Friday Offcuts 5 October 2018
In one story we cover a Continuous Plantation Monitoring System that’s been developed by Indufor. Forestry companies can now access both free and commercial satellites (such as Planet) to provide timely and accurate information on their forest estate and operations. Another company, Rezatec, has also just released information on a free guide for identifying and mapping tree species distribution through satellite data. Advances in satellite imagery and the collection, processing and use of this data operationally is one of the key themes being covered by a raft of leading technology providers and forestry companies in the upcoming ForestTECH 2018 series (Note: For those interested, discounted early-bird registrations to both the New Zealand and Australian events FINISH today).
Continuing with the tech theme, we cover another recent announcement on autonomous vehicles. This time it comes from Volvo. This time it’s a vehicle with the driver's cabin removed altogether. The concept is to design an electric vehicle that could be used to move goods around operations like ports, factories and logistics centres with a fleet being run be a centralised control centre. We’ve also included links to report just released by CSIRO's Data61 that is forecasting an increase AU$315 billion in gross economic value to Australia over the next decade through digital innovation.
Finally, this week we’ve included an update on one of the global power houses in forestry and in wood products trade, Russia. Worldwide, it’s currently the third-largest softwood producer, it’s ranked second in log exports and it’s the second-largest lumber exporter. The country – and the industry - for a variety of reasons, are on a roll right now. FEA Holdings in their recent update tell us that “the simple fact is, Russia poses a growing threat to all other countries that export lumber to China. As its exports shift from logs to lumber, and amid an influx of investment into forestry and sawmill capital improvements, the country’s cost-competitiveness continues to be refined and enhanced. In short, it would be perilous to underestimate the extent to which this once-slumbering behemoth could rise to achieve global lumber dominance". You can check out the story below. That’s it for this week. Enjoy your read.
This week we have for you:
Continuous forest monitoring using daily satellite imageryIn the recent years there has been a marked uptake of remote sensing technologies. Drones and LiDAR have acquired a high profile. These indisputably have a place provided they are cost-effective, deliver consistent results, and add value. Not to go unnoticed, though is the increased availability of satellite imagery and technological advances that allow repeat assessment of forests at low cost. The main catalysts have been the launching of more satellites and the development of cloud-based processing engines. Between them, they can provide near real-time monitoring.
New satellites with the capacity to record and monitor vegetation change are now launched monthly. The so-called temporal resolution has progressed to daily revisits. By monitoring a given location repeatedly, it is then possible to detect subtle changes in vegetation vigour and identify underlying trends.
Any such initiatives do, though come to involve massive data sets. Downloading and storing these for local processing can lead to unworkable delays. A dramatic step forward has come with the availability of cloud computing systems. These allow the petabytes of historical and recently acquired images to remain in the cloud. If the data remains lodged there, it overcomes any need to individually review, download, or process and analyse satellite imagery as was the norm until recently.
Indufor’s resource monitoring team has developed a Continuous Plantation Monitoring System (CPMS). This can access both free and commercial satellites (such as Planet) to provide timely and accurate information. It has a ready capacity to assess large areas. CPMS assists forest planners in more efficiently deploying field activities, whether their purpose is to grow, harvest or quantify tree crops.
Dr Pete Watt is Head of Indufor’s resource monitoring team. He observes that within the company’s activities the CPMS outputs save time and resources by allowing targeted field inspections. These are designed to quickly validate harvest areas and pinpoint areas of un-mapped change, disease or crop failure.
“For example, before going to the field, we run our Canopy Index (CI) model over the satellite image to check for any unusual deviations from expected benchmark values.” Examples might include areas affected by foliar diseases, or, as shown in the illustration, pockets of wind damage.
Algorithms have been developed to provide automated monitoring of such planned operations as harvesting, roading and plantation thinning. These events can be tracked by comparing images acquired at different points in time. The detection algorithm identifies the change and groups all similar pixels to produce a change layer that can be loaded into a GIS. The outputs include a summary of the area harvested to date.
