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Gilbert Products invests $ 5 million

International Forest Industries - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 10:37
Products Gilbert, of Roberval, specializes in the production of equipment for sawmills, all-terrain surfacers, equipment for the forest industry and for construction, invests $ 5 million to acquire new robotic machining units to increase productivity reports Denis Villeneuve leQuotidien www.lequotidien.com

The investment was announced recently by the president of the company, Sylvain Gilbert, in the presence of Richard Hébert, MP for Lac-Saint-Jean and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion , and the member for Roberval, Nancy Guillemette, on behalf of his colleague, Minister of the Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon.

Gilbert products obtained financial assistance totaling $ 3.9 million in interest-free loans from three programs managed by Canada Economic Development, the Essor Program and Investissement Québec.

In an interview, Lydia Gaudreault, General Manager of Gilbert Products, said that the loans allow the acquisition of a Fastens robot that will supply three new machining and machining units from the manufacturer DMG Mori. “The robot we are acquiring will manage the tools of the three machining units whose function is to manufacture various parts. The robot we currently own does not start a job until there are 25 tools available. The new robot can undertake a task with five tools available, “she said. Two robot welders will also enter the factory.

Ms. Gaudreault added that the investment will greatly improve the productivity of the Boulevard Marcotte plant while the order book is already full at the cork.

Another aspect of the investment, she says, is that the company will be able to improve its performance in the delivery of spare parts for the equipment it supplies to the market.

In its main market for the manufacture of planers, feed tables, acceleration chains, automatic harvesting systems for sawmills and forestry parts, delays caused by parts shortages can be costly, in advance Ms. Gaudreault.

Despite the entry into the robotic systems factory, Gilbert Products plans to create 18 new jobs that will add to the 125 existing ones. The positions of machinists, mechanics, production employees, technicians in robotization and computer programming will be created after the installation of new equipment.

No expansion of the existing plant will be necessary since the installation of the new equipment requires interior refitting only.

Founded in 1986, the company is a leader in the design, manufacturing and marketing of snowmobile trail maintenance equipment (surface groomers) and forestry, sawmill and construction equipment.

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WRI: Global trade of wood pellets up more than 21% year-over-year in 2018

International Forest Industries - Mon, 20/05/2019 - 15:10

Global trade of wood pellets jumped more than 21% year-over-year in 2018 when a new record of 22.3 million tons was shipped, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review.

The five major pellet exporting countries (the US, Canada, Vietnam, Latvia, and Russia) have remained the top exporters for over five years. They accounted for about 69% of the world’s export volume in 2018.

Following the “big five” in 2018 were Estonia, Austria, Malaysia, Denmark and Germany, in descending order. Pellet production in the US South continued at record pace in, driven by a European move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.

From the 1Q 2018 to the 4Q 2018, exports from the region were up almost 50%, further manifesting US’s role as the world’s largest producer and exporter of wood pellets, reports the NAWFR.

The United States ships practically all its pellets to three countries: the United Kingdom, Belgium and Denmark. Only a small share of the pellet production in the US is consumed domestically.

Demand for imported pellets in Japan and South Korea continued a three-year growth trend in the 4Q 2018 when import volumes reached new record highs of 339,000 tons and 993,000 tons, respectively. In 2018, the total annual import volume for the two countries was just over 4.5 million tons, more than doubling in just two years. With the increased trade, prices for pellets landed in both Japan and South Korea have moved upward over the past three years.

In the 4Q 2018, the price for pellets imported to Japan averaged $182/ton, up almost 6% from the 4Q 2017. Pellet import prices to South Korea, which were nominally lower than those in Japan, rose almost 25% during the same period. The lower average cost for South Korea can be explained by that country’s reliance on pellets from low-cost countries in nearby Vietnam and Malaysia. This is unlike Japan, whose major pellet supplier is British Columbia, a more expensive producer of high-quality FSC and SFI certified pellets.

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Profile Products Opens New Fiber Plant in Conover, North Carolina

International Forest Industries - Mon, 20/05/2019 - 14:39

Profile Products recently completed its state-of-the-art wood fiber processing plant in Conover, North Carolina as part of a five-phase expansion project that will include more infrastructure for creating new fiber technologies. The investment provides significant capacity to support growth for the foreseeable future.

