Canadian company Catalyst Paper Corp. is selling its US operations, including a pair of paper mills in Maine and Wisconsin, to a Chinese company Nine Dragons Paper. Nine Dragons Paper is paying US$175 million for the mills and an operations centre in Dayton, Ohio. There are no plans for lay-offs at the mills, which employ about 610 workers in Rumford, Maine, and 380 workers in Biron, Wisconsin, a spokeswoman said.
The Madison Paper Industries mill is closing in May, putting more than 200 employees out of work and adding to the decline of Maine’s paper industry. Madison Paper will be the fifth Maine mill to shut down in a little over two years, and its closure will leave just six mills operating in the state. Although some mills continue to operate profitably, the domestic paper industry has been grappling with the declining demand and cheaper imports, leading in recent years to mill closures, bankruptcies and layoffs.
Archer Daniels Midland, the third largest global supplier of agricultural commodities and one of the world’s leading soy traders, is launching their Responsible Soy Standard. Under this new programme, yearly assessments will be conducted by expert third parties to determine if growers are complying with a number of environmental, legal, social and agronomic standards.
Despite soy production acting as a leading driver of deforestation across South America, palm oil has remained the priority commodity for companies in the fight against deforestation. While 117 private companies have pledged to reduce the impact of their involvement with palm oil, only 27 have done the same with soy. It is hoped that ADM’s commitment could lead to other organisations following their lead and expanding their commitments to deforestation across commodities.
Experts have warned, however, that although commitments like these have led to deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, the problem is simply being moved elsewhere. Much of the conversion of natural ecosystems for soy cultivation now occurs in other areas including Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay.
Analysis of the prospects for Burma’s forests in the wake of international sanctions being lifted. Aside from some ad hoc exploitation Burma’s primary forests have remained largely intact and are home to a rich diversity of wildlife. Meanwhile Burma’s leaders appear to be taking a measured approach to environmental planning with the recent postponement of a Chinese-sponsored dam citing environmental concerns and civil society in the country is increasingly active. However, an EU FLEGT report published last year noted that the government does not collect or publish detailed data on the forest sector and concluded that the forest sector has become increasingly corrupt.