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How the sustainable use of wood leads to climate benefits

02/07/2020

Forests and forest-based industries play a crucial role in strengthening the low-carbon circular bio-economy.

 

The circular bio-economy provides sustainable alternatives to fossil materials and energy, helping to break up economic growth from resource depletion and environmental impact. The overall climate benefits of forests and harvested wood products include detachment of CO2 by forest growth thanks to sustainable forest management; the carbon storage effect of harvested circular forest-based products; the substitution effects of replacing carbon-intensive and fossil-based materials and fuels with forest-based resources. On a system level, this is the most efficient carbon emission reduction system we have nowadays.

The side streams of production and chemical compounds of wood are in focus to be used as raw materials for new forest-based products. A wood-based compound called lignin is in the centre stage for developing new solutions ranging from pharmaceuticals and cosmetics to packaging and energy solutions. It is even possible to process lignin into a carbon intermediate for electrode materials used in cell phone batteries and other daily electric appliances.

The key success of the forest-based industry is innovative cooperation across the value chain. Starting from sustainable forest management to products that can be recycled or reused, the forest-based sector needs to work together to get the best value out of wood resources.

The reorientation towards a fossil-free, bio-based economy, moving away from the fossil-based economy, is crucial. The forest-based sector actors, including European forest owners, are ready to become the most competitive, innovative and sustainable providers of net-zero carbon solutions for a climate-neutral Europe.

Source: https://biomarketinsights.com/spotlight-on-feedstocks-sustainable-forest-management-and-the-efficient-use-of-wood-leads-to-climate-benefits/

 

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Birch sap has medicinal properties and contributes to well-being and detoxification

01/07/2020

Trees and plants are more than oxygen sources, ecosystem houses and the basis of wood and forestry sectors. In France there has been a strong bet on the exploration of birch.

 

The birch has a very special sap. Currently, this component is consumed as a cure to regain tone and vitality. It’s also a great source of vitamins and trace elements. Birch is considered by many, including experts, an elixir of well-being. The exploration of this sap for medicinal purposes is currently growing in France, where many forest properties are already being acquired in order to develop the production of this substance.

One of the potentials that most highlights this sap is its detoxifying property. The results have been frankly proven recently, although the benefits are not new in countries like Russia or Alaska. Known as "forest water", the substance is extracted from birches and there are already many other products derived from it.

The birch plant, whose scientific name is Betula pubescens or Betula pendula, is also called birch tree. This plant of the Betulaceae family, has Eurasian origin and is found mainly in temperate zones of Asia and North America. However, for thousands of years it has been explored and used in the northern hemisphere of the globe.

As a rule, this special sap is found in regions such as Russia, the Scandinavian countries or Canada, but it can also be extracted from the forests of Australia, New Zealand, as well as Eastern Europe and France. It usually sprouts on poorer soils, generally siliceous, acidic and moist. The season of the birch is between the months of April and May, developing up to 2000 meters above sea level.

Additional clarification: https://www.the-forest-time.com/pt/le-saviez-vous-special-seve-de-bouleau-398793983

 


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A global perspective on sustainable forest management

30/06/2020

New initiatives and certification schemes are being launched in order to ensure the responsible and sustainable management of forests worldwide.

 

The word 'sustainable' is overused these days and it can be interpreted in many ways - especially when it comes to forest management. A sustainable way of management may involve sustaining forests for commercial timber production or sustaining wildlife conservation or even for leisure use. Not using resources is not an option, for either we use them or lose them. Either way, it is necessary to recognize the value of the forests in our life or risk conversion to agriculture, mining, urban development, etcetera.

In order to demonstrate sustainable management, companies have been acquiring multiple forest certifications although it still represents only 10% of the world's forests. The reasons are complex and attributable to poor forest governance and practices in some parts of the world. Technical constraints to certification and lack of demand and incentives is another issue that governments must tackle. Although many forests may be sustainably managed, the best proof of this is through impartial and credible third-party accredited certification. Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) promotes this independent certification to demonstrate to consumers that the wood used in their products comes from sustainably managed forests.

