Friday Offcuts 25 November 2011
The first is a new website just launched by FWPA. It provides teaching resources for primary and secondary school teachers. Forestlearning.edu.au for the first time is able to offer a wide range of activities, resources and ideas at one location for teachers wanting to integrate forestry directly into their school curriculum. The second is the awarding of undergraduate scholarships this week to two students, both enrolled at Southern Cross University, through the Forestry Scholarship Fund.
New innovative technology is covered again in some of the other stories. Geoscience Australia and the ABARES have just developed a Dynamic Land Cover Dataset - a major new Australia-wide land cover dataset along with poster, maps and supporting technical information for land managers. We also have a couple of world firsts; the announcement by Finland that they're going to build the world’s largest biomass gasification plant, a 140MW facility running mainly on forest waste and we cover a story about a UK manufacturer of the world’s first recycled plastic plywood substitute made entirely from recycled waste mixed plastics which is up for an Engineers Manufacturing Innovation award this year.
After picking up a number of prestigious New Zealand awards, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology and Arts (NMIT) building has this time been selected as a winner at The Institution of Structural Engineers UK’s Structural Awards 2011 ceremony held in London on 18 November (see story below). Congratulations to all the local designers and engineers involved in this project. The "all timber" building design with its innovative seismic bracing system is now recognised on the international stage.
Finally, with innovation as a major theme, we’re looking forward to meeting up with a wide cross section of technical and resource foresters from across Australia in Albury next week at this years' ForestTECH 2011 series. Leading Australian, New Zealand and North American forestry companies are going to be profiling how they’ve integrated the very latest remote sensing technologies into their inventory and management planning. Details and last minute registrations for the Australian event starting on Thursday next week can be found on www.foresttechevents.com
This week we have for you:
Australian forest information for schoolsForest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) has launched Forestlearning.edu.au, a dedicated portal for forests and wood products teaching and learning resources for primary and secondary school teachers. This new website aims to provide easy access for forests and wood products educational information that is linked to the Australian curriculum and is part of FWPA’s education investment plan.
ForestLearning.edu.au provides activities, resources and ideas for teachers to integrate forest education into their programs across a range of key learning areas within the Australian school curriculum and state and territory syllabi including science, biology, history, geography, mathematics, agriculture and technology. For more information visit www.fwpa.com.au
New Zealand Log Prices - November 2011A significant drop in the in-market log price last month has rebound slightly in recent weeks with an invigorated market sentiment triggered by a drop in the market price for logs. Supply chains have been emptied as oversupply in wholesale markets had seen credit facilities dry up and result in a couple of months of reduced supply. Now that the pipeline is empty wholesale speculators in China and India are very enthusiastic to fill this void.
Our in-market price recorded for November is US$115/JASm³ for KS logs and US$110/JASm³ for KI logs. But the real price could now be up US$5-8 from that for each grade. This reflects the volatile market that exists currently.
It should be made clear that it is not any sort of increase in demand that has triggered the support to the fall in market prices. Market fundamentals have not changed since last month. As predicted last month an empty supply chain has created a lift to prices rather than a fundamental change to supply and demand.
Demand may be subdued in China until into the second quarter of 2012. This is partly due to the on-set of the winter in northern China, followed by the Chinese New year in January 2012. Last month’s congestion pressure in southern China has been partially released this month and resulted in some inventory decreases.
The NZX Agrifax log index has come down this month after the fall in export log prices. Last month the index held steady with the domestic and pulp log prices gaining a little. With unpruned logs having a greater overall weighting than pruned logs this supported the index value.
The Agrifax log price data is a weighted average of prices collected each month from a range of New Zealand log buyers and sellers. Log prices shown in the table will vary regionally and by supplier and should only be used to provide a broad trend of log price movements.
International award for NZ timber seismic designThe Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology and Arts (NMIT) building’s sustainable timber seismic design was announced as a winner at The Institution of Structural Engineers UK’s Structural Awards 2011 ceremony held in London on 18 November. Winning the Education / Healthcare Structures category in these prestigious international awards positions Aurecon amongst the world’s most talented structural designers and acknowledges its indispensable contribution to the built environment.
Aurecon’s highly innovative "all timber" building design has a seismic bracing system which is a world first application of rocking LVL shear walls based on PRESSS technology. The building also employs several new timber structural systems for floors, beams and columns that truly demonstrate the ability of structural timber for use in multi storey construction. All structural timber components were grown, milled, manufactured and erected within an 80km radius of Nelson.
Just four months to go to AUSTimber 2012There’s only four months to go until the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest forestry and timber expo – AUSTimber 2012. The event is being set in a forest of softwood and hardwood plantations just 15kms from a major regional centre, Mount Gambier, in the Green Triangle region of South Australia.
It’s been four years since the last AUSTimber and the 2012 event will showcase many new features, as well as new innovations and solutions for the forestry and timber industry and your business. AUSTimber’s not just about forestry – it’s about processing too – in fact everything from the seed to the mill gate and beyond. At this time in our industry AUSTimber is an opportunity to showcase to the world we are an industry in recovery and that the future looks bright, both in an economic and environmental sense.
