Friday Offcuts – 15 December 2017

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With only a week or so to go before Christmas and the extended summer break, this will be the last issue of Friday Offcuts for 2017. Like most of you we plan on taking a well-deserved week or two off. Normal production is scheduled to resume on Friday 19 January 2018. Before signing off we’d like to thank all of you for your ongoing support, your regular contributions and comments during the year and your continued encouragement. It's certainly appreciated and we look forward to working with all of you again next year.

As we’re getting pretty close to calling it quits for the year (unless of course you have been rostered onto fire duty over the break) we do have a bumper pre-Christmas issue. We’ve included this week a number of stories looking at how businesses may be impacted in the upcoming year by technologies that we’ve been profiling in the FIEA tech events run during 2017. As we’ve learnt, blockchain, together with artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and virtual and augmented reality are already being integrated into forestry operations. We’ve also added a story which has really grabbed headlines throughout 2017, the boom in modern timber buildings more than seven storeys high, of which Australia has really been punching above its weight.

Of a more light hearted nature and to finish up the year, we’ve included stories on a world record recently been picked up for the fastest speed recorded in a body-controlled jet engine power suit, an axe throwing bar, a sport of choice for lumberjacks and Canadians over many years that’s just opened up in Washington, DC (with US politics this year you’d think this would have to be a venue of choice for politicians to let off steam) and finally, we’ve got a video clip that some of you (both the guys and the gals) may be able to relate to, the disappearing coffee table. Enjoy this final read of 2017. See you all in 2018.

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This week we have for you:

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Stronger forestry focus for MPI including forestry

New Zealand’s Minister for Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety and Rural Communities Damien O’Connor announced on Wednesday that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will reorganise its functions to create a stronger focus on core responsibilities.

Mr O’Connor says government will set up four portfolio-based entities, Fisheries New Zealand, Forestry New Zealand, Biosecurity New Zealand and New Zealand Food Safety.

“Our priority is to achieve greater clarity and unity of purpose for these areas. We are seeking enhanced visibility of government policy and regulatory activities and clearer lines of accountability and engagement for stakeholders.

MPI will build up its forestry presence in Rotorua, Mr O’Connor says. “Rotorua’s location puts it at the heart of our forestry sector and makes it the most appropriate site for a dedicated forestry presence to support the Government’s ambition in this important sector.

“It’s likely further change in the forest space will occur after policy and operational work to deliver the Government’s ambitious goals in this area.”

Reorganisation of MPI’s functions will occur in the early part of 2018 and will be in place by April. The estimated cost to implement the changes is NZ$6.8 million to establish the four portfolio-based business units. Additional ongoing operating costs are estimated at NZ$2.3m per annum.

MPI will commence planning immediately. Reorganisation of MPI’s functions will occur in the early part of 2018 and will be in place by April.

Source: Scoop

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Forestry key to Green Triangle economy and jobs

The forest industry’s economic contribution to the “Green Triangle” plantation region of south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia is significant – it directly generated AU$1.2 billion in sales last financial year and a total of $1.9 billion when flow-on effects in other industries are included.

That was among the key findings of a new industry snapshot funded by Forest & Wood Products Australia, and conducted by the University of Canberra in conjunction with consultancy EconSearch, a division of BDO.

In terms of jobs, the forestry industry employed just over 2300 people in the Green Triangle in the first half of 2017 and, in some local government areas like Mount Gambier accounted for as much as 10 per cent of total employment.

Forest workers also earned higher-than-average incomes compared to others in the area, the industry snapshot found. Employment in the industry fell five per cent between 2011 and 2016, with a decline in processing and manufacturing jobs partly offset by a rise in employment in growing, harvesting and haulage of plantation timber as hardwood plantations established in the late 1990s start reaching harvesting age.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Jacki Schirmer said that despite the fall of numbers in the industry, there are still strong opportunities for employment. “Many employers reported finding it difficult to recruit workers, including professional staff, transport workers, heavy machine operators and field staff,” she said.

“The snapshot also included the results of surveys of local residents in the area. Local residents view the industry as very important for the local economy, particularly for generating jobs. There remains some concern about the impact of the industry on local roads, an issue the industry is working continuously and proactively to address.”

