Beginning of the end for hardwood here?

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#1)  Beginning of the end for hardwood here?

Postby Lucas » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:12 pm

http://m.thechronicleherald.ca/business ... -the-cheap

"Hardwood processors in Nova Scotia are currently scarce. Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP) contractors are now buying hardwood processors. These massive, heavy pieces of equipment are capable of levelling large maple and birch stands. To date, some of these trees were left standing because equipment could not cut them. Soon, this will not be the case."


COMMENTARY: Chipping our forests on the cheap
BOB BANCROFT
Published February 6, 2018 - 9:01pm
Public land and wildlife continue to be destroyed, yet are absent from industry costs
A harvester cuts wood in Rossfield, Pictou County. A proposed biomass power plant would use material not suitable for commercial use, such as insect or storm damaged wood, deformed hardwood, or overmature hardwood with rot. (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE / Staff)
A harvester cuts wood in Rossfield, Pictou County. A proposed biomass power plant would use material not suitable for commercial use, such as insect or storm damaged wood, deformed hardwood, or overmature hardwood with rot. (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE / Staff)
Pulp companies use softwoods like spruce to manufacture paper products. They obtain leases to cut wood on Crown land, in forests owned by the public.

The leases allow them to cut hardwood trees on Crown land.

When other energy prices, such as natural gas, soar, it becomes economic to burn hardwoods in the Point Tupper biomass plant to produce electricity, at an efficiency rate of less than 21.5 per cent. To put this in perspective, a woodstove can have an efficiency rate about 80 per cent to produce heat.

Margins go up and margins go down, but one important aspect not factored into this equation as corporations adapt to profit, is the cost to wildlife. Animals are crushed under heavy equipment as they cower in their dens. Songbirds made their homes in these forests.

They are nowhere on the financial statement. The cost to wildlife can be the ultimate price.

In September 2017, in spite of assurances to the contrary, the biomass plant at Point Tupper quietly resumed operation on a 24-7 basis. This plant requires 50 to 60 tractor-trailer loads of wood per day to keep it going. It’s a mega-plant by North American standards, with Nova Scotia Power heavily involved.

Earlier, people familiar with this industry protested to no avail. They knew that the emissions alone put this biomass facility in the same category as a coal-burning plant. Ignoring this scientific fact, the provincial and federal governments and Nova Scotia Power have the nerve to label it “green, renewable” energy.

Hardwood processors in Nova Scotia are currently scarce. Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP) contractors are now buying hardwood processors. These massive, heavy pieces of equipment are capable of levelling large maple and birch stands. To date, some of these trees were left standing because equipment could not cut them. Soon, this will not be the case.

An Irving contractor from New Brunswick is bringing at least one hardwood processor into Nova Scotia. Our red and sugar maples are chipped in Nova Scotia and trucked for processing at Irving mills in Sussex and Saint John.

After delivering the maple chips to New Brunswick, trucks are returning loaded with low-grade biomass material to the plant in Point Tupper. This biomass facility is so large that we don’t have enough forest to supply it! The need for trees can’t be fulfilled by seven eastern counties in Nova Scotia, so now our tax dollars will be partially funding the transportation costs.

Maples go to New Brunswick, while our white and yellow birches are being trucked directly to the biomass plant at Point Tupper, where they are chipped in the yard to be burned.

PHP’s hardwood prices paid to some contractors recently dropped from $42 to $32 per tonne. The rate for another contractor operating on Crown land is $24 a tonne. Trucking rates vary by distance, but start at around $13 per tonne.

The industrial-strength forestry producing these chips results in thousands of acres of scattered clearcuts. Large clearcuts are not a recommended harvest method for hardwoods. Clearcutting destroys prospects for the timely renewal of healthy hardwood forests on the site. Trees with value-added potential, such as veneer or saw logs, are best harvested selectively, not with big machinery.

So what price is our elected government exacting from corporations that are converting public hardwood forests to chips?