The expo gives businesses that supply the industry the opportunity to display their new technologies and services and the industry the opportunity to see what’s new that can lead to increased efficiencies, profitability and sustainability .
The Forestworks AUSTimber conference ‘Precision Forestry in action intends to be hard hitting and controversial, challenging conventional thinking on precision forestry. Key note speakers include; Mr Michael O’Connor - the National Secretary of the CFMEU, a prominent and vital component of the Industry, and Dr Sadanandan Nambiar, a Research Fellow and former Chief Research Scientist with CSIRO.
The Caterpillar Welcome dinner will again be a great networking opportunity, with donations to a local charity. There’s lots more happening and the website is continually updated www.austimber.com.au and you can follow the latest news on Twitter and Facebook. Exhibitors are also being updated on the website, with major international exhibitors such as Caterpillar, John Deere, Komatsu, Tigercat, Waratah and many more.
Sino-Forest report raises new questionsIn last week’s Offcuts we ran a story that’s been unfolding for some time. The media reported last week that after five months of investigation, a committee (consisting of a group of Chinese timber producer Sino-Forest Corp. Directors) set up to look at the company had said that it found no evidence of fraud and rejected the allegations by a short-seller that sent its shares down 75%.
Several of our Canadian readers pointed out that once you dig a little deeper that there are still some very serious problems around Sino-Forest Corp. and the allegations. The RCMP (Canada’s national police force) has launched a criminal investigation into whether executives of Sino-Forest Corp. defrauded Canadian investors who pumped billions into the Chinese timber producer and its shares are still frozen by the Ontario Securities commission.
For more information on this story, check out the two links below from Canada‘s largest national newspaper.
Sino-Forest Corp Story 1
Sino-Forest Corp Story 2
World’s largest biomass gasifier plannedFinland has announced plans for the world’s largest biomass gasification plant, a 140MW facility running mainly on forest waste. Its performance is set to be closely watched by renewable energy experts, utility companies and governments across the globe who will be keen to monitor both the robustness of the technology and its cost-effectiveness.
The €40 million project involves installing a bio-gasification plant next to an existing 565MW coal-fired power station. The plant will mainly use forest residues for fuel, with the resulting gas then combusted alongside coal. It is due to begin operating by end-2012. If everything goes according to plan, it should replace between 25 and 40% of the coal currently burned – reducing carbon dioxide emissions by some 230,000 tonnes per year.
Mark Candlish, Director of the Renewable Energy Association, believes the project’s mix of fossil fuel and biomass, combined with the fact that the new facility was installed alongside an existing coal-burning plant, makes it a very cost effective method of generation. It demonstrates a way of putting biomass into practical use very quickly, he adds, and its “evolutionary” approach would suit the naturally cautious line on technological advance taken by global utilities. “Future applications for gasification will be more sophisticated than this, but we have to accept that this is an important intermediate step. Biomass is a terrific and grossly underused resource. This is a world first, so everyone will be watching it.”
Australian dynamic land cover dataset releasedGeoscience Australia and the ABARES have developed a Dynamic Land Cover Dataset (DLCD) for Australia. This report describes the DLCD, how the dataset was generated, presents a comparison of the DLCD with independent datasets and examples of how the DLCD classification can be used to analyse trends in the Enhanced Vegetation Index and other data sources. The report also compares the DLCD approach to other National and International land cover mapping approaches.
The DLCD comprises a major new Australia-wide land cover dataset, poster and maps, a metadata record and supporting technical information, available here. The map products and time series data from the DLCD have been developed with extensive stakeholder input and expert advice from Australian, State and Territory government agencies. The technical report is available from the ABARES web page.
New President for IFAThe Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA) has announced that David Wettenhall RPF, of Albany Western Australia as its new President. David was appointed unanimously by the IFA Board of Directors at their recent meeting held in Coonawarra, South Australia. Executive Officer of the Institute, Cassandra Spencer said that David’s appointment creates valuable opportunities to build enduring benefits for Australia’s foresters.
David takes over from Dr Peter Volker who has recently completed his sixth year’s service as Institute President. The IFA Board of Directors and new President are committed to continuing the progress of Dr Volker who has worked tirelessly to increase the profile of the IFA in the public and political arena and to foster credibility in the voice of IFA members.
David’s early career included employment in the Tasmanian woodchip industry and then growing poplars for match splints in Victoria and New South Wales. From 1985 to 1997 he was employed by an integrated softwood pulp/plywood and sawmill in North East Victoria. In the latter period of this term he led the development of a hardwood plantation programme and was Environment Manager for the mill site. In 1997 he took up a position with Integrated Tree Cropping in Albany, WA as General Manager – Operations. David established 'Plantall Forestry Consultants' in 1999 which provides freelance forestry services to forestry enterprises in WA.
Demand for clarity on global response to climate changeFirms representing the climate markets currently valued at $120 billion, among them, gathered in London last week to communicate to governments their expectations from the next round of climate change negotiations scheduled to begin on 29 November.
