Friday Offcuts – 11 August 2017

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Aside from the surprise pre-election manoeuvrings in New Zealand this week, two major news items sparked interest from our readers. The first, was the release of a nationwide set of environmental rules for managing New Zealand’s plantation forests, the National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry. For anyone involved in getting this one over the line, they’ll tell you, it’s certainly been a long (around eight years), arduous and often convoluted process. We got there though. Applying to eight forestry activities, consistent environmental standards will now be applied across New Zealand’s 86 regional and district council boundaries. Whilst some operators in some regions may need to fine tune their operations, the NES is going to provide consistency within and across regions, reduce costs, assist forest owners more effectively plan and run their estate and ultimately, it's going to provide some sort of surety to forest investors.

The second announcement mid-week, was news on the planned construction of the world's tallest wooden office building in central Wellington. Countries like Canada and Australia have been at the forefront of using engineered timber construction for new commercial, office and residential buildings. Unlike these other countries though where standards changes have enabled architects, engineers and designers to really spread their wings, the New Zealand property investor behind this new buuilding has instead described the development as "an indulgence", driven by frustration at poorly designed buildings. The "faultless office building" is being personally designed and it will be using laminated timber columns and beams.

Whatever the reason, it’s a shot in the arm for the local timber industry. It's a huge vote of confidence for timber construction in this country. As the architect at the centre of the mass-timber moment - Canadian, Michael Green - says It is definitely wood’s moment. It also leads in perfectly to the interest already being generated in this year’s “Changing Perceptions of Engineered Timber in Construction” conference being run in Rotorua on 28 September as part of a wood week that includes a large wood processing technology event (check out the line-up of global and local sawing expertise coming into the country in the story below) running in the city.

Finally, other news includes results from an in-depth six month study on the Tumut and Tumbarumba regions of NSW that quantifies (an eye-watering billion dollars output from the forestry industry) the true value of the industry to the local and national economies, we cover a new investment being made by Caterpillar into a Western Australian company, Fastbrick Robotics, to further develop a robotic brick laying technology for the construction industry and we've got a couple of stories on local fire-fighters who are joining over 3,800 personnel currently working throughout B.C. battling the outbreak of wildfires in the province. Over 400 firefighting staff from New Zealand, Australia, Mexico and the United States have left to help out. Enjoy this week’s read.

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NES step up for plantation forestry

NZ Forest Owners say the introduction of a National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry is vitally needed for better environmental outcomes. The government has just released the NES, to bring in a standard set of environment regulations for plantation forests.

The regulations cover eight forestry activities; including re-afforestation, earthworks, harvesting, quarrying and installing stream crossings. Forest Owners Environment Committee Chair, Peter Weir, says for some operators the NES will require a step up in the quality of their harvesting, erosion and sediment control and forest road construction.

Peter Weir says it has taken eight years to get the NES through to implementation to resolve the lack of consistency, and too much complexity, between different regional and district council rules for forestry. “We’ve had forest blocks straddling local body boundaries and have had to comply with different sets of sometimes contradictory rules in building roads and harvesting the trees. It’s made no sense on the ground.”

“And it’s been expensive and frustrating for our industry, and for environmental advocates for that matter, to frequently have to work through the same issues time and again in plan changes with multiple regional councils,” Peter Weir says.

“Looking forward, the NES means large areas of erosion prone farmland will effectively become off-limits for plantation forestry. The NES specifies these areas can now only be planted with a Council resource consent and it’ll be subject to a detailed risk assessment.”

Peter Weir believes the NES will direct investment into planting in more stable landscapes, meaning a much-reduced risk of slopes failing in storms after harvest and thus fewer debris flows downstream. Peter Weir predicts the NES will also increase forest roading and harvesting standards.

“We know there is currently too wide a range in the quality of forest engineering. Harvesting is the most expensive stage of forestry and for some owners and contractors in the past the temptation to cut corners was too great. If there is heavy rain then we read about the result in the newspapers.”

“NES has made it much clearer what the expected standard is, although for some forests, especially small blocks, costs will increase. The next step I would like to see is that some aspects of the standards are extended across all land users, from agriculture to government departments, including stream crossings in the DoC estate.”