The inclusion of daily imagery such as from Planet’s constellation of around 200 satellites makes the process of month-end area reconciliations a much less onerous task. The advances in the capture and processing of satellite imagery have removed barriers that have previously discouraged its operational use. CPMS captures the dynamic attributes of forests – the very characteristics that make them so valuable to us.
Indufor Asia Pacific (Pete Watt and Chaplin Chan) will be presenting at the upcoming ForestTECH 2018 series being run for forest resource managers, remote sensing specialists and inventory foresters in November. It runs in Rotorua on 14-15 November and then again in Melbourne, Australia on 20-21 November.
In addition to the technology update from Indufor, presentations from the Interpine Group, Swift Geospatial and Pan Pac Forest Products are being given on the collection, processing and the practical operational use by forestry companies of data being collected from satellites as part of the November series. Full details on the programmes and technology series can be found on the event website, www.foresttech.events.
Kiwi ingenuity feature in energy awardsWinners of the 2018 EECA Business Awards are world leaders in energy saving.
Red Stag Timber, now on the world stage in sustainability, scooped the Large Energy User of the Year category at the EECA Business Awards 2018. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), which hosts the Awards, say they were more targeted this year, recognising those businesses making big reductions in carbon emissions through saving energy or switching fuel types.
The theme this year was 'innovation and leadership' and only the largest of New Zealand's energy users were eligible to enter. This call was answered by Red Stag Timber, which was recognised for its carbon-neutral wood processing plant. The company now generates all its own electricity from biomass boilers and steam turbines. Waste wood from their timber mill is used to fuel the boilers, instead of being trucked to landfill, so they no longer need to worry about the power bill.
As the largest timber mill in the Southern Hemisphere, the move puts the Kiwi business on the world stage with regards to sustainability. EECA Chief Executive, Andrew Caseley, presented the Large Energy User of the Year category at the Awards and said he was blown away by the broad mix of entries submitted by both private and public sector organisations in the finals: "There are no losers here; least of all our environment and economy.
"Every entry to the EECA Business Awards demonstrates the effort that New Zealand organisations are making in their daily work to bring the low-emissions future that we must have closer to becoming a reality for the country.
"Those businesses commended, highly commended or that won their category are some of the smartest business leaders that New Zealand has to offer. Their success can be drawn on by others for solutions in energy-efficiency and emissions reduction. "Through the awards, we have seen innovative technology put to work, the establishment of long-term energy and emissions reduction goals and staff engagement and empowerment that, collectively, demonstrates a Kiwi workforce with energy efficiency at its heart."
According to the University of Waikato's Engineering Energy Research Centre, who gave their world-leading expertise to the judging process, an outstanding selection of energy efficiency and low emission stories were submitted by New Zealand industry, health and education providers and the public sector. Awards judge Dr Martin Atkins said that "an eclectic mix of energy efficient, low-emission stories contributed to the stellar line up."
"Businesses thinking long term and setting targets for energy and emissions reduction are what counts for New Zealand. Important environmental decisions sitting alongside financial ones improve a business' durability, and it was this that we wanted to reward."
Source: NZ Herald
Application to release eucalyptus tortoise beetleThe New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering an application to release a parasitoid wasp to control the eucalyptus tortoise beetle. Scion, the Crown Research Institute focused on research, science and technological development for the forestry and timber industries, has lodged the application.
“The Australian eucalyptus tortoise beetle causes significant damage to susceptible species of eucalypts. Its larvae feed voraciously on eucalyptus leaves for three weeks before pupating. Adult female beetles also feed heavily as they develop,” says EPA’s General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms, Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter.
“According to the applicant, the beetle costs the forest industry NZ$1.0-$2.6 million a year in chemical control costs. It estimates that effective biocontrol could prevent NZ$7.2 million in annual losses caused by impaired tree growth and yield attributable to the eucalyptus tortoise beetle.”
Farm foresters and owners of moderately-sized eucalyptus plantations cannot afford aerial spraying, so biocontrol is their only realistic option to combat damage done by the beetle, Scion notes. “Eucalyptus trees are grown in New Zealand as a source of products such as woodchips for paper and cardboard manufacture, lumber, and durable poles which do not require preservative treatment,” Dr Thomson-Carter says.
