By Satō Noriko
Japan’s forestry industry has long suffered from low timber prices and a dwindling, aging workforce. Today loggers are increasingly letting woodlands revert to an untended natural state. Small-scale logging is gaining attention as a way to revive the timber industry and better manage the country’s forests.
Forests account for some 70% of Japan’s land area. Intimately tied with the nation’s development, woodlands since ancient times have provided residents with timber for building, raw materials for crafting tools and everyday utensils, and fuel for cooking and heating. Forests have also had a vital role in agriculture, with farmers plowing leaves and brush into fields as fertilizer. However, dependence has frequently resulted in overexploitation, and governments throughout Japanese history have struggled to balance demand for timber with the need to conserve forest resources.
The U.S. forest products sector is very dynamic, and contributes a substantial amount of employment, income, manufacturing sales, and value added to rural forest economies throughout the country. Overall, forest products comprise about 1.5% of the total U.S. economy, and contribute about 5% of total manufacturing output in the country. Furthermore, the forest products sector is one of the top three contributors to most southern state economies.
The forest products industry creates incentives for property owners to manage their forests rather than convert them to other uses with a higher financial return, such as development. These working forests deliver many ecosystem services that society values—fresh water, carbon sequestration and storage, erosion control, natural disaster mitigation, biodiversity, recreation, foods, and medicinal plants.
The industry also provides markets for the by-products of forest management and restoration, such as small timber from hazardous fuels reduction and after-fire salvage harvests. In some areas of the West and interior Alaska, the lack of a forest products industry means that owners have no financial incentive to improve forest health. These owners must then decide whether to restore their forests at their own expense, for the benefit of all.
The United States is both the biggest consumer and the biggest producer of forest products, making almost 30 percent of the world’s forest products in all major categories.
The size and organization of the forest products sector have changed over recent decades because it is a cyclical industry, sensitive to fluctuations in the domestic economy and to long-term changes in output markets, consumer preferences, technology, and global economic growth.
The overall trend in the U.S. share of global production, mostly made up by solidwood products and pulp and paper, has been decreased production in most categories. For some products, the decline has been evident since the 1960s; others have slipped since the late 1990s. Trends point toward further declines, even while domestic production of particular products, such as wood pellets, increases.
By Fiona Harvey and Sandra Laville
The first national ‘tree champion’ is charged with reversing the fortunes of the country’s woodlands and beleaguered urban trees.
England is running out of oak. The last of the trees planted by the Victorians are now being harvested, and in the intervening century so few have been grown – and fewer still grown in the right conditions for making timber – that imports, mostly from the US and Europe, are the only answer.
“We are now using the oaks our ancestors planted, and there has been no oak coming up to replace it,” says Mike Tustin, chartered forester at John Clegg and Co, the woodland arm of estate agents Strutt and Parker. “There is no oak left in England. There just is no more.”
Earlier this month, the government appointed the first “tree champion”, who will spearhead its plans to grow 11 million new trees, and conserve existing forests and urban trees. Sir William Worsley, currently chairman of the National Forest Company, has been given the task of overseeing trees in England and Wales, including England’s iconic national tree, and ensuring that trees are not felled unnecessarily. Worsley is a former chief of the Country Land and Business Association, which represents landowners and rural businesses.
UPM and the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) announce a global strategic partnership to develop solutions for advancing the uptake of FSC in the market. UPM and FSC signed the partnership agreement on the 16th of May 2017 during the FSC international members meeting in Karkkila, Finland. The partnership aims at delivering benefits to forest owners through FSC certification and to increase the FSC-certified wood supply.
UPM has actively cooperated with FSC both on international and national level for several years. The company has been involved in developing the FSC certification in order to enhance its applicability to the fragmented private forest ownership in Finland. This work will be strengthened through the newly agreed partnership.
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.”
By Matthew Denholm
Controversial plans by Tasmania’s government to open up 350,000 hectares of former protected forests for logging have been undermined by the peak timber industry group joining environmentalists in united opposition.
