Friday Offcuts – 3 May 2024

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Welcome to this week's edition of Friday Offcuts.

We open today with the expansion of SFM’s AI-powered early warning forest fire detection system into Tasmania. Leveraging Pano AI technology, panoramic cameras installed on fire towers automatically detect smoke, offering swift alerts to mitigate potential disasters. 

WoodSolutions has launched what could be a game-changing resource, which provides comprehensive carbon accounting for the Australian building industry. The latest NZ Greenhouse Gas Inventory report has been released and details our efforts in reducing carbon emissions over the last 30 years, highlighting the importance of forestry and impact of the ETS. This will hopefully assist the Government on what needs to be our focus over the next decade. 

FIEA has announced the new 2024 programme for Residues2Revenues 2004. There are significant investments being made in wood residues and we are expecting another big turnout. The event is running 30-31 July 2024 in Rotorua, New Zealand.

We only have a couple of free 'WIDE Trust' places available for our upcoming events, Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 (running this month) and Environmental Forestry 2024. To qualify, you must be under 35, have not yet registered and have not received a WIDE Trust place before. If interested, contact Gordon Thomson.

In other news, Pan Pac Forest Products is celebrating their 50-year history, the Ministry for Primary Industries released new NZ forest nursery figures, PF Olsen provides an update on NZ log markets, a new episode of FWPA’s WoodChat podcast is available and NZ has launched the first zero-emission green hydrogen refuelling network for heavy vehicles. 

Read these and more in another packed edition of Friday Offcuts. Enjoy.

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Carbon accounting roadmap for Australian building industry

WoodSolutions new EPD Database provides carbon accounting roadmap for building industry

There is considerable discussion among governmental bodies, regulatory agencies, sustainability rating systems, and professionals within the industry regarding the emergence of 'zero-carbon' initiatives. These initiatives carry significant implications for the building and construction sector.

Conversations are emerging surrounding various aspects such as material selection, the impact of embodied emissions, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) associated with both building materials and construction processes throughout the entire lifespan of structures. This entails a thorough examination of the carbon footprint at each stage of the building process, ranging from material extraction to eventual demolition and disposal.

Addressing these inquiries necessitates comprehensive data on manufacturing emissions associated with building products and much of the world already uses this approach. In response, WoodSolutions has partnered with Thinkstep- ANZ to develop an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) Database. This database consolidates pertinent information drawn from all publicly available EPDs for timber building products used in the Australian market, encompassing structural (both treated and untreated), aesthetic, and landscaping components manufactured in Australia and overseas.

This highly valuable database includes industry average EPD data and product specific data from individual publicly available company EPDs. It includes values for the fossil fuel emissions (GWP fossil) used in the production phase (Modules A1-A3), the biogenic carbon storage value (GWP biogenic) recognising the carbon sequestered in the wood, and a GWP-total value – which is these two values added together. This GWP-total value includes the biogenic carbon in forests and the fossil carbon emissions included in forestry practices, haulage, processing, kiln drying, planing, and packaging.

This database is a major benefit for embodied emission data users in the building and construction industry. All the embodied emission information for the major timber building products, used in the Australian market and that have EPDs, is now in one place and easily accessible. Industry professionals can now access detailed information on the environmental impact of key timber products and have more accurate knowledge to feed into their decision-making process. The database covers more than ninety products including structural timber products, internal appearance products, landscape products, and more.

“This new resource from WoodSolutions is a huge win for the industry as it delivers crucial, consistent, and accurate data for timber and building products in use across the market,” said Kevin Peachey, Head of WoodSolutions.

“This EPD database gives the building and construction industry the ability to calculate carbon emissions more holistically during the first three stages of the building process to help achieve sustainability ratings for projects.”

Click here to download the database.

Source: WoodSolutions

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NZ carbon emissions update

The Ministry for the Environment just released the NZ Greenhouse Gas Inventory report that covers data from 1990 to 2022. It is a reporting requirement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement. 

Overall, NZ's emissions have increased 14% from 1990, but have been decreasing over the last several years. 

Between 1990 and 2022, net removals from the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry sector (LULUCF) decreased by 21% . This decrease is largely due to a reduction in removals from forest growth, driven by the comparatively high forest-harvest rates currently occurring in Aotearoa New Zealand’s planted forests.

In 2021, forests reduced gross national emissions by 27.5%

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Source: Ministry for the Environment

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AI powered fire projection in Tasmania

We reported several months ago the installation of AI powered early warning forest fire detection systems in South Australia by SFM. The Pano AI developed system trained the cameras on millions of landscape images to spot the first signs of fire.

SFM has now extended this system into Tasmania. SFM has installed the panoramic cameras on fire towers near its plantations, using artificial intelligence to automatically detect smoke and send alerts. 

