Friday Offcuts – 19 April 2024

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Welcome to this week's edition of Friday Offcuts.

We open with news of forest stress in Western Australia, which is attributed to a record- breaking hot summer and dry spell. This underscores the urgency of mitigating climate change and implementing sustainable forestry practices. Initiatives like  Forestry Corporation raising millions of seedlings in NSW underscore the importance of proactive reforestation efforts. 

Meanwhile, feedback is requested on New Zealand's legal harvest assurance system, which seeks to combat illegal logging and ensure sustainability across the forestry sector. Strengthening trade relationships, such as those between New Zealand and China, also helps to install confidence and growth within the industry.

There are plenty of innovations this week, with an international award given to a new AI application that detects insect damage, an award-winning kauri protection program and the potential of  mass timber construction to revolutionise eco-friendly architecture.

We've also built in a featured video, "When it all Falls Down," which showcases how millions of tonnes of wind throw trees from last year's Cyclone Gabrielle had to be cleaned up, logged, carted and sold before the wood became non-salvageable - and quickly.

And finally, Thursday next week is Anzac Day public holiday in New Zealand and Australia. While Friday Offcuts will be going out as usual on Friday, we require all new classifieds (Jobs, Buy/Sell) to be in on Wednesday at 1pm NZ time

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

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Fears of another 'forest collapse' in WA

After a record-breaking hot summer and significant dry spell, ecologists are warning large pockets of WA's central to south-west coast are facing a potential forest collapse event, where trees and other smaller plants get so dry they die.

One expert has likened it to coral bleaching on land, and just like in the ocean, such an event can have serious implications on the wider ecosystem, impacting breeding habitats and potentially populations of entire species.

Murdoch University fire and plant ecologist Dr Joe Fontaine has been tracking and recording signs of tree and plant stress since early February, with numerous areas displaying large swathes of dry and dying flora, some of it already dead. "We've had a really long, dry summer," Dr Fontaine said, standing among dry and dying coastal vegetation in Manning Park in Perth's southern suburbs. 

"The plants were stressed, and now they've run out of water and they're beginning to brown off, and as more and more of them are dying … it's affecting our biodiversity."

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Source: ABC News

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Have your say on NZ's legal harvest assurance system

The Ministry for Primary Industries is seeking feedback on New Zealand’s legal harvest assurance system framework.

New Zealand’s statutory legal harvest assurance system will cover forest owners, log traders, primary or first-stage processors, importers and exporters.

It follows the enactment of the Forests (Legal Harvest Assurance) Amendment Act 2023 in May 2023 which will introduce a legal harvest assurance system into law through the Forests Act 1949. In preparation for formal consultation, MPI is using  issues papers to seek feedback on the operational details required to implement the system.

MPI want to gather a broad base of views on the ideas and assumptions that have been made in designing the details of how a New Zealand legal harvest assurance system will work in practice. The information gathered will be used to inform options for consultation on regulations to implement the legal harvest assurance system.

Feedback on New Zealand’s Legal Harvest Assurance System, Issues paper one must be received by MPI no later than 5:00pm on 16 May 2024. The issues paper is available HERE.

Legal harvest assurance systems are aimed at combatting trade of illegally logged timber. It is estimated that illegal logging accounts for up to 30% of global timber trade and contributes to more than 50% of tropical deforestation in Central Africa, the Amazon Basin and South- East Asia.

More information on the legal harvest assurance system for timber available on the MPI website.

Source: Te Uru Rākau ­- New Zealand Forest Service / Ministry for Primary Industries - Manatū Ahu Matua

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Raising 2.5 million seedlings for NSW

Almost 2.5-million hardwood and softwood seedlings are being dispatched from Forestry Corporation’s Grafton Nursery to be replanted in state forests across New South Wales. The Grafton Nursery grows a mix of eucalyptus and pine seedlings, which are replanted in state forest timber plantations that have previously been harvested for renewable timber products.

“These seedlings will be planted and grown for around 30 years to supply renewable timber for the next generation’s homes and infrastructure,” Forestry Corporation’s District Manager for Grafton Lyndon Orpwood said.

“After timber harvest operations, state forests in New South Wales are regrown or replanted to continue the forest cycle into the future,” Mr Orpwood said. “Timber is the ultimate renewable resource and is crucial to the Australian construction industry. “ Almost 100 million seedlings have been raised at the Grafton nursery over the past two decades, ultimately helping to build people’s homes and to replenish vital public infrastructure including power poles, marine piers, bridges and platforms,” he said.

