The Tree Frog News
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Opening shot of softwood lumber war coming this week
With the opening shot of the fifth softwood lumber war coming this week, there’s no shortage of bluster and punditic commentary in today’s news. Trump set the tone last week when he lumped lumber with dairy and described Canada’s actions against American trade interests “a disgrace”. BC Premier Clark shot back claiming "the American industry is driven by greed, pure and simple". Also expressing concern about the “serious local impacts of countervailing duties” was the New Brunswick government which remains confident it will be excluded from US duties once “the facts about lumber are laid out”.
Observing that lumber prices are already up 25%, BMO economist Michael Gregory commented on the “elegance of free markets, having already established de-facto tariff pricing". Bank of Canada Governor Sephen Poloz says “it's an important business for Canada, its geographically diverse. So it matters”. As such, he has already added a “modest amount of negative judgment” into his forecasts.
"To save forests, cut some trees down", scientists say in the American West as "thinning early in forest growth creates tougher trees that can endure climate change". And why is Mayaysia planning to cut down 5% more trees in 2017? According to a local journal, it's because of the “rising demand for wood. Our trees produce great quality wood, and somebody wants them”.
--Tree Frog Editors
Forest and ecology film festival this Thursday
By Spencer Gowan
The Canadian Institute of Forestry and Forests without Borders are hosting the 1st International Forest and Ecology Film Festival Thursday evening. The Canfor Theatre will be filled with photographs by both Prince George’s Jesses Seniunas and Chilean photographer Francisco Garate-Flores. There will also be two documentaries shown starting at 6 PM. One is about a woodlot east of Prince George which gives a closer look at local forests. The other focuses on the negative effects of Indonesian farmers clearing land for new palm oil plantations.
Crown land usage: Recreation vs. logging
By Dale Smith, land use planner
The role and importance of Crown land as a publicly-owned asset effectively has been lost in the longstanding and contentious debate around forestry policies and practices in Nova Scotia. At the heart of the debate is the relationship and interplay between the natural resources department’s overlapping and too often conflicting responsibilities for Crown land stewardship and for forest industry promotion and support. Crown land, as a public asset, should and must be managed to achieve a wide variety of objectives that collectively serve the common good. ... Unfortunately, Nova Scotia has never managed to establish a rational and comprehensive approach to guide decisions about Crown land use. In the absence of due process, the varying demands on Crown land have not been addressed in a co-ordinated and balanced way.
Restoration mantra has created a bump for logging
LEWISTON, Idaho — Logging is up in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest under the U.S. Forest Service timber program that focuses less on commercial sales and instead sees logs as a byproduct of restoration and efforts to cut the risk of fire. Last year the forest sold 60 million board feet of timber, compared with nearly 58 million the previous year. The average since 1999 has been just under 38 million board feet. Forest Supervisor Cheryl Probert said more restoration is needed because of insects and disease in the forest, and that means logging volumes could increase in the near future.
Oregon drops several defenses in $1.4 billion timber lawsuit
By Mateusz Perkowski
ALBANY, Ore. — The State of Oregon has conceded that a class action lawsuit seeking $1.4 billion for insufficient timber harvests isn’t blocked by the statute of limitations. The state government has also dropped its argument that county governments and local taxing districts don’t have legal standing to sue Oregon for alleged breach of contract. Last year, Linn County filed a lawsuit accusing Oregon of violating contracts with 15 counties by reducing logging on about 650,000 acres of forestland the counties had donated to the state. ...Attorneys for the plaintiffs had asked the judge to eliminate 12 “affirmative defenses” intended to shield the State of Oregon from the class action lawsuit. During oral arguments on April 20, Oregon’s attorneys agreed to drop several of these defenses, including the expiration of statute of limitations, the plaintiffs’ lack of legal standing and the court’s lack of jurisdiction over the case.
Forest Service talks restoration in Rim Country
By Mike Leiby
SHOW LOW — The U.S. Forest Service and the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) Stakeholders Group gathered plenty of public input April 18 regarding draft alternatives for proposed forest restoration activities in Rim Country. ... The first alternative calls for continuation of current management of no action while analyzing the direct, indirect and cumulative effects of opting for alternative one. The second alternative would allow mechanical thinning, along with prescribed burns, of 952,330 acres, decommissioning 250 miles of forest roads and commissioning of about 350 team portray roads ...The third alternative would mechanically thin 952,330 acres with a more aggressive use of that method to lessen forest fuels, and mitigate dwarf mistletoe in individual stands of tress. Alternative four would use methods to optimize ecological restoration while encouraging economic viability. The fourth alternative is one the Forest Service prefers.