In addition to the new plant, the project features state-of-the-art greenhouses that have more than tripled the previous space. These greenhouses will be used to continue Profile’s industry-leading research and development of sustainable products and technologies. The expansion also includes new training and educational facilities that offer more opportunities for customer and employee training. Other projects underway include new facilities for raw materials storage and packaging operations.

“Our customers have shown us they value our environmentally friendly products and this expansion will ensure we meet their growing demands for sustainable products,” said Jim Tanner, president and CEO of Profile Products. “We’re also excited to leverage the new greenhouses to develop the next generation of products for our customers.”

The expansion also builds on Profile’s commitment to environmental stewardship. Through its manufacturing efforts, Profile has already recycled more than 3.5 billion pounds of wood and paper, and the new wood fiber processing plant will continue to divert those resources from the waste stream and reintroduce them into the environment as sustainable products. The expansion is also in close proximity to Profile’s raw ingredients, allowing the company to keep trucking to a minimum and reduce its carbon footprint.

These investments are part of Profile’s long-term strategic growth plan.

For more information, please contact Jenna Jaynes, Swanson Russell,
402-437-6406, jennaj@swansonrussell.com

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Enviva Partners reports 1Q net revenue up 26.4% to $158.4 million

International Forest Industries - Mon, 20/05/2019 - 12:47

For the 1Q 2019, Enviva Partners, LP generated net revenue of $158.4 million, an increase of 26.4%, or $33 million, from the corresponding quarter of 2018.

For the 1Q 2019, Enviva Partners, LP generated gross margin of $9.9 million, as compared to $(5) million for the corresponding period in 2018, an increase of approximately $14.9 million.

For the 1Q 2019, net loss was $8.9 million, as compared to a net loss of $19.3 million for the 1Q 2018.

Adjusted EBITDA for the 1Q 2019 was $21.6 million, as compared to $17.6 million for the corresponding quarter of 2018. The increase was primarily due to higher sales volumes, partially offset by lower pricing due to customer contract mix and higher production costs associated with more significant and longer lasting seasonal factors.

Enviva Partners, LP is a publicly traded master limited partnership that aggregates a natural resource, wood fibre, and processes it into a transportable form, wood pellets.

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US pellet exports to UK jump 35.7% in first quarter

International Forest Industries - Tue, 14/05/2019 - 10:04

U.S. increased 35.7% y-o-y pellet exports to UK in first quarter of 2019 to 1.1 million tones with exports value was up 35.3% to $143 million, according to USDA data. The share of UK in U.S. pellet exports expanded 7 pp to 71.3%. Total pellet exports from U.S. soared 22.3% to 5.12 million m3 in the first quarter.

Pellet exports from U.S. to Denmark decreased 15.7% to 198.7 thousand tones with exports value was down 13.1% to $31.2 million and that to Belgium fell 25.2% to 93.3 thousand tones with export value declined 16% to $9 million. The share of Denmark decreased 6 pp to 13.3% and that of Belgium slided 4 pp to 6.2%.

U.S. pellet exports to Netherlands jumped 107% to 60.3 thousand tones and that to Italy soared 317.5% to 46.4 thousand tones.

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Jartek supplies wood thermal modification chamber to Donelley Sawmillers in NZ

International Forest Industries - Fri, 10/05/2019 - 14:04

Jartek delivered to Donelley Sawmillers Ltd first wood thermal modification chamber and thermal oil boiler plant in 2017. During year 2018 this plant with one 35 cubic metres chamber was not able to satisfy demand of thermally modified Radiata Pine and company decided to invest to second similar chamber.

Jartek is leading supplier in Finnish sawmilling technology. Also family owned company is specialized in log handling- and lumber handling lines, drying kilns, thermowood kilns and high speed planer lines.

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Pinnacle 1Q revenue up 26.2% to $89.6 million

International Forest Industries - Fri, 10/05/2019 - 13:00

Pinnacle Renewable Energy’s (“Pinnacle”) 1Q 2019 revenue totaled $89.6 million, an increase of 26.2% compared to $71 million for the 1Q 2018.

Pinnacle reported a net loss of $6.3 million in 1Q 2019, compared to $12.8 million in Q1 2018. Net profit in 1Q 2019 was $0.2 million. Comprehensive loss for 1Q 2019 was $6.8 million. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (“Adjusted EBITDA”) totaled $8.3 million in 1Q 2019, compared to $12 million in Q1 2018.

“Our strong 1Q revenue growth reflects early contributions from our new production facilities and the continued market demand,” said Rob McCurdy, CEO of Pinnacle.

