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Tree Frog News for January 8, 2020

Today's Takeaway

Nova Scotia fires "transition team member" focused on the future of Northern Pulp, offers 'emotional support' for mill workers as forest harvesters try to remain optimistic. In other Business news: innovation is not optional for Atlantic Canada's forest future; a freight train carrying wood pellets derails in BC; and Enviva's CEO and a wood energy spokesman push back on a North Carolina's wood-pellet exposé. 

In other news: a Globe and Mail feature on BC's old-growth explorers; Climate change is increasing the risk of Canadian wildfires; and US researchers assess the pros-and-cons of increased CO2 on trees. Meanwhile, Oregon ENGOs get another chance to stop owl killings; and more on Australia's slow motion economic wildfire disaster.

Finally, Toyota's zero-emission city building plan will feature carbon neutral wood.

Kelly McCloskey, Tree Frog Editor

Business & Politics

 

Freight train carrying wood pellets derails in northwest BC

The Canadian Press in the Vancouver Sun

January 7, 2020

Business & Politics

Canada, Canada West

KITWANGA, BC — Canadian National Railway Co. says a freight train carrying wood pellets derailed in northwest British Columbia early Tuesday morning. Company spokesman Jonathan Abecassis says 34 rail cars carrying wood pellets were derailed near Kitwanga, southwest of Hazelton. He says no dangerous goods were involved in the derailment and there were no fires or injuries. Abecassis says none of the pellets went into the Skeena River, which runs close to the tracks. Chris Krepski of the Transportation Safety Board says the freight train derailed at about 6 a.m. [END]

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Kalesnikoff appoints Dale Gray mass timber plant manager

By Maria Church

Kalesnikoff in Wood Business

January 8, 2020

Business & Politics

Canada, Canada West

B.C.’s newest mass timber producer, Castlegar, B.C.-based Kalesnikoff Lumber, has appointed one of its own to take on the new role of mass timber plant manager. The company announced yesterday Dale Gray will be heading up the nearly operational mass timber facility that will soon be producing glulam beams and cross-laminated timber. “Having always had a passion (and quite the knack) for creating with wood, Dale is the perfect fit for this position,” the company announced. Gray is a Kootenay local who began his career at Kalesnikoff in 1991 as a millwright. He advanced to maintenance manager before striking off solo as a custom woodworking contractor. In 2016, he returned to Kalesnikoff to work at the company’s speciality wood branch, Kootenay Innovate Wood.

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Millworkers receiving early retirement letters

By Rod Link

Houston Today

January 8, 2020

Business & Politics

Canada, Canada West

Millworkers who applied for early retirement bridging payments arising from a provincial aid package announced last year began receiving letters the end of December informing them if they’ve met the criteria. More than 600 applications were received by millworkers from around the province who want to take advantage of the program intended to bridge any gap by retiring now until they qualify for regular pension benefits. Exactly how many millworkers might be eligible isn’t known but the provincial government does say an aid program announced last year stands to benefit approximately 3,000 workers affected by permanent or temporary mill closures. …As of the end of 2019, there have been four permanent mill closures, affecting between 500 to 700 workers and 13 indefinite closures affecting around 1,000 workers, indicates the province.

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Forestry transition team member cut for being ‘focused on options for Northern Pulp’

By Jack Julian

CBC News

January 7, 2020

Business & Politics

Canada East, Canada

The Nova Scotia government has fired one of the members of its forestry transition team, the group being set up to guide the industry through the fallout from the imminent shutdown of Northern Pulp. Robin Wilber is president of the Elmsdale Lumber Co. and was a voice for private industry on the team. In recent days, he spoke to multiple media outlets about the possibility of the Pictou County plant going into a state of “hot idle”. “Robin Wilber is focused on options for Northern Pulp. That is not part of the transition team’s mandate therefore he is no longer part of the transition team,” Kelliann Dean, the deputy minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and transition team leader, said. …Meanwhile, the union leader for Northern Pulp workers thinks Wilber should be reinstated. …Don MacKenzie, president of Unifor Local 440.

