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Canadian Forestry News

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Updated: 1 hour 5 min ago

Operating costs crippling forestry industry in British Columbia

4 hours 44 min ago
As governments look to kick-start economies stalled by pandemic restrictions, natural resource sectors say they are in a good position to put British Columbians to work. BC’s forestry sector could be one of them, especially given a recent spike in softwood lumber prices, but the industry is being crippled by disproportionately high operating costs – something the provincial government could address but appears unwilling to do, says Susan Yurkovich, CEO of the Council of Forest Industries (COFI). Source:  Prince George Citizen “This is a sector that actually can get people back to work sooner,” Ms Yurkovich said. “We’ve been operating during the pandemic with safe work practices, and we can deliver a tonne to the economy.” But starting last year, a wave of sawmill closures and curtailments took place in BC and now pulp mills and other secondary industries are poised to fall like dominoes. Six sawmills permanently closed in 2019, and several more took extended curtailments. And, as predicted, pulp mills are starting to go down, too, because they rely on sawmills for wood waste. “It’s a huge blow to our community,” said Mackenzie Mayor Joan Atkinson. “There are about 250 well-paying jobs.” The Mackenzie pulp mill closure isn’t permanent, but it is indefinite. It follows, and is linked to, the indefinite closure of a Canfor sawmill in Mackenzie, which employed 220 people and supplied the Paper Excellence pulp mill with wood waste. Conifex Timber also closed a Mackenzie sawmill last year, but it just recently restarted. A map of North American sawmill closures and curtailments from 2019 shows that British Columbia has experienced a disproportionately high number of closures and curtailments compared with other states and provinces. BC’s annual allowable cut has declined due to a mountain pine beetle epidemic, forest fires and increased conservation that has prohibited logging in large areas of timber. But it’s not just a shrinking timber supply that is behind the recent closures and curtailments. Companies also face high operating costs due to high stumpage rates and red tape. North American lumber prices have soared 75% in recent weeks. Many sawmills in North America were idled due to the pandemic and when the demand for lumber started picking up, there was a shortage of inventory. That drove prices up from about US$300 per thousand board feet to US$500. Whether it is a temporary spike remains to be seen. The higher prices will benefit the mills still operating in BC, but it probably won’t bring back mills that were indefinitely shut down. “If we don’t address our fundamental issues of cost, then we will continue to be the jurisdiction that takes a disproportionate amount of downtime, which doesn’t allow us to get people back to work,” Ms Yurkovich said. “We have an interest in getting our cost structure right. The government has an interest in getting the cost structure right.” When responding recently to the closure of the Paper Excellence pulp mill in Mackenzie, Premier John Horgan said the industry is “in transition.” That “transition” includes a transition of investment capital to other countries by companies that were founded in BC. The recently announced planned acquisition of three sawmills in Sweden by a Canfor subsidiary is just the latest example of BC forestry giants voting with their feet. The industry has been calling for a reform to the formula for calculating stumpage rates, but the BC government worries that changing the formula will only give the US softwood lumber lobby more ammunition to claim harm and push for more antidumping duties on BC lumber exports. But as Mr Taylor pointed out, other provinces have managed to structure their stumpage rates so that mills can keep operating, while BC mills have shut down.
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Norbord reports 2Q 2020 earnings

Mon, 2020-08-10 11:12
Norbord Inc. reported Adjusted EBITDA of $84 million for 2Q 2020 compared to $75 million in 1Q 2020 and $36 million in 2Q 2019. The quarter-over-quarter increase was primarily due to lower manufacturing costs, partially offset by lower shipment volumes, while the year-over-year increase was primarily due to higher realized North American OSB prices, as […]
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Barking mad bakeries in Finland

