the joint conference of the NZ Institute of Forestry being held in Masterton from 28th to 30th June 2020.
Enquires to the Foundation chair email@example.com or phone +64 274 733 262
Please pass on this notice to your networks and to anyone you think may be eligible to apply. Membership of NZIF is not a requirement for application.
About the NZIF Foundation
The NZIF Foundation was established in 2011 by the NZ Institute of Forestry to advance education in relation to forestry. This includes encouraging and supporting forestry related research, education and training through the provision of grants, scholarships and prizes; promoting the acquisition, development and dissemination of forestry related knowledge and information and other activities that do not conflict with the charitable purpose. For the purposes of these awards, forestry is broadly defined to include all those activities involved in the management and use of forests and their products, the objects of which are the production of wood or other forest benefits and the maintenance of the environment in its most beneficial form. All forests in New Zealand, whatever their purpose, are encompassed in the definition.
NZIF Foundation Chair
From the Fire Committee
The Institute of Foresters of Australia, and Australian Forest Growers, have made a joint submission to the Australian Government Royal Bushfires Commission Inquiry. They have also made submissions to the separate Bushfire Inquiries undertaken by the New South Wales and Victoria State Governments. In their submission to the Royal Bushfire Commission Inquiry they have stated that Australia should urgently accept that bushfire prevention rather than suppression is the only way to avoid the wide scale loss of lives, property and biodiversity experienced in last summer’s bushfires. Further information on the Institute of Foresters of Australia concerns and recommendations can be found in there Royal Bushfires Commission submission.
Details of the upcoming national and international events of interest to members of NZIF have obviously been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and shut down.
In particular, the Conference and Celebration for 50 years Canterbury School of Forestry has been postponed, and the NZIF Annual Conference 2020 in Masterton has been cancelled.
Learn the simple steps you can take to unite against the virus and slow its spread. Find out what help is available, FAQs and get the latest updates.
MBIE Coronavirus Media release
Business.govt.nz, part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, has sourced information from 15 government departments so businesses can access all they need to know about the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak in one place.
Business.govt.nz Director Matt Kennedy-Good says the outbreak and the global efforts to contain it affect New Zealand businesses in many ways.
“It’s vital that businesses stay up to date, but with so many things to consider and changing regularly, it can be overwhelming, particularly for small businesses.
“We want to make it a little bit easier for them, so they don’t have to blind trawl through numerous websites to find what is relevant to them.
“Whether you’re an employer with concerns about your staff and workplace, an exporter with overseas customers, or you are planning to travel abroad – this page is your single source of truth for government information on what to do and what assistance is available.”
As well as information for employers, exporters and importers, topics such as tax assistance, health and safety are covered, as well as information for landlords, tenants and the education sector.
The content is presented in an easily digestible format with links for more in-depth reading, and is kept up to date as new information becomes available.
The page has already been visited more than 45,000 times since it was published on the Business.govt.nz website earlier this month, with many repeat visitors using it regularly.
Stay informed with issues that matter by joining the 235,000 small businesses that subscribe to the business.govt.nz monthly newsletter.
Media contact: +64 27 442 2141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Te Uru Rākau Feedback: A Forest Strategy for Aotearoa New Zealand
Te Uru Rākau is looking at how to harness the collective vision of New Zealanders to cultivate the forests of the future. To do this, they’re developing a Forest Strategy that will guide us over the next 30 years, and beyond.
Te Uru Rākau are asking for shared views on what a forest strategy means to you, why it matters, and what a great forest system would look like.
If you want to get in touch with Te Uru Rākau about the Forest Strategy, or to be added to the mailing list so you can keep in touch with what’s happening, then email email@example.com.
Details are in the Forest Strategy page.
NZ Small Forest Owner Survey
Small forest owners are being urged to complete a survey.
MPI is wanting to provide guidance around potential contracts signed by small forest owners – many of whom are farm foresters.
It says there are approximately 14,000 of these small forest owners in New Zealand and many of them are farmers.
“Due to trees taking 25-30 years to be ready for harvest, many farmers may not be familiar with all the elements in the forestry cycle and could be vulnerable to exploitation,” says MPI’s Jurgen Muller.
Latest NZ Journal of Forestry is On-line
Find latest journal here.
MPI Sustainable Forestry Bulletin
MPI’s Sustainable Forestry Bulletin is available through the subscription link. The bulletin outlines new information, upcoming requirements etc relating to the ETS, etc.
