Friday Offcuts 1 September 2017
The AU$150 million plus deal, announced on Tuesday (subject to approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) also includes CHH’s woodchip operations at Portland, Victoria. OneFortyOne Plantations was established in 2012, it’s owned by Australian and international superannuation or pension funds and it holds long-term harvesting rights to a softwood plantation estate in the Green Triangle region comprising over 80,000 hectares. It’s also to make a decision by the end of this year on whether they’ll be spending another AU$10 million on further studies into setting up a separate AU$200 million particle board mill in Mount Gambier.
With forestry technology, we look this week at some of the benefits coming out of a six-month LiDAR project undertaken across all state-owned forest plantations in Tumut and Tumbarumba, NSW, we cover a report on new research coming out of the USA where machine learning has been employed for the first time on an early warning system to better predict forest fires and at the top of New Zealand, funding has just been announced from Government and local Councils to collect LiDAR data for the first time across the whole region.
In keeping with the very latest resource data technology, full details have just been released on the annual forestry technology event, ForestTECH 2017. It’s been planned with and is being run for resource managers, inventory foresters, GIS specialists and forestry researchers in both New Zealand and Australia later in the year. Further details and programme information can be found in this week’s story.
And finally, if you’re a Kiwi voter currently being blasted from all sides by promises by political parties in the lead up to this year’s election, you may well be able to relate to the last story in this week’s issue. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
OneFortyOne to buy CHH millSA forestry company OneFortyOne Plantations is buying the Jubilee Highway timber mill at Mount Gambier from Carter Holt Harvey, taking on its 300 plus employees. The deal, announced on Tuesday and estimated to be north of AU$150 million also includes CHH’s woodchip operations at Portland, Victoria.
The deal will be subject to approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission because it gives OneFortyOne Plantations unprecedented control of the timber supply market from the region for at least the next 100 years.
Chief executive Linda Sewell said the intended acquisition was further evidence of the company’s “strong commitment” to the Green Triangle. OneFortyOne bought the rights to three forward rotations of the South-East pine plantations from the State Government in 2012 for AU$670 million.
“Going forward we have no plans to expand the mill. We will continue to manage the forest estate on a sustainable basis and meet our obligations to the State,” Ms Sewell said. “This is a great business and it is an excellent opportunity to provide security to the local forestry sector.”
OneForyOne has said it will make a decision by December to spend up to $10 million on further studies into setting up a separate $200 million particle board mill in Mount Gambier. The majority of the OneFortyOne estate is located in SA’s South-East with lesser area in south west Victoria.
Source: OneFortyOne Plantations, adelaidenow.com.au
Australia’s Forests at a Glance booklet now availableABARES have just released the Australia’s forests at a glance 2017 booklet.
Australia’s forests at a glance 2017 is a pocket-book compendium of data and information about Australia’s native forests and commercial plantations. Much of the data is current to 2015–16 and has been published in detailed reports.
The pocket-book covers forest types, areas and how native forests—including old growth forests—are conserved and managed. It also covers wood harvesting, production and consumption of wood products and employment in the forestry and wood products industries, forest certification and codes of practice.
Australia has 122.6 million hectares of native forest of which 36.6 million hectares are available and suitable for commercial wood production (7.5 million hectares of multiple-use public forests and 29.1 million hectares of leasehold and private forests). Australia’s commercial plantations cover around 2 million hectares, of which about half are softwood species (1,036,800 hectares) and half are hardwood species (928,300 hectares).
Over the last 10 years, the rate of plantation establishment has decreased from 78,400 hectares in 2005–06 to 1,400 hectares in 2015–16. In the decade to 2015–16, structural change in the forestry sector led to a 4.7 million cubic metres (53 per cent) decline in the harvest of (predominantly hardwood) native forest logs but a 6.0 million cubic metres (159 per cent) increase in the harvest of hardwood plantation logs (mainly pulplogs).