"Literally, people would come to the towers, bring their lunch box, bring all of the problems they carried with them from home, and you hoped that they were able to focus for 10 to 12 hours a day," SFM chief operating officer Mike Lawson said. "Once they went home, we were flying blind effectively."

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Source: ABC News

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Nursery survey suggests peak pine planting has passed

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has just released the latest NZ forest nursery figures, showing a reduction of pine seedling production in 2022 of 114 million - down to 113.2 million in 2023. Seedling production had increased every year from 2017 when 48 million seedlings were grown.

The decrease in controlled pollenated or cloned seedlings is continuing – now down to 27 percent. This is a reversal from 2017, when only 25 percent of the seedlings were open pollenated or stand collect. Douglas fir production increased slightly in 2023, from 1.3 million seedlings in 2022 to 1.5 million.

Honey producing manuka planting continues to dwindle. More than seven million seedlings were grown in 2018, but only 4.2 million in 2023.

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Source: FOA / Ministry for Primary Industries

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PF Olsen NZ log market report – April 2024

Market Summary

At Wharf Gate (AWG) log prices across New Zealand dropped an average of 17% in April. April AWG log prices are about 15% below the two-year average. CFR prices for A grade logs in China have bottomed in the range of 110-116 USD per JASm3. Rising inventory levels in China have now stabilised and log demand has increased to around 75k m3 per day. Log supply from New Zealand has reduced about 25% in April.

Domestic demand for sawn timber is slowing down for winter, with very little forward orders. Sawmillers predict 2024 will be tougher than 2023.

The PF Olsen Log Price Index dropped $9 in April to $113. This is $6 below the two-year average, and $8 below the three and five-year averages.

Domestic Log Market

Sawmills have seen local demand slow as we end the New Zealand summer. Mills report very low forward orders, indeed worse than this time last year. Demand from Australia is also very low.

Sales of sawn timber in Asia are solid, but these grades are always produced as arisings when cutting domestic grades. Therefore, while this market helps, it doesn’t sustain New Zealand sawmills without a solid domestic market.

Export Log Markets - China

China log inventory which had been rising through March, has now stabilised with softwood (which is mainly New Zealand radiata pine) levels at about 3.3-3.4m m3. Daily off-take has increased to about 75k per day, which is as healthy as the demand has been in the last couple of years. Market sentiment, however, remains weak with virtually everyone in the supply chain in China still struggling to consistently make a profitable margin. This increase in log buying seems to be more a reaction to wholesalers dropping prices rather than a fundamental increase in demand.

Log supply from New Zealand has dropped quickly in reaction to the lower AWG pricing levels, with 25% less log vessels in April than March. This is due to a combination of factors; wetter Autumn weather slowing down harvest, harvest jobs stopping or slowing due to price levels, volume now being sold in India, and less volume from the CNI windthrow. Log supply to China will slow down even more in May.

The sale price for A grade pine logs in China seems to have bottomed in the 110-116 USD range.

The China Caixin Manufacturing PMI increased from 50.9 in February to 51.1 in March. (Any number above 50 signals manufacturing growth). This was boosted by higher new orders from both domestic and abroad, which increased the most in over a year. Firms are still cutting selling prices to stimulate demand. Input prices fell marginally for the first time since July 2023, due to lower raw material costs.

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Scott Downs, Director Sales & Marketing, PF Olsen Ltd
Source: PF Olsen

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50 Years & Growing: The History of Pan Pac Vol II

An icon in New Zealand's Hawke’s Bay region for half a century, Pan Pac Forest Products has released '50 Years & Growing: The History of Pan Pac, Vol. II', which details the company's last 30 years. It’s been many years in the making and was put on hold during last year's cyclone.

50 Years & Growing charts the company’s growth since 1993, along with the personalities, challenges and innovative solutions along the way.

"It is with a great sense of pride that I present this introduction to the next instalment of the Pan Pac story," said Pan Pac's managing director, Tony Clifford. "I joined Pan Pac in March 1992, so I was a new starter when we celebrated the first 20 years of Pan Pac in 1993. Change is in the eye of the beholder and in my eyes, I have observed significant change in these last 30 years."

Today the lumber business produces kiln dried, clear and sawlog grades of dimensional lumber for customers across the Pacific and Europe. The pulp mill converted from TMP to BCTMP in 2012 and now supplies packaging grade pulps to China, India and other countries.

Pan Pac is a major employer in Hawke’s Bay and a significant contributor to the regional economy.