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Nova Scotia offering ’emotional support’ line for workers affected by mill closure

Canadian Press in Halifax Today

January 7, 2020

Business & Politics

Canada East, Canada

HALIFAX — The Nova Scotia government, facing massive job losses in the province’s forestry sector, has set up a confidential, toll-free line to offer emotional support to those affected by the pending closure of the Northern Pulp mill near Pictou. Premier Stephen McNeil said Tuesday the government will offer the round-the-clock service with the help of the human resources firm Morneau Shepell. “The impact of this situation reaches beyond those directly employed in the forestry sector, and it’s vitally important that support is available to all those who need it,” McNeil said in a written statement. However, the province’s latest bid to deal with the fallout from the closure was partly overshadowed by news that a member of an industry-government transition team, Robin Wilber, had been removed for talking about saving the Northern Pulp mill rather than the fate of forestry workers.

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In wake of Northern Pulp decisions, Nova Scotia sets up emotional support line for forestry sector employees, members of public

Cape Breton Post

January 7, 2020

Business & Politics

Canada East, Canada

A confidential, toll-free line is now open to help anyone in need of emotional support as a result of the pending closure of the Northern Pulp mill. The Nova Scotia government is partnering with Morneau Shepell to deliver the service. People can call the free support line at 1-866-885-6540. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “The impact of this situation reaches beyond those directly employed in the forestry sector and it’s vitally important that support is available to all those who need it,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “This dedicated line is one place people can turn to for support.” The province says that those who call the line will receive professional counselling support and/or a referral to resources in their community.

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Forestry workers not ready to quit as Northern Pulp shutdown looms

By Michael Gorman

CBC News

January 8, 2020

Business & Politics

Canada East, Canada

Greg Watson is trying to remain optimistic. These days, the manager of North Nova Forest Owners Co-op in Wentworth, N.S., like many people who work in the woods, is trying to get a sense of how the future looks for Nova Scotia’s forestry industry as its largest player — Northern Pulp — is weeks away from shutting down. …Watson’s group manages about 30,000 hectares of land for 340 landowners. …But with pulpwood prices falling as the mill prepares to close, Watson estimates his current management area has shrunk in half as landowners put off pending harvests and some work simply isn’t economically viable. …Clinging to positivity at what is unquestionably a difficult time stems in part from a “stubborn” desire to find a way to keep working where he loves… said Watson.

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Indiana legislature should act to protect state forests

Editorial Board

The Pharos Tribune

January 7, 2020

Business & Politics

US East, United States

Before European settlers arrived in the late 18th century, about 20 million acres of Indiana — or 85% of the state — were covered by forests. Twenty-first century Indiana still has about 5 million acres of forest land, but only a small percentage isn’t exposed to exploitation for timber or development. The Department of Natural Resources oversees 150,000 acres in state forests, scattered in 15 pockets mostly across southern Indiana. …So it’s easy to understand why protesters reacted strongly when the DNR sold the rights in November 2017 to log a portion of the Yellowwood State Forest in Nashville. …The Yellowwood controversy shined a spotlight on increased logging in state forests. …A renewed effort to assure that our dwindling forest lands are treated as a precious natural commodity deserves careful consideration in the legislative session that begins in earnest Jan. 7. 

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

 

Wood dust: Keeping your woodshop safe from this quiet hazard

By Dan Braiman, Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance

The Woodworking Network

January 7, 2020

Wood, Paper & Green Building

United States

Though it is as common in woodshops as wood itself, wood dust is a particularly dangerous byproduct of woodworking. Excess dust creates the potential for fires and explosions that are not as uncommon as one may expect. In fact, when wood dust is present, a fire can easily and quickly ignite due to cigarette smoking, hot work, open flames or faulty electrical equipment, among a variety of other triggers. Not only are these fires dangerous, but they can cost a business dearly. …For example, in 2003, a dust explosion at a manufacturing plant in Kentucky resulted in seven deaths and 37 injuries. …So, what can woodshop owners do to protect their employees and their businesses from this risk? Properly removing dust is a critical practice, which involves thorough housekeeping practices and properly managed dust management systems.

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Toyota’s Woven City a vision of the future

By Andrew McCredie

Driving

January 7, 2020

Wood, Paper & Green Building

International

LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Toyota has long been a proponent of hydrogen fuel cells powering vehicles, and the company unveiled plans for an entire city powered by the zero-emission technology. Woven City, as it is called, is described as a “living laboratory”… at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan. Groundbreaking will come in 2021. …The term Woven City relates to how the prototype community’s grid of three different transportation networks weave together. …President Akio Toyoda explained that the city will be a home to residents and researchers who will be able to test and develop technologies such as autonomous vehicles, robotics, personal mobility and smart homes. …Structures will be made of carbon neutral wood with solar panels on their roofs. The wood buildings will be fabricated using traditional Japanese wood joinery, combined with robotic production methods.