Softwood plantations continue to supply most of Australia’s sawlogs—81 per cent of Australia’s total sawlog harvest in 2015–16 was from these forests Since 1999–2000, the number of hardwood sawmills has decreased by 79 per cent, from 862 mills in 1999–2000 to 182 mills in 2015–16. The number of softwood and cypress pine sawmills has decreased by 72 per cent over the same period, from 279 mills in 1999–2000 to 77 mills in 2015–16.
Softwood sawmills in 2015–16 were larger on average, greater than 100,000 cubic metres log input capacity, than they were in 1999-00. In contrast, 96 per cent of hardwood sawmills had a log input capacity of less than 45,000 cubic metres in 2015–16 a year.
NZ$800,000 for 3-D mapping of NorthlandNew Zealand Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have announced government funding of up to NZ$800,000 for 3-D aerial mapping of Northland to provide the region with highly accurate geographical data to make better business decisions.
“This will be the most comprehensive LIDAR exercise ever undertaken in New Zealand and the high-quality mapping data produced will provide a blueprint of the whole region,” says Mr Bridges.
“It will produce data that is ten times more accurate than what is currently used, and can have a wide range of uses from forest inventory, floodplain mapping, urban planning and coastal engineering to its use for the design of powerlines, roads, railways, mines, farms and land developments.
Mr Guy said the data will provide authorities with more confidence to progress infrastructure projects and deliver better, more cost-effective planning and a better understanding and ability to plan for sustainable land management.
“The data can be used by forestry companies to help plan their logging operations, horticulture companies for sustainable land management and by public and private operators to plan pest control.
Funding for the Northland LiDAR project comes from the government’s Regional Growth Programme, co-led by the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment. Land Information New Zealand has also contributed funds.
The government’s funding has been collectively matched by the four Northland councils. LiDAR surveying is expected to start within the coming months and be completed in 2018. A Cessna twin engine aeroplane, modified for LiDAR surveying, will be used. The plane can be flown safely at low altitudes over urban areas.
Unlocking the true value of forestry dataIt’s the one forestry technology event every year that brings in forest resource managers, inventory foresters, GIS specialists and researchers from throughout Australasia.
Last year, over 250 delegates attended the end-of-year ForestTECH series. It highlighted new data collection technologies and advances on accessing, processing and better interpreting the associated big data streams that were being collected out in the field.
Rapid improvements in smartphones and tablets, the development of user friendly forestry apps and increasing connectivity has changed just how forestry companies are using this data to improve their forest operations – everything from the measurement of stand volumes through to the scheduling around wood flows and logistics.
Ask any forester, the technology has moved on considerably in just 12 months. The quality and quantity of data being collected through an array of new sensors and platforms has increased exponentially. The task now being grappled with is how best to sort through and use the collected data and convert it into something that’s useable for all stakeholders.
The focus for this year’s ForestTECH 2017 series will be on “unlocking the true value of data” for local forestry operations. New systems for better measuring, managing and analysing this information will again be reviewed as part of this year’s technology series.
Recent in-forest trials by leading technology providers and forestry companies have also been completed. The outputs now being built into day-to-day forest planning and operations. Numerous projects have been finished and the results along with new tools and templates are now ready to be presented to local companies.
A number of key findings are linked to the world class three year, AU$1.8 million collaborative research project jointly funded by Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA), forestry companies, universities and government. Research outputs that can now be picked up by local forestry companies include methods to map forest canopies using aerial photography that are effective and cost less than other airborne remote sensing techniques or field-based measurements.
An “app” has been developed to count individual trees using 3D point cloud data acquired from airborne remote sensing, a forest sampling method has been devised that can significantly reduce the number of reference plots required to produce a representative model of the variability in a forest stand and best practice guidelines have been developed for airborne data collection. This is going to assist local forestry companies to achieve efficiency gains from remote sensing of the forest estate and to integrate dense 3D point cloud data into their operational workflows.
