Friday Offcuts 21 April 2023
Just one week out from the panel’s recommendations being reported back to Ministers, the findings of a new report commissioned by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council have been released. For the Hawkes Bay region, of the piles of woody debris that dammed bridges, blocked riverways and littered beaches in the wake of the cyclone, only a small portion was in fact forestry slash. The majority of pine in fact came from the erosion of hillsides and streambanks rather than recently felled forest blocks or off skid sites. Cut pine made up only 3% of the large woody debris within the Hawke’s Bay region. It may be a different story in neighbouring Tairāwhiti but the cause of recent debris damage, as detailed to the panel, may not lie entirely with upstream forestry activities. A link to the Regional Council report is contained in the story below.
After almost sixty years, yesterday sadly marked the closure of the Timber Industry Training Centre run by Toi Ohomai, located on the Waipa campus just outside Rotorua. So many NZ (and international) sawmilling, timber machining and saw doctor trainees have gone through this working sawmill and manufacturing centre over the years. Workers regrettably will lose their jobs as the new organisation, Te Pūkenga, the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, focuses on their core business of delivering vocational education and training.
Finally, an update on upcoming forest technology events. The Wood Transport & Logistics 2023 event running in Rotorua on 24-25 May is attracting a huge amount from the industry at the moment. Registrations to date show that a large contingent of forestry and log haulage companies from across Australia are coming across to join with local businesses at the end of May. Note: Discounted early-bird registrations for this event close TODAY. And momentum is also building, particularly with environmental practices and plans for forest operations under the spotlight right now, for this regions’ second major Environmental Forestry event, Environmental Forestry 2023 running on 20-21 June. Programme information and registrations can be made directly on the event website. That’s it for this week.
This week we have for you:
Waipā Campus sawmill (TITC) closedIn New Zealand, sixteen workers will be without jobs this month as Toi Ohomai’s sawmill in Rotorua is set to close after operating for more than 60 years.
Toi Ohomai business division lead Leon Fourie told the Rotorua Daily Post the “complex decision” to cease commercial operations at the Waipā Campus sawmill was made after a review of the high operating costs of the facility.
Fourie said following a consultation process with kaimahi (staff), the closure would result in 16 job losses. He described the facility as a “purely commercial enterprise”.
“We are assisting these employees with other work opportunities.” However, Fourie said it would not affect students at the Waipā Campus with their courses continuing “as usual”.
Waipā Campus – Timber Industry Training Centre was the “only dedicated training facility in the country to operate a working sawmill and wood manufacturing plant”, Toi Ohomai’s website said.
Fourie said the review identified there was little connection to the core business of vocational training and the financial position was “not sustainable”. Toi Ohomai would retain ownership of the facility and was in the process of “identifying and evaluating” options regarding the sawmill’s future.
It was in discussions with businesses that had supplied the Waipā Campus sawmill and “alternative local timber processing options are being identified,” he said. The last day of operation would be Thursday, April 20. Fourie said the decision to close the facility after more than 60 years had not been an easy one for Toi Ohomai.
“We know how much the rich history of the sawmill means to those who trained and worked in this unique place for so many decades. The closure of the sawmill was an unfortunate but necessary step as the organisation focuses on supporting its core business of delivering vocational education and training.”
Toi Ohomai would continue to provide training programmes in timber processing and machining and build long-term careers in the forestry sector, he said. “We want to support and grow the forestry industry, particularly in Rotorua, and we will do this by leveraging the strength of our new national network of Te Pūkenga.”
First trainload of timber arrives for snowy region millsThe first trainload of Walcha softwood sawlogs has arrived by rail in Wagga, bound for timber mills in the snowy region, who have seen their local timber supplies significantly reduced after the Black Summer bushfires. The rail transport initiative will see Forestry Corporation of NSW deliver around 270,000 tonnes of sawlog timber to Tumut and Tumbarumba processors over the next three years.
This timber was initially set for export, however the impact of the Black Summer bushfires and local timber shortage have meant Australian timber mills have been given priority, said Forestry Corporation’s Sales and Procurement Manager Peter Stiles. “A minimum of 90,000 tonnes of softwood logs will be railed each year from Walcha to Wagga, and then trucked onto Hyne in Tumbarumba and AKD in Tumut,” Mr Stiles said.
