Friday Offcuts – 19 May 2017

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To celebrate skills and training within the industry this week we cover the award winners from last Friday’s 2017 Southern Wood Council (SWC) awards evening. Over 350 logging contractors, crews and their families met in Dunedin. Tonight, the Eastland Wood Council will be holding their eighth annual awards programme in Gisborne and in Palmerston North next Friday, the inaugural Southern North Island Wood Council Awards are being held.

We also cover in this issue a piece on one of the award winners from the SWC event, a sawmiller from Southland, a story from a student who outlines some of the reasoning behind his selection of a course of study in Forest Management and we have an update on further harvesting contracting businesses in northern NSW that have signed onto the FOLS Skills Verification Program that’s being rolled out across Australia.

In Australia, this week came the unwelcome news from Carter Holt Harvey who met with workers on Tuesday to announce that it’s likely that its Morwell sawmill will be closed, resulting in the loss of 160 jobs. The issue isn’t markets or productivity from the mill. Rather, as with the recent issue with hardwood logs being supplied to the Australian Sustainable Hardwoods, it’s one of log supply. A number of damaging fires, including Black Saturday, across HVP’s Gippsland plantations over the last couple of decades has severely affected the volume and quality of sawlog that’s available to the mill. The inability to get logs has meant the mills future is looking bleak. Our thoughts are with the workers and their families at this time.

More positive news this week was the launch of a AU$2 million project, another FWPA initiative. It’s a Natural Capital Accounting project. It’s designed to quantify and put a dollar value on the environmental attributes (like soil, air, water and biodiversity) for sustainable operations like forestry. It’s intended that the project will for the first time provide Australian forestry companies the tools to build in the value of natural assets into their own business systems. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Forestry training and success celebrated in the South

Last Friday saw another outstanding turnout by local forestry companies, contractors and transport operators from throughout the lower South Island of New Zealand. The function was the 2017 Southern Wood Council Forestry Awards.

The Council, representing all major forest owners and most of the major wood processing companies in Otago and Southland ran the 2017 Awards programme in conjunction with the country’s industry training organisation, Competenz.

In addition to profiling the contribution that forestry and those working within the industry are making to the economic and social well-being of the region, the night was really designed to celebrate the success of those that had achieved formal training qualifications over the year. Through a series of nine major awards, the event also recognised the forest industry’s top performers from across the lower South Island.

The industry certainly rallied on the night. Like the previous two years, around 350 forest managers, forestry contractors, transport operators and product and service suppliers to the industry from throughout the lower South Island attended the awards evening at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.

“The turnout by forestry workers, their families and supporters on the night is probably a true reflection on the momentum that’s been building over the last year or so with on-site training and safety in this region” says Grant Dodson, Chairman of the Southern Wood Council. “In addition to recognising the training achievements of forestry workers and crews that have really stood out over the past 12 months, the industry was able to come together at one place to celebrate the industry along with training and business success.”

Presenters and speakers at this year’s awards evening included; Jamie MacKay, Host of NZ’s New Zealand’s flagship rural radio show, The Country, Hon. Louise Upston, Associate Minister for Primary Industries, Hon. Michael Woodhouse, Minister for Workplace Relations & Safety, Wiremu Edmonds, Director and Safety Champion, Tuakiri Ltd, Fiona Kingsford, CEO, Competenz and guest speaker Warren Alcock, the NZ Rugby Players Association‘s first accredited players agent (representing more than 80 All Blacks including Ritchie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ben Smith and Aaron Smith).

