Saturday, January 24, 2009

Let's look at Biochar and Slow Pyrolysis

Let's look at and learn about "slow pyrolysis" and Biochar seriously: "Biochar may represent the single most important initiative for humanity’s environmental future. The biochar approach provides a uniquely powerful solution, for it allows us to address food security, the fuel crisis, and the climate problem, and all in an immensely practical manner. ..."
Professor Tim Flannery

The International Biochar Initiative (IBI)

An Open Letter on Biochar from Professor Tim Flannery
Tim Flannery is a Professor in Earth and Life Sciences at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia...
Throughout 2008 it’s felt as if our future has been crystallising before our eyes. Food shortages, escalating oil prices, a melting Arctic ice cap and other climatic changes seem to make the news every week. All are potentially serious threats, and any one could be the harbinger of profound change for our global civilisation. Scientific studies confirm that our planet is warming at a rate consistent with the worst case scenario developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2001, meaning that we must make substantial inroads on our emissions in the next 20 years if we hope to avoid irreversible damage to Earth’s climate system. Yet, with economic growth and the thirst for energy in China and India seemingly unstoppable, this is a task of the utmost difficulty. Furthermore, progress cannot be made at the cost of our food or energy security. What is needed in this 21st century of ours, clearly, are solutions that deal with several of our major problems at once. And they must be deliverable quickly, and at a scale able to make a real difference. Biochar may represent the single most important initiative for humanity’s environmental future. The biochar approach provides a uniquely powerful solution, for it allows us to address food security, the fuel crisis, and the climate problem, and all in an immensely practical manner. Biochar is both an extremely ancient concept and one very new to our thinking. Amazonian Indians used it to produce the terra preta soils of the Amazon basin which, a thousand years after their creation, remain more fertile than surrounding lands. Yet few farmers living today have heard of biochar. Worse, our political debates about climate change continue in ignorance of it, while industries that could benefit immensely from it have barely considered it. The key element in the biochar technologies is charcoal-making, which involves the heating of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. There are many important products of the charcoal-making processes, including a synthetic gas which can be used to generate electricity; a substitute for diesel fuel, and the charcoal itself, which has the potential to sequester gigatonnes of atmospheric carbon per annum, making it the most potent engine of atmospheric cleansing we possess. Among the most valuable outcomes of the application of the biochar technologies are greatly increased economic efficiency in agriculture, enhanced crop yields, and slowing the return to the atmosphere of carbon captured by plants. Diverse and clean energy supplies, more food per unit of input, and climate security. In simple terms, this is what the biochar revolution offers us. Biochar technologies are potentially world-wide in their applicability. Grain production and many other forms of agriculture, livestock production, forestry and even the disposal of human waste will, I’m convinced, be profoundly transformed by biochar, and the impact will be both swift and radical. The driver, at least initially, is likely to be the climate crisis. Approximately eight per cent of all atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by plants each year. If just a small proportion of the carbon captured by plants can be pyrolysed and transformed into charcoal, humanity’s prospects will be much brighter, for this will buy us time as we struggle to make the transition to a low emissions economy. Biochar represents a cornerstone of our future global sustainability. With the appropriate political and technical recognition, promotion and adoption, it will change our world forever, and very much for the better.
Tim Flannery
August 2008


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tasmanian Times, a chance & serious concerns

Forestry Tasmania's new boss
Frank Strie
Call for a new Managing Director with vision and expertise for responsible forest stewardship community trust and positive change.
Read more here …

PoliticsStateForestry • (0) Comments

Forestry Tasmania's failure
The Examiner
Forestry Tasmania appears to be failing in its corporate objectives. Tom Ellison reports.
When Forestry Tasmania was corporatised in 1995, the intention was to place the organisation on a more commercial footing, with a view to driving better returns from the State’s 5 million hectares of publicly owned forests. With a mandate to manage the forest estate for optimum community benefit, Forestry Tasmania also has a stated aim of improving profit performance and returns to its shareholders, the Tasmanian public. But if the fine print in last week’s State Budget is an indication, Forestry Tasmania is failing in its own corporate objectives. According to the Budget papers, Forestry Tasmania will return just $1 million in dividends to the State Government in 2006-07 — a massive fall from the $7.8 million expected to be paid in the current year.
Read more here
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A forester's inspiration lead to good news for change

How a forester’s inspiration, venture capital, a chef, savvy marketing, open bookkeeping, and a radical agenda combined to create—oddly enough— economic success.