This year’s series will run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 15-16 November and then again in Melbourne, Australia on 21-22 November 2017.
In addition to the very latest research, trials and web-based tools around LiDAR, an introductory workshop is being held at the venue the day after each ForestTECH 2017 conference. Run by Dr. Martin Isenburg from rapidlasso, Germany and Interpine, it will be covering how to manipulate, process and visualize LiDAR datasets, with a specific focus on forestry derived outputs. Further details can be found on the ForestTECH website, www.foresttech.events
Cutting edge technology assists forest managementGreater protection for waterways and more accurate timber volume estimates are some of the benefits stemming from a six-month project to capture sophisticated LiDAR data across all state-owned plantations in Tumut and Tumbarumba.
Snowy Region Planning Manager Duncan Watt said the data generated from the project would improve both environmental management and wood flow to local mills during timber harvesting across the region.
“LiDAR data is captured using an incredibly accurate sensor mounted in an aeroplane that emits and receives millions of laser pulses across the landscape. Every time a laser pulse strikes an object, it returns a signal to the sensor that can then accurately record the three-dimensional location of that object,” Mr Watt said.
“The laser pulses can even penetrate through the tree canopy and record the profile of the forest floor. As a result, we can now create a three-dimensional picture of the forest canopy, the forest floor and the individual trees standing in the forest.”
“LiDAR data is much more accurate than the maps we currently use to identify creeks, rivers and ground slope in our operations – some of which are up to 50 years old – and means we can now pinpoint exactly where drainage systems are and precisely how steep the ground is”.
“Ground slope has a strong influence on how we manage each section of forest, particularly in steeper areas where even a small slope variation can cause us to change the way we work to ensure waterways are protected from erosion, so this data will really enhance environmental protection”. “Excitingly, we can now also accurately estimate the number and height of individual trees standing in the forest instead of relying on estimates drawn from small sample plots, which means we have a clear idea of how much timber is available in each section of forest before we harvest”.
“This will bring huge benefits to local industry more broadly, as we’ll now be able to let processors know what volume of which products will be coming out of each harvesting operation and ensure we maintain a consistent supply of the timber and wood products the local industry relies on.”
Photo: Forestry Corporation’s Jeff Matthews using a tree height measuring tool (Vertex) in a 13 year old plantation near Tumut
Source: Forestry Corporation of NSW
Red Stag lifting production to meet demandRed Stag Timber, which developed New Zealand’s first ‘super mill’ a year ago, plans to step up production next year to meet demand in its local and overseas markets.
The Rotorua-based Waipa Mill increased its production of sawn timber to an annual 550,000 cubic metres from 450,000 cubic metres after investing over NZ$100 million in more efficient machinery, transforming the mill, and plans to lift production further to 600,000 cubic metres from next year, general manager Tim Rigter told BusinessDesk in an interview at the Waipa State Mill Road site.
The mill, developed in the 1930s by the state to process maturing exotic trees from surrounding forests, was once the jewel in the crown of the Forestry Corp. Sold by the government in 1996 to the Central North Island Forest Partnership, it was bought out of receivership by the Verry family in 2003 and now focuses on structural timber production with 60 percent sold in New Zealand and the rest to Australia, Asia and the Pacific Islands.
“We are developing markets not just in New Zealand but overseas so we believe we can sell that 600,000,” Rigter said. “It’s utilising your assets and that lowers your cost.”
A ‘super mill’ can process 1 million tonnes of logs a year and Red Stag’s mill was the first of this scale in the Southern Hemisphere, with its current production amounting to about 900,000 tonnes of logs a year. Rigter said about half of the increased production is expected to be sold in New Zealand, where the mill is widening its product offering to include posts, palings and decking, and the other half will head overseas.
In New Zealand, Rigter sees steady future demand for wood underpinned by new building to meet the housing shortage, although he notes the market has flattened recently with wood supply coming back into step with demand.