Forestry Career Portal
For career options, jobs are available advertised on this site
Request for Internship
NZIF has received a request for internship from a recent BForSc, UC graduate, Lucas Rosa, currently living in Wellington. Lucas has yet to complete his work hour requirements.
His CV is available by contacting Lucas at:
Ph: +64 2041463627/
Institute of Chartered Foresters (UK)
The ICF provides a newsletter with news and blogs as well as relevant information for members through this link.
Royal Society New Zealand
The NZ Institute of Forestry is affiliated with the Royal Society, with many co-memberships. For those interested in finding out what is happening, receiving newsletters and other alerts, please follow the link here.
RSNZ Rutherford Medal now to include Humanities.
Tane’s Trees Trust
New Bulletins available here.
It is important NZIF has up-to-date contact details for members so we can stay in touch and keep you informed of news, events and our journal. If you have changed your residential and/or postal address, or any other contact details, please let the office know. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN THE NEWS
COVID-19 Forestry Coverage – New Zealand
Amazon: Sharp rise in deforestation during Covid-19 restrictions
Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest rose sharply last month as the country prepared to send troops to try to curb illegal logging and mining.
Brazil's space research agency said the area destroyed in April was 64 percent bigger than in the same period last year.
In the first four months of 2020, destruction of the forest by illegal loggers and ranchers rose 55 percent, it said.
Environmentalists said President Jair Bolsonaro's policies and rhetoric encourage illegal activity.
Bolsonaro denies this. Earlier this week he authorised the deployment of armed forces to the region.
The Amazon rainforest is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.
Brazil's National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) said that more than 405 sq km of the Amazon had been deforested last month compared with 248 sq km in April last year.
Between January and April, a total of 1202 sq km was wiped out, it said.
Conservation groups said that, since the coronavirus outbreak began, fewer government enforcement agents had been deployed.
World: Planting trees is no panacea for climate change
Campaigns to plant 1 trillion trees must be undertaken with care and a commitment to long-term management
A restoration ecologist has a simple message for anyone who thinks planting 1 trillion trees will reverse the damage of climate change: 'We can't plant our way out of climate change.'
Restoration ecologist Karen Holl has a simple message for anyone who thinks planting 1 trillion trees will reverse the damage of climate change.
"We can't plant our way out of climate change," says Holl, professor of environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz and a leading expert in forest restoration. "It is only one piece of the puzzle."
In a commentary that appears in the May 8 issue of Science, Holl and coauthor Pedro Brancalion, a professor in the Department of Forest Sciences at the University of São Paulo, endorse the benefits of trees but caution against a simplistic view of tree-planting as a panacea for environmental degradation.
"Trees are deeply entrenched in the human psyche," said Holl, a restoration ecologist who has prepared hundreds of students for careers in environmental stewardship. "It's very satisfying to go out and put a tree in the ground. It's a concrete, tangible thing to do."
But broad-scale tree planting initiatives, such as 1t.org and the Trillion Tree Campaign, must be undertaken carefully and with a commitment to long-term management, if the benefits are to be fully realized.
"Planting trees is not a simple solution," said Holl. "It's complicated, and we need to be realistic about what we can and cannot achieve. We need to be thoughtful and plan for the long term."
Europe: The European forestry sector must be part of the future EU COVID-19 recovery plan
On 5 May 2020, Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF), together with six other organisations representing the European forestry sector, published a joint letter “The European forestry sector must be part of the future EU COVID-19 recovery plan” while the outbreak and spread of COVID-19 is having a significant impact on forests and forestry in a growing number of European regions.
In the context of the ongoing discussion on the EU COVID-19 recovery plan, and on the EU Green Deal, the undersigned organisations share the concerns of forest owners’ and managers’ about the current situation and provide arguments as to why the forestry sector should be part of the EU recovery plan. The COVID-19 crisis has hit at a time when the sector in various EU countries already finds itself in a difficult situation due to the severe impacts of climate change-induced damaging agents in recent years. Therefore the crisis could have serious repercussions in the short and medium term not only for forest owners and managers but also for the forest-based sector as a whole.
Please read the full joint letter here.
Increase in bird life during lockdown may be lost once people return
Ornithologists believe birds - which have been more visible in parks and public spaces - could abandon them once people start to come back.