... Coming from a sustainable forestry background, he took over his parents’ farm in coastal Denmark in the 1980s and was ripe for the alternative concept. His farm’s alternative effort began in 1996 with the help of a government grant. His goal was to grow for 250 households.
Talking Shop: NOFA-NY Conference
Thomas Harttung’s humongous CSA: Growing by 10,000 households per year ...
urban households and farms utilizing a box scheme patterned on the British model,

The idea of Aarstiderne grew out of the work of farmer Thomas Harttung putting ...
Thomas' speech at Cirencester 2003 - 'Thinking Outside the Box' - Part I ...

Rhapsody of Aarstiderne
Aarstiderne has delivered organic products to the doorsteps of Danish households since 1999. It started out as a small vegetable garden at a farm, Barritskov, in the western part of Denmark. The garden supplied fresh vegetables for about 100 local households.
Now Aarstiderne delivers organic produce to the doorsteps of 30.000 Danish households, employs 110 people, provides a sales channel for organic farmers and catalyses the public motion towards healthier food and better environment in Denmark – not by agitating, but simply by enabling everybody to be a part of the good idea - by doing it!

AND there is more:

Thinking Outside the Box I · Thinking Outside the Box II ...
Thomas Harttung has held and still holds the chair of a number of government and private ...
Working for sustainability in shared risks between farmers and customers.
Right from the beginning - the customers have prepaid the boxes. In the beginning they prepaid three months - now they are only prepaying one month. Without this it wouldn’t have been possible to finance the growth of the company.
Also the engagement between customer and company has had a longer term character in the form of subscription to a box, where the content is composed by Aarstiderne. This makes planning both of economy and growing possible and more secure.
In this way Aarstiderne has succeeded in creating the difficult combination of ecology and economy.

Setting new standards for transparency and communication
Aarstiderne has re-established the communication between those who produce the food and those who consume it – a farmer to citizen communication – soil to plate - in a contemporary way. This communication on one hand helps the farmer in getting a true picture of what the everyday consumer thinks, and on the other hand improves the understanding among the consumers of variations in seasons and challenges weather-wise. This vehicle of communication is useful for other purposes as well such as transferring knowledge of sustainability and consideration for nature and health....

AND here is just a bid of timely information on forestry from the same man:

[PDF] Pro Silva Principles and Carbon

CHAIRMAN OF DARCOF (Danish Research Centre for organic farming ...

Pine management, log quality, classification and specification ?

Bitter negotiations

Auspine's state manager Geoff Campbell said that the standoff involved many more factors than price -- including log quality, classification and specification.

Read the story here:,5936,19452900%255E3462,00.html

Now the logical questions that could be asked: "Has Forestry Tasmania managed the publicly owned Pine plantation resource in a sustainable way?"
Who was, and / or who is the responsible commercial manager(s) for the situation?
Who will take the blame among the expert staff in Forestry Tasmania? "

As I think about my time as the Forest Industries Training Officer, from late 1987 to mid 1989, I can still recall that at the time quite a lot of the harvestable pine trees in North East Tasmania where up to one metre in diameter at the base.
What is the final average log diameter, and numbers of sawlogs per hectare at final harvest cut nowadays?

As a forester and sawmiller, I can compare the value recovery of net sawn wood between large diameter and smaller diameter logs.
It seems that this terrible dispute between our state owned plantation resource manager, first of all Evan Rolley's Forestry Tasmania and the biggest Pine sawmilling company in this state, is clearly not just simply about a fair price per cubic meter of logs.

It appears that the dispute goes a lot further into technical and silvicultural issues, thus the commercial uncertainties seem to be also about
less numbers of logs available ,
less numbers of area of "mature" pine trees,
recovery of quality timber per individual log,
less recovery of sawn wood per hectare of plantation, etc.

The smaller a sawlog is, desto higher the net costs per cubic meter of quality sawn timber.
Simply speaking, the higher the ratio of early growth (large growth rings) within a log, desto weaker the timber that can be sawn from it.

This is not rocket science, but based on proper understanding of forestry, silviculture and timber technology.