“We see steady demand but we do see supply and demand in balance so there won’t be a shortage of timber. We are one sector in the industry that can keep up with the current demand…between us and other sawmillers, there is enough supply.”
Red Stag is Rotorua’s largest private employer with 290 staff and another 80 full-time contractors. The forecast increase in production will see the mill continue to run two shifts a day, totalling 80 hours over four days, with a step up in overtime.
While the mill has expanded at a time of increased demand for structural timber, Rigter notes that margins have been squeezed in the past 12 months as prices for structural logs hit new highs, with only some of the increase being passed on to customers.
AI to better predict forest firesThe same sort of artificial intelligence (AI) that allows cars to drive themselves could be used to better prepare for devastating forest fires, says an Alberta fire scientist. Researchers at the University of Alberta and the University of Oklahoma teamed up to study how real-time meteorological data analyzed in a neural network – a machine-learning system modelled on how the human brain functions – could be used to better predict forest fires.
Their findings were published Aug. 8 in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research. The researchers believe it’s the first time a neural network has been applied to fire warning systems.
The researchers had a computer platform read pressure maps and compare the most current atmospheric data with what it learned from 53 years’ worth of data. The computer then produced a self-organizing map identifying patterns in pressure ridges and troughs to predict extreme fire weather over a period of days.
“It’s really focusing on the weather and we can look ahead three days, five days, seven days and it works a little bit better than our current fire danger systems in that it doesn’t rely on precipitation, which is quite variable,” said Mike Flannigan, a wildland fire science professor at the University of Alberta.
Flannigan says three ingredients are necessary for a forest fire to exist: the trees, shrubs and grass that are the fuel, the ignition by lightning or human action, and most importantly, hot, dry and windy conditions.
“So that’s what we were looking at with this study, to try to get an early warning system for these hot, dry, windy conditions,” he told CTV’s Your Morning Friday. Current systems also try to predict precipitation, which Flannigan says is very difficult.
“You can be driving and go through a downpour and drive 10 minutes later and it’s sunny and hot and dry. So, it’s very hard to forecast over a long period of time, whereas the pressure fields we use is much easier.” Flannigan says just 3 per cent of fires burn 97 per cent of the area scorched by fire in Canada. And that devastation happens on relatively few days when weather conditions are extreme.
About 2.5 million hectares of land are burned in forest fires each year in Canada. The most devastating on record was the Fort McMurray wildfire that resulted in about 90,000 people being forced from their homes and an estimated US$3.7 billion in insurable losses in 2016.
Having a few days’ warning for ideal forest fire conditions would allow better mobilization of firefighters and equipment from outside jurisdictions to control the blaze, said Flannigan. Flannigan thinks the research could have an impact on fire monitoring as early as the next fire season and could be applied anywhere in the world.
“Fire management agencies make life and death decisions. They have very sophisticated models and you need appropriate timing and testing and training to incorporate this into their systems.”
Award-winning speakers for commercial building conferenceA New Zealand engineered wood design conference running in September in Rotorua features a strong line up of international building specialists. Adam Strong of Strongbuild Commercial in Sydney, Australia is one of the keynote speakers. His company just won an award for their client BluCHP for NSW from the Australian Housing Institute.
Strongbuild won the award for Australia’s largest cross-laminated timber building by weight, the Macarthur Gardens residential apartments in Sydney. The project, the first of its kind in NSW, saw 2600 cubic metres of cross-laminated timber (CLT) installed to create three towers, 6, 7 and 8 stories high, in just over six months.
Their client, BlueCHP, is a Sydney-based non-profit organisation. Comprising five community housing groups, it delivers quality affordable housing for individuals experiencing shelter stress. Two towers at Macarthur Gardens are offered as affordable rental to ‘key workers’ in the local area with the third sold on the open market. See bluechp.com.au for details.