A curious fantail on an organic farm in the Manawatu.Fantails have been seen in central Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson
Since the lockdown, Birds New Zealand says interest has peaked in bird spotting on social media - with more people wanting to join bird groups, and submitting pictures to identify a bird.
Auckland regional representative Ian McLean said birdlife has peaked in public places but it may not last.
"In Cuba mall people have seen things like fantails in the street which is quite unusual, very unusual actually.
"The birds are obviously quite bold during a time when there's not many people about and they take advantage of that, they may revert to what was before, it depends how people react to them as well."
Also in central Wellington, a young kārearea or native falcon has attracted interest.
McLean said the group hopes that interest in birds will continue even as people become busy again.
EU aims to ring-fence ‘old-growth forests’ in new biodiversity plan
“It is particularly important to strictly protect the EU’s remaining primary and old-growth forests,” the Commission says in its draft biodiversity strategy scheduled for publication on 20 May. [naql / Flickr]
At least 10% of land – considerably more than the current 3% – will have to be declared “strictly protected areas” under a new EU biodiversity strategy due to be unveiled later this month.
The EU executive also plans a “roadmap” for planting “at least three billion trees” by 2030 across the European Union in order to support biodiversity and ecosystem restoration.
“It is particularly important to strictly protect the EU’s remaining primary and old-growth forests,” the Commission says in its draft biodiversity strategy scheduled for publication on 20 May.
“These are the richest forest ecosystems and keep removing carbon from the atmosphere, while storing significant carbon stocks, including in forest soils,” says the draft policy document, which was published online by ARC2020, an environmental NGO.
B.C. government offering support to forest sector to ‘keep their doors open’
The BC Government has announced it will be deferring one of the forestry fees it typically charges in an effort to help the sector navigate the COVID-19 crisis.
Companies will be alleviated of stumpage fees, payment operators make to the Province to harvest, buy or sell trees from Crown land, for three months.
“As government, we had already taken a number of steps to help forest communities and the industry because they were facing tough times even before the COVID-19 crisis came along,” said Premier John Horgan. “Now, we’re deferring stumpage fees so companies can maintain their financial liquidity, which will not only benefit them, but ideally, forest workers and communities as well.”
According to the government, the deferral is available to Tree Farm License, Replaceable Forest License and First Nations’ Woodlands License holders who are in good financial standing with the Province.
World: Forestry industry must improve safety record
New FAO report points to steps to reduce forestry accidents, including safety inspections, and providing education and first-aid training.
The forestry industry must take steps to improve its safety record and promote decent rural employment in support of the Sustainable Development Agenda, according to a new FAO paper published today on World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
The report, Occupational safety and health in forest harvesting and silviculture: A compendium for practitioners and instructors, argues that despite incomplete statistics, forestry is one of the most dangerous civilian professions in the world.
Official accident data show a high toll of injuries and deaths each year in the professional forestry sector, largely reported from developed countries. However, this does not provide a full picture of accidents in the informal forestry sector, thought to employ some 45-50 million people around the world.
Europe: Understanding Covid-19 impact on the forest sector
The forest sector has an essential social function during a lockdown. Besides supplying wood to essential industries, forests are also receiving more recreational visits in this period. The outbreak of Covid-19 presents the European forest sector with evolving challenge, causing limitations in forests management activities and impacting the entire European forest value chain. What comes next?
The recent weeks have brough a slow-down in forest management activities across Europe. In most Member States (MSs), such activities have not been subject to direct restrictions, however are impacted by various national measures – for the forest sector the limited movement that applies for people, goods and machinery needed for the work in forest has struck the hardest.
Forest management activities are considered as basic during the lockdown in some MSs and are authorised with some security and sanitary measures in place, such as the application of appropriate distance, minimum number of people in the car, individual visits of forest sites and usage of protective masks. In others only essential work in forests is carried out, ranging from work to prevent and control fires and bark beetles and supply to essential industries. The sector sees difficulties in obtaining administrative permits and certifications that will affect the work in the next months.
Potential workforce shortage in this period could impact the forest cycle activities (management, planting, harvesting) and reflect along the value chain. Current evidence do not necessarily predict a workforce deficit; however the arrival of foreign workforce could be disturbed by applied travel restrictions. Some activities where potential workforce shortage could present a challenge are for example tree planting, which is around the corner in the Nordic countries, cork extraction in Southern Europe taking place from June to August and treatment of forest calamities. Some countries are exploring how to replace the potential lack of foreign workforce with a domestic one.
