California bark beetles may cause ecological change

Pine trees in California forests will die out and give way to brush and chaparral, forestry experts warn, unless agencies undertake what one analyst called a “massive effort” to reduce fuels and replant trees. Otherwise, the conversion to chaparral could further increase risk of wildfires and affect the state’s water supply.

A U.S. Forest Service survey, released in June, revealed that 66 million trees—mostly pine species—have died in the southern Sierra alone, due to bark beetle infestations, drought, wildfire and climate change. One question now, experts say, is what will replace those dead trees.

“We know in the Sierra and Sequoia national forests east of Fresno, the beetles have killed at least 85 percent of the entire pine vegetative type and at least 20 percent of the mixed conifer type, which is pine and fir,” said Steve Brink, California Forestry Association vice president of public resources. “By the end of this summer, essentially 100 percent of the pine type will be dead in the Sierra and Sequoia national forests, and you are going to have a massive conversion to chaparral.”

Source: Forestry experts say tree mortality brings added risk

‘Imminent’ spruce budworm outbreak worries forest industry

New Brunswick is on the brink of another spruce budworm outbreak and the forestry industry — the largest in the province — is doing everything in its power to prevent massive defoliation like that of the 1970s.

But to control the insect’s population, the province is banking on a different approach than the intensive aerial spraying of the past, according to the research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service.

“We’re trying to do a very surgical targeted, very small areas, instead of treating half the province, which happened during the previous outbreak,” said Johns.

Scientists together with the industry have started treating several hot spots in New Brunswick in the face of a looming epidemic.

Source: ‘Imminent’ spruce budworm outbreak worries forest industry – New Brunswick – CBC News

Economic research supports urban foresters’ tree cover recommendations

Urban forestry experts have long suggested that tree canopy cover in residential and urban areas is essential to maintaining a healthy ecosystem in those communities, but a new study suggests that tree cover may also contribute to increased property values.

The researchers found that the contribution of tree cover to real estate value maximizes at about 30 percent cover at the property level and about 38 percent at the county level. Perceived benefits, such as scenery, privacy, shade, and recreation, all contribute to this rise in property value.

Source: Economic research supports urban foresters’ tree cover recommendations : Augusta Free Press

Timber species added to CITES list

World governments currently meeting in Johannesburg have strongly backed the introduction of stronger measures to protect commercially traded timber species.

Delegates to the 17th Conference to the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP17) voted to list the entire Dalbergia genus within Appendix II of the Convention as well as three species of Guibourtia from Central Africa and Pterocarpus erinaceus from West Africa.

The Appendix II listings mean control measures will be put in place to control commercial international trade in the species.

Source: TRAFFIC – Wildlife Trade News – Solid backing for timber at CITES

Research Note explores issues of converting conifers to native woodland

The Forestry Commission has issued a Research Note which explores the benefits and drawbacks of converting non-native planted woodlands to native woodlands.

The note also evaluates woodland owners’ and managers’ attitudes towards, and experiences of, conversion.

Increasing the area of native woodlands, including the conversion of non-native conifer woodland to native woodland, where appropriate, is an aim of the UK Forestry Standard Guidelines on Biodiversity.

The Research Note reports that attitudes and experiences vary according to owners’ objectives. Managers whose primary objective is conservation are prepared to invest time and resources converting their woodlands. However, those whose primary objective is timber production are reluctant to pay for conversion because they can be concerned that it will reduce productivity, especially where competition, herbivory and biosecurity threats to native tree species are a potential issue.

Read the full report

Source: Research Note explores issues of converting conifers to native woodland – Horticulture Week

Million-acre forest plan designed to make Black Hills more resilient to fire, bugs

DEADWOOD — In roughly two decades, the Black Hills mountain pine beetle infestation has decimated approximately 215,000 acres of pine trees in the Black Hills, leaving drastically changed woodlands in its wake.

Designed to reduce fire hazards and promote biodiversity on more than one million acres of public land in western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming, the framework for the major new management plan, is set forth in a document titled the “Black Hills Resilient Landscapes Project.”

Source: Million-acre forest plan designed to make Black Hills more resilient to fire, bugs – Black Hills Pioneer: Local News

Breakthrough Research on Lignin Could Transform Economics of Biofuel Production

Abundant, chock full of energy and bound so tightly that the only way to release its energy is through combustion — lignin has frustrated scientists for years. With the help of an unusual soil bacteria, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories believe they now know how to crack open lignin, a breakthrough that could transform the economics of biofuel production.

Source: Breakthrough Research on Lignin Could Transform Economics of Biofuel Production

Losing most of Michigan’s eastern hemlock resource is a real possibility

An insect responsible for the loss of much of the eastern United States Appalachian region’s hemlock trees has found its way into Michigan. The hemlock woolly adelgid poses a threat to the state’s valuable hemlock stands. A call to action by citizens may be the most realistic path to further detection and control.

Source: Losing most of Michigan’s eastern hemlock resource is a real possibility | MSU Extension

Report details biomass heat, power production in Japan

The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service recently released a Global Agricultural Information Network report on Japan’s renewable fuel industry, which reviews the country’s renewable fuel mandates/policy and progress toward meeting them.

The report provides an overview of Japan’s current plan to introduce 500 million liters of crude oil equivalent biofuel by 2017, the country’s sustainability standards and incentives for biofuels, and touches on other renewable policies and programs, including a goal to increase Japan’s power supply from renewable energy sources to 22-24 percent by 2030.

Source: Report details biomass heat, power production in Japan | Biomassmagazine.com

Social forestry: Where are we now?

As a celebration of social forestry initiatives in Indonesia, a festival showcasing stories of community-managed forests around the archipelago was held in Jakarta last week by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

The event took place more than a year after the launch of the Indonesian government’s ambitious program targeted at allocating 12.7 million hectares of forests to be managed by communities through social forestry schemes, as well as forming partnerships for collaborative forest management.The target has been part of the government’s five year plan (2015-2019), which means that there should be more than 2.5 million hectares of forests allocated for communities each year.

Source: Social forestry: Where are we now? – Opinion – The Jakarta Post