Friday Offcuts – 5 April 2024

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Welcome to this week's edition of Friday Offcuts.

In Australia, we cover the significant strides being made towards ensuring the integrity of timber trade with the proposed Illegal Logging Prohibition Amendment Bill, the ForestFit™ Standard continues to strengthen, and how stop-work order issues are impacting NSW timber communities.

Meanwhile, in NZ, the PF Olsen NZ log market report shows that domestic log prices are stable, but there is an oversupply of logs in China. The Resource Management Act is currently under review and WPMA are advocating for fast- tracking process improvements. Also, the Government has just announced changes to how building materials are sourced.

Across the globe, researchers in Sweden have unveiled a groundbreaking truck front concept poised to mitigate fatal collisions and US studies shed light on the carbon-storing potential of wood. Electric truck maker Windrose has also posted a video showing a 1,593 km test run completed by its all-electric semi-truck.

A partnership between the Forest Industry Engineering Association and The WIDE Trust has enabled a number of places to be given to young foresters and those working in the industry to attend FIEA technology events planned for this year - for free. This also applies to the upcoming Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event next month. Read the article below for further details.

Finally, this week, we're excited to welcome Ernslaw One, Pan Pac Forest Products, Rayonier Matariki Forests, Timberlands, HVP Plantations, Forestry Corporation NSW, and New Forests as our new Partners and Sponsors for Friday Offcuts! Their generous support allows us to continue delivering Friday Offcuts directly to over 10,000 readers, and to countless others who share our content every week.

This is another packed edition of Friday Offcuts. Enjoy the read.

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NSW timber business already facing bankruptcy

The NSW timber industry is under pressure. Extended stop-work orders has led to significant financial losses for businesses, with some facing bankruptcy.

Ian Slater, a logging contractor with Iron Ore logging in Eden, said his family has worked in the timber industry on the NSW far south coast for three generations, but he struggles to see a future for his family business. The native forestry industry in New South Wales has come under growing scrutiny about its environmental impact amid efforts to ban the practice in line with some other states. 

Last year, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) issued a stop-work order in Tallaganda State Forest following the discovery of a dead greater glider, an endangered marsupial. The order lasted 160 days from August last year to early February 2024. Mr Slater said the closure put him out of pocket by tens of thousands of dollars.

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Source: ABC News

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PF Olsen NZ Log Market Report – March 2024

Market Summary

At Wharf Gate (AWG) log prices dropped an average of 7-10 NZD in March. This was mainly due to increased freight costs with some slight drops in log sale prices in China. There is an oversupply of logs in China and CFR log prices have fallen about 12% in late March. Reduced shipping costs and a weaker NZD against the USD will alleviate some of the pain for New Zealand forest owners, but AWG prices will fall substantially in April. This situation won’t change until log supply from New Zealand is substantially reduced.

Domestic log prices are stable with log pricing set for Quarter 1. The PF Olsen Log Price Index dropped $3 in March to $122. This is $2 above the two-year average, level with the three-year average, and $1 above the five-year average.

Domestic Log Market

Applications for consents to build new residences in New Zealand continue to decline. StatsNZ information showed consents were issued for 37,000 new residences in the year to December 2023, down 25% from the 49,538 consents issued in 2022. 2022 was a record high, but the slow-down is actually more pronounced than the numbers indicate. Industry commentators suggest only 80% of current consents will likely lead to construction in the short term compared with the previous number of 95% of consents leading to construction.

Export Log Market: China

China log inventory has increased to over 4m mwith New Zealand radiata pine accounting for about 3.4m m3. Daily off-take is now back to 60k which means there is over two months of inventory in China. While log demand in China was slow to rebuild after the Lunar New Year holiday period, daily usage of 60k is what the average was over last year. However, log exporters from New Zealand don’t seem to understand the relationship between price and the supply curve. The sale price for A grade pine logs in China remained stable in February in the 128-132 USD range. But even as supply was exceeding demand and inventory was building through March, one exporter was still trying to price A grade at 136 per JASm3 but had to settle for 116 USD per JASm3. Even worse is that forest owners didn’t slow supply down. Good weather meant harvest volumes were high in New Zealand and there is usually an increase in volume before the wetter autumn weather arrives.

Log demand in China is relatively constant so the only correction to the current situation will be a reduction in log supply. We will have to wait and see how long this takes and what log prices will be achieved during this time.

