Friday Offcuts 3 March 2017
It was only a couple of weeks ago, we covered a story on how today’s youth was increasingly being attracted to land or resource based industries because of the level of technology now being employed. This week FICA, representing forestry contractors in New Zealand, were expressing their concerns about the lack of young skilled people available to work in rural areas and why funding along with access to technology skills training for school leavers needs to be improved. The different skill sets now required by our industry is highlighted with the more “tech savvy” being asked to run multi-million forest harvesting machines. This issue of retaining and attracting the right people into logging will be addressed in more detail by logging contractors at this region’s two yearly harvesting event, HarvestTECH 2017 which is running in Rotorua on 20-21 June. Full programme details can now be found on the event website, www.harvesttech.events.
Tasmanian forests – and the ongoing issues around access, employment and preservation – came back onto the radar again this week. Guy Barnett, Minister for Resources, said that he’s planning on tabling the Forestry (Unlocking Production Forests) Bill. In short, if approved by Parliament, 356,000 hectares of Future Potential Production Forest Land located outside the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area will be listed as Production Forest Land from 1 July 2018, the statutory obligation imposed on Forestry Tasmania to make available 137,000 cubic metres of high quality sawlogs will be amended, sawlogs will be able to be sourced from private forests and access to special timber species will be provided through partial harvesting from October of this year. Like the numerous battles that have been fought before it, this certainly won’t be the last we’re going to hear on this particular story.
In New Zealand, the battle to win the minds and hearts of the voters (and we’re still over six months out from the election) continues. Last week the Labour party was in Gisborne promising that if they got elected later in the year that they’d commit NZ$20 million to support the East Coast region's timber processing sector. This week, as part of an Economic Action Plan for the region, the National party announced NZ$2 million funding for a wood-processing facility (a joint venture between Wood Engineering Technology Ltd and the Eastland Community Trust where a new NZ$9 million prototype plant is being developed). The Minister also took the opportunity to announce changes to the NZ$30 million Erosion Control Funding Programme that include a wider range of measures to support and contribute to forestry and erosion control in the region. And you can guarantee that there will be more to come in the lead up to the 23 September. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Vodafone building in Wood Awards finalsAbodo have been selected as finalists in the NZ Timber Design Awards, alongside architects Jasmax, for the Vodafone Building in Christchurch in the NZ Specialty Timber category. The company's Vulcan thermally modified timber features extensively on the exterior elements of the building including solar screening, feature panels and decorative insets.
The Vodafone Innov8 brief required the design team to create a positive, healthy interior environment that not only brought people together but nurtured their wellbeing. With this in mind, the team developed the concept of a laneway tree house, which also helped inform the fit-out concept of the urban village; connecting those working in the office with each other, and with their surroundings.
The use of timber was key in realising this design intent and in bringing a level of familiarity, warmth and tactility to the structure at a level where people will engage with it directly.
InnoV8, Vodafone’s new South Island base, has achieved a 5 Green Star Design rating. Jasmax chose Abodo Vulcan timber as it is made from FSC-certified renewable NZ radiata pine forests. The timber is locally sourced and has been through a patented treatment process which removes the need for the timber to be chemically treated. This means it’s safe for people and the environment, a great fit for a project of this kind which promotes sustainability and wellbeing alongside business success.
For more photos of this award winning building, click here.
Tasmania to unlock production forestsOld conflicts are being reignited as the Tasmanian state government heads to Parliament with a bill aimed at unlocking some of Tasmania’s protected forests. Resources Minister Guy Barnett announced the Forestry (Unlocking Production Forests) Bill last Thursday, saying he was prepared to “fight tooth and nail, including in the trenches” to get the legislation through the first session of Parliament.
If approved, it would allow the logging of 356,000 hectares of forests that were locked as part of the peace deal. However, Forestry Tasmania would not harvest those contentious areas. Instead, the government would lease them out to private companies in a bid to protect Forestry Tasmania’s pursuit of Forest Stewardship Council certification. More >>.
For further coverage of the announcement click here.
Source: The Examiner
Labour shortages limiting forest contractingThe leading professional group for loggers in New Zealand says their members are being challenged by the lack of young skilled people available to work in rural areas, but the solution is not likely to be importing the people with skills.
Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) president Ross Davis says a lack of good people with the right skills is now having a real impact in forest workplaces. Together, industry and government must re-look at how school leavers are being prepared for real employment and work together to improve funding and access to technology skills training.
Davis says, “Our members have been working closely with some of the really practical technology institutes but we need more people with different skills from the past. Many more of our logging crews are using mechanised harvesters – providing a great workplace while at the same time making steep slope forest harvesting safer.”
Davis says forestry employers have also been working hard at drug-testing regimes for more than ten years. Our members have led the way in drug testing and positive test results have been declining among their workforce for several years now. He said the bigger challenges for employers in the forest are:
• Students and their parents don’t yet understand that technology skills are now the key to getting good forestry jobs. “We need early risers and hard workers. For highly skilled young people, the jobs are there now to run multi-million forest harvesting machines,” says Davis.
• “We don't need so many low-skilled people, but the training must be based around practical operating skills. They need to be productive when running a large harvester with several on-board computer systems.”
“Our industry is New Zealand’s third largest now. We’re poised for growth in both logs for export and to local sawmills. We really need smart skilled young people who are not afraid of hard work. The rewards are there for the right people,” says Davis.
NZ OMF Carbon UpdateNZUs rallied over the first two months of this year – after selling off late last year from the high $18 level down to under $17, the market has resumed its upward trend reaching $18.10 just recently.
A few factors at play – the 31 March date is approaching which will requires all emitters to furnish their 2016 emission returns. This has seen some buying. In addition – the Trump tone has moderated and whilst his threat to walk away from Paris is four years away and requires some hurdles on the part of the USA – it’s clear to many that our local carbon price is heading higher.
Another factor is the political election in six months’ time – our elections under MMP are always tight and if we switched to a Labour/Greens government – our ETS will tighten with agriculture likely to be phased in and the $25 CAP possibly removed.
That’s a binary risk for prices – up big or up slow. Finally, the Ministry for the Environment is holding public meetings over the next two weeks on forestry and supply issues relevant to the ETS post 2021 – whilst not market moving necessarily – changes are coming. Our view remains that prices will slowly move higher.
Source: Nigel Brunel, Director - Financial Markets, OMF
NZ$2m funding for new wood-processing facilityNew Zealand’s Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith today announced NZ$2 million funding for a wood-processing facility which uses automation and robotics to turn low-value pine trees into high-value wood products. This is just one of the local initiatives announced at the release of the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan in Gisborne.
“Forestry is a major employer in the region and this funding accelerates research and development in this sector. This technology from Wood Engineering Technology Ltd ensures that even low value ‘pulp’ logs, or forestry blocks on remote sites, can become economically viable,” says Mr Bridges.
WET Gisborne Ltd, a joint venture between Wood Engineering Technology Ltd and the Eastland Community Trust, is building a NZ$9 million prototype plant, where this technology is being developed.
It is expected that there will be three plants on the initial site creating 120 highly skilled jobs, and see potential opportunity in opening further plants in the more remote locations of Eastland.
“The processing plant is being partly funded through a Callaghan Innovation growth grant and demonstrates how innovative technology can improve productivity and profitability,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“Delivering commercialised technology to market is a core part of Callaghan Innovation’s mandate, so it is pleasing to see the Gisborne region benefitting directly from the government’s investment in research and development through growth grants.”
Logging industry to meet in Rotorua in JuneWe’ve already given you an early-thumbs up on this one a few weeks ago. If you haven’t already done it, mark the middle of June into your diaries. HarvestTECH 2017 is running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 20-21 June 2017.
Final programme details were handed out to forestry managers and logging contractors as part of the just completed New Zealand leg of the Safety Summit series that finished yesterday in Rotorua. An updated programme has just been uploaded to the event website and full programmes are expecting to be direct mailed to many of you in the next week or so.
The first inaugural harvesting event ran two years ago. Close to 450 met in Rotorua and the event SOLD OUT! It was the largest gathering of logging contractors, forestry managers, forest owners, suppliers and harvest planners yet seen in New Zealand. Equipment suppliers, researchers, forestry companies and international contractors from Australia, Canada, the US, Finland, Austria, Germany, Indonesia, and South Africa also flew into Rotorua to attend the event.
