Friday Offcuts 1 December 2017
So, you’re more than likely to be working in, or have a relation or friend who’s employed in the forestry industry. With that in mind, it was disappointing to see a poll in last weeks local paper that showed of all the people who responded, over 80 percent felt that the negatives of forestry to the region outweighed the positive impacts. Problems around transport, roading and the environment (or perception of these issues) appeared to be common areas of concern from those who made the effort to respond.
Again, it shows us just how important communication or open dialogue is. It’s likely that the recommendation of a youngster selecting a career option might just come from respondents of this survey – or their family or friends. The Eastland Wood Council has been working in this area with a variety of excellent initiatives (see the EWC's response to the poll) but obviously the industry, in all regions, needs to be doing so much better.
Other news to get you thinking. Research is telling us that maybe we’ve underestimated how much carbon dioxide is released from plants into the atmosphere (as well as sucking up CO2 they also release it – and its 30% higher than in previous estimates and likely to grow with global warming), Tesla’s unveiling on 17 November of its new electric truck triggers concerns that if successful, it could lead in future to a drop in oil demand and in Australia, according to a recent piece appearing on one website, the country ranks alongside the top 10 of the world’s major countries involved in deforestation.
Finally, as we get closer to the end of the year and the traditional shut-down of offices and work places for the summer break, the last issue of Friday Offcuts for 2017 is scheduled for Friday 15 December. If wanting to get information or advertising details into the few remaining issues for the year, please send them through to us before the final issue goes out. The first issue scheduled for next year is Friday 19 January 2018. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Readers give forestry the thumbs-downThe Herald (Gisborne Herald) web poll last week provoked a strong response on the positive and negative impacts of forestry on the region, and most people who responded feel the bad outweighs the good.
The question was “Do you think the benefits of forestry to the region outweigh its negative impacts?” A total of 719 people responded. Of that number, 580, or 81 percent, felt the negatives outweigh the benefits and said ‘‘no’’. Just 18 percent (126) see it the other way and said ‘‘yes’’. You can check out some of the comments from the survey respondents here.
Source: Gisborne Herald
NZ structural log prices rise to 24-year highNew Zealand structural log prices rose to the highest level in 24 years and A-grade export logs hit a record as local mills compete with the export market to secure supply for the domestic construction market amid strong demand from China.
The price for structural S1 logs increased to $130 a tonne this month, from $128 a tonne last month, marking the highest level since 1993, according to AgriHQ's monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw-millers. Export log prices lifted between $2-to-$5 a tonne for the majority of grades, with the price for A-Grade logs touching $128 a tonne, up from $127 a tonne last month and the highest level since AgriHQ began collecting the data in 2008.
New Zealand is experiencing strong demand for its logs from China, which has clamped down on the harvesting of its own forests and reduced tariffs on imported logs to meet demand in its local market. AgriHQ said Chinese demand for softwood logs remains strong, lifting back to record levels in the latest data for September with Chinese imports of New Zealand logs currently tracking 10 percent ahead of last year.
"Those trading in the domestic log market are continuing to receiver near-record returns and there's nothing to signal that this situation will change anytime soon," said AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick. "Looking forward, all prospects will be determined by the direction the export log market takes."
Brick said wharf gate values climbed through October and early November and will likely hold high until the Chinese New Year period. Also known as the 'spring festival', the Chinese New Year falls on Feb. 16 next year, and the festival will last until March 2, about 15 days in total. As an official public holiday, Chinese people can get seven days' absence from work, from Feb. 15 to 21.
"Beyond that point, it's still a wait-and-see situation," Brick said. He noted the latest situation and outlook report released by the Ministry of Primary Industries continues to shed a positive light on forestry's prospects over the next two years.
"They predict strong Chinese interest in logs over the short-medium term, underpinned by its ban of commercial logging of natural forests, falling Russian log supplies, and a 2 percent reduction on its imported log tax."