Around 120 National Training Certificates that had been achieved in Forestry & Wood Processing were awarded to top local contractors and forestry and wood processing employees. In addition, nine major industry awards were presented to:

Training Excellence Award - Apprentice of the Year (Sponsored by Southern Wood Council) : Award Winner; Ryan Spillane, MJ Logging

Training Excellence Award - Forestry Trainee of the Year (harvesting) (Sponsored by Rayonier/ Matariki Forests) : Award Winner; Martin Gordon-Glassford, Griffin Logging

Training Excellence Award - Forestry Trainee of the Year (silviculture) (Sponsored by Dynes Transport) : Award Winner; Russell Te Ngahue, X-Men

Skilled Professionals Awards – Forestry Excellence Award (establishment, silviculture, fire, harvesting) (Sponsored by South Wood Export) : Award Winner; Alistair McKenzie, Johnson Forestry Services

Skilled Professionals Awards – Wood Processing Excellence Award (Sponsored by UDC) : Award Winner; Rodney Lonneker, Pankhurst Sawmilling

Skilled Professionals Awards – Forest Products/Logistics/Transport/Port Award (Sponsored by Oil Imports) : Award Winner; Desiree Hollister, C3

Industry Excellence Awards – Forestry Environmental Management Excellence Award (Sponsored by Otago Regional Council) : Award Winner; Heavyweight Hire

Industry Excellence Awards - Training Company/Contractor of the Year (Sponsored by City Forests) : Award Winner; Shane Griffin, Griffin Logging

Industry Excellence Awards - Forest Products Health & Safety Award (Sponsored by Ernslaw One) : Award Winner; Barry Wells, Port Blakely

Tree Faller Certification – Otago Southland. Ten certificates for Professional Tree Faller Certification, a scheme that has been implemented in the Otago/Southland region were also awarded.

For local readers – or those who were there on the night - images from last Friday’s 2017 awards evening can be found on the Southern Wood Council website.

Congratulations go to all the winners, the nominees, their employers and families. This year’s awards programme with strong support from the wider industry, supporting organisation’s and major equipment and product suppliers has again been another important milestone for the forestry industry in the lower South Island. It’s firmly established now as the major fixture each year on the local forestry calendar.

Photo: Ryan Spillane, MJ Logging being presented this year’s SWC Apprentice of the Year Award by Hon Louise Upston, Associate Minister for Primary Industries

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AU$2m project to gauge environmental benefits

A collaborative research project will help industries put an economic value on the environmental benefits they offer using a system known as Natural Capital Accounting. An initiative of Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA), the three-year, AU$2 million project was launched earlier in the week in Wauchope, NSW, by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. Funded by Government and industry, the project will be spearheaded by CSIRO and also involves fishery and cotton industry groups.

Natural Capital Accounting is an internationally-accepted way of valuing natural assets such as timber, fisheries, soil, air, biodiversity, land and water. The Managing Director of FWPA, Ric Sinclair, said many of these were not included in economic measures such as GDP despite their undeniable importance.

“Forests offer environmental services including water quality improvements downstream, flora and fauna habitats and carbon storage,” he said. “By quantifying how we can value such services, we may be able to capitalise on them in new markets down the track, for example with agencies which have statutory obligations”.

“Natural Capital Accounting can also help companies in sustainability certification programs, and enable them to back up their environmental credentials in a market where customers increasingly expect companies to provide evidence, not just assertions. The project will work with industry stakeholders directly, to establish tools that are evidence-based, useable and industry-friendly – with outputs that are transparent, verifiable and auditable”.

“Financiers and shareholders are also likely to favour companies that can demonstrate that they are not reducing natural capital and are sustainable.”

The project is a collaboration between:

- Research Agencies, led by the CSIRO and supported by the Bureau of Meteorology and Australian Bureau of Statistics;
- Rural development corporations, Forest and Wood Products Australia, Cotton R&DC and Fisheries R&DC; and
Industry. Forestry companies including HVP, OneFortyOne and VicForests have also contributed funding.

For further information, see Barnaby Joyce’s media release here

For further coverage of the launch, click here.

Photo: Jim Houghton, FWPA, David Gillespie MP, Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce MP, Source:

Source: FWPA
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Myrtle rust now been found in Taranaki nursery

Myrtle rust has also been confirmed this week at a plant nursery at Taranaki. Testing by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms Lophomytlus seedlings at a Waitara nursery just north of New Plymouth have the disease.

