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Quick Six - November

Carbon emissions from deforestation hugely over-estimated

Cutting down trees inevitably leads to more carbon in the environment, but deforestation's contributions to climate change are vastly overestimated, according to a new study led by researchers at The Ohio State University and Yale University.

"Our estimate is about a fifth of what was found in previous work showing that deforestation has contributed 484 billion tons of carbon—a third of all manmade emissions—since 1900," said Brent Sohngen, a professor of environmental and resource economics at Ohio State.

"There was a significant shift toward treating forests as a renewable, rather than nonrenewable, resource in the last century, and we estimate that those reforestation and forest management efforts have led to a far smaller carbon burden on the environment," Sohngen said, adding that the previous estimate was based on trees natural regrowth without any human intervention.

Previous estimates argued that about 27 percent of manmade net carbon emissions were from deforestation whereas the new research estimates that the correct number is just 7 percent.

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New Zealand wood processors and manufacturers welcome tariff reductions to China

The Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association of New Zealand (WPMA) has welcomed the announcement that tariff reductions have been won for New Zealand ’s wood manufacturing sector under the China-NZ Free Trade Agreement Upgrade.

Tariff concessions for the New Zealand wood industry in the protected Chinese market will see $2 million of savings on 12 export product lines within a $36 million annual trade.  This upgrade was achieved after two and a half years of negotiations.

New forestry hub in Rotorua for Te Uru Rakau

The New Zealand Government has committed to a strong regional presence for Te Uru Rakau (Forestry New Zealand), with the construction of a new Forestry Hub in Rotorua.  Speaking at a blessing ceremony at the site of the new building, Scion’s Rotorua campus, Forestry Minister Shane Jones said the Forestry Hub, which will be shared with the Department of Conservation, will ultimately house some 50 Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff, with 25 of those from Te Uru Rakau.

“In order for us to strengthen and grow the New Zealand forestry sector, it is important that we build a strong and dedicated regional presence, as was outlined in the Coalition Agreement,” Shane Jones said.

Te Uru Rakau is currently scaling up to support the delivery of the government's forestry goals.

“The purpose-built facility will be constructed with sustainable construction techniques, including using New Zealand grown timber for both the structural and visible parts of the building. A new build provides an opportunity to demonstrate the value of wood for building and will show case the opportunity to use timber grown and manufactured in New Zealand more extensively.”

“This ties in nicely with the Rotorua Lakes District Council’s Wood First policy which encourages the use of wood products to support the district's vital wood industry. So we’re right at home here,” Minister Jones said.

Dressing from tree bark could transform treatment of wounds

A bandage made from bark could transform the treatment of wounds. The soft dressing contains tiny fibres extracted from birch trees grown in Finland which are strong enough to provide a ‘scaffold’ on to which healthy new skin cells can grow.

In their search for new ways to improve the healing process, scientists have turned their attention to wood — partly because it’s biocompatible, which means it does not cause the body’s immune system to react.

It is also a rich source of cellulose, a fibrous material used for decades in the production of clothing, paper, plastics and even explosives — the benefit for treating wounds is its absorbency.

Birch tree extract has been used for centuries as a remedy for wounds. It also releases a chemical, called betulin, which stimulates the growth of healthy new skin cells to repair damage. So far the bandage, developed by researchers from Helsinki University and surgeons from Helsinki Burn Centre, has been tested on burns patients who needed major skin grafts.

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‘Artificial leaf’ could produce sustainable liquid fuel alternative to petrol

Syngas is currently made from a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide and is used in the production of fuels, pharmaceuticals, plastics and fertilisers. The artificial leaf uses  is powered by sunlight and does not release any carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  This device is inspired by photosynthesis – the natural process by which plants use the energy from sunlight to turn carbon dioxide into food.

On the artificial leaf, two light absorbers, similar to the molecules in plants that harvest sunlight, are combined with a catalyst made from the naturally abundant element cobalt.

When the device is immersed in water, one light absorber uses the catalyst to produce oxygen. The other carries out the chemical reaction that reduces carbon dioxide and water into carbon monoxide and hydrogen, forming the syngas mixture.Being able to produce it sustainably would be a critical step in closing the global carbon cycle and establishing a sustainable chemical and fuel industry,” said senior author Professor Erwin Reisner from Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry, who has spent seven years working towards this goal.

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Mass timber showcased at new Nelson Airport 

Designed by Studio Pacific Architecture and built by Naylor Love in partnership with Gibbons Construction and Fulton Hogan, the airport terminal caters for growth projections in excess of 50% of the current 1 million passengers which have passed through the facility in the last 12 months.
More than twice the size of the previous terminal, the new building has an indoor luggage carousel and offers more seating, airline lounges, conference rooms, toilets and retail spaces. The number of car parks has also increased from 600 to 900.

The new building has a distinctive local feel, with most of the timber and steel used in the construction sourced from Nelson/Tasman. The locally grown and processed Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) structure, the natural ventilation, solar chimneys, use of natural light and recycling initiatives are leading the way in the modern terminal.

The panoramic “floor to ceiling” windows showcase the wonderful climate and an innovative roof structure reflects the surrounding mountains and national parks in a combination of folded plates and beams.

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