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Friday Offcuts – 1 October 2010

Continued good news for NZ log exporters into India and China this week with two short stories. For India, NZ log exports for the calendar year are already over 600,000m3, 33% more than NZ’s log exports into this once key wood market, Japan. For the first time in 47 years the volume of logs and lumber imported into Japan has fallen below 10 million m3. The blame here can be put down to the staggering drop, over 40% in the three years through to 2009, in new housing starts. And in China, as we’ve been reporting in recent issues of Offcuts, NZ log export volumes have jumped more than 170% compared to this time last year.

We’ve also got a couple of stories on paper in this week’s issue. Recent US surveys confirm what we’ve known I suppose for some time; that the internet is now head and shoulders above any other source of timely news and information. Traditional media like newspapers and magazines were been used as the principal news source by only about 11% of the survey respondents. Another recent survey showed the size of the newspaper-reading population had in fact dropped by 32% in just four years. The other paper story builds on the coverage we gave to a campaign a month or so back. It was aimed at countering the message out there that electronic communications are environmentally superior to paper. Taking the fight one step further, the Australian Paper Industry Association has now lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission claiming that many large companies are making “false and misleading statements…about the sustainability of paper communications”.

Finally, we’ve been taking a lot of calls on the focus of this year’s premier forestry technical event in Australia and New Zealand, ForestTECH 2010. In addition to nursery and plantation management, for the first time some of the new tools and technologies being developed to monitor, manage and fight forest plantation fires are going to be outlined – as detailed in a story this week. Programme details can be found on www.foresttechevents.com. Remember, to access the very generous discounted registration rates to the event, early-bird registrations finish on Friday 15 October – in just two weeks. So – get into it and onto it.


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Log exports to India continue to boom

The Indian market is a rapidly growing market for New Zealand log exports. Exports to India for the calendar year to date are over 600,000m3 which is 33% more than exports to the Japanese market. However, this is still less than half the volume that was exported to the South Korean market over the same period.

India is the world’s second fastest expanding economy and is poised to overtake China and become the fastest growing economy by 2015. Currently there are signs of slowing in this country, highlighted by sharp falls in capital goods growth, and exports for July 2010 rose only 13.3%, which is well down on the 30%+ pace of previous months.

However, an excellent monsoon in the region, compared with last year’s relatively poor monsoon, could be a strong factor contributing to the slowing of productivity this year. Post monsoon productivity is expected to be stronger, giving excellent prospects for New Zealand log exports to the region for the rest of 2010.

Source: Agri-fax


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2009 Japanese housing starts hit new lows

The global economic recession of 2008/09 created a major turning point for wood imports into Japan. The total volume of logs and lumber imported in 2009 was only 9.8 million m3, down from 12.7 million m3 in 2008 (-23%). This is the first time in 47 years (since 1962) that the combined imported volume of logs and lumber has fallen below 10 million m3. In 2005, the import volume dropped below 20 million m3, so in five years the volume has dropped by about 50%.

Just as China has become the global wood export growth market for logs and lower-quality lumber over the last five years, so has Japan evolved, becoming a much smaller, niche market for high-quality North American logs and lumber.

The main reason for the staggering drop in imported logs and lumber has been the drop in new housing starts: from 1.3 million in 2006 to only 788,410 in 2009 (-40%). At the same time, the Japanese government has introduced new forestry legislation to stimulate the domestic forest industry and increase the share of domestic logs and lumber versus imports.

Although housing starts are expected to rebound somewhat from the current recession-induced lows of 2009, it is expected that Japanese housing starts will not recover to the one-million-unit level. A number of domestic issues — such as an aging population, changing homeowner demographics, anemic economic growth, the construction of higher-quality houses and the increasing longevity of new houses — are responsible for why Japan will experience lower housing starts, and therefore stagnant demand for imports, in the future.

Source: International Wood Markets Group, www.woodmarkets.com


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Paper taking fight to electronic communications

We’ve covered this story before – the messages at the end of e-mails asking you should consider the environment – and not print. The paper industry lobby has been fighting back against what it says are unfair claims that electronic communications are environmentally superior to paper. The Australian Paper Industry Association (APIA) says paper is getting an unwarranted reputation for environmental damage and is claiming that electronic communication has a greater carbon footprint than paper from sustainable forests.

The association has come out fighting and has now lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission claiming that many large companies make “false and misleading statements…about the sustainability of paper communications”. The complaint is singling out companies including Westpac, Mercer and Allied Express for claiming to help the environment by cutting the use of paper. More >>


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No clear winner yet in concrete vs. steel contest

It is notoriously difficult to make an apples-to-apples evaluation of the life-cycle impacts of different building materials. Comparisons by weight or functional unit, while more easily made, cannot easily account for the fact that materials are used in different amounts even when serving the same purpose, such as a concrete frame as opposed to a steel one.

