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Ireland faces timber shortage, mills are importing timber

Australian timber industry news - 9 hours 4 min ago
The issues in the forestry sector and the attempts to deal with them have been slammed by one TD (member of parliament Ireland), who has labelled it a “national scandal”. Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said it was “mind-boggling” that mills in Ireland were forced to import timber from abroad “in order to keep the show on the road”, given the amount of timber that is fit to cut in Ireland. Source: Agriland “There are thousands of licences currently submitted to the Forestry Service of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – cross clear felling, thinning, roads and afforestation – with applicants yet to receive a decision,” Fitzmaurice highlighted. In the first three full weeks this month, only 86 licences have been processed. Coillte felling licences amounted to 19, private felling licences up to 37, road licences reached 18 and afforestation licences equalled a paltry 12. “This is despite senior representatives within the Forest Service previously citing a target of processing 100 licences a week in order to reach their annual goal of 4,500,” the Roscommon-Galway TD said. He claimed that, if results such as these were seen in the private sector, there would be “serious reforms and people would lose their jobs over it”. “Mills are struggling to source timber and foresters with big outlays on machinery are struggling to secure work in order to keep repayments paid and wages in their employees’ pockets. Yet the Forest Service seems to be pondering along at the same pace which has led us to this crisis situation in the first place,” Mr Fitzmaurice said. He asserted that success in the sector had to be measured by the number of licences processed, adding that the clearing of the backlog, at the moment, “seems like a pipedream”. “We are seven months into the year and only 2,722ha of afforestation has been licenced – which is a long way from the 8,000ha target that we have failed to meet continuously in recent years,” he said. “If this trickle of licences continues, it will place the final nail in the coffin and countless people will lose their jobs. Serious questions will have to be answered at the next meeting of the agriculture committee by Minister [of State] Pippa Hackett and senior representatives.” Sawmills are being “forced to import timber” as the forestry logjam continues to bite, according to Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley. Commenting on the matter he stressed that the “current difficulties in the timber industry cannot be allowed to continue any longer”. In a statement he said: “Last week I visited Mountrath and Coolrain Sawmills along with Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin spokesperson for agriculture and forestry, to discuss with management the problems they are experiencing regarding timber supplies. “Unfortunately the industry is experiencing huge problems at the moment with timber supplies. “We have the ridiculous situation where timber that is ready to be cut in the Sliabh Blooms area, just up the road from the sawmill, cannot be harvested. This is forcing a situation where some of the supplies at the local sawmills have to be imported from Scotland.” The midlands TD highlighted the difficulties being experienced by farmers seeking permission to plant trees, adding that the “situation is even more difficult regarding harvesting licences. “The process of obtaining permission to plant and felling licences is over bureaucratic. There are in the region of 5,000 felling licences held up in the system,” he claimed. Noting that some licences have been in the system for a long time, the former Sinn Féin agriculture spokesperson said: “We have one case in the constituency where a man is waiting almost three years for a licence to harvest 20ac of trees.” The TD warned that this has led to a situation where potential growers and farmers are “reluctant to get involved in forestry schemes”. “If the current situation is not addressed without delay it poses potential risk to jobs and restricts the industry from expanding. This is also leading to difficulties with supplies of timber to the construction sector and increasing the price of raw material.’’ Turning to possible solutions to alleviate the issue, deputy Stanley said: “Sinn Féin is supporting the proposals from the all party Dáil committee to streamline the process. At present, three sets of permissions are required and involves three separate processes for planting, thinning and the harvesting and permission to construct access roads to forestries. “There needs to be one single streamlined process right through from planting to harvesting so as to give certainty to growers and to simplify the application. “The working groups established by the government are little more than talking shop and is just further delaying matters.”