Brick said "the only proper negative" when it comes to the export market is shipping rates, which are rising faster than log values. However, this was being masked by a weaker New Zealand dollar, he said. "There is still a level of uncertainty as to whether shipping rates have reached their peak or have a little more upswing to come," Brick said. Still, he said "in terms of market fundamentals it is all still quite positive."
Forestry directive for overseas investmentNew Zealand’s Forestry Minister Shane Jones says overseas investment in forestry that brings genuine benefits to New Zealand’s economy and its environment will be welcomed by the Government. Mr Jones says he is pleased with the inclusion of a Forestry Directive in the new Ministerial Directive Letter issued to the Overseas Investment Office, which sets out the Government’s policy approach to overseas investment in sensitive New Zealand assets.
“The inclusion of a specific directive for forestry recognises the importance of forestry to the New Zealand economy and regional communities,” Mr Jones says. “As part of the coalition agreement, this Government has committed to an ambitious tree planting programme that will require a partnership between the Crown and the sector itself. High-quality overseas investment can certainly help us achieve this goal”.
“Forestry, and the processing of forest products, are significant sources of employment in our regions and we want to build on that to get more people into a sustainable workforce. “I’ve heard first-hand from the industry the value of good overseas investment and the Forestry Directive recognises there is a role for overseas investors to play. However, we want to encourage value-added wood processing to generate jobs and other benefits for our regions.
“The new directive for forestry directs the Overseas Investment Office to place high importance on increased processing of primary products and the advancement of the Government’s policies when assessing applications for consent”. “It also emphasises that Ministers expect the Overseas Investment Office to impose conditions on consent where appropriate – for example, a requirement for the overseas investor to enter into a supply arrangement with a local processor,” Mr Jones says.
The letter recognises that conditions imposed on forest land may need to be for longer periods given the often long-term nature of these investments. For forest owners comment on the announcement, click here.
New training programme for Southern harvesting crews
To address the issue, some forestry companies and contractors are now working alongside some of the technology institutes. The aim is get younger people trained in practical operating skills, particularly around mechanised harvesters. "We’re looking for early risers, hard workers and those interested in running and operating multi-million dollar forest harvesting machines" says the Southern Wood Council Chairperson, Grant Dodson.
Monday this week saw the start of a new scheme in the lower South Island of New Zealand. It’s aimed at helping train the future generation of forestry machine operators in Otago and Southland. In Otago alone, it’s estimated that another 40 logging crews will be required in just the next 6 years.
One logging contractor, Mike Hurring, frustrated with the lack of trained youngsters coming into the industry, a couple of years ago purchased his own training simulators based on a John Deere mechanised harvester. It was set up in a purpose-built facility at Balclutha. The centre’s 12ha property in addition to the simulator and training room, allows hands-on experience on a loader, harvester, forwarder and a processor.
With the backing of local forestry companies and Competenz, the first group of six apprentices (photo) drawn from logging crews across the region started a new course at Mike Hurring Logging, under the experienced eye of Neville Muir. The apprentices will come together for five one-week training blocks over the next 10 months. They will concentrate on theory units, basic machine and chainsaw operation in the first week, with time each day set aside to use the simulators that have been set up in a designated operator suite.
Following the 10 months of centralised training, apprentices who pass the course will come out with two level 3 qualifications, basic machine operator and manual processing. The intention is then they continue with normal assessments back in their crews working towards level four machine operator qualifications. "It’s hoped that if successful, that a second stream of apprentices will be put through the same training programme after 10 months" says Mr Dodson.
This new venture could not have got off the ground without the financial support of forest owners and management companies these young people work for, Rayonier-Matariki Forests, Log Marketing, IFS Growth, and Ernslaw One.
Agritech programme focusing on digital technologies
As demonstrated at the just completed ForestTECH 2017 series, the pace of change within the primary sector is continuing to be driven by advances in new digital technologies. While New Zealand has been a world leader in traditional farming systems, it is critical for the sector to maintain and grow productivity through the smart adoption of these new innovations.