The provincial government may have a stated commitment to public transparency, yet the Details of Department of Natural Resources price agreements with PHP remain cloaked in secrecy. On any documents released to the public, stumpage fees paid to government by PHP are heavily redacted (blacked out). (Corruption expert Don Bowser, who has studied the use and misuse of public resources by governments around the world, suggests that the people of Afghanistan can obtain more resource information from their government.)

Stumpage rates to be paid to government by the original Swedish owner of the Port Hawkesbury mill went off the financial rails in early negotiations decades ago. Ignoring the going rate for stumpage, which at the time was $4.40 per cord, then premier Robert Stanfield set the Crown stumpage rate at $1 per cord. At a meeting several years ago, one DNR government bureaucrat indicated that the stumpage rate set for wood from Crown (public) land was $3.50 a tonne, but such a rate could be lowered to $1 per tonne in “certain” circumstances.

For those who are unfamiliar, a cord of eight-foot-long wood, in a pile, is about four feet high and four feet wide and weighs about two tonnes, so the return per cord of hardwood from public land could be as low as $2. Tractor-trailer loads of hardwood on major highways could add as little as $30 to $34 to government coffers. Harvest sites may have 20 to 50 cords of standing wood per acre, which could generate revenues as low as $40 to $100 per acre. One former DNR minister could not obtain the stumpage rate from his senior bureaucrats. In fact, the minister could not find where any payment had been made by one pulp mill.

For such meagre sums, or less, public lands are being transformed to moonscapes. Wildlife populations are displaced and/or killed, soil nutrients flushed away, and land is left bare to release carbon dioxide from its soils into the atmosphere.

Erosion during rainfall events carries silt over open ground, clogging waterways that have inadequate, or no buffers. The resulting site conditions, with the losses of soil nutrients, exposure to direct sunlight and the drying effects of wind, favour the growth of pioneer species like fir, spruce, poplar and wire birch, rather than the yellow birch and sugar maples that were there.

Landowners who want to sell private wood are forced to compete with this outrageous pricing.

Eight years ago, the provincial government assured us that the Point Tupper biomass plant would burn waste wood. To most folks, that meant leftovers from wood manufacturing, not entire tree trunks. Now hardwood forests and their wildlife habitats are being flattened at a furious pace for private profits from public lands. Since when was mature, uneven-aged hardwood forest “waste wood”?

This provincial government, in partnership with forest industries that include WestFor, is allowing the rampant destruction and degradation of the natural world, with a pittance going into public coffers in return.

Taxpayers are cheated while the land is destroyed for generations. It’s time to demand government accountability. Why should public resources be extracted in a manner that undermines private wood suppliers, while pulp companies ignore good forest management practices, eliminating vast hardwood stands and destroying nature with impunity?

The bureaucrats responsible for giving away these public resources have faces. I know some of them. Explanations for their behaviour and abuse of power are essential to our democratic process. This is mining extraction with no thought for next generations, not sustainable forestry.

It’s time to initiate sensible land and water stewardship with a new approach to forestry in Nova Scotia. One that’s viable for forest-based industries, as well as nature and wildlife, over the long term.

Bob Bancroft is president of Nature Nova Scotia. He lives in Pomquet.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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#2)  Re: Beginning of the end for hardwood here?

Postby Joe » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:54 pm

that's all nonsense- I could easily deconstruct it- but such conversations are not OK here, so I'll refrain
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#3)  Re: Beginning of the end for hardwood here?

Postby Lucas » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:23 pm

Joe wrote:that's all nonsense- I could easily deconstruct it- but such conversations are not OK here, so I'll refrain


The politics or the economics?

Hardwood is about the only thing left here.
I saw them cutting 30 year old softwood yesterday. Anything goes here.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir
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#4)  Re: Beginning of the end for hardwood here?

Postby Lucas » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:24 pm

Joe wrote:that's all nonsense- I could easily deconstruct it- but such conversations are not OK here, so I'll refrain


The politics or the economics?

Hardwood is about the only thing left here.
I saw them cutting 30 year old softwood yesterday. Anything goes here.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir
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#5)  Re: Beginning of the end for hardwood here?

