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Benefits of Community-based Natural Resource Management

Benefits of Community-based Natural Resource Management

It was in 1997 that the Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) project was established in Mozambique Africa, for the purpose of empowering local communities to assume some level of control over how their environments would be managed. This literally constituted a shift in power away from the central government, and into the hands of local authorities who are best equipped to maintain healthy natural resources and to make those resources sustainable indefinitely.

That first CBNRM conference brought together representatives from high levels of government, community members, and engineer types, who were all interested in preserving local environments. The discussions at that conference and in the four additional conferences since then, centered around how to deal with natural resources such as forests and wildlife, as well as developing or strengthening community-based organizations, and about how to add value to resources such as forest products.

Image Attribute: Image supplied by Flickr; Distributed under CC-BY 2.0 License

The most recent CBNRM conference

At the 2018 version of the CBNRM conference, it was recognized that even though the resolution was 20 years into its implementation, there was still a great deal of work to be done, and that there were still significant obstacles to achieving hoped-for results. For one thing, there are still disputes over the jurisdiction of communities, and that makes it extremely difficult to manage resources from those disputed areas. However, since most of these individual communities rely heavily on natural resources such as timber and wildlife, it is essential that all obstacles be overcome, so that communities can realize the benefits of CBNRM.

There are also conflicts over land rights, with various communities squabbling over ownership and spheres of interest. This is an extremely important point, since government agencies and donors have difficulty supporting community groups which compete for the same properties. This of course, creates a great deal of confusion about community rights to natural resources, and it causes a great deal of difficulty in sustaining those natural resources so they can be used to benefit local economies.

In an effort to help resolve some of the community conflicts, and to break up the logjam which has developed over land rights, the World Bank has stepped in to support local stakeholders and their governments. Through the Integrated Landscape and Forest Management Portfolio, a number of initiatives have been undertaken so that land rights can be resolved, land usage can be planned out into the future, reforestation can take place, land restoration can be initiated, and specific areas can be protected, while tourism is concurrently being promoted.

The future of CBNRM

There’s no question that Mozambique has yet to realize the full potential of CBNRM, but at the most recent conference, government leadership was at least made aware of the fact that local economies can be improved by transforming community development, and by protecting the natural resources associated with each community. While progress has been slow over the last 20 years, a new element of enthusiasm was very much in evidence at the most recent CBNRM conference, and it seems likely that participants will now be working together much more closely to achieve the maximum benefits under CBNRM.

Nature’s Packaging is committed to worldwide sustainable forest management practices. Forests sequester carbon from the atmosphere and when they’re sustainably managed, they’ll continue to provide valuable resources to local economies and help fight climate change.

Resources

Benefits of Community-based Natural Resource Management

Benefits of Community-based Natural Resource Management

It was in 1997 that the Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) project was established in Mozambique Africa, for the purpose of empowering local communities to assume some level of control over how their environments would be managed. This literally constituted a shift in power away from the central government, and into the hands of local authorities who are best equipped to maintain healthy natural resources and to make those resources sustainable indefinitely.

That first CBNRM conference brought together representatives from high levels of government, community members, and engineer types, who were all interested in preserving local environments. The discussions at that conference and in the four additional conferences since then, centered around how to deal with natural resources such as forests and wildlife, as well as developing or strengthening community-based organizations, and about how to add value to resources such as forest products.

Image supplied by Flickr; Distributed under CC-BY 2.0 License

The most recent CBNRM conference

At the 2018 version of the CBNRM conference, it was recognized that even though the resolution was 20 years into its implementation, there was still a great deal of work to be done, and that there were still significant obstacles to achieving hoped-for results. For one thing, there are still disputes over the jurisdiction of communities, and that makes it extremely difficult to manage resources from those disputed areas. However, since most of these individual communities rely heavily on natural resources such as timber and wildlife, it is essential that all obstacles be overcome, so that communities can realize the benefits of CBNRM.