Called in on May 16, an investigator travelled to New Plymouth immediately to collect samples and the positive test results were confirmed on 17 May, MPI's Myrtle Rust Response Incident Controller David Yard said. Strict controls on movement around the Taranaki nursery have been put in place. This is the second location in the country the rust has been confirmed.

"There are no movements of plants or other risk materials off the site. We are now preparing to treat the location with fungicide and will begin the job of inspecting the area out to 500m from the infection site," Yard said.

"The earlier we locate a new infection, the greater the chance of doing something about it. As with Kerikeri, we'll be throwing everything at it to attempt to control it, but we are realistic that it is a huge challenge, given how readily the spores spread by the wind.

The second site, particularly so far from the first, confirms fears the disease, which is spread by spores carried on the wind will be very difficult to contain and management rather than eradication may be a more realistic outcome.

Myrtle rust has become wide spread in eastern Australia since arriving there in 2010. That it would be spread on winds across the Tasman Sea was always seen as likely by many, including within the forestry industry.

Source: Stuff

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Riverton sawmill owner wins big at forestry awards

Fourteen years after picking up a job as a mill hand while looking for firewood, Riverton man Rodney Lonneker has been awarded one of the wood industry's top regional awards. On Friday, Lonneker collected the Wood Processing Excellence award at the Southern Wood Councils Awards at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand.

The award acknowledges a person working within wood processing or manufacturing who demonstrates excellence beyond best practice guidelines, and considers the quality and productivity of work and evidence of on-going training. Lonneker is the owner of Pankhurst Sawmill in Riverton, which employs 26 people and specialises in Macrocarpa milled products.

He said taking over the sawmill in 2015, after completing three apprenticeships, was a big turnaround from where he left off at school. "After leaving school I got into a bit of 'small town trouble' so packed myself off to Ireland to play rugby. I was a bit of a ratbag at school – not going around hurting anybody or stealing anything – just being a kid."

After returning to Riverton after six years in Europe, Lonneker's new career path started somewhat by accident. "I just went to get some firewood from the sawmill and ended up starting in a job there the next day. Mill manager Joe Dawson took me under his wing and started me off on my sawmill apprenticeship. It was then that my career in the wood industry really took off."

Since then, Lonneker won the NZ Wood Manufacturing Apprentice of the year in 2009 and continued his learning journey by completing qualifications in Business Management, Advanced Technical Operations and Operations Management. During this time, he became an industry assessor for industry training organisation Competenz, with whom he did his apprenticeship, and in 2015, Rodney and his wife Amanda purchased Pankhurst sawmill.

Lonneker said one of the most rewarding parts of his job was seeing the experience and skills he had learnt getting passed to the next generation. He has also spent time at his local school speaking to senior students about his experiences.

"You can always go to uni, but I want them to know there's other great opportunities in the wood industry and apprenticeships – if you work hard it does pay off. If you enjoy what you're doing and are interested in it, study is so much easier."

Source: Southland Times

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Eastland Port looks to expand

Forestry is a regional success story and as a result Eastland Port needs moderate expansion to keep up, says General Manager Andrew Gaddum (pictured). “We can handle 2.9 million tonnes of wood per year but with a predicted 5 million tonnes of wood coming by 2024, we need to make some changes.”

Eastland Port in Gisborne, NZ, is sharing its twin berth development plans with the community in advance of applying for the Gisborne District Council consents it will need to future- proof the port. Mr Gaddum says the biggest issues facing the port are a lack of wharf length, and space for logs and other cargo. The only way to move more wood off the port faster is to load two large ships at once. “We need to make the wharves stronger and longer so two 200m long ships can be loaded at the same time.”

