Friday Offcuts – 24 May 2024

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Welcome to this week's edition of Friday Offcuts.

Rotorua was buzzing this week as the Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event showcased developments in cutting-edge heavy vehicle technologies. Over 200 attendees got hands-on with electric, hydrogen, and dual-fuel hybrid solutions through live demos and keynote presentations. Catch the highlights soon on the event website

This week, a major report released by NZ's Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) has emphasised the vital role of diverse forests in meeting our environmental and climate goals. Both the NZIF and FOA see this as a promising step forward, and their full responses are below.

In other news, FWPA have moved into T3 Collingwood, Melbourne’s tallest timber office building and a showcase of next gen mass timber design. DC Equipment are now manufacturing Madill log loader excavators in NZ, Scion's research on short rotation forestry for bioenergy production, updates on China's softwood log inventories and support for Victoria's ex-timber workers. 

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

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New PCE report highlights the crucial role of forests in NZ

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) largely endorses the latest report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), “Going with the Grain: Changing Land Uses to Fit a Changing Landscape.” This comprehensive and forward-thinking report underscores the indispensable role of all types of forests—native, plantation, and regenerating—in addressing climate change and enhancing environmental resilience.

The PCE report compellingly argues forests provide more than carbon sequestration; they offer vital ecosystem services such as biodiversity conservation, water regulation, and soil protection. These functions are crucial for the health of our environment and the sustainability of our communities.

NZIF firmly believes New Zealand needs to increase its forest cover across all forest types to meet its environmental and climate goals. Native forests are crucial for preserving biodiversity. Plantation forests significantly contribute to the economy and carbon sequestration, and regenerating forests, particularly on degraded lands, enhance landscape resilience and carbon capture.

The report highlights the critical role of New Zealand’s production forests in the circular bio-economy. These forests help reduce emissions through sustainable timber production and the use of forest biomass for energy. They support a renewable resource economy, which is essential for transitioning away from fossil fuels and towards more sustainable practices.

In light of the PCE report’s findings, NZIF strongly opposes any move to remove forestry from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Forests are fundamental to carbon sequestration, and their inclusion in the ETS is crucial for incentivising sustainable forestry practices and achieving New Zealand’s climate targets. Removing forestry from the ETS would undermine climate mitigation efforts and could lead to increased deforestation and degradation.

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Source: New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF)

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Call on startups to retrofit Australia's EVs

The second annual Supercharge Australia Innovation Challenge, “Retrofit Nation”, launched on 16 May 2024 in Sydney during the Climate Action Week. The Challenge is calling on startups to rapidly convert half the Australian vehicle fleet to electric vehicles (EVs), which is over 10 million vehicles.

One of the immediately viable opportunities lies in retrofitting existing heavy vehicles with lithium batteries to support the move to an electric vehicle fleet. In 2022 the transport sector contributed to 19% of Australia’s emissions. Trucks, buses and light commercial vehicles account for about 40% of the total transport figure and the industry comprises a relatively small group of decision makers that can accelerate change.

A recent report from Beyond Zero Emissions shows that battery technologies are emerging as one of the most promising sectors for Australia’s economic growth and decarbonisation efforts, potentially creating up to 20,000 jobs and AU$114 billion revenue by 2035.

The Challenge is open to startups, entrepreneurs, scientists and researchers are to develop and present solutions to questions such as:
  • What are the next-generation drivetrain solutions and battery technologies we can apply and how do we produce them at scale?
  • How do we invent and apply advanced manufacturing techniques?
  • What are the software solutions to integrate drivetrain upgrades with existing vehicle technology, to add advanced driver-assist technologies and to maximise their energy storage benefits (Vehicle-to- Grid)?
  • How do we most efficiently train and upskill the workforce required to complete the retrofits and adhere to safety compliance?
Startups receive prizes, support, networking and mentoring to accelerate their success.

“Transport is an obvious target for reform, particularly in Australia with our reliance on road freight and use of mining vehicles. We need to encourage the supply of more EV’s sooner into the Australian and global markets. Putting electric motors and batteries into existing vehicles at scale and massively increasing Australian battery demand is a sure-fire and fast-track way of getting it done,” said Danny Kennedy, CEO New Energy Nexus.

“Australia produces half of the world’s lithium yet retains less than 1% of the value it produces. We can’t just keep sending our lithium offshore where others capture its value. It’s time we change this, together,” said Kirk McDonald, Project Manager Supercharge Australia.