“In Durban, it is incumbent upon governments to demonstrate their willingness to address climate change by laying out a clear roadmap for how and when a successor framework to the Kyoto Protocol will be achieved, in a manner that could accommodate and recognise efforts at any scale from regional up to global, and set a level of ambition that, in contrast to the current pledges, will actually enable us to limit the average global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius as Heads of State have previously agreed in Copenhagen and Cancun, “ stressed Miles Austin, Director of the Climate Markets & Investment Association (CMIA).
The first period of the Kyoto Protocol that currently provides the international framework for how countries together tackle climate change ends in 2012 and governments have yet to agree on what follows it. The lack of clarity has already resulted in capital flight. Investments in projects that bring down carbon emissions in the developing world have fallen from a high of US$7.4 billion in 2007 to US$1.5 billion in 2010. Figures for 2011 are widely expected to reflect a further decline
“A successful response to climate change will be defined by policies that succeed in meaningfully engaging private capital. Our specific suggestions for Durban therefore include further improvements to the Clean Development Mechanism, ensuring that the Green Climate Fund is operationalised and has an explicit strategy to attract private capital, and a formal recognition that countries can use all forms of finance, including markets, to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+),” emphasised Abyd Karmali, President of the CMIA and Global Head of Carbon Markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Forestry Scholarship Fund recipients selectedTwo lucky students have had their commitment to forestry education rewarded after receiving the news that they are the recipients of forestry scholarships in 2012. Patrick de Jong and Michael Dent have been named as the recipients of the 2012 undergraduate scholarships issued by the Forestry Scholarship Fund (FSF). Both students are enrolled at Southern Cross University, and undertaking a Bachelor of Forest Science and Management degree.
Secretary to the Forestry Scholarship Fund Committee, Cassandra Spencer, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Foresters of Australia, commented that the quality of the applications received were of exceptionally high standard. "This year we have seen a number of applicants who show a high level of commitment and passion for Australian forestry as a long term career choice."
"The aim of the Forestry Scholarship Fund is to encourage new recruits into forest education. These two guys bring to the industry exactly what it will need in the future. Every industry needs an injection of youth and enthusiasm to drive innovation and change," she said.
The scholarship fund, established in 2009 and managed by the Institute is supported by industry and is committed to tertiary studies. The scholarships are also an incentive for students who are studying other science disciplines and who are considering a move to forest management. The Forestry Scholarship Fund also supports post-graduate studies with up to 15 scholarships available in 2012 for participants of the National Forestry Master’s Program.
Neville Smith back in the hardwood timber businessThe Neville Smith family are back in the Hardwood timber business. Australia's newest hardwood processing business, Neville Smith Forest Products Pty Ltd (NSFP) is located in Launceston (Mowbray), Tasmania and will be supplying the local, domestic and international markets with high quality, sustainable Tasmanian Oak hardwood products.
In 1924 Neville Smith Timber Pty Ltd was set up and grew to be one of Australia's most prominent hardwood processing businesses. The business was sold in 2004 to ITC Ltd who in turn sold to Gunns Ltd in 2009. The processing site in Mowbray, Launceston is the same site that back in the 1940's Neville started his Tasmanian Oak value adding business. NSFP acquired the site earlier in 2011 and have been refitting the site with processing equipment.
As a result of Gunns decision to exit the hardwood processing sector, NSFP progressed discussions with Gunns to acquire parts of their Tasmanian hardwood processing business. From 1 December 2011, NSFP will be producing and supplying Tasmanian Oak nationwide.
Plastic plywood shortlisted for innovation awardLuton-based recycled industrial products manufacturer 2K Manufacturing has been shortlisted for an award in the Innovation in Products and Processes category, as part of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Manufacturing Excellence Awards 2011.
2K manufactures EcoSheet which is the world’s first recycled plastic plywood substitute made entirely from recycled waste mixed plastics that is 100% recyclable at end of life. EcoSheet is used by the construction and agriculture industries and has been trialled as a sustainable alternative by a number of high profile construction companies.
Manufacturing Excellence, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, is the most successful and long established manufacturing support programme in the UK, and the only one that provides a detailed benchmarking and assessment process to help improve manufacturing businesses.
Baltic Dry Index dropsThe Baltic Dry Index, a leading indicator of economic activity, has fallen substantially over the past month. The index dropped about 20% over the past month, but has strengthened a little over the past week. The Baltic Dry sub-index for handy-sized vessels has also reversed its upward trend falling from a high of 839 points down to 668 points over the past month.
Freight rates for logs were at the time of data collection mostly unchanged from last month. However a glut in shipping has seen prices drop $6-8 in the past fortnight, this has been caused by a significant drop in the number of ships going from the Pacific North West (PNW) to Asia. There are reports that the number of ships from the PNW has dropped from 25 last month down to 7. These ships have been left looking for loads and have brought some relief to New Zealand log exporters just in time.
There is still some volatility in shipping rates with some further costs added to journeys due to delays at ports. This has not been factored into the price at the time rates were negotiated. Source: www.nzxagri.co.nz/agrifax
...and one to end the week on..team work
And on that note, have a great weekend. Cheers.
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