In some countries, sustainable management has been achieved and supervised for decades. In the United States, for example, there are said to be more trained graduate foresters than anywhere else in the world. In Scandinavia forestry is considered a noble profession respected by everyone. Forestry practices in Asia were established in colonial times and have formed the foundations of sustainable management ever since - in Malaysia, for example.

The answer to sustainable management is undoubtedly complex and the keyword is ‘responsibility’. This concept is essential, right through the chain from forest to the logger, to the manufacturer, to the trader and finally to the customer. The responsibility for sustainable management depends on all.

Detailed information at https://www.fdmasia.com/index.php/wood-sustainability/item/348-sustainable-management-global-perspective

 

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Finland: Vila Tuuli transports natural landscapes into the home

29/06/2020

In harmony with nature, spacious rooms, huge panoramic windows and of course log structures. This is the new model for a Finnish holiday home.

 

The creation is by architect Tuuli Petäjä-Sirén and goes to Honkarakenne (Honka) - a company based in eastern Finland, specialized in building houses. The innovation has the particularity of adding the characteristics most appreciated by the Finnish people, respecting the culture and tradition of the country.

The architect - and also an Olympic windsurfing medalist - designed the village Tuuli, as a modern log cabin in terms of nature for the archipelago that promises to transport natural landscapes into the home. Apparently, this is the collection of dreams of the Olympic athlete, who was inspired by the country for its design.

Honka, as a global pioneer in modern log construction technology, is now betting on the connection with nature and modern Nordic architecture, as differentiating characteristics. One of the highlights of the buildings are the large windows to the magnificent archipelago, which invite natural light to enter its interior. The base of the structure is wooden frames.

The result will translate into a modern cabin that connects with tradition and the landscape. The covered terrace itself allows residents to enjoy the landscape even on rainy days. Despite an open and visible view throughout the house, the rooms stand out for their construction that refers to a warm and comfortable, coyer and more private environment.

Ancillary information: https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/02/10/1982094/0/en/New-role-model-for-Finnish-holiday-homes-windsurfing-Olympic-medallist-designs-a-modern-log-cabin-on-nature-s-terms-for-the-archipelago.html

 

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Costs and benefits of decking materials

26/06/2020

Composite Decking versus Wood Decking. There are several advantages and disadvantages of deck building materials. Decking materials have a significant influence on design and budget when the theme is changes in the floor.

 

Composite and wood are the most popular and used options. On the one hand, the traditional wood-composite decking contains approximately 50% recycled plastic and 50% wood flour. They stand out for the variety of styles, colors, shapes and textures. Composite decking boards are molded from a mixture of wood fibers and recycled plastic materials.

Regarding the composite deck with cover, it merges a hard-outer shell into the core of the compound. Concerning the installation, it will depend on the product itself and its manufacturer. There are several factors that determine the cost of this material for the producer and consequent price for the final consumer. Among them, the adopted processes and manufacturing materials used stand out.

In fact, they vary among themselves. Some composite decks are installed with deck screws, as with wooden boards, while other products may have grooved edges or other profiles designed for a hidden deck fixing system. Another determining factor of its cost is the base materials of the composite, as well as whether it has a lid or not.

An estimate by Trex, the world's largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking products, points out that most consumers can expect a deck to cost between $9 and $16 per square foot. However, it’s essential to consider labor costs to predict the final price, since a deck installation professional is required.

Additional info: https://myhomco.com/news/composite-decking-vs-wood-decking/

 

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Climate change: The cons of planting new forests

25/06/2020

 Two new studies have found that massive tree planting can be harmful to the environment.

 

A recent study says that financial incentives to plant trees can fall through and reduce biodiversity with little impact on carbon emissions. Separate research found that the amount of carbon that new forests can absorb may be overestimated. The key message from both papers is that planting trees is not a simple climate solution. However, the idea of planting trees as a low cost, high impact solution to climate change has really taken hold.

