Friday Offcuts – 21 September 2018

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In this week’s issue we feature more stories on innovation around the design and construction of buildings using wood. Firstly, winners of this year’s annual NZ Wood-Resene Timber Design Awards were announced last night at a Gala Awards dinner in Auckland. For true inspiration late in the week, check out the winners and the links supplied to a large number of stunning entries that made it. What really strikes with this year are the entries that have been able to showcase innovation and so effectively profile local wood products such as CLT, glulam and LVL.

Going upwards, tall wood buildings and their construction are also included with a number of stories this week including a housing development on Stockholm's waterfront that would contain 31 cross-laminated timber towers, a video clip outlining mass timber construction trends and details of a couple of 2018 scholarships that have just been announced in New Zealand. Both recipients are focussing their studies on timber building systems. One’s looking to develop a prefabricated building envelope system for mass timber construction using CLT and the other, plans to develop timber connections that will be suitable for modern fabrication and complex large-scale timber architecture.

The inescapable roll that timber construction is on right now hasn’t though gone unnoticed. The anti has just been stepped up in the USA. The new initiative adds to the “Build with Strength” campaign backed by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association. The language being used by the concrete industry has as expected, been highly emotive. One page on their web site for example reads; “America is Burning. Fires of combustible materials are reducing apartment buildings to ashes and putting lives at risk”. There’s a page on the website also titled "No Wood High Rises". The message here is pretty clear.

This new initiative doesn’t beat about the bush either. No disguising or hiding this one. It’s called “Stop Tall Wood”. It’s pushing the same emotive buttons, public safety through the potential for fire with wood buildings. It’s also on a mission to target proposals to change the nation’s model building codes to raise to 18 the number of stories that can be built using wood products. The heat’s obviously going on key suppliers and they’re coming out swinging – at least in the US at the moment. You can check out the details and links below.

Finally, the second leg of the very successful wood manufacturing series, WoodTECH 2018, for local wood producers finished in Rotorua, New Zealand this week. New innovations and new operating practices from a raft of international technology and equipment providers have been showcased to well over 300 local wood manufacturers over the last couple of weeks. For those attending, details from each of the presentations given both in Australia and New Zealand will be sent out to you in the next few days. That’s all for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Monitoring forest health from afar

UAV multispectral imagery and satellite data can be used to monitor physiological stress in trees.

Researchers from Crown research institute Scion treated selected Pinus radiata with herbicide to stress the trees. The colour of the pine needles changed as the herbicide took effect. The changes were monitored over time using a UAV-mounted multispectral camera, and using data collected from the Rapid Eye satellite.

Lead researcher Jonathan Dash says both data sources were sensitive enough to detect the changes in needle colour. “However, the UAV data were more sensitive at a finer spatial resolution and could detect stress down to the level of individual trees. The satellite data we tested could only detect stress in clusters of four or more trees.”

Resampling the UAV imagery to the same spatial resolution as the satellite imagery showed the differences in sensitivity were not just the result of spatial resolution. Vegetation indices suited to the sensor characteristics of each platform were needed to optimise the detection of physiological stress from each data source.

“Detecting physiological stress in forest trees is vital for ensuring productive forest systems,” says Jonathan.

“We have shown that remote sensing can be used to detect conditions that cause changes in foliage colour before they can be observed from the ground. UAV imagery was more sensitive, but satellite data remains a very valuable and cost-effective way to observe trends in forest health over larger areas. Research like this provides a useful range of complimentary tools for forest growers and researchers to monitor forests”

Forest owners and managers can now use remotely-sensed data opportunities to augment traditional monitoring practices. This will be especially useful in distant and difficult to access terrain. As well as physiological stress caused by disease, the effects of drought, lack of soil nutrients and attacks by pests will be able to be detected and responded to early, leading to healthier and more productive forests.

Photo: Linking multispectral satellite imagery to UAV data provides a valuable tool for monitoring forest health

For more information on the project, click here.


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NZ Timber Design Awards winners announced

Timber industry and design professionals were honoured for their creativity and ingenuity at a gala event that ran in Auckland last night. Entries in the 2018 NZ Wood-Resene Timber Design Awards demonstrated new and different ways to use timber that nevertheless meet all building codes and criteria as well as being beautiful.

“In a market crowded with grand designs and wonderful claims for every construction material, New Zealand timber is proving just how versatile and cost effective it is,” said Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association Promotions Manager Debbie Fergie. “These Awards have again proved how imaginative design and structural integrity can combine to deliver beautiful timber buildings.”

