Industry News

Myanmar national logging ban to run until Spring 2017

The new Government of Myanmar has agreed a temporary national logging ban and a 10-year logging ban in the Pegu Yoma region.

The national logging ban will run until the end of March 2017, in effect closing the forests for one complete logging season. All exports of round logs from the country have been banned since April 2014.

For the duration of the new national ban, Myanmar will rely on stockpiled timber to supply its domestic wood processing industry and the international market; current stockpiles are sufficient to meet current demand for up to three years.

Access to these stockpiles will be controlled by the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE), a Government entity, and the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) stressed the importance of having controls in place to ensure full chain-of-custody for all stockpile sales to prevent illegally logged timber being laundered through the system.

As denounced by the EIA, between 2010-15, Myanmar lost 546,000 hectares of forests, about 8.5 per cent of its forest cover; only Brazil and Indonesia have worse rates.

A further reform expected to be announced by the Government will prohibit private companies from logging in the country. The MTE previously sub-contracted to private sector firms to carry out logging, many of which had close ties to the former military government and which played a key role in over-harvesting.

Faith Doherty, Team Leader of EIA’s Forests Campaign, said: “This is a decision that demonstrates clear intent to tackle corruption within the forestry sector by Myanmar’s National League for Democracy-led Government, which only came to power in March. Of course, there is no one-policy solution to the problem and much work remains to be done, but this is a hugely encouraging and an optimistic place to start.”


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BVRIO report confirms widespread irregularities in timber from Amazon

The BVRio Institute (iBVRio) has published a new report about the legality status of tropical timber produced in the Brazilian Amazon.

According to the publication - available here - more than 40% of the forest management operations in the Pará e Mato Grosso states are likely to be involved in severe breaches of the law, including timber theft from conservation areas or indigenous reserves, use of slave labour, and/or laundering of stolen timber by defrauding the official control systems. Only 10% of the cases analysed by iBVRio did not show any indication of irregularity.

Theses findings were obtained through big data analysis conducted by BVRio's Due Diligence and Risk Assessment System, cross-checking a wide range of data bases of information gathered from 100% of the logging and timber processing operations in the Pará and Mato Grosso states (which together produce more than 70% of the tropical timber from Brazil) since 2007.

The report also contains a description of the regulatory process for companies operating in the Amazon, the main types of fraud practiced by illegal operators, a review of different approaches for detecting and preventing illegality and a review of the impact of illegal logging on reducing demand for tropical timber from the Amazon.


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FERN vs European Commission’s forest proposal: 'It weakens Paris climate commitment'

The environmental NGO Fern has raised the alarm over the new EU proposals for tackling emissions from land and forests.

According to Fern, the scheme recently outlined by the European Commission for integrating emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) into its climate and energy package will allow Member States to emit more, bringing the EU’s headline ‘at least 40 per cent’ reduction target down to less than 39 per cent, when all loopholes are accounted for.

“Forests and land in the EU currently absorb more carbon than they emit, which is a good thing. But using this as an excuse to emit more greenhouse gases sends the wrong message,” says Hannah Mowat, Forest and Climate campaigner at Fern, the forest and rights organisation.

“Our carbon budget is rapidly diminishing – we already know we need to go below zero emissions in the medium term. That is where forests can potentially help us; not in delaying the path to zero, as the Commission’s proposal suggests. The European Commission has missed an opportunity to embrace the role that forests and land can, and must, play to honour the commitments made in Paris and limit warming to 1.5 degrees."

Ms Mowat concluded: "Work must now begin on making the new LULUCF pillar into a powerful instrument with high environmental integrity to ensure that forests and land are part of the climate solution, not part of the problem.”


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Spread of larch disease is slowing down in Wales, aerial study shows

Natural Resources Wales has released aerial footage of forests and woods around Wales showing that the spread of deadly tree disease P.Ramorum (Phytophthora Ramorum) is down on last years’ findings.

The assessment follows two spring flights in May over North and South Wales that surveyed woodlands and forests. Around 40 sites were seen to be showing signs of suspected infection and will be further investigated.

The figure is lower than was found following last years’ flight when nearly 30 suspect sites were found on Welsh Government Woodland Estate alone, as well as another 20 sites on private land.

Lajla Cash, Tree Health Planning Officer at Natural Resources Wales, said: “Compared to previous years the spread of P. Ramorum last year was fairly minor. We will be visiting the sites identified in the flights this year over the next few weeks to find out whether P Ramorum is present."

"We expected a significant increase in infection due to the wet and windy weather in late summer and early autumn. But that has not proved to be the case so far," Ms Cash added. 

Since March, Natural Resources Wales has been inviting visitors and workers of forests and woodlands to help tackle the spread of P Ramorum and other diseases by pointing out possible hotbeds and respecting simple hygienical rules. The campaign, called #Keepitclean highlights how visitors and workers can safeguard forests and woodlands future by heeding simple advice.

Ms Cash commented: “It’s not just P.Ramorum, there are a number of pests and diseases that threaten Wales’ woodlands. And one of the ways they can infect a healthy forest is by being transferred by the mud and debris on people’s boots, car or bicycle tyres or even on a dog’s paws. We are asking people to take a few minutes before visiting a woodland to clean dirt and mud off boots, tyres, kit and pets. We hope that checking and cleaning before every woodland visit will become a habit.”

A further aerial flight will take place later this summer.

For more information on #Keepitclean campaign click here.


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PEFC UK celebrates key achievements of 2015

Earlier this month, PEFC UK held its 15th Annual General Meeting in London.

In his first annual report, Chairman Ross Bradshaw highlighted PEFC UK’s key achievements over the past year:

  • the re-endorsement of PEFC’s sustainable forest management scheme by CPET
  • the commitment of high street restaurant chains to using PEFC-certified packaging for their products

CPET’s 2015 review of the public sector timber procurement policy (TPP) Category A Evidence, concluded that both PEFC and FSC remain 100% compliant with the Category A legality criteria. Both schemes were also found to be over 90% compliant with the sustainability criteria and as such continue to deliver the CPET requirements for legality and sustainability.

Over the past year several high street restaurant chains have now committed to using PEFC-certified packaging for their products. KFC use the PEFC label on its customer-facing packaging to provide assurances of responsible sourcing. Pizza Hut uses the PEFC label on its chicken buckets and McDonald’s recently announced the packaging used in its European restaurants is now certified.

"It is excellent news that companies accounting for such a large proportion of our high street food outlets, have pledged to source their packaging sustainably to help protect the world’s forests", commented Mr Bradshaw. 

Further highlights of the year can be found in PEFC 2016 Annual Report.


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