Pinnacle is a rapidly growing industrial wood pellet manufacturer and distributor and the third largest producer in the world. The Company produces sustainable fuel for renewable electricity generation in the form of industrial wood pellets.

Photo: Rob McCurdy, CEO of Pinnacle.

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Greenbacker purchases biomass project in Gypsum, Colorado

International Forest Industries - Fri, 10/05/2019 - 12:21

Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company LLC (“Greenbacker”) announced the acquisition of the 12-megawatt Eagle Valley Clean Energy (“EVCE”) biomass project. Terms were not disclosed.

The Eagle Valley Clean Energy biomass facility is a Gypsum, Colorado-based power plant which generates electricity from the combustion of waste wood. The plant sells 100% of its generated energy under a long- term contract with Holy Cross Energy, a not-for-profit Rural Electric Cooperative providing electricity to over 55,000 members.

Additionally, the transaction definitively concludes several legal disputes that had arisen between the plant and third parties and returns the plant into good standing with all contract counterparties, a critical feature of the transaction.

Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company LLC is a publicly registered, non-traded limited liability company that owns a diversified portfolio of income-producing renewable energy power plants, energy efficiency projects and other sustainable investments.

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Saratoga Forest Management suspends production

International Forest Industries - Thu, 09/05/2019 - 12:37

Saratoga Forest Management in Saratoga, Wyoming, suspends production starting May 20 and resuming on June 10, reports  Random Lengths.

“This suspension is to complete necessary maintenance projects in the sawmill and planer,” said Gary Ervin, SFM Managing Partner.

Normal shipping hours will continue during this downtime as long as there is inventory to ship.

Saratoga Forest Management applies modern forest management techniques for the maintenance of healthy forests and for the removal of dead and dying trees to speed tree stand regeneration and return forests to a healthy state.

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Ontario government invests in Ben Hokum & Son sawmill

International Forest Industries - Thu, 09/05/2019 - 12:04

Ontario government is investing $5.5 million over five years in Ben Hokum & Son Ltd sawmill, helping the lumber producer protect over 100 jobs, create at least five new jobs and purchase new technologies to optimize its business. These investments are expected to result in a significant jump in domestic sales as well as exports.

“Ben Hokum & Son Ltd is an Ontario success story and I am pleased to see how this business supports local employment and the economy,” said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “When an independent sawmill is succeeding, so do the harvesters it buys from and the manufacturers it sells by-products to. This was not just an investment in Ben Hokum & Son Ltd, but an investment in this community and the forestry sector as a whole.”

“This is truly an investment in our people, to provide more opportunities for our youth, and all those in rural eastern Ontario who are involved in the forestry industry in one way or another,” said Dean Felhaber, President of Ben Hokum & Son Ltd.

Ben Hokum & Son Ltd was established in 1956 and is now one of eastern Ontario’s largest lumber producers, and the largest pine producer in the province.

Main Photo: Dean Felhaber, President of Ben Hokum & Son Ltd

Photo above: John Yakabuski, Ontairio Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

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Bergs Timber to acquire Fågelfors Hyvleri in Sweden

International Forest Industries - Thu, 09/05/2019 - 11:32

Bergs Timber AB has signed a letter of intent with AB Fogelfors Bruk regarding a potential acquisition of all shares in Fågelfors Hyvleri AB.

The transaction is subject to the signing of a share purchase agreement (“SPA”), conducting a due diligence to the satisfaction of Bergs Timber, financing and board decision. The company will make an announcement once the SPA is signed and closing of the transaction is planned to 30 June 2019. The letter of intent grants Bergs Timber exclusivity for the period up until 30 June 2019.

The indicative purchase price for the shares in Fågelfrors Hyvleri is SEK 48 million ($5 million). SEK 30 million ($3.1 million) is intended to be paid in cash and SEK 18 million ($1.9 million) in newly issued class B shares in Bergs Timber AB.

Fågelfors Hyvleri is a wood pellet producer with an annual capacity of approx. 90,000 tons of pellets and approx. 20,000 tons of heating logs. In addition, Fågelfors Hyvleri operates a planing mill with an annual capacity of approx. 30,000 cubic meters.

“Fågelfors Hyvleri suits very well in our strategy to increase further processing. It is also well located in the area around our Swedish saw mills,” says Peter Nilsson, CEO of Bergs Timber.