Surely the Tasmanian public can expect that the often called "world's best practice planation and forest managers, second to none" have proper records and book keeping data to hand, information that can be used to find out the actual amount, volume and quality of sawlogs per hectare grown, harvested and sold since ( let's just say) 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, and the forecast for next financial year!?
Also the amount of pulp logs, residue, etc.
If not, than this case could be a serious matter to be investigated and should be assessed against other forestry agencies around the world.
So much for now.

PLACEDNESS: And Remarkable Parallels

Remarkable Parallels between two swans?

Read more about it on:

, and then look at the sad story about the Carlos Anwandter Sanctuary near the southern Chilean city of Valdivia, which was home to more than 6,000 swans.

[PDF] Microsoft PowerPoint - 2-JARAMILLO
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML 45 pages - the story in English
Eduardo Jaramillo. Instituto de Zoología. Universidad Austral de Chile. Valdivia, CHILE ...
the ultimate cause of the environmental changes ...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

My past involvements in the "f" debate TV productions

Just klick on the link for the transcripts:

Tasmanian Fire Sale Feb. 2003
FRANK STRIE: "If you look just down there now, it's complete devastation. It's a disgrace in an economical sense and ecological sense. ..."

and online :

January 10, 2004
Native Forests: more debate

These comments by Frank Strie were made in the comment box of the previous post. They address the opinions of Greg Barnes at in an insightful way as Frank widens the debate from trees to ecosystem. They are too important to be left buried in the comments as they point towards the idea of ecological integrity.
I have edited the comments so they flow more easily.
This is what Frank said:
"For Greg Barns it, (the issue) continues to be still all about trees and trees again. No matter how often one points this out to him, (see under letters on Tasmanian Times). Barns ignores to see the forests, the creeks and ecosystems. He also ignores the serious debate about good water quality and quantity, clean air and the great loss of opportunities due to resource destruction. Barnes simply will not recognise that forests (not only trees) are the issue.
In reality, the logging debate is much wider than just a fight about big old growth and tall trees, just between the Wilderness Society and Forestry Tasmania and it's Industry lobby. Greg Barnes appears simple-minded, as he can only see two opposing sides, just as he uses the example of two countries at war.
What about the local community what about the world community? All around Tasmania there are communities confronted with destruction of landscape, water resource, 1080 poison, chemical spray etc. etc. Just have a look at Discover Tasmania or Tarkine or Doctors for Forests.
Is the broader population not involved in the debate? Are they not participating on talkback radio and letters to the editor and other forms of debate? Is the public community just outside observers for G. Barnes? Is every critical voice a typical greenie? If so what a narrow view!
For me and my associates in the 'for forests movement' (*Timber Workers For Forests Inc. the debate is not simply about economic versus environmental arguments; it is actually about social, ethical and intergenerational issues too.
Typical negotiated 'compromises' and handshakes behind closed doors are just old fashioned ways, in contrast we are working on real solution with the community. The problem is that in the meantime the destruction continues:... ( here and here.)
The Forest Practices System is self-regulated in Tasmania. Just as in other industries around Australia, self-regulation does not work; and in the case of forests, after its gone it takes hundreds of years to get back to what it was, if ever again!
Back to positive contributions. One example of committed work can be found here ProSilva: quality management in our forests. Nearly 10 years ago this paper was first written and presented, however it was ignored and by some just dismissed outright.
The destruction continued, the problem has become more than just a "challenge" of our time. Isn't it time to work out the positive changes, not just with the traditionally two opposing sides? Together with the local community and to make really sure it will work we should not forget to involve the world community."
For a positive Tasmania Frank Strie, FWM, Schwabenforest Pty. Ltd.
(*changed link to TWFF)


Four Corners - 16/02/2004: Lords of the Forests
TICKY FULLERTON: Frank Strie says this myrtle, hundreds of years old,
is on the chipping block ...
FRANK STRIE: "Here we are. Just over 11 and a half metres. ..."

Controversy came about when Forestry Tasmania complaint to the ABC Board that the Myrtle Tree shown was not for real! What a disgrace for a Government Business Enterprise like Forestry Tasmania to write a formal complaint to the ABC board without double checking the facts! As if I would have taken part in an "invented tree stunt"! No appology was ever received, instead there is still a link on Forestry Tasmania's own website for the last two years now:
[PDF] Complaints Australian Broadcasting Corporation GPO Box 9994 Hobart ...
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML Frank Strie says this myrtle, hundreds of years old, is on the chipping block. And. because of its knots and gnarls it is worth even less at the chip mill ...