Judges agreed. “All entries demonstrate a love of expressing timber in its many different applications,” they said. “The real stand-outs were those that went a step further, displaying a mature professional approach, an evocative sophisticated outcome, or a surprising twist.”

Entrants competed within ten categories covering everything from residential and commercial architectural excellence to engineering innovation, multi-storey construction and student innovation. Structural performance and aesthetic excellence were highlighted across all categories.

The Resene Supreme Award went to the iconic He Tohu Document Centre within the National Library, inspired by the form and function of a waka huia (treasure container). “This is the perfect vessel to display the founding documents of Aotearoa,” said the judges. “Highly developed manufacturing technologies are woven together with traditional timber materials, showcasing how timber can deliver technological, social and cultural value in a beautiful way.” This entry also won the Niagara Timber Products’ Interior Innovation category.

Runner up was Cymon Allfrey’s Family Bach in Hanmer Springs (photo). “An interesting redefining of the family bach as a series of separate yet interrelated buildings with shared common spaces,” commented judges. “A building where architecture hero’s wood, and wood has hero’d architecture.” This entry also won the CHH Woodproducts Futurebuild Residential Architectural Excellence Award.

The South Island again garnered the bulk of winning entries. Five winners or highly commended entries featured Canterbury builds, and Kaikoura, Nelson and Otago projects also won awards.

Plant and Food Research’s Seafood Research Centre won Nelson Pine Industries’ Excellence in Engineered Wood Products category. Judges commented on the entire structure being prefabricated timber featuring highly refined joint detailing. “This shows how versatile timber can be for both structural and non-structural applications,” they said.

Commended was Warren and Mahoney’s Wellington International Airport project. “Using timber in such a representative building is very important,” said judges. “The curved structural forms demonstrate how timber can be integrated with steel and glass using precision manufacturing and careful attention to detail, and showcase the potential and capabilities of the whole New Zealand timber industry including the forestry, wood product manufacturing, design and construction sectors.”

NZ Farm Forestry –sponsored winner for the NZ Specialty Timber category was the Pukapuka Road house in Rodney. Judges were impressed that 'pickled' timbers were sourced from Northland rivers, and as a result have purple, green and blue hues along with the traditional browns. “The skilful combination of these unique materials produces interior spaces of remarkable mood and atmosphere,” they said.

The XLam NZ Multi-Storey Timber Building Award is a new category, requiring entrants to submit projects at least three stories high. This was won by Te Pa Tauira-Otago Polytechnic Student Village in Dunedin. It was the first five-storey all-timber building in the country, with judges pointing out that the highly efficient modular layout enabled efficient offsite prefabrication which significantly reduced construction time, minimised waste and reduced cost. They also believed this building will help to positively shape the attitude of a new generation towards timber.

Commended in this category was the three-storey Ara Kahukura, designed as much as a living example of sustainable design as to provide teaching spaces. The building is an excellent testimony to the potential for hybrid timber-steel-concrete structures, said judges.

Judges were universally delighted with the standard of entries. “The 2018 NZ Wood-Resene Timber Design Awards showcase some of the best examples of innovation in timber design that New Zealand has to offer,” they said. “It’s evident there is great collaboration between architects, engineers, suppliers, fabricators and builders to produce some outstanding and highly innovative timber buildings and structures.”

“The remarkable achievements of all contestants show how wood is the perfect material to deliver more sustainable and resilient buildings,” they added. “It's fantastic to see the growing use of local products such as CLT, glulam and LVL in a broader range of applications with some stunning results.”

Further details and images can be seen here.

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Stop tall wood – it’s started

You know it had to come. A US-based initiative is now up and running called “Stop tall Wood”. You can check out more by clicking here. According to their website; “Three in four or 74 percent of Americans say proposals to allow taller buildings to be constructed with wood raises serious concerns for public safety. When asked about proposals to change the nation’s model building codes to raise to 18 the number of stories that can be built using wood products, respondents from a survey expressed worry over building structure and fire safety. These proposals will be voted on in October by the International Code Council (ICC), which develops the model building code”.

It doesn’t elaborate as to who is funding and running the initiative but there is a quote from the President of the Portland Cement Association included on their website. “Most people don’t know what materials were used to build their home, school, hospital or office building – so the building codes that shaped those construction decisions are way off their radar,” said Portland Cement Association (PCA) President and CEO Michael Ireland. “We wanted to take the pulse of Americans to learn what they think about proposals to build taller structures using wood, and we got a very clear picture: they don’t like it.”