NZ: Natives lose out to forestry in Marlborough, says Forest and Bird study
Thousands of hectares of native habitat has been cleared across New Zealand in recent years.
Marlborough has lost 670 hectares of native bush to forestry over the past six years, Forest and Bird says.
It's on par with a national trend, which shows thousands of hectares of native habitat has been cleared across the country in recent years.
The data, which came from Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, showed nationwide, New Zealand lost 2584 hectares of matagouri, and 5075 hectares of manuka.
Included in this was the 670 hectares of scrub bush and shrub-land in Marlborough, made up mostly of matagouri, which was converted into "exotic forests".
World: Forest loss slows globally as sustainable management grows
Globally deforestation continues, albeit at a slower rate, with 10 million hectares a year being converted to other uses since 2015, down from 12 million hectares a year in the previous five years, according to the key findings of a flagship report that is conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) every five years.
The key findings of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020) have been released today together with an interactive publication called "A Fresh Perspective: Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020." The full FRA2020 report, with country data, will be released at a later date.
According to the report, today there are 4.06 billion hectares of forest, equal to 0.52 hectare for each person on Earth. On a net basis, including forest expansions, the world's forest area declined by 4.7 million hectares a year since 2010.
Almost a third of the world's land surface is covered by forests, which provide a slew of materials, services, aesthetic comfort and supporting millions of livelihoods.
My Turn: What does sustainable forestry sustain?
Two recent letters by authors engaged in commercial logging have opposed noted climate activist Bill McKibben for advocating limits to commercial logging on the 20 percent of forest lands that are jointly owned by the people of Massachusetts. Removal of trees for safety or other worthy purposes would still be permitted under bill H.897 that McKibben supports, but not commercial logging for private gain.
Chris Egan is the Executive Director of Mass Forest Alliance, a special interest group that promotes logging, not just on the 80 percent of private forests, but on the 20 percent that are public forests, and expanded production of all wood products from lumber and veneer to wood chips for biomass burning. His My Turn of April 4th was titled “Benefits of sustainable management,” but it would have been more accurately titled “Benefits of commercial logging on public lands.”
The one thing that is sustainable about sustainable forestry is sustained profits for private interests. Is it any wonder that the logging organizations oppose any possibility of protecting public land from private greed? Mr. Egan sees our public forests as simply an agricultural resource, a crop to be regularly harvested, rather than a complex living ecosystem in need of protection from the continuous assault of an industry always seeking public subsidies to increase its profits. The wood products industry is happy to degrade our state-owned forests as if they were their own private cutting preserves.
UBC Forestry professor receives ‘Nobel Prize’ of forest research
The Faculty of Forestry at UBC has announced faculty member and Canada Research Chair in Remote Sensing (I), Nicholas Coops, is the recipient of the world’s most prestigious forestry honour, the Marcus Wallenberg Prize. With this distinction, UBC is the top-ranking institution on the globe in terms the highest number of prizes received in the 40-year history of the Marcus Wallenberg Prize, and Canada is now tied with Sweden as the top two nations with the most prize winners.
Known as “the Nobel Prize of the forest sector,” Coops shares this year’s prize with colleagues Richard Waring of Oregon State University and Joseph Landsberg of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia. The 2020 prize was awarded in recognition for their work in addressing one of the largest global challenges of our time.
Comment: As old-growth review ends, time is right for change in B.C. forests
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought stress, hardship, pain and loss to many of us. It also brings into sharp focus what is most important: taking care of each other and our communities. In the midst of this crisis, we have an opportunity to look at our society and ask, are we doing that as well as we could?
If we look at this in the context of forests, the stress and uncertainty of the current moment is somewhat familiar.
For forest communities and families depending on the industries these ecosystems support, the last year has been a grim one between declining markets, curtailments and mill closures, labour disputes and more. Next year’s outlook wasn’t much brighter, even before the pandemic started. The health of forestry is directly related to the condition of the forests which, after decades of over-cutting, is also critical.
After almost half a century of loggers and tree-huggers being pitted against one another and told our interests are competing, both sides are now dejected and worried.
We’ve been sold a lie, both by greedy corporations and short-sighted governments, that protecting forests comes at the expense of stable jobs. And now we don’t have enough of either.