Forestry Corporation’s pine and native hardwood seedling nursery at Grafton employs a permanent workforce of 13 staff, who are assisted with the annual dispatch by a seasonal workforce. When in full production, the Grafton Nursery produces around 50,000 seedlings a day with all stock grown from seed.

The eucalypt and pine seedlings are being dispatched from the Grafton nursery across the state for replanting schedules in plantation forests.

For plantation forests in southern NSW, Forestry Corporation produces seedlings at its Tumut Nursery. Since it opened in 1997, the southern NSW nursery has produced more than 176 million cold climate seedlings.

Find out more about Forestry Corporation at

Source: Forestry Corporation

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NZ Govt reaffirms NZ-China trade relationship

Trade, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Todd McClay has concluded productive discussions with ministerial counterparts in Beijing, in support of the New Zealand-China trade and economic relationship.

“My meeting with Commerce Minister Wang Wentao reaffirmed the complementary nature of the bilateral trade relationship, with our Free Trade Agreement at its core,” Mr McClay says. “We discussed progress made on implementation of the 2022 FTA Upgrade provisions, and areas of bilateral cooperation including in support of business environment reforms in China and intellectual property rights protection.”

Regional and multilateral trade developments were also discussed, following a previous meeting on the margins of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi. “I reaffirmed that China’s requests to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) are for members to consider collectively, and that consensus will guide these discussions,” Mr McClay says.

Mr McClay also met with Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Tang Renjian. “New Zealand and China have a long-standing and close agricultural relationship,” Mr McClay says. 

“I welcomed the opportunity to meet Minister Tang to discuss our cooperation programmes, and to underline my commitment to strengthening the collaborative programme of work between our countries’ agricultural sectors.”

Mr McClay’s meeting with the Administrator of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Guan Zhi’ou was an opportunity to advance the bilateral forestry relationship, including areas of cooperation under our refreshed bilateral forestry cooperation arrangement. 

China is the top export market for New Zealand forest products, and New Zealand remains a strong supplier of softwood logs and wood products for the Chinese market,” says Mr McClay. "Growing our trade relationships and exports will boost New Zealand’s economy, and it is only through a strong economy we can lift incomes, reduce the cost of living and afford the public services Kiwis deserve.”

Mr McClay now travels to Harbin and Shanghai. While in Harbin, Mr McClay will meet with the Governor of Heilongjiang Province and Chinese partners in the agriculture sector. The programme in Shanghai will include engagements with New Zealand businesses in-market, including small and medium enterprises in the food and beverage, health and nutrition, services, and manufacturing sectors. Mr McClay will also meet with the Mayor of Shanghai, Gong Zheng. 

Source: New Zealand Government

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Pathways to Prosperity report ignores forestry benefits

The Pathways to Prosperity report clings to forestry misconceptions, claiming the sector is a pine monoculture, producing woody material and sediment in waterways and having a negative impact on rural communities.

The New Zealand Forest Owners Association (NZFOA) says the just released NZIER report commissioned by the Helen Clark Foundation on New Zealand’s food and fibre exports, fails to appreciate the economic, social and environmental benefits of production forestry.

The Pathways to Prosperity report clings to forestry misconceptions, claiming the sector is a pine ‘monoculture’, producing woody material and sediment in waterways and having a negative impact on rural communities.

Forest Owners Association chief executive, Dr Elizabeth Heeg, says there is evidence to the contrary. “Forestry shows the greatest growth potential of all primary industries with an increasingly important role in strengthening our rural communities,” Dr Heeg says.

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Source: NZFOA via Scoop
Image credit: Helen Clark Foundation

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When it all falls down

This video tells the story of how New Zealand Forest Managers (NZFM) in Turangi, New Zealand dealt with a 3.4million + ton wind blow event in the central north island. In the video everything from before the cyclone in Feb 2023, to the night of and right up to December 2023 has been covered.

Interviews detail how NZFM handled the extra crews, marketed the wood, how crews logged the wood, the struggles they had in logging and more. NZFM were approached to make this video to remember what they did for years to come. In this region most of us hear stories of cyclone Bola from guys that worked through it but not many would have seen any footage of the devastation.

ITPV wanted to make sure that as an industry we could look back and show future generations how it was done. ITPV thanks NZFM and everyone who helped with footage, interviews and information. They were especially happy to have Binky Ellis, Les Owens and Dave Flight join them all together for an interview and were saddened to hear of Dave's passing just recently and wish that he got to see it for himself. RIP Dave Thanks for coming in and being a part of this.