Peter Weir says a key value of the NES for the forest industry is that it is the result of collaboration with New Zealand’s environmental NGOs. “Government departments; MPI and MfE, had Fish & Game and Forest & Bird around the table through much of the process. We appreciate their input and are aware of what things are important to them.”

“The ENGO involvement was very beneficial for our industry members when we were developing good practice guidance for protecting endangered species such as long tailed bats, kiwi, kea and karearea in plantation forests.”

Other coverage on the NES release can be found here

Source: Forest Owners Association

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World's tallest wooden office tower for NZ

Property mogul Sir Bob Jones plans to take the timber industry to new heights, by erecting the world's tallest wooden office building in central Wellington. Jones has announced plans to demolish the Leader's Building on Featherston St, to make way for a new 12-storey office block. Standing 52 metres tall, it is due to be completed in 2018.

A property investor estimated to be worth $750 million, with buildings in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, Jones rarely constructs buildings himself. He described the development as "an indulgence", driven by frustration at poorly designed buildings.

"We spend millions of dollars each year … tidying up design errors. I can't think of a single office building in New Zealand or Sydney in which design errors are not evident," Jones said. "So, as an exercise, we decided to build a faultless office building which I've personally designed."

The building will be made from laminated timber columns and beams, which perform better in an earthquake than steel or reinforced concrete, as the materials are less likely to buckle. While the Wellington building is designed to be world-leading in terms of height, Jones did not think the status would last long, given the global interest for the wooden construction.

Australian company Lendlease has begun work on what it says will be the world's tallest office tower in Brisbane. In addition, a new 12-storey office building has been announced in Portland, Oregon, as America's tallest wooden office building. But Jones said his new building would trump both, being 12 metres higher than the Brisbane building, and six metres higher than the Oregon one.

There were taller existing buildings in Vancouver, Norway, London and Vienna, which had been built using laminated timber, however they were all residential buildings, hotels, or hospitals, Jones said. "The office developer sector has been slow on the uptake." Read more.

Photo: Artists impression of Jones' new wooden office tower, complete with bronze-tinted glass windows. Studio Pacific Architecture

If interested in listening to an interview with Sir Bob Jones on the planned building, click here.

Source & Photo: Stuff

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Record turnout of global sawmilling expertise

Two years ago was pretty good. Over 350 delegates from all major sawmilling companies in this region in addition to leading technology providers from throughout Australasia, North America and Europe converged on Melbourne, Australia and Rotorua, New Zealand for the WoodTECH series run by the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA). A record turnout of sawmilling companies was achieved.

This year, numbers and the technologies being covered - are even better. It’s an outstanding turnout. “It’s probably the largest gathering seen in this part of the world for a sawmilling conference, workshop and exhibition series”, says FIEA Director, Brent Apthorp. Local sawmilling and wood processing companies are going to be spoilt for choice. Specialists in saws, sawmilling and mill optimisation technologies involved in this September’s WoodTECH 2017 series so far include;

From Europe;

WoodEye, Sweden, Linck, Germany, AKE, Germany, Grecon, Germany, Prinz, Austria, HewSaw, Finland, MiCROTEC, Italy, ScanWare, Sweden, SPRINGER, Austria, EWD, Germany

From North America;

USNR – Soderhamn Eriksson, US/Canada, Autolog, Canada, JoeScan, USA ScanMeg, Canada, SiCam Systems, Canada, Optimil, USA, Lucidyne Technologies, USA, DO2, Canada, Gilbert, Canada, VAB Solutions, Canada, Carbotech International, Canada, LMI Technologies, Canada, Nicholson Manufacturing, Canada, Metriguard, USA, the BID Group, Canada, Lewis Controls, USA, Corley Manufacturing, USA, California Saw & Knife Works, USA, Precision Manufacturing, Canada, Modern Engineering, Canada

From Australasia;

Holtec, KeyKnife/Braford Industries, Andritz Iggesund Tools, ILS, SEW Eurodrive, Supply Services, Thode Knife & Saw, Acora Reneco, Finlease (Australia), Saito, Checkmate, Kleentek, Salestech, Lakeland Steel, Tui Technology, Toi Ohomai, Fire Protection Services, BraveGen and Spraying Systems.