To read the report Socio-economic impacts of the forest industry – Green Triangle in full, visit

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Technologies to reshape digital business in 2018

Blockchain, Machine Learning, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Wireless Technologies Will Reshape Digital Business in 2018.

Dimension Data says Blockchain has immense potential to disrupt and transform the world of money, business, and society.

Blockchain, together with artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and virtual and augmented reality, have the potential to deliver disruptive outcomes and reshape digital business in 2018. And companies that have not started the digital investment cycle are at high risk of being disrupted. This is according to the list of top IT predictions for 2018 just published by Dimension Data. But the top trend for the coming year is the adoption of Blockchain - the technology behind Bitcoin - and its immense potential to disrupt and transform the world of money, business, and society using a variety of applications.

Ettienne Reinecke, Dimension Data’s Group Chief Technology Officer, says Blockchain has gone from strength to strength. “Last year, when we looked at the top digital business trends for 2017, we predicted that centralised transaction models would come under attack. We were spot on. In the financial services sector, we’ve seen the US and European capital markets moving onto Blockchain platforms, and similar activity in markets such as Japan. Considering how conservative and compliance-focused this sector is, that’s quite remarkable.

“It’s ironic that the cybercriminals who perpetrated the recent WannaCry ransomware attack could hold a federal government to ransom and demand to be paid in Bitcoin. Bitcoin might be a crypto-currency, but it’s based on Blockchain, and if cybercriminals are confident that Bitcoin provides a safe mechanism for the payment of ransoms, it indicates just how secure the distributed ledger approach is. I believe that Blockchain has the potential to totally re-engineer cybersecurity, but the industry has yet to come to terms with it.”

Reinecke predicts that Blockchain will also deliver on the promise of Internet of Things (IoT) in the year ahead. “In the world of IoT you’re generating millions of small transactions that are being collected from a distributed set of sensors. It’s not feasible to operate these systems using a centralised transactional model: it’s too slow, expensive, and exclusive. To extract the true value from IoT technology you have to be able to operate in real time. Once a sensor alert is received from a control system you must react to it, meter it, and bill for it instantly – all of which negates the viability of a centralised transactional authority. The cost of the transaction has to be near-zero or free, and the cost elements of a centralised model simply don’t support the potential business model in IoT,” he explains.

In 2018, some interesting applications of Blockchain and IoT in the area of cybersecurity will emerge. Significant attacks have recently been launched from low-cost IoT endpoints, and there’s very little incentive for manufacturers of these devices to incur the cost of a security stack, which leaves them extremely vulnerable. Blockchain can play a fundamental role in securing these environments.

Another exciting trend to look forward to is the boom in new wireless technologies that will enable IoT and bring us a step closer to the dream of pervasive connectivity. Some of these advancements will include 5G and Gbps Wi-Fi, new controls, virtual beacon technology, and low power, long distance radio frequency.

There’s also a “digital fight-back” coming on the part of certain incumbent players. Established businesses that have proactively transformed into digital businesses, modernised their architectures, and embedded high levels of automation into their operations have a window of opportunity to claw back market share in the year ahead. That’s because there’s been an increase in the number of cloud-born start-ups themselves starting to be disrupted in certain industries.

“I predict that a number of digitally transformed incumbents will successfully start reclaiming their markets because they have more credibility, longer histories, an established customer base, and assets that can stand the test of time,” says Reinecke.

Read more about Dimension Data’s 2018 predictions for digital infrastructure, hybrid cloud, digital workplaces, digital business, and customer experience.

Source: Scoop

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2018 technology events – mark your diaries

Again, after an incredibly busy year, the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) has in conjunction with a wide cross section of industry on both sides of the Tasman, developed an Events Planner for next year. With again very high turnouts at all FIEA technology events that have been run this year, we’re really excited with what 2018 holds.

The Events Planner will enable; forestry and wood products companies to pencil the dates into your own calendar for next year and industry associations, research organisations and those involved in setting up your own programmes for 2018 to take note of the dates (and ideally look to dovetail in to the tech events timing and location to add value to the industry and those likely to attend).