... of the year and the temperature difference measured between the logging road outside the rainforest, and inside next to 'Holger's Myrtle' was 10.6°C. ...

The rich natural forest was just fantastic, the tall Tree Ferns and the huge Myrtle (called Holger's Myrtle is 12 metres around the trunk) on the Western ...

The really sad part is that whilst Forestry Tasmania's Bass Forest District verbally made committments that the rainforest around Holger's Myrtle would be protected from logging, they have since clearfelled the forest to about 70 metres on the western side, for a monoculture Eucalyptus nitens plantation, consequently most tall rainforest trees (Sassafras) in this undersized "buffer" have since been blown over by the westerly winds.
Not best practice at all!

For the latest news go to:

Retired hurt
By Mark
Cartoons •-->

Evan quits, report
Pic 1

In the week Evan Rolley pulled up stumps, Forestry boss logs off as commander, Pete Godfrey coincidentally wrote this report on his experience of the industry Rolley was chief of.
Titled, Breaches of the Tasmanian Forest Practices, Godfrey describes it as a “brief report on breaches in the last three years in the central North. Download PDF file: times_.pdf
Read more here …

PoliticsStateForestryGunnsEnvironment • (19) Comments

The Last Tree of Tenere
Forestry • (2) Comments

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Andreas Martin's Stump @ logging coupe LA128A

Week 23, on ABC's Tas Country Hour: It seems Evan knows!
Change of leadership for Forestry Tasmania
By Sally Dakis
Tuesday, 06/06/2006
The managing director of Forestry Tasmania is retiring. Evan Rolley has told the board he won't seek to renew his contract when it expires in December. Mr Rolley will work as a consultant from next year, focussing on expanding national and international markets. Evan Rolley has been the longest serving CEO for Forestry Tasmania, at 16 years. Despite the global softening of wood chip prices and a recent report by Comsec warning of business risk, Evan Rolley says the Gunns proposal is the "best chance" for a pulp mill of any proponents. "You don't make a business decision on a one year set of numbers - you've got to look at the longer term trends, to look at where the opportunities are. I know the company has looked very carefully at what is happening in SE Asia, at where their growth might be, and they've also looked at their relative competitiveness."
In this report: Evan Rolley, Forestry Tasmania
Was it a business decision to sue 20 critics?Who gives the forests away to be relative competitive?
Sawmillers adjusting to industry change
By Sally Dakis
Wednesday, 07/06/2006
Federal Forestry Minister Eric Abetz is joining with Tasmanian Infrastructure Minister and Deputy Premier Bryan Green to announce a series of grants for timber operators this lunch time. The 13 grants are part of the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement, and will go to both the forest contracting and sawmilling sector as it "retools", as timber supply moves from old growth to plantation grown timber. The venue for the launch is Whiteline Timbers at Mowbray near Launceston, which has received $257,000 to invest in vacuum drying kilns to add value to native timbers.
In this report: Rosemary Grant, Launceston rural reporter.
Beetle triggers softwood woodchip glut
By Keva Gocher
Thursday, 08/06/2006
We've heard of butter mountains and wine lakes, now there's a global softwood glut forcing prices down for Australian timber exporters. Australia's oldest hardwood chipper has abandoned plans to enter the global softwood chip market as Canada floods the world market forcing prices down to 20 per cent below Australian production costs. The Canadian media is full of debate on the cause of the beetle's mass impact on forestry, is it global warming keeping temperatures up and allowing the beetles to thrive, or is it forestry management practises that create a monoculture allowing insect spread unchecked, or is it fire management regimes that don't allow a natural burning of the forest. Whatever the cause the Canadian beetle kill is so extensive that whole regions of softwoods are being "salvage harvested". The beetle dies when trees are cut down and processed. It's estimated 100,000 trees a year will have to be cut down in Canada just to keep the infested area from expanding. In British Columbia, 4.1 million hectares of forest was removed over winter to help check the beetles progress, and 45,000 pines were removed. Vince Phillips from Australia's oldest woodchip company at Eden, NSW says softwood pulp prices are plummeting as Canada floods the world market at below cost of production.
In this report: Vince Phillips, corporate affairs manager, South East Fibre Exports.