Scientists Boost Biodiversity By Guiding Middle-Aged Forests To Mimic Ancient Ones

By Kathleen Masterson
A new University of Vermont study finds that harvesting trees in a way that mimics old growth forests not only restores critical habitat for animals and plants, but also stores a surprising amount of carbon…

The “old growth” engineering technique succeeded in creating diverse habitats. But the kicker, Keeton says, is that it has also allowed the forest to store a significant amount of carbon, much more than several other conventional tree selection harvesting techniques. That’s key to fighting climate change.

Now, forests that are left alone — with no trees harvested — store the most carbon. But Keeton’s study is finding that it is possible to manage the forest to maximize carbon capture, and still keep it a working forest.

“This greater amount of carbon storage as compared to the conventional treatments was actually a combination of having left more trees behind in the first place, and growth rates that were actually 10 percent higher in this treatment as compared to the conventional harvest,” Keeton says. “And that was really surprising.”

Keeton says after 10 years, the old growth forest management plot stored nearly as much carbon as the unlogged control forest. It came within 16 percent of carbon storage in the unharvested plots.

Source: Vt. Scientists Boost Biodiversity By Guiding Middle-Aged Forests To Mimic Ancient Ones | WBUR News, 2017-04-26

Trump administration launches punitive tariffs on Canadian lumber

By Ana Swanson and Damian Paletta
The Trump administration announced on Monday it is planning to impose a roughly 20 percent tariff on softwood lumber imported from Canada, in what may be the biggest trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada in over a decade.

The Obama administration began the review of trade in softwood lumber last year out of concern that Canada was subsidizing its wood industry in a way that hurt U.S. rivals. The decision to impose what are known as “countervailing duties” in retaliation for Canada’s wood subsidies, which will be announced Tuesday, is subject to a final review by the International Trade Commission, an independent federal agency that advises the government on trade policy.

The decision, however, allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection to begin collecting the funds from Canadian importers immediately. Five Canadian companies were a part of the investigation, and the United States will seek to collect money from four of them retroactively for actions taken in the past 90 days, Ross said.

Ross said this could amount to $1 billion in new tariffs, as well as $250 million in retroactive collections. All other Canadian softwood lumber companies will face the same tariff of 19.88 percent going forward.

Softwood lumber is a major export of Canada, which sold $5.8 billion in lumber to the United States last year, giving it about 31.5 percent of the U.S. market. It’s the fourth largest export from Canada to the United States after oil, gas and cars.

Source: ‘Another bad act on the part of the Canadians’: Trump administration launches punitive tariffs on Canadian lumber – The Washington Post, 2017-04-25

The painful riddle of forest thinning plan

By Peter Aleshire
Fire season looms.

Every high country community quivers on the cusp.

So the U.S. Forest Service will on Thursday hold a meeting on its plan to use thinning projects and controlled burns across a million acres of Rim Country to dramatically reduce both tree densities and wildfire risk.

One little problem: The Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) the plan envisions has fallen years behind schedule and is struggling to make a dent on the hundreds of thousands of acres of projects already approved.

The Forest Service awarded the first 4FRI contract five years ago for an initial 300,000 acres out of a total of 2.6 million eventually targeted. The Forest Service shifted the contract from Pioneer Forest Products to Good Earth AZ after a year, with no projects completed. So far, Good Earth has completed thinning projects on about 8,500 acres out of the 60,000 called for in the original schedule. Good Earth has said it plans to thin 30,000 acres annually, but so far has had trouble lining up enough trucks and capacity at small-wood sawmills to come anywhere near that pace.

Source: The painful riddle of forest thinning plan – Heber/Overgaard | wmicentral.com, 2017-04-14

New research unlocks forests’ potential in climate change mitigation

By Scott Miller
New insights into the impact forests have on surface temperature will provide a valuable tool in efforts to mitigate climate change, according to a new research paper co-authored by Clemson University scientist Thomas O’Halloran.

For the first time, scientists have created a global map measuring the cooling effect forests have by regulating the exchange of water and energy between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere. In many locations, this cooling effect works in concert with forests’ absorption of carbon dioxide. By coupling information from satellites with local data from sensors mounted to research towers extending high above tree canopies, O’Halloran and his collaborators throughout the world have given a much more complete, diagnostic view of the roles forests play in regulating climate.