If you’re a local sawmiller, a once in every two-year opportunity is being supplied. Full details on the programme in both countries along with information on the practical workshops being run in each country can be found on the event website, It runs in Melbourne, Australia on 20-21 September and then again in Rotorua, New Zealand on 26-27 September 2017.

Please note: Early-bird registrations FINISH next Friday, 18 August and significant discounts for multiple registrations from your own site are still available.

Also, for those attending the New Zealand event, a one-day conference (same place, same venue) , Changing Perceptions of Engineered Timber in Construction will be run the day after the WoodTECH 2017 conference, on Thursday 28 September. Details can be found on

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Keeping up with the Joneses – tall timber’s secret is out

This week’s news that property expert Sir Bob Jones will build a tall timber commercial building in Wellington, New Zealand’s most recent earthquake-affected centre, is a huge step forward for wood in commercial building.

It’s no secret to wood manufacturers though. Their strongest advocate Jon Tanner, who leads the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association (WPMA), has long been promoting wood, especially for earthquake safety in buildings. Now a national conference in Rotorua is set to spread the message even wider.

Leading companies in the industry, like XLAM in Nelson, are well-versed in engineered wood products. WPMA and timber design engineers have been working hard to get the message out to building owners, developers and specifiers for years. So, it’s rewarding to see our best-known property personality taking up the opportunity.

Jones’ decision comes at a great time for other property developers to get in on the act. A national conference focused on changing perceptions of timber in commercial building runs in September. Tall timber fanatic and conference director John Stulen says it’s time we caught up with our Australian colleagues. They already know tall timber stacks up well financially, occupants love it and wood building ticks the environment box.

"Commercial buildings in wood go up faster, better and cheaper with great design too” says Stulen. “Our conference keynote speaker managed the newest and tallest timber building yet. Karla Fraser of Urban One Builders delivered Brock Commons - an 18-storey timber building for University of British Columbia in Vancouver.”

“Australian companies like Lendlease and Strongbuild have moved quickly and decisively in the tall timber building game. They’re well ahead of their New Zealand counterparts in commercial gains. So, Jones’ decision to go big with a wood structured tall office building augers well for the whole sector in this country,” adds Stulen.

Jones’ announcement makes for an exciting week for tall timber. It coincides with news of Ara Institute of Canterbury’s new, three storey, 6500 square metre architecture and engineering building. The building - dubbed “Kahukura”is set to open soon. In it the designers, Jasmax, deployed innovative wood building technologies. It is arguably the greenest building in the Canterbury reconstruction programme.

The upcoming national building industry conference, entitled “Changing Perceptions of Engineered Timber in Construction” runs on 28 September in Rotorua. It's the second annual conference for Innovatek in commercial wood building. The diverse programme attracts building owners, developers, architects, engineers, specifiers and key engineered wood suppliers. The theme is “Advantages of Timber in Mid Rise Construction.”

The conference is set to be part of a wood technology week of events coming to the city in September, including the FIEA WoodTECH 2017 two-day conference and trade expo. Rotorua Lakes Council are event partners promoting their successful “Wood-First” policy. For more details see:

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$30m tipped from Forestry Tasmania restructure

A restructure of Tasmania’s state-owned forestry company will deliver a AU$30 million improvement to the company’s bottom line, but it is unclear when it is expected to return to profit. Delivering an update this week, Resources Minister Guy Barnett also said the sale of the company’s pulpwood plantations was close to being finalised.

At the beginning of the month, Forestry Tasmania became known as Sustainable Timber Tasmania under a State Government restructure. Mr Barnett said the restructure was designed to put the entity on a sustainable footing and make it free of public subsidies.

He said the restructure of Forestry Tasmania, including the company’s increased commercial focus, was on track to deliver a AU$30 million improvement to its bottom line over the next four years.

“The projected improvements in STT’s bottom line are a result of an organisational restructure, achieving better returns for forest products, and savings on office costs, particularly the move of the Hobart office,” he said.

But Mr Barnett said there was more work to be done to “unlock” more forests for logging. The Government’s bid to open an extra 365,000 hectares of contested forests to logging was rejected by the Legislative Council 7-5 last month. Mr Barnett was unable to say when Sustainable Timber Tasmania was expected to return to profit.