Most egregiously, the rightful title-holders of all forests in B.C. have been largely excluded and pushed aside, despite having larger stakes in both rural economic development and the health of ecosystems. In an era when decolonization and fixing this province’s fraught relationship with Indigenous peoples must be our greatest moral priority — this has to change.
World: Comprehensive review: Impact of variable retention forestry and restoration methods
Finnish, Swedish and Russian researchers highlight the ecological effects of forestry in Fennoscandia in five review articles published in the journal Ecological Processes. The summarized research suggests that the amount of dead trees in commercial forests is not sufficient for the species requiring decaying wood. To improve the situation, the researchers propose retaining considerably more dead trees and old trees in felling, increasing the number of retention trees and prescribed burning, and improving the forest certification system.
In their study, Research Professor Matti Koivula and Research Scientist Ilkka Vanha-Majamaa from the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) reviewed the results of 22 Fennoscandian experimental set-ups on the effects of felling. The average volume of dead trees in commercial forests is only a few cubic meters, and the results show that coarse, woody debris in advanced stages of decay is especially susceptible to destruction in connection with forest regeneration.
According to Koivula and Vanha-Majamaa, Finland could take inspiration from the many measures implemented in Swedish commercial forests and leave more wood in forests in connection with felling, as in Russia in the past, to ensure sufficient decaying wood in the future as well. They propose both short-term and long-term responses to halt the loss of biodiversity in forests.
NSW: Forestry Corp fined after EPA investigation
The NSW Environment Protection Authority has fined Forestry Corporation of NSW following investigations into forestry operations in southern NSW.
EPA Director Regional Operations South Nigel Sargent said the EPA’s investigations found that Forestry Corporation had breached the Southern Integrated Forestry Operations Approval by not properly marking important trees needed to protect native animal habitat and the environment.
“To maintain biodiversity in the forest, the Integrated Forestry Operations Approval requires loggers to mark and retain a number of habitat trees and mark the boundaries of environmentally sensitive areas where logging activities are not permitted.”
Tasmania: Greens call on Resources Minister Guy Barnett to rethink the future of the state's forestry industry
Tasmania's resources minister has praised the forestry sector's ability to adapt during the COVID-19 crisis but Greens leader and forests spokeswoman Cassy O'Connor said the industry needed a rethink.
Resources Minister Guy Barnett said findings from the Safety in the Tasmanian Forestry industry through COVID-19 survey, distributed through the COVID-19 Communications Working Group, showed the workforce was ready to get on with the job with new regulations to continue to operate through the pandemic.
"Key findings from the survey include 98 per cent were confident to somewhat confident their organisation could operate safety and efficiently through this pandemic," Mr Barnett said.
"86 per cent found it easy or somewhat easy to implement social distancing and safe hygiene work practices, allowing business to continue, [and] 82 per cent are confident they can work safely through this period."
Mr Barnett said the forestry sector would be a key leader in the recovery and rebuilding of the Tasmanian economy after COVID-19 thanks to the dedication of businesses and employees, and ongoing demand for timber exports.
Australia: Forestry academics say Victorian Government can't see the wood from the trees
Forestry academics have issued a warning over the Victorian Government's decision to scale back the harvesting of native timber forests in the lead up to a 2030 ban.
- Forestry academics say not enough thought has been put into how forest management should change leading up to the ban
- The State Government says the ban will keep workers in jobs and protect species
- New Regional Forest Agreements setting out rules for forest management were signed last month by the state and federal governments
University of Melbourne Professor of Forest Ecology Patrick Baker said Victoria's silviculture research community was not consulted on the decision.
"What we should be thinking about is how we can shift our management towards what is best for the forest and how we can set up forests to be as resilient as possible to the future, because in 10 years we're going to have to walk away from them," Professor Baker said.
Australia: 'Compelling evidence' logging native forests has worsened Australian bushfires, scientists warn
As logging of fire-affected areas is set to resume, Australian scientists say a clearer conversation is needed about fire risk
A group of Australian scientists say there is ‘compelling evidence’ that logging native forests exacerbates fire and likely contributed to the country’s catastrophic summer bushfires. Photograph: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images
A group of senior Australian scientists have warned in an international journal that logging native forests makes fire more severe and is likely to have exacerbated the country’s catastrophic summer bushfires.