In a similar vein, another recent article is suggesting that under current building codes, Los Angeles could be facing billions of dollars in losses over the coming years due to wood-framed construction fires. In addition to study results from two California fires, quotes used in the article get quite emotive. "I lost most of my belongings, the family dog, nearly everything due to an electrical fire that burned my wood-framed childhood home".

The article goes on, "It could have so easily been prevented had there not been tinder. In a flash, everything was consumed," says Rabbi Klein of his childhood home. "Thank God my parents survived. No one should have to experience that kind of a loss, which is why I'm a big advocate for safer building materials."

Rabbi is a member of Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association. So, the gloves are off - well in the US at this stage anyway. Obviously, the recent activity by architects, engineers and developers in using wood for tall timber buildings is of increasing concern to key suppliers of more traditional building materials.

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Renewable diesel and bitumen from wood waste

Turning sawmill scraps and sawdust into renewable diesel and bitumen sounds far-fetched, but could soon become a reality under a plan by Australian building and construction supplier Boral. Boral’s six hardwood timber mills on the New South Wales north coast produce a lot of wood waste – as much as 50,000 tonnes each, every year.

Currently used for landscaping, boiler fuel and other low-value applications, Boral have announced a plan to explore the viability of turning the waste sawmill by-products into renewable diesel, bitumen and asphalt.

ARENA is supporting the project, providing AU$500,000 towards a AU$1.2 million feasibility study at Boral’s Heron’s Creek timber mill near Port Macquarie. The study will include a trial of the technology at demonstration scale in Spain, initial design works for the full-scale plant, exploration of the regulatory challenges and development of the business case.

If the 12-month study is successful, Boral aim to scale the pilot up to convert 50,000 tonnes of sawmill waste into transport-grade renewable diesel and bitumen. As Australia’s largest building and construction supplier, they use a lot of both.

Steve Dadd, Executive General Manager of Boral Timber, said the high-grade diesel and bitumen produced at the proposed biorefinery could meet 15 per cent of its total needs, while capitalising on a resource which is currently wasted. “We have to do a lot more and value the whole log,” Steve Dadd said.

He describes Boral’s philosophy of respecting the hardwood resources that are processed at six of its seven NSW mills, seeing the trial as a step in the journey to: “cherish the resource, take all of that biomass and use every skerric of it.”

Boral’s renewable diesel and asphalt plan was developed to address three major operational challenges. The first is the enormous amount of leftover biomass from the timber industry going to waste and low value uses. “The industry economics can’t support all that waste.” he said.

The second is the rising cost of energy. “The cost of gas, electricity and eventually diesel and petrol will be a challenge for industry generally, not just for Boral,” he said.

The third challenge Dadd identifies is environmental. “Unless we do something about global warming and move to more sustainable energy uses, we’ve potentially got a serious problem,” he said.

If the study is successful, Boral plan to scale the project up to a commercial scale plant which could process 50,000 tonnes of biomass annually – roughly equivalent to the quantity of annual wood waste leftover by the largest timber mill.

Boral projects that volume of timber residues should create approximately 16 million litres of diesel and 8,000 tonnes of bitumen. “If we get the processes right, it could be very efficient,” he said.

Using approximately 100 million litres of diesel annually across its truck fleet, the biodiesel created would represent a significant reduction in fuel costs. The renewable fuel will be high quality, with potential to power modern diesel cars as well as the fleet of large trucks.


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Drone thermal imaging being used before harvesting

The Latrobe Valley-based Hazelwood Forestry company in Victoria, Australia is using unmanned aerial vehicles to keep an eye on the local koala population. According to the Latrobe Valley Express, the implementation of camera drones is helping Eloise and Russel Cluning spot the animals amidst the thick foliage before felling any trees. This process saves time and manual labor while efficiently protecting the local wildlife.

Hazelwood Forestry harvests blue gum (eucalyptus) and pine trees from the Hancock Victoria Plantations in the Strzelecki Ranges of the Latrobe Valley. Koalas, which are naturally extremely fond of the blue gum trees, are thereby in danger of being killed during tree felling operations. What was once an arduous, lengthy manual process is being improved through the bird’s-eye views of modern aerial technologies.