The China Caixin Manufacturing PMI increased from 50.8 in January to 50.9 in February. (Any number above 50 signals manufacturing growth). Output rose the most since May 2023, new order growth accelerated, and foreign sales expanded at the strongest pace in a year. However, firms cut their selling prices for the second month in a row in an effort to stimulate demand.

Export Log Market: India

Demand in Kandla for green sawn timber is steady at INR 571 and INR 601 per CFT from timber from South America and Australian pine logs respectively.

A log vessel will load in New Zealand in early April to arrive in Kandla in early May. Planning is underway for a couple of additional log vessels from New Zealand as log exporters seek alternatives to the constrained China log market.

However, the market expects about five log vessels from South America to arrive in May and the market may be oversupplied if more vessels are loaded from NZ to Kandla. One advantage for New Zealand is that the Indian log buyers prefer our pine logs.

In Tuticorin, pine log supplies from the USA are erratic due to adverse weather and the Red Sea issues. Some containers are arriving from Australia and New Zealand with radiata pine logs. Green sawn timber is sold in the range INR 650 to 700 per CFT.

With the Indian Parliamentary Elections scheduled between April 19th and June 1st, many saw mill workers have returned to their villages to cast their vote and for agricultural harvest work. They can return by mid- June, when the election results will be declared.

Market sentiment is that the demand for pine wood will increase in Quarter 3, as many new infrastructure projects will be implemented by the new Union Government, so that India's GDP surpasses USD 35 trillion by 2047.

Housing sales in Quarter 1 in India (across the top seven cities) increased 14% compared with housing sales in Quarter 1 2023 and are at decade high levels.

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Source: PF Olsen

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Australian Government putting a stop on illegal logging

The Albanese Government has introduced amendments in Parliament to strengthen laws stopping illegally logged timber from entering the Australian market.

Greater investment in timber testing technology, increased enforcement, expanded monitoring and investigation powers, as well as naming and shaming those who break the rules are all measures included in the new Bill. It is estimated that up to 10% of Australia’s annual timber and wood-based imports may be illegally logged and the trade in illegal imports reduces price of legal timber globally by 7-16%.

Measures in the Bill will modernise and strengthen the Act, to better protect the Australian market from illegally harvested timber and timber products and support sustainable and legal timber trade into the future.

Together, these amendments to the laws will help make Australia an even less attractive destination for illegally sourced timber and further protect Australia’s reputation in international markets as a supplier of sustainable and legally sourced timber products.

This Bill will both uphold our reputation as a global leader through adopting further best-practice regulatory approaches, and help address the environmental, social, and economic harms of illegal logging and associated trade.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt said the Illegal Logging Prohibition Amendment (Strengthening Measures to Prevent Illegal Timber Trade) Bill 2023 (the Bill) would modernise and strengthen current laws if it successfully passed through Parliament.

Australia’s illegal logging laws support a sustainable forestry industry and reduce the risk of it being undercut by illegal products.” Minister Watt said. “Australia was among the first country in the world to introduce laws targeting illegal timber and trade in 2012. Our laws restrict the import and sale of illegally logged timber and timber products, and processing of domestically grown raw logs that have been illegally harvested.

“Reforms will enable use of new innovations including cutting-edge timber identification technologies, to strengthen our ability to identify and act against those who jeopardise Australia’s legal and sustainable timber trade. We know that Australian timber producers and environmental groups alike want to see these tools and techniques used effectively in Australia.”

The new Bill proposes reforms to ensure our laws remain fit-for-purpose as global efforts to combat illegal logging evolve. It will implement improvements identified through both the Statutory Review of the Illegal Logging Act, and the Sunsetting Review of the Illegal Logging Regulation.

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Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

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Growers and AFCA sign ForestFit™ MOU

Forest Growers and contracting businesses are strengthening risk management and increasing confidence in Australian forest products with the signing of the Australian Forest Industries ForestFit™ Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The ForestFit™ Standard has been the result of years of work to contextualise international quality, work health and safety and environmental management standards for the requirements of active forest management.

AFCA General Manager Tim Lester said “ForestFit™ is a world leading scheme that has been codesigned with Growers and contracting businesses. It is another great example of the proactive professional partnerships that are key to the ongoing success of everyone. Forestry operations are high risk activities and require great skill. Working to the ForestFit™Standard, certified annually by an independent third party, means all stakeholders can be assured that the critical risks are managed and performance is first class.”