To save forests, cut some trees down, scientists say
By Ula Chrobak
Forests are feeling the heat. In places like the American West, rising temperatures and drought mean less water for trees, sometimes shriveling swaths of woodland. Now, scientists have found that thinning early in forest growth creates tougher trees that can endure climate change. What’s more, these thinned forests can suck carbon out of the air just as fast as dense forests. “When it comes to carbon sequestration and climate change adaptation, we can have our cake and eat it too,” says Andrew Larson, forest ecologist at the University of Montana in Missoula and author of the new study. “It’s a win-win.” ...To see if the climate trade-off truly exists, scientists tapped into a long-term experiment in northwestern Montana. In 1961, U.S. Forest Service officials started the experiment in a young forest of western larch—a conifer common in the Inland Northwest.
Whitehall looks to expand timber harvest
By Dan King
WHITEHALL — Seeking more revenue, village officials are looking to expand a lumber harvesting program on village property. The watershed land surrounding Pine Lake in the town of Dresden is owned by the village and, since 2009, the village has been working with a forestry company to harvest timber on that land. Tuesday, officials discussed a proposal to expand the harvesting to the south end of the lake. “The summer market looks really hot for red oak,” said Jim Allen, owner of Allen Forestry, the Fort Ann-based company in charge of the project. “If the market stays strong, there’s some money to be made there.” Allen said the south and southwest sides of Pine Lake have a variety of different types of trees, including pine, hemlock and red oak. Deputy Mayor Walt Sandford, who has long been a vocal supporter of the timber harvesting program, said he wants to put the decision on whether to expand the project in Allen’s “capable hands.”
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Why is Malaysia planning to cut down 5% MORE trees in 2017?
Being one of the countries with the fastest disappearing forests, disasters such as mudslides and floods are getting more and more frequent. Therefore, it should be quite a surprise to some when it was announced that we’re planning to sell 5% more timber this year. Thing is, Malaysia exports timber to make money, but you also already knew that. Timber-related products made up 17.9% of the local commodity earnings last year, or 2.78% of our total exports. Which is still a bit too much to be ideal. As has been well established by now, Malaysia’s economy is resource-based, meaning that we rely heavily on our natural resources, particularly oil, to make money. But why the sudden increase? Are we in dire need of more funds? Well, actually it has less to do with needing more money and more to do with a sudden demand for wood. Our trees produce great quality wood, and somebody wants them. Or rather, some country wants them.
Company & Business News
Canada Steps Up Efforts to Diversify Markets for Canadian Wood and Wood Products
By Natural Resources Canada
OTTAWA - Canada's forest industry has transformed itself into one of the most innovative sectors of our economy, investing in research, developing new products and expanding its markets as it also sets the pace on environmental performance. Hundreds of thousands of Canadian workers and their local communities depend upon this industry's continued success to support good middle-class jobs, create new opportunities and ensure sustainable prosperity for generations to come. Federal cabinet ministers are targeting new markets around the globe in a concerted effort to enhance trade and market diversification for Canadian wood and wood products as part of the clean-growth economy. International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne is in China to promote the use of Canadian wood in home construction while Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, is in Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam to explore further opportunities for Canadian wood exporters in the Asia-Pacific region.
‘From tweaks to teats’: Canada-U.S. trade tensions to mount this week
By Michael Babad
Canada-U.S. trade tensions have moved quickly from “tweaks to teats,” as Bank of Montreal puts it. Next up, and long contentious, is softwood lumber. Indeed, the decision by the U.S. Commerce Department on preliminary countervailing duties Tuesday promises to raise the temperature to the point where milk boils. ...[Trump] also cited energy and lumber, leading observers to warn that Canada will face tough negotiations when the North American free-trade agreement is opened for discussion again. His comments also suggested he wants more than just the “tweak” to the Canada-U.S. relationship that he initially suggested. ...Then there are Canadian softwood lumber exports, which hold more than 30 per cent of the U.S. market. ...Expect levies of 20 to 30 per cent, according to BMO, with a final decision next year and a second finding on anti-dumping duties in June. “Showcasing the elegance of free markets, lumber prices spiked 25 per cent in February as Canadian producers worked through the mental math and established de-facto tariff pricing,” [BMO deputy chief economist] Mr. Gregory said.