Anti-forestry protestors in Canada are destructive and dangerous

Australian timber industry news - 9 hours 5 min ago
Canada’s Resource Works stands with the Pacheedaht First Nation and RCMP in condemning the recent actions of anti-forestry protestors in Tree Farm License 46 on Southern Vancouver Island. Source: Resource Works “Rather than playing a constructive role in moving British Columbia towards ever-better ways of responsibly managing our forests the blockaders are actively sowing discord and conflict, even after their initial demands were met,” says Stewart Muir, Resource Works Executive Director. “They have become extremists, less interested in the cause than in continuing the conflict.” Supported by a small team of independent forest experts, Resource Works has identified numerous ways the groups organizing the blockades and related protests have violated the wishes of local First Nations, the laws of Canada, and human norms. “Perhaps most alarming from a human perspective is the deaths of two individuals involved with the blockades, including a 17-year-old woman last week,” Muir says. “Authorities should ensure that other lives are not being recklessly placed at risk.” Taken individually, many of the actions by blockaders are alarming enough. When taken together, they demonstrate a clear pattern of wanton disregard, colonial and racist attitudes, and questionable ethics. Among the alleged violations are: Smoking and using chainsaws in the bush despite the high fire rating and dry conditions. Lighting ‘sacred fires’ at protest sites in dry forests. At the same time, falsely accusing a forestry company of risking forest fire when in fact the company is following all provincial fire regulations. Cutting live trees to use as barriers, for structures, and firewood, a hypocritical act defying both the Pacheedaht First Nation and BC law. Declining to abide by repeated requests from the Pacheedaht and other local First Nations that they leave. They have justified staying based on the invitation of a single member of the First Nation, who is not in a leadership role. Refusing to acknowledge Pacheedaht First Nations’ Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones as the legitimate hereditary leader, instead trying to install a young man who has not met the conditions for being hereditary chief in that role, apparently because he is willing to speak in favour of the blockades. This is not the first-time white environmentalists have undermined a First Nations leader who disagreed with them. Using Pacheedaht First Nations territory and its resources to solicit more than Can$1 million in donations from the public, without returning any of those funds to the First Nation or offering any transparency in who is accessing those funds and for what purposes. Defying a court injunction and encouraging others to similarly break the law. Assaulting RCMP carrying out their court-ordered duties. Issuing false statements about the extent of old growth forests in British Columbia. The blockaders claim only 3% of productive old growth forest remains in BC, which would be 35,000 hectares. In fact, mapping shows there is more than 500,000 hectares of large (more than 37.5 metres tall) old growth forest on the BC coast alone. By the province’s definition BC has about 14 million hectares of old growth forest, 10 million hectares of which is protected. Failing to abide by COVID-19 pandemic orders. Encouraging parents to bring children to the site to have them engage in unsafe activities and be arrested. The initial demand of the blockaders was that logging be stopped in the Fairy Creek watershed. When the province deferred logging in that watershed for two years in response to a request from local First Nations the blockaders simply moved the goalposts – first insisting all old growth logging in the area must stop, and then extending that to the entire province. Spreading significant misinformation about the nature of logging in the area generally and Fairy Creek specifically. Failing to acknowledge most of Fairy Creek itself is protected, including the areas with large tress, and that there are significant stands of old growth preserved in nearby parks. Portraying blockaders as a simple grassroots movement when in fact they are organized by sophisticated and well-financed organizations with large staffs of full-time employees capable of launching costly legal campaigns and producing commercial-quality video and advertising. Stealing logs, chainsaws, and other equipment to use in their blockades. Sabotaging vehicles and equipment. Parking vehicles illegally to block legal access to the area, in some cases removing tires to make them more difficult to remove, and then launching a legal challenge when those vehicles were removed. Failing to maintain sanitary camp conditions. People who have visited the camps report a strong smell of feces, and outhouses have been established immediately up from waterways. Leaving behind garbage and waste, including hardened concrete apparently brought in for use in barriers but dumped on the forest floor. “The Fairy Creek blockades are unfair and unhelpful for First Nations and ordinary workers, especially at a time when there is broad commitment to continue evolving and improving forest practices,” Muir adds. “It’s time to move on.”