A new study attempts to compare the impacts of these two materials when used in framing systems for similar buildings, based on data already known about the average outputs of the U.S. concrete and steel industries. More >>

Source: CWC News Service, www.BuildingGreen.com


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Forest fire technologies being outlined

 
For forestry managers, updates on some of the recent research that's come out of forest fire outbreaks, particularly in Australia, and technologies that have recently been trialled and tested on early bushfire detection will be an integral part of the new ForestTECH 2010 November series.

The latest in decision support aids for forest fire management including fire behaviour tools and software and fire fighter instrumentation kits for monitoring fire fighter productivity will be discussed in November at both the Australian and New Zealand programmes.

Results from trials in Australian forests on early warning systems for detection of bushfires will also be detailed. The Forest Fire Finder was originally developed in Portugal following ITS fires where 18 lives were lost and 10% of the countries forests went up in flames. It's the only fully automated fire detection technology in the world that can identify bush smoke and differentiate from chemical/industrial smoke. The technology has already being implemented on a large scale in Portugal.

Many parallels have been drawn between the Portugal fires and the 2009 Victorian fires. The early warning system that's now been trialled in Australia is able to detect a fire within 5 minutes of it starting, alert fire personnel with an SMS or text of the exact location and send real time imagery of the fire. It gives fire personnel the opportunity to respond before a fire gets out of hand and to make well informed decisions about deploying fire crews and increases their efficiency when dealing with forest fire threats.

Further information on this new forest technology series, ForestTECH 2010 can be found on www.foresttechevents.com



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Canterbury quake proves timber integrity

 
The NZ Timber Industry Federation says that had more homes been constructed with raised timber floors in recent years there would have been substantially less damage and reduced costs of repairs caused by the Canterbury Quake.

It is evident that raised timber floors combined with timber frames and timber weatherboards have provided structural integrity and safety that is unmatched by other house building designs. The fact that not one person was killed as a result of the huge quake is a testament to the large percentage of timber framed homes in Canterbury.

Timber houses 100 years and older have come out unscathed while older triple brick and other unreinforced masonry buildings have collapsed. Timber provides excellent flexibility and is light weight compared to concrete and steel. The typical residential concrete house slab is relatively heavy, weak, and prone to failure when the ground moves beneath. Many newer concrete slab floors have failed leading to further damage with walls cracking and mud and water entering the building interiors.

Once cracked and slumped repairing concrete floors is costly, difficult, and in some cases impossible, meaning buildings are written off. In comparison it is a relatively simple task to level up a raised timber floor house. The NZ Timber Federation says home builders need to look past the easy option of a concrete slab foundation in new homes. In addition to being able to withstand high seismic loads raised timber floors provide greater flood protection, better access for services, and has unrivalled environmental credentials using only a fraction of the energy and carbon emitted in producing a concrete floor.

Another release on timber and how it fared in the quake can be seen here

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Log exports drive NZ port results upward

Port of Tauranga has said a 24 percent rise in log exports helped lift its full-year underlying earnings. Forestry-related exports through the port rose 19 percent to 6.04m tonnes in the year to June 30. This includes pulp, paper and timber products. Log exports rose 24 percent from the previous year.

Chief executive Mark Cairns said log exports were back at 2003 levels. Log exports in July were up 7 percent on the same month last year. "China has been a big market but in July the port handled more logs destined for Korea than China. Mr Cairns said the Indian market was also emerging strongly and the Japanese market was bouncing back. "We are seeing a firming of other markets," he said.


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170% increase in NZ log exports to China

The swathe of good economic data to come out of China in September has helped to fuel sentiment across the globe. Industrial value-added output growth accelerated 13.9% year-on-year in August 2010. Retail sales accelerated 18.4%, and urban fixed asset investment also maintained strong growth in the calendar year to August, up 24.8% and a similar level to July.

In addition, as reported in previous issues of Offcuts, the International Wood Markets Group has suggested that Chinese lumber consumption could rise from 41.6 million m3 in 2009, to more than 70 million m3 by 2015. This estimate is based on growing demand for lumber in new housing and general construction, combined with improving export markets for finished solid wood products.

Chinese log imports for the three months to July 2010, were over 6.4 million m3, which is 17% higher than the corresponding period in 2009. Over this same period, imports from Russia were up 5%, and imports from New Zealand were up 10%. Imports from the USA and Canada over this period were up 220%.

Chinese log imports from New Zealand have averaged over 475,000m3 per month for the calendar year to date, which is 170% more than the same period a year ago. Growth in log exports to China from New Zealand during this period has averaged 74% per year for the past four years.

Source: Agri-fax


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Print media still feeling the pinch

Americans feel they are better-informed than ever, and devote more attention to getting news, according to a new survey by Rasmussen Reports. But that's cold comfort for traditional media like print newspapers and radio, since it mostly reflects the rapid growth of Internet news, including a fair number of Web sites maintained by publishers and broadcasters.