For product and service suppliers, we hope this forward planning will also enable you to schedule your involvement and to budget early on in the year to the relevant tech event and for overseas suppliers, it will enable you to lock in a time to plan visits to your key customers or distributors in Australia and New Zealand and to link in to the relevant technology events in this part of the world next year.

FIEA forestry or wood products technology events being planned for 2018 include;

1. Woodflow 2018
20-21 June 2018, Melbourne, Australia
26-27 June 2018, Rotorua, New Zealand

2. Forest Industry Safety & Technology Conference
8 August 2018, Rotorua, New Zealand
15 August 2018, Melbourne, Australia

3. WoodTECH 2018 – Wood Manufacturing
Dry-mill Scanning, Wood Machining, Timber Manufacturing
11-12 September 2018, Melbourne, Australia
18-19 September 2018, Rotorua, New Zealand

4. ForestTECH 2018
Data Collection & Management – Remote Sensing – Mobile Communications & GIS
14-15 November 2018, Rotorua, New Zealand
20-21 November 2018, Melbourne, Australia

Other forestry technology events being planned include;

1. ForestTECHx
6-7 March 2018, Vancouver, Canada

2. MobileTECH 2018
Primary Industries – Innovation through Smart Data
27-28 March, Rotorua, New Zealand

Mark the dates into your 2018 calendars. At this early stage, if interested in either presenting or exhibiting, let us know early on and if appropriate, we can look to build you into the planned programmes.

Attached for your information is a PDF of 2018 Technology Events which provides you with further information on the schedule of tech events planned for next year.

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Australian forestry company gears up for NZ expansion

Australian forestry company New Forests has a war chest of up to $500 million set aside for investing in New Zealand forestry. Managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Mark Rogers, said the money had been recently raised from mainly European investors.

"We raised $873 million and we need to spend a big slab of it here, at least $400-500m for trees and infrastructure, but not trucking and harvesting because the locals to do that. Pre-election we were thinking it might be quite difficult [to operate] but post-election it's clear both sides understand that if foreign capital dried up in forestry, New Zealand would have a smaller sector."

The Forest Owners Association said the Government would be keen to tap into these funds as well as other overseas investment for forestry, partly for environmental reasons. "My understanding is that the new Government's intention to see a billion trees planted in the next ten years was largely reasoned on plantation forestry being the only immediate and available tool to reduce New Zealand's net greenhouse gas emissions to a level anywhere near Paris Agreement commitments," Association president Peter Clark said.

The Government has attached a rider to its policy on forestry investment to the effect companies need to develop local processing. Rogers said besides having invested in forests, New Forests already owned a mill in Blenheim employing about 85, and was investing $10-15m into that in order to bring it up to scratch.

New Forests has four radiata pine plantations in New Zealand, totalling 18,800 hectares: Taupo Estate (3900 hectares), Wairarapa Estate (9700 ha, Blenheim Estate (4600 ha), and Southland Estate (600 ha). It owns about 60 per cent of its forestry assets in freehold ownership, with 40 per cent in other forms such as leasehold, or having cutting rights. Since 2005 it has invested more than $180m into New Zealand forestry.

Rogers painted an optimistic portrait for forestry, saying global wood supply was shrinking as countries moved away from cutting native forests. New Forests was always on the lookout for land to either own or lease. Its investors were often pension funds or individuals who were looking for a stable investment returning about 3 per cent a year. New Forests manages more than 780,000ha of land and forests and is headquartered in Sydney with offices in San Francisco, Singapore, and New Zealand.

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NZ to trial drone traffic management system

Airways is calling for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), or drone, users to take part in the trial of New Zealand’s first UAV traffic management (UTM) platform. Airways has partnered with global airspace management provider AirMap to deliver the platform that provides flight planning and management tools for commercial and recreational UAV pilots.

The three-month trial is taking place in the Canterbury and Queenstown regions. With AirMap’s free iOS and Android apps, drone users will be able to seek necessary airspace and public landowner approvals to fly, file flight plans, and access real–time information about other aircraft in the area, allowing them to stay safely separated.