“Both Hyne and AKD are major regional employers who had their locally supplied sawlog volumes significantly reduced after the bushfires, so we are very pleased to support their operations.” The first rail trip arrived in Wagga earlier last weekend and was transported by road for the final leg to the sawmills. Between 35 and 50 train trips per year are anticipated from here.
There is an emerging issue with finding and retaining skilled truck drivers in not only the forestry industry but in the wider road freight industry. This task had it been done by road is an 800km journey that would have required another 18-20 drivers. “This initiative means safer roads and is estimated to save up to 3 million litres of diesel,” Mr Stiles said.
The transport units built to carry the logs are a purpose-built log bunk manufactured by Kennedy’s trailers that are fixed to container flats sourced and supplied by Container Options. Manufacturing delays due to Covid-19, steel supply and high demand on shipping containers created some delays in the project.
“Harvesting contractors C3 and Progressive Felling Services, Brian Smith Timber Transport, PHC Rail, Linx and HR Forestry amongst others were instrumental in getting the 40-year-old pines from the forest to the doorsteps of Hyne and AKD,” Mr Stiles said. “Thanks to all of our suppliers and contractors in delivering this outcome.”
Seeds planted for greener trucking futureAs we've reported recently, an innovative SA operator is taking charge, putting the first battery electric logging truck operating in Australia through its paces in the Green Triangle.
Fennell Forestry boss Wendy Fennell knows it could be up to two years before she can categorically determine if this ground-breaking experiment has been a success. But as she puts Australia’s first battery-electric logging truck into its first month of official work from the company’s Mount Gambier base, the pioneering SA operator is feeling confident she can silence the sceptics.
She’s done her groundwork and due diligence, calculating battery power, run-time and carbon-emission reduction for the converted Kenworth T609. “Now it’s time to get the truck loaded and, on the road, to see if the practical application measures up to the theoretical,” Fennell said.
After successful preliminary trials in the Green Triangle region, Fennell says the early signs are encouraging that the B-double is up to the demanding task. “But to really determine whether it’s suitable in transport, you one have to have reliability and two, durability, so that’s what needs to be tested over time.
“That’s why it’s going to take a couple of years to test it like-for-like with a diesel engine unit, but also to understand the costings going forward as far as supply chain costs are.” Fennell said the reason she chose Janus Electric to convert an existing prime mover was because she knew the drivetrain and the cab and the rest of the unit was proven in her busy operation.
She also had plenty of “discussions” with energy companies about the impact of drawing from the grid to power the two batteries that now sit where the fuel tanks once were. The expected range for the 540kW, 720-horsepower motor is between 400-500km on a full charge.
To facilitate faster charging turnarounds with minimal disruptions, Fennell has installed an on-site charging station for the batteries which has the ability to program optimal charging times. “Obviously we’ll be doing that in off-peak times, but until they [the energy companies] start seeing the draw day in and day out that will be something that we fine tune.
“The way our operation works is that we are two 12-hour shifts so we run pretty well 23-24 hours a day.
“The indication is that hopefully one set of batteries will last the 12-hour shift because we do a lot of short running, and loading and unloading takes up a lot of time. We could do three or four loads in a shift.
“So, we’ve got 12 hours before we need to change the batteries over and the batteries only take four hours to charge which gives us a fairly big window. “Because we run all hours of the day, that means we can charge in those off-peak periods, or when there’s availability at the grid.”
With a spare pair of charged batteries always available on site that means the converted T609 only needs to be idle during the time it takes for Fennell Forestry staff to switch them out. At present, because the equipment is new, that’s around 10 minutes, but Fennell expects they’ll soon have that down to 4-5 minutes. “That was one of the big advantages of this system; heavy vehicles can’t be sitting around, they’re too capital and labour intensive.”