The researcher surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults about their news consumption habits via phone on 15-16 September. Overall, 67% of Rasmussen's survey respondents said they considered themselves better-informed now than they were a decade ago, thanks largely to the easy availability of constantly updated news and information online. In terms of news sources, 44% said the Internet is the best news medium, compared to 36% for TV and just 11% for print newspapers. Radio trailed at a distant 9%.

Source: www.forestweb.com


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VicForests turns around results for 2009/10

“VicForests’ financial result for the 2009-10 financial year is a turnaround of more than AU$8.6 million on the figure for the previous 12 months," VicForests chief executive David Pollard said. "An AU$6 million increase in sales revenue is a reflection of the significant community demand for wood products and VicForests' earnings before interest and taxes were AU$5.3 million, an increase of approximately AU$10 million from 2008-09.

VicForests' salvage harvesting program also provided an enormous boost to local communities affected by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, Dr Pollard said. "This program has sourced 929,000 cubic metres of timber from trees killed by the fires. The salvage harvesting operations provided 51 per cent of the total volume of timber harvested by VicForests in the past year.”

A number of other highlights for VicForests during 2009-10 included;

- VicForests completed its largest ever aerial seeding program during 2010 aimed at regrowing forests across Victoria. More than AU$6 million was invested in the program which spread over 300 million eucalyptus seeds in forests throughout eastern Victoria, including areas affected by the Black Saturday fires.

- VicForests submitted 5400 hectares of forest to the Department of Sustainability and Environment for approval following the completion of extensive regeneration work.

- VicForests was successfully re-certified to the Australian Forestry Standard in February 2010.


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Woodchip price affecting Tasmanian industry

ABC News reported this week that Tasmanian sawmillers are accepting the lower woodchip price being offered by Gunns but as a consequence, are likely to lay off staff. From today, sawmillers will get AU$50 a tonne for their chips; a drop of 30 per cent. In another related story, Tasmania's Forestry Minister, Byran Green has refused to rule out Forestry Tasmania buying Gunns' woodchip mill at Triabunna in the state's south-east. The Minister told parliament that Tasmania needs a forest system in which woodchips can also generate income in a sustainable way.


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AFG conference looks at market opportunities

Registrations are now open for the 2010 AFG Biennial Conference. The conference will be held this year in Mt Gambier, a mature forest growing region with substantial processing capacity. The theme for the 2010 conference is ‘Integrating Our Resources’, the conference will be held over three days and a half days commencing with an Ice Breaker on Sunday 10 October. There will be one day of field trips sandwiched between two days of plenary and parallel sessions. The three streams for the parallel sessions are Management, Markets and Opportunities. Registration Brochures are available from the AFG website www.afg.asn.au


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Summer jobs in Forestry a hit with students

Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) launched its national forestry summer jobs campaign in mid-September to university students. The aim of the campaign is to widen the potential pool of students studying forestry by increasing awareness of these summer work opportunities. This is a campaign where industry working together (by marketing all the available summer jobs) can increase the pool of possible candidates and also promote the benefits of the sector as a career.

To date the results have been overwhelming with over 1000 visiting the website and over 220 students studying science, agriculture, environment science and forestry registering their interest. This is part of a wider FWPA investment plan to promote the benefits of the sector to future employees as well as highlighting the opportunities to study forestry at an undergraduate and post graduate level.


The campaign will be running for the next two months. If you’d like to participate or would like further information, contact tania@sustainabilityatwork.com.au


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...and one to end the week on...an atheist in the woods

An atheist was walking through the woods.

'What majestic trees!
'What powerful rivers!
'What beautiful animals!
He said to himself.

Suddenly, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him.

He turned to look . . . and saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him.

He ran as fast as he could along the path. He looked over his shoulder & saw that the bear was closing on him ....

He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer ....

and then ..... He tripped and fell.

Rolling over to pick himself up, he found the bear was right on top of him .....
reaching towards him with its left paw ...
and raising the right paw to strike ...

At that instant the Atheist cried out,
'Oh my God!'

Time Stopped ...
The bear froze .....
The forest was silent ....

A bright light shone upon the man,
and a voice came out of the sky ...

"You deny my existence for all these years, you teach others I don't exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident .... Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament?"

"Am I to count you as a believer?"

The atheist looked directly into the light ....
"It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now ... but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian?"

... a pause ...
"Very well," said the voice ...

The light went out.
The sounds of the forest resumed ...

And the bear dropped his right arm ....
brought both paws together ....
bowed his head & spoke ...




"Lord, bless this food, which I am about to receive...



And finally, for all our Aussie readers who have two footie finals to choose from, the AFL Grand Final Replay on Saturday and the NRL Grand Final the following day, enjoy the weekend.






Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Innovatek
PO Box 904
Level Two, 2 Dowling Street
Dunedin, New Zealand
Ph: +64 3 470 1902
Fax: +64 3 470 1904
Web page: www.innovatek.co.nz


This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at www.fridayoffcuts.com

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We welcome comments and contributions on Friday Offcuts. For details on advertising for positions within the forest products industry or for products and services, either within the weekly newsletter or on this web page, please contact us.

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