“Finding space is a real challenge. We’ve looked at many options and we’ve become more efficient by doing things like doubling our ship loading rates and stacking wood more efficiently. But it’s not enough. We think the only reasonable answer is a small amount of land reclamation. At this stage we believe that might be around 1.5ha in behind wharf 8 and the seawall.”

“Forestry production injects NZ$262 million* into the area and that’s only going to increase. The port has a duty to ensure it is fit-for-purpose. More than one in four households in this region has a person whose job is dependent on forestry”.

Eastland Port plans to make its first application for resource consent to rebuild wharf 6, strengthen a portion of the river training wall, and reshape the slipway, in July. The second application next year will be to extend wharf 8, required reclamation, breakwater repairs, and dredging.

For more information visit

Source: Eastland Port

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Indonesian paper tariffs lethal to free trade

The Australia Indonesia Business Council has launched an extraordinary attack on Australia's decision to impose tariffs on cheap paper imported from Indonesia, warning its impact would be "potentially lethal" for free trade negotiations.

The Australian government, announced on April 19 it would impose "dumping duties" on A4 paper from Indonesia, Brazil, China and Thailand after the Anti-Dumping Commission found the four countries had dumped paper into Australia.

In a stinging column in the council's May newsletter, president Debnath Guharoy said the decision flew in the face of Indonesian President Joko Widodo's "pointed request in Sydney for a fair go on paper and palm oil". He said the decision effectively made it impossible to import paper from Indonesia.

"So, we can now add bumf to boats, beef and Bali," Mr Guharoy wrote. "We unilaterally decide to turn the boats around, stop the exports of live cattle, raise hell over the death penalty and now rollback their paper. Each and every time, we expect the Indonesians to bow to our self-promoted higher standards, our much-touted lofty principles. Those of us who have lived in, worked in or frequently travel to Asia cringe at the disdain with which these proclamations are treated by our neighbours."

President Jokowi, as he is popularly known, and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have both said they would like to see the free trade deal – which is known as the Indonesia Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA CEPA) – concluded at the end of this year. Read more.

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NSW forest harvesting business adopts FOL

Cover It Pty Ltd is the first harvesting contracting business in northern NSW to move all of their operators over to the FOLS Skills Verification Program. Cover It Pty Ltd are one of 18 NSW harvesting companies who have made the commitment to adopt FOLS, following a Forestry Corporation of NSW initiative.

In February this year, Forestry Corporation of NSW, in their northern hardwood forests around Coffs Harbour, Wauchope and Grafton, asked its contractors to move all operators on to FOLS.

Boyd Young, Owner of Cover It Pty Ltd, said moving their operators over to FOLS has been a smooth process. “It is going to be so easy to manage our employee credentials and training records now, as everything is housed in one place. FOLS will be a useful tool for new employees especially, providing a simpler process for locating and filing people’s training records and determining the currency of peoples’ skills,” said Boyd.

Diana Lloyd, General Manager of ForestWorks, said a new online system and mobile app for FOLS is only weeks away, and will provide further benefits to businesses looking for an easy way manage the skills of employees. “With the new FOLS app, you will be able to access and demonstrate your portfolio of skills anytime and anywhere, so long as you have a mobile device on you,” said Diana.

A summary of each operator’s FOLS endorsements will be utilised by Forestry Corporation of NSW to identify training gaps and a plan will be developed to address these. Forestry Corporation NSW will be reimbursing operators for a third of the cost of the 3 year FOLS once it is issued.

Forestry Corporation’s Harvest and Haulage Contractor and Procurement Manager Mark Hitchins said he expected the new system to make life easier for both Forestry Corporation and contractors.

“We require all operators working in State forests to have certain skills and accreditations and we see FOLS as a one stop shop. FOLS allows us to quickly and easily confirm that our contractors and their staff have the necessary competencies and identify gaps where training is required,” said Mark.