“Scion notes around 90 percent of tortoise beetle larvae survive into adulthood. But if a larva is attacked just once by the parasitoid wasp, survival drops to just 10 percent.” The wasp is harmless to humans. New Zealand has no native beetles of the same type as the eucalyptus tortoise beetle, and no native eucalyptus species, Scion says.
Its laboratory tests suggest the risks to non-target related native and beneficial beetles appears to be very low. It has discussed the application with various Māori groups. Public submissions on this application open on Tuesday 2 October and close on Wednesday14 November. For further information contact: Media@epa.govt.nz.
Photo: Australian eucalyptus tortoise beetle
Commission rules on J-FrameThis week JNL have been have been in contact with their J-Frame customers regarding the outcome of the Commerce Commission investigation into allegations that its J-Frame product had failed timber treatment Standards. The Commission’s findings have just been sent to the company’s customer base and industry representatives of JNL, Accredited Certifying Bodies or Technical Service Providers.
The Commission has asserted there was no substance to the allegations that J-Frame timber samples submitted to SCION and AsureQuality testing did not have a retention level and/or a penetration pattern which were representative of the product being offered for sale in the market. After investigation into the claims under the Fair Trading Act, the Commerce Commission has ruled that “there is insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations made, or to show that there has been a breach of the Act”.
J-Frame is a structural laminated veneer lumber (LVL) product manufactured by JNL and independently certified to AS/NZS4357 (Structural LVL). “We’re disappointed that J-Frame, an innovative product, with an unblemished track record, had these claims made against it,” JNL sales and marketing manager Gordon Wilmshurst said.
“We have not had a single report of in-service failure of J-Frame in over 10 years in New Zealand,” he said. The Scion research trial confirmed that J-Frame showed no signs of decay after 12 months of exposure to brown rot fungi in hot and humid conditions; and that the product resists decay as effectively as boron-treated H1.2 solid wood”.
Mr Wilmshurst said importantly, the Scion research results were consistent with J-Frame’s Codemark certification that specified building work be designed in accordance with NZS 3604:2011 or specifically engineered in accordance with NZS 3603:1993 and where hazard class H1.2 or less applies.
FPC initiative aimed at increasing wood resource utilisationA Forest Products Commission initiative focused on increasing utilisation of Western Australia’s timber resources is poised to develop new markets and create regional jobs. Logs will be released into the marketplace to stimulate innovation and see some resources that do not currently have any commercial value used for the production of veneers and engineered wood products.
Director Operations Gavin Butcher said the industry was adapting through innovation to produce high-value products from smaller regrowth logs and residue. “The release of this timber has the potential to stimulate jobs in the WA timber industry through the construction and operation of a new processing plant, and the opportunity for new downstream manufacturing industries,” Mr Butcher said.
“Previously some of this material has been sold as lower-value products or burnt following harvesting, however advances in technology allow it to be processed into high-value products.” Establishing a market for these logs will also go a long way to meeting the goals for ecological thinning set by the Forest Management Plan 2014-2023.
Ecological thinning helps to combat the threat to forest health from lower rainfall and climate change. “The opportunity of a market for veneer enables the commercial harvesting of the smaller regrowth trees, and improvements in forest health,” Mr Butcher said.
Russian forestry industry on the moveRussia is one of the world’s dominant log and lumber producers and exporters. Due to its immense land mass, roughly half of which is forested, Russia accounts for nearly 20% of the world’s standing forest resource — nearly 82 billion m3 out of a global standing stock of roughly 434 billion m3. With this tremendous resource, Russia ranks as one of the world’s major players in the global trade of timber and wood products. Specifically:
- Russia harvested 157.6 million m3 in 2017, representing a 14.4% share of global softwood timber (log) production after having passed Canada in 2014 as the second-leading producer (behind the U.S.); - Russia is the third-largest softwood lumber producer (37.8 million m3), representing 11.1% of worldwide production; - Russia ranks second in log exports at 11.9 million m3 (14% global market share, ranking behind New Zealand); and - Russia is the second-largest lumber exporter with 28 million m3 (22% global market share, ranking behind Canada).