“Koala spotting—we do it every day before that day’s harvest,” said Eloise Cluning. “We actually capture and translocate koalas under a permit from DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning). Most of our work is koala management with Hancocks who have been on the front foot in managing koalas. We are really ramping up how to manage and protect them in forestry operations.”

The primary danger these animals face is man-made, and it seems fitting that companies such as Hazelwood Forestry attempt to use man-made technologies to help assuage the problem we’ve collectively created ourselves. “They are at risk of being felled with the tree and processed with the tree, or flicked out of adjoining trees with trees being felled,” said Cluning. “They are not threatened in Victoria but it’s important we protect them and move them elsewhere.”

The problem is that even on foot, spotting koalas amidst the dense topography and thick foliage is a difficult task. “Seeing a koala in pine trees is very difficult,” explained Cluning. “Even with the young pine, you’ve got such a dense canopy it’s very hard to see. The drones have helped in that regard.”

It’s the drone’s thermal imaging, specifically, that’s made this problem substantially smaller and allowed Hazelwood Forestry to act quicker and more accurately, with the end result protecting koalas from unnecessary death or injury. While drones have become a very welcome helping hand, however, the process is still imperfect.

“We have to stop the flight to check out every heat feature,” said Cluning. “Every heat signal looks the same to begin with—you need more time to identify it as a wombat, a koala, or a bird. Then you have to do some planning.”

As for the drone now being routinely deployed by Cluning’s company, it was handpicked specifically for its ability to withstand harsh winds, and is capable of reaching 40 mph (65 kph) while weighing 22 pounds (10 kg). While not perfect in terms of handling, it seemed like the best possible option for Hazelwood Forestry. “It’s difficult to move around, and is probably the biggest off-the-shelf registered drone you can buy,” said Cluning.

While koalas have to watch for tree fellers, the biggest threat Cluning and her company face are local eagles unenthused by the presence of a drone. “A few have checked out the drone,” said Cluning. “It’s a bit too big and noisy for some; you have to be a brave eagle to take it on. One actually threw the drone into a tree. Eagles were circling as we retrieved the drone.”

It’s a wild, indifferent world out there, with our presence and technological infusions only complicating and obfuscating what’s natural and what isn’t. Fortunately, there are morally driven people like the Clunings out there, which make a serious attempt at reducing their footprint by taking advantage of the affordable, practical technology so beneficial in cases like this one.


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FSC certification for Victorian native timber

Victorians will be unable to buy native timber from their own state at major retailers within two years because the local product is environmentally unsustainable, throwing the future of the industry into further doubt reports the ABC.

Bunnings and Officeworks have both announced they will only stock Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified products by 2020, ruling out timber and paper from the state-owned logging company VicForests.

Bunnings director of marketing and merchandise Clive Duncan said the company wants to ensure all its timber and wood products come from legal and well-managed forest operations. "The recent update to our policy and the 2020 timing is a significant milestone that reflects our continued focus on responsible timber procurement," he said.

"We believe customers and team members have the right to expect that timber is sourced from well managed forestry operations." Officeworks said it has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, with a goal to have all copy paper either 100 per cent recycled or FSC-certified by 2020.

The native timber industry has been a tough policy issue for the Andrews Government, which last year took the unusual step of buying a private mill to avoid job losses. The Government is under pressure to protect forests in the Central Highlands by creating a new national park, dubbed the Great Forest National Park by campaigners, while also juggling the need to protect blue-collar jobs.

The decision of Bunnings and Officeworks is a blow to VicForests, which first applied for FSC accreditation in 2008 and has been denied it multiple times. The organisation went through an FSC audit in December last year but is yet to release the results. In a statement, VicForests said it had received the FSC audit report and was considering the contents, with a response to be released "in due course". A spokesman said VicForests was committed to achieving FSC certification.

The decision by two major retailers to demand FSC standards raises questions about the future of Victoria's native forest timber industry. Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford referred questions to VicForests, while the Victorian Association of Forest Industries said only that it supported forest certification.


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OneFortyOne announces intention to purchase forests

Australian forestry company, OneFortyOne (OFO) has announced its intention to purchase the Manuka Island forest estate in the Wairau Valley near Blenheim. The proposed purchase is now being reviewed by New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office.

The Manuka Island estate is approximately 2000 hectares of forest and currently owned by Merrill and Ring. Manuka Island will be integrated and managed as one forest estate by Nelson Management Ltd, the management company for Nelson Forests.