“Our contractors do a great job in maintaining high levels of skills and accreditation and the good news for our contractors is that they can also use this national program to swiftly verify the skills and training needs of new and existing staff, so it’s a real win-win.”

Photo: Cover It Operators – from left to right: George Connor, Boyd Young, Jamie Young, and Kelvin Young

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CHH Australian mill likely to close

About 160 timber workers are set to lose their jobs because a supply shortage caused by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires have left the mill unviable, its owners say. The ABC reports workers were summoned to a meeting at the mill, where they were given offers of redundancy and told it could close as soon as August. Mill owner Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) said the mill "was not viable into the future".

Geoff Harris, the CEO of wood products Australia at Carter Holt Harvey, said the site had been a key employer in the region for the past 35 years. But a shortage of pine following severe bushfires, including Black Saturday, meant the mill's future was bleak. "The likely closure of the mill is very real," Mr Harris said.

"The facts are our main supplier have told us outright that the availability of sawlogs suitable to run this mill is now in jeopardy and they don't have a solution for us. We fully understand and appreciate the distress that this will cause to all of our people that work for us, their families, and the Latrobe Valley."

Mr Harris said their supplier, Hancock Victoria Plantations, had done everything possible to address the shortage but there was nothing they could do. He said the fires had reduced Hancock's pine plantation by 15 per cent. Mr Harris said there was no other supplier in the region to replace Hancock.

Carter Holt Harvey’s other Victorian sawmills in Yarram and Myrtleford are unaffected by the company’s decision.

Source: ABC News

Comment on the closure from the Victorian Premier can also be read here.

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Practical skills focus for Forest Management Student

Dylan Jeune is no stranger to the New Zealand forestry industry, and through his recent studies on Toi Ohomai’s Diploma in Forest Management, has recently finished a summer job prior to graduation with Forest Management New Zealand.

“I have always had an interest in forestry as a result of my upbringing. My parents own and manage a log export business and I spent much of my childhood observing the business”, says Jeune. “It always amazed me the number of different roles available in the industry, however there seems to be lack of people with some form of tertiary education in the field. Although a tertiary qualification is not always necessary in forestry, it is a great help when it comes to increasing the chances of employment and opens the doors to new opportunities”.

Seeing this gap in the field, Jeune knew that he wanted to continue studying beyond secondary school. He chose to pursue a Diploma in Forest Management at Toi Ohomai because of the institute’s established hands-on learning environment.

“The reason I chose Toi Ohomai was due to its focus on practical application, which complements the theory-based learning. I believe it is important to have as much real-life experience as possible and Toi Ohomai reflects this value.

Jeune saw the benefits of his practical learning during summer employment with Forest Management New Zealand. “I thoroughly enjoyed my summer employment and I found that what I learnt at Toi Ohomai was directly applicable in the industry. My employer was impressed by how much I already knew as a result of the course, which ultimately meant that they didn't need to spend as much time training me.”

Looking forward to his second year of study, Jeune relishes the opportunity to dig deeper into his education. Source: Toi Ohomai.

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Rayonier 'bullish' about its New Zealand operation

Rayonier Inc. is “bullish” about and “encouraged” by its New Zealand operation, which had “all the planets kind of lined up last year, and we're seeing more of the same this year,” said CEO David Nunes. Speaking with analysts during a financial conference call earlier this month, Nunes said Rayonier had always been “fairly bullish on New Zealand just based in part on the underlying productivity of the lands and the access to markets.” During 2016, a number of factors contributed to that bullishness.

“I think the one area that perhaps if you want to put it into the bucket of surprises was the effectiveness of the reduction in domestic harvest in China. This has been something that's been attempted before. It's been widely reported that there was overharvesting for a long period of time. And so, it was really the effectiveness of that domestic harvest ban and the impact then that had on the market. And I think that catalyzed the market to some degree last year,” said Nunes.

