CPAWS welcomes the recent appointment of a new Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard (DFO). We congratulate the new Minister on the promotion from his previous role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Annual Parks Report outlines action plan for meeting Canada’s land and freshwater protection targets
OTTAWA – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) released its annual Parks Report today, What’s Next: Parks and Protected Areas to 2020 and Beyond, which recommends how governments in Canada – federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous – can work together to achieve Canada’s international commitment to protect at least 17% of our landscape by 2020, and to plan for the longer-term work needed to reverse the catastrophic and ongoing decline in nature. Canada has the greatest opportunity in a generation to protect nature – and this report provides a roadmap for action.
OTTAWA – In a landmark judgment rendered two years to the day following the announcement of an emergency order to protect the Chorus Frog in La Prairie, Federal Court Judge René Leblanc concluded that the emergency order provision of the Species at Risk Act to protect a species and its habitat on private tenure is constitutional and not a disguised expropriation. The judgment also confirms that the specific prohibitions of the emergency order, and consequently the associated offenses and penalties, are valid in criminal law.
Edmonton, AB.– CPAWS Northern Alberta is thrilled with Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change latest action on protecting our wilderness. The Minister announced that the Government of Canada will dedicate $27.5 million over the next 5 years to the protection of Canada’s largest, and most at risk, national park, Wood Buffalo National Park.
CPAWS’ Statement on federal, provincial, territorial ministers meeting on advancing nature conservat
CPAWS appreciates the work done today towards a plan to deliver on Canada’s commitment to expand the proportion of Canada’s landscape that is protected from10.6% to at least 17% by 2020. In particular we welcome the launch of the federal government’s Nature Fund with a “quick start” component for protected spaces that will support efforts by Indigenous governments, provinces and territories and other partners to work towards this short-term target.
Montréal, QC and Ottawa, ON - The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomes the announcement of the upcoming creation of the American Bank marine protected area, an action that has just repaid several years’ work by the organization and demonstrates the Quebec and Canadian governments’ determination to protect our marine species and reach the international target of 10% marine protected areas by 2020.
What do forest fires, wood-eating beetles and US President Donald Trump have in common? They have all helped push the price of lumber to historic heights, leading to record share prices for lumber producers and higher prices for US homebuyers. Source: Financial Times The price of lumber has increased 57% since the start of 2017, according to the Random Lengths framing lumber composite price index, going from US$356 to US$571 per thousand board feet. Analysts attribute the price spike to steadily increasing demand and a coincidence of supply shocks in British Columbia, one of the world’s largest producers of softwood lumber. “When you have a tight supply chain, as soon as one thing goes wrong, prices skyrocket,” said Brendan Lowney, principal and macroeconomist at Forest Economic Advisors. “You almost have a vertical supply curve.” The run started early last year, when the market began pricing in expectations that the US Department of Commerce would implement countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Canadian softwood lumber. With a new protectionist ally in the White House, the US Lumber Coalition filed trade remedy petitions in November 2016, that argued Canadian government leases of publicly owned timberland effectively subsidised the industry and its US$5.6bn worth of imports to the American market in 2016. By the time the first duties were announced last April, the price of lumber had risen 20.7% — pricing in nearly exactly the 20.83% average duty ultimately levied on Canadian producers. But of the factors driving current prices, duties are only “number three on the list,” said Mr Lowney. More important was a historic 2017 wildfire season that was so severe the Canadian government’s senior climatologist called it the “summer of fire”. Between April and November, more than 1300 fires consumed more than 1.2m hectares of British Columbia. The fires and dry conditions forced many sawmill owners to halt operations and restricted much of the province’s logging activity. The slowdown came at a most inopportune time thanks to another, slower moving shock to the industry: throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, British Columbia’s forests saw the largest infestation of mountain pine beetles on record, and the consequences are being felt now. It only takes a few hundred of the hard-shell black bugs, each roughly the size of a grain of rice, to overwhelm the defences of a healthy, towering pine. As they burrow through the tree’s bark to lay their eggs, they also introduce a fungus that changes the colour of its wood. “The tree is as good as dead within 48 hours,” said Katherine Bleiker, a bark beetle ecologist with Natural Resources Canada. The epidemic hit hardest in the heart of British Columbia’s logging country, affecting more than 18m hectares and killing about 54% of the province’s merchantable pine. But despite their changed colour, standing trees killed by pine beetles can still be harvested for lumber. Many are usable for up to eight years, and some last up to 12. After the epidemic’s peak in 2005, the provincial government increased annual harvest allowances, hoping to capture what value they could from the dead pines. The fire-shortened summer of 2017 was one of the last chances to harvest many of the affected trees and the government’s harvest allowances are now decreasing sharply. “We’re hitting that point where the supply curve really starts to bend down on the standing inventory in British Columbia ,” said Mr Lowney. By the last quarter of 2017, it had looked as if prices had settled around US$435 per thousand board feet. But when a harsh winter slowed down Canadian rail traffic, other commodities were prioritised and lumber orders piled up at mills, giving a new leg-up to prices. “What’s unprecedented about this run compared to other record runs is the length of it,” said Shawn Church, who has covered the industry for 28 years at trade publication Random Lengths. With the spring and summer building season now under way, prices are still climbing. The US residential sector is the country’s biggest lumber consumer, and new housing starts hit a post-2007 high in May High prices and high demand meant massive first-quarter profits for lumber companies. Share prices for the two largest Canadian lumber corporations, Canfor Corporation and West Fraser Timber Co Ltd, and Weyerhaeuser Co, the largest US producer, have all hit record highs this month. As lumber companies rake in profits, the costs are shifted to builders and eventually on to homebuyers. Analysts differ in their estimates, but the increase in lumber costs alone has probably added between US$3000 and US$9000 to the cost of the median new home. “It is making it harder to build affordable units at a moment when the housing market desperately needs them,” said Aaron Terrazas, economic research director at real estate website Zillow.