“MobileTECH 2018 will continue to be a platform for change and showcase where the industry is headed,” said Ken Wilson, MobileTECH’s programme manager.
“The 2018 programme will feature over 35 speakers covering disruptive topics like the integration of machine learning in health and safety systems, blockchain for secure agricultural transactions and key learnings from the successful rollout of the Internet of Things (IoT) to farms throughout New Zealand.”
Thundermaps uses machine learning algorithms and big data to redefine health and safety in rural locations. OSPRI now use Thundermaps to protect their contractors working on farms. The system tracks millions of data points to ensure, via a mobile app, that the contractor receives relevant real-time hazard warnings no matter how remote the location. Both companies will be presenting at MobileTECH.
Blockchain is set to become the future for payment and supply-chain systems. Australian-based company, AgriDigital, will be on-hand to discuss what this means for the primary industry. AgriDigital delivered the world’s first live settlement of a physical commodity using blockchain technology. The pilot project saw the sale and successful delivery of 23 metric tonnes of wheat to a beef farm in NSW using the blockchain system.
The Internet of Things has moved from being an exciting upcoming technology to one that is delivering real benefits to early adopters throughout the industry. A number of speakers, including network provider Spark Ventures, agritech company ReGen and King Country farmer Lachlan Chapman, will focus on the real-world application of IoTs.
“The MobileTECH 2018 programme will open with the big technology trends and discuss how we can improve investment and collaboration within the agritech community,” said Mr Wilson. “Day two gets hands-on, highlighting practical case studies on the adoption and use of these innovations by primary sector businesses up and down the country.”
MobileTECH 2018 will be running on 27-28 March 2018 in Rotorua, New Zealand. Further details can be found on the event website, www.mobiletech.events.
Continued growth seen in Chinese wood consumption
In 2016, China’s total wood consumption (on a round wood equivalent basis) was 570 million m3, as follows:
• 420 million m3 used in industrial end uses and construction (including paper);
• 100 million m3 converted to wood-based products (such as furniture) and exported;
• 50 million m3 used for “other purposes”;
• 270 million m3 (RWE) imported — about half of China’s consumption (see figure 4 for the end-use mix of wood consumption).
By 2020, it is estimated that China’s wood consumption will grow to at least 700 million m3 (RWE) — possibly even 800 million m3 — a total expansion of 40–60 million m3 per year.
China has grown its domestic plantations dramatically in an attempt to help offset its wood fibre deficit. Most of these plantations are hardwood (eucalyptus and poplar for use in veneer or pulp). There will be an even greater demand for imported softwoods going forward for use in the furniture sector, as well as for construction and industrial purposes.
The One Belt/One Road initiative will speed up China’s investments into overseas forestry and wood processing. The objective of spending on massive infrastructure projects is to make investment projects more strategic and improve trade to China through lower logistics costs. Today, total overseas investments in Chinese forests amounts to 54 million hectares of leasehold forest land in 150 medium- to large-sized projects (value of US$3 billion).
China will be looking to increase its investments by many means, among them purchases, leases, mergers, joint ventures, strategic alliances, equity replacement, etc. This will encompass a number of overseas industrial parks similar to those already being developed within China. The most notable industrial park outside China is located in the Tomsk region of Russia, and was spurred by synergies created by Chinese and Russian government cooperation.
In 2016, total trade in forest products between China and Russia amounted to US$5.7 billion. The synergistic improvements taking place should only continue to encourage Chinese processing investments in neighbouring Russia. In addition, there will be a focus on infrastructure projects within China to link with the One Belt/One Road projects.
The Chinese government has a number of new projects underway that should raise the country’s wood products consumption. Some of these will be green energy-related projects that utilize wood. The government is beginning to promote prefabricated construction; wood construction is one of the three types of prefabricated construction models, with the target being up to 15% wood use in new buildings by 2020. The wood products used would include cross-laminated timber, although this is likely to be just a small part of the growth.