“We’d need AU$181 billion worth of batteries to retrofit half the Australian vehicle fleet, or 20x our current near term forecast demand to 2030. This quantity would de-risk and incentivise lithium battery and cell production in Australia, in the best case using our world-class renewable energy resources.

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Source: Energy Lab

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FWPA moved to Melbourne's tallest mass timber office building

After 16 years at Queen St Melbourne, Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA) has relocated its office to the new T3 mass timber building in Collingwood, effective 20 May 2024.

T3 Collingwood, developed by Hines, stands as the tallest mass timber office building in Melbourne, representing a significant milestone in architectural and environmental design. Situated at 36 Wellington Street, Collingwood, this modern facility embodies the T3 strategy – Timber, Transit, and Technology.

The positive impacts of incorporating natural elements into the built environment are well known. Designing spaces with exposed timber, for example, creates healthier living and working environments. T3 is a high quality 15-level commercial building that aims to achieve best-practice sustainable design, encompassing mass timber construction, building performance, occupancy comfort, and the urban environment.

“This move marks an exciting transition for our organisation, aligning with our commitment to support wood products, sustainability and innovation.” said FWPA CEO, Andrew Leighton.

FWPA's new address is Level 6, 36 Wellington St, Collingwood, VIC 3066. The office phone number remains the same, (+61) 3 9927 3200.

Source: FWPA

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New tracking app for high risk environments

TracPlus, a global provider of aerial firefighting software, has introduced the new TracPlus Beacon app. This innovative solution transforms smartphones into tracking devices, integrating with the TracPlus Cloud platform to extend tracking, operational oversight, and safety capabilities to various assets on land, sea, and air.

Designed for diverse and complex environments, TracPlus Beacon provides scalable and cost-effective tracking within cellular reception areas without requiring additional hardware. This allows teams to leverage their existing smartphones as sophisticated safety tools, providing real-time location updates directly within the TracPlus Cloud platform. The app caches location data when out of cellular range to ensure uninterrupted tracking.

Todd O’Hara, TracPlus’ Head of Product, highlights the significance of this development, stating, “The future of our industry hinges on connectivity, and embracing ‘cellular over satellite’ technology is a key step. The acceleration towards ubiquitous data access, even over fire fronts, is becoming more feasible and TracPlus Beacon represents our first step to capitalise on this shift."

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Source and image credit: TracPlus

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NZ's first locally manufactured Madill log loader excavators

In a progressive development for New Zealand’s industrial sector, DC Equipment, a Tasman-based manufacturing company, proudly announces the first-ever production run of Madill Log Loader Excavators right in the heart of Nelson-Tasman. This launch not only represents a significant achievement for DC Equipment but also heralds a new era for the entire New Zealand manufacturing landscape, introducing the first locally produced commercial excavators.

Historic Acquisition and Local Manufacturing Revival

In a strategic move that reflects its commitment to innovation and local industry, DC Equipment acquired the iconic Madill brand from the Canadian based Nicholson Group in July 2023. Having been associated with robust cable logging equipment globally and cherished by loggers throughout North America, the Madill brand brings a legacy stretching back to 1911.

Under the stewardship of DC Equipment’s founder, Dale Ewers—a seasoned logger with a 35year connection to Madill—the brand is set to thrive. ‘Owning a Madill tower yarder was a dream of mine when I first saw them,’ Ewers comments. ‘Madill’s reputation for durability and performance makes it a perfect match with our Falcon brand’s values. This is more than an acquisition; it’s about creating a legacy of excellence in the logging industry.’

Launch Event Announcement

DC Equipment is excited to invite media, industry stakeholders, and the community to the launch event for the first two Madill 4000 Log Loaders. The event is scheduled for May 31, 2024, at 2:30pm, marking a historic moment as these machines roll off the production line at our Nelson-Tasman facility.

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Source and image credit: DC Equipment

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Unlocking New Zealand's green energy future

A two-year research project has shed light on the promising opportunities for regional New Zealand to adopt short rotation forestry (SRF) for bioenergy production.

The findings show that leveraging short rotation forestry will not only diversify regional economies, but also contribute to sustainable land management and generate environmental benefits as New Zealand looks for ways to transition to a circular bioeconomy and meet its net-zero emissions targets by 2050.