FORT MCMURRAY— As UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee convenes this week for its annual meeting in Manama, Bahrain, Indigenous and environmental groups are calling on Canada to do more to protect its largest park, Wood Buffalo National Park.
A major new public opinion survey commissioned by the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) found that Canadians overwhelmingly believe protected areas are necessary and want about half of our land and sea protected for nature.
June 15, 2018, Ottawa, Ont. - The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomes the diverse voices calling for action on protected areas in today’s public release of Canada’s Conservation Vision: A Report of the National Advisory Panel.
June 14, 2018, OTTAWA – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) celebrates today’s announcement by Canadian and U.S. mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Region of the creation of the Mayors’ Council on Nature and Communities, a new venture aimed at protecting natural spaces in urbanized areas.
Montreal, Que. - On the eve of World Oceans Day and the opening of the G7 in Charlevoix, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Québec Chapter released its 2018 report on marine conservation: "Marine Protected Areas: guidelines for reaching your destination". In the report, CPAWS highlights the encouraging signals from Quebec and Canadian governments to reach the 2020 international target to protect at least 10% of our ocean and emphasizes the importance of minimum standards for ensuring the quality and effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPA).
Canadian OSB exports stabilised in the first quarter at the level reached after soaring in the third and fourth quarters of 2017. Source: Euwid Figures from Statistics Canada show that Canada’s OSB industry booked a double-digit year-on-year growth for the third quarter in a row with a 16.6% upswing to 1.592m m3. Exports had jumped 14.9% to 1.563m m3 in the third quarter of 2017, with the fourth quarter faring even better with an 18.1% improvement to 1.598m m3. The value of these exports rose just 4.1% to CAD481.2m in the first quarter. The third quarter had ended with a 12.6% increase in the value of exports to CAD509.2m, with the fourth quarter producing a 10.1% upswing to CAD496.7m. The discrepancy was even larger when it came to shipments to the US. The amount exported was 16.3% higher than the prior-year period at 1.488m m3, but their value was up just 2.8% at CAD448.8m. US exports have consistently risen in the past four quarters. Canada had shipped 1.314m m3 to its neighbour to the south in the second quarter of 2017, followed by 1.448m m3 in the third quarter and 1.463m m3 in the fourth quarter.
World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) are honoured to announce that unparalleled conservation leader Grand Chief Herb Norwegian, 66, of Dehcho First Nations is the winner of the 2018 $10,000 Glen Davis Conservation Leadership Prize.
