An industry in crisis: Regional foresters struggle to survive

Brattleboro – Despite the importance of the forestry industry to Vermont’s economy, fundamental shifts in the market for low-grade wood threaten the survival of many small businesses and the viability of the state’s forests.

“We manage our forests for all kinds of things including durable wood products,” said Michael Snyder, Commissioner of Vermont Forests, Parks and Recreation. “We specialize in high-grade, high-value-added wood products. In fact, they are world renowned. But in order to grow that high-quality product, we need to manage the woods.”

And managing the woods entails – just like cultivating a garden – pulling the weeds, said Paul Frederick, Wood Utilization and Wood Energy Project Leader for the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. “We need to weed out the garden to let the healthier trees utilize the space. If we don’t have the markets for the soft wood, that work is very difficult.”

Source: An industry in crisis: Regional foresters struggle to survive | The Brattleboro Reformer | Brattleboro Breaking News, Sports, Weather, Traffic

Maine ports gearing up to export wood chips to Europe

Maine is poised to finally begin shipping wood chips to Europe for power generation next year if plans underway at Eastport and Searsport stay on schedule.

After years of false starts, these developments would be especially welcome now, as the ongoing decline of the paper and in-state biomass power industries has hit hundreds of loggers and truckers who used to harvest and move fiber to Maine mills and generators. The value of U.S.-based wood fuel sent to the European Union in 2015 exceeded $684 million, according to export research firm WISERtrade, but none of it came from Maine.

The state’s first opportunity could come next year in Eastport, where the port authority has been working on export plans since 2009. A company it has partnered with is building special equipment that processes the chips to standards required in Europe. Chris Gardner, the authority’s director, said that while the equipment may be ready by year’s end, he thinks it’s more realistic to begin exporting wood chips in 2017.

Source: Maine ports gearing up to export wood chips to Europe – The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Duke Energy issues request for renewable energy proposals

US utility company Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) has issued a request for 750,000MWh of energy located in its territory, including biomass and landfill gas installations.

Results from the request for proposals (RFP) will help DEC meet North Carolina’s 2007 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS), which mandates the company generate 12.5% of its retail sales in the state by renewable energy or energy efficiency programmes by 2021.

The RFP is open to biomass, landfill gas, solar, wind, and other facilities that qualify as a renewable energy resource under REPS requirements, excluding swine and poultry waste.

Source: Duke Energy issues request for renewable energy proposals | Bioenergy Insight

DOE: New pilot plant co-processes biomass, petroleum

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, together with leading petroleum refining technologies supplier W.R. Grace, and leading pilot plant designer Zeton Inc., built a unique pilot-scale facility that can produce biomass-derived fuel intermediates with existing petroleum refinery infrastructure. This pilot plant, constructed in part with funding from the Bioenergy Technologies Office, combines biomass pyrolysis together with fluid catalytic cracking—one of the most important conversion processes used in petroleum refineries—to demonstrate the potential to co-process biomass-derived streams with petroleum, at an industrially-relevant pilot scale.

There are 110 domestic fluid catalytic cracking units currently operating in the United States. Using them to co-produce biofuel could enable production of more than 8 billion gallons of bio-derived fuels, without construction of separate biorefineries. This would significantly contribute to the renewable fuel standard mandate set by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to produce 21 billion gallons of advanced renewable transportation fuels by 2022.

Source: DOE: New pilot plant co-processes biomass, petroleum | Biomassmagazine.com

Significant deforestation in Brazilian Amazon goes undetected, study finds

Efforts by the Brazilian government over the past 15 years to curb deforestation have been a widely celebrated success, but a new study finds that there’s more deforestation happening in Brazil than official accounts suggest.

The study, led by researchers from Brown University, compared data from Brazil’s official Monitoring Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by Satellite Project (PRODES) with two independent satellite measures of forest cover. The study found that about 9,000 square kilometers of forestland not included in PRODES monitoring were cleared from 2008 to 2012. That’s an area roughly the size of Puerto Rico.