On top of that, the New Zealand market was very strong, especially the Auckland market, which Nunes said “is one of the fastest-growing markets” in the region. “And so, we're seeing very strong domestic demand.” The New Zealand domestic market has taken market share from the export market, and Rayonier is now at about a 55% to 45% mix of domestic to export, he added.

“And then you also have a strong and growing market in India. So, you had all of those market factors that were taking place at the same time, while you also had low oil prices and an abundance of ships that kept shipping rates low. And then you had strong currency on top of it. So, you really had all the planets kind of lined up last year, and we're seeing more of the same this year. We've seen some increase in shipping rates. But generally, we remain pretty bullish and pretty encouraged by what we're seeing out of New Zealand this year.”

In New Zealand, Rayonier employs more than 90 forestry and business professionals as well as 700 contractors throughout the country, and harvests more than 2 million cubic meters of timber per year, sold into the domestic market and exported into Asia with China, Korea and India being important markets, the company's New Zealand website states.

Matariki Forests, managed by Rayonier New Zealand, is the third largest forestry company in New Zealand, with some 130,000 hectares of plantations across the country, according to the website, and Rayonier increased its ownership of the Matariki JV in New Zealand in 2015, taking its holding to 77% from 65%. In response to an analyst’s question during the May 4 conference call, Nunes said there were no regrets whatsoever about that decision.

The full release from Rayonier with condensed statements of consolidated income is available here

Source: Industry Intelligence Inc

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Stora Enso chooses Port of Brisbane

Stora Enso has pre-committed to a 5,950 m2 purpose-built warehouse facility. Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd, CEO Roy Cummins welcomed Stora Enso to a 1.8 hectare site within the Port of Brisbane’s Port West logistics estate at Lytton, Brisbane.

“The Port West location – particularly its proximity to the Port of Brisbane’s container terminals and wharves – will enable Stora Enso to significantly reduce its transport logistics costs,” said Mr Cummins.

Stora Enso’s Managing Director Matthew Wood said: “The decision to select the Port West site was principally made due to the location’s proximity to the port and the associated logistics benefits, which will significantly reduce the cost of our freight movements.”

Construction of the new facility is being undertaken by FKG with occupation expected prior to end-2017. The site will be designed for the import, storage and distribution of timber products and will include over 8,000 m2 of hardstand.


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Wilding pines control work nears one million ha mark

New Zealand’s Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say wilding pines control work has nearly reached its first-year target of a million hectares.

“20 per cent of New Zealand will be covered in unwanted wilding conifers within 20 years if their spread isn't stopped. They already cover more than 1.8 million hectares of New Zealand and until now have been spreading at about 5 per cent a year,” Mr Guy says.

“The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme was put in place in 2016 to prevent their spread and systematically remove them from much of the land already taken over.”

“Last year the Government committed an additional NZ$16 million to wilding control over the next four years and that’s on top of an NZ$11 million already spent each year.”

“Control work has involved targeted aerial spraying of individual trees in remote areas where there is light wilding infestation, and ground control in more heavily infested areas. The programme this year covers 14 initial priority areas, including extensive areas of conservation land and farmland in Central North Island, Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.”

The Wilding Conifer Control Programme has already started preliminary planning for 2017/18 control operations. The Programme is being implemented by the Ministry for Primary Industries, Department of Conservation, and Land Information New Zealand in partnership with other central government agencies, iwi groups, local government, forestry and farming industries, landowners, researchers and community trusts and organisations.

Source: Scoop
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AU$50m upgrade to Tumut

Visy has made a major investment in new technology and equipment. The recent AU$50 million upgrade at their Tumut site in NSW, Australia enables further innovation opportunities across their entire range of papers. The upgrade includes a new film press that allows for future product development.

Click here to link to Visy's announcement that includes a video.

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Canadian industry still buoyant says analyst

Despite a 20% tariff on wood products shipped to the United States, the Canadian forest industry is still basking in the sunshine because of high lumber prices, Russ Taylor, president of International Wood Markets Group, said Thursday at the close of a day-long global lumber conference in Vancouver.