There are also conflicts over land rights, with various communities squabbling over ownership and spheres of interest. This is an extremely important point, since government agencies and donors have difficulty supporting community groups which compete for the same properties. This of course, creates a great deal of confusion about community rights to natural resources, and it causes a great deal of difficulty in sustaining those natural resources so they can be used to benefit local economies.

Conflict resolution

In an effort to help resolve some of the community conflicts, and to break up the logjam which has developed over land rights, the World Bank has stepped in to support local stakeholders and their governments. Through the Integrated Landscape and Forest Management Portfolio, a number of initiatives have been undertaken so that land rights can be resolved, land usage can be planned out into the future, reforestation can take place, land restoration can be initiated, and specific areas can be protected, while tourism is concurrently being promoted.

The future of CBNRM

There’s no question that Mozambique has yet to realize the full potential of CBNRM, but at the most recent conference, government leadership was at least made aware of the fact that local economies can be improved by transforming community development, and by protecting the natural resources associated with each community. While progress has been slow over the last 20 years, a new element of enthusiasm was very much in evidence at the most recent CBNRM conference, and it seems likely that participants will now be working together much more closely to achieve the maximum benefits under CBNRM.

Nature’s Packaging is committed to worldwide sustainable forest management practices. Forests sequester carbon from the atmosphere and when they’re sustainably managed, they’ll continue to provide valuable resources to local economies and help fight climate change.

 

Resources

Is Wood-based Alcohol the Latest Trend?

Is Wood-based Alcohol the Latest Trend?

Who would ever have thought it possible to somehow transform wood into an alcoholic beverage? And yet, that strange-sounding process has already been accomplished on a small scale by researchers in Japan and in the United States. The Japanese alcohol produced is expected to rival that of a fine wine, with about 15% alcohol content, and in Japan, that is fairly close to the same level of content which the nationally beloved drink saki contains. This invention was discovered by using an extraction process similar to how fuels are created that power vehicles, aircraft, and other machinery.

The process used to create consumable alcohol involves pulverizing the wood into a paste which has the consistency of heavy cream, and then adding in yeast and a catalytic agent which facilitates the fermentation process. By avoiding the use of high temperatures, the natural flavor of the original wood is preserved in the resulting alcohol, so that it can be tasted by the drinker. At present, Japanese researchers have experimented with wood-based flavors from birch, cherry, and cedar.

Image supplied by Flickr; Distributed under CC-BY 2.0 License

How practical is the extraction process?

While wood-based drinking alcohol may be available in some places by 2021 (particularly in Japan), using wood to produce fuel may not be commercially viable for some time after that. The Japanese research team has government backing, which has directed the research team to discover more practical uses for the immense forests which populate the countryside. While other uses are sure to be discovered and made commercially successful, converting wood into a tasty alcoholic beverage is sure to be a well-received project in Japan and elsewhere.

Further Developments

A research lab in Boardman, Oregon has a team which has already successfully produced usable jet fuel using a similar extraction process described above, but with poplar trees providing the source material. However, this process currently costs more than it does to use fossil fuels in the creation of jet fuel. Before wood-based extraction can be commercially viable, either the process must become more streamlined and less expensive, or the cost of producing jet fuel from fossil fuels would have to become more expensive.

Nature’s Packaging supports forest sustainability. Innovations that convert high value products from wood waste supports the industry to promote sustainable forest management practices. When forests are sustainably managed, they sequester more carbon from the atmosphere than they would if they were left unmanaged. Healthy, growing forests provide clean air to breathe and they fight climate change.

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Canada’s Forest Sector Leads the Way for Bioeconomy

Canada’s Forest Sector Leads the Way for Bioeconomy

In our modern and very digital world, pressure is put on limited natural resources like petroleum, charcoal, gas because of the huge demand for plastic and energy products.  Just about everything seems to be going plastic which results in depleting Earth’s natural resources.  It is quite refreshing to see Canada’s forest sector leading the way for bioeconomy.  This is because the forest products portfolio has changed a lot over the last few years.  Advanced technology is making it possible for the production sector to produce more low- or no-waste products from wood sources and these products are viable replacements for plastics.