Canada Braces for a Lumber War Amid Its Home-Price Psychosis
By Theophilos Argitis
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has been highlighting the dangers of protectionism, and the country will probably get a taste this week as the U.S. is expected to issue preliminary countervailing duties on softwood lumber. Bank of Montreal said in a report last week it expects duties in the range of 20 percent to 30 percent, with additional anti-dumping duties coming later in the year. And in a round-table interview with reporters Saturday, Poloz said the measures will probably have some impact on the nation’s economy. “It is an important business for Canada, it’s got a lot of employment in it and it’s geographically diverse,” said Poloz, who was speaking in Washington where he was attending meetings of the International Monetary Fund. “It matters.” The Bank of Canada has already added a “modest amount of negative judgment” into its forecasts, using a historical analysis of how countervailing duties affected lumber exports in the past, Poloz said.
Softwood lumber decision Tuesday is Trump's next chance to hammer Canada
By Janyce McGregor
U.S. Department of Commerce decision on countervailing duties expected April 25. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stood beside Donald Trump as the U.S. president called Canada's actions against American trade interests "a disgrace." "That also includes what's happening along our northern border states with Canada, having to do with lumber and timber," he said, a vague snark that swivelled heads on both sides of the border. The testy trade in two-by-fours wasn't expected to be raised until this Tuesday, when Ross's department is expected to levy countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber.
Opening shot coming this week in fifth softwood lumber war between Canada-U.S.
By Alexaner Panetta
WASHINGTON -- The opening shot in a fifth softwood-lumber war between the United States and Canada is expected this week, and policy-makers north of the border are preparing to calculate the potential damage of American duties. ...Canada's central bank cited in its latest policy review uncertainty in lumber as a reason behind increased prices, and a slowdown in shipments; its governor said Saturday the impact would become easier to gauge after the specifics of duties became known. But parts of the country would feel the effects, Stephen Poloz said. "If there's going to be some sort of countervailing duty that raises the price of Canadian lumber -- chances are that's going to cause lower exports. It would make U.S. lumber more competitive, relatively speaking," the Bank of Canada governor told reporters during international financial meetings in Washington. "It is an important business for Canada. It's got a lot of employment in it. It's geographically diverse. So it matters."
ELECTION 2017: Union backing revives donor debate
By Tom Fletcher
Big donors and foreign donors have been a defining issue of the 2017 B.C. election, with most of the attention on B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark and the millions in corporate donations the ruling party has collected... But as the campaign began, the biggest donation ever in the province was reported by Elections BC, more than $600,000 from the United Steelworkers. The windfall came from the party’s U.S. headquarters and various locals representing mostly forest industry employees in B.C. Then the NDP confirmed that its two senior election staffers, campaign director Bob Dewar and deputy director Glen Sanford, are contract employees of the United Steelworkers, hired and assigned to run the campaign.
Workers, investigators search for answers in train derailment that killed three
By Katie DeRosa
A union representing logging workers says mechanical failure, not human error, is being blamed for the forestry train derailment in Woss that killed three people and injured two. The train, carrying a large load of logs, somehow rolled away from the reload yard and collided into a rubber-tired backhoe and railway maintenance car where the five men were working, said Brian Butler, president of United Steelworkers Local 1-1937. “Members who were working in the reload area indicated there was a mechanical failure, but I can’t expand on that as to what exactly happened,” Butler said. ...Island district RCMP senior investigating officer Insp. Dave Hall said it’s too early to determine what caused the train to derail. “In the case of a workplace fatality, the police are looking for obvious criminality or negligence. It’s too soon to say what we think the cause is. We haven’t ruled anything out at this stage.”
Christy Clark: 'I'm not scared of Donald Trump!'
By Jesse Johnston
B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark blitzed through the Cariboo region Friday, trying to reassure sawmill workers that their jobs will be safe, even though a nasty trade battle is brewing with the United States. The U.S. is expected to announce early next week whether duties will be imposed on Canadian softwood lumber. "We're going to try to get you through this dispute," Clark said to a forestry worker during a campaign stop at a mill in Quesnel. "We'll get there." ...Clark, who says softwood lumber will be her number one priority if she is re-elected, says she's also in a hurry to get to the bargaining table. "I'm not scared of Donald Trump and I'm not scared of the rich American union leaders," Clark said. "We are going to fight and we are going to fight to make sure that the workers here at West Fraser, the workers at Tolko and the workers at sawmills across this province get a fair deal."