Lumber prices have rallied more than 30% this year to reach their highest level on record, as US duties on imports of the commodity from Canada have contributed to tighter supplies and soaring home-construction costs. Source: Market Watch But analysts are growing wary of tall timber prices. Among the possible threats is the World Trade Organization’s recent compliance with Canada’s request to examine the dispute by establishing two panels to rule on higher US lumber duties. Technical analysts claim lumber prices are vulnerable because they’ve gotten above their fundamental value. The most recent impetus to higher prices came last year, when the US Commerce Department announced anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on lumber imports from Canada. The duties were implemented in January and average 20.23% for most Canadian lumber producers. July lumber LBN8, -2.46% settled at US$602.70 per 1000 board feet on Friday—a record high based on the most-active contracts, according to FactSet data going as far back as early November 1984. Prices trade nearly 35% higher year to date. “The Canadian situation is clearly a factor here,” says Walter Zimmermann, chief technical analyst at ICAP, the world’s largest interdealer broker. He recalls that in 1996, the Softwood Lumber Agreement between the US and Canada created a comparable spike in prices, to US$488 per 1000 board feet from US$346, a roughly 41% gain. The higher price was “sufficient to fully discount that factor.” That spike marked a double top, he says, against what he refers to as the “Spotted Owl Spike” of 1993. A double top is defined as a chart pattern with two consecutive price peaks, which signals a potential bearish reversal. Prices in 1993 spiked amid logging restrictions to protect the northern spotted owl. The current price situation in lumber, however, is more extreme, says Zimmermann. The WTO has given no indication of when it might rule on the US duties, he says, and lumber prices have already rallied 34.5% from their January lows. Data also show sharp gains in each of the last two years, with 2017 boasting a nearly 42% surge from the end of 2016. The lumber market has “all the hallmarks of an unsustainable bubble,” says Zimmermann. And “in line with the bursting of bubbles in the financial markets,” lumber prices may peak by midyear, then drop over the next few years and on into 2021-22, he says. Based on technical analysis, larger patterns “suggest a retest of the 2016 lows is a realistic target” by then, he says. Lumber futures fell to a low near US$233 in January 2016. That would mark a drop of more than 50% from current prices. At the same time, US average home prices have reached all-time highs, with a long-term chart also suggesting “an unsustainable super bubble,” he says. “Issues of affordability will arise. And rising interest rates will already be a factor for 2019.” There’s no sign of immediate problems in housing. CoreLogic says its latest home-price index reading revealed national yearly price growth of 7% in March. The real estate data provider had forecast a year ago that home prices would rise only 4.9% on a year-over-year basis from March 2017 to March 2018. The strong growth backs a strong outlook for lumber demand. Investors are positive. Portfolio manager Matt Kennedy says his Angel Oak High Yield Opportunities fund ANHAX, +0.00% is “positive on the outlook for the economy and the housing market in particular.” The fund is overweight in basic-materials and capital-goods bonds and owns the debt of several home builders, suppliers, and distributors of home-building materials. “We look to capitalize on the demand for housing as well as the potential for increased infrastructure spending,” he says. “The economy is doing well, unemployment has improved to less than 4%, and aggregate wages are increasing around 2.6% year over year,” says Kennedy. “Combined with what are still historically low interest rates, and millennials entering their prime household-formation years, demand for housing is very strong, contributing to the demand for lumber and building materials.”
The Austrian, Canadian, UK and Uruguayan national forest certification systems have successfully achieved PEFC re-endorsement, confirming they continue to meet our globally recognized Sustainability Benchmarks. Combined, these four systems account for over 40 million hectares of sustainably...
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Edmonton - Canada’s boreal forest faces a brighter future with today’s exciting protected areas announcement from the Government of Alberta! This afternoon, Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks announced the creation and expansion of five wildland provincial parks in northeast Alberta, making up an addition of 1.36 million hectares to Alberta’s protected areas network.
Sidney Gendron runs Sawmill Sid, a family-run sawmill that collects felled and diseased trees at its Tree and Wood Recovery Centre in Mississaug, Canada. Source: CBC Canada Once processed, downed trees can be repurposed as furniture, art pieces or materials for housing and construction. Sawmill Sid is part of a nascent wood recycling industry that aims to combat climate change by diverting landfill waste and reducing the carbon footprint of the forestry industry. “When trees come down because of storm or disease we try and play our part in making sure as much is used as possible,” said Mr Gendron, who runs the sawmill in partnership with his wife, Sheila, and daughter, Sacha. “We make sure that we get the highest and best value out of that wood,” he said. Mr Gendron said his sawmill has already received 15 to 20 dump-truck loads of wood from a recent windstorm. “Our yard is pretty full right now,” he said. Mr Gendron buys logs and trees from city woodlots or takes donations from private companies looking to get rid of used wood. They sort it, cut it and the resell the lumber to suppliers who make it into finished products. The company’s customers include developers, renovators and restaurateurs who want to buy local, but also artisans and craftspeople who turn the wood into art and other products. Richard Posa is an artist and builder who recently became a customer of the Gendrons. He uses salvaged wood to make art, sculptures and