Mon, 2020-08-10 04:29
Each morning at the Ämmän Leipä bakery in Kainuu, eastern Finland, bakers bustle around preparing the bread for the day. Flour is sifted and dough is kneaded to make customer favourites like maalaisleipä (sourdough) and rieska (Finnish flatbread). But for one product there’s an unlikely ingredient: tree bark. Source: Timberbiz Pettuleipä, or ‘bark bread’, is made by removing the outer layer of bark from pine tree trunks. The inner layer, known as nila, is shaved into thin strips, dried by heating it in the oven and then ground into a powder called pettu. The Samí people of northern Scandinavia have long integrated ingredients from pine, spruce and birch trees into cooking. In Finland, pine bark flour became particularly important during a period of famine at the end of the 17th century, when there wasn’t sufficient flour to make bread. Hungry people would also eat wood chips, lichen and moss bread. Wartime rationing in the 20th century saw cooks once again supplementing their flour with bark. Today, at Ämmän Leipä, bakers make pettuleipä out of a nod to tradition, rather than scarcity. It is made using rye flour and is around 8% bark powder. Arto Jäske, the owner, has been baking the bread for almost 30 years, after the recipe was passed down from his family. While the bakery’s pettuleipä has proved popular at events and markets, and with tourists, it is not for everyone—Jäske describes the taste as similar to eating rye bread before “biting off a mouthful of pine bark” from a tree. Ämmän Leipä also sells unleavened bark bread and blueberry dry bark bread. The use of edible forest products is not as unusual as it might seem. Fruit from trees has been a staple for millenia and there is evidence that humans ate apples in the Neolithic period. Wild berries and mushrooms are also a common staple to this day in areas of Scandinavia, North America, Russia and the Far East. Maple sugars and syrup, derived from the sap of maple trees, formed part of the diets of indigenous people in north eastern North America. Today, regions like Quebec and Vermont remain famous for their maple syrup, sales of which contribute significantly to the local economy. Brazil nuts, which cannot be grown in plantations and must be harvested from wild populations, are the most valuable internationally traded forest product in the world. Like tree bark in Finland, forest foods have historically played an important role as emergency sources of nutrition in times of hunger. Many societies have scavenged for fruits and nuts during lean periods. Tree roots, though they take a long time to cook and prepare, are highly calorific. The roots of the baobab tree, which grows across Africa, have frequently been boiled and eaten during famines. Trees and shrubs can also provide crucial ‘fodder’ for livestock, particularly during dry seasons when the nutritional quality of grass crops is greatly reduced. The global population is expected to reach nine billion people by 2050. Such numbers will place unprecedented demands on the world’s food supply, and the need to produce nutritious food at scale will become ever more pressing. This will be layered on top of increasing threats from climate change, making it critical for food to be produced in a sustainable and environmentally healthy manner. Forests can play a meaningful part in meeting this need. In a paper presented to the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition in 2013, researchers noted that the “potential for forest foods to contribute to food security and better nutrition as elements of sustainable diets is largely untapped”. Though constraints on space and time mean that grain crops, like wheat, will continue to be used, forests can complement more conventional farming methods. One way this can be achieved is via agroforestry, which is when trees or shrubs are grown among other crops. But stand-alone forests increase food security, too. Large-scale crop production is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events like hurricanes or droughts, which will become more frequent as climate change worsens. Forests can help protect against this risk in a variety of ways: by mitigating climate change through the absorption of carbon; by protecting waters and soil, and harbouring pollinating insects; by providing food that contains a wide range of nutrients and minerals; and by offering a safety net for if crops fail. “We know that forests already play a key role in mitigating the effects of climate change,” says Christoph Wildburger, a coordinator for the International Union of Forest Research Organisations. “They also play a key role in alleviating hunger and improving nutrition.”
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Katerra emerges as a leader in American CLT manufacture