Silviculture and forest carbon scientist Alan Jones says Scion’s modelling shows that short rotation forestry as a feedstock for bioenergy has the potential to replace 6% of New Zealand’s annual fossil fuel demand from less than 1% of the land area.

“We’ve built on research from a decade ago and assessed the feasibility of rapidly upscaling bioenergy production from forests. We’ve found there are particular regions well-suited to short rotation forestry, which provides a real opportunity for communities to transform their economic base and reshape New Zealand’s energy future.”

A key outcome from Scion’s research is a ‘how to’ guide for short rotation forestry targeting landowners, forest investors, and government agencies. It not only outlines the feasibility of SRF but also identifies specific regions most suitable for it in New Zealand.

The ideal species for short rotation forestry is Pinus radiata, owing to its rapid growth rates and high degree of adaptability and disease resistance in a range of growing locations. Other options include Eucalyptus fastigata and  Eucalyptus regnans for their potential to rapidly yield large volumes of woody biomass from young age trees. 

Jones says the guide provides a glimpse of what could be possible in the future for short rotation forestry as a vehicle to scale up bioenergy production. But the benefits would go much further if decentralised processing of harvested material was promoted to stimulate regional economies and fast-track bioenergy availability.

“It’s about developing forest systems that are optimised for bioenergy. But in more economically disadvantaged regions, it also makes sense to build and establish processing facilities there because the energy itself is a lot cheaper to transport once it’s chipped and dried, or transformed into liquid biofuels."

By 2035, one scenario suggests 150,000 hectares of dedicated bioenergy forest could contribute to at least 5% of domestic fossil energy demand, displacing the equivalent of 3 Mt of CO2 emissions from oil combustion per year, or 4 Mt CO2 from coal.

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Source and image credit: Scion

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Update on China softwood log inventories

China’s Softwood Log Inventories at Ocean Ports – FEA industry sources in China report that softwood log inventories at the country’s main ocean ports totalled 3.93 million m³ on 27 April 27 2024, down 2.3% (-93,000 m³) from late March, as follows:
  • Radiata pine log inventory volumes from New Zealand and South America amounted to 3.16 million m³, up 2% from the month before and comprising nearly 80% of overall log inventories (versus 77% in late March).
  • North American Douglas-fir and hemlock log volumes totalled 440,000 m³, a decline of 16% from the month before and accounting for 11% of overall log inventories (versus nearly 13% in late March).
  • European spruce log volumes amounted to 194,000 m³, down 26% from a month earlier and comprising only 3.5% of overall log inventories.
  • Softwood log inventories from other countries (Japanese sugi, European red pine, etc.) totalled 139,000 m³ (-6.7%).

Not surprisingly, radiata pine logs continued to dominate as a proportion of the overall inventory, with a reduced share for North American hemlock and European spruce logs due to lower arrivals of those two species. Additionally, wholesale market prices at Taicang and Lanshan experienced a decrease of RMB 10/m³ for radiata pine, while growth of RMB 10-60/m3 was recorded for hemlock and European spruce logs in late April versus late March. Meanwhile, average daily sales were recorded at 72,500 m³ for the month, down slightly from 70,000 m³ in April 2023.

For more information on FEA’s China Bulletin where this data is reported monthly, please visit the FEA China Bulletin website, or contact Matt Robertson at

Source: Forest Economic Advisors (FEA)

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Victoria supporting businesses to employ ex-timber workers

A Gippsland nursery is expanding its business and providing jobs for ex-native timber workers, thanks to a $775,000 grant from the Victorian Government’s Forestry Transition Fund. Nationwide Trees at Piedmont in West Gippsland, is using the grant to construct a multi-use production and dispatch shed, to help the business to meet growing demand.

To support the business’ growth, up to 10 impacted forestry workers and their families are being recruited via the Victorian Forestry Worker Support Program and trained to work in the new facility – tripling the business’ workforce. Two former mill employees have already been employed in administrative roles.

The $36 million Forestry Transition Fund supports job creation and business development in and around the native timber communities in Gippsland and the north-east of the state.

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Source: Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, Victoria State Government

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Forico welcomes new CFO

Tasmania’s largest private forest and land asset manager Forico will welcome a new Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chris Oddie, from 24 June 2024.