The Russian forestry and sawmilling industry has become a much greater competitive force in log and lumber export markets since the late-2014 devaluation of the ruble. In recent times, the country’s industry has undergone a rapid change and is now seen to be remaking itself into an influential worldwide competitor. Today, with global markets becoming increasingly competitive, it’s more important than ever to truly understand the changing competitiveness and strategy of the Russian industry and its exporters — particularly given its expanding role in the ever-significant Chinese market.
The cost-competitiveness of the Russian industry was once considered bleak. This was back in 2012–14, when high costs, constrained road and rail infrastructure, and prevailing poor forest logistics were responsible for an inability to access economic timber. With many Russian forests comprising a mixture of hardwood and softwood (particularly in Siberia), the lack of markets for low-grade hardwoods (particularly aspen/poplar) hampered the economics of processing mixed stands and led to escalating logging and road costs. The outlook was also dimmed by the lack of new investments in sawmilling during the early 2010s.
In late 2014, however, the weakening of Russia’s currency significantly brightened the picture for investing in the forest products sector, ultimately leading to peak earnings in 2015 and early 2016 when the ruble’s devaluation was most extreme. The subsequent strengthening of the ruble, however, worked in combination with increased log prices to create a state of inflation in 2016 and 2017 that eroded Russian exporters’ competitiveness. Nevertheless, the considerable investments made by many companies to lower logging and sawmilling costs were able to improve the sector’s overall financial and export market position. The good news for Russian producers today is that the ruble began to weaken again early this year; in mid-September, as we write this report, it is approaching 68–69 to the U.S. dollar.
Its improved competitive position in international markets has enabled Russia’s wood products industry to expand, as evidenced by 11% growth in the index of industrial activity for woodworking in the second quarter of 2018; in June alone, it grew by 15% (more than any other processing industry in the country). The importance of export markets cannot be overstated, and is especially evident when one considers that this strong growth is in sharp contrast to a decline in the rate of housing construction within Russia in 2017 (down 0.7%, according to the Ministry of Construction, and down 2.1%, according to Rosstat) and a reduction in furniture output.
In other good news for the Russian industry, prices for commodities and exchange goods on world markets recently reached their highest peak of the last ten years, with the price of Russian spruce sawn timber from the Northwest achieving a level of $285/m3 (#1–4 SF 30x125/150, Shanghai port) at the end of 2017. By comparison, prices for Finnish spruce sawn timber (#1–5 sawfalling grade) in China reached $295/m3.
Source: Russ Taylor, Managing Director, FEA Holdings – Canada Inc, Excerpted and summarized from China’s Import Demand for Softwood Logs and Lumber to 2023 • The Changing Supply Chain in China with a Focus on Russia’s Industry/Export Potential
Tree species mapping from spaceWhether you’re the owner of a small private woodland or a forestry company responsible for millions of acres, Rezatec have created a free, useful guide on identifying and mapping tree species distribution.
Understanding what tree species you have and where they are is critical for effective forest management and commercial decision-making. The ‘Earth Observation for Tree Species Mapping’ guide, available here, explores the common challenges of identifying species using traditional aerial technologies and how satellite data can be used to quickly, accurately and cost-effectively identify and map tree species distribution.
Tim Vallings, Vice President, Global Resources at Rezatec commented: “It shows you what’s going on in the entire forest, not just small parts of it, giving you a complete and accurate picture of tree species and their location.” Rezatec presents the data in an online portal which makes it easy to understand for any stakeholder as well as taking the risk out of commercial ventures and supporting informed business decisions.
Tree species identification from satellite data requires calibration plots of less than 1 per 100 acres. Compared to other methods, this represents a significant saving in operational time and money.