Mon, 2020-08-10 04:27
Katerra in North American has a CLT manufacturing facility with capacity to produce 185,000 cubic metres annually, the largest in North American timber. Katerra also offers mass timber design, engineering, and construction services, in addition to material production and distribution. Source: Timberbiz This integrated approach stands alone in the North American construction market strengthened by technology and a strong supply chain, extensive product performance testing, scaled purchasing power and high-volume fabrication. “Cross-laminated timber is more than a structural building material. It is an opportunity to evolve the very nature of building design and construction, and we believe that it will be the backbone for future generations of high-performance, low-carbon buildings,” said Katerra Director of Mass Timber Integration, Nick Milestone. “With an integrated, technology-driven team, every discipline works together to continually improve production speed, efficiency, and quality. “Today we have the capacity to supply roughly one 250,000-square-foot building per week, which positions Katerra to help dramatically scale CLT production across North America and drive growth across the industry.” Katerra’s state-of-the-art CLT manufacturing facility in Spokane Valley, Washington is equipped with extensive automation technologies, as well as one of the largest CLT presses currently in operation globally. The factory is the largest single-use CLT facility in North America, producing 30% of the current North American mass timber manufacturing capacity, two times any comparable manufacturer. Project Delivery Katerra’s integrated approach to mass timber is demonstrated in the Catalyst Building, a 159,000-square-foot commercial building project in Spokane, Washington. Catalyst is the first CLT building in the state and the first vertically integrated CLT project that Katerra has managed from inception to completion. In order to address vibration from a nearby active train track at Catalyst, Katerra developed the Katerra CLT Rib Panel, the first long-span mass timber floor solution in North America to address vibration without the use of any concrete or structural composite action. The building was found to be effectively carbon neutral by a third-party life-cycle assessment study and is expected to be certified as one of the largest net zero carbon and net zero energy buildings in the world. Katerra is one of just three CLT manufacturers in North America to receive Declare labeling from the International Living Future Institute. Katerra’s CLT factory has received Chain of Custody (CoC) certification under three major certification programs: Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council and the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Opinion: Tyler Hoguet – is biochar the next best thing to come out of forestry

Fri, 2020-07-31 05:16
As recently as 2017, just 11% of adults living in North America (surveyed by the North American Forest Partnership) would characterize the forest industry as “innovative.” And yet, we’ve seen the recent emergence of several cutting-edge wood technologies and forest products: from mass timber to cellulosic biofuels to nanotechnologies. The latest innovative forest product to gain steam is biochar: a charcoal-like substance that’s made through burning biomass in a controlled process called pyrolysis. During this process, little to no contaminating fumes are produced; and at the end, a very stable form of carbon is created (meaning the carbon can’t easily escape into the atmosphere). The benefits of using biochar as a fertilizer and long-term carbon sequestration technique are well-documented. A new study suggests that adding biochar to cattle feed can improve animal health and feed efficiency, reduce nutrient losses and greenhouse gas emissions, and increase soil fertility when applied as fertilizer. Recently the Nebraska Forest Service found that the inclusion of less than 1% biochar into the diet of cattle can lead to a 10% reduction in their methane emissions. Biochar also holds promise for industrial applications. Researchers at the National University of Singapore have concluded that adding only a small amount of biochar to concrete can increase its strength by up to 20% and make it 50% more watertight. And when biochar is added as a concrete supplement, up to six metric tons of wood waste could be recycled and reused in the construction of a 1,076-square-foot home. Other research suggests that adding 5% biochar by weight to 3D printing polymers improves tensile strength by up to 60%. And that biochar is an excellent, low-cost method of removing contaminants from water that could prove extremely beneficial to public health (particularly in low-income communities). What is perhaps most intriguing about biochar is its potential (yes! It can do even more!). Right now, biochar is being tested for its medicinal properties and even its potential for use as mattress filling. So, the next time you hear the forest industry isn’t innovative, just point to biochar. Tyler Hoguet is with the National Association of State Foresters in the US.
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Podcast: Hellbenders, super-spreaders, and other salamanders face uncertain futures

Wed, 2020-07-29 08:45
Hellbenders are North America’s largest salamanders, living in rivers and growing to an incredible length of over two feet. Eastern newts are tiny and terrestrial, but both are susceptible to a fungal pathogen called Bsal. While Bsal has yet to make an appearance in the global hotspot of salamander diversity that is North America, it […]
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Temperature Drives Invasive Asian Earthworm’s Hatching Success

Wed, 2020-07-29 03:38
Amynthas agrestis is an Asian earthworm that has become increasingly abundant in North American forests. The earthworms consume massive quantities of leaf litter, disrupt established food webs, and outcompete native species. Ideas for control have been limited by the lack of information on their life history traits, such as optimal hatching temperature. With UGA graduate […]
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Are ash trees doomed?