“Those figures will be made available later this year,” he said. Last year, Forestry Tasmania’s annual report showed a loss of AU$67 million in 2015-16. Sustainable Timber Tasmania had selected a preferred bidder for its plantation assets, Mr Barnett said. “Negotiations are in the final stages,” he said.


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Caterpillar backs Australian bricklaying robot

The world is another step closer to a bricklaying robot that can build the framework of a house in less than three days. Caterpillar has invested US$2 million in Fastbrick Robotics, the Australian company behind the builder bot.

Named Hadrian X, the quick-laying bricklayer is built on a 30m boom arm attached to a truck. A 3D CAD model of the house is fed into the system, and following those instructions, the robot is able to cut and place up to 1,000 bricks per hour, taking into account doors, windows, features and channels for electrical wiring and plumbing. Thin bed mortar or other adhesives are delivered through the boom head.

Originally unveiled in 2015, the system has caught the attention of construction company Caterpillar, which has just partnered with Fastbrick through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The two companies will collaborate on the development, manufacturing, sales and services of the bricklaying technology, with a newly established strategic alliance board determining the best ways to get Hadrian into the hands of construction customers in different countries.

Caterpillar has agreed to invest US$2 million into the technology, with the option to throw in an extra US$8 million down the track if Fastbrick's shareholders approve. According to a financial report released in April, the first commercial versions of Hadrian X are due to be delivered by the end of 2017.

Source: Fastbrick Robotics

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Fighting forest fires with Fire Urgency Estimator

As wildfires recently have burned across the interior of British Columbia, thousands of residents were forced out of their homes — many not knowing whether those homes would withstand the flames.

It's a scenario seen increasingly not only across North America's west coast, but in places around the world facing drier, hotter weather due to climate change. Scientists say such fires are only going to get worse in coming years.

That's where astrophysicist Carlton Pennypacker comes in. Along with a team of fellow researchers at the University of California Berkeley, Pennypacker is determined to help address the growing wildfire threat.

Since 2013, his team has been been working away in the lab to develop a system they call the Fire Urgency Estimator in Geosynchronous Orbit ( FUEGO).

It harnesses innovative drone and satellite technology to help monitor wildfires in their early stages — long before they begin to burn out of control.

FUEGO can locate and track fires using drones, planes and satellites mounted with special infared cameras. The software is able to pinpoint potentially threatening fires and immediately dispatch air tankers and ground firefighters to the area before they start to spread.

"There are basically about four simultaneous revolutions that really make this system possible," Pennypacker tells Day 6 guest host Marcia Young. "There's the sensor, as cameras' detecting elements have just gotten so good and so cheap. Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, have gotten much cheaper [and have] longer endurance. Image analysis software has gotten so much faster and cheaper because of advances in computing."

All of that makes it easy to detect fires and send alerts to fire suppression forces, such as fire officials and forest crews, Pennypacker says. While it will be a few years before FUEGO is fully operational, Pennypacker and his team have begun testing parts of the system and are hoping their work can eventually make a difference in the way wildfires are handled.

“It's probably five years before we'll have a huge effectiveness," Pennypacker says. "I think we can have some modest effectiveness almost immediately. We're not going to stop all fires. But I think a lot of the pieces of the system are ready to go. The future is quite optimistic on this, and I think we have a lot of hope for doing this."

Source & Photo: fuego,

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Australian forestry firefighters deployed to Canada

Forestry Corporation firefighters from Eden, Walcha, Grafton and Casino have been deployed to Canada as part of a 100-strong Australian taskforce assisting in bushfire fighting in British Columbia, Canada.

Amba Addinsall from Eden, Matt Hagon from Grafton, Brian Lynch from Walcha and Dan Allen from Casino are all advanced firefighters with experience in steep forested country. Forestry Corporation of NSW Forest Protection Manager Karel Zejbrlik said the taskforce had been deployed to Canada for 42 days to help with their current fire emergency.

“As one of NSW’s four firefighting authorities, Forestry Corporation plays an important role in preventing and managing wildfires in NSW and our staff are always ready to pitch in during emergencies interstate and overseas when required,” Mr Zejbrlik said.