The key benefits of using satellite data in tree species mapping are:
- Savings of up to 80% in operational expenditure,
- Refreshes up to every week,
- Tree species accuracy up to 90%
So far, Rezatec have mapped tree species distribution to meet a variety of requirements across an expanding list of locations around the world, including the UK, US, Europe, Canada and Australia. Their robust methodology enables an ever-growing number of species to be classified with 80 to 90% accuracy, supporting informed commercial decisions. Rezatec can apply confidence limits for risk assessment, and as a result can create data suitable for a range of users.
Rezatec presented to ForestTECH delegates at a previous series in both countries. A number of recent advances relating to satellite imagery and the collection, processing and the practical operational use of data being collected, will be covered in the upcoming series, ForestTECH 2018.
Full details on the November programme can be found on the event website, www.foresttech.events
Volvo's self-driving Vera conceptMuch is said about the emergence of autonomous cars on our streets, but enclosed areas like ports, factories and corporate campuses may well be where they are put to work first. With this in mind, Volvo has just announced a new electric vehicle concept built to tow loads around these kinds of environments all on their lonesome, so much so it hasn't even bothered with a cabin.
"We can see a boom in e-commerce, as well as overall global consumption and it shows no signs of slowing down," says Mikael Karlsson, Volvo's Vice President Autonomous Solutions. "The industry needs to find new ways to meet the increased demand on transport in an efficient and sustainable way. Therefore, new solutions need to be developed to complement what's available today."
The Volvo Vera concept is designed to lighten the load around ports, factories, logistics centres and anywhere else where goods are moved on the regular. The vehicle is more electric sled than electric car, removing the driver's cabin altogether (similar to Einride's T-log), while retaining the ability to latch standard load carriers and trailers onto the back.
Powered by the same drivetrain and battery packs as Volvo's electric trucks, the Vera is built to carry out repetitive, short-distance trips with large, heavy loads.
The idea is that fleets of Veras would work together by connecting to a control centre over the cloud, which would optimize traffic flow to keep things operating smoothly and waits to a minimum. To that end, this central node would monitor the battery levels of the vehicles, along with their position, the content of their loads and service requirements.
Volvo doesn't outline any production plans for the Vera, but does say that in the "near future" it will work with selected customers to develop the concept further and the potential for the concept to expand into other types of applications in the future.
You can see the Vera at work in the video below.
Australia’s AU$315 billion opportunityDigital innovation can deliver AU$315 billion in gross economic value to Australia over the next decade, according to a new landmark report from AlphaBeta Advisors, commissioned by CSIRO's Data61.
Launched at D61+ LIVE in Brisbane, the Digital Innovation report outlines the nation's next billion dollar industries and strategic areas where Australia can succeed in creating data-driven industries that will drive jobs and growth by building on our core strengths as a nation and improving collaboration between research and industry.
While Australia has had economic growth for some time, the report shows the need to increase productivity and find new sources of export competitiveness to secure the economy's future prosperity in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
"Every sector of the global economy has been re-defined as a result of digital science and technology and the extensive use of data," Adrian Turner, CEO at CSIRO's Data61, said. "This next digital wave to revolutionise existing industries and create entirely new ones is ours to capture. But the opportunity is perishable if we don't collectively take action now.
"Progressive data-driven organisations are investing in four core areas to realise value from data; data capture, management, analysis and taking action with it. Combining this data with domain expertise, in areas like healthcare, agriculture and mining, is where we can create an unfair advantage."
AlphaBeta Director, Dr Andrew Charlton, said digital innovation has created enormous value globally and accounts for around 11 per cent of GDP in advanced economies, amounting to an annual value of $6 trillion. However, Australia has lagged our peers in capturing these benefits.
"Digital innovation is critical to improving our nation's productivity and sustaining economic growth. It's not just about creating the next Google or replicating Silicon Valley," Dr Charlton said. "Rather, almost half of economic benefit from digital innovation comes from the adoption of new technology across existing industries.
Australia's strongest opportunities are in focusing R&D investment and applying digital innovation to existing industry strengths where key drivers of competitiveness are already in