“PRODES has been an incredible monitoring tool and has facilitated the successful enforcement of policies,” said Leah VanWey, co-author of the research and senior deputy director at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society. “But we show evidence that landowners are working around it in ways that are destroying important forests.”
The research is published in the journal Conservation Letters.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-10-significant-deforestation-brazilian-amazon-undetected.html#jCp

Source: Significant deforestation in Brazilian Amazon goes undetected, study finds – Phys.org

Federal land is too rich for state

If Wyoming officials want more say in how their federal lands are managed, they ought to craft influential state- or local-level plans rather than trying to altogether wrest away control.

That’s the upshot of a $75,000 study on how realistic it would be for Wyoming to manage the bulk of its federally owned public lands. The document was released to the public Tuesday.

“In essence, our recommendation is to work to phase more management to the state gradually,” the study says, “with the ultimate goal of providing the state and local communities with more influence over federal land management activities while avoiding inheriting the crippling bureaucracy, costs, and litigation…”

Source: Federal land is too rich for state

Proposals solicited for Healthy Watershed Consortium Grant Program

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Inc. (Endowment) today released the 2017 Request for Proposals for the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program. Additional grant funds are available in 2017-2018 through a new partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Up to $2 million is available for the 2017 Healthy Watershed Consortium grant cycle. NRCS joins the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Endowment as Healthy Watershed Consortium Grant Program funders. The program’s focus is to accelerate the strategic protection of healthy freshwater ecosystems and their watersheds across the country. The deadline for proposals is February 1, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Source: Healthy Watershed Grant Consortium Program grows | Forest Business Network

How bark beetles use mob mentality to kill millions of California trees

There are killing machines on the loose in California and the entire Western region.

They’re found in packs and look for the weak but they’re not the scary predator you’d imagine. In fact, they’re about the size of a rice grain.

They’re called bark beetles.

A June 2016 Cal Fire report stated the ongoing drought in combination with the tiny insects are responsible for killing about 66 million trees in California since 2010. That’s up from 29 million trees in 2015 and 3.3 million in 2014, according to the report.

Source: How bark beetles use mob mentality to kill millions of California trees | ABC10.com

Britain’s biomass generation carries big emissions risk, report claims

The UK’s renewable energy industry has hit back at new economic analysis which finds that biomass power could be causing more carbon pollution than burning coal or natural gas, claiming it is “distorting the facts”.

A study released today (17 October) by US-based environmental organisation the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) examines the ‘full system costs’ of wind and solar energy relative to biomass for replacing coal and meeting the UK’s clean energy targets for the period 2020-25.

Considering the latest technology costs; the cost of ensuring reliability of supply, and carbon costs, the NRDC concludes that wind and solar power are likely to be less expensive than burning trees for biomass, and that many forms of biomass – such as that from forests – have been producing higher carbon emissions than coal and natural gas for decades.

However, the report has been discredited by the Renewable Energy Association (REA), which in 2013 founded the Wood Heat Association to support the modern wood heat & biomass generation.

The REA’s head of policy and external affairs James Court told edie: “It is a shame that yet again, misleading reports are fundamentally distorting the facts with a misunderstanding of how the biomass industry works. The REA and wider industry are always eager to engage with any report into the carbon savings that biomass can achieve, something this organisation did not try to obtain.”

Source: Britain’s biomass generation carries big emissions risk, report claims

UF/IFAS-Based PINEMAP Project Earns National Award From USDA

The PINEMAP project, based within the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, devoted five years to helping the Southeastern planted-pine industry prepare for future production challenges. Now, PINEMAP is being honored with a prestigious national award from the United States Department of Agriculture.

On Thursday, Oct. 6, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, or NIFA, announced that PINEMAP would receive one of three 2016 NIFA Partnership Awards presented nationwide. The award recognizes PINEMAP for its outstanding performance integrating and fulfilling the education, Extension and research missions common to all land-grant universities.

Source: UF/IFAS-Based PINEMAP Project Earns National Award From USDA – newswise