Metsa increases folding boxboard production in response to growing demand

Australian timber industry news - 9 hours 6 min ago
Metsa has invested EUR 210 million to increase its folding boxboard capacity at its Husum mill in Sweden. The company is responding to growing demand for sustainably produced packaging materials that support the circular economy. The investment strengthens Metsä Board’s position as the leading producer of folding boxboard in Europe. Source: Timberbiz At present, the annual folding boxboard capacity of the Husum’s paperboard machine BM1 is 400,000 tonnes, and after the investment it will rise to 600,000 tonnes. Additional capacity will enter the market during 2024–2025. The investment value is approximately EUR 210 million, divided in 2021–2024 and mainly in 2022–2023. The Husum port concept will be examined separately, taking into account the growing logistics volumes of the entire integrated mill, and the necessary potential investments will be decided later. Preparatory work for construction will begin in October 2021 in connection with the planned annual maintenance shutdown of the Husum integrated mill. The ramp-up of additional capacity is expected to start in autumn 2023 and full production capacity is expected to be reached by the end of 2025. The additional capacity will be directed mainly to the North American and European markets, where the demand growth for Metsä Board’s premium lightweight paperboards is expected to continue. Metsä Board’s folding boxboard is used, for example, in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics packaging as well as in food service packaging.

Research says forestry is not to blame for Black Summer bushfires

Australian timber industry news - 9 hours 7 min ago
The Australian Forest Products Association has welcomed new research highlighting that forestry operations and timber harvesting are not to blame for the devastating 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires.  Source: Timberbiz The research paper authored by six of Australia’s most eminent forest ecology and bushfire scientists and published in the Australian Forestry journal, No evidence that timber harvesting increased the scale or severity of the 2019/20 bushfires in south east Australia, reviewed the evidence of the relationship between harvesting and fire extent and severity from these fires, and found that:  “The proportion of forested conservation reserves burnt in these fires was similar to that for public forests where timber harvesting is permitted, and the proportion of forest burnt with different levels of fire severity was similar across tenures and over time since timber harvest.” AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said that all too often activist scientists make the self-serving claim that forest harvesting increases bushfire severity. “This claim is not supported by the science. Just last year some of them had to retract a published report after it was found to have significant errors,” he said. “The authors of this new research have examined the scientific evidence and reaffirmed the scientific consensus that forest harvesting in multi-use forests in southeast Australia was not to blame, rather, it was the preceding years of drought were the major factor. “When it doesn’t rain vegetation dries out and becomes easier to burn.” Mr Hampton said that it pleasing to see the research team, led by globally recognised leaders in forest science Professor Rod Keenan from the University of Melbourne and Professor Peter Kanowski from ANU, who served on the COAG Inquiry on Bushfire Mitigation and Management, had moved beyond the sensational “pseudo-science” to verify what caused the Black Summer bushfires to be as severe as they were. “We commend the researchers and the Institute of Foresters Australia for their important and evidence-based research,” Mr Hampton said.

Anshul Chaudhary appointed CEO of Forestry Corp NSW

Australian timber industry news - 9 hours 7 min ago
Anshul Chaudhary has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Forestry Corporation of NSW. Forestry Corporation’s Chairman James Millar AM said Mr Chaudhary led the organisation through last year’s record program of infrastructure repair and fire salvage and had a vision for replanting and regrowing for the future. Source: Timberbiz “The Board is delighted to welcome Anshul Chaudhary as Chief Executive Officer of Forestry Corporation of NSW. Anshul has been a part of Forestry Corporation’s senior management team for the past 10 years and has provided strong leadership over the past year as acting CEO,” Mr Millar said. “The unprecedented fires in 2019-20 had a significant impact on Forestry Corporation and the forests it manages, but under Anshul’s leadership, the organisation has already made significant strides towards recovery. “Anshul has the vision, commitment and leadership needed to continue this vital work.” Mr Chaudhary said he was excited to be leading Forestry Corporation through the recovery phase. “The Black Summer fires were unprecedented, and the recovery phase will be challenging, but the road ahead is clear, we will recover, rebuild and regrow for the future,” Mr “We are already seeing the green shoots of recovery following significant work over the past year to repair infrastructure, salvage timber and being our seven-year replanting program. “To date, we have repaired more than 5,000 kilometres of roads and 80 bridges, salvaged close to five million tonnes of plantation timber, completed detailed environmental and timber supply assessments and increased seedling production and replanting to record levels to replant fire-affected plantations as quickly as possible. “There is still a lot of work to do but I am proud to lead a skilled and passionate workforce with a shared commitment to our vision of regrowing forests, restoring infrastructure and rebuilding the business. “Above all, we maintain our commitment to managing State forests sustainably for the long term, balancing environmental protection, community access and renewable timber production for today and into the future.” Mr Chaudhary has been acting CEO for the past year following the departure of long-serving former CEO Nick Roberts in early 2020.