Previous studies have indicated that trees have a huge potential to soak up and store carbon, and many countries have established tree planting campaigns as a key element of their plans to acknowledge and tackle climate change. In the United Kingdom, promises by the political parties to plant larger numbers of trees were a feature of last year's general election. In the US, President Donald Trump supported the Trillion Trees Campaign. Countries are being urged to restore 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by the year 2030. So far, around 40 nations have embraced the idea.

Scientists have urged caution against the sudden urge to plant new forests - some landowners simply replaced native forests with more profitable new tree plantations. "If policies to incentivise tree plantations are poorly designed or poorly enforced, there is a high risk of not only wasting public money but also releasing more carbon and losing biodiversity," said Eric Lambin, from Stanford University. "That's the exact opposite of what these policies are aiming for." A second study set out to discover how much carbon a newly planted forest would be able to absorb from the atmosphere. Looking at 11,000 soil samples taken from afforested plots, the scientists found that in carbon poor soils, adding new trees did increase the density of organic carbon. But where soils were already rich in carbon, adding new trees decreased this density.

The authors say that previous assumptions about how much organic carbon can be fixed by planting new trees is likely an overestimate. "We hope that people can understand that afforestation practices are not one single thing," said Anping Chen, from Colorado State University and lead author on the study ."Afforestation involves many technical details and balances of different parts, and it cannot solve all our climate problems."

Read more at https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53138178

 

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Germany: Urbach Tower results of a new self-shaping process for curved wood components

25/06/2020

The Urbach Tower is the result of the application of a recent process of automatic modeling of curved wood components. The tower's pioneering design is the product of a paradigm shift in wood making.

 

The wooden structure created in Germany is a unique development. The change in the shape presented is motivated only by the shrinkage of the wood's characteristic during a decrease in the moisture content. This apparently simple change opens up a new and different sea of architectural possibilities.

The elaboration process thus goes from a mechanical formation created using high energy consumption and heavy machinery, to a process in which the material is molded. Then elegant and high-performance structures appear, using sustainable, renewable and locally sourced building materials.

The tower located in Urbach, Germany, is a total of 14 meters high. The components, despite being designed and manufactured in a flat state, are transformed, independently - from the beginning to the end of the process -, into the programmed curved shapes, during the realization of the standard method of technical drying that prevails in the sector.

The Urbach Tower thus demonstrates an innovative method under which the manufacture of a new wooden structure can be governed. In addition to this, it allows a more careful programming of the materials and a preview of the shape change. The novelty is great, or it would not be the first structure in the world, made of construction scale components with its own shape.

New data: https://urbannext.net/urbach-tower/

 

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The influence of habitat conservation in human health

23/06/2020

Protecting forests is a necessary step in securing human's health, from providing nutrition to helping us manage diseases.

 

Human infectious diseases are not new to people and it will continue to exist in the future. However, the outspread of COVID-19 at very fast rates seems new. While many pathogens are present in wildlife and have been for longer than people generally realized, some emergent infectious viruses that come from animal populations include SARS, MERS, HIV, and many more localized outbreaks of even deadlier diseases such as Nipah and Ebola. The transmission of diseases has changed because of how interconnected people are around the world.

The protection and restoration of species habitat, combined with reducing human pressures on wildlife, is a critical step in preventing the outcome of more infectious disease. These actions also have some interesting and positive impacts on two of the more persistent challenges to life on Earth, climate change and global biodiversity loss. For decades conservation professionals have been working with governments and businesses in order to protect and restore nature. For some the principal mission is climate change; for others it is food security, saving endangered species, or empowering Indigenous peoples and local communities.

With a great amount of evidence to date, it's clear that there are some tangible, verified and lasting connections between human health and the extent and condition of forests. The protection, conservation, and restoration of forests and their broader landscapes contribute to positive human health outcomes. Forests are often necessary for supplying micronutrients through access to wild foods, can alleviate air pollution in some contexts, and can provide the necessary habitat and biodiversity to limit human exposure to and infection by viruses present in animal populations.