Drone flights are increasing exponentially in New Zealand, with the number of flights recorded by Airways increasing from 30 to 600 per week over the past three years. These flights are supporting essential sectors including emergency services and inspections and monitoring in the power and utility industries.

Airways Chief Executive Officer Graeme Sumner says, “The trial is an important step in investigating how Airways could develop a UTM system that safely integrates drones into New Zealand’s wider air traffic control network. There is potential for New Zealand to become a test-bed for the UAV industry through the implementation of a system that supports growth and development in a safe manner.”

“We’re very excited to help New Zealand’s UAV pilots more easily and safely access the airspace,” said Ben Marcus, AirMap CEO. “With the world watching, Airways and AirMap are demonstrating how UTM technologies can safely open the skies to high-scale drone operations, today.”

Christchurch and Queenstown have been selected for the trial because of the combination of rural and urban landscapes the regions provide. Airways has collaborated with local airports and authorities including councils and emergency services on the trial. This means AirMap users will be able to get automated approval to fly in public areas, including parks and reserves. Authorities can also share real-time updates about the location of events, community gatherings, emergencies and other areas to avoid.

Airways has supported the UAV industry since the outset, initially with The online site launched in 2014 to provides drone users with essential safety information and the ability to log flights. Airways will be seeking feedback from users throughout the trial.

Source: Scoop

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Record harvests from Tasmania’s private forests

Log harvests from Tasmania’s private forests are at record highs, with further increases expected. Tasmania’s private forest log harvest is the highest recorded since 1994-95 when Private Forests Tasmania (PFT) began collecting data. Logs from hardwood plantations dominate the harvest, which are expected to increase slightly and then stabilise as the State’s plantation estate matures and reaches a long term sustainable yield. Further increases in the private forest log harvest are possible from native forests.

Tasmania’s private forest estate of 1.03 million hectares is around 30per cent of Tasmania’s reported forest area with 0.84 million hectares of native forest (27.5 per cent) and 0.19 million hectares of plantations (62.5 per cent). Private forests log harvest has recently grown to dominate the Tasmanian log supply. In 2012-13 the private estate, for the first time, provided more than half (58 per cent) of the State’s total log harvest, growing to 67 per cent in 2015-16 and 73 per cent in 2016-17.

The 2016-17 total private forest harvest was well above historic levels, increasing 32 per cent from 2015-16 to 3.89 million tonnes. This followed a large increase of 48.5 per cent from 2014-15 to 2015-16 and continues a trend of increasing production from the record low of 2011-12 (1.11 million tonnes). The 2016-17 production levels were 0.71 million tonnes (22 per cent) higher than the previous high in 1999-00 (3.19 million tonnes; see image).

Since 1990-00 the proportion of native forest logs has fallen from dominance to a minor component of the total private log harvest. In 1990-00 native forests supplied 81 per cent of logs harvested from private forests. Historically low volumes of logs have been harvested from private native forests over the last 6 years, hence there is significant potential for increases in the supply of logs from these forests.

The dominance of plantation logs is expected to continue as current harvest levels are maintained or increased into the future. Increased production primarily comes from logs sourced from hardwood plantations, which reached a new high in 2016-17 of 2.46 million tonnes – an increase of 37 per cent from 2015-16. This follows an 89 per cent increase in the previous year.

The supply of logs from softwood plantations also increased in 2016-17, and is likely close to a long term sustainable yield. A large proportion of the Tasmanian private plantation estate is being replanted supporting future harvests.

These data demonstrate the private forest estate’s dominance in the market place and its immense strategic importance to Tasmania’s forest products sector and continued strong contribution to the Tasmanian economy.

Image: Private forests harvest volumes 1994-95 to 2016-17

Source: Private Forests Tasmania

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Rubicon plans to sell Tenon stake for $15.3M

Rubicon, the NZX-listed forestry biotech company, has agreed to sell its remaining holding in its Clearwood manufacturing business for about $15.3 million, to focus on its ArborGen forestry genetics business.

Auckland-based Rubicon will sell its 44.88 percent interest in Tenon Clearwood Ltd Partnership for US$14.2 million, which is the cost of its investment in the company in April, plus its share of the reduction in the company's net debt since then, it said in a statement.

