Friday Offcuts 17 February 2012
Environmental groups, although party to the agreement, have continued to wage war on the Tasmanian forestry industry. A well orchestrated smear campaign in offshore markets has come home to bite the industry. It’s now costing customers and jobs. Tasmanian timber company Ta Ann this week had to lay off 40 workers. They've blamed a campaign by green groups targeting its customers in Japan.
The forestry industry has come out strongly this week. They’re saying “enough is enough”. The Forest Industries Association withdrew its support for the deal and has pointed the finger squarely at the recent environmental campaigns for halving its Japanese markets. The Australian Forest Products Association joined the chorus of dismay on the back of the announced job losses and the actions - and reactions - of environmentalists (See Media Release). Twelve of the 15 members of Tasmania's Upper House have also pledged they’ll be blocking the federally-funded forest peace deal legislation.
The debate and clash - although taking a fair bit of the media coverage over the past six months - has now moved from the negotiating table to the streets. Rival protesters have clashed across the State this week as tensions rise (see story below) after the job losses were announced and as the parties to the Intergovernmental Agreement part ways. Both State and Federal Governments now need to show some real leadership to try and bring the parties back to the table. A tough task though considering the actions of the main signatories to the deal this week.
This week we have for you:
Protesters clash as tensions rise in TasmaniaRival protesters have clashed as tensions rise in Tasmania a day after the latest job losses in the forestry industry were announced. Pro- and anti-logging groups came together in Launceston while employees of timber company Ta Ann, which on Monday said it would shed 40 jobs, marched on the headquarters of environmentalists in the south of the state.
Liberal candidate Andrew Nikolic and pro-forestry group Code Red member Brett Lucas confronted members of anti-logging group Code Green in a mall in Launceston, where a crowd and police looked on, the ABC reported. In Huonville, south of Hobart, furious Ta Ann workers marched on the Huon Valley Environment Centre, one of the green groups accused by the company of causing the job losses with a campaign targeting Japanese customers.
Action continued with the group Still Threatened Still Wild, whose member Miranda Gibson has been atop a tree in a southern Tasmanian forest for 65 days, saying protests would take place in more than 40 locations worldwide.
The Prime Minister came out strongly criticising some environmental groups saying they have waged an irresponsible and inaccurate campaign against the Tasmanian timber company Ta Ann. Ms Gillard told Caucus members that some environmental groups had been waging an irresponsible campaign in international markets, and that has led to the job losses at Ta Ann and the groups were putting at risk the forest deal struck by the Tasmanian and Federal Governments.
Wood Preservation 2012 programmes confirmed
A lot has changed since then. Ask anyone involved in wood treatment. The structure and ownership of the industry is quite different. Changes in new wood treatment formulations, processes and systems, standards, legislation and the increasing competition that’s now being seen with alternate products in the marketplace have been substantial.
Wood Preservation 2012 will be the sixth in this series of technology updates. It runs in Rotorua on 16-17 May and again in Melbourne on 23-24 May. It’s been designed with a wide cross section of industry, both nationally and internationally and is being supported by key Australasian industry associations, AFPA, TPAA, WPA and the NZPMA.
“It’s going to provide a unique independent programme for local wood producers to update themselves on new wood treatment technologies, advances in alternative products and the industry's response to increasing environmental issues and changes that are occurring now in production, distribution and retailing in Australasia, North America and Europe” says Brent Apthorp, FIEA Director.
Full details including the programmes for this latest technology series can be downloaded from the event website, www.woodpreservationevents.com
Australasian forestry conference focus on China
According to a report from Wood Resources International, a US-based forest industry consulting firm, the total value of softwood log and lumber imports to China equaled almost eight billion US dollars last year.
“Anyone associated with forestry in Australasia knows that China’s steady economic growth drives wood demand from Canada, USA and New Zealand/Australia. That 8 – 9% growth continues to be the antidote to Europe’s economic woes for southern hemisphere wood exporters,” says Johns Stulen Event Director of the Future Forestry Finance conference series.
Keynote speaker Russell Taylor from International Wood Markets Group has an excellent grasp on the market and its dynamics, having provided high quality research, analysis and strategic planning services to the international wood products community for over a decade.
“Mr. Taylor visits the Chinese market regularly and has an office in China. His in depth wood market knowledge makes him a front-runner when it comes to keeping updated on future demand for wood imports to the massive country,” says Mr. Stulen. Counter to the comments by general economists, Mr. Taylor and other wood industry market commentators are bullish on continued good signs from the Chinese buyers.
Another international guest speaker, Mr. Bob Flynn of international market information agency RISI will be highlighting other international market changes as well. “Mr Flynn is well known to wood marketing people for his experience in Brazil. The company RISI also has a good handle on what’s happening in the wood industries of India as well – so our conference presenters really have the wood world covered,” says Mr. Stulen.