“The team of firefighters we’ve deployed to Canada are highly trained and have years of firefighting experience, including in pine forests similar to those in north America. Deployments like this are an important opportunity for our firefighters to contribute to broader firefighting efforts and their contributions as part of this taskforce will help take the pressure off communities battling intense wildfires”.

“The team will also build on their firefighting knowledge and experience and identify opportunities to help us improve fire management in our local State forests as well.” Forestry Corporation is responsible for more than two million hectares of native and plantation forests and has been formally involved in firefighting in NSW for 100 years.

Source: Forestry Corporation of NSW

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Exotic pest risk real and rising in Australia

A recently completed analysis of Australia’s national forest industry biosecurity programs has revealed exotic pests are a real and rising risk to Australian plantations and native forests – and that the right investments in prevention and mitigation pay off.

The comprehensive study included an analysis of the cost benefit of two actual pest management examples – chysomelid leaf beetles and sirex woodwasp – and modelled potential scenarios for a hypothetical incursion by the pinewood nematode.

Co-funded by Forest and Wood Products Australia, the researchers concluded current biosecurity surveillance beyond border control was insufficient, inconsistent and reliant on a cohort of experts nearing retirement. It is anticipated that some or all of these issues will be addressed in the National Forest Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy (NFBSS) and Implementation Plan currently under development.

Lead researcher, Dr Angus Carnegie, said it was crucial to be vigilant to the arrival of pests and to act quickly in a whole-of-industry way when addressing pest incursions. For example, by the time pinewood nematode was detected in Portugal, over 500,000 hectares were affected by pine wilt disease and a €38 million (AUD $57 million) eradication program failed. By contrast, three isolated outbreaks in Spain were detected early and eradicated for less than €5 (AUD 7.5 million).

The researchers modelled a scenario in which the pinewood nematode – which is carried by Japanese pine sawyer beetles – arrived at the Port of Brisbane in wood packaging, before being transported to a holding facility in Caboolture and spreading to commercial softwood plantations five kilometres away at Beerburrum.

A cost-benefit analysis found it would be worth spending $350,000 a year in biosecurity activities (e.g. surveillance, trapping) to prevent pine wilt disease from becoming established at Beerburrum.

“Biosecurity surveillance is insurance. You hope your house isn’t going to get robbed or burnt down but it’s well worth spending a couple of thousand a year on premiums just in case,” said Dr Carnegie, who is Principal Research Scientist – Forest Health & Biosecurity at the NSW Department of Primary Industries. “It is particularly worthwhile conducting systematic surveillance in trees near ports, where exotic pests would first become established.”

The report also details the history of biosecurity in Australia; Commonwealth and State Agency linkages and responsibilities; and the establishment of commercial state plantation resources. It found:

- There has been a steady increase in pests detected at the Australian border since 2000 with the growth in trade via shipping – and those detections are the tip of the iceberg as most containers are not inspected.
- Recent examples of pests which have made it past the border and affected Australian trees include giant pine scale and pinewood nematode.
- There was a need for better staff and industry training to increase the potential to detect emerging threats, with no nationally recognised course on biosecurity.
- Within five years, a substantial number of experienced technical experts in Australia will have retired.
- Sixty-nine per cent of forest growers surveyed conducted pest population monitoring, but only 56 per cent had staff awareness programs.

The research relied on data from both industry and government, and was conducted collaboratively by the NSW Department of Industry (Forest Science), the University of the Sunshine Coast and Forestry Tasmania.

It was peer-reviewed by Dr Andrew Liebhold of the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, who described it as a “very impressive” report that should provide “excellent guidance in planning national efforts on forest biosecurity in the future”.

Dr Liebhold stated said this was the most detailed assessment of its kind that he has seen to date and felt that it served as an exemplar report that should be reviewed and replicated in other major forest grower regions and nations. The full report is available on the FWPA website and a series of webinars are under production.

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WA RFA review finds industry certainty lacking

An independent review of Western Australia’s Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) for the period 2009-2014 has found the agreement has delivered on key environmental objectives, but fell short in providing certainty for the state’s forest industries.

The independent reviewer Graham Wilkinson found, “Commitments in the WA RFA relating to threatened flora and fauna were achieved”, and “Timber harvesting operations are conducted in a manner that contributed to the maintenance of biodiversity value”.

Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) CEO, Mr Ross Hampton, said the review provided a strong endorsement for extending the WA RFA, which expires in 2019, and showed that the national RFA framework strikes a balance between economic, environmental and social considerations for the sustainable management of Australia's forests”.

“The review shows the RFA is delivering best practice environmental standards in the state’s sustainable forest industries, but also found that more needs to be done to provide certainty of resource supply to industry to drive investment, support innovation and create jobs,” Mr Hampton said.

The reviewer agreed with AFPA’s submission to the review process in concluding that the RFA has failed to meet obligations around resource certainty for industry, and had failed to facilitate new investment in industry development and plantation expansion.

The review found timber availability had reduced because 21,884ha of forest were added to the reserve system between 2009-14, and the plantation estate declined by 41,700ha (10 per cent), which failed to deliver on objectives set out in the RFA and created uncertainty for industry.

“The RFA was designed to strike a balance between reservation and available forest for timber production. What we have seen is dramatic reservation expansion well beyond the agreement, and it continues. Continuously adding to the reserve system skews the balance. It reduces the timber available to the industry, it reduces confidence in the industry to invest and it threatens the long-term viability of our local manufacturers” said Melissa Haslam Executive Director of the Forest industries Federation.

Mr Hampton said this had been a problem for industry across all the RFAS, and must be addressed in the extended RFAs currently being considered by the Federal and state governments. “The previous RFA process resulted in the transfer of more than 2 million hectares of forest to reserves, and subsequent decisions taken by states and territories have further increased the area of forests in reserves to around 3 million hectares. There are now 23 million hectares (or 16 per cent) of Australia’s native forests in formal nature conservation reserves, compared with 6 per cent in 1990”.

Source: AFPA, Forest Industries Federation WA

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NZ firefighters head to fight Canada’s wildfires

Fire and Emergency New Zealand is deploying firefighters and incident management specialists to help contain wildfires raging in Canada.

National Manager Rural Kevin O’Connor said 80 people drawn from Fire and Emergency NZ, the Department of Conservation, and Forestry contractors would fly to Vancouver from Auckland between Saturday and Monday (5 - 7 August), to start what is expected to be a five-week deployment in the province of British Columbia.

New Zealand has a standing agreement with Canada to supply each other with support via the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) International Agreement, and Mr O’Connor said the deployment follows a formal request from the CIFFC earlier this week.

"Canada is close to exhausting all available wildfire management resources within their country. To help provide ongoing relief, New Zealand is sending a team of firefighters and operational personnel to provide frontline and incident management support to local firefighters."

"Our fire crews and incident management team members have a range of skills in high demand during lengthy firefighting operations. These include experience in logistics, communications, ferrying supplies into remote locations, and the use of aircraft," he said.

Total area burnt this season Canada sits at 1,202,645 hectares, and is increasing at about 8000 hectares per day, Mr O’Connor said. There are currently 226 wildfires burning across Canada. British Columbia is the worst affected with over 474,000 hectares burnt already and 135 fires currently burning.

The province remains in a declared State of Emergency and the extreme fire danger is expected to continue, with no weather relief forecast on the horizon. Current firefighting efforts in British Columbia remain focused on public safety and keeping highways that serve as evacuation routes open.

New Zealand crews will join over 3000 people and 200 planes that are currently engaged in the response effort in British Columbia, Mr O’Connor said. This will be New Zealand’s 20th international rural fire deployment, and the fourth and largest contingent to Canada since the first deployment there in 2009, he said.

In total, 661 New Zealand rural firefighters will have been deployed internationally since deployments began in 2000.

Source: Scoop

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NZ$15 million sawmill upgrade

The multimillion-dollar upgrades currently being implemented at Kaituna Sawmill near Blenheim are a resounding endorsement for the sawmill’s engaged and committed team. Kaituna Sawmill is the wood processing asset owned by Nelson Forests Ltd (NFL). NFL itself is owned by Global Forest Partners (GFP), an investment company based in the USA.