Tue, 2020-07-28 07:07
Ash trees have been part of North American and European forest landscapes for millennia. Yet, they are now under threats because of invasive pests and pathogens such as the ash dieback in Europe and theContinue reading The post Are ash trees doomed? appeared first on Forest Monitor.
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Loader with pivoting bucket takes up half the space

Mon, 2020-07-27 04:05
Mecalac’s new 12-ton AS1600 departs from traditional wheel-loader design by a unique ability to pivot its fully loaded bucket up to 90 degrees.  According to Peter Bigwood, general manager for Mecalac North America, the AS1600 departs from traditional wheel loader design by offering the “unique ability” to pivot its fully loaded bucket 90 degrees to either side. Source: Timberbiz The 12-ton (10,920-kg) AS1600 reportedly requires only half the space of conventional loaders for tasks such as loading trucks or discharging materials with a standard 1.6-cubic-metre bucket. The ability to swivel its bucket up to 90 degrees allows operators to approach jobs differently, impacting space management and logistics. For example, the AS1600 could take up just one lane of traffic on a road rather than the two necessary for operating traditional loaders. The AS1600 also provides increased stability over conventional articulated loaders, according to Mecalac. A rigid frame and an automatically engaging rear axle allow operators to pivot the bucket 90° without reducing overall stability, while other equipment can become unstable with a 45-degree turn. Mecalac claims that the AS1600 is the only wheel loader of its class to offer a load over height of 3.40m and a turning radius of 4.35m across the rear. The AS1600 is powered by a water-cooled 100-kW Deutz turbo-diesel engine featuring common-rail injection and an electronic engine controller with intelligent link to the traction drive to optimize performance and reduce fuel consumption. The loader features three steering options – two-wheel, four-wheel and crab. Operators can simultaneously drive, pivot and manoeuvre. Bucket capacities range from 2.1 to 3.3 cubic yards.
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Opinion: Bob Gordon – will Inquiry-243 change the way we manage bushfire risk?

Fri, 2020-07-24 03:57
Just like the 242 related Inquiries and Reviews conducted in Australia before it, the current Royal Commission looking into natural disasters in Australia risks being held back by political expediency, community apathy, short memories and populist decision making. Given the extent of the impact of the recent “Black Summer”, we now have a real opportunity as a nation to put these impediments aside and make a generational change in our wildfire response paradigm. Whatever the recommendations of the current Royal Commission are, they will presumably include the need for better land and fire management. Managers of parks, forests and conservation reserves have long advocated for improved fire management practices, including the greater use of prescribed burning on public and private lands to make firefighting safer, easier, and more effective.  If their calls had been heeded, it would have saved lives and money, not to mention reducing the loss of property, livelihood, and the impact on the fauna and environment. Wildfires involve an interaction between fuel, weather, terrain, and climate.  The state of the fuel is largely a product of land management.  Fuel is also critical environmental habitat.  Changing the state of fuel across the landscape, in a way that sustains biodiversity, also reduces the severity of wildfires. Achieving this requires well-trained and locally knowledgeable land managers. It is mistaken to just think of fires as threats to be fought.  Wildfires are part of the natural environment and even high-intensity fires can sometimes be needed to sustain ecosystems. Currently wildfires are well over-represented across the landscape.  A more balanced fire regime across the landscape can only be restored with committed and professional land management. Effective firefighting requires the same type of skills and knowledge as is needed for year-round thoughtful, scientifically informed fire and land management.  Therefore, prescribed burning across the landscape, including cultural burning, not only reduces fuel levels, it also provides important learning and experience for wildfire response into the future. The ecosystems across Australia have evolved and adapted to fire regimes over hundreds of thousands of years. Whether managing land or combatting wildfires, there can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Many politicians and members of the public are attracted to the perceived “quick fix” of large airtankers and bigger firefighting forces, but experience here, and in places like Europe and North America shows that too great a focus on ‘fire suppression’, while down-playing and under-resourcing a year round approach to managing landscapes, will fail in the longer term. Aircraft are an integral part of fire suppression operations, for detection, mapping and providing strategic support to ground crews. Aircraft are most effective on small fires during initial attack and controlling spotfires but must be followed up by ground crews to ensure all combustion is suppressed.  Aircraft effectiveness is greatly improved on fires where the intensity of the fire has been reduced by prescribed burning to reduce fuel loads. Aircraft are quite ineffective when used in isolation on intense fires.  It is ultimately the on-ground firefighting resources that eventually control wildfires. Both ecosystem maintenance and the related fire management need a range of inputs. These include a good scientific and technical underpinning, specific knowledge of local landscapes, adequate long-term resourcing (financial and human), and most certainly research and technical innovation. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars on firebombers would better be spent in employing fire and land managers throughout the year so that a skilled, knowledgeable and experienced workforce is available to not only conduct prescribed burns, but to also control wildfires. From the evidence, it is clear we need to rethink how we manage fire in Australia’s landscape.  For much of a given year, our forest and woodlands are far from the day to day concern of most Australians. But if that ‘distance’ leads to the inadequate resourcing and improper scientific underpinning of the care of our fire-prone lands, then not only will the country’s unique ecosystems suffer, but so too will our water catchments, our air quality and ultimately human life and property. We already have a nationally agreed “road map” for socially, environmentally and economically sustainable fire management, signed off by COAG members in 2014.  This National Bushfire Management Policy Statement for Forests and Rangelands needs resources and a commitment to implement it. The Institute of Foresters of Australia believes that we need professionally trained and experienced fire and land managers to be successful.  This will require a change in university courses and a change in recruitment and advancement processes in land management agencies. It is to be hoped that Inquiry-243 does not suffer the fate of too many of its predecessors, a report ending-up on the shelf, until our next ‘Black Summer’ occurs.  If we want a different outcome, we need to change land and fire management. Bob Gordon is the IFA/AFG President and has spent 40 years in the Forestry and natural resources sector. He was appointed a Forestry Commissioner in 1991 and then Managing Director and CEO of Forestry Tasmania in 2006, a position he held until 2013.
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Podcast: Can policy prevent a North American salamander pandemic?