The proposed buyers are Dorset Management Corp. and Libra Partners NZ LLC, who will each take 20 percent, with the existing owners of the Clearwood partnership taking the remaining 4.88 percent, it said. Dorset is affiliated with Rubicon's biggest shareholder Knott Partners, which owns 28 percent of the company, while Libra is its second-biggest investor with an 18 percent stake.

Rubicon has been exiting its peripheral investments to focus on its ArborGen business, which it believes will benefit from the new Labour-led government's policies to support the forestry sector and expand afforestation. ArborGen turned positive on an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation basis in the last financial year and is expected to be cash positive from now on as its focus turns to commercialising past investment in research.

The proposed transaction is subject to shareholder approval which will be sought at a meeting of Rubicon shareholders slated for mid-January, with the deal expected to close on Jan. 31, the company said.

Source: Scoop

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Multi-storey timber buildings really take off

In 2013, Melbourne’s Docklands precinct witnessed the opening of Australia’s first modern high-rise building to be constructed out of engineered timber as Lend Lease opened the 10-storey Forte apartment complex built using cross laminated timber (CLT).

Last May, Sydney’s Barangaroo saw completion of the world’s largest commercial office building made out of engineered timber as the International House Sydney constructed from CLT and glue laminated timber (glulam) supported by conventional concrete at ground level opened its doors. In Brisbane, ground broke in May on another Lend Lease office tower to be built using engineered timber which when complete will rise to 52 metres.

All up, Timber Development Association NSW executive director Andrew Dunn says, the number of modern timber buildings which are equal to or greater than seven storeys in height has risen from none in 2008 to 30 (completed or under construction) now – of which Australia accounts for four. Whilst engineered timber is much talked about, opportunities also exist using traditional timber framing, which he says in Vancouver (Canada) accounts for around 70 per cent of new multi-storey buildings of up to six storeys in height.

In Australia, momentum was further aided in 2016 when for the first time, timber buildings of up to 25 metres were allowed under the National Construction Code using a deemed to satisfy solution – albeit with performance solutions being more popular with top tier players because of the flexibility these offer.

According to Eileen Newbury, national program manager for WoodSolutions and national marketing manager at Forest & Wood Products Australia, demand for timber on multi-storey buildings is being driven by several factors. Along with the environmental benefits, developers are increasingly keen on the economic benefits which timber provides in faster project delivery and construction times and lower cost. Along with the likes of Lend Lease and Australand (now Frasers – developer of the five-storey apartment complex The Green in Melbourne’s north), a number of design and engineering firms are jumping on board, she says. All this is being helped along by a growing demand for multi-residential housing as Australia’s population grows.

More >>.

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Axe-throwing has come to D.C.

Must be getting close to Xmas to put this one in. There's something immensely satisfying about the thud and thwack a four-pound axe makes when it loops through the air and sticks onto a piece of wood. Especially when it's a bull's eye. Axe throwing, long a sport of choice for lumberjacks and Canadians, could become Washington's new blowing-off-steam activity of choice, with multiple axe-throwing venues opening in the next few months. The first to arrive is Bad Axe Throwing, a Canadian-born chain with 19 locations, including one that debuted last week near Echostage in Northeast D.C.

Competitive axe-throwing is an actual thing, and apparently, it's best done with beer. During a preview visit, Bad Axe wasn't much more than a bare-bones warehouse decked out with raw Home Depot supplies. The lower half of one wall was covered in plywood, then topped with heavier boards painted with large circular targets, similar to dartboards. Each pair of targets was in its own “lane,” which looked like a horse stall, separated from neighbouring ones by a high wooden wall with a higher chain-link fence. I felt like I had stumbled into a lumberjack fight club.

“You don't have to be a lumberjack to work here,” said Nick Jahl, 24, who instructed me in the art of axe throwing, “but we have a lot of beards and flannel in the company.” (He checked both boxes himself.) I've never thrown an axe before, and as my lesson got underway, I was admittedly skittish about them, moving well out of range as other attendees swung the 16-inch hatchet behind their heads and flung it at the target 12 feet away. Would one of us drop the sharp blade on our foot? Would an axe miss the target and rebound into another person's legs?