NOTE: For the New Zealand forestry and log haulage industry, Wendy Fennell from Fennell Forestry and Lex Forsyth from Janus Electric, the Australian company behind the conversion to the electric battery operating system, will be presenting as part of the major Wood Transport & Logistics 2023 event running in Rotorua on 24-25 May. Details on the event, programme and registrations can be found on the event website.
IUFRO Division 5 Conference - Queensland AustraliaThe 2023 meeting of the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) Division 5 will be held in Cairns, Queensland on 4-8 June 2023. IUFRO brings together researchers and industry R&D from some of the most prominent organisations locally (Scion, UTas, UniSC) with world leading organisations.
The Division 5 meeting is only held every five years and this meeting focuses specifically on all aspects of Forest Products (both wood and no-wood products) with particular focus on current trends such as massive timber buildings (both design and large mass materials), timber origin identification to curb trade of illegally-logged species, and deployment of alternative and tropical plantation species. It seems that Australia’s eucalypts are becoming increasingly common throughout SE Asia.
A first for Division 5 will be sessions on First Nations forestry with presentations from Australia and Canada in particular. As always, wood quality and the means to rapidly determine quality in the field and in-process will be discussed at this meeting.
The meeting is not only open to researchers, and therefore allows local industry the opportunity to discover latest research from around the world without the cost of international travel – and yes well-priced fares are still available for more departure points to Cairns.
To find out more about the conference including the latest draft program please visit the event website
Attending the IRG54 in Cairns the week before? Why not stay and continue the journey, a limited number of discounted tickets and sponsorship opportunities available for those attending or sponsoring at IRG54. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Little of Hawke's Bay woody debris is forestry slashPiles of wooded debris that dammed bridges, blocked riverways and littered beaches in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle contain only a small portion of forestry slash, a report by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council has found. It’s a different story in neighbouring Tairāwhiti, where forestry slash has been widely blamed for much of the damage caused by the cyclone, with the Government ordering a ministerial inquiry into forestry practice and the slash.
The council report released last week found the make-up of the woody debris deposited at more than a dozen sites consisted of a mixture pine, willow, poplar and ‘other’ - native timber and debris that could not be identified.
“At all but one of the surveyed sites, there was little evidence of slash, indicating that the majority of pine came from erosion of hillsides and streambanks,” regional council group manager asset management Chris Dolley said in a statement accompanying the report. Pine plantations and wilding pine are found extensively across the East Coast – Tairāwhiti has 157,295ha in radiata pine plantation forestry, while Hawke’s Bay has 139,598ha.
“A major infrastructural risk was associated with [large woody debris] accumulating at road and rail bridges throughout the region,” the report stated. “A total of 18 bridges suffered some degree of damage during Cyclone Gabrielle within the Hawke’s Bay region alone.”
The survey used guidelines created and used in neighbouring Tairāwhiti, and looked at the woody debris composition of 17 sites including multiple sites along the Esk, Tutaekuri, Ngaruroro, Mohaka, Waikare and Wairoa rivers. Dolley said the debris composition differed from catchment to catchment and was largely the result of whatever tree species was dominant in the catchment upstream.
The regional council were particularly interested to see whether the pine debris included harvested logs, “slash”, or were whole or parts of trees sourced from erosion of hillsides and streambanks.
While the average pine presence was 35% higher compared with willow/poplar, the majority were pine pieces and didn’t show any cut marks indicating they were the result of forestry practices. Cut pine made up 3% of the large woody debris within the Hawke’s Bay region, compared with 15% found in Tairāwhiti during previous storm events. The site with the most cut pine was Mangaone at Rissington, where 9% of the timber had cut marks.
Wairoa mayor Craig Little said his district was a “different story from the rest of Hawke’s Bay”, where slash was thought to be more widespread.
SnapSTAT - Unpruned A-Grade log price recoveringThis last year has seen some unusual fluctuations in the price for unpruned A-Grade logs, so its nice to see a recovery in place now. See page 14 of the latest ANZ Research AgriFocus report for further forest market commentary.
Source: ANZ Research Agri Focus, April 2023
Pine nuts venture named Supreme ChampionMarlborough’s Pinoli Premium Pine Nuts has been recognised for its tiny flavour-filled nuts and its risky journey to become the southern hemisphere’s only pine nut producer - being named Supreme Champion at the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards 2023.