Wed, 2020-07-15 05:17
The U.S. is home to the world’s highest diversity of salamander species, many of which are thought to be susceptible to the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans or ‘Bsal’ for short. In response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service imposed a ban on the trade of 201 salamander species in 2016. However, the recent discovery that […]
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Softwood lumber production up in US as demand remains high

Wed, 2020-07-15 03:34
For the first two months of 2020 softwood lumber production in the US continued to make improvements compared with one year ago. Sources: Western Wood Products Association, Lesprom, Madison’s Lumber Reporter For January and February 2020 US lumber production volume increased by +5% to 6,163 mfbm compared to the first two months of 2019 when it was 5,862 mfbm. Comparing February to the previous month however, there was a -10% drop in US softwood lumber production in February 2020 likely due to the impact of the global COVID19 pandemic. While demand for construction framing dimension North American softwood lumber continued to surpass supply last week, it was noticeable that buyer orders to sawmills were slowing down. Interest seemed to shift from the benchmark Western Spruce-Pine-Fir to the East Side, as prices of Eastern Spruce-Pine-Fir increased by more than that of Western, according to Madison’s Lumber Reporter. Demand for plywood, meanwhile, was unabated for reconstruction following social unrest about racial inequality. Western S-P-F producers in the US reported another stellar week during which they wished they had more material to cover unceasing inquiry from buyers. Retailers were frustrated with late shipments but were also aware that little could be done about pandemic-caused shortages of transportation equipment and labour. Canadian Western S-P-F producers saw business intensify last week as Canadian customers continued to swoop in and buy up every speck of wood, before anyone in the US could get to it. Sawmill order files were at least four weeks out on all dimension lumber items. As in the West, Eastern S-P-F suppliers noted that buyers had gotten used to not worrying about asking prices and instead were focused on the simple concept of availability. Lumber producer order files pushed into the back half of August as the acute shortage of wood stirred up desperation among buyers.
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Recovered paper shipments to China could end this year