Bergs Timber produces and sells sawn and further processed wood products. It operates its production facilities in Sweden, Estonia and Latvia. The Group also includes its own port and logistics operations in England.

Photo: Peter Nilsson, CEO of Bergs Timber

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Nz – Hawke’s Bay plans forestry awards

International Forest Industries - Wed, 08/05/2019 - 11:45

Hawke’s Bay’s flourishing forestry industry will be celebrated this year with the announcement of a new awards event being held in November.

It’s been eight months in the making and sees the region join the likes of Gisborne, Nelson, southern North Island, Whangarei and Southland in honouring an industry vital to our export economy.

Matt Croft, chair of the Hawke’s Bay Forestry Group who are driving the awards, says it is a great move for an industry that is one of the biggest contributors to the Bay. Export levels have doubled in the past 24 months, going from 1.6 million cubic metres in 2018 to over 2.2 million cubic metres now with growth expected to reach 3 million by 2021.

With 133,000 hectares of plantation radiata pine in the region and 48,000 hectares at a harvestable age, the industry with its associated services account for around $200 million of the region’s GDP.

“This is a chance to put our industry in public view and acknowledge the great work being done by those who work in forestry,” says Mr Croft. “In the past five years the industry has developed hugely, with a lot of investment in training, machinery and upskilling. This is a far more professional workforce than it was a decade or so ago and we want to recognise that and the contractors and crews who are putting in the time and money to make it what it is today.”

Mr Croft said it was exciting for all to be launching the new awards. “I really like the idea of the workers getting the recognition and for others to see them as the professionals they are,” he said.

There are 14 different categories with the overall Skilled Professional of the Year found from six of those covering forestry, roading, harvesting, distribution, wood processing and tree faller excellence. Women, trainees and the environment are also celebrated in the awards, with categories for each.

Mr Croft was hopeful the awards would highlight just how much was on offer for people keen to work in the industry. It should help people better appreciate the huge array of career opportunities within forestry. “The possibilities are endless,” he says, “with attractive options from tree planting to truck driving, harvesting, mapping, satellite photography, computer modelling, management, export, sales, genetics and more. “There is something for most- everyone in the forestry industry, and, as the awards will show, people on the inside of our industry are loving it.”

Nominations open on 1 August with judging in October and the Awards function in late November.

Photo: Mathew Croft

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NZ – Hunter Harrill leaving for USA role

International Forest Industries - Wed, 08/05/2019 - 11:09

Dr Hunter Harrill, is leaving University of Canterbury School of Forestry after 8 years to take up a new position at Humboldt State University, USA as Assistant Professor.

Rien Visser, Director of Forest Engineering at UC acknowledged Hunter’s influence saying, “He will be missed, as our students have greatly benefited from Hunters’ knowledge and enthusiasm for all things harvesting and he was well known to many loggers, especially those running cable logging systems.”

“He has carried out many applied research projects around the country as part of the FGR research programme. For example, his knowledge resulted in his running of several cable logging and planning workshops. More recently Hunter provided productivity coaching for Rayonier and Ernslaw One crews,” said Rien.

While his departure will be a great loss for the UC School of Forestry, its an excellent opportunity for Hunter and his wife Katie. They’re heading back to where they both studied, have extended family where he started his career, in the magnificent redwood forests of northern California.

Hunter will be able to make a valuable contribution not only to teaching the next generation of foresters there, but helping their loggers as they start to expand into winch-assist operations. This is already providing some collaboration opportunities between the two regions renowned for cable logging and working on steep slopes.

“We thank Hunter for his major contribution to the both the School of Forestry and our NZ industry and wish him and Katie all the best for the future.”

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North American sawmill profit margins fall

International Forest Industries - Fri, 03/05/2019 - 15:27

Lumber prices in North America continued their decline from the 3Q/18 with another quarter of substantial reductions. Average lumber prices for southern yellow pine were down 12% quarter-over-quarter in the 3Q/18, which was then followed by a reduction of 17% in the 4Q/18.

With practically no change in log or chip prices, gross margins, and the EBIDTAs, have plunged in the Southern states, after having reach a 13-year high in the 2Q/18, as reported in the latest issue of the WRQ. However, the region’s sawmill margins were still well above their ten-year average margin. With lumber prices continuing to decline faster than log prices in early 2019, profit margins have continued to slide in the 1Q/19.