The conservation and restoration of forests is a necessary step for a future where humans are better able to manage and cope with the emergence of new infectious diseases. Without landscapes that balance the needs of both nature and people, the world will continue only to react to global health crises instead of preventing them.

Source: https://www.worldwildlife.org/blogs/sustainability-works/posts/how-habitat-conservation-and-restoration-support-better-human-health-outcomes

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Wood products: Environmental Protection Agency publish preliminary scoping document

22/06/2020

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a scoping document for analysis of risks arising from formaldehyde. The organization says that other unregulated 'composite' wood products will be included in the scoping of this assessment.

 

The preliminary scoping document of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) contains the analysis of the risks arising from Formaldehyde. However, the EPA says that there are other 'composite', 'engineered' or 'pressed' wood products that are not yet regulated by TSCA Title VI. The TSCA Risk Analysis of Formaldehyde excludes “in panel form only” composite wood products from the regulation.

According to the EPA, these products are already regulated by the final rule of the Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products. The Composite Panel Association (CPA) will examine the document and define the next stages of the process together with the Federal Wood Industries Coalition (FWIC).

FWIC is an association made up of 12 trade associations, which includes the CPA. So far, the EPA's decision has been validated, namely about the separation of composite wood panels already regulated. Final risk assessments are expected to be published by the EPA within three years of initiation, with a possible six-month extension.

The submission requires clarification on the scoping of the exemption, with regard to components and finished products. The TSCA also requests that the EPA review the rates currently in force and consider updating the rate rules every three years to ensure that they are adequate, particularly with regard to risk assessments for manufacturers who import the chemical substance in an article, produce it as a by-product and produce or import the chemical as an impurity.

Detailed data: https://www.wbpionline.com/news/comments-filed-on-epa-formaldehyde-tsca-scoping-document-7958485/

 


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USA: New statistics on the timber industry

19/06/2020

According to a new report from North America, imports of tropical wood increased by 39%.

 

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the U.S. economy gained 2.5 million jobs in May, the first time it has added jobs since February, as thousands of timber industry workers flooded back to work. However, the trade deficit hit the highest level in eight months in April. Exports and imports both posted record monthly downfalls as the pandemic smothered trade activity.

The tropical hardwood industry remains solid: U.S. imports of sawn tropical hardwood continued to grow in April, rising a vigorous 39%. Nonetheless, the cubic meters imported is still less than 20% compared to April 2019. Imports from Ecuador fell below 1,000 cubic meters for the first time in 10 years and trail 2019 by 75% year-to-date. Imports from Brazil grew distinctly for the second month straight and imports from Indonesia more than quadrupled in April. Jatoba is currently the number one species and its imports bounced back in April, reaching 20% more imports than last year. Sapelli imports more than doubled and Balsa, Keruing and Acajou d'Afrique imports dropped dramatically.

When it comes to plywood and veneer, the imports are steady - they grew less than 1% during April, holding at a level 14% higher than the volume of a year ago. U.S. imports of hardwood flooring decreased by 14% in April to its lowest level in three years. While imports in this area did not see any distinct monthly fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hardwood flooring imports have eroded and are now down 28% year-to-date from last year. Imports of assembled flooring panels also were down by 14% in April. Total U.S. imports of assembled floor panels are down 5% year-to-date through April.

As expected, the current global economic situation impacted new residential furniture orders, which dropped 29% in March compared to the same period a year ago. "As we suspected last month, the results for March would not be very pretty and the actual results were not", claimed Ken Smith, managing partner at Smith Leonard in the latest Furniture Insights survey. Year-to-date new orders decreased 8% compared to 2019, the analyst and consulting firm noted. About 87% of the participants reported decreased orders in March.

More information at: http://www.globalwood.org/market/timber_prices_2020/aaw20200601f.htm

 

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