“The storm is coming, but we are still in the sunshine,” Taylor said in an interview summing up the generally positive attitude of lumber producers towards the US market. The storm he was referring to is the future impact of a countervailing duty on softwood lumber products that went into effect May 1.

What’s behind the optimism is lumber price increases since February that have covered the cost of the duty. It’s already built into prices, so selling lumber into the growing U.S. housing market is still a lucrative business, said speakers at the conference, sponsored by International Wood Markets.

The storm will come when those high prices collapse. Lumber is a commodity subject to volatile price swings and what goes up, comes down, US lumber producer Ahren Spilker, operations and export sales manager of the Idaho Forest Group, said in his remarks to the 260 people attending the conference. But until that happens, the duty has already begun to pay off for US lumber companies.

“We have had a heck of a year. This last run [in prices] is one of the strongest we have ever seen,” Spilker said.

What was surprising about the comments from the North American producers is that they appear to be taking the lumber duties in stride. This is the fifth lumber war in the last 40 years, and producers on this side of the border have learned how to manage their trading relationship with the US.

More >>

Source: International Wood Markets via
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Dubai plans to go paperless by 2021

Dubai aims to go completely paperless by 2021, a move that the government expects will cut 80 million car trips from the road over the next four years, Gulf News reported. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, introduced the initiative, which he expects will save nearly 100 million paper transactions and 25 million work hours annually.

With the shift to paperless and widespread use of a new web portal, residents and expatriates could access hundreds of government services via the Internet, and conduct online transactions such as paying fines, renewing licenses and searching for vacant properties, Gulf News reported.

Source: Industry Intelligence

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... ringing the bell

An oldie but a goodie. After Quasimodo's death, the Archbishop of Paris at the Cathedral of Notre Dame sent word through the streets of Paris that a new bell ringer was needed.

The Archbishop decided that he would conduct the interviews personally and went up into the belfry to begin what he thought would be a long screening process.

After observing several applicants demonstrate their skills, he had decided to call it a day and would offer prayers for more success the next day.

Just then, an armless man approached him and falling flat on his face announced that he was there to apply for the bell ringer's job. The bishop was incredulous.

'But man you have no arms !'

'No matter,' said the man. 'Observe my technique!'

And he began striking the bells with his face, producing a beautiful melody on the massive carillon. The Archbishop listened in astonishment; convinced he had finally found a replacement for Quasimodo.

But suddenly, as he rushed forward to strike the final bell, the armless man tripped and plunged headlong out of the belfry window to his death in the street below.

The stunned Archbishop rushed down the two hundred and ninety five steps of the bell tower. When he reached the street, a crowd had gathered around the fallen figure. They had been drawn to the Cathedral, by the beautiful music they had heard only moment before from the melodious bells.

They silently parted to let the Archbishop through and one of them asked, 'Archbishop, who was this man ?'..

'I don't know his name,' the bishop sadly replied,


WAIT ! WAIT ! There's more

The following day, despite the sadness that weighed heavily on his heart due to the unfortunate death of the armless campanologist, the Archbishop continued his interviews for the new bell ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral.

The first man to approach him said, 'Your Excellency, I am the brother of the poor armless wretch that fell to his death from this very belfry yesterday.

I pray that you honour his life by allowing me to replace him in this duty.'

The Archbishop agreed to give the man an audition, and, as the armless man's brother stooped to pick up a mallet to strike the first bell, he groaned, clutched at his chest, twirled around, and died before he hit the floor.

Two monks who were saying their Matins, hearing the Archbishop's cries of grief at this second tragedy, rushed up the stairs to his side.

'What has happened? Who is this man?' the first monk asked breathlessly.

'I don't know his name,' sighed the distraught bishop, 'but...'

Scroll down if you dare!!!!!!!!


And on that note, have a great weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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