Strongbuild was founded in 2000. They have expanded to compete aggressively in the multi-residential market for retirement villages and townhouse developments. They established streamlined home building systems to improve efficiencies. Strongbuild is also developing its own timber prefabrication plant with 40 staff near Sydney. The plant is expected to be fully commissioned by November.
The apartments were built using innovative construction techniques by Strongbuild. They are finding a focus on engineered wood is paying off. The company is a home multi-residential and retirement village builder in Sydney, the Illawarra, Berry, the South Coast of NSW and the Southern Highlands. They currently have another 15 timber projects on the books, including aged care, retirement, multi-residential, townhouses and detached homes.
The 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 Rotorua Lakes Council are event partners promoting their successful “Wood-First” policy. 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.
For more details see: www.cpetc2017.com
Post-election government needs more forestry focusThe forest industry says the New Zealand government after the election needs to put a much greater focus on forestry and suggestions just made by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters lead in that direction, particularly direct government planting, either on its own account or through joint ventures with iwi.
Forest Owners Association President Peter Clark says it is also vital for the government to encourage other investors and farmers to plant out forests. He says there are potentially many different ways to structure incentives for more afforestation and industry development and not just those outlined by Winston Peters.
“It’s less important what structures you create in government, than what they actually do to encourage more planting, production and locking up carbon in the atmosphere”. Peter Clark says the Emissions Trading Scheme is still a potentially powerful instrument for enabling the government to meet its Paris Agreement commitments on climate change. “ETS clearly needs change, but the scheme never has been and never will be enough to meet the challenge of increased afforestation by itself.”
“Other critical components are leading by example, enhancing training and recruitment, providing extension services for forest management, introducing equitable rules between different land uses, conducting long term planning and getting an urgent start to major afforestation.
The government says it intends to use an expansion of New Zealand’s plantation forest area through the ETS to sequester carbon and so help New Zealand meet its Paris Agreement commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Peter Clark says the forest industry accepts the direction of the recent London based Vivid Economics Report that the New Zealand plantation forest estate would have to expand by up to 1.5 million hectares for New Zealand to meet its Paris targets, rather than spending billions on offshore carbon credits to try to achieve that result. Read more.
Sumitomo expanding New Zealand forestrySumitomo Corp.is reported to be looking to increase its supply of wood from its New Zealand forests by 60% by the year ending March 2020, as the Japanese trading house anticipates growing demand in China and other parts of Asia.
Sumitomo subsidiary Summit Forests New Zealand owns forests on the country's North Island totaling some 29,000 hectares, as of the end of March. The unit plans to spend around 7 billion yen (US$64.1 million) to expand its holdings to 36,000 hectares. Summit inked an agreement with landowners to acquire some 4,000 forested hectares on the North Island by September.
Summit can supply 500,000 cu. meters of lumber annually, and it aims to boost that figure to 800,000 to 900,000 cu. meters by March 2020. The value of its forest assets will rise to 20 billion yen from 13 billion yen at present.
Some 80% of Summit's lumber and timber goes to New Zealand, Australia and Japan, with about 20% exported to China. Import volumes to China are expected to continue rising and Sumitomo projects increased lumber demand in India and Indonesia as well.
2017 marks the 25th birthday of TigercatTigercat was established as a Canadian corporation in 1992. They started out as a small company with a single prototype and no distribution. The design of the first prototype machine, the 726 drive-to-tree feller buncher, started in 1991. The goal was to have it completed and ready to exhibit at a live, in-woods show in Quitman, Georgia in April 1992.
Although lacking some finishing touches, such as finding a location for the batteries, which they had temporarily secured with bungee cords under the engine, it was loaded onto a truck and sent to the show. Don Snively, now district manager for Georgia and Florida, toured the prototype machine around the US for forty days until it found a home at Williston Timber in north Florida.