Mon, 2020-07-13 03:56
Recovered paper shipments to China could cease before the end of 2020, with global shipping companies now rejecting shipments for delivery after the end of September. The second and fifth largest global shipping conglomerates (Mediterranean Shipping Company [MSC] and Hapag Lloyd) announced separately that they will cease shipping recovered paper to China before the end of 2020. Source: IndustryEdge The move by the shipping lines is in response to Chinese laws that were introduced in late April that move China much closer to its stated aim of ending recovered paper imports entirely by the end of 2020. Key points: Chinese officials have repeatedly signalled an end imports of recovered paper In April, China tightened its solid waste management laws In late June, the Chinese Government announced it would ban the importation of solid waste from 2021 Major shipping lines are getting ahead of any bans, reducing their potential liabilities. It appears that both companies plan to cease taking containers that would be delivered to China after the beginning of October, as part of a risk management strategy. IndustryEdge was advised by a client that other shipping companies are also conducting ‘consultations’ on the future of recovered material shipping to China. Meantime, China’s import permits continue to be metred out on a national needs basis, leaving exporters from countries like Australia and New Zealand uncertain about even short-term shipments. Month-on-month permits are extremely volatile and expected to result in China’s total recovered paper imports declining to less than 5 million tonnes in 2020, down from a peak of around 28 million tonnes in 2017. This development must be viewed alongside the other significant development in global fibre markets of the last two years: the rapid expansion in the number of mills producing recovered paper pulp for shipment to China. Mills have been converted and established in North America, Malaysia and Vietnam, most significantly. The likelihood is that by year’s end, Australian suppliers will be seeking alternative markets to China, in larger proportions than ever before. Over the year-ended May, Australian exports recovered paper exports to China totalled 249.2 kt (valued at AUDM41.2), down 54% on the prior year. In fact, at just 8,579 tonnes in May 2020, Australia’s exports of recovered paper to China were their lowest in more than seven years, with average prices at AUDFob122/t, within range of the lowest monthly average price ever recorded. Indonesia is the next most likely destination for Australia’s recovered fibre. Over the year-ended May, Indonesia received 295.5 kt of Australian recovered paper (valued at AUDM52.8). However, Indonesia’s market is already close to capacity and is expected to be swamped with potential supply options, placing obvious pressure on prices. Indonesia has recently repositioned its recovered paper import quality requirements, and countries like Korea are in the process of doing the same. One possibility under active consideration in some parts of the recovered paper sector is whether exports could be allowed into countries making recovered paper pulp that will ultimately be sent to China. That consideration alone is an indication that recovered paper pulping, for the international market, needs to be on the Australian infrastructure investment table, right now.
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Podcast: International task force unites North America to protect salamander diversity

Wed, 2020-07-01 07:01
North America and the U.S. in particular is the world’s hotspot of salamander diversity, hosting about a third of all species, so researchers are concerned about the potential landfall of the salamander killing fungus called Bsal. Host Mike DiGirolamo interviews Dr. Jake Kerby who is the associate chair of biology at the University of South […]
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Keith is poised to stand among the tallest

Wed, 2020-07-01 03:19
Recent approval by the City of Vancouver for the construction of wood for commercial and residential projects of up to 12-storeys is great news for the architecture, engineering and construction community. Source: Panels & Furniture. Source: Timberbiz Following the Tallwood House at Brock Commons, named the tallest mass timber building in the world in 2017, Fast + Epp has seen heightened recognition and demand for tall timber buildings. The up and coming 10-storey timber office in Vancouver, known as 2150 Keith Drive, is poised to stand among the tallest timber-braced frame and CLT shearwall projects in North America at the time of construction. Testing Megant concealed beam hanger interstorey drift for 2150 Keith Drive is just one of the few mass timber testing programs Fast + Epp has in place in their efforts to push the boundaries forward for tall wood construction. This specific testing program aims to establish the rotational capacity of the project specific Megant concealed beam hanger to ensure that these gravity connections are able to withstand the movement this type of building would experience in a seismic event. Other groups have also identified a need for larger three and four-storey schools, such as the Vancouver School Board. In collaboration with Wood WORKS! BC and Thinkspace Architecture and Interior Design, Fast + Epp created a design and construction guide for taller timber schools, which includes a range of wood construction options, including both light wood-frame and mass timber. The many state-of-the-art tall timber projects underway in North America and growing recognition of the benefits of mass timber including lower carbon emissions, cost-efficiency, and accelerated construction schedules, will open further discussions to extend the capabilities of this construction material.
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Opinion: Sean Ruthen on Tall Wood Buildings and the science that makes them