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How Forest Waste Fuels a Bioeconomy

The forestry sector generates many byproducts throughout the process of harvesting timber.  These bioproducts add value to waste products that can be converted into food additives, textiles, wood pallets, construction materials, and even fuel for airplanes and cars. These high value products are created by combining advanced technologies with sawdust, wood chips, and even tree leaves and branches. By depending on these renewable resources found in forests, we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

The sustainability of Canada’s forests is essential

Canada’s forests are essential for the well-being of Canada’s environment, communities, people and for the economy.  Forest management practices are strictly monitored and audited to ensure sustainability and long-term growth.  It is incredibly important for forestry sectors to monitor the sustainability of these forests.  With proper sustainability management, these forests will be cared for and maintained as much as possible and a healthy ecosystem will be generated over time.

Wood Pallets are a Bioproduct

One of the primary purposes for timber harvesting is home construction. However, the quality of lumber used to manufacture wood pallets in North America doesn’t quite make the grade. On average, between 10-15% of a log is used to make wood pallets, as the primary application of high grade lumber is home construction, furniture, and flooring. The lumber used to make new wood pallets is a byproduct and thus supports a renewable and recyclable bioeconomy.

Wood Pallets are USDA Biopreferred

In the United States, the Department of Agriculture recently added wood pallets to their long list of biobased products. According to its website, Biobased products are derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials. Biobased products provide an alternative to conventional petroleum derived products and include a diverse range of offerings such as construction, janitorial, and grounds-keeping products specified and purchased by Federal agencies, to personal care and packaging products used by consumers every day.

Lumber is strong and wood pallets are recyclable. By choosing wood pallets you are choosing a renewable resource that supports healthy and sustainable carbon-sequestering forests.

References

 

Forest Management Technology

Forest Management Technology

Up to now, forest management has had to take a very hands-on, personal inspection kind of approach, so that specific trees could be marked for cutting and removal, and the forest in general could be culled of unhealthy specimens. However, the onslaught of forest fires over the past decade has virtually overrun this old-school method of management, and hastened the advent of a more high-tech solution.

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Forward-thinking managers at The Nature Conservancy are now in the process of testing out a solution which holds great promise for faster, cheaper, and more accurate management of forest lands. This comes in the nick of time, with forest fire disasters mounting up, and millions of acres of prime land being consumed recently by raging conflagrations.

The new technology

The problem faced by solution seekers was a daunting one – how to retain much of the same individual inspection capability, but on a much larger scale, so that dying and dead trees could quickly be removed. Those trees provide much of the fuel for forest fires which get out of control, and take down enormous stands of healthy trees with them.

Enter the Digital Restoration Guide (DRG). This software program offers the same kind of direct approach as painting dead trees, while capitalizing on the speed of computers to cover much larger territories in much less time. A forester equipped with a mobile computer loaded with DRG software can patrol large areas on an ATV, entering relevant information about specific GPS coordinates of areas, and the health of trees contained within those sectors. Later, tree harvesters can use the map created by the DRG software and the information recorded by the forester, to know which trees need to be culled.

In the first full-blown pilot test of the software, a target area of 327 acres was used to see how the new technology compared to more traditional methods of forest management. Supporters were gratified to find that the process was roughly five times faster than the time needed by the walk-and-paint method, and it cost less than half as much to execute.

Those aren’t the only benefits – the recorded information can be used in other ways as well, to estimate tree numbers, sizes, and the interspace between trees. In the past, separate trips would have to be made to gather such information when it was needed, and that resulted in additional cost and expenditure of time.

Future usage

With the unquestioned success of the new tree-mapping software, it has been approved for surveying tracts of land in the thousands of acres. It also seems likely that usage will be expanded into even more productive and more all-encompassing arenas. Already, tech gurus are considering how to get the software airborne to conduct very large survey missions, and extend the reach and the effectiveness of modern forest management.