furniture. “Out of every tree, every chunk of wood, something can be made from it,” said Mr Posa. Mr Posa says the variety of wood he has access to has increased since meeting the Gendrons. “The wood resource is practically endless now,” he said. “Especially with the storm that came down the other day.” Mr Gendron says much of the “wood waste” generated each year is turned into wood chips and sent to landfills, where it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. A city spokesperson says Toronto paid some Can$450,000 last year to companies who chip wood in tub grinders — large machines that convert logs and trees into wood chips — while charging companies like Sawmill Sid to get access to the wood. However, all chipped wood from city-owned trees is reused in the Toronto’s tree planting programs. Mr Gendron would like it to be easier for companies like his to access used wood. “We are taking wood that would normally be chipped and putting it into the hands of woodworkers across Ontario and allowing them to be sustainable themselves,” said Mr Gendron. “We’re building sustainable neighbourhoods and businesses within the GTA.” On top of diverting landfill waste, reusing trees and logs keeps the carbon inside the wood, said Gendron. The company claims it captured over 6800 tonnes of carbon emissions in 2016 by making re-used wood products. Sacha Gendron, Sidney’s daughter, believes this number will rise in the coming years. “As climate change progresses we’re going to see more storms, more damage and more wood waste,” she said. “We need to get the public to understand that there are alternatives to common practices that are taking place such as chipping.” Jim Donaldson, the CEO of the Alberta-based Canadian Wood Waste Recycling Business Group, says it will take a big shift in government thinking for the wood recycling industry to take off. His group is bringing together industry and academia to shepherd the development of a wood recycling industry across Canada. “The biggest problem is lack of education at a governmental level,” said Donaldson. “The City of Toronto has a pretty good wood reuse program but where they’re missing is reusing used wood.” Donaldson says a lot of wood that is burned or chipped and sent to landfill can easily be repurposed. One of the main problems, he says, is the lack of reliable data. His business group is conducting 35 feasibility studies to fill in this knowledge gap. For the Gendrons, it’s only a matter of time before people catch on to the value of recycling wood. “Recycling was tough to get started but now everyone does it without even thinking,” said Sidney Gendron. “We need to start thinking about what’s the right thing to do here, and keep on doing it.”
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange futures contract for the softwood two-by-fours used in framing houses closed at its highest price ever. Source: Justin Fox for Bloomberg If one adjusts for inflation, current prices are no longer record-setting. But an interesting pattern does appear if one adds in a few other key data points. It appears that every time the US picks a fight with Canada over its alleged subsidies of softwood lumber, which comes from coniferous trees such as pines, firs and cedars, US lumber prices go up. The US-Canada softwood lumber war first flared up in the early 1980s. Imports of lumber from Canada had been on the rise as environmental restrictions cut back on logging in US National Forests, and the US timber industry began to complain that Canadian local, provincial and national governments, which own almost all of the country’s forest land, were charging such low prices for timber that it amounted to an unfair subsidy. That has remained the chief complaint ever since. Various bi- and multi-lateral trade organizations have been charged with evaluating it, and as my former Bloomberg Opinion colleague and longtime softwood-lumber-trade-dispute aficionado Megan McArdle put it in a column last year: After that happens, the tariffs go down again and lumber prices drop … until another president decides to make a stink about Canadian softwood lumber. Donald Trump started doing that soon after taking office, and now the average duties on Canadian lumber are up to 21%. Unlike some of Trump’s other trade actions, this clearly does not signify a major departure from past presidential practice. But it’s worth asking whether it makes any sense. The main beneficiaries of these softwood lumber trade spats appear to be owners of the land on which softwood-lumber-producing trees are grown. Most timberland in the US is in private hands, and the biggest owner by far, according to the latest survey by Forisk Consulting Weyerhaeuser Co., a publicly traded real estate investment trust that has seen its stock price rise about 20% since the beginning of 2017. Billionaire John Malone is also in the top 10, as are the California and Massachusetts state employee pension funds. Yale University’s endowment does not appear on Forisk’s list but reported owning more timberland in 2009 than any entity but Weyerhaeuser does now. Investment returns on timber in US have been on a long decline, but they do seem to have perked up in the past during softwood lumber trade disputes. If cheap Canadian lumber has been hurting the US timber industry it’s been helping the much-larger US housing construction industry and the many buyers of its products. And for home builders, the recent price increases have been a challenge, as Bloomberg’s Jen Skerritt reported in March. I’m willing to believe that there are cases where restricting trade or otherwise favoring domestic producers makes sense — to protect a nascent industry, for example, or to keep key technological capabilities from slipping into the hands of an economic or political rival. No such justification springs to mind here. I also have some trouble with the notion that Canada is somehow cheating by selling its softwood lumber at a lower price than US timber owners think it should. Maybe it’s just cheaper to grow pine trees in Canada.
OTTAWA – A report released today by the leaders of Canada’s top environmental organizations reviews the progress of the federal government in meeting its platform and mandate commitments on environmental issues across the country.