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Source: Pan Pac Forest Products

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FIEA wood residues conference: time for action

Low carbon economies, extreme weather events, and building resilient domestic supply chains are critical issues in 2024 and beyond. In New Zealand, this has created opportunities for the forestry sector, including significant investments in forest residues. Harvesting regulations are mandating more wood be collected from the forest site, and biochar technologies are now being commercialised and capital is flowing to new plants to develop the supply chain for realistic buyers and sellers.

With this lifting in activity, FIEA is pleased to announce our latest Residues2Revenues 2024 event. This wood residues event will, once again, bring together everyone with an interest and expertise in extracting value from wood through residues.

With a diverse set of speakers, including Sir Ian Taylor from Animation Research and young entrepreneur, Elisa Harley, who is well on her way to making millions of plant pots from under-utilised wood residues. We have a thought-provoking mix of speakers and highlight commercial successes from New Zealand, Australia, Chile and more. 

The programme includes speakers from: Patron, NZ Product Accelerator, US Biochar Initiative, Air New Zealand, Mitsui Bussan Woodchip Oceania, Ahika Consulting, Scion, Rayonier Matariki Forests, Oji Fibre Solutions, Futurity Bio Ventures, Mackwell & Co, Stevens Group, Hot Lime Labs, Living Energy, Margules Groome and CarbonScape.

Click here for the full programme. Registrations are open.

Source: FIEA

Residues2Revenues 2024

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Hiringa launches hydrogen refuelling network

Taranaki-based green hydrogen developer Hiringa Energy has marked the opening of New Zealand’s first zero-emission green hydrogen refuelling network set to service heavy freight across the North Island.

The initiative is the first of its kind in Australasia and was officially launched with the opening of its refuelling site in Wiri, South Auckland, on 23 April. The company will be providing an update and insight for forestry companies and log transport operators, into this initiative and other plans for the roll out of their green hydrogen refuelling network in the Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event running in just a few weeks, in Rotorua on 22-23 May.

The network, which sees the production of green hydrogen on site, has been established in partnership with New Zealand fuel supplier Waitomo Group and heavy commercial vehicle rental and lease business TR Group. Along with the Wiri site, the launch also sees stations opening in Hamilton and Palmerston North. A fourth site is also set to open in Tauranga as part of the new Tauriko SH29 roading infrastructure upgrade.

The initial phase represents a total investment of NZ$50 million to install the stations. Network infrastructure establishment received support from the New Zealand Government via a NZ$16 million loan, growth capital from key investors including Sir Stephen Tindall’s fund K1W1, and international investment from Mitsui & Co Ltd and Green Impact Partners alongside Hiringa Energy.

It creates a green energy network positioned to service 95% of the heavy freight routes across the North Island including the “Golden Triangle” of freight movement between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

The launch event included NZ Post’s Hyundai Xcient fuel cell truck (again, results on road from the last 12 months of operations will be detailed at the upcoming Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event) and Auckland Transport’s hydrogen fuel cell bus which are currently in operation. There are soon expected to be 22 hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) on the road and using the refuelling network.

This includes TR Group signing a revised commercial agreement with US-based hydrogen truck startup Hyzon Motors for the delivery of up to 20 hydrogen fuel cell trucks. TR Group will own and lease the trucks to several leading logistics companies and their end customers.

Express freight company PBT, Fulton Hogan, Move Logistics Group and Golden Bay Cement have all signalled interest in becoming first adopters of the hydrogen trucks. The refuelling stations will enable heavy vehicles to refuel with green hydrogen in 10 to 20 minutes.

“Heavy transport plays a vital role in our economy, but it’s also a significant contributor to our national emissions,” Hiringa chief executive Andrew Clennett says. “As a first-of-its-kind across Australasia and one of the first networks set up globally to service heavy transport, the initiative addresses this major challenge by providing operators with the infrastructure they need to switch to zero-emission transport in an efficient, scalable and commercially viable manner.”

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Source: transporttalk

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WoodChat: Working with traditional owners to build capacity

The latest episode of FWPA’s WoodChat podcast is focused on recently completed research which has showcased great potential for the development of sustainable native forestry activities in the Northern Territory led by Traditional Owner communities. 

Listeners will hear from Northern Territory Government Project Manager Dallas Anson and University of the Sunshine Coast Associate Professor (Adjunct) Mark Annandale about their involvement with the initiative, which aimed to boost the forestry capacity of Traditional Owner (Yolngu) communities in the East Arnhem region. 

The overarching principles behind this project include Traditional Owners making informed decisions about what they do on their land before anything takes place and supporting the sustainable livelihoods of the Indigenous people within the project,” Mark said. 

The Traditional Owners were interested in pursuing sustainable forestry opportunities, but there was no foundational knowledge about their needs and desires from forestry, the forest resource itself, or the kinds of timber products that could be manufactured from it,” Dallas said. “This project addressed those foundational questions about what a combination of Traditional Owner and western forest management practices might look like in the region.” 