To commemorate the silver anniversary, Tigercat acquired the prototype machine from Williston Timber, brought it home and restored it so that it can live on for decades to come. The unveiling of the rebuilt prototype 726 drive-to-tree feller buncher took place at Tigercat’s 25-year party in Ontario, where over 1,500 people attended.
Tigercat employees and dealers from all over of the world were in attendance including guests from Australia, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Brazil, Chile, the United States and Canada. The evening started out with guests taking group photos in front of the rebuilt prototype and with Eddie Hodge of Williston Timber giving the machine keys over to CEO Ken MacDonald and president Tony Iarocci. Tigercat have also introduced a film (which was first seen in this region and played at the HarvestTECH 2017 event in Rotorua in late June) to commemorate the silver anniversary milestone, aptly titled, 25. The film explores the importance of the prototype 726 feller-buncher.
Tigercat now has over 50 different machine models, having produced more than 19,000 machines and has become a global success story. Tigercat has also grown to have an employee count of 1,400 people and over 150 independent dealer locations worldwide.
Gunns's pulp mill project now effectively deadAfter 14 years of bitter division, protests, legal and boardroom stoushes and the demise of a major listed company, the Gunns Ltd Tasmanian pulp mill is finally dead. The AU$2.5 billion project — first hatched in 2003 — was consigned to history this week by Gunns’s receivers, Korda¬Mentha, who confirmed the pulp mill permit effectively has expired with no buyers to hand. KordaMentha partner Bryan Webster said the pulp mill site, at Long Reach in the Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania, would now be sold for different uses.
Source: The Australian
NZ Institute of Forestry General Manager appointedThe NZ Institute of Forestry (NZIF) Council is pleased to announce the appointment of Tim Thorpe as General Manager of NZIF, a part time role with the goal of growing benefits to members.
Tim is a past president of the NZIF and previously chair of the Registration Board. He has been deeply involved in the New Zealand forestry sector, as well as working overseas. He has experience in plantation forestry, indigenous and tropical forestry as well as wood processing/utilisation both within government and in the commercial sector.
“Tim has an ideal background for this role,” said James Treadwell, NZIF President. “The NZIF Council has identified the need for this position in recent years and I am looking forward to working with Tim.” Tim took up his position on 15 August 2017 in the NZIF’s Wellington office.
Southland firefighters update from CanadaSouthland rural firefighters are managing to gain ground against wildfires that have ravaged parts of Canada. Seven firefighters from Southland, in the lower South Island of New Zealand were deployed to Canada earlier in the month to help battle raging wildfires that were affecting the country.
The southern crew is one of four from New Zealand that make up Task Force Bravo, led by Steve Ochsner, working on the Elephant Hill fire near Kamloops in British Columbia, Canada. The crews are based at the small rural town of Clinton, about an hour-and-a-half drive from the fires they are battling.
Crew leader Grant Tremain said they when they arrived in the area the fires were severe to extreme. "We spent the first couple of days with a lot of flame and quite a fast-moving fire," Tremain said. "We really spent the first couple of days trying to stay out of its way and doing what we could. To be fair there was a couple of days we came home with our tail between our legs."
The terrain they were working in was rolling country, made up of douglas fir forest broken up by tussock grasslands. The forested areas were similar to New Zealand forestry plantations, Tremain said. Temperatures on the hottest days had reached around 38 degrees celsius, with a humidity of around 15 percent, he said.
The evenings had been cool with temperatures about three degrees. The crews had been working up to 14-hour days, starting at around 6.30am and getting back to camp as late as 9.30pm, Tremain said. Conditions had changed and the fire was under control in the sector where they were working, Tremain said.
The second half of their deployment began on Friday, after a two-day break. While they were looking forward to coming home, they were enjoying the adventure that came with helping out a country in need.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... the ant and the grasshopper
Apologies to our Australian readers. This one sent in by one of our readers is pitched at the Kiwi's who have had a pretty colourful lead up to this year's election - which is due in three weeks time.
And on that note, have a great weekend. Cheers.
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