In a major embarrassment for the Hodgman Liberal government, the pro-logging legislation it had hoped would shore up votes in regional seats ahead of a state election is now opposed by the influential Forest Industries Association of Tasmania.
FIAT today issued a statement announcing it would join the Greens and Wilderness Society in fighting the government’s Forestry (Unlocking Production Forests) Bill, at least in its current form.
“We have advised the government that we are unable to support the bill … as it will create unnecessary sovereign risk in log supply and problems in our markets and a return to the ‘forestry wars’,” said FIAT chief executive Terry Edwards.
Mr Edwards said the industry did not accept the central premise of the legislation: that opening up the forests, which include highly contentious areas on Bruny Island, as well as in Wielangta, the Blue Tier and the Tarkine, was needed to protect jobs.
Contact: Barbara Riley/Chuck Fuqua
The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) announced the election of Clearwater Paper Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Linda Massman as the new AF&PA Board Chair and released the 2017 slate of AF&PA Board officers. Top industry leaders participated in the association’s Winter Board of Directors Meeting in Washington on January 26.
“The American Forest & Paper Association Board represents preeminent industry talent and vision, and I am honored to lead our members in accomplishing our key advocacy priorities for the coming year,” said Massman. “Our agenda targets regulatory reform, comprehensive tax reform, transportation efficiency measures and trade policy. On all, we will provide ideas for forward-thinking policy improvements that allow our businesses to compete at home and around the globe.”
By A.J. Higgins
The death of Maine’s pulp and paper industry is highly exaggerated. That’s the conclusion of a new preliminary report by Mindy Crandall, an assistant professor of Forest Management and Economics at the University of Maine.
Though eight major biomass power generators and paper companies have disappeared from the map in Maine since the last time the industry conducted an economic analysis of the forest products market six years ago, Crandall told those attending a meeting Thursday evening of the Forest Resources Association in Brewer that forest products are still a vital component of Maine’s overall economy.
Contact Barbara Riley/Chuck Fuqua
The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) announced 2017 advocacy priorities that include smarter regulations to unleash economic growth, comprehensive tax reform, efficient transportation, and trade policies that advance U.S. competitiveness. The association will pursue these over the coming year to support the paper and wood product manufacturing industry’s ability to create jobs and grow the economy.
AF&PA’s top advocacy priorities for the coming year:
Smarter Regulations to Grow the Economy: The cost, complexity, and volume of regulations disproportionately affects manufacturers. Regulations must be designed to provide net benefits based on the best scientific and technical information through a transparent and accountable rulemaking process, with due consideration of the cumulative regulatory burden. A top focus remains resolving the regulatory treatment of biomass carbon. In addition, we will work to stem the tide of overreach on air and water regulations affecting the industry, including modernizing the cumbersome air permit process and ensuring reasonable, science-based human health water quality criteria.
Comprehensive Tax Reform: Comprehensive reform of our tax system will improve economic growth, job opportunity, capital investment and the competitiveness of U.S.-based businesses and is critical. Lower tax rates are needed for all businesses, and reforms should support investment in US manufacturing while recognizing the complex global supply chains that make robust US manufacturing possible.
Transportation Efficiency: Our industry’s shipping functions must be globally competitive. Safely increasing truck weight limits on federal interstate highways and freight rail system rate and service improvements are necessary and have our support.
Trade: U.S. paper and wood product manufacturers need unrestricted access to international markets and a level playing field among international competitors through the elimination of both tariff and non-tariff barriers. Trade agreements that generate substantive economic benefit to U.S. forest products manufacturers and their workers should be maintained. Enforcement of trade agreements and laws that ensure all nations play by the rules so that trade flow are not arbitrarily distorted is essential.
By Tony Schick OPB/EarthFix
Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality drafted a report that identified logging as a contributor to known risks for drinking water quality in communities up and down the Oregon coast.
But the report has never been published.
It was scrapped by the agency after intense pushback and charges of anti-logging bias from the timber industry and the state’s Department of Forestry, according to interviews and public records.