The focus was on steep slope logging. The number of harvesting crews working on steeper terrain had seen exponential growth. Of course, with this growth came innovation. The move by forest owners and contractors to increase mechanization, the desire to increase productivity and the requirement to improve safety had led to significant advances in harvesting practices and the equipment that was been used on this steeper country.
New gear to work on steep slopes had been developed by some of the larger equipment suppliers. Much of the innovation though was coming from contractors working together with local engineering companies. The 2015 event run by the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) was able to showcase to the rest of the world, some of this new kiwi logging ingenuity in practice.
Two years on, logging steeper terrain will again be covered in Rotorua this year. The programme though is being extended well beyond just steep slope logging. Full details of the two-day conference can be found by clicking on the attached programme or going onto the event website.
Note: Two full-day field tours to local logging contractors profiling some of the new innovations on the ground are being run either side of the Rotorua event. A minimal charge is being levied but numbers will need to be restricted at both. Registrations to both will need to be taken on a first in-first served basis. Registrations can be made on the event website, www.harvesttech.events.
New communication tool welcomed by local forestersWe profiled this new tool in a recent issue of Offcuts and have been inundated with support over the last couple of weeks. ForestTECH 2016 delegates in Rotorua and Melbourne late last year provided input to this new venture. As outlined, together with industry, the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) will be communicating much more regularly with local foresters and key suppliers to those involved in forest resource management.
As well as annual technology gatherings, the ForestTECH website will now be used to provide the very latest updates on breaking news, research results, reports, information on new technology and links for those involved in resource management and forest planning in Australasia.
Background: Since 2007, FIEA has run Australasia’s leading technology event, ForestTECH. It’s run for forest resource managers, remote sensing specialists, GIS, mapping and inventory foresters. It’s become the ONE technical event every year that’s attended by all major forestry companies from around New Zealand and Australia. It’s also the only independent forum in the region for tech updates, for disseminating results from recent research and from in-forest trials, for sharing information and for networking amongst technical foresters.
What’s happening? ForestTECH delegates over the years have suggested a platform for more regular communication and networking amongst themselves. They’d like to connect during the year as well as in and around the ForestTECH events. They’ve pointed to the ForestTECH website as the logical tool or vehicle to make this happen.
The website, www.foresttech.events will now be providing more regular communication on news – and events – to forest resource managers and inventory foresters. It will complement weekly updates from the forestry e-news sources, Friday Offcuts (www.fridayoffcuts.com) and WoodWeek (www.woodweek.com) along with other technical events and news sources. It will contain information we hope will be relevant – and of direct use to our readers. As well as updates on the website, a regular blog with links to new stories or posts will be sent out (no more than once a month but will be dependent on news sources and contributions received) to subscribers.
Already, we have more than 600 foresters involved in resource and inventory management who are on the list for regular updates. This has grown considerably over the last couple of weeks since the first notification went out. If you wish to add company or team members to the distribution list for this new resource, please subscribe or get your team members directly to sign up through the new website.
How can you help? The service is being provided for you. It’s free. It’s also dependent on your input and guidance. We’d be grateful for your input with news stories, contributions from research, papers written for journals, links to news feeds, relevant new equipment or product launches …. This can be done on line – or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Any suggestions or recommendations on content or format of course will also be gratefully received.
Support for new Australian CLT operationAs Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) increasingly excites town planners, designers, architects, builders and environmentalists alike, XLam determined its new state-of-the-art CLT manufacturing plant is to be built in the City of Wodonga, Victoria.
The support from all levels of Government continues in the form of establishment grants as part of a concerted, regional development focus. XLam CEO, Gary Caulfield said the support from Government further enhances the establishment of the plant, getting people into this new area of work and supporting the region and assisting with the purchase of high-tech manufacturing equipment.
“We have been fortunate to secure a grant from the Commonwealth Government Next Generation Australian Industry grants of AU$2.5 million, an initiative driven by Innovation Minister, Greg Hunt.” Mr Caulfield said.
Mr Caulfield also confirmed this week that a further grant of AU$450,000 has been offered, and accepted, by the Victorian Regional Development authority to support the required job development processes. The establishment of the plant is expected to create 54 local jobs across several years of operation.
“A commercial builder in the region, Joss Group, has also been awarded the construction contract of the high-tech sustainable timber facility, construction which has already commenced and is due to be completed in early 2017,” said Mr Caulfield.