Investing in the Mediterranean pine aka Pinus pinea is a long game; its first crop is only harvestable after eight to 10 years, so it was a leap of faith for Pinoli Premium Pine Nuts founders Andy and Barb Wiltshire and general manager, Lee Paterson. Andy Wiltshire said failure was never an option, and since the first planting in 1998, the company has planted 500,000 trees on 540 hectares in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley. Pinoli pine nuts are sold to food lovers throughout New Zealand and Australia and recently began exporting to Europe.
Head Judge Lauraine Jacobs said; “the judges were excited by the fresh taste of these high quality nuts and unanimous in their acclaim for these sweet little orbs of good taste. This outstanding product involves intensive work and is a fine example of careful monitoring throughout growing, harvesting, processing and packaging to bring a consistently brilliant product to market. Pinoli Premium Pine Nuts are an excellent local food that soar above any comparable import.”
In addition to being named Supreme Champion 2023, Pinoli Premium Pine Nuts was named Farro Earth Champion The judges’ feedback was outstanding; “Excellent, amazing flavour and aroma and a nice little sweetness at the end. An awesome product all round. The favourite product we tasted all day!”
2023 marks the seventh year of the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards, with judging held at Homeland in late February. Judges tasted and assessed more than 290 locally harvested, grown and made food and drink products. Of the food 206 were recognised with medals of which 98 were Gold; 60 were Silver and a further 48 were Bronze.
More information on the Awards website www.outstandingfoodproducer.co.nz
Scientific co-operation boosted for biobased researchAn agreement signed between Scion and one of France’s key research organisations creates fresh opportunities to extend Scion’s research exploring biobased products and to support New Zealand’s transition to a circular bioeconomy.
With the global climate crisis front of mind for many in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle and more frequent adverse weather events, the agreement will enhance cooperation on research and innovation to accelerate biorefineries and biomaterials research – work that is developing alternative products to those made from fossil fuels.
Speaking after the signing ceremony at the French Embassy in Wellington, Scion chief executive Dr Julian Elder says the agreement strengthens joint research between Scion and the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE), and is a welcome boost to scientific co-operation between France and New Zealand.
“As a Crown Research Institute, we’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with INRAE for more than 20 years across many research areas,” he says. “In the last decade, we’ve particularly benefited from our work with INRAE’s Transform division and research that has helped to characterise plant materials before their transformation into biobased products and materials used for 3D and 4D printing.
“Our intention with the new agreement is to build on this work and create an Associated International Laboratory that will contribute to further bioproducts research, with a focus on advancing our knowledge and capabilities with biorefineries and plant materials that can be used to design fossil-free materials for the future.”
Scion’s biorefinery research is exploring new ways of creating high-value products from plant-based waste products, such as pine bark. It’s part of a wider programme of research focused on the circular bioeconomy that seeks to get the most value out of renewable biological resources while minimising waste. The agreement with INRAE to create the Associated International Laboratory also involves collaboration with the University of Montpellier in France.
Scion’s general manager for Forests to Biobased Products, Dr Florian Graichen, says the agreement is timely and follows February’s announcement that New Zealand researchers can now participate in the Horizon Europe innovation and research programme. The arrangement makes New Zealand one of the first countries outside Europe eligible to participate in the programme - with more than €90 billion (about NZD$153 billion) of funding available over seven years.
“We believe that INRAE will become one of our key European partners working with us on unlocking New Zealand's opportunities around biorefineries, biomanufacturing and bioproducts. This will allow New Zealand to meaningfully mitigate and take actions against climate change, while being able to benefit from the global transformation of economies to circular bioeconomies.”
Photo: Scion board chair Dr Helen Anderson and the President of INRAE Philippe Mauguin sign an agreement to strengthen science exchanges and collaborative projects between their two organisations.
Joining them at the event was (back row, from left) Research, Science and Innovation Minister Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall, Dr Marie Joo Le Guen, Dr Claire Mayer-Laigle, and chief executive Dr Julian Elder from Scion, as well as the French Ambassador to New Zealand HE Laurence Beau.