Elsewhere in the episode, Indigenous project participants Mabo Mununggurritj and Balupalu Yunapingu share their experiences. The project saw training offered to Traditional Owners in operational skills and forest management principles, and the establishment of a Sustainable Native Forestry Demonstration Site where products were manufactured from locally harvested timber. 

Other activities included raising stakeholder awareness of the value of sustainable Indigenous-led commercial forestry, and the consideration of potential business development opportunities. 

FWPA facilitated this important work by providing funding to match the investment made by project partners including the University of the Sunshine Coast (UniSC), Gumatj Corporation, Northern Territory and Queensland governments, and other regional organisations. 

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Source: Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA)

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SnapSTAT - Building consents New Zealand & Australia

In a recent post, New Zealand economist Shamubeel Eaqub noted, "NZ's construction cycle is slowing, but spare a thought for Australia. Both countries have severe housing crises, but at least NZ is gradually making progress."

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PNG lost a forestry icon with the passing of Bob Tate

Long-serving PNG forest industry leader, Bob Tate recently died in Port Moresby, aged 70, after suffering a short illness. A memorial mass was celebrated at the Koki United Church Port Moresby on 28 March 2024.

Born in Sydney, Bob Tate was well known across PNG, Australia, and the wider sector. Since 1996, Bob has been the Executive Officer of the PNG Forest Industry Association (PNGFIA) and represented the Papua New Guinea forest industry, both nationally and internationally, on all issues impacting the sector (with his signature cigarettes and rum and coke drinks). He was a member and representative on many industry groupings, including the Commonwealth Forestry Association, National Climate Change Advisory Board, National Forest Board and the ITTO Trade Advisory Group.

During 2004, Bob, along with the Curator of the National Botanical Gardens and the head of the Office of Environment and Conservation, was instrumental in establishing the National School Tree Nursery Project 'Trees for Survival'. A major revegetation project was undertaken with Port Moresby schools, which allowed school children and communities the benefit of studying environmental concerns, and, particularly, the vital role that trees play in the PNG ecosystem.

Bob Tate is survived by his family - partner Betty Oauke-Tate, the Tate brothers Allan and David, and sister Christen, and their extended families in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Image: Presentation “Navigating a way Forward” to the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) London, January 2011. Source PNGFIA

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International conference on timber bridges 2025

Welcome to the 5th International Conference on Timber Bridges (5ICTB) in Rotorua, New Zealand! The conference, being planned to run on 29 June – 2 July 2025, is co-hosted by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and the NZ Timber Design Society.

They are thrilled to be hosting this conference in the stunning city of Rotorua. As the first time hosting this conference in the southern hemisphere, they are excited to welcome professionals from New Zealand and around the world to discuss the efficient and reliable use of timber bridges in transportation infrastructure.

The focus on timber bridges aligns with the current need for resilient infrastructure to support thriving communities. They believe that by bringing together leading professionals from various fields, they can collectively improve design, productivity, manufacture, supply, and maintenance of timber bridges for the next five decades and beyond.

With a strong panel of local and international speakers expected, they are confident that this conference will provide invaluable insights and knowledge exchange to drive improvements in timber bridge construction worldwide. In addition to the core conference program, they are offering visits to research facilities, manufacturing plants, and other educational expeditions, subject to delegate interest.

The ICTB 2025 Organising Committee invites you to submit an extended abstract for consideration and inclusion in the programme. The deadline set is Friday 10 May 2024. For more information, click here to view the conference website.

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FOA's Don Carson retires

This week was well known spokesperson Don Carson’s last day at the New Zealand Forest Owners Association. He retires after the last 8 years at FOA and decades within the primary industries, at organisations like Federated Farmers and the Wool Board.

Don has a background in journalism and a great passion for communicating about how people grow, harvest, and make things that support our society.

"I have really appreciated working with him, particularly for his intellect and humour," said Elizabeth Heeg, Chief Executive Officer at New Zealand Forest Owners Association. "He also seems to know pretty much everyone in Wellington! Don will still be doing a few of our referendum roadshow sessions as he fully wraps up, so you can still have a last cuppa with him on the road."

Emily Pope will be stepping up into the role of Communications Manager for FOA. 

Source and image credit: FOA

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on…the polite parrot

A young man named John received a parrot named 'Chief' as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to 'clean up' the bird's vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer.

For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total silence. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing he hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer.

The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said, 'I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions, and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behaviour.'

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behaviour, the bird continued, 'May I ask what the turkey did?'

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Ken Wilson
Editor, Friday Offcuts
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