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Fashion Start-Ups Use Wood-Based, Cotton Alternatives

Fashion Start-Ups Use Wood-Based, Cotton Alternatives

For a great many years now, cotton has been touted as the ultimate fabric for the manufacture of all kinds of clothing, due to its natural, breathable composition and its comfortable feel against the skin. However, according to Waterfootprint.org, cotton farming requires the most amount of water in the apparel supply chain. In the case of making a single T-shirt, research from National Geographic estimates that 2,700 liters of water is required, from beginning to end.

In addition, it literally requires acres and acres of land to grow any significant amount of cotton plants, and a great deal of water is consumed in the nurturing of those plants. From this, it should be fairly obvious that any kind of new direction for the world of fashion is long overdue and that new direction seems now to have arrived, in the form of wood-based alternatives for the manufacture of clothing.

Wood-based alternative clothing

An Austrian manufacturer, Lenzing AG, has been developing environmentally friendly clothing for several years now, by converting eucalyptus tree pulp into a fiber which mimics cotton’s breathable nature, but is also far softer to the touch, and much less susceptible to wrinkling. In the year 2000, Lenzing was given a prestigious award by the European Commission, for its forward-thinking contributions to conservation of the environment in making wood-based clothing alternatives.

This wood-based clothing product is known as Tencel, and it is being adopted by more fashion companies around the world each year. Since the entire production process for Tencel is much less impactful to the environment, it has become one of the most popular new fabrics, especially for all those who feel a responsibility for the conservation of the global environment.

Other creative and environmentally friendly products are appearing as well, to contribute to this new direction of the fashion industry. A 17-year old teenager named Sian Healy recently became a finalist in the Miss England competition, while wearing a dress made for her by Pooling Partners, and which was entirely constructed from old wooden pallets. While this kind of special-purpose dress may not be economically viable for mass production, it does at least point out the possibilities for using wood-based materials as an alternative to the traditional ones used commonly in clothing manufacture.

Beyond Tencel

In Culver City, California, another startup company called MeUndies, has developed a fashion line of men’s and women’s underwear, all made from wood pulp fiber which has the appealing property of wicking moisture away from the body. Called MicroModal, it uses beechwood rather than Tencel’s eucalyptus fibers, and is garnering strong appeal for its comfort and sustainable characteristics. Additionally, another fashion designer based in London named Alice Asquith has launched a line of towels, bearing her name, which are made from bamboo fibers and have far greater softness, durability, and absorptive qualities than traditional cotton towels.

Other startups are emerging around the world to take advantage of some of the wonderful characteristics provided by wood-based fabrics, which are much friendlier to the environment than some existing materials. Whereas plants like cotton are farmed with the intent of manufacturing clothes, wood-based based fabrics use wood by-products as their main ingredient. By developing effective uses for these parts of the forest that would normally go to waste, clothing manufacturers are doing their part to make sure that every part of a tree is used when it’s harvested.

Resources

8 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Forests

8 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Forests

Photograph by Wikimedia; distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

It’s estimated that about 30% of the Earth’s land area is covered in forests. The rainforests of South America, Central America, Africa, Southern Asia, and Australia hover around the equator while the Boreal forest in the Northern Hemisphere span across several continents. Check out this list of fun facts you probably didn’t know about forests.

  1. More than 25% of medicines we use originate in rainforest plants. These medicines are used to treat conditions like malaria, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, pediatric leukemia, and Hodgkin’s disease.
  2. The Boreal forest covers 14% of the Earth’s land. Countries that include the boreal zone are Canada, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Japan.
  3. Forests are like the lungs of our planet. As trees grow, they use photosynthesis to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, aiding in the fight against global warming. Trees continue to store carbon throughout their life cycle which often spans decades.
  4. The tallest tree in the world is taller than Big Ben and the Statue of Liberty! The coastal California redwood tree called Hyperion stands at 115.61 meters tall.
  5. The oldest living organism on the planet, Pando, is believed to be a group of trees connected by the same root system. This set of aspen trees is estimated to be 80,000 years old.
  6. According to the United Nations, in 2014 it was estimated that 13 million people worldwide were employed by the forest sector.
  7. When a tree is harvested, about 85% of it is graded for building construction applications. The remaining 15% is used to make wood pallets and crates for shipping, wood pellets for clean energy, garden mulch, oriented strand board (OSB), and several other products.
  8. No part of a tree goes to waste. Even the sawdust is collected and used to make energy in cogeneration plants to power homes and office buildings.