Their findings have important implications for how and where different types of land cover can be used to mitigate climate change with forest protection programs and data-driven land-use policies. Results of their study were recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Source: New research unlocks forests’ potential in climate change mitigation – Clemson University News and Stories, 2017-04-19

Beetles making difference in woolly adelgid fight

By David Singleton
A beetle is winning the battle against the hemlock woolly adelgid at Nay Aug Gorge.

Almost 20 years after the woolly adelgid arrived at Nay Aug Park and started threatening the hemlocks in and around the gorge, officials believe they’ve finally gained the upper hand against the invasive, tree-killing pest, thanks in large part to a predatory beetle called S. tsugae.

“I think we caught it in time, and we have turned the corner. There is no doubt about it,” city forester Tony Santoli said. “I have seen great improvement.”

Since it started working with Santoli in 2011, Tree-Savers, a private company with offices in Waymart that specializes in saving endangered hemlocks, has released about 10,000 S. tsugae beetles at Nay Aug as part of an effort to eradicate the woolly adelgid and restore the park’s weakened hemlocks to health.

Like the woolly adelgid, the beetle — its full scientific name is Sasajiscymnus tsugae — is native to Japan. It is the woolly adelgid’s natural enemy, feeding on the tiny insect’s eggs.

A beetle is winning the battle against the hemlock woolly adelgid at Nay Aug Gorge.

Source: Beetles making difference in woolly adelgid fight at Nay Aug Park – The Times-Tribune, 2017-04-15

Commonwealth, Mediterranean Forest Events Support SDG Achievement

By Lauren Anderson
The fifth Mediterranean Forest Week and the 19th Commonwealth Forestry Conference (CFC) brought together countries and other stakeholders to share experiences, promote sustainable forest management and encourage action in support of forest-related development goals and priorities.

The fifth Mediterranean Forest Week, held from 20-24 March 2017, in Agadir, Morocco, coincided with the International Day of Forests, held annually on 21 March. The Week focused on the restoration of Mediterranean forests and landscapes, and resulted in nine countries affirming their support to forest and landscape restoration (FLR), land degradation neutrality (LDN) and biodiversity conservation efforts in the Mediterranean region. Algeria, France, Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey committed to a “new regional dynamic.” The dynamic is meant to boost achievement of the Bonn Challenge (to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030) and the targets laid out in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 (life on land), as well as the UN Forum for Forests (UNFF) Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030. It will also seek to catalyze regional forest and landscape restoration goals linked to the broader sustainable development agenda.

The 19th CFC convened at the Forest Research Institute in Dehradun, India, from 3-7 April 2017, under the theme ‘Forests for Prosperity and Posterity.’ The Conference served as a platform for CFC participants to share experiences, strengthen forest research, identify critical issues and support the collaborative management of forests as they relate to water, food and energy security with an overarching goal of contributing to SDG implementation.

Source: Commonwealth, Mediterranean Forest Events Support SDG Achievement – SDG Knowledge Hub | IISD, 2017-04-11

Appeals court restores lumber companies’ challenge to spotted owl habitat

By Michael Doyle
A top federal appeals court has added fuel to a long-running fight over federal protections for the northern spotted owl in California, Oregon and Washington state.

In a unanimous decision Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the lumber companies united as the American Forest Resource Council have the legal standing to challenge the owl’s designated “critical habitat.” Federal officials in 2012 designated more than 9.5 million acres in the three states as essential for the owl’s survival.

“The council has demonstrated a substantial probability that the critical habitat designation will cause a decrease in the supply of timber from the designated forest lands,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote, adding that there’s also evidence that “council members will suffer economic harm as a result of the decrease in the timber supply from those forest lands.”

Source: Appeals court restores lumber companies’ challenge to spotted owl habitat – The Daily World, 2017-04-11

Foresters struggle to tell tree tales

By Rob Chaney
If a tree issue blows up in the forest, does anyone hear it?