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Forestry

 

Input sought on moose winter tick survey

By Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

Government of British Columbia

January 7, 2020

Forestry

Canada, Canada West

The BC Wildlife Health Program is asking for help assessing the effects of winter ticks on the province’s moose population as part of its annual moose winter tick surveillance program. The program relies on observations from wildlife professionals and the public to monitor the number of moose with hair loss and assess the amount of hair loss on each individual. This information is used to estimate the overall prevalence and distribution of winter ticks. Tick infestations can result in behavioural and physiological changes that may directly affect the survival rates of moose, especially in younger individuals. Winter ticks can contribute to moose population declines, especially when climate change and habitat conditions promote high tick numbers. Winter tick infestations can be observed on moose during January through April. The ticks spend the entire winter on one host. There can be tens of thousands of ticks on one moose.

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For Vancouver Island’s old-growth explorers, naming trees is a delight – but saving them is a challenge

By Justine Hunter

The Globe and Mail

January 7, 2020

Forestry

Canada, Canada West

Conservationist Ken Wu has chronicled B.C.’s ancient trees and given them catchy names, hoping it will build support to keep them standing. Now, the province faces crucial choices about logging, biodiversity, Indigenous rights and the fate of the forests. …Mr. Wu, who heads the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance, hunts big trees and gives them nicknames, hoping to build public support for protecting some of the last remaining old-growth forests on Vancouver Island. His nicknames aim to be as catchy as an advertising jingle. “We don’t have the luxury to be boring,” he explains. …The province has approved sections of land in the valley for logging, and Mr. Wu and Mr. Thomas are racing to catalog what they hope to save before the logging trucks roll in. …Today, B.C.’s provincial government, the New Democratic Party, is poised to make some critical decisions about the future of old growth.

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District keeps up pressure to expand community forest

By Rod Link

Houston Today

January 8, 2020

Forestry

Canada, Canada West

The District of Houston isn’t giving up on its bid to expand the Dungate Community Forest to put more wood harvesting under local control. District officials lobbied provincial officials this fall at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver and continued the effort in mid-December with a face-to-face meeting with forests minister Doug Donaldson in Smithers. …So far the District has been unsuccessful with the forests ministry. …Houston, said Brienen, has been emphasizing the impact on the community of the events of 2014 when West Fraser closed Houston Forest Products, resulting in the loss of more than 200 jobs. That closure was the outcome of a larger deal in which West Fraser swapped its Houston area wood licence with one held by Canfor in Quesnel. Canfor then announced it was closing its Quesnel mill.

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Innovation not optional for Atlantic Canada’s forestry sector in 2020

By Brett Bundale

The Telegram

January 8, 2020

Forestry

Canada East, Canada

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — This is the fourth story in a five-part series. …One of the oldest industries in Atlantic Canada is set to undergo a sweeping transformation over the coming decade, as technology, climate change and shifting consumer demands reshape forestry. Despite U.S. tariffs on New Brunswick lumber and the expected closure of Northern Pulp in Nova Scotia, experts say the region’s forestry industry is focused on innovation to ensure long-term, sustainable growth. “There’s a real emergence of innovative technologies that are producing new products out of wood,” Forest NB executive director Mike Legere said in an interview. …The wide range of new uses for wood fibres to replace materials like plastics or cotton has kept demand for wood products strong, despite setbacks in the industry. [a subscription may be required to access the full story]

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Ninth Circuit Gives Green Light to Fight Over Owl Killings

By Karina Brown

Courthouse News Service

January 7, 2020

Forestry

United States, US West

The Ninth Circuit Tuesday gave environmentalists another chance to fight a government experiment they say results not only in the intended deaths of barred owls but also in the killing of spotted owls – the very birds it was intended to protect. Friends of Animals sued U.S. Fish & Wildlife in 2017, claiming it illegally lets logging companies such as Weyerhaeuser harass and kill threatened spotted owls that nest in tree farms. The deaths are “incidental,” according to permits the agency issues to logging companies, since they occur after the companies legally kill barred owls. …But killing barred owls clears the way for spotted owls to move into forests formerly occupied by the non-native owls – who have migrated west due to climate change and habitat destruction and often kill smaller owls.