Forest contractors invited to participate in ForestFit certification pilot

Australian timber industry news - 9 hours 8 min ago
Expressions of Interest inviting forest contracting businesses from across Australia to participate in the ForestFit Certification pilot opened this week. The Australian Forest Contractors Association is working in partnership with Ernst and Young to deliver the certification pilot. Source: Timberbiz The standards and criteria to be piloted align with industry standards and regulatory requirements to create a certification program that promotes best practice implementation and risk management. The industry-led development of the certification standards and criteria, where possible, align with existing schemes, regulatory requirements, Australian Standards and industry codes of practice. “AFCA is excited to have reached this point in the ForestFit project, and the certification pilot is key to testing the standards and criteria with a range of different forest contracting businesses before the national rollout” said AFCA’s General Manager, Ms Stacey Gardiner. “One of the key objectives of the ForestFit certification is to create efficiencies and opportunities for a ‘deemed to comply’ with existing auditing programs and schemes, ultimately reducing costs while providing confidence that certified businesses are operating to a high standard,” she said. The certification Standards to be piloted are: Standard 1: General requirements (mandatory) Standard 2: Business sustainability Standard 3: Work, health and safety Standard 4: Environmental practices. Forest contracting businesses participating in the pilot will have the opportunity to be one of the first ForestFit certified businesses in the country and have the chance to demonstrate their safe, environmental and sustainable business within the forest industry. “ForestFit is being developed with substantial input from industry representatives and forest contractors like me, who have informed every stage of the certification development,” Chris Mangan, a director at Mangan Logging, said. “As part of the ForestFit Industry Reference Group, we are excited to have reached the pilot stage of certification and look forward to having ForestFit create efficiencies across our industry,” he said. The AFCA is encouraging all forest contracting businesses to submit an EOI by 16 August 2021. A selection panel will assess all EOI’s based on a criteria that ensures the pilot captures a range of business sizes and operations nationally. The certification pilot will take place between September and December this year. Visit the ForestFit website at https://www.afca.asn.au/certification-pilot to download the EOI and submit your interest to AFCA.

No evidence timber harvesting increased the severity of the 2019/20 bushfires

Australian timber industry news - 9 hours 9 min ago
A new paper reviewing the science behind claims that forest management and timber harvesting worsened the 2019/20 bushfires has been welcomed by the professional association representing some 1,000 scientific and professional forest land managers in Australia. Source: Timberbiz The 2019/20 fire season will be etched in Australia’s memory, given the extent and severity of the fires and the huge effort of forest management personnel and agencies to limit the impacts to life and property. Unfortunately, in the months immediately after the fire, opportunistic claims were made that the fires were ‘made worse’ by forest management and timber harvesting. Institute of Foresters of Australia and Australian Forest Growers (IFA/AFG) President Bob Gordon said the paper ‘No evidence that timber harvesting increased the scale or severity of the 2019/20 bushfires in south-eastern Australia’ published in the Australian Forestry journal found that there was very little evidence to support these claims, and called for a more mature discussion of how we manage fire and our forests, and the complex interacting problems forest managers will face in the future. “A single factor, like timber harvesting, cannot by itself give rise to fires of the devastating scale we saw in 2019/20, and suggesting this misleads the public by oversimplifying the complex task of forest and fire management. Right now, our forests need real and scientific solutions, not simplistic ones,” Mr Gordon said. “To protect human life and biodiversity – today, and into the future – forest and fire management must be viewed and managed at a landscape scale, over long timeframes, using expert knowledge of forests and their processes. “In order to achieve this, and overcome Australia’s wicked bushfire problem, we need all forest stakeholders to work together to manage our forests in a planned, strategic and considered manner, guided by comprehensive evidence. “The IFA/AFG supports and promotes the use of rigorous science as a basis for forest management decisions and is calling for Australia’s forests to be managed through active and adaptive land management across all land tenures, using long-term thinking and a range of management techniques informed by the latest science. These approaches need to be taken to ensure future fires are not repeats of the devastating 2019-20 fire season. “Through these strategies, we can conserve forests for a broader range of values, and proactively manage current pressures and increasing threats to our environment from climate change and the interrelated impacts of bushfires and invasive species. “This paper has been authored by six eminent scientists. I congratulate the authors, led by Prof Rodney Keenan, and look forward to seeing their work reflected in future strategic fire-management decisions.”