B.C. forestry firm halts operations after train derailment kills 3 workers
The company operating a train that derailed and killed three people in a northern Vancouver Island community stopped business Friday out of respect for the families of the victims. Two people were killed Thursday in Woss, B.C., and RCMP Cpl. Tammy Douglas confirmed Friday that a third victim died after being transported to hospital. Police said two others were also taken to hospital. A joint statement from Western Forest Products and the union representing its workers said counselling services were made available to the employees, families and community affected by the tragedy. ...The firm said all timberlands operations were closed Friday, and the company and union share the deep sense of grief over the deaths and injuries resulting from the incident. ...A statement from WorksafeBC, the provincial workplace safety body, said the RCMP would take the lead on the investigation.
BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark lashes out at U.S. lumber industry
By Brent Jang and Jeffrey Jones
BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark has come out swinging against the U.S. lumber industry, saying timber barons south of the border are putting their interests ahead of American consumers. The plight of U.S. home buyers has been shunted aside while a group led by the U.S. Lumber Coalition lobbies for tariffs to be slapped soon on Canadian softwood exports, she said Friday, while campaigning in B.C.’s Cariboo region. “For a lot of people here in Quesnel and in the Cariboo and across the province, if you’re working in the forest industry, you’re thinking about what’s going to happen next with the softwood lumber agreement,” Ms. Clark told employees at West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.’s Quesnel sawmill. ...“We all know what the American industry is driven by on this. They are driven by greed, pure and simple,” Ms. Clark said in Williams Lake, where she visited Pioneer Log Homes.
Cariboo-Chilcotin Green and NDP candidates participate in Williams Lake forum
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
Sustainable development, forestry and poverty were issues Cariboo-Chilcotin election candidates Rita Giesbrecht (Green) and Sally Watson (NDP) tackled during a forum held Thursday in Williams Lake. ...First up former NDP MLA and minister David Zirnhelt talked about sustainable development. “If we want to have stability we need diversity in our economy,” Zirnhelt said. “We have failed to do that sufficiently I think.” He asked the candidates how they and their parties would further the stability of the regional economy and promote diversity and resilience. ...The NDP would end raw log exports, Watson said, noting the idea that logs are offered to local mills first is a “bit of a fallacy,” because if two mills turn them down the logs can be exported.
Softwood border duties could hurt 25 New Brunswick sawmills, government says
Twenty-five New Brunswick sawmills owned by 14 companies will be affected if the United States imposes a duty on Canadian softwood lumber, according to the provincial government. But the government announced Friday it intends to fight for exclusion from border duties on softwood lumber and last month set up a task force with representatives from 11 departments to look at what can be done to mitigate the effects of any duty. "We are focused and working hard alongside the federal government to secure exclusions from any trade remedies that may be initiated by the American government, whether imposed through managed trade or through litigation," Treasury Board President Roger Melanson, who is also minister responsible for trade policy, said during a news conference in Fredericton on Friday.
As Trump talks tough, New Brunswick seeks continued exemptions on lumber exports
By Kevin Bissett
FREDERICTON—New Brunswick’s trade-policy minister says he’s confident Atlantic Canadian lumber exports will remain excluded from U.S. duties once President Donald Trump sees the facts. Roger Melanson, who is also president of the province’s Treasury Board, says he’s been working alongside the federal government to secure exclusions in place since 1982. The U.S. Commerce Department is expected to release a preliminary decision by Tuesday whether to impose duties on Canadian softwood, which American producers say is overly subsidized and unfairly floods their market. ...There have been estimates the duties could range from 20-40 per cent. “We do not know for sure what the determination will be, but certainly a duty in that range would have an impact on the New Brunswick economy, and certainly on New Brunswick communities where the forestry industry is so important,” Melanson said Friday.
An Opening For Trump In Deep Blue Oregon
By Danny Hajek & Geoff Bennett
At Seneca Sawmill Company in Eugene, Ore., a team of lumbermen stand watch as wooden boards are spit out one-by-one onto a planing platform. “We’re taking rough lumber from the saw mill, bringing it over and putting a smooth surface on all four sides and then grading it based on lumber grading rules,” explains Todd Payne, Seneca’s CEO. Payne says his business is thriving. A “now hiring” sign even hangs out front. Seneca Sawmill has weathered the past few decades better than many of Oregon’s other timber operations. The region’s logging industry says it has struggled under the cumulative weight of a tough economy, unfavorable trade deals, job-stealing automation and environmental regulations that have restricted the supply of timber from federal lands.