A tribute to the Hon. John Kerin“In just a few minutes’ time our friend Barry Jones will eloquently, no doubt, walk us through John Kerin’s remarkable contribution to Australian public life. While June has made no admissions, I strongly suspect John told her that at his farewell, he didn’t want a succession of admirers saying only nice things about him.
“Ask Fitzgibbon”, he might have said, “he’ll tell it as it is, but give him a few minutes only to contain any embarrassment or reputational damage”. John Kerin called a spade a spade too. He did not suffer fools gladly. He could be impatient, intolerant, irritable, and sometimes, down-right cranky.
He was highly principled, far more interested in policy than in politics and detested those who arranged them in the alternate order. He was an environmentalist but was dismissive of environmental fundamentalists. He railed against those who failed to stick to evidence and science-based policy.
Always willing to have a go, he had a love-hate relationship with his contemporaries in Labor’s NSW Right – possibly the other thing that in his mind, qualifies me to be speaking at his farewell today.
I also suspect John Kerin set himself up for a bit of amusement by asking a 61-year-old to speak for the next generation of Labor people who didn’t serve in the Parliament with him, but nonetheless followed him, admired him, respected him, and appreciated his friendship.
I was just 21 years of age when Bob Hawke was swept to power in 1983. I’m one of many political junkies of my generation, who spent a large part of their relative youth watching in awe, as Hawke and his first-class team of ministers strutted the national stage.
In addition to Hawke and Keating, there was plenty to like about the Labor team – Button, Bowen, Beazley, Dawkins, Hayden, Evans, Jones, Ryan, Walsh, Willis, and others, brought a gravitas to the ranks of the ministry never previously seen.
Another stood out - the lanky former axe-man – a handy skill in politics - who appeared to have quickly mastered the agriculture, fisheries & forestry portfolio, one of the most challenging jobs for any Labor Minister.
And he navigated its complexities and political difficulties, while also managing the mining and energy portfolios. Quite a feat. I was captured by John’s intelligence, his background, his wit, his humour, his hair-do, and of course, his legendary ability to hypnotise a chook.
Exactly 30 years on, I too found myself thrust into the agriculture, fisheries and forestry portfolio. And of course, one of the first things I did was to reach out to Labor’s best – and indeed, Australia’s best. There began a friendship I will always treasure.
Along the way I heard many jokes and character assessments none of which I can share here, as much as John might like me too. Yes, he liked to be provocative and sometimes it got him into trouble.
But most importantly, I learned much from him. John’s autobiography remains a key source of information whenever I’m reflecting on the Hawke/Keating years and in particular, the land sector policies of that period.
We thank him and we will always remember him with great fondness. Rest in peace my friend”.
The Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon, Friday 14 April 2023, Old Parliament House, Canberra
For more on the life and achievements of John Kerin click here
Photo: Former Labor minister for agriculture John Kerin. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)
Source: AFPA, the manadarin
Australian Timber Market Survey report releasedSoftwood timber products – Quarterly
Prices for untreated MGP structural timber products decreased in the December quarter 2022, with price movements ranging between -0.2% and -0.4% lower. Price movements for treated outdoor products were also downwards, ranging between -0.3% and 0.8% lower.
Most panel products showed mixed price movements, which ranged within +/-1.0%, while price movements for MDF products were strongly upwards, ranging between 2.3% and 4.7% higher. Prices for LVL and I-joist/I-beam products continued to decline in the December quarter, ranging between -1.2% and -2.6% lower.
Hardwood timber products – Six monthly
Price movements for kiln dried structural hardwood products (F17 and F27) rose sharply over the six months to the end of December 2022, ranging between 2.8% and 6.6% higher. Price movements for green sawn structural products (F8 and F11) were up to 3.6% higher.
Prices for hardwood flooring products also showed strong price increases in the six months to December. Price movements for Victorian ash and Tasmanian oak flooring products were particularly strong, rising by up to 7.6% and 8.8%, respectively.