ForestFit™ Project Manager with AFCA, Dionne Olsen said, “The industry has successfully developed a national Standard for contracting businesses to certify their business systems and manage their operational risk whilst supporting Growers to manage their commercial and reputational risks. To support the streamlining of roles and responsibilities for risk management, Grower signatories of the MOU and their partner contracting businesses will be undertaking a pilot of the draft National Optimal Auditing Pathway to test and validate onsite assessment activities for ForestFit™certified businesses. Outcomes will contribute to the finalised pathway for national adoption.”

AFPA Chief Executive Officer Diana Hallam said, “AFPA welcomes the ForestFit™ MOU and the role it will play in streamlining the strategic partnership between two critical sections of the supply chain in Growers and contracting businesses.”

Certification to the Standard provides assurance of performance and continuous improvement. The scheme is aligned to international management system standards ISO 9001: Quality, 45001: Occupational health and safety and 14001: Environment and contextualised for harvest and haulage, silviculture, civil works and the production of minor forest products.

The ForestFit™ Standard is undergoing its first revision, with stakeholders invited to make comment. For more information about ForestFit™ go to:

Source: Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) 

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Shake-up announced for NZ building materials

The NZ Government yesterday announced changes to help eliminate barriers to the use of overseas building products to make it easier and more affordable to build in New Zealand.

These changes are:

• Recognising building product standards from trusted overseas jurisdictions removes the need for designers or builders to verify standards, which is time-consuming and costly.

• Requiring Building Consent Authorities to accept the use of products that comply with specific overseas standards that are equivalent to or higher than those in New Zealand.

• Approving the use of building products certified through reputable certification schemes overseas. For example, the approval of one Australian scheme, WaterMark, could immediately provide Kiwis with access to 200,000 products.

Minister for Building and Construction Chris Penk says it has become more difficult and expensive to build in New Zealand.

“This is a major shakeup that will drive down the cost of building without compromising on quality, to make it easier and more affordable for people to build or renovate a home. It will also help improve the country's resilience to supply chain disruptions and reduce barriers for Kiwi businesses trying to find alternative approval pathways in New Zealand and export their product overseas.

“These changes are the latest in a raft of actions aimed at making it easier and more affordable for people to build housing and infrastructure in New Zealand," Penk said.

For further commentary on the announcement see; ACT Stance on Building Materials Adopted by Govt

Source: Stuff, Scoop

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Unique opportunity for young foresters

This new opportunity comes with free conference registrations – up to about five of them in fact - for a series of forest and wood technology events this year being run by the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA). FIEA has again teamed up with the WIDE Trust, a charitable Trust formed in 2018 that supports the development and education in New Zealand’s forestry and wood industry sectors to enable younger students, recent graduates or those working in the forestry and wood products industries to attend these major 2024 events.

The first event planned is this year’s Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May 2024 which will be detailing for the first time, results from 12 months of commercial on and off-road operations with heavy transport fleets using alternate fuels in addition to early results from using some of these fuels inside the forest gate, in wood harvesting operations. The event is the eagerly awaited tech update set up for harvesting and wood flow planners, logging and log cartage contractors, forestry managers and forest owners.

Other significant events for which this special arrangement will apply include; So, what’s being offered? To help out younger employees, recent graduates and new entrants into the industry, this new arrangement will enable up to five young employees, recent graduates or students to attend these events in New Zealand with all major conference expenses being paid.

So, as well as the opportunity of learning about new technology, staying abreast with the very latest in research and operating practices, learning about emerging technologies (within and outside our own industry), you’ll be able to network with senior management, tech providers and your counterparts from across the country. Now that’s an offer just too good not to look at further.

Previous offers for tech events last year were snapped up.

Conditions: Applicants for the complimentary places have to be actively employed within the forestry, log transport, wood products or timber manufacturing industries or in a recognised training scheme, apprenticeship or course. The places are available only to those that haven’t yet registered to attend the conferences. And, to ensure the package is targeting the right person, the applicants should also be 35 years or younger.

What do I do if I’m interested? Places will be filled on a first in- first served basis, provided the eligibility criteria have been met. So, if keen on picking up one of these complimentary available spaces for these upcoming technology events, please make contact with

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New truck front to reduce crash deaths by 60%

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, in Sweden, have developed a new truck front concept to significantly reduce fatal crashes in car- truck collisions. The new truck front comes after the EU regulations for the maximum length of a truck were lifted. Crash tests on the new truck front were carried out by the Swedish Transport Administration, Trafikverket, and show that better truck designs can reduce passenger car compartment deformations by 30% to 60%. This reduces the risk of injury and possible death for the car occupants.