UK’s Gresham House the asset manager for AXA IM’s Green Triangle forest

Australian timber industry news - 9 hours 9 min ago
Gresham House will be appointed as asset manager for AXA IM’s 24,800-hectare forestry investment in Green Triangle Forest Products. Source: Timberbiz Investment house AXA IM announced earlier this week it had taken control of the 24,000 hectares of pine plantations straddling the Victoria-South Australia border in a $775 million deal with US fund manager Global Forest Partners. The appointment as asset manager is in line with Gresham House’s strategy to grow its international presence. Gresham House is the UK’s largest commercial forestry manager, harvesting approximately 10% of the UK’s softwood annually and managing c.140,000 hectares, worth more than £1.8bn. Comprising 22,200 hectares of productive area in the Green Triangle, which spans South Australia and Victoria, GTFP demonstrates high-growth rates for softwood and is a significant supplier of softwood logs to the Australian sawmill industry. With a long operating history, favourable terrain, and proximity to customers, GTFP has prime access to domestic and export markets. “This second asset management appointment by AXA IM Alts to manage its growing forestry portfolio strengthens our position in the sector, at a time when international demand for forestry is taking off and is in line with Gresham House’s ambitions to launch an international forestry strategy for clients,” David Gardner, CIO of Forestry at Gresham House Asset Management, said. “Not only does forestry satisfy ESG investment criteria, but it is also a portfolio diversifier and delivers uncorrelated returns that protect against inflation – characteristics that are particularly appealing in the current environment.” Founded in 1857, Gresham House is a specialist alternative asset management group, dedicated to sustainable investments across a range of strategies, with expertise across forestry, housing, infrastructure, renewable energy and battery storage, public and private equity.

Friday analysis: moving on from pseudo-science in bushfire research

Australian timber industry news - 9 hours 10 min ago
There is some hope that the recent research paper authored by six eminent forest ecology and bushfire scientists led by Professor Rodney Keenan and Professor Peter Kanowski from the ANU might go some way in shutting the hysterical blame game that logging of native forests increased the risk and severity of the terrible 2019/20 fire season. Accusations post-fires flew thick and fast from the anti-logging lobby blaming logging saying it had made the fires worse. Academics also weighed in, with University of Queensland researchers, for example, claiming “logging regimes have made many forests more fire prone for a host of reasons”. Another offered that there were land management actions available to stop these fires from occurring in the future, the first of which was to prevent logging of moist forests, particularly those close to urban areas. The wheels of the largely academic-led bandwagon got a bit wobbly late last year when a paper suggesting forestry harvesting activities make forests more bushfire prone was withdrawn by the Journal Fire due to a number of errors. Moreover, in a further major embarrassment for the anti-native forestry industry activists, the Australian Senate joined the growing list of those condemning what a Senate motion described as “bodgy” science. The Senate motion – supported by the Coalition and the Opposition also called on the Bob Brown Foundation and the Australian Greens to apologise. It is doubtful such an apology was forthcoming. It is also very doubtful there will be any concession from the anti-forestry lobby after the Keenan/Kanowski report. That report stated, rather bluntly, “the proportion of forested conservation reserves burnt in these fires was similar to that for public forests where timber harvesting is permitted, and the proportion of forest burnt with different levels of fire severity was similar across tenures and over time since timber harvest”. In other words, the fires were equally bad in forestry areas as they were in conservation zones. As Australian Forest Products Association CEO Ross Hampton put it, forest harvesting in multi-use forests in southeast Australia was not to blame for the severity of the bushfires, it was the preceding years of drought. Does this mean we may have at last, as Mr Hampton put it, moved on from some of the “pseudo-science”? Maybe, just maybe. But don’t count on it.