Considering that eight of every 10 Americans live in big cities, that’s a problem for the Society of American Foresters. On Friday, the organization of forest professionals, loggers, mill workers, academics and government land managers gathered to puzzle how to better get their stories told.

Because while millions of Americans may never see a Ponderosa pine burn in a wildfire, they will breathe the smoke and may cancel their vacation plans and might pay more taxes for disaster relief. Meanwhile, the assembled society members at the University of Montana struggled with their own mixed messages, long-standing mistrust of opponents and unfamiliarity with a fast-changing media landscape.

“If we can’t get our collective act together, how can we expect the public to come around to broader agreement on forest issues?” asked Dave Atkins, a retired forester who now runs the online Treesource.org media outlet and serves on the National Association of Forest Professionals communication committee. He cited a recent NAFP survey that found 45 percent of U.S. and Canadian residents think that trees are harvested in national parks and protected areas (not true), and 64 percent believe deforestation is a major threat in North America (forests here are shrinking, but not at the rate of tropical forests in the Amazon or Indonesia).

“We have to take responsibility for the fact that people don’t understand what the forest condition really is,” Atkins said. “Seventy-one percent of the respondents had not heard about a forestry sector story in the past year. In places like Montana, we see this stuff all the time. But 83 percent of Americans live in urban areas.”

Source: Foresters struggle to tell tree tales – Missoulian, 2017-04-14

Research links decline in hemlock forests to changes in water resources

An insect infestation that is killing hemlock trees in New England forests is having a significant impact on the water resources of forested ecosystems that provide essential water supplies to one of the nation’s most populous regions, according to research by Indiana University geographers and colleagues at three universities in Massachusetts.

The study is the first to show an increase in water yield—the amount of water reaching streams and rivers—resulting from forest damage caused by an insect pest called the hemlock woolly adelgid. Insect-damaged trees use less rainfall and allow more water to reach the ground and run off into waterways. With less foliage, the trees return less moisture to the atmosphere via transpiration and evaporation.
“We observed a 15 percent increase in annual water yield,” said Taehee Hwang, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences. “But there are a lot of issues involved with this subject. Water quality may suffer as rainfall runs off more quickly from forested areas and carries higher concentrations of nutrients. The long-term picture may change as hemlocks are replaced with broad-leaved trees that have a different impact on water resources.”

Source: Research links decline in hemlock forests to changes in water resources – Phys.org, 2017-04-05

Land titling for indigenous communities leads to forest protection

By Mike Gaworecki
New research provides yet more evidence that granting indigenous and other local communities formal title to their traditional lands can be a boon to efforts to conserve forests.

Deforestation is responsible for as much as 10 percent of total global carbon emissions, which means that finding effective means of keeping forests standing is crucial to global efforts to halt climate change.

Previous studies have found that securing indigenous land rights is a successful path to keeping forests and the carbon sinks they represent intact. A 2016 analysis by the World Resources Institute (WRI) focused on Bolivia, Brazil, and Colombia, for instance, determined that tenure-secure indigenous forestlands could help avoid the release of carbon emissions equivalent to taking nine to 12 million passenger vehicles off the road over the next 20 years.

According to another report released last year as part of a collaborative research project by the Woods Hole Research Center, the Rights and Resources Initiative, and WRI, there is a lot of carbon stored on indigenous lands, making increased land titling a significant opportunity for climate mitigation. But the research found that, while indigenous peoples and other local forest communities manage at least 24 percent of the carbon stored above-ground in Earth’s tropical forests, or some 54,546 million metric tons of carbon (MtC), more than 22,000 MtC of that is at risk of deforestation or degradation because it is found in regions where the local communities do not enjoy formal recognition of their claim to the land.

A more recent study not only found that well-trained indigenous technicians are every bit as capable of collecting the necessary data to monitor forest carbon stocks as professionals, but that in some cases, at least, they can do it quicker and cheaper than the professionals.

The efficacy of land titling as a forest protection measure are less clear, however. But now the authors of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) last week say they found that forest clearance is actually reduced by more than three-quarters and forest disturbance by roughly two-thirds over the two-year time span immediately following the granting of land title to an indigenous community.

Source: Land titling for indigenous communities leads to forest protection, peer-reviewed study finds – Mongabay, 2017-04-10