Chris Oddie is a Chartered Accountant with over thirty years’ experience in senior executive finance, commercial and operational management, gained across the agribusiness, construction, community services, financial services and logistics sectors both in Australia and overseas.

Most recently he has occupied CFO and Company Secretary roles with Regional Livestock Exchanges, Li-Ve Tasmania, and Spectran Group, where he shaped business growth and successfully managed company transformation and change.

“It was vital for Forico to secure a talented and capable individual who can add value in a dynamic business environment and Chris emerged as a clear stand-out,” said Forico CEO Evangelista Albertini. “Chris’s wealth of experience in CFO and executive roles positions him optimally to continue Forico’s work in placing financial management front and centre in sustainable decision making, and maintaining the leadership role we have forged in this.”

“The approach of mandatory nature-based reporting sees increasing demands placed on finance and accounting capacity in businesses worldwide. Forico has carved a leadership niche in this new reporting landscape and we have no doubt Chris will enable us to achieve our vision of forestry as the industry at the centre of a sustainable future.”

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Source and image credit: Forico

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Future Foresters NZ looking for regional leaders

Future Foresters (NZ) have opened up annual applications for Regional Leaders and two new Executive team members. 

Future Foresters is a group of young foresters who aim to build the forestry community. They connect foresters throughout the country, promote the sector’s benefits and career opportunities, provide a network and voice for young/new foresters, offer professional development opportunities, and link new foresters with experienced foresters.

The role of Regional Leader involves growing and maintaining a regional network, organising networking and careers events and working with local industry groups by representing Future Foresters. The Executive position involves managing finances, strategy, funding, leading projects, coordinating nationwide events/themes, engaging with industry at a national level, and coordinating regional leaders when needed. 

To be clear, these roles are voluntary. The time commitment involves a monthly, one hour online team meeting, annual Saturday strategy meeting/AGM/team building, and time spent on event planning, project involvement, etc.

If you’re a passionate and motivated young forester and interested in being part of forestry’s future then check out the website for further details. This year's search will close at the end of May. 

Source and image credit: Future Foresters

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New WoodSolutions guide for resilient timber design

The latest design guide from WoodSolutions educates and advocates for the design and construction of sustainable timber homes using a resilience-focused approach to address climate challenges and ensure safety and well-being for occupants.

The effects of bushfires, floods, storms and other extreme weather events are becoming increasingly impactful on our communities, environment, and economy in Australia and, in turn, the need for resilient housing is growing. The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) reports that Australians are five times more likely to be displaced by a natural disaster than someone living in Europe and the costs associated with those events are significantly growing.

The ICA also reports that the costs directly related to repairing or replacing homes and their contents after natural catastrophes have increased significantly over the past 15 years, and indirect costs are even bigger. The result is that many properties are becoming uninsurable and local Councils are encountering additional planning problems. Improving the climate resilience of new and existing homes would contribute to reducing these costs, allow for sustainable market growth opportunities, and facilitate improvements in the housing supply crisis.

This new WoodSolutions guide details how sustainable timber homes can be designed and built with a Code+ approach to resilience. It indicates that opting for a resilient timber home presents a proactive solution to mitigating climate challenges while providing safety and improved wellbeing to building occupants. The guide also details the increased value in investors and the entire community through resilient design.

The growing emphasis on minimising the carbon footprint of buildings presents another compelling reason for the Australian insurance and real estate sectors to actively engage in mitigating disaster risks which will position them as providers of safety, wellness and future-proof value to their clients, and the community.

Engineered Wood Products are now widely utilised for their sustainable properties that are essential for meeting decarbonisation goals. Consequently, there is a demand for these products and the structures employing them to exhibit resilience and durability that surpasses minimum code requirements.

This ground-breaking guide is a result of the Resilient Timber Homes program, launched by FWPA, in partnership with industry leaders and in collaboration with outstanding experts in this field.

Download the free guide now.

Source: FWPA 

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Precision silviculture: Sparking change from the ground up

The Precision Silviculture Programme, in collaboration with Micro Innovation, is revolutionising practice change for forestry silviculture workers at ground level. Large research and innovation programmes often focus on macro-level transformations that take years to manifest, the Micro Innovation Challenge emphasises the importance of micro-level changes, which can have immediate, impactful results.

Silviculture workers possess invaluable on-the-ground knowledge, yet their insights are often underutilised. The Micro Innovation Challenge aims to change this by offering a streamlined process for capturing and evaluating innovative ideas. By funding prototype development without the need for complex proposals and red tape, this initiative empowers workers to implement practical solutions quickly.