$2b trade deficit in wood products a source of national shame
By Australian Institute of Foresters
Australia is the seventh most forested country in the world and Australians have more forest per person than most other countries except for the Canadians and the Russians. Rob de Fégely, National President of the Australian Institute of Foresters presented a grim picture of Australia’s contribution to managing renewable forest and plantation resources to the 19th Commonwealth Forestry Conference in India this month. Rob said, ‘It is a source of some national shame that Australia has a significant trade deficit in forest products of more than $2 billion each year. This is not an economic argument but a moral and social one. We have the space, skills, wealth and knowledge to do more.
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Trussed Rafter Association launches Ireland group and signs MoU with Structural Timber Association
The Trussed Rafter Association (TRA) has announced a number of new initiatives including a new Ireland group and a memorandum of understanding with the Structural Timber Association (STA) to reinforce the close working relationship between the two bodies. The new Ireland group within the TRA has seven members already from the Republic and Northern Ireland, including Armstrong Timber Engineering, ATS Trusses Ltd, Cork Roof Truss Company, Harmony Timber Solutions Ltd, Magtruss and Quinn Building Supplies. The Ireland group aims to become the leading authority on timber trussed rafters and metal web joists for the relevant authorities such as HomeBond, the National Standard Authority of Ireland and Building Control Northern Ireland.
Wood & Paper Products & Green Building
Montreal library earns 2017 Green Building Award
OTTAWA — A public library in suburban Montreal that is said to combine high-performance standards with design quality and responsiveness to community needs will receive the 2017 Green Building Award. The award, given by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) and the Canada Green Building Council, recognizes outstanding achievement in buildings that are environmentally responsible and promote the health and well-being of users... The project used certified wood and recycled or regional materials, said the RAIC... "The library offers a variety of beautifully lit and welcoming spaces throughout, maximizing daylight and views and the use of natural elements, such as wood, to create an environment that contributes to health and well-being," said the three-member jury in a statement
An architecture of the imagination: In Mastheads studios, new building material shapes creative environment
By Carrie Saldo
PITTSFIELD — The American Renaissance writers were mid-19th century visionaries whose work has endured long after their deaths. Now a project inspired by their work in the city has brought an innovative construction technology here. Beginning this summer, The Mastheads will pair five writers from across the country with the new structures meant to serve as creative hubs. Work began, and wrapped up, this week on the creation of the spaces using cross-laminated timber, a wood product that can be used as an alternative to more traditional construction materials such as lumber, concrete, masonry and steel. Used mostly in Europe, Australia and Canada, it is made from multiple layers of low-grade lumber, stacked perpendicular to each other and glued. Cross-laminated timber caught the attention of local architects Tessa Kelly and Chris Parkinson who designed and conceived The Mastheads.
Govt to quadruple construction projects with more efficient building methods by 2020
By Martha Soezean
Singapore -- The government aims to quadruple the number of construction projects with more efficient building methods by 2020, Minister for National Development said at the official opening of the new eco-friendly sports hall of Nanyang Technological University on 24 April. The new sports hall, called ‘The Wave’ for the curved roof, was the first development in Southeast Asia built using an engineered wood system construction method. Under this method, cross laminated timber (CLT) and glued laminated timber (Glulam) were used to make curved and arched shapes that can form vertical columns and horizontal beams. CLT and Glulam are common in Europe, but this was the first in the region the engineered wood system used on a large scale. The timber used in construction was obtained from sustainable forests in Europe, the US and Canada.
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Holmen group considering building a CLT works
Swedish Holmen group is currently performing a feasibility study for building a cross-laminated timber works at the Iggesund Timber sawmill. According to information from Johan Padel, CEO of Holmen Timber, a decision on whether or not to go ahead with the investment project is to be made during the course of this year. No details have been disclosed yet about the envisaged production capacity, the probable cost of the investment, or the schedule. Holmen Timber is currently producing neither cross-laminated timber (CLT) nor gluelam timber but is geared solely to manufacturing rough-sawn softwood lumber. The Iggesund sawmill put into service in 1990 has an annual production capacity of 400,000 m³ of pine lumber. Holmen’s Braviken works, which was opened in early 2011, is one of the biggest sawmills in Scandinavia with a production capacity of 550,000 m³ of pine and spruce lum