With China’s environmental standards now starting to be enforced, many curtailments and closures of plywood mills and sawmills are occurring, and this could mean a slower rate of log consumption moving forward. The focus is likely to be put more squarely on imported products over time — at least until Chinese factories receive the necessary environmental upgrades.
China’s harvesting ban on natural forests (begun in 2014 and now purported to be fully implemented) involves up to 50 million m3 of timber per year. The restrictions will further increase China’s demand for imported logs and lumber, with the offsetting factor being the country’s vast area of plantation land (the largest in the world at 69 million hectares).
During 2012–2016, China’s imports of Japanese logs have increased from a level of 15,000 m3 to 491,000 m3, with year-over-year growth of 40% for the period January–June 2017. In addition, log exports from Russia to China are being replaced by sawn wood exports. The four main driving forces that should further expand Chinese consumption and its need for log and lumber imports include the following:
1) Green building requirements, including greater use of wood and wood systems;
2) Increasing urbanization, i.e., China still has 170 million migrant workers who will become more urbanized over time (requiring housing, furniture and decor products);
3) A growing middle class with enhanced purchasing power; and
4) Generally robust economic growth.
Source: International Wood Markets Group
Ecologists claim Australia is a global top-ten deforesterWhen you think of devastating deforestation and extinction you usually think of the Amazon, Borneo and the Congo. But eastern Australia ranks alongside these in the top 10 of the world’s major deforestation fronts – the only one in a developed nation. Most of the clearing is happening in Queensland, and it is accelerating.
Only last year a group of leading ecologists voiced their alarm at new data which showed the clearing of 296,000 hectares of forest in 2013-14. This was three times higher than in 2008-09, kicking Australia up the list as one of the world’s forest-clearing pariahs. At the 2016 Society for Conservation Biology Conference, a Scientists’ Declaration was signed by hundreds of scientists, expressing concern at these clearing rates.
But the latest snapshot, Queensland’s Department of Science report on land cover change published last month, showed a staggering 395,000ha of clearing for 2015-16: a 133% increase on 2014-15. As far as we can tell this rate of increased clearing is unmatched anywhere else on the globe.
Strong vegetation management laws enacted in Queensland – the Vegetation Management Act 1999 – achieved dramatic reductions in forest and woodland loss. But the subsequent Liberal National state government, elected in 2012, overturned these protections.
The current government, elected in 2015, has tried and failed to reinstate the protections. In response, “panic clearing” caused clearing rates to shoot up, in anticipation that the state election will deliver a government that will reintroduce the much-needed protection of forests.
The Queensland Parliament is now in caretaker mode ahead of the November 25 election. The Queensland Labor Party has pledged to reinstate laws to prevent wholesale clearing, while the LNP opposition has vowed to retain current clearing rates.
Source: the conversation.com
Improving wood density of Douglas fir
The research team looked at site-related factors that could influence wood density such as climate and soil fertility. They pulled together data on wood density collected over more than 50 years to assemble a dataset with data from around 10,800 trees. These data were “crunched” to develop models to explain the variation in wood density that occurs within and among trees.
They found that breast height outerwood density was higher in warmer areas. A similar relationship is seen for radiata pine where it is thought that warmer temperatures allow a longer period of production of denser latewood during the growing season. Soil fertility (ratio of carbon to nitrogen) was also found to affect wood density with trees grown on more fertile soil tending to have less dense wood. A similar relationship is also seen for radiata pine.
Silviculture factors such as stand density did not seem to have a great effect on wood density, which was a somewhat unexpected result. However, stand density is still expected to affect the mechanical properties of sawn timber, particularly through its effect on branch size.
Looking within trees, the pith to bark profile of wood density differs from that in radiata pine. It is high near the pith, decreases over the first few rings before increasing again and stabilising at around ring 30 from the pith. Density also tends to be higher at the tree base than at its top.
The wood density models developed in this work have been incorporated into the Forecaster growth and yield simulator. Using this, forest managers will be able to devise strategies that take into account the effects of site and silviculture on Douglas-fir wood density to achieve desired end product outcomes.