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Montana’s Last Best Chance

By Dave Skinner

The Flathead Beacon

January 8, 2020

Forestry

United States, US West

Weyerhaeuser is selling the vast majority of its remaining acreage in Montana to a little-known Georgia-based real-estate holding company, keeping only about 140,000 acres back from the 770,000 acres or so Plum Creek still held in Montana at the time of Weyco’s 2016 takeover. Clearly, Weyerhaeuser wants to be rid of Montana soonest… at a price the market might actually be able to bear: $230 per acre. Wow – keep in mind the Montana Legacy Project paid Plum Creek an average of $1,580 per acre, or $490 million for just 310,000 thinly treed acres. …Now that there’s 630,000 acres up for grabs, at real-market value, no less, don’t you think Weyerhaeuser should have made an offer to the state of Montana? I do, because Montana forestry deserves a future – and buying these lands is, without question, Montana’s last best chance to ensure that future – our future.

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Violence escalates as Romania cracks down on illegal timber trade

By Shaun Walker

The Guardian

January 8, 2020

Forestry

International

In the hamlet of Deia, nestled in the forested hills of Suceava county in northern Romania, Ilie Bucșă and his brother Dumitru have become pariahs. …Their sin? They have been methodically filing complaints about illegal logging in the area. Timber theft is commonplace in much of rural Romania. The logging business is one of the main sources of income for swathes of the population, and for years authorities have turned a blind eye to illegal trade. Violence and intimidation against those who oppose it is nothing new. …Since 2014, six forest rangers have been killed and 184 cases of violence against rangers have been logged. …The newly appointed environment minister, Costel Alexe… promised a joined-up approach from all government ministries to save the forest.

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Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

 

Experts say climate change is driving up the risk of wildfires in Canada

The Canadian Press in the Times Colonist

January 7, 2020

Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

Canada

OTTAWA — Canadian wildfire experts say Canada is very vulnerable to the kind of devastating wildfires ravaging Australia right now. …”What’s happening in Australia now is extraordinary,” said Ed Struzik, a fellow at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queen’s University. And he says, Canada is not immune to seeing the same thing. …Canada is home to about 30 per cent of the world’s total forests, and 10 per cent of what is known as forest cover. …Struzik says fire risk is going up in Canada because of climate change, human activity and a glut of fuel for fires in forests ravaged by pests like the mountain pine beetle. University of Alberta wildland fire professor Mike Flannigan says… for every degree of warming, the number of lightning strikes goes up by about 12 per cent. Lightning usually causes more than half of the wildfires in Canada.

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Forests face climate change competition

The National Science Foundation

January 7, 2020

Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

United States

In a world with rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, experiments have shown that increased CO2 allows plants to photosynthesize more and use less water; however, warmer temperatures drive plants to use more water and photosynthesize less. Will CO2 fertilization or heat stress win this competition? A new NSF-supported study by researchers at the University of Utah… says it depends on whether forests and trees can acclimate to their new environment. The researchers developed a model of how trees’ physiological traits…influence photosynthesis and water loss in response to a changing environment, including drought. …Results of the model suggest that the winner of the competition doesn’t depend on the absolute amount of CO2 rise or warming, just the ratio between the two.

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Renewable wood energy has a critical role in fighting climate change

By John Keppler, CEO Enviva

The Charlotte Observer

January 7, 2020

Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

US East, United States

I had the privilege of founding Enviva more than 15 years ago with the simple purpose of fighting climate change with effective solutions that could be implemented immediately. Today, Enviva is the world’s largest producer of wood pellets, a renewable alternative to coal, and wood-based bioenergy is part of an all-in renewables strategy to reduce carbon emissions and limit dependence on fossil fuels. …In the UK, a core Enviva market, coal now accounts for less than 2% of electricity generation, down from one-third 10 years ago, due in part to the wood pellets we provide. …Unfortunately, the News & Observer this week published a series on renewable wood energy and Enviva, seeking to tell a very different story of the role we play in fighting climate change. To be clear: we welcome rigorous journalism, but such reporting must be based on a balanced view of the facts and science, not anti-forestry activism.

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Failing a Basic Test of Integrity in Journalism

By Brian Rogers, Furture Forests + Jobs

Inside Science News Service

January 7, 2020

Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy

US East, United States

When a state is 61 percent covered by forests and forest products ranks as a top industry, you’d expect reporters covering the state’s forest products industry to do so fairly and solicit input from a broad range of stakeholders. Unfortunately, this was not the case in a recent, major series of reports from the Raleigh News & Observer that delved into the environmental credentials of renewable wood energy, a major component of the state’s forest products economy. The reporting was done by two anti-forestry activists with a demonstrated bias and opposition to one of the most basic tenets of journalism: objectivity. It’s an insult to the hardworking men and women who make North Carolina an international player in the forest products industry, as well as journalism as a whole. 

