Metsä Group's Äänekoski mill in Finland now calls itself a ‘bioproducts mill’ as it makes paper and wood for recyclable drinks cartons, clothing and building materials. They re-use the chemical additives and by-products of the production process to make sure they are not wasted. They also deploy drones to digitally map the forest area so they can monitor trees using a mobile phone app and then arrange remotely for contractors to thin or harvest an area when the trees look ready. For more information, please visit Metsä Group's website.
Collected news links from external sources related to topics concerning the Book Chain Project.
In the recent Forest forum meeting we shared Complicit in Corruption - a recent report written by non-profit Earthsight, highlighting the widespread corruption in Ukraine's forests, and revealing how illegality permeates the timber supply chain in Ukraine from harvest to export.
Earthsight spent two years running field and undercover investigations in Ukraine. Approximately 70% of Ukraine's timber exports enter the EU and Earthsight's investigations indicate that 40% of this timber is being illegally harvest or traded. The report also claims that a significant volume of illegally harvested timber has received the FSC stamp - the former chief of one of the largest timber producing state-forest enterprises admitted to Earthsight he had found it easy to circumvent FSC checks.
A new study finds that illegal logging, coupled with weak state-run timber licensing systems, has led to massive timber harvesting fraud in Brazil, resulting in huge illicit harvests of Ipê trees. Ipê wood is largely shipped to the U.S. and Europe with the high value (up to $2,500 per cubic meter at export). Buyers all along the timber supply chain turn a blind eye toward fraud, with sawmills, exporters, and importers trusting the paperwork they receive, rather than questioning whether the lower prices they pay for Ipê and other timber may be due to timber laundering. This process is doing major damage to the Amazon. To reduce document fraud, the Brazilian federal government required that all states register or integrate their timber licensing systems within a national timber inventory and tracking system known as Sinaflor. While this should reduce fraudulent paperwork, better oversight of forest management plans and more onsite inspections of timber operations are needed also.
Earlier this year Vietnam initialled a timber trade agreement with the EU that will see Vietnam implement legislation to address imports of illegally harvested and traded timber in return for timber exports to the EU. According to a recent EIA investigation, Vietnam continues its role as a serial offender in the illegal timber trade, with large volumes of illegal timber still flowing across the Cambodian border unhindered. EIA have identified three main areas within Cambodia where substantial illegal logging operations continue. EIA tracked timber from these sites is being smuggled out of Cambodia and into Vietnam across informal crossings.
Canada harvests an astonishing 1.8 million acres of forested lands per year—an area half the size of Connecticut—and almost all of it is clearcut. But as long as there’s a plan on paper to regenerate that forest, many seem to assume that it is happening, despite limited study of what is actually growing back and how well that regrowth meets the ecological values that were lost following harvest, especially its vast boreal forest. The Government of Canada’s annual "State of Canada’s Forests” report focuses on Canada’s low deforestation rate but didn’t mention at all about “forest degradation”.
After NRDC released powerful evidence of continued logging in boreal forest areas that were placed under a logging moratorium via the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA), Resolute Forest Products came back with a media statement that underscored governments’ role in regulating forest clearcutting. "It’s the Quebec government that gives companies permission to go and harvest on these lands," said company spokesperson Karl Blackburn. “We do not go where we want. We go where the government allows us to go."
According to the new report released by The international policy organization (Interpol), corruption in the forestry sector globally costs about $29 billion annually, with bribery as the most common form. The study finds that the forestry sector is particularly vulnerable to corruption as many forests since many forests are located in placed where governance and regulatory regimes are poor. Also, the point when corruption occurs most frequently is at the harvest, identified in another study Interpol collaborated with TREES project. Recommendations including policy and legislative reforms, capacity building, financial investigations, and Interpol anti-corruption investigators were provided to reduce the risk of corruption in forestry operations.
Interpol has released a purple notice on 30 August about an illegal timber trading operation involving four companies in Brazil, which stems from an investigation by the Brazilian Federal Police that uncovered a technique employed by illegal timber traders in the country. The method in question involves obtaining fraudulent forest management plans that declare a higher density of a high-value timber species within a timber concession than actually exists on the ground, allowing criminals to harvest timber from unauthorized areas and report it as if it was legal. These false forest management plans are obtained through bribery or by the operators who forge them.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK analysed data from 824 harvest areas in private and community-owned forests scattered throughout the 123 million hectare Brazilian state of Para, which is the source of almost half of all timber production in the Brazilian Amazon. The results demonstrate that it is crucial to manage yields of selectively-logged forests for the long-term health of forest biodiversity as well as the financial viability of local industries. The analysis shows that even so-called ‘reduced-impact logging’ in tropical forests can rarely be defined as sustainable in terms of forest composition and dynamics in the aftermath logging.