In a comment piece published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the scientists call for a clearer discussion about how land management and forestry practices contribute to fire risk.
The article by the scientists David Lindenmayer, Robert Kooyman, Chris Taylor, Michelle Ward and James Watson comes amid intense debate about the resumption of logging in Victoria and New South Wales in bushfire hit regions.
In Victoria, the chief executive of state-owned timber agency VicForests, Monique Dawson, has previously defended plans to log fire-affected areas, saying it was focused on areas “where most of the free-standing trees have been killed”.
In a letter of 15 April to the Goongerah Environment Centre, a community group based in East Gippsland, Dawson said VicForests did not accept Lindenmayer’s published opinions “as reflective of evidence and do not consider him to be an authority in these matters”.
World: SFI Community Grants Strengthen Connections Between Forests and Communities to Advance Local Sustainability Solutions
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) announced 10 SFI Community Grants today featuring collaboration between 40 partner organizations. This commitment to local communities helps SFI achieve its mission of advancing sustainability through forest-focused collaborations that:
- provide educators with tools to showcase green career pathways with students
- incorporate Indigenous knowledge into forest management planning and education curriculum
- build youth engagement in outdoor education and conservation projects
- create better building solutions using sustainably sourced mass timber
- provide tools to family landowners about bird conservation
- showcase research on new and safer logging techniques
“These projects focus on strengthening communities where SFI‑certified organizations operate. SFI is proud to have such a committed and engaged network in communities across Canada and the U.S.,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI. “We believe that collaboration is the key to success in building sustainable communities, and we are excited to see a strong integration of these projects with our SFI Implementation Committees and community partners.”
Mysteries unravelled: The unique plant-insect food web of tropical forests
Tropical forests are widely acknowledged as immeasurable treasures of biodiversity, at every single link of the food chain. The ERC-funded Diversity6continents project took special interest in their plants and insects, to find out how so many species can cohabit in unbelievably small areas.
‘Our house is on fire’. This metaphor, used to describe the dramatic fires affecting the Amazon at the end of last year, also sounded as a wake-up call for the scientific community. Now is the time to unravel the mysteries of tropical rainforests, not just for the sake of scientific knowledge, but also to highlight their value and, hopefully, lead to better conservation strategies.
In this race against time, every effort counts. Take the Diversity6continents project for instance. By studying plant-insect food webs in Papua New Guinea, Cameroon and Panama, the project has been deepening our understanding of what makes their tropical forests so diverse in comparison to our own temperate ones. But there is even more to it than it seems: the project’s unique approach, which directly involves local communities, could ultimately strengthen their own support for conservation strategies.
Formalizing artisanal logging in Central Africa
A new project in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon aims to bring the sector to light
Central Africa’s national and regional timber markets are booming. Across the region, rapid population growth, urbanization and economic development are driving an increase in domestic demand for sawn timber, which in many countries is already more important in volume than demand for industrial timber for export.
However, consumers’ purchasing power remains weak, and in general they lack interest in the origin of the timber they buy – two important considerations that contribute to the prevailing informality of local markets. Domestic demand is mostly met by artisanal loggers, who are quite well organized, yet operate outside of existing legal frameworks.
The informal logging sector creates many jobs and generates significant revenues in both rural and urban areas. In Cameroon, for instance, chainsaw milling provides 45,000 direct jobs and generates more than 20 billion FCFA ($33 million) in revenues, according to a study led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). But these jobs are precarious. Because small-scale timber producers lack legal protection, they have irregular incomes and their activities are vulnerable to corruption and authorities’ abuse.
Family Forests Are Key to Fighting Climate Change. But They Need Help.
Wayne Brensinger, 63, has spent his entire life exploring Deer View Farm in eastern Pennsylvania. From an early age, he hunted squirrels and deer, drank clean spring water, and meandered down game trails through 500 acres of Northern Appalachian woodlands, with just 25 acres cleared for corn and soybeans. The property, in his family for over 150 years, was an idyllic place to grow up and raise his own children.
Brensinger just assumed the trees would always be there; he didn't have a plan for how to manage them long term. Then came the gypsy moths.
The role of agroforestry in forest restoration
Agroforestry in the Philippines has been crucial in reversing the harmful effects of deforestation and forest degradation, generating sustainable economic and environmental benefits for upland and coastal communities and indigenous people’s groups.