Nature’s Packaging is committed to North American’s sustainably managed forests and to the wood packaging industries it supports. For more information, visit the Resources section of our website listed below.

Resources

Forest Health Benefits from Genomics

Forest Health Benefits from Genomics

Photograph by Flickr; distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

In addition to sustainably managing North American forests, foresters are working hard to ensure that the trees planted today will survive for the next generation. Canadian scientists working in field called genomics are identifying the trees that natural selection seems to favor and using those saplings to plant the next generation of North American forests.

Natural selection in forests favors the survival of trees capable of withstanding insect attacks, animal attacks, and changing climate conditions. For instance, trees vulnerable to beetle attacks, specifically pines, are either weakened from drought or otherwise unable to produce sufficient amounts of sap to ward off the attacks. Trees that thrive in spite of these hardships have adapted to survive. Using genomics, foresters identify those beneficial genetic traits to ensure they will be passed on to the next generation of trees planted in forests.

The saplings for the next generation are not being genetically modified. Genetic modification is different than genomics. According to the University of Nebraska’s Ag Biosafety department, genetic engineering is the process of manually adding new DNA to an organism. In genomics, no new DNA is being added to the tree’s original DNA.

The benefits of planting more trees that natural selection has favored are plentiful. According to its website, Genome BC, one of Canada’s leading genomics research firms, has invested $77.6 million in funding for forestry related research products. These investments are expected lower costs for the Canadian forest industry. In Canada, all lumber that is imported must be tested for pests and pathogens. In using genomics, those tests could be expedited and could indefinitely lower testing costs.

Another application is selectively breeding cedar trees that have more terpenes. Terpenes are chemicals that leave a bitter taste and increasing the amount of terpenes in cedar saplings would prevent deer from eating them. Sustainably managing forests also means ensuring that there will be forests for our future. If saplings cannot survive then there will not be forests for our future.

Resources

4 Ways to Prevent Bluestain

4 Ways to Prevent Bluestain

Bluestain is the most common type of fungi found in wood products that is commonly confused with mold. Unlike mold fungi, bluestain is not linked to human health issues. Bluestain is not airborne. Also, because the bluestain fungi do not digest the wood cell wall, they have minimal impact on the wood structural integrity. In other words, although it looks harmful, it will not decay the wood.

According to the report “Wood Discolourations & Their Preventions, with an Emphasis on Bluestain” there are two types of bluestain: deep and surface.

Deep Bluestain

Photograph by Wikimedia; distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Deep bluestain fungi are typically from the genera Ceratocystis, Ophiostoma, Grosmannia, Leptographium and Sphaeropsis that grow deep into sapwood causing dark blue or gray discoloration. The fungi attach themselves to insects that attack trees or logs, especially bark and ambrosia beetles, such as the mountain pine beetle. Any tree or log that is attacked by beetles is likely bluestained. Thus, if a tree has its bark intact, then it won’t be impacted. Trees and logs with damaged bark are also susceptible to be colonized by bluestain fungi. Once the bluestained log is converted to lumber, it shows long blue or gray streaks of color, hence the name “bluestain.”

Unlike decay fungi (or dry rot), bluestain fungi does not destroy the wood cell’s wall. Its impact on the strength of the wood is minimal and it will stop growing once the wood has been heat treated or it has a 19% or less moisture content. Because deep bluestain infiltrates the tree via insects prior to it being felled or as a log in inventory, not much can be done to prevent it from discoloring the wood. Some industries may try to chemically bleach impacted lumber but this is not a widespread industry practice.

Surface Bluestain

Surface bluestain is caused by similar bluestain fungi of the genus Ophiostoma, with Sporothrix or Pesotum anamorphs that invade sapwood after the logs have been processed through a sawmill into lumber. They don’t penetrate the wood deeply but cause discoloration in the wood’s surface that’s sometimes confused with decay mold. Bluestain does not destroy the wood cell’s wall to force decay. As with surface grown molds, these fungi can be removed from the surface of the wood by planing it.