The manufacturing plant represents a AU$25 million investment at a private development by AP Delaney within the Logic industrial estate, a location choice supported by the City of Wodonga local council. The plant is located 290 kilometres from Melbourne, 580 kilometres from Sydney and 1020 kilometres from Adelaide. Providing access to 80% of the country in approximately 24 hours.
“The location of the site means XLam will be ideally positioned to deliver to its customers throughout most of Australia via road or rail very quickly. This is important as XLam seeks to supply the greater Asia Pacific region”.
Once construction is complete, the installation of manufacturing equipment is scheduled for April, 2017. This will officially make XLam the largest CLT manufacturer in Australia with one of the most technologically advanced CLT plants in the world.
Source: Xlam, Photo, Xlam
Australian Paper contributes almost AU$1 billion to the economyNew research has revealed that Australian Paper’s operations generate almost AU$1 billion per annum in economic benefits for Australia. According to a Western Research Institute report released on Wednesday, the national benefits include AU$911 million in gross domestic profit (GDP), AU$495 million in household income and 5,786 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs. In addition, the business generates AU$1.88 in government revenue per ream of paper produced.
Australian Paper’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr Peter Williams, said that this research demonstrated the significant economic contribution made by local paper manufacturing, not only to Australia, but also to the regional areas where it is based.
The report confirmed the importance of the company’s Maryvale Mill to the Latrobe Valley in Victoria. The Mill contributes AU$451 million or 6.8% of the region’s economy, and supports 2,387 flow-on jobs or 5.5% of jobs in the Latrobe Valley. Mr Williams said, “Pleasingly, the report confirmed that the company’s recent AU$90 million investment in a recycling plant supported 218 jobs in Victoria, of which 82 were in the Latrobe Valley.
For a full copy of the report, click here.
New log export operation for Hobart’s Macquarie wharfThe growth in environmentally certified private plantation forestry continues to gather pace with logs collecting at Macquarie Wharf as part of a new export operation. Neville Smith Forest Products subsidiary SmartFibre and SFM Forest Products are preparing to export privately sourced hardwood and radiata pine whole logs from Hobart. Exports are expected to begin this month.
SmartFibre general manager Danny Peet said the operation offered a solution to private landowners whose forests had stagnated over many years because of a lack of an export option. Mr Peet said the operation had certification from the Australian Forestry Standard and Forest Stewardship Council. “The industry has come a long way in recent years and the announcement of certified whole logs being exported from Tasmania reflects this.”
Private forest harvesting increased almost 50 per cent in 2015-16. The SmartFibre-SFM operation in Hobart is separate to a native forest log export operation which is also set to take place at Macquarie Wharf as part of the State Government’s southern residues solution.
In addition to the TasPorts-Qube operation Majestic Timbers Australia will take up to 180,000 tonnes of logs annually for export in containers from Macquarie Wharf to markets in South-East Asia.
NZ$30m erosion control programme widenedNew Zealand's Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston has announced changes to Gisborne region’s Erosion Control Funding Programme to allow a wider range of measures to manage erosion in the region. The changes will support Te Huarahi Hei Whai Oranga – the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan, launched on Tuesday.
The NZ$30 million Erosion Control Funding Programme (ECFP), administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries, has been running since 1992. It focuses on reducing severe erosion in the Gisborne region, which is susceptible to high-intensity weather which causes soil erosion and downstream flooding.
“The Gisborne district has great potential for primary sector economic growth but in many cases erosion affects land productivity,” Ms Upston says. “The changes involve widening the scope of what can be funded by the ECFP, meaning there will be funding available for a wider range of measures which support and contribute to forestry and erosion control. The fund will now be able to assist community groups, iwi and other organisations with innovative ideas to reduce erosion”.
For more information on the Erosion Control Funding Programme visit www.mpi.govt.nz/ECFP.
Anti-mafia laws to sue forest activistsA Canadian forestry giant is using legislation most often deployed against the mafia to sue Greenpeace over allegations about the firm’s environmental record in the latest legal battle between campaigners and resource companies.
Launched by Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products the case will reverberate beyond the United States as it impacts how defamation and free speech rules are interpreted and how activist groups can be treated during prosecution.