The sawmill provides 65 full-time equivalent roles. Kaituna produces some very innovative, high-quality timber products for an extremely competitive global market but, for a number of years, the sawmill has struggled to achieve consistent, year-round energy production using its existing wood-drying technology. Unpredictable drying conditions made managing production consistency

And quality of output from the mill challenging. The bottom line was that the sawmill needed to upgrade its plant, but such an upgrade comes with a hefty price tag. Four years ago, it was clear to General Manager Darrell O’Brien that changes were needed. A LEAN* approach was already being applied to operations within the business, and O’Brien decided to take this one step further and implement a LEAN programme that focused on the sawmill team.

Every year since then, six employees from the sawmill have been sent to Japan to learn more about LEAN and how its principles can be applied in their roles and the working environment in general. At a cost of $20,000 per person to make this trip, this is no modest undertaking. “As a result of LEAN thinking, the team here have provided 700–800 Kaizen (improvement ideas), most of which have been implemented,” says Darrell.

“These ideas have made a compounding, tangible difference to our operation and we have been able to see the benefits of these low-cost improvements. However, we had arrived at a point where a quantum leap in production capability was required. The way to do this was by introducing new processing technology.”

At the same time, Projects Manager Bryan Phillips and Darrell O’Brien himself were visiting other sites in New Zealand and Europe to investigate alternative plant with a view to proposing large-scale improvements at Kaituna. “When we sought a significant investment from GFP to bring the sawmill up to a competitive and consistent standard within the rapidly changing global marketplace, we weren’t sure what kind of reaction we would get,” says Darrell. Read more.

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Tumut & Tumbarumba home to global forestry industry

A new, in-depth study, undertaken by the University of Canberra, the NSW Department of Industry, the Softwood Working Group (SWG), and Forest and Wood Products Australia, found that 18 per cent of workers in the Tumut and Tumbarumba regions of NSW are directly employed in the industry.

It then found that for every one person directly employed, 2.8 jobs were created, through “production-induced and consumption induced effects.” In fact, AU$115 million in wages alone is paid to South West Slopes residents in a given year, which is then typically spent elsewhere in the region.

Softwood Working Group Economist Diana Gibbs said the results of the study, which involved six months of data crunching, were surprising even to those intimately familiar with the industry. “We actually went back and checked some of the modelling not just twice but three times because the results were so good!” she said.

“When you look at the total workforce in Snowy Valleys shire, 50 per cent of all jobs are reliant on the forest sector – which is phenomenal! But when we went back and looked at the data we realised that it was because the area is an industry cluster.

“We’re so lucky; we don’t only grow the trees here but also process them here. All the support services that the industry requires are in the region as well, so if you need tyres or repairs or almost anything else, everything is right there.”

The study found that the economic impact of the timber industry in the South West Slopes is more than tourism in the Snowy Mountains, including the ski fields, and farm gate agriculture from Wagga to Albury, combined.

It put the output of the forest industry at over a billion dollars: AU$1,050,000,000. Including flow-on effects, it puts it at AU$2,130,000,000. “The study demonstrated that the Tumut and Tumbarumba area is home to a global industry,” said Diana Gibbs. “We’re talking about a billion dollars of output, it’s not to be sneezed at!

The South West Slopes for this study includes Albury, Greater Hume, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys, Wagga, and also Bombala. It was undertaken alongside a University of Canberra study analysing the forest industry throughout all of Australia, due to be published soon. Read more

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One of Australia’s oldest scientists remembered

At the ripe old age of 97, the late Dr Max Day AO FAA was still contributing to science, helping to uncover the mystery behind the scribbles on gum trees, considered by many to be an icon of the Australian bush.

Dr Day, who died on Monday 31 July at the age of 101, spent a lifetime championing the study of insects (entomology), conservation, the environment, and forestry. His research also played a major role in controlling Australia’s rabbit problem.

Dr Day was born in Sydney in 1915. He studied science at the University of Sydney and was awarded the university medal in 1937, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in science. An ecologist and entomologist who collaborated with Australian greats of both disciplines, Dr Day was a member of the CSIRO Executive for eleven years, during which he was responsible for all the CSIRO Divisions dealing with plant and animal sciences.

Dr Day was the first Chairman of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and coordinated the report that led to the establishment of the Institute near Townsville, North Queensland. He was the founding Head of CSIRO’s Division of Forest Research for five years which led to Australia’s international recognition for its contribution to forest research.

Elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 1956, just two years after the Academy was founded, Dr Day was the Academy’s longest serving Fellow and one of Australia’s oldest scientists. Dr Day was one of the founding members of the Australian Conservation Foundation, a strong supporter of national parks, and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1977.

In 2012 aged 97, Dr Day co-authored a paper with Dr Marianne Horak and others about the Ogmograptis scribbly gum moth, describing eleven new species of the moth. In May this year, Dr Day presented two early-career researchers, Mr Nicholas Leseberg and Dr Marta Yebra, with inaugural Max Day Environmental Science Fellowships, established in his honour.

Through sponsoring this award Dr Day acknowledged the support that he himself received as a young researcher to travel overseas to gain his PhD at Harvard.

Find out more about Dr Day's life and work.

Photo: Dr Day with Dr Marta Yebra, a recipient of the inaugural Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship, in May this year.


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Finalists for Forest Industry Innovation Awards

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has announced the finalists of the 2017 national Forest Industry Innovation Awards. “I would like to thank everyone who entered the 2017 Forest Industry Innovation Awards and extend my congratulations to the six outstanding finalists of the three categories,” AFPA Chief Executive Officer Ross Hampton said.

“Finalists include Hume Forests and the OneSafeGroup for their contributions to Innovation in Safety (sponsored by Forest Corp NSW); SFM (Hydrowood) and AKD Softwoods for their achievements in Innovation in Business (sponsored by Visy); and Timber Communities Australia and the Timber and Building Materials Association (TABMA) for their work in Innovation in Training (sponsored by Forestworks)”.

Mr. Hampton said he was delighted with the quality of nominations received for the prestigious inaugural awards, which will be presented at the industry’s gala dinner to be held at Parliament House on 12 September.

Source: FWPA

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... police recruits

Sent in recently buy one of our readers. Three Aussies were all applying for the last available position on the New Zealand Police Force - Traffic Division. The detective conducting the interview looked at the three of them and said, "So y'all want to be cops, huh?"

The Australians all nodded. The detective got up, opened a file drawer and pulled out a folder. Sitting back down, he opened it and pulled out a picture, and said,

"To be a police officer, you have to be able to detect. You must be able to notice things such as distinguishing features and oddities such as scars and so forth."

So saying, he stuck the photo in the face of the first Australian and withdrew it after about two seconds. "Now," he said, "did you notice any distinguishing features about this man?"

The Australian immediately said, "Yes, I did. He has only one eye!" The detective shook his head and said, "Of course he has only one eye in this picture! It's a profile of his face! You're dismissed!"

The first Australian hung his head and walked out of the office. The detective then turned to the second Australian, stuck the photo in his face for two seconds, pulled it back and said, "What about you? Notice anything unusual or outstanding about this man?"

"Yes! He only has one ear!" The detective put his head in his hands and exclaimed, "Didn't you hear what I just told the other guy? This is a profile of the man's face! Of course you can only see one ear! You're excused too!" The second Australian sheepishly walked out of the office.

The detective turned his attention to the third and last Australian and said, "This is probably a waste of time, but......" He flashed the photo in his face for a couple of seconds and withdrew it, saying,

"All right, did you notice anything distinguishing or unusual about this man?" The Australian said, "I sure did. This man wears contact lenses." The detective frowned, took another look at the picture and began looking at some of the papers in the folder.

He looked up at the Australian with a puzzled expression and said, "You're absolutely right! His bio says he wears contacts! How in the world could you tell that by looking at his picture?"

The Australian rolled his eyes and said, "Work it out for yourself mate. With only one eye and one ear, he certainly can't wear glasses."

And one more for you to finish the week on. The wife starts to think their kid looks kinda strange so she decides to do a DNA test.

She finds out that the kid is actually from completely different parents.

Wife: “Honey, I have something very serious to tell you”.

Husband: “What’s up?”

Wife: “According to DNA test results, this is not our kid”.

Husband: “Well you don’t remember, do you?”

“When we were leaving the hospital, we noticed that our baby had pooped”.

Then you said: “Please go change the baby, I’ll wait for you here”.

“So I went inside, got a clean one and left the dirty one there.”

Moral: Never give a man a job that doesn't belong to him.

And on that note, enjoy your 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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