Price movements for Spotted gum and Blackbutt flooring were also upward, although less so compared to the Victorian and Tasmanian products, and ranged between 1.9% and 3.0% higher.
The TMS collects price data through quarterly surveys of a representative sample of timber market participants in eastern Australia. All quarterly TMS reports contain price movement information for softwood timber, panels and engineered wood products. The June and December quarter editions also include price movement information for hardwood timber products surveyed over a six-month period.
The TMS is prepared by Indufor and funded by 10 major Australian forestry organisations: Forestry Corporation of NSW; VicForests; Hancock Victorian Plantations; HQPlantations; OneFortyOne Plantations; Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Green Triangle Forest Products; Sustainable Timber Tasmania; AKD Softwoods; and Southern Cross Forests.
Further information and the latest Timber Market Survey report is available here.
Durable eucalypt growers & processors visit NZA group of 12 Australian eucalypt growers and processors from the eastern seaboard of Australia visited Canterbury and Marlborough between March 20th-24th 2023. The Australians, who comprise the Australian Durable Eucalypt Growers Forum, were hosted by New Zealand’s top durable eucalypt research and development specialists and visited a range of sites in Canterbury and Marlborough over four days.
Leading the tour was Marco Lausberg, Programme Manager of Forest Growers Research Specialty Wood Products Research Partnership (SWP). In previous years Marco has joined tours hosted by the Australians in Australia. Marco was assisted by Paul Millen, Manager of NZ Dryland Forests Innovation (NZDFI) and by North Canterbury farm forester and eucalypt expert Gary Fleming, Chair of the NZ Farm Forestry Association Eucalypt Action Group.
The group visited the University of Canterbury School of Forestry, home of NZDFI’s wood quality research team, where academics and post-graduate students described current durable eucalypt research projects. From there, the group gradually made their way north to Blenheim over two days, stopping off at a specialist eucalypt processor near Sefton, and several NZDFI trial sites as well as Proseed NZ in Amberley. Proseed NZ is Australasia’s biggest tree seed producer, is a founding partner of NZ Dryland Forests Innovation, and has invested heavily in durable eucalypt seed production and clonal propagation trials.
Kaara Shaw, a forester from South Queensland, was impressed with what she saw:
“For several years now, we have been hearing about the extensive durable eucalypt breeding work that is being undertaken by NZDFI across New Zealand. To see the trials and laboratory work first hand, and to hear from those passionate people who are leading the charge on the ground, was both humbling and inspiring. The work that NZDFI are doing will be the foundation of a successful durable hardwood plantation industry in New Zealand. We can only wish for the same level of foresight and support from the Australian Government, for our own plantation development activities across The Ditch.”
The visitors met landowners who host NZDFI on-farm trials in both North Canterbury and South Marlborough, and saw a range of NZDFI’s trial species on different site types and at different ages. Some of the sites include breeding populations of trees, now producing seed which is being collected to produce a first generation of genetically superior planting stock for growers.
The final day of the tour was based in and around Blenheim, with a morning workshop/forum at the Marlborough Research Centre (MRC). The MRC is another founding partner and long-time supporter of the NZDFI. Gerald Hope, CEO of the MRC, recognised early on the potential for a durable eucalypt industry in Marlborough to produce naturally durable posts for the vineyard sector, reducing the sector’s dependence on copper-chrome-arsenate (CCA)-treated posts.
Following the workshop, the group visited Stembridge Vineyard, where owner Max Gifford installed a trial of durable eucalypt posts over 12 years ago, and where the posts are performing very well. The Australians were particularly impressed with the strategic vision of NZDFI’s durable eucalypt breeding programme, and the way that government and industry support for the programme has been obtained.
The tour was made possible through the support of the key sponsors: Forest Growers Research – FGR, Specialty Wood Products Research Partnership – SWP, NZ Dryland Forests Innovation – NZDFI, Marlborough Research Centre Trust – MRC, Proseed NZ and the University of Canterbury – UoC. Also the landowners that host NZDFI trials and whose properties are being visited on the tour.