Source: ITPV_ Production, Youtube

Environmental Forestry 2024

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Electrifying all trucks will cost less

The Clean Freight Coalition recently released a report suggesting a staggering US$1 trillion investment would be required to electrify 100% of the US truck fleet. However, a critical analysis reveals serious flaws in this estimation. Daimler Truck North America, a key industry player, offers a more realistic perspective, estimating a charging infrastructure cost of US$66 billion to support 1.425 million electric trucks by 2032, significantly lower than the CFC's projection.

The discrepancies stem from the CFC study's unrealistic assumptions, such as deploying all infrastructure simultaneously and disregarding potential cost reductions over time. Daimler's approach, based on historical data and industry trends, provides a more nuanced and feasible assessment.

Additionally, the CFC analysis overlooks efficient power supply pathways and fails to offer actionable insights for policymakers. Conversely, initiatives like the National Zero Emission Freight Corridor Strategy and incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act offer a clearer roadmap for infrastructure deployment and vehicle electrification.

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Source: International Council on Clean Transportation

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Forestry AI app won international prize

The AI application developed by Metsä Group and CollectiveCrunch for detecting insect damage won the international Innovation of Innovations prize. Metsä Fibre’s Future Sawmill concept was recognised in the Business innovations category.

The international Quality Innovation Award (QIA) 2023 competition rewards the most notable innovations of the year. The award- winning application from Metsä Group and CollectiveCrunch detects insect damage in forests such as damage caused by spruce bark beetles before it is visible to the human eye. The application is based on artificial intelligence, machine learning and open data. The AI application shared the first prize with a technology innovation in the field of medicine.

“Global warming is increasing the risks to the health of forests. This real-time method for detecting insect damage helps us preserve forest health and carbon sinks in a changing climate,” says Olli Leino, SVP, Development from Metsä Group’s Wood Supply and Forest Services. 

Metsä Group’s wood supply personnel has been using the application since June 2023. The application can be used to both pinpoint damage and schedule wood trade and harvesting to reduce the risk of damage spreading. 

The map material of risk sites produced by the application is visible in the Metsäverkko mobile application used by Metsä Group’s owner-members. If they wish, forest owners can use this material to visit the sites in person to check the risk areas and plan forestry work.

The Future Sawmill concept developed by Metsä Fibre, part of Metsä Group, was recognised in the Business Innovations (large companies) category. The concept improves the efficiency of sawn timber production, safety at work, the production operating model and product quality management.

“We’re happy to have received this international recognition. We aim to develop the mechanical forest industry with industrial efficiency in mind. We wanted to create a concept for our sawmill, which is the most modern in the world, a forerunner in its technology, operating model and efficiency, and a global trendsetter in the field. This resulted in the Future Sawmill concept, which we used at our Rauma pine sawmill that came online in 2022,” says  Ismo Nousiainen, Metsä Fibre’s CEO.

The Quality Innovation Award was now organised for the 17th time. This year, the competition received 562 entries from eight countries/areas, and the best 24 of them were rewarded. The winners of national quality contests can enter the international competition. National quality associations selected the winners in a tight vote. The China Association for Quality hosted the traditional award ceremony in April 2024. 

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Source: Metsa

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NZ ETS underperforming

The impact of Aotearoa’s main tool in the fight against climate change could be heightened if five sectors were better regulated, according to a new study. New Zealand's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is being let down by several critical sectors, according to an analysis by University of Auckland researchers from the Business School’s Energy Centre.

The scheme, which is designed to cut emissions and encourage economic growth, could have a much greater impact on the country’s emissions reduction goals, say the researchers. Their study shows that five key sectors—agriculture, transport, energy, petroleum and diesel, and waste—are underperforming.

While the ETS effectively reduces emissions on a broad scale, the researchers: Dr Le Wen, Associate Professor Stephen Poletti, Dr Selena Sheng and Simon Tao, say it's failing to spur economic expansion and curtail emissions simultaneously.

In their paper, Enhancing New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme: A comprehensive sector-level assessment for a stronger regulatory framework, the authors explored the emission reduction potential of the ETS by sector.

Compared to emission trading schemes utilised in China and the EU, which have received extensive academic attention, the researchers say relevant analyses regarding the NZ ETS is scant. “We wanted to understand where the scheme’s effectiveness comes from and where it’s lacking,” says lead researcher, Business School PhD candidate Simon Tao. “We show that the ETS could better stimulate the economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions if the planning authorities focus on those five key sectors.”