Fri, 2020-06-19 04:09
In the history of architecture and construction, there has never been a building material that has had as rough a ride as wood. This is not without reason. It has a limited record of use from ancient history simply because of its inability to withstand the ravages of time. Furthermore, its combustibility has out and out vilified it. By the end of the nineteenth century, cities all around the world had had their own devastating version of the Great Fire of London in 1666, in which 80% of that city’s building stock was lost. For this reason alone, building codes around the globe have not seen significant change with regard to the use of wood for some time. This is reflected in Canada where, since the 1950s (and up until just recently), wood buildings have not been permitted to be built above four storeys. Prior to the reformation of poor forestry management practices of the 1970s, concrete and steel was touted in the construction industry as preferable to wood because of the issue of mass deforestation. Here in British Columbia, with images of clear-cutting practices still fresh in the minds of environmentalists, new urban construction has primarily been predominated by concrete and steel, relegating wood to the single-family house construction sector. Perhaps not since Louis Kahn uttered his famous remark about what a brick wants to be, has there been a need to bring wood back into the mainstream conversation. For as pointed out in this new edition of Tall Wood Buildings by architects Michael Green and Jim Taggart, just the advancement in the last four years alone around the science of fasteners, connections, and glues has become a game-changer, enabling wood to now compete with all the material strengths and efficiencies of concrete and steel, without any of the environmental fallout. At an urban scale, and as cities continue to grow in size and numbers around the world, the ramifications are understandably huge, certainly as renewable resources are being eyed by municipalities, with wood and mass timber technologies possibly able to be one of several needed solutions to mitigate climate change. As such, the authors of this new book have provided an updated introduction and conclusion to the original 2017 edition, to discuss more recent achievements and breakthroughs in tall wood building science, including five new case studies added to the original book’s thirteen. And already it appears the book will require a third edition, to provide for how recent changes to municipal building codes will have been adopted by the development and construction industry. Following the recent change in our national building code which now permits 12-storey mass timber construction, the book’s authors point out that in the U.S. 18-storey mass timber construction has been permitted for some time now. Just as recently as this week, Vancouver City Council heard a motion to allow for an increase of mass timber buildings from six storeys to twelve, as has been made possible by the aforementioned recent changes at the national level. As the trailblazer for the Metro Vancouver region, this move by Vancouver most certainly will prompt other municipalities in the region to follow suit, which in turn will have a huge ripple effect through the province’s construction industry. Green and Taggart’s book then arrives at a poignant moment, as it can help the many building officials, fire marshals, and municipal planners to understand wood construction better, and that when used properly, it can effectively reduce the carbon footprint of a building, while offering the same level of fire and seismic protection as steel or concrete. The book also provides an update to the current and upcoming tall wood projects that industry professionals, planners, and scientists have been following since 2004, when the European Union endorsed Eurocode 5: Design of Timber Structures. For this reason, many of the case studies featured in both editions of Tall Wood Buildings include examples of tall wood design from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany, Austria, Italy and the U.K. More recent examples in North America and Australia are also being watched closely, especially those that have had to contend with harsh local conditions, whether cold winter months in Canada or fire and termites in Australia. Also apparent in the updates to this book is the fact that the prescriptive nature of building codes are the biggest hurdle to building taller in wood. By adopting objective-based building codes in the global marketplace, Green and Taggart believe the industry could be transformed when it comes to tall building construction. And with the many engineered wood products featured here in the materials chapter now accepted and available in the construction industry, the time is right to look at building taller. Other highlights include an updated diagram in the book’s opening pages, placing all 18 buildings featured in the case study section in ascending order of height, graphically demonstrating their place in comparison to a 60-metre tall Douglas fir. Only the recently completed HoHo Wien in Austria and Mjostarnet in Norway are taller—effectively illustrating that there is still a long way to go before we see monuments like the Empire State Building constructed of wood. But this is precisely where the authors of the book think we can, and should, be going. In Canada, with tall building design predicated by the need for fire tested and rated two-hour building assemblies—and while large wood EWPs (Engineered Wood Products) can withstand the two hours—it is the connections and glues that hold the products together that cause the failure. This is where tall-building science will require more rigour if we are to build structures beyond the tallest (85.4 metres) featured in the book. The outcome of the featured case studies will also help to direct the future conversations about building our cities out of wood, a subject which both authors have had much experience in. For Michael Green, this book is a fitting companion to his Case for Tall Wood Buildings (2020), as well as a continuation of Jim Taggart’s own […]
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Audio: Will U.S. scientists find a silent salamander killer in time?