LINZ wins environmental spatial award
"Wilding conifers have become invasive in many parts of New Zealand, drastically altering the landscape, threatening our native ecosystems, conservation values and productive farm land. The tool is being used by authorities all over the country and underpins the National Wilding Conifer Management Programme - a partnership between LINZ, the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Department of Conservation, New Zealand Defence Force, regional and district councils, forestry, farming and community groups."
The New Zealand Spatial Excellence Awards are an annual event to celebrate the achievements of top spatial information organisations and individuals. LINZ is one of the founding partners.
Plants release up to 30% more CO2 than first thought
The new findings, published in the journal Nature Communications last month and co-authored by Professor in Plant Physiological Ecology Matthew Turnbull, Head ofUC’s School of Biological Sciences, are based on the comprehensive GlobResp database, which comprises over 10,000 measurements of carbon dioxide plant respiration from many plant species and from across the globe.
Merging these data with existing computer models of global land carbon cycling shows that plant respiration has been a potentially underestimated source of carbon dioxide release to the atmosphere. The study shows that across the world, carbon release by plant respiration may be around 30% higher than previously predicted.
As mean global temperature increases, the researchers also estimate that respiration will increase significantly. Such increases may lower the future ability of global vegetation to offset carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning of fossil fuels.
People understand that plants take up carbon dioxide in photosynthesis, but less well known is that they also release it by respiration, Professor Turnbull says. “In this international collaboration, including measurements in New Zealand forests, we find that respiration losses of carbon dioxide by plant respiration is 30% higher than previous estimates, and is expected to increase more than expected under global warming. This could have a major impact on the net amount of carbon dioxide that remains in the atmosphere, which we know is a major driver of the greenhouse effect.”
Lead author, Professor Chris Huntingford of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology says, “For too long, plant respiration loses of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere have been the Cinderella of ecosystem computer modelling, with carbon dioxide gains via photosynthesis stealing the attention. Here we address that, using extensive measurements of respiration to guide computer-based calculations of how carbon cycles through trees and plants.”
This study has been the result of an especially close collaboration over several years between field scientists, those who build computer models of how the global land surface operates, and researchers assessing expected future climate change.
The study uses plant respiration data from over 100 remote sites around the world, from hot deserts in Australia, to the deciduous and boreal forests of North America and Europe, the arctic tundra in Alaska, and the tropical forests of South America, Asia, Africa and northern Australia.
For more information, click here
Tesla's new electric semi-truck could impact oil demand
That’s a big if, given Tesla’s current inability to meet manufacturing targets on the mass-market Model 3 electric car. But if the company really can deliver a battery-powered big rig with a 500-mile range and lower lifetime costs than diesel vehicles, then a big chunk of future oil demand growth is in peril.
Road freight accounts for about a fifth of world oil consumption, mostly diesel, according to the annual World Energy Outlook published by the International Energy Agency this week. Trucks are responsible for about 60 percent of the increase in global diesel demand since 2000, the report shows.
Freight will be even more important to the oil market in the future. The IEA expects gasoline demand to start falling before 2040 -- in part because of the big increase in electric cars -- but it says road freight and aviation will have no choice but to keep using oil. Buses and trucks will drive a 2 million barrel-a-day increase in diesel demand from 2016 to 2040, and overall oil demand will keep growing, it said.
Musk said his new truck “can transform into a robot, fight aliens and make one hell of a latte.” Showmanship aside, if the truck is a success, the IEA’s forecasts may prove wildly optimistic.
New VAFI President electedMr Craig Dunn, General Manager - Communications & Sustainability at Australian Paper, has been elected President of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI) at its Annual General Meeting on Friday, 17 November.
VAFI CEO Tim Johnston said that this is the first term as President for Mr Dunn, after previously serving as Vice-President for the Association. “Mr Dunn brings with him years of experience in the forest, fibre and wood products industry in Victoria and will be a great President and leader for VAFI,” he said.