Opinion: Viv Forbes – Green policies are a lethal threat

Australian timber industry news - 10 hours 12 min ago
Green extremists plan to convert Australia into “tree heaven”. They will bully this through, no matter what the cost. Huge areas of forest are already converted to “locked-up-land” – national parks, world heritage areas, Kyoto protected trees, remnant vegetation, aboriginal reserves, wildlife habitat and corridors etc. Many lock-ups are so large and so poorly managed that they have become extreme bushfire hazards and a refuge for wild dogs, cats, goats, camels, pigs, lantana, groundsel and other weeds and pests. Now Australia faces a shortage of timber for farms, industry, homes and furniture. While our vast forests lie idle or burnt, we import timber. Aboriginals and early settlers used forest timbers without asking permission from anyone. Aboriginals used timber and bark for warmth, cooking, weapons, shields, and gunyahs. Settlers used bark, dead timber, slabs and logs in open fires, stoves, boilers, huts, sheds and bridges. Then with axes, saws, mauls and wedges they made split posts, rails and strainers for yards and fences. And foresters and sawmills produced sawn timber to build towns and cities. Aboriginals managed the whole landscape with fire – they burnt grasslands and forests at irregular but frequent intervals. They lit fires at any time for many reasons – grassland regeneration, wildlife hunting, tribal warfare and fire stick maintenance. There were no burning permits or vegetation protection orders, no central plans and no fires were extinguished or mopped up. Man-made fires were augmented by lightning strikes, and no one tried to put them out either. Fires were observed day and night by early explorers such as James Cook who recorded in his log in 1770: ” .. a point or headland, on which were fires that Caused a great Quantity of smook, which occasioned my giving it the name of Smooky Cape.” As Australia became more settled, squatters needed to protect fire-vulnerable fences, farm animals, machinery and homesteads as well as neighbours and towns. They soon learned to use fire with more care and planning. They used roads and firebreaks, took account of expected temperature, wind and vegetation conditions, and collaborated with neighbours. They aimed for annual cool-season burns. And when lightning or vandals lit dangerous fires at the wrong time or place, they fought fire with fire – using back-burns to protect homesteads and other infrastructure. Squatter fire management was far superior to aboriginal management for a settled Australia. Then came the foresters with the motivation, equipment and knowledge to protect their forests, sawmills, neighbours, equipment and villages. The sale of timber products funded effective forest management. Foresters made and maintained roads and tracks, built and manned fire lookouts, managed woody weeds and undertook fuel reduction burning. But Australian foresters have been forced out of most forests which are now in the hands of green zealots. The new forest policy is – “control everything, debate endlessly, allow nothing and do nothing. Then, when everything burns, call an enquiry and ignore the findings.” Under bureaucratic forest management, new roads are banned, old roads are closed, dead timber and weeds are allowed to accumulate, and water catchments are choked with trees and lantana. Graziers are locked-out and action is constipated by never-ending bushfire royal commissions, green-black corroborees, urban activists and federal, state and local bureaucracies. Then, when flames are leaping through the tree-tops, money and water are wasted on flashy water bombers. As a result, too many forests, animals, farms and houses go up in smoke. Australia’s flora and fauna evolved to survive and thrive in the grasslands and open forests created in “the Land of Smoke”. They were not threatened by the many small fires of aboriginals or squatters. But the infrequent Mega-fires created by Green Policies in Locked-up-Lands are a lethal threat to all forest dwellers and their neighbouring farms and towns. It is time to open the sawmills, unlock the gates and roads and put foresters back into the forests. Even climate crusaders should support these reforms. Logging will boost carbon capture as old slow-growing trees are replaced by vigorous new trees. Fewer trees will be burnt in wild-fires, thus minimising release of CO2 to the atmosphere. Harvested timber will store carbon in long-life houses, fences, bridges, power poles and furniture, while tree tops and trimmings will produce mulch, paper and cardboard. Renewable and recyclable timber can replace much steel smelted with the coal that greens detest. Forestry will improve bushfire protection as foresters clear roads, add tracks, clean up flammable undergrowth, reduce fuel loads, maintain the equipment and train workers to locate and isolate any fire outbreaks. Viv Forbes has a degree in Applied Science and has studied economics, politics, climatology and financial analysis. He has also been a guest writer for the Asian Wall Street Journal, Business Queensland and mining newspapers. He was awarded the “Australian Adam Smith Award for Services to the Free Society” in 1988, and has written widely on political, technical and economic subjects.

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