Follow these steps to reduce the chances of fungi from impacting your wood packaging inventory.

1.    Keep it dry. Bluestain thrives in wood that has a moisture content greater than 19%. Keeping it dry and in low-humidity conditions will prevent it from growing. If your inventory is stored outside, tarps or paper wrap are useful, but make sure there are holes that allow for ventilation.
2.    Keep it ventilated. Storing wood pallets in an unventilated space creates ideal conditions for new bluestain growth, especially in warmer weather. If you must store your wood products inside, providing sufficient air ventilation will reduce the likelihood of bluestain.
3.    Keep it clear. Remember, surface bluestain transmits via insects. Ensure the area surrounding your wood products is clear of vegetation or debris that might harbor insects or pests that transmit bluestain.
4.    Keep it off the ground. A 6 to 8-inch elevation will ensure that the bottom layer will stay dry from puddles of rain that might form. This will keep your products dry.

Resources

Is it really mold?

Is it really mold?

For many companies, discovering black discoloration on your wood packaging products can be troublesome. At first glance it might look like mold fungi, which are a great cause of concern regarding human health, but it might be something else entirely. There are types of fungi that grow on lumber called bluestain but they are not linked to human health concerns.

Interestingly, there are also other types of naturally occurring defects in lumber that might look like mold but in fact are not biological. Before you “jump the gun” and ask your supplier to replace all your wood pallets with fresh ones, keep in mind there are many types of naturally occurring, non-biological defects that may look scary, but are not caused by microorganisms (fungi, bacteria, etc).

Understanding the difference could save you time, money, and a great deal of worry. The report “Wood Discolourations & Their Preventions, with an Emphasis on Bluestain” discusses the different types of discoloration commonly found on wood products and how to identify them. The report at the bottom of the article includes pictures and examples of each of these discolorations.

Iron stain

Iron stain is considered the most common type of black stain found on wood products. According to the report, “it is caused by elemental iron reacting with phenolic chemicals in the wood to form black iron tannates, or common black ink pigment.” In other words, if particles of iron are deposited on wood during railway transport or if steel wire, staples, or nails are in direct contact with wood and the wood becomes wet, the wood might become stained dark with iron. Even saw blades will sometimes cause these streaks.

Brown Stain or Zebra Stain

In western hemlock, a type of discoloration occurs only after the wood is dried in a kiln. Whereas the unaffected areas appear light yellow, affected areas appear dark brown, making for noticeable differences in surface color variation. Below the surface of susceptible pieces, sometimes the brown stain will appear black after the wood is dried. This is known as zebra stain. Zebra stains happen when iron or manganese darkens the browning and makes it turn black.

Sun Exposure

If your wood product is left outside and exposed to the sun, over time it will darken (like a sun tan) and may make the wood appear dirty or damaged. The impact of sun exposure causes a chemical change in the tannins of the wood that, over time, react to the sun’s exposure. If this happens to your wood packaging product, or other lumber product, it’s said to be “weathered.”

Enzymatic Discolorations

Red alder, oaks, beech, maples, and other hardwood species are commonly susceptible to enzymatic discoloration. This is the reaction of enzymes or  polyphenolic compounds in living cells. This produces a grayish or brownish tone in sapwood.

Mineral Discolorations

Typically seen in the forms of dark lines or streaks in oak, green or brown patches in sugar maple, or purple to black areas in yellow poplar; mineral discoloration sometimes develops in standing or fallen trees in mineral rich soils.

Preventing discolorations caused from iron stain and weathering are quite manageable. If you store wood products outdoors, keep them covered yet ventilated to prevent weathering. Also, keep your ferrous metals from having direct contact with lumber to prevent black ink stains. Other types of black stains and discolorations, like zebra stains, enzymatic discolorations or mineral discolorations, are naturally occurring and challenging to control.

Resources

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