In January 2024, the first Silviculture Micro Innovation Programme launched, running for eight weeks. Three innovators were awarded $15,000 grants to develop their prototypes. The outcomes will be showcased at ForestTech 2024. Here’s a snapshot of the winners and their concepts for change:

Matt Pearless: Pearless Silviculture

Silviculture workers often assist in wildfire control, requiring tools that are both lightweight and effective. Matt Pearless aims to develop a compact, well-balanced hand tool with a grubber head on one side and a small fire rake on the other, featuring a telescopic handle for easy transport. His prototype has already been tested in the Nelson and Port Hills fires, proving its operational value.

Patrick Carroll: Blinkhorne & Carroll

Advancing tree planting and enabling recording of tree location at the time of planting requires equipping workers with better tools. Patrick Carroll has developed a GPS-equipped spade that accurately records the location of planted seedlings, storing data on an SD card and transmitting it via Wi-Fi. With the grant, Patrick will upgrade the spade's components and refine its GPS accuracy to within 5-10 cm, using RTK GPS. The design team, supported by New Zealand's largest producer of planting spades, will conduct trials during the upcoming planting season.

Dean Anderson: Dean Anderson Contracting Ltd

Traditional tree thinning can lead to back issues and increased ground debris. Dean Anderson’s innovation involves thinning trees to a uniform height of 1.2 metres, which reduces worker fatigue and potential back problems, while also decreasing debris movement. The grant will fund a trial comparing this new method to traditional practices, including an independent assessment to document the results. Dean hopes this will inform future thinning practices across the sector.

Claire Stewart, Programme Manager of the Precision Silviculture Programme was impressed with the 25 ideas submitted to the challenge. It’s an effective way to harness the ingenuity of forestry workers, proving that small-scale innovations can lead to big impacts. All concepts were of a high standard, and we plan to run this as an annual challenge for the life of the programme which ends in 2029.

Source and image credit: Forest Growers Research
Image Credit: Micro Innovation

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An update on NZ's new forestry regulations

New resources now available to help councils and foresters implement new regulations under the New Zealand National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF). An addendum to the NES-PF user guide provides guidance on the changes to the regulations that came into effect on 3 November 2023 as the National Environmental Standards for Commercial Forestry (NES-CF).

This guidance does not replace the existing NES-PF user guide and should be read along with that guide.

The addendum will be updated to include the remaining regulatory changes contained in the NES-CF. Once the addendum has been finalised, it will be incorporated into the NES-PF user guide and published as a new user guide document.

The NES-PF user guide and the addendum to the user guide are available on the Ministry for Primary Industries website. If you have any queries regarding guidance on the NES-CF, please send these to Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service.

Source: Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on… a nervous AFL fan

A nervous AFL fan

I was exchanging messages with a friend, during the closing stages of the Giants vs. Carlton game, when each goal and point scored by either side was affecting the percentages and hence finals placing for her team, St Kilda and the Giants.

I asked her whether she was nervous, and she replied

"As nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs" !

A duck knows best

A duck goes up to a barman and says “I’ll have some bread.”
The barman replies “We have no bread.”

The duck says “ I need bread.”
The barman says “We’ll we don’t have any.”

The duck said “please go out the back and check. I need bread.”
The barman said “We have no bread. Don’t ask me again or I will nail your beak to the bar.”

The duck asked “Do you have any nails? ”
The barman’s answers “NO.”

The duck asked, ”Sure you don’t have any bread?”

Pets welcome

A man wrote a letter to a small hotel in an outback town which he planned to visit on his vacation.

He wrote: “I would very much like to bring my dog with me. He is well- groomed and very well-behaved. Would you be willing to permit me to keep him in my room with me at night?”

An immediate reply came from the hotel owner, who wrote: “I’ve been operating this hotel for many years. In all that time, I’ve never had a dog steal towel, bedclothes, silverware or steal pictures off the walls or use them as a colouring book.

I’ve never had to evict a dog in the middle of the night for being drunk and disorderly. And I’ve never had a dog run out on a hotel bill. Yes, indeed, your dog is welcome at my hotel. And, if your dog will vouch for you, you’re welcome to stay here, too.”

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Ken Wilson
Editor, Friday Offcuts
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