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Forest Fires

B.C. sends emergency crews to Australia to help combat fires of a biblical scale

By Travis Lupick

The Georgia Straight

January 7, 2020

Forest Fires

Canada, Canada West

January is usually a quiet month for B.C.’s Wildfire Service. The Pacific Northwest’s cold temperatures and buckets of near-daily rain mean there aren’t a lot of forest fires burning throughout the province during the winter . This year, however, a growing number of B.C. firefighters are working hard in Australia. And while in recent years B.C. has experienced record-breaking wildfires of a disastrous scale, the problem here is nothing compared to what Australia is dealing with right now. “Record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought have fuelled a series of massive bushfires across Australia,” reads a January 6 report by BBC News. …The B.C. Wildfire Service sent seven firefighters to Australia on December 3 and then another six on December 20. They’re serving there among a total of 45 Canadian firefighters currently in Australia on 38-day deployments. Canada and Australia routinely exchange firefighting resources.

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US sends more firefighters to help battle Australia blazes

By Keith Ridler

The Associated Press in the Independent Record

January 8, 2020

Forest Fires

United States

BOISE, Idaho — U.S. officials said Tuesday they’re planning to send at least another 100 firefighters to Australia to join 159 already in the country battling wildfires that have killed 25 people and destroyed 2,000 homes. The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said that 90 firefighters including on-the-ground hand crews left in recent days to fight fires that have scorched an area twice the size of the U.S. state of Maryland. Another 100 American firefighters are expected to fly to Australia next week, said center spokeswoman Carrie Bilbao. It’s the largest ever deployment of U.S. firefighters abroad, she said. The Australian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council requested the firefighters as part of a reciprocal deal that sent 138 Australians to fight U.S. wildfires in 2018. The U.S. has similar agreements with Canada, Mexico and New Zealand.

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Australia’s Wildfires and Climate Change Are Making One Another Worse in a Vicious, Devastating Circle

By Tara Law

Time Magazine

January 7, 2020

Forest Fires

International

The hot, dry conditions that primed southeastern Australia’s forest and fields for the bushfires that have been ravaging the country since September are likely to continue, scientists warn — and climate change has likely made the situation much worse. …The Australian bushfires were exacerbated by two factors that have a “well-established” link to climate change: heat and dry conditions, says Stefan Rahmstorf, department head at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. In recent years, Australia has experienced long-term dry conditions and exceptionally low rainfall. Scientists say that droughts in the country have gotten worse over recent decades. At the same time, the country has recorded record high temperatures; last summer was the hottest on record for the country.

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Rural Fire Service Commissioner says hazard-reduction burns made his organisation ‘public enemy number one’

By Rani Hayman

ABC News Australia

January 7, 2020

Forest Fires

International

New South Wales’s top fire brass has weighed in on a national debate about hazard-reduction burns, saying the practice made his organisation “public enemy number one” last year. Hazard reduction burns have come under the microscope in NSW…with some arguing more should have been done. NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons insists hazard reduction is an important element of fire prevention, but it’s not a panacea. …Federal Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce … attacked the Greens, claiming they did not support the practice — something the party’s politicians deny. The Commissioner has also defended fire management agencies… He said hazard reduction … did nothing to combat the massive “mega-fires” burning in NSW. “Hazard reduction burns that are only two years old, we’re seeing these fires on these bad days just skip straight through it,” he said. “We’re only seeing effective amelioration on fire spread through hazard reduction areas that have been done so in the last 12 months.”

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Australian Forestry Group Warns of “Slow Motion” Economic Disaster After Fires

By Ernie Smith

Associations Now.com

January 7, 2020

Forest Fires

The Australian Forest Products Association says the wildfires burning large swaths of the country’s forests will cause significant job losses and long-term economic damage. It’s calling for a national consensus to replant and better protect Australia’s forest “infrastructure.” The wildfires raging across Australia are likely to burn for weeks, but a deeper disaster could extend years into the future if steps aren’t taken to replenish lost forest plantations and make protecting and managing them a national priority. …AFPA is calling for the federal government to supply more fire-fighting resources to supplement those owned by plantation companies and state forest agencies; an effort to salvage “damaged, but still usable” timber after the fires are extinguished; and federal funding for “urgent replanting.”

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