Fatal crashes between heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and passenger cars account for between 14% to 16% of all car occupant fatalities in both the EU and US. In over 90% of traffic accidents involving HGVs it is the other party who dies, usually in a passenger car. The most common accident types in these collisions are head-on crashes on rural roads and rear-end crashes on highways (the HGV drives into the rear of the car in front). It is therefore important to investigate car-to-HGV crashes further to improve the survival rates of passengers in the cars of such collisions.

A truck front designed to not kill

In order for a passenger car occupant to survive a head-on collision with a truck, the cabin in the passenger car needs to be kept intact. This is not something that is possible to guarantee today, even in the most modern cars, so the new truck front research aims to find the best ways to protect car passengers, as well as truck drivers, in the future.

The new front was designed with the goal to demonstrate potential design principles to be interpreted and adapted by manufacturers.

"The internal design of the new truck front is aluminium honeycomb. This is a structure composed of repeating hexagonal tubes made from aluminium foil. This is ideal for a lightweight, energy absorbing structure, since around 97% of its volume is air. Aluminium honeycomb is used in many crash test barriers to provide a distributed force and absorb energy. By changing the foil thickness, we can change the force and deformation characteristics. It also has the manufacturing flexibility needed to create one-of prototypes and demonstrate proof-of-concept”, says Professor Thomson.

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Source: Chalmers University of Technology

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RMA under review in NZ

With the Fast Track Approvals Bill introduced earlier this month, it is pleasing to see the government taking a proactive response to make consenting for new large infrastructure projects more efficient and streamlined.

As part of the wider RMA review, WPMA are advocating that the fast-tracking process also applies to reconsenting for large industrial activities on established sites, as these processes can often impact very significant projects. Wood processing investments are capital intensive and long lived.

Once established the ‘sunk cost’ and ‘make good’ implications can be considerable, meaning that much of the focus of WPMA members has been on renewing and upgrading existing operations with excessive cost and uncertainty due to RMA restrictions resulting in less focus on new and innovative investments.

Source: WPMA

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1500km HD electric truck road test completed

Electric truck maker Windrose has posted a time-lapse video showing a 1593 km test run completed by its all- electric semi-truck. The electric semi gets 600 km range out of its 729 kWh battery pack and can pull a whopping 49 tonnes.

Windrose chairman and CEO Wen Han was recently interviewed about the new zero emission truck. “In China and in the US somewhere between 8-15% of all GDP goes to transportation,” says Wen. “About 8% of the Chinese economy is using trucks and heavy-duty trucks are the majority.”

Han says currently around one third of the cost of truck freight goes to paying for diesel so the switch to cheap electricity has the potential to dramatically reduce the cost of road freight. The company recently completed a series of tests including operating the truck at high altitudes and in 47 degree celsius heat.

Australians may also be starting to see electric trucks here very soon after Melbourne based startup NewVolt launched its plans to build an electric truck charging network along the east coast of Australia enabling the decarbonisation of the country’s major road freight routes and potentially saving billions of dollars spent on imported diesel a year.

NewVolt is partnering with truck manufacturers to offer long term contracts with fixed charging fees to give trucking operators the confidence to make the switch and start reaping the benefits.

The company plans to have its first truck charging station up and running in Melbourne in 2025, followed by another 14 sites in key precincts in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Hume Highway from 2027, and then a 40-site metropolitan expansion, with the Pacific, Newell, Sturt & Western Highway connections anticipated from 2030.

Source: thedriven

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Vale Ian Gorman

It’s with sad hearts we bring to your attention the recent passing of well-known timber industry personality, Ian Gorman. Ian passed away on Friday, 8th March 2024. Ian came to New Zealand from Scotland in the mid-1960’s. He worked at the Tapanui Sawmill of the NZ Forest Service, then as a technical rep for Chemicca, and Koppers Hickson and a Senior Technical Officer for the Timber Preservation Authority (TPA), a govt quango run by the NZ Forest Service.