One New Zealand consultant who has direct business dealings in China, Jon Dey of Forme Consulting, will balance out the two international analysts with his presentation of “What’s Hot and What’s Not” in China’s rapidly emerging wood products sector. “Mr Dey’s experiences in China will be instructive to others as he has a long history of doing business with Chinese entrepreneurs and can provide some real insight into what people can expect to see for the benefit of New Zealand and Australia wood exporters,” says Mr Stulen.
Future Forestry Finance is happening in Sydney on 13-14 March at the Novotel Brighton Beach, and in Auckland at the Crowne Plaza on the 7-8 March. For more information see the conference website www.forestryfinanceevents.com
New US forest carbon venture announcedNew Forests Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of New Forests Pty Limited of Sydney, Australia has announced the launch of Forest Carbon Partners, L.P. – an investment vehicle for California-compliant forest carbon offset projects – and the close of the fund’s first two transactions.
In its first two transactions, Forest Carbon Partners has partnered with a family forest owner and a Native American tribe to develop forest carbon offset projects on over 11,000 acres of forest land in the western United States. New Forests expects to finance offset projects on over 100,000 acres of forest land through its Forest Carbon Partners fund vehicle.
“New Forests is proud to build on our record as a leading forest carbon investment manager with the launch of Forest Carbon Partners and the fund’s first projects,” remarked David Brand, Managing Director. “As the California carbon market comes online, New Forests believes that forest carbon projects will become a critical source of offset supply.”
New Forests expanded to the United States in 2007 in response to the growing demand for specialist investment management services for land-based environmental markets, including wetland mitigation banking, species mitigation banking, and forest carbon. The California carbon market – part of the state’s efforts to meet its legislated greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets – is expected to become the second largest carbon market in the world by value.
Listening to termites chew through timber
In an attempt to reduce such damage, Osseiran and his team have developed an acoustic sensor that is so sensitive it can detect termite infestation by "hearing" them chew through timber.
The device, called WiSPr consists of a tiny sensor much smaller than a fingernail that is attached to wood around a house or retro-fitted to existing termite stations. It continually listens for the acoustic signature of termites and, once it detects their presence, it can immediately send an SMS or email to a pest control company with the termites' GPS location.
For full details on the story and link to the study, check out the latest R&D Works Newsletter
2012 Australasian technology events planned
They’ve been identifying programmes under the current environment that are of immediate interest to the forest products sector - technologies suited to the local wood resource that will lift performance and operating efficiencies.
Start the year by marking some of these dates into your planners or diaries. At this stage, we have four events planned. We’re also currently working on two more with local industry which will be profiled shortly and some exciting new initiatives for Australasian forestry and wood products companies in 2012. Likewise, these will be launched in the next few months.
To start with, programmes being planned for 2012 include;
• Future Forestry Finance 2012; 7-8 March 2012, Auckland, 13-14 March 2012, Sydney (www.forestryfinanceevents.com)
• Wood Preservation 2012; 16-17 May 2012, Rotorua, 23-24 May 2012, Melbourne (www.woodpreservationevents.com)
• Carbon Forestry 2012: 22-23 August, Auckland (www.carbonforestryevents.com)
• Wood Innovations 2012; 10-11 October 2012, Melbourne, 16-17 October, Rotorua (www.woodinnovationsevents.com)
If you would like additional information on any of the planned events, you’d like to look at the option of presenting or being involved in displaying your company’s products or services, please make contact with either of our two FIEA offices.
BNZ Carbon News
NZUs have recovered strongly over the last month, albeit off a low base. Prices are now in the mid $8’s having been sub $7 only two weeks ago. Drivers of recent NZUs movements appear to still be European moves, with little else to drive it at the moment.
Despite the low prices it appears the government is willing to take action to preserve the integrity of the scheme by limiting the volume of CERs imported. This proposal was announced at the Ministry for the Environments Briefing for “incoming” Climate Change Minister Nick Smith. The Minister cited a desire to limit offshore cashflows by reducing “the levels of international purchasing under the ETS in the short term”. If a limit is imposed, this would be in addition to the ban on importation of industrial gas CERs imposed from 22nd December 2011.
There is a similar movement in Europe at the moment, with debate around plans to ‘set-aside’ as many as 1.4 billion EUAs in the 3rd phase of the EU ETS. The plan has been mooted in order to support the price of carbon by reducing the over-supply of EUAs. The move is important in order for the ETS to operate effectively as a low price for carbon does not drive carbon-reduction behaviours or investment. The plan has a long way to go, but is in front of the European Parliament.
The major issues are: how to give the market comfort that this is a one-off event (and not part of ongoing intervention in what should be a market-based system); how high to force the price of carbon; and the overarching implications for the EU ETS as a whole. This goes to show that carbon markets are by nature very particularly politically driven, and it is not just NZ that keeps changing the goalposts.
John Gay to fight insider trader chargesJohn Gay, the former chairman of timber company Gunns Limited, has entered not guilty pleas to charges of insider trading over a $3 million profit he made from share sales. The 68-year-old Gay appeared in the Launceston magistrates court on Tuesday to answer the two charges laid by ASIC in November and was released on bail to appear before the Tasmanian Supreme Court on 16 April.