Sawmills in British Columbia have also seen the prices for lumber in the US market come down substantially during the second half of 2018. Despite the weaker lumber market, sawlog prices still increased from the 3Q/18 to the 4Q/18 because of tighter supply and a rise in hauling costs. Sawmills saw their gross margins plunge to unprofitable levels and many companies decided to take market-related downtime in late 2018 and early 2019.

In Europe and Russia, market prices for lumber were much less volatile than in North America, with only small price adjustments from the 4Q/17 to the 4Q/18. Log costs were unchanged in Finland during most of the year, while the costs for spruce sawlogs in Sweden jumped in late 2018. Gross margins for sawmills in both countries are still at healthy levels and, in the 4Q/18, were close to the highest they have been in four years.

Sawmills in Siberia continue to expand exports to China with fairly stable lumber export prices the past three years. However, in the 4Q/18, lumber prices fell to their lowest level in almost two years. This occurred at the same time as sawlog costs remained unchanged from the previous quarter, resulting in reduced gross margins for many lumber producers at the end of 2018. Sawmill margins for 2018 were slightly below their five-year averages, but still higher than the average for the past 14 years.

Source: Wood Resources International LLC, www.WoodPrices.com

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Caterpillar selling purpose-built forestry business

International Forest Industries - Fri, 03/05/2019 - 15:08

In August 2018 Caterpillar Inc. announced plans to sell its forestry business to Weiler Forestry Inc. Caterpillar and Weiler have now entered into a definitive agreement to sell Cat’s purpose-built forestry business. The deal will close in Q3 2019.

In November last year, Gough Cat announced that they’d entered into an agreement with United States company Weiler Incorporated to distribute its forestry product line in New Zealand.

“We remain committed to supporting our forestry customers and the forestry industry,” said Ramon Younessi, Caterpillar Construction Industries Group President, in a statement.

“Caterpillar and our dealers have an established relationship with Weiler that spans many years. The process of developing this binding agreement has further enhanced our confidence in Weiler’s ability to deliver purpose-built forestry machines, while Caterpillar continues to offer forestry excavators and other core equipment, allowing the dealers to provide a complete product portfolio and the optimal solution for forestry customers.”

Among the core equipment Caterpillar will continue providing is forestry excavators designed for log loading, processing and other forestry applications. As part of the agreement, Weiler will acquire Cat’s purpose-built forestry product line, including wheel skidders, track feller bunchers, wheel feller bunchers and knuckleboom loaders. The company will also own Cat’s operations in LaGrange, Ga., Auburn, Ala., and Smithfield, N.C.

Once the deal is closed, Weiler Forestry will design and produce purpose-built forestry products, which will be available through the Cat dealer network.

Source: woodbusiness.ca

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PotlatchDeltic Corporation reports 1Q net income of $6.6 million

International Forest Industries - Fri, 03/05/2019 - 11:22

PotlatchDeltic Corporation reported net income of $6.6 million, or $0.10 per diluted share, on revenues of $181.7 million for the 1Q ended March 31, 2019. Excluding after-tax special items consisting of a gain on the sale of the legacy Deltic MDF facility and a loss on the extinguishment of debt, adjusted net income was $5.3 million, or $0.08 per diluted share for the 1Q 2019.

“Our 1Q results reflect seasonally lower activity and challenging operating conditions,” said Mike Covey, chairman and CEO. “We continue to expect improvement in lumber prices as the building season gets underway in earnest. Meanwhile, our balance sheet remains strong and provides the flexibility to drive shareholder value,” stated Mr. Covey.

PotlatchDeltic is a leading Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) that owns nearly 1.9 million acres of timberlands in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota and Mississippi. Through its taxable REIT subsidiary, the company also operates six sawmills, an industrial-grade plywood mill, a residential and commercial real estate development business and a rural timberland sales program.

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Stora Enso signs global commitment to combat plastic pollution

International Forest Industries - Fri, 03/05/2019 - 10:50

Stora Enso has joined the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment to eliminate plastic waste and pollution at the source. The Global Commitment and its vision for a circular economy for plastic is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with UN Environment.

For Stora Enso, signing the commitment is another step to combat the global problem of plastic pollution by providing renewable alternatives. Stora Enso will contribute by cooperating with customers and suppliers to develop circular and low carbon solutions to replace plastic packaging.

The materials are based on wood fibres from sustainably managed forests and plantations. This commitment is an example of the increasing demand for alternatives to plastic, also demonstrated by the EU’s recent policy on single-use plastics.