Short answer: No. After three or four throws, I began consistently hitting the target, even nailing a few bull's-eyes, and quickly understood why axe-throwing is trending. It's much more exhilarating and primal than target shooting: You aren't pulling a trigger that starts a reaction that leads to a bullet hitting a target. You're using your own strength to propel the axe forward, and you feel it in your muscles afterward — even the next day.

Photo: Nick Jahl, an ax-throwing coach at Bad Axe Throwing in Northeast D.C., removes an ax from a wooden target. (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)


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Forest research centre for Tasmania

Launceston will be soon home to a new national products innovation hub, Resources Minister Guy Barnett says. The announcement on the National Institute of Forest Products Innovation was made during the last day of government business enterprise hearings last Friday. The federal and state governments will pitch in AU$2 million each to create the centre with additional support expected to come from the industry.

The project has been developed over 12 months and will be housed within the University of Tasmania’s Inveresk development. Mr Barnett said a board of key forestry representatives would oversee the institute which will focus on research on hardwood products. He said members of the board would be announced soon.


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Latest quarterly Timber Market Survey released

The September quarter 2017 TMS has shown strong upward price movements for untreated MGP10 and MGP12 products, which ranged between 4.3% and 6.0%. Treated F7 products recorded more moderate price movements of up to 1.8%.

Price movements for outdoor treated products were also upwards and ranged between 0.4% and 3.5%, while price movements for most panel products were between 0.5% and 2.3%. Engineered wood products showed a mixture of price movements over the September quarter, all of which were within +/- 0.7%.

The TMS collects price data through quarterly surveys of a representative sample of timber market participants in eastern Australia. All quarterly TMS reports contain price movement information for softwood timber, panel and engineered wood products. The June and December quarter editions also include price movement information for hardwood timber products surveyed over a six-month period. The TMS is prepared by Indufor and funded by nine major Australian forestry organisations: Forestry Corporation of NSW; VicForests; Hancock Victorian Plantations; HQPlantations; OneFortyOne Plantations; Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Green Triangle Forest Products; AKD Softwoods; and Sustainable Timber Tasmania.

Further information and the latest Timber Market Survey report is available here.

Source: Indufor

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OneFortyOne Plantations' cleared for mill purchase

OneFortyOne Plantations welcomes the decision of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to clear its acquisition of the Jubilee Highway sawmill and associated infrastructure first announced in August 2017.

OFO Chief Executive Officer, Linda Sewell said: “We are delighted that the ACCC has cleared this acquisition and we look forward to welcoming the Jubilee sawmill and export woodchip operations workforce, sales and distribution teams to OFO. This combination will see OFO consolidate its position as a leading integrated forestry and timber products company.”

“OFO is strongly committed to the domestic industry and to retaining a diverse and enduring customer base and we will work with all customers of the Jubilee Highway sawmill to ensure a smooth transition to OFO ownership and operation,” Ms Sewell said.

At the conclusion of the sale process OFO will be one of the region’s most significant employers, with a workforce of more than 300 people. Going forward OFO has no plans to expand the mill and will continue to manage the Green Triangle forest estate on a sustainable basis, meeting its obligations to the State Government.

The sale process is expected to conclude formally on 15 January 2018. In the interim, OFO is continuing to evaluate the feasibility of a greenfield particleboard mill within the Green Triangle. As a result of today’s announcement, this work has been deferred but we expect to be able to provide a further update in 2018.

Source: OneFortyOne Plantations

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Human-controlled flying suit breaks speed record

A little bit weird this week – but interesting we hope. Inventor Richard Browning has broken a world record for the fastest speed in a body-controlled jet engine power suit, making him about as close as one can get to a real-world Iron Man. Browning’s record was confirmed after he reached a speed of 32.02 miles per hour on 9 November in Reading, UK. The previous record was 30 miles per hour. His jet suit runs on six micro gas turbines powered by kerosene, and required him to hit the gym to do core strength exercises to make sure he could keep his balance in the air.