Ian also was also a wood technology lecturer at the Timber Industry Training Centre Rotorua involved in training kiln operators and treatment plant operators. He also held the position of the Timber Preservation Manager with NZ Forestry Corp Waipa and a trainer of kiln and treatment plant operators for Wood Wise Ltd before ending up back at Koppers.

Kiln and treatment plant operators remember Ian’s ability to pass on his in-depth knowledge. In addition to his vast technical expertise, Ian was well renowned for being a gentleman and a bit of an entertainer and an overall good bloke. Our thoughts are with his wife Helen, his family, friends and former work colleagues. The service to celebrate Ian's life was held in Rotorua on Friday 15th March.

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New study - wood products key to reducing emissions

Harnessing the ability of wood products to store carbon even after harvest could have a significant effect on greenhouse gas emissions and change commonly accepted forestry practices, a new study from NC State researchers suggests.

The new study published in the journal Carbon Balance and Management uses carbon storage modelling to link the carbon stored in wood products with the specific forest system from which the products originated. Wood products and the forests they come from store different amounts of carbon, and being able to compare the two more specifically would help forest managers better understand these tradeoffs and plan for better carbon storage.

By tracing carbon in southern loblolly pine plantations from planting to harvest, the study also identified specific wood products that are important to improving carbon storage and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Chief among them were corrugated cardboard boxes.

“Corrugated cardboard boxes are one of the most important products made from loblolly pine,” said Sarah Puls, NC State graduate assistant and corresponding author of the study. “If we can extend the effective lifetime of products like these boxes, it could have a significant impact on the carbon storage associated with southern loblolly pine plantations.”

The study also found that smaller saw timber logs and engineered materials like oriented strand board – a type of board made by pressing together small wooden chips – might also be good at storing carbon, since they can be grown quickly but still go into long-lasting products like houses.

“Wood is a great material to use in our lives – it’s renewable, it’s very flexible in terms of what we can do with it, and it takes a relatively low amount of fossil fuels to produce,” Puls said. “If we can find ways to keep producing wood while also improving carbon storage – that would be fantastic.”

In addition, short rotations – harvesting and replanting trees more quickly – could potentially outperform slower long rotations in carbon storage when a forest is highly productive. This finding applied specifically to pulp harvests, which produce the types of wood used in creating corrugated cardboard boxes.

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Source: NC State University

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Uniting to combat myrtle rust threat

A new video has documented the impact that myrtle rust has on indigenous communities and the environment, reinforcing the need to maintain momentum in breeding for resistance and monitoring its spread.

Whakakotahitanga i te Kaupapa | Unity of Purpose,  released by Scion and Rotoiti 15 Trust, is a video capturing activity from a cultural exchange in November last year that aimed to discuss the challenges posed by myrtle rust in New Zealand and Australia.

Hosted in Rotorua, the exchange welcomed representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Queensland and New South Wales Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment, and Water; the University of Tasmania; the Butchulla Nation (K’gari Queensland); the Gumbaynggirr Nation (Coffs Harbour, New South Wales) and the Bundjalung Nations (New South Wales).

It offered a unique opportunity for cultures and researchers on both sides of the Tasman to connect and learn from each other. The eight-day visit highlighted the importance of sharing traditional knowledge and Western science between indigenous communities and researchers in both countries, and how they each have a role to play in protecting our environment from exotic diseases, such as myrtle rust.

The short film weaves together First Nations' and Māori perspectives on kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and the interconnectedness of all living things. It reveals the strong respect that both cultures have for the bush and takes viewers inside the ngahere around Rotorua, Scion’s nursery and to the trust’s marae on the shore of Lake Rotoiti, reinforcing the vital link between healthy forests and healthy people.

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Source: Scion

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SnapSTAT - Log and lumber imports into China

For 2023 here's a quick graphic on log and lumber import volumes/tonnages from suppliers into world's biggest wood markets in China. Yes, you picked it ... much more wood arrives there from New Zealand in round form, more than square.

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on… robbers vs lawyers

A gang of robbers broke into a lawyer's club by mistake. The old legal lions gave them a fight for their life and their money. The gang was very happy to escape.

"It ain't so bad," one crook noted, "We got $100 between us."

The boss screamed, "I warned you to stay clear of lawyers!
We had $500 when we broke in!"

... and one more in keeping with the theme:

I never wanted to believe that my Dad was stealing from his job as a road worker.
But when I got home, all the signs were there.

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Ken Wilson
Editor, Friday Offcuts
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