The Australian visitors include representatives of the following organisations: Super Forest Plantations, Heartwood Plantations, Radial Timbers, Hurfords, Ironwood Australia, Forest Land Management, and Wood4Good.
Photo: Associate Professor Clemens Altaner, from the University of Canterbury School of Forestry and head of NZDFI’s Science Team, discusses assessment of wood properties at the Avery trial site, in this case in Eucalyptus globoidea.
New GM for Green Triangle forestry hubThe Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub (GTFIH) has appointed Tony Wright as Executive General Manager, commencing June 26, 2023.
Tony has more than 20 years’ experience in natural resources management, power and water policy and executive leadership. He was most recently Chief Executive Officer of the Limestone Coast Local Government Association responsible for a suite of priorities including performance, advocacy and the strategic development of regional tourism, sport, roads, and planning.
This followed his role as Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Water Industry Association and earlier senior leadership positions in Power and Water Corporation Northern Territory and Central Highlands water.
Cameron MacDonald, Chair of the GTFIH welcomed the appointment “Tony is a well-respected leader and a resident of the region. He will bring a depth of strategic thinking, stakeholder networks and a strong record of delivery to the Hub.”
“The GTFIH is an established network, with a remit from the Commonwealth to support the national objective of growing more plantation trees. These trees will be the resource that meets future fibre demand whilst making a significant contribution to help the climate change challenge.”
Cameron said, “we are committed to growing more trees in the region, supporting a safe and productive workforce whilst making a positive contribution to community and being a responsible steward for future generations. Tony will be an asset to the GTFIH as we continue to implement our vision of a unified approach to growing the regional forestry and wood fibre industry.”
About the Green Triangle forest industry
The Green Triangle spans the border between Victoria and South Australia from the council areas of Colac Otway in the east, West Wimmera in the north and Robe in the west. It comprises 17 percent of the nation’s total plantation area, currently generating AU$1.5 billion in economic output, and directly employs 3000 local workers and indirectly supports the jobs of another 4000 across the region.
About the Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub
The Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub (GTFIH) was formed in 2018 by a strategic alliance of nine companies operating across the full breadth of the forestry and timber fibre processing supply chain in the unique and historic Green Triangle region. GTFIH, now with 13 general member organisations, and successful applicant of long-term Federal Government funding, has developed a Strategic Plan which reflects members commitment to a unifying purpose and vision, and which sets a focused pathway forward for the integrated industry for the next 30 years.
UniSA forest virtual reality project underwayPlantation managers may soon be able to walk through large sections of forests, zero in on defects, check wood quality, and get a quicker overview on progress, all without leaving their office. Researchers at the University of South Australia are working to achieve just this by collecting as much data about plantations as possible and moving it all into virtual reality.
Leading the project Spencer O'Keeffe, a PhD candidate at the university's interactive and virtual environment, said the project could be a major leap for forestry management.
"Data practices in forestry are pretty well established," Mr O'Keeffe said. "The last sort of 100 years things have been based on the same process … but in the last couple of years, tools for remote sensing have become more viable for use in industry.
"My work is looking at using immersive analytics tools, which are virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D environments to actually interact with virtual subsets of the forest and gain a deeper understanding of the inner workings."
Ideally, the technology will be able to run an algorithm and highlight points of interest or potential problems for plantation managers, such as hidden faults or wood quality that would be otherwise easily missed when walking through a forest.
"You would be able to optimise the process and minimise the waste," Mr O'Keeffe said. You would do it in a way that is repeatable and adjustable … it will let you jump back in time 20 years and understand why decisions were made back then."
Only one year into his three-year project, Mr O'Keeffe's results are already proving exciting to the industry. OneFortyOne forest digital twin program manager Michelle Balasso said she has been amazed at what could be achieved.
"What Spencer has been able to show us already, that you can visualise these trees from an office is incredible," Dr Balasso said. "This is a new step towards the precise level of forest management that we are aiming to go towards. This particular project is bringing precision forestry into practice at an unprecedented level."
Photo: ABC South East SA: Elsie Adamo
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... the silver years
My doctor asked if anyone in my family suffered from mental illness and I said, "No, we all seem to enjoy it."
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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