The study points out that the energy, waste and agriculture sectors are key to New Zealand’s economy and major sources of emissions. Because cutting investments in these areas to reduce emissions could slow economic growth, Tao says the Government should look at ways to lower emissions while encouraging growth through investing in innovation and energy alternatives like hydrogen.

Meanwhile, the authors say the agricultural sector’s greenhouse gas emissions rank first among all industries’ emissions. At the same time, they say practical, impactful solutions to curtail emissions from this sector haven't been available. 

“There’s an assumption that market participants will comply with their emission reduction commitments, but that’s a hard task when no substantial initiatives are available,” says senior research fellow Dr Selena Sheng.

One option may be to instate a fixed carbon price ceiling. We also argue that regulators can impose tax on those sectors in the agricultural industry where emissions exceed the average.”

The researchers say the Government could also focus on creating a dedicated agriculture-focused technology hub. This, says Sheng, could help promote the adoption of innovative mitigation technologies and practices among farmers, fostering progressive and sustainable changes.

Source: University of Auckland

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Early harvest of Otago forest debated

Queenstown council’s defending its decision to prematurely harvest its Coronet Forest above Malaghans Rd in Otago, New Zealand. 

Veteran forester Jim Childerstone believes council would have been far better off harvesting the 175-hectare forest after almost 45 years rather than 31, as he and other foresters had advised. He says on council figures, its ‘profits’ from harvesting the forest, between 2020 and May last year, came to about $10,500 per ha, excluding planting, pruning, thinning and management costs.

At the same time, he points out other Douglas fir forests were returning $20,000 to $25,000 per ha.

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Source: Otago Daily Times

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SnapSTAT - Commodities index a mixed bag; forestry ho-hum

The current quarterly update of the ANZ Research Commodity Price Index reveals the forestry index fell 0.3% m/m in March, giving up all the gains made the previous month. Prices are expected to fall further as demand from China is reported to be extremely weak. Exporters had hoped for an improvement in demand after Chinese New Year, but this has not eventuated. Logs are now building up on wharves in New Zealand as well as stocks increasing at ports in China.

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Mass timber key for low carbon future?

Chinese temples have stood for centuries, battered by wind and earthquakes, without a crack or timber out of place. They employ an ancient technique called “bracket set construction” that requires no nails or metal parts to connect wooden structural elements. Scandinavian stave churches are nearly as durable. Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of trees in Sweden and all over China.

So what is with the hype about innovation in “mass timber” construction over the past few years? As Boyce Thompson argues in his thoughtful new book,  Innovations in Mass Timber: Sequestering Carbon with Style in Commercial Buildings (Schiffer Publishing), this will be the next big thing in “green” tech for architects feeling guilty about their costly titanium skins and outsized carbon footprints. 

One project immediately stands out. Shigeru Ban, a Pritzker Prize–winning architect who builds with paper tubes when they can meet a tight budget, has given the Swatch watch company a zany headquarters made with large glulam timbers in a tube-like configuration that makes a translucent roof over concrete-frame offices. Since the majority of the construction appears to be conventionally non sustainable, are we looking at “greenwashing” here?

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Source: Common Edge

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Biosecurity award for Waikato Regional Council

Earlier this month Waikato Regional Council’s kauri protection programme won the Eagle Technology Local and Central Government Award at the 2024 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards.

Pest Plant team leader Darion Embling, who collected the award on behalf of the council at the awards ceremony at Parliament last night, says southern kauri populations are vital to a future of kauri, being almost free from kauri disease.

To help protect these majestic trees, the council helped advocate for national funding and rules to protect kauri for many years. That advocacy led to the Government investing $32 million into kauri protection over five years to 2026. Embling says funding received by the council as part of that enabled its kauri protection team to ramp up its protection work, particularly in education.

The team commissioned award-winning special effects and prop company Wētā Workshop Ltd to create a scale model of a mature kauri tree, which includes the widespread root system that is vulnerable to PA.

It also led the development of Kauri Pou Kaitikai, a virtual reality (VR) experience to help influence the behaviour change required to protect kauri, and which includes a visual narrative about the cultural, spiritual and ecological significance of kauri and an interactive shoe- cleaning game.

Image: Tree Model - Wētā Workshop created a scale model of a mature kauri tree, which includes its widespread root system.

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Source: Waikato Regional Council

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