The World Resources Institute released a new study, which finds that nearly all of the recent tree cover loss in several “frontiers of plantation expansion” is happening outside established plantation boundaries. The author hopes that the study can help in land-use planning that directs plantation development and expansion to already-degraded areas rather than supplanting forests.
China, which logs about 49.94 million cubic meters of natural forest each year, initiated a landmark pilot program to ban all commercial logging of natural forests in key forest zones in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province in April 2014. Now the country will implement a ban on commercial logging of State-owned natural forests by end 2016.
The article points out that over 50% of the timber China consumes and processes comes from imports much of it thought to be from illegally harvested sources. There is a concern that this domestic logging ban may lead to an increase in those illegally harvested sources.
The largest hardwood flooring retailer in the United States, Lumber Liquidators, agreed to plead guilty to several violations of the Lacey Act. The company will have to pay a combined $13.2 million for importing illegally harvested timber from areas including forests in far eastern Russia and other compliance issues. The raids that led to the charges followed investigations and reports by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and WWF. Lumber Liquidators faces separate allegations that it imported laminated wood products with illegal levels of formaldehyde.
A study by FSC has found that approximately 300 million cubic metres of FSC certified wood are harvested every year, making up 16.6% of the total global industrial roundwood market.
Despite government plans to eradicate illegal logging that have been in place over the past five years, encroachment on the country’s forests remains rampant, a recent report says. The report, released by a number of NGOs grouped under the Coalition against Forestry Mafia and the Washington-based Forest Trends, said that more than 30 percent of the timber used by the country’s industrial forest sector could be considered illegal. According to the report, while the source of this illegal wood was unclear, it was likely from trees harvested during the clear-cutting of natural forests from new oil, palm and pulp plantations. In order to meet the demands from the industrial forestry industry, the government had pledged to boost the number of industrial forestry plantations as the primary source of legal wood in Indonesia. The plantations produce fast-growing species of trees like acacia. However, the report found that the plantation sector was dramatically underperforming. In 2007, the forestry ministry predicted that by 2014, plantations would be producing at almost twice the rate reportedly achieved.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) is working with environmentalists to combat illegal logging in the country’s Far East. Activists from WWF described long term collaboration with officials from Russia’s former KGB service in the effort to combat corruption and illegal timber exports as “unusual” but also unavoidable. WWF has been providing training for local customs officials on how to spot illegal species. A 2013 report by the Environmental Investigation Agency estimated that 96% of the valuable hardwoods harvested in the Russian Far East end up in China, while at least 80% of all felled trees have been logged illegally.
For decades, mahogany, ebony, rosewood and other rare tropical hardwoods have been extensively logged to produce valuable wood products, particularly guitars and other instruments. Increasingly aware of the impacts to forests and communities from over-harvesting, many instrument manufacturers have taken steps to make their supply chains more sustainable. Now, musicians are joining the call to make sure guitars and other instruments are made from legal, sustainably sourced wood. Last week the Environmental Investigation Agency and REVERB released a video featuring artists such as Jason Mraz and Michael Franti urging consumers to find out where their wood comes from.
An independent study by The Forest Trust and Ata Marie have found that APP has sufficient plantation resources to supply a massive new mill being built in OKI, South Sumatra. The study did however uncover one minor gap in supply in 2020. Aida Greenbury, APP’s managing director of sustainability said “The TFT report forecasts a minor gap in supply in 2020. However it is clear that with a harvesting rotation of around five years, improvements made now can bridge that gap by increasing productivity of supplier plantations through improved yield, better tree stock and reduction of waste. As such, we have been developing an action plan to ensure we have sufficient plantation fibre to meet the pulp requirements of our existing mills as well as our future mill in South Sumatra, in line with our target to become a 100% plantation business for pulp production.
Kenya has recently seized a shipment of $13 million worth of rosewood illegally harvested in Madagascar and bound for Hong Kong. The writer highlights the trend of illegal shipments through Hong Kong and notes that as neither Hong Kong nor China has laws banning illegal timber, border authorities cannot intercept it unless it is CITES-listed. According to estimates only 16 per cent of China’s processed timber is then exported, so there is a huge domestic market that is not subject to regulations preventing the use of illegally-harvested timber.
The Indonesian Government is considering the viability of creating a voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) on timber trade with Australia to boost exports of forestry products. The VPA with Australia would be similar to the VPA between Indonesia and Europe: Under the EU-Indonesia VPA, all timber and timber products certified by the domestic timber legality verification system (SVLK) are considered legally harvested and in compliance with the EU’s timber regulation.
A new paper by Chatham House and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has found that timber harvested illegally in Africa, Asia and Latin America continues to be sold on world markets, despite international efforts to curb the trade. Experts say that the EUTR and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are complementary. However, there is a lack of coordination between the agencies involved in enforcing the rules of the two systems. One of the biggest loopholes identified is that both CITES- and FLEGT-licenced timber is exempt from the due diligence requirements under the EUTR, so fraudulent paperwork could escape scrutiny.