A judge in the U.S. state of Georgia is weighing a motion by Greenpeace to dismiss the case and a decision on whether it can proceed is expected soon, lawyers for both sides said. Resolute is seeking US$300 million from Greenpeace International, Greenpeace U.S. and other branches of the environmental organization, along with Stand.earth, another North American activist group, Greenpeace said in a statement.
“This case is a big deal,” Ted Hamilton, a legal researcher with the Climate Defense Project, a U.S.-based advocacy group told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. It’s one of the few sentiments upon which both sides agree in litigation launched under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, normally reserved for illegal syndicates.
Michael Bowe, an attorney from Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP representing Resolute, said Greenpeace leveraged false and defamatory claims against the company’s operations in Canada’s Boreal forest in order to solicit donations. In its campaign materials, Greenpeace called Resolute a “forest destroyer” whose activities hurt indigenous people in Canada, threaten wildlife and contribute to climate change – claims rejected by the company’s lawyers. More >>
Minister inside cabinet advantage to forest industryThe Forest Owners Association says it’s looking forward to a higher profile in government with the appointment of Hon Louise Upston as holder of the forest portfolio in her role as New Zealand’s Associate Minister for Primary Industries. Ms Upston replaces Jo Goodhew. Jo Goodhew was a minister outside cabinet. Louise Upston is number 20 in the Cabinet.
Forest Owners Association Chair, Peter Clark, says the industry had a good relationship with Jo Goodhew, who he says always put a high priority on the forest and timber processing industry. “But we were frustrated, as I’m sure she was frustrated, that our issues did not get to be raised in cabinet by a minister directly concerned with forestry,” Peter Clark says.
“We are New Zealand’s number two primary industry, with forest product export returns running ahead of horticulture and meat, as well as being a large domestic industry. I’m sure Ms Upston will appreciate that and remind her colleagues of it.”
“Besides being MP for Taupo, a major forest region, she is also Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, which fits in well for addressing the developing skills and labour shortage in our industry.”
Source: Forest Owners Association
Tool to assist land owners assess planting gainsAn online tool has been launched in New Zealand to help landowners in the Lake Rotorua catchment understand the potential economic gains from converting all or parts of their property to pine or M?nuka.
Toitu Te Waonui, a M?ori forestry initiative group comprising Interpine Innovation, Tuia Group and iwi leaders have developed dNITRO with funding from Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Ministry for the Environment as part of the Low Nitrogen Land Use Fund.
Regional Council general manager integrated catchments Chris Ingle says the purpose of the fund is to assist landowners with reducing nitrogen discharged on to their land and entering Lake Rotorua. “We are committed to supporting landowners to do their part to protect lake water quality.”
“The decision to award funding to Toitu Te Waonui aligns with our key priority for the fund by promoting uptake of existing low nitrogen land uses such as pine and m?nuka.”
Toitu Te Waonui Project manager Andy Dick says the user-friendly, spatial tool is particularly useful for M?ori landowners. “It fills a knowledge gap that exists for landowners who are looking to plant out less productive land in to trees.”
The next phase of the project will see Toitu Te Waonui reach out to M?ori landowners and guide them through the tool to show opportunities and funding avenues available. The dNITRO Land Use Change Tool is now live at www.dnitro.co.nz.
Task force launched for U.S. lumber battleIn order to co-ordinate Canada’s efforts in the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S., the federal government has created a new federal-provincial softwood lumber task force. The body, chaired by Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, is expected to assess current federal and provincial programming and co-ordinate initiatives to promote innovation, market diversification and transformation of the forest sector.
Carr said with the spectre of a long dispute with the U.S. looming, the new task force will work to strengthen the forest industry through finding new markets and innovating. The task force is being welcomed by B.C.’s lumber industry. According to numbers in this week’s provincial budget, B.C. accounted for 61 per cent of Canada’s $7.5-billion softwood lumber trade with the U.S.
Source: Times Colonist
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... golf etiquette
A little old lady was walking down the street dragging two large plastic garbage bags behind her. One of the bags was ripped and every once in a while a $20 fell out onto the sidewalk.
And on that note, have a great weekend. We look forward to meeting up with many from the Australian forestry industry at the Forest Industry Safety Summit in Melbourne next week. Cheers.
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