“The Manuka Island acquisition reflects our intention to continue to invest in the regions where we have an established presence. The acquisition complements our recent purchase of Nelson Forests and is a great fit for their estate,” says OFO’s Chief Executive Officer, Linda Sewell.

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Showcasing the latest Tasmanian forestry research

From germplasm to commercial buildings – the latest research supporting innovation in the forest industry across the entire supply chain will be presented to stakeholders during a roadshow across Tasmania in October. The research is the work of postdoctoral fellows and PhD candidates from the Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Forest Value, based in Tasmania.

The Director of the ARC Centre for Forest Value, Professor Mark Hunt, said the roadshow is a great opportunity for broader engagement with stakeholders. “The roadshow allows our industry and partner stakeholders to get out in the field with our students and get a very hands-on update as to how the research is tracking,” said Professor Hunt.

“They also have the opportunity to see closely some of the technology our students are using in their projects,” he said. There is an opportunity for interested parties across the sector to learn about the latest developments in research, at a presentation open to the public on Tuesday the 23rd of October.

The presentation will take place at the UTAS Inveresk campus in Launceston from 2:30 pm. For more information head to the: CFV website

Photo: A thinned and pruned plantation at Lyell in northeast Tasmania. Centre staff discussing stand silviculture for product development with industry partners on a previous roadshow

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Timber features in recent scholarship announcements

The winners of the New Zealand Institute of Building Charitable Trust’s (NZIOB Charitable Trust) 2018 Scholarship Awards were recently announced at the NZIOB Awards of Excellence dinner in Auckland. The two winners, who each received a $10,000 cash prize, are Emma Fell and Mikayla Heesterman. Emma and Mikayla are Master of Architecture (Professional) students from the School of Architecture at Victoria University of Wellington.

The scholarships, which were first offered in 2017, recognise, encourage and financially support recipients from a trade, technical or professional role, who are proposing to pursue a project linked to building through research, practice or professional development.

Gina Jones, NZIOB Charitable Trust Chair, said: "These Awards were established to encourage aspirational thinking that has the potential to advance the design, construction or management of buildings in New Zealand, and thereby enhance the quality of our built environment."

The judging panel for this year’s awards comprised three Past Presidents of the NZIOB: Gina Jones, Bill Porteous, and John Jonassen; who reviewed 11 entries and selected the two winners. Gina Jones said: "The panel was again impressed by the range, calibre and number of entries received in 2018. All the applicants met the stringent requirements of the Award Rules and, following extensive deliberation, concluded that the most deserving two applications were from Emma Fell and Mikayla Heesterman."

Emma Fell is researching the design and development of a prefabricated building envelope system for mass timber construction using cross-laminated timber (CLT). The system uses specially designed proprietary joints specific to different types of cladding. Emma proposes to use the NZIOB Award to fund a full-scale prototype using CLT and the building elements necessary to assess the viability of the system. The resultant research has the capability to revolutionise prefabrication in New Zealand.

Emma noted in her application that in the current climate of KiwiBuild and concern for smarter building solutions, the proposed prefabricated envelope system, once optimised, offers the possibility of off-site fabrication, followed by delivery to the site, and quick erection without scaffolding. The optimised design and process could lead to an immense reduction of overall construction time and costs.

Mikayla Heesterman has been inspired by traditional Japanese timber architecture, which used intricately carved timber-only connections. Such connections are structurally successful and aesthetically beautiful, but as Mikayla notes in her application, their complexity makes them time-consuming and difficult to make.

By using pioneering industrial robotic arm technology Mikayla proposes that it will be possible to fabricate more complex designs than is usually possible with existing wood-working machinery. Traditional timber joints are used as a starting point for the development of new intricate joints that are suitable for modern fabrication and complex large-scale timber architecture.

Her study is focussed on traditional timber-only (no metal) connections to create new sustainable solutions that can only be produced by robotic milling. The ultimate aim is to produce an accessible database of new construction designs, with relevant structural information for different applications, that can be easily selected, personalised and produced.

The judges noted that in a country like New Zealand, with a strong history of innovative timber construction, it was interesting that the two winners’ applications centred on the efficient use of timber.


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Wooden skyscraper city being proposed

Anders Berensson Architects has unveiled plans for a conceptual housing development on Stockholm's waterfront containing 31 cross-laminated timber towers. The Stockholm Centre Party commissioned the Stockholm-based studio to masterplan a sustainable district for the city in Sweden. Anders Berensson Architects has previously created proposals for a wooden skyscraper covered in numbers, and a high-density housing district connected by aerial walkways, for the political party.