Wed, 2020-06-17 09:50
Reporter Benji Jones and wildlife disease ecologist with United States Geological Survey, Daniel Grear, join this special edition of Mongabay’s podcast to discuss the hunt for Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) in North America, which Benji has described as “searching for a needle in a haystack except the needle is invisible and the hay stretches for thousands […]
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Global timber, pulpwood, pulp, biomass and lumber market update

Fri, 2020-06-12 03:02
There were relatively few price changes for sawlogs throughout the world in the 1Q/20 despite interruptions in trade and uncertainty in short-term lumber demand in many of the key markets. Sources: Timberbiz, World Resources International The Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) remained practically unchanged from the 4Q/19 to the 1Q/20. This followed a period of two years when the Index was in constant decline. Over the past two decades, sawlog prices in Eastern Europe have gone up the most on the continent, albeit from low levels, while prices in Central Europe have declined substantially, particularly in 2019. Global Pulpwood Markets  Wood fibre costs fell for many hardwood pulp-producing countries worldwide in the 1Q/20. The biggest declines were seen in the US Russia, and Latin America. The Hardwood Fibre Price Index (HFPI) dropped 4.2% in the 1Q/20. This was the fourth q-o-q decline, resulting in a 9.2% reduction of the Index since the 1Q/19 and the lowest price in four years. The Softwood Fibre Price Index (SFPI) also spent last year in decline, although not as severe of one as the HFPI. Global Pulp Markets  Following a plunge in pulp prices of almost 30% in Europe and approximately 20% in North America from late 2018 to late 2019, prices bottomed out and even saw small price increases in early 2020. The premium for softwood pulp over hardwood pulp is currently about $160/ton, the highest premium in over a year, and substantially more than the ten-years’ average premium of $106/ton. Global Lumber Markets  Importation of softwood lumber to the US fell for the third consecutive year in 2019. However, in the 1Q/20, the import volume was up y-o-y, and the month of March was surprisingly strong despite the Coronavirus Epidemic. Softwood lumber imports to China plunged in the 1Q/20, 14% lower than the previous quarter and 37% lower than the all-time-high in the 2Q/19. Profitability generally improved for lumber producers around the world in the 1Q/20. This followed a year of mostly gloomy financial news with many lumber producers making very low or even no profits at all. Declining export prices for sawmills in the Nordic countries coupled with only incremental reductions in log costs gradually reduced profitability during 2019 and early 2020. Global Biomass Markets  Domestic prices for residential pellets in the three major markets in Europe (Austria, Germany and Sweden) held up quite well during the first five months of 2020 and were just slightly lower than during the same period in 2019. The Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ) is a 56-page report that tracks prices for sawlog, pulpwood, lumber & pellets worldwide and reports on trade and wood market developments in most key regions around the world. For more information visit
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

Forestry icon Rob de Fegely honoured with Member of the Order of Australia

Wed, 2020-06-10 03:02
Forest industry icon Rob de Fegely was honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours with a Member of the Order of Australia for “Significant service to the forestry industry through business and advisory roles.” Source: Timberbiz Tasmanian Minister Guy Barnett congratulated Mr de Fegely saying that this prestigious honour recognised his great dedication, service and contribution to the Australian community, particularly the forestry industry. “Mr de Fegely has always been community minded, having started as a forester in the NSW town of Bombala in 1980, developing pine plantations, he also worked as a project manager developing the local Bicentennial Gardens,” Minister Barnett said in a statement. “Now based in NSW, Mr de Fegely’s career has taken him to every state in Australia and overseas in Asia and North America, working for both government and the private sector. “Mr de Fegely has been the Chairman of Sustainable Timber Tasmania since June 2016 and was chair of the Australian government’s Forest Industry Advisory Council for many years.” According the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Ross Hampton the honour was well deserved and would be applauded right around Australia. “Rob de Fegely is a learned forester who has for decades displayed a strong public service ethic, taking leadership roles in important bodies and helping shape the future of Australia’s sustainable forest industries,” Mr Hampton said. Mr de Fegely is Chair of Sustainable Timbers Tasmania and Co-Chair of the Federal Minster’s Forest Industry Advisory Council, and is immediate past president of the Australian Institute of Foresters of Australia. “Rob has been a persuasive and moderate voice of reason in the sometimes less than reasonable forestry debates regarding native forestry, always delivering the facts with calmness and clarity,” Mr Hampton said.
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News

What is an American alligator? Candid Animal Cam goes to North America

Tue, 2020-06-09 05:13
Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting an alligator native to the Southeastern United States: The American alligator. The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is a large crocodilian reptile that inhabits freshwater wetlands, such as marshes and cypress swamps from […]
Categories: Canadian, Forestry, News