Browning gave a TED Talk in April about how he built the suit. He gathered his jet suit endeavors up under the roof of a start-up called Gravity industries, and the next mission for Gravity, he says, is to add wings to the suit.

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OECD report ranks countries on digital technologies

An OECD report shows how Australia, New Zealand and other OECD countries are pushing ahead in developing new digital technologies, automating manufacturing and ensuring workers have the right skills for tomorrow’s jobs, as the digital transformation reshapes economies and people’s day-to-day lives and work.

Among the findings in the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2017, Australia is a leader in using tax incentives to support business R&D but has one of the lowest shares of robot uptake of OECD countries, while New Zealand is a world leader in the Internet of Things sector. The report shows that China now ranks among the top five economies – along with Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea and the United States – in developing cutting-edge digital technologies and is producing more and better quality scientific research. India and eastern European countries are also increasing their weight in science and innovation.

Download a summary of Australia highlights

Download a summary of New Zealand highlights

Key findings in the 2017 Scoreboard include:

- Korea and Japan are the leaders in robot intensity – measured as the number of robots used in a sector divided by the overall value created by that sector, giving a sense of the pace of automation relative to industry size . Robot intensity is rising in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovak Republic and Slovenia, and in the BRICS, most notably in China which is fast catching up to US levels.

- The Internet of Things, or machine-to-machine communication via Internet-connected devices such as vehicles, sensors or home appliances, is growing fast. China had the most SIM cards in machines in 2017 at 228 million subscriptions, accounting for 44% of global M2M connections and three times the US share. In terms of M2M cards per person,New Zealand ranks second in the world after Sweden, well ahead of the US and UK.Australia stands just below the OECD average.

- The number of artificial intelligence technologies patented in the 5 top IP offices rose by 6% a year on average over 2010-15, led by Japan. Japan, Korea and the US together accounted for over 62% of AI-related IP5 patent applications, down from 70% in 2000-05 as filings rose from China and Chinese Taipei. EU countries contributed to 12% of the top AI inventions, down from 19% in the previous decade.

- The US has the biggest share of the world’s top 10% most-cited scientific publications, and China has overtaken the UK to lie in second place after tripling its high-impact output in a decade. The US share of top-cited research fell from 38% in 2005 to 26% in 2016, the UK slipped from 8% to 6% and China increased its share from 4% to 14%. Australia stands in ninth place with 3%.

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VicForests seeks community input

VicForests is seeking input from local community members on the proposed updates to its Timber Release Plan (TRP), relating to timber harvesting operations. The TRP is part of an ongoing planning process that begins once an area of State forest is identified as suitable for timber harvesting, and continues until the area has been harvested and successfully regrown.

The TRP lists the areas available for timber harvesting over the next 3-5 years, their locations, the type of forest within and the method of harvesting that would be used in each one. VicForests also regrow all harvested areas with the same type of forest that was originally there. VicForests’ General Manager Stakeholders and Planning, Lachlan Spencer said that the TRP is updated every year. “Each year we remove areas that have successfully regrown or have been excluded, change the status of areas moving into the growing stage, and add areas previously identified as available for timber harvesting,” Mr Spencer said. The 2017 consultation period will be open from Monday 4 December 2017 to 12 January 2017. A schedule of proposed timber harvesting areas, maps indicating approximate locations and a feedback form for public comment are available at

Submissions can also be provided via email to or made in writing to: VicForests, GPO Box 191, Melbourne, 3001 during the specified feedback period.

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... the magic coffee table

Sent in by a reader. I thought I could sneak this one in being so close to Christmas and everyone is in such a good mood. If you don't think it's not PC for any reason, I'd suggest you just turn it off and move on. Truth is, hand on heart, it's just really too good not to include.

And on that note, time to clean up the office, pack up for your holidays and plan to move on out. It's been a delight bringing you Offcuts this year and we're looking forward to working with all of you again in 2018. Have a relaxing Christmas. Read plenty of books, do a bit of fishing and go easy on the food and beverages. We’ll get back into it early in the New-Year with the first issue of Offcuts planned for Friday 19 January 2018.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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