The Global Commitment aims to create “a new normal” for plastic packaging. Commitments and targets will be reviewed every 18 months, and become increasingly ambitious over the coming years. Businesses that sign the commitment will publish annual data on their progress to help drive momentum and ensure transparency.

Stora Enso is a leading global provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden constructions and paper.

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Linck to present new profiler unit VPM 350 at LIGNA 2019

International Forest Industries - Thu, 02/05/2019 - 11:12

Linck to present a new profiler unit VPM 350 at LIGNA 2019. The family of VPM profiler units was extended by an additional machine model.

In addition to the high end machine VPM450, the smaller VPM 350 was developed to be used for cant heights of up to 350 mm and cutting depths of up to 75 mm.

The smaller adjustment paths and chip removal volumes made it possible to simplify drive and cutting tool design. There is only one drive motor per side whose power is distributed to the two profiler heads of one side according to requirement. The reduced adjustment paths allowed a shortening of the profiler head drive shaft with positive effect on the machine width and thus to keep to the dimensions of the VPF profiler unit. As a result, the VPM 350 corresponds to the VPF machine in size and processing possibilities and is perfectly suited to be installed in existing saw lines.

Downsizing the machine dimensions allowed for a further reduction of the masses to be moved, thus resulting in smaller gaps between cants for operating modes with sawing optimization.

And with the new VPM 350, you also benefit from the special features of the VPM profiler unit series, namely sawn lumber surfaces without tear-outs, the possibility of diagonal profiling by using tilting tool axes and the possibility of curve profiling by pivoting cutting tools.

Linck is the largest European manufacturer of sawmill equipment.

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Climate Change – Billion hectares of land have potential for forest restoration

International Forest Industries - Wed, 01/05/2019 - 13:53

Looking back –  Report 2009  http://forestportal.efi.int/content/view/169/15/

Land areas around the world totalling more than the size of Canada have been identified as having potential to be restored to good quality, healthy forests, a new study has found.

As the global effort to help tackle climate change by reversing the alarming loss of forests steps up, scientists using sophisticated satellite mapping have produced a world map identifying areas in which more than a billion hectares of former forest land and degraded forest land has restoration potential. That is about 6% of the total land area of the planet, and restoring forests to some of these lands could be achieved without prejudicing other vital land uses, such as food production. The Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) also says that the needs and rights of indigenous peoples and others who depend on forests must be respected when considering restoration projects. GPFLR will now work with individual countries and local communities to deliver restoration where communities benefit.

Preliminary analysis indicates that by 2030 the restoration of degraded forest lands could make the same contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases as that which could be expected from avoided deforestation (70 Gt of CO2 emissions), and perhaps as much as twice that amount. The GPFLR will work with countries over the next year to clarify and refine these figures on a country-by-country basis.

The findings were announced on 26 November 2009 in London, England, at an international meeting of the GPFLR, of which the IUCN and the British Forestry Commission are founding members.

Also 2015 – Visit https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-24/wa-scientist-part-of-world-first-pilot-program-restoring-forest/8051460

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HefCel Innovation: Wood as a fire retardant

International Forest Industries - Wed, 01/05/2019 - 13:24

Wood is an established and versatile construction material, used to build everything from high-rises and airports to apartment buildings. It also, however, is not immune to catching fire. A new coating could help keep that from happening, and it’s actually made from wood.

Developed in Finland by scientists at the VTT Technical Research Centre, the solution incorporates nanocellulose, which in turn consists of microscopic cellulose fibres obtained from wood pulp.

Manufactured utilising a patented technology known as HefCel (High- Consistency Enzymatic Fibrillation of Cellulose) the gel-like nanocellulose reportedly has 10 times the solids content of similar materials. As a result, when applied to wood – which nanocellulose naturally adheres to – it’s very good at forming an airtight barrier that keeps oxygen from reaching that wood’s surface. This means that the wood is significantly less likely to combust when exposed to a flame.

It is thought that the coating could be particularly useful when mixed with a pigment, then applied to wood in the form of a sprayed- or brushed-on paint or stain.

Initial batches of the HefCel-based coating have reportedly performed well in lab tests, and an energy-efficient production process has been developed. The scientists are now working on scaling up that process, making it simpler yet at the same time even more efficient. They’re also currently looking for an industry partner to help commercialise the technology.

Photo: HefCel-coated wood (left) and untreated wood (right) after 30 seconds flame test. (Photo: VTT)

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