Designed to be environmentally friendly, Anders Berensson Architects described the proposed new district as a "wooden skyscraper city" bringing 5,000 new homes to the central docklands area of Masthamnen. Constructed from cross-laminated timber (CLT), the 31 towers would rise above the development as self-contained city blocks containing 3,000 homes and 30 restaurants.

With its sustainable credentials and flexible design applications, architects around the world are experimenting with the potential of CLT. Canadian studio Michael Green Architecture has plans for a massive office complex made from CLT on a waterfront in New Jersey, and Penda has mooted designs for a timber high rise planted with trees for Toronto. Source:

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China interest in NZ forest and timber processing investment

The largest ever New Zealand forest industry delegation to China's showcase Global Wood Trade Conference has made the case for more investment in New Zealand forestry and timber processing.

Forest Owners Association President, Peter Weir has told delegates at Chongqing that more timber processing in New Zealand, before export, reduced the overall energy and carbon emissions required to produce and transport the finished product.

"There's also a particular opportunity for primary processing of pruned logs in New Zealand rather than the current approach of mixing quality logs with sap-degraded logs and a subsequent loss of value by both parties." Peter Weir said.

New Zealand Forestry Minister, Shane Jones told the conference New Zealand is heavily reliant on access to foreign capital and also has a need to substantially increase its forest reserves.

He said this is behind the government creating a more streamlined process for investment in forestry using foreign capital and this creates a special opportunity for those interested in working with New Zealand. He invited potential investors to consider connecting with the New Zealand industry representatives.

This invitation from Shane Jones comes at a time when there is increasing concern in China with the implications of the US tariffs. Numerous Chinese speakers at the conference referred to the trade war with the US and that they anticipated this to be a long drawn out battle. Commentators at the conference believe the impact of increased US tariffs could cost China 1.5% of its GDP.

On the positive side, potential Chinese investors acknowledged the US trade problems were an opportunity to strengthen other trading partnerships and thus welcomed the invitation from Shane Jones.

New Zealand Forest growers and processors report constructive engagement with members of the China Timber and Wood Products Distribution Association - the hosts of the Chongqing Conference. The CTWPD has thousands of members across China and there has been interest from the Chinese members in both the opportunities to invest in forests and processing in New Zealand, as well as securing additional wood supply.

A number of the CTWPD group have expressed interest in a reciprocal visit to New Zealand later in the year to follow up on some of these options.

Source: Forest Owners Association

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Mitsui signs up for KI timber port operations

International infrastructure and timber marketing group Mitsui expects to build and operate the woodchip handling facilities at the proposed Kangaroo Island Seaport, under an agreement signed earlier this week with Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers. KIPT has signed an exclusivity agreement with Mitsui, under which Mitsui will develop, maintain and operate a complete woodchip handling facility, subject to certain conditions, including development approval and the execution of final transaction documents.

The agreement grants Mitsui the exclusive right to develop a woodchip handling facility at KI Seaport. The agreement requires Mitsui to deliver and operate the facility at pre-agreed fees in order to maintain its exclusive rights. The woodchip handling facility is proposed to include infrastructure capable of receiving, screening, stockpiling, sampling, and loading woodchips into bulk vessels for export from the KI Seaport. Mitsui already operates similar facilities at Bunbury in WA and in Portland, Victoria.

KIPT will pay a per-tonne fee to use the facility, which will revert to KIPT ownership after 10 years. Central to the proposed materials handling facility is a state-of-the-art circular automatic stacker-reclaimer. This system operates on a first-in first-out basis, yielding quality advantages, and has a storage capacity of 80,000 green tonnes, greater than the capacity of the largest woodchip carrier vessel. The stockpile can be built and reclaimed simultaneously, and the system has the capacity to manage multiple products, giving KPT the flexibility to export softwood or biomass-grade woodchips in addition to its core hardwood woodchip product.

KIPT has previously signed an offtake agreement with Mitsui for its hardwood (bluegum) products. Senior Mitsui spokesman Yasuhiro Yamano said his company could provide marketing advantages to KIPT with a system that assures pulp mill customers in Japan and China that they are receiving a high-quality product from a state-of-the art facility.