Serving alongside Mr Dunn in the roles of Vice-President are Greg McNulty (Ryan & McNulty) and Michael Taylor (Midway Ltd). Returning as Executive Committee Members are Simon Gatt (HVP Plantations), Malcolm McComb (Allied Natural Wood Exports) and Geoff Proctor (Montana Timber Holdings).
Mr Johnston also thanked outgoing President, Michael Taylor – Midway Ltd, for his time in the role. “Mr Taylor has served VAFI well over the past two years as President, and it is great to see him continue on as a Vice-President and still be involved in the Association.”
Winning forest image selected
European silver birch (Betula pendula) is characterised by white bark and pendulous branches and is found mostly at higher altitudes across Europe, from the Mediterranean to central Siberia. The pale-coloured wood is used for carpentry, plywood production pulp and fuelwood, although some varieties produce a curly wood used for veneer.
“This is the first international photography competition I have won and so it is a major boost for my photographic morale (not to mention a means to updating some of my camera gear),” Gareth said. “When I am not running around the forest, looking for images to capture, I am a professional biodiversity conservationist and so the fact that the competition is organised by a sustainable forestry NGO such as PEFC is an added bonus for me.”
Joining Gareth’s image among 12 finalists who submitted images as diverse as elephants in India, hard workers using horses in Slovakia and a family enjoying a day in the forest in Italy. Close finalist in the contest was Robyn MacRae of Tumut, NSW, who was judged Australian winner. She captured the winning image on her Cannon 7D camera – a photo taken during a snowfall among sugar pines (Pinus lambertiana) in the Bago state forest.
AFS CEO Simon Dorries said the contest embraced such topics as forest landscapes to individual trees and plants, harvesters to families hiking in the woods, indigenous people to rural village life, and wooden buildings to PEFC-labelled products.
“Certified forests are incredibly diverse and entries in the PEFC photo contest highlight the enjoyment they give to visitors from all walks of life,” Mr Dorries said. All national competitions were run at the same time, from Earth Day (April 22) to World Environment Day (June 5). By June 16, all PEFC national government bodies had picked their winning entries, which then entered the international contest.
Photo: A Morning Star… winning entry by Gareth Goldthorpe in the PEFC international photo contest
Anyone use a wooden nail?
But they are also a problem; they make it hard to recycle wood, and on finished wood surfaces they are often ugly and can cause staining.
Now Beck Fastener has invented something that I would not have thought possible: a wooden nail. You probably couldn’t hit it with a hammer, but it’s part of the LignoLoc system where they fire it with a special pneumatic nail gun.
The nails are made of beech, compressed with a resin so that they are as hard as aluminium nails; they come in lengths up to 65mm. Uses one can think of include; saunas (no hot nails), furniture (no visible fasteners), flooring, wood siding (no streaking), pallets (easy recycling of the wood), boat building.
It also apparently has great bonding with the wood. The special design of the LignoLoc® nail tip and the large amount of heat generated by friction when the nail is driven in cause the lignin of the wooden nail to weld with the surrounding wood to form a substance-to-substance bond.
This is why I love Twitter; this product is so new that I hear about it from a builder the Green Building Festival in Toronto who heard from someone at the just-ended North American Passive House Network conference in Oakland, where it was on display. It is so new that it has not yet been officially approved as a building product.
But the possibilities for this are endless; no more throwing out wood because it is full of nails; no more streaking or bleeding on wood; no thermal bridges from nails; no more wrecking saw blades from hitting steel nails. These are going to be big; Beck has nailed it with the Lignoloc.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... now that's a recruitment video
Following on from the mention of a campaign to attract new entrants into the forestry industry in this week’s editorial, maybe we need some fresh thinking on our own industry’s efforts. We perhaps need to look at more than brochures, billboards, careers days and videos. Maybe we need to think outside the square and stand out from the crowd.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Remember, only four weekend's of shopping left now until Xmas. Cheers.
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