Postby Joe » Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:45 am

Lucas wrote:
Joe wrote:that's all nonsense- I could easily deconstruct it- but such conversations are not OK here, so I'll refrain


The politics or the economics?

Hardwood is about the only thing left here.
I saw them cutting 30 year old softwood yesterday. Anything goes here.


Serious debates over forestry policies- are apparently not wanted in this forum. Often in the past when they get started, I've been informed that this is not the place. Too bad, because forestry policies are important. Essentially, that item is anti forestry. 99% of the time I get into such debates, it's when I see something that is anti forestry- I don't start such conversations out of the blue- but then i usually slam those forestry haters with a sledge hammer- but again, I have been told such conversations don't belong in this BBS.
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#6)  Re: Beginning of the end for hardwood here?

Postby Larry Tucei » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:29 pm

Joe-  You put on here whatever you like about Forestry.  This Forum was meant for any discussions about trees or Forestry.  I enjoy reading your posts you have a wealth of experience with Forestry- I learn a lot from you and others on these types of topics. What I don't won't are political posts! My 2 Cents.  Larry
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#7)  Re: Beginning of the end for hardwood here?

Postby Larry Tucei » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:49 pm

Lucas-  Interesting article. The southern US had been clear cut in the 1900's- 1930s so the trees are just now starting to reach substantial size and height. All of Ms National Forests were created after the big lumber booms of the early 1900's. The timber companies have been cutting on Govt. Forests for years sometimes vast clear cuts. I always questioned why public Forests were cut in the first place. I'm no Forester but have learned immensely from discussions by Foresters on this Forum. Select cut is the way to harvest timber. Diversity is the key to good Forest practice. Some part of the Forest should be Old Growth, some second growth and some selective cutting. This type of cutting this article suggests is destroying the ecosystem of the Forest. I'm for more public awareness of what the heck is going on.  The Foresters of my area are re-thinking the old cut and run practice of yesteryear with diversification.  I don't think our Forests will ever be cut like in the early 20th Century.   Larry
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#8)  Re: Beginning of the end for hardwood here?

Postby Joe » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:30 pm

That article really is false in countless ways. I'd love to deconstruct it- but I have been told in the past by - uh- people who run this BBS that they don't like it when I deconstruct something like that- because, of course, I do it with my hot temper in a rage. Another forester from Mass., Mike Leonard, was locked out for deconstructing such nonsense. It's certainly true that much of what passes as forestry all across this planet is brutal work- but it's also true that most of the time I see such critical articles, it's written by people who don't have the slightest clue what they're talking about. Unfortunately, I won't be able to enlighten y'all about this article.
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#9)  Re: Beginning of the end for hardwood here?

Postby dbhguru » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:46 pm

Joe,

  The person you refer to was removed from the BBS for being a real pain. We lost several good BBS members who were actually contributing to the mission because they tired of those mis-directed Massachusetts forestry bitch sessions. Ed Frank finally stepped in and stopped the foolishness when I wouldn't. Ed did exactly what he should have done. I could have, but didn't. I got caught up in fire and fury. Won't happen again.

  If you want to "deconstruct" that fellow's article, then be my guest. Since Lucas (not his actual name) posted the Canadian guy's rant, you can respond. Fair is fair. Educate us. I'll allow it once.

Ents,

  We all have strong views on religion, politics, economic and cultural issues, etc. I can be as much of a firebrand on that stuff as anybody, but when we stray into such topics, it doesn't work out so well for the NTS mission. That is why we're here isn't it?

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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#10)  Re: Beginning of the end for hardwood here?

Postby edfrank » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:51 pm

Joe,

Not 100% true.  He was banned for making personal attacks on people who disagreed with him on the forum, including myself.  I am not going to put up with that crap.  And what you call deconstructing is cherry picking parts of an argument, rephrasing it to meet your pwn purposes, and ignoring the rest in order to create a false narrative of what a person was saying - reinventing their words in a way you can try to make them look stupid.  Creating strawmen that are not actually there - a logical fallacy commonly used by people who can't argue with the actual arguments made.

Edward Forrest Frank
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky
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