“In addition, Mitsui has project management and woodchip export expertise that enables us to bring significant value to the development process beyond the provision of infrastructure. We are excited to work with KPT and help get the whole Kangaroo Island timber project up and running quickly and cost-effectively,” Mr Yamano said.

KIPT Managing Director John Sergeant said the company was proud to strengthen the relationship with Mitsui. “There are many advantages for our shareholders in the arrangement announced today. Moreover, we welcome Mitsui’s additional role as a key infrastructure provider and operator. The strength, integrity and reputation of Mitsui, and its experience in delivering infrastructure projects in Australia represent a great asset to our business.”

Source: Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers Ltd

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Wood and plants - skyscrapers of the future

Skyscrapers are symbols of modern ambition. But the race to be the tallest is fuelled by steel and concrete, two materials that account for an estimated 8% of global C02 emissions. So, what if the skyscrapers of the future were inspired by nature instead? Two countries in particular – Singapore and Canada – are attempting to transform the urban skyline.

In Singapore, engineering firms like WOHA are coating their buildings with lush, native plants. In Canada, architects and engineers are piloting new designs out of a familiar material: wood. To construct a wooden skyscraper, engineers use mass timber, which is engineered to handle loads similar to concrete and steel.

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Australian Timber Skills Impact update

The Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC) has approved a number of new projects for 2018/19. For the timber and forestry industry there are the following projects:

Advances in Woodmachining Sawdoctoring Project: This project will assess the current skills requirements for wood machinists and sawdoctors as a result of technological developments and a business imperative to operate in a competitive environment. This project will result in revised woodmachining and sawdoctoring qualifications, which underpin industry’s apprenticeships and traineeships programs for these trades.

Sawmill Timber & Process Optimisation Project: This project will improve and develop new units of competency to address skills requirements for the optimisation within sawmills, relating to log sorting, sawing in the green mill, dry mill processing and grading and timber treatment.

Source: The News Mill, VAFI

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Researchers develop high-quality artificial wood

Chinese scientists developed a new strategy for large-scale fabrication of bio-inspired artificial wood that manifested lightweight and high-strength properties with the mechanical strength comparable to that of natural wood. A recent study published in the journal Science Advances described the high-performance polymeric materials with wood-like cellular microstructures.

A research team led by Yu Shuhong from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) transformed traditional phenolic resin and melamine resin into the artificial wood-like materials by self-assembly and the thermocuring process. Their strategy provided a new route to fabricate and engineer a wide range of high-performance biomimetic engineering composite materials with desirable multiple functions and advantages over the traditional counterparts, having broad potential applications in many technical fields.

The liquid thermoset resins were firstly "unidirectionally" frozen to prepare a "green body" with the cellular structure, followed by the subsequent thermocuring to get the artificial polymeric woods. They are highly controllable in the pore size and wall thickness.

Starting from aqueous solution, the strategy also represented a green approach to prepare multifunctional artificial woods by compositing various nanomaterials, such as cellulose nanofibers and graphene oxide, according to the study.

Compared with natural woods, the artificial woods have better corrosion resistance to water and acid with no decrease in mechanical properties. They also have better thermal insulation and fire retardancy.

The artificial polymeric woods stand out from other engineering materials such as cellular ceramic materials and aerogels in terms of specific strength and thermal insulation properties. As a kind of biomimetic engineering materials, this new family of bio-inspired polymeric woods is supposed to replace the natural wood when used in harsh environments, Yu told Xinhua.

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... short stories

A guy walked into a crowded bar, waving his un-holstered pistol and yelled, "I have a 45 caliber Colt 1911 with a seven round magazine plus one in the chamber and I want to know who's been sleeping with my wife "

A voice from the back of the room called out "You need more ammo.”

A blonde phoned police to report that thieves had been in her car. "They've stolen the dashboard, the steering wheel, the brake pedal, even the accelerator," she cried out.

However, before the police investigation could start, the phone rang a second time and the same voice came over the line. "Never mind, I got in the back seat by mistake."

A drunken man gets on the bus late one night, staggers up the aisle, and sits next to an elderly woman.

She looks the man up and down and says, "I've got news for you. You're going straight to hell!"

The man jumps up out of his seat and shouts, "Man, I'm on the wrong bus!"

A guy goes into the doctor's office. There is a banana stuck in one of his ears, a carrot stuck in one nostril and a cucumber in the other ear.

The man says, "Doc, this is terrible. What's wrong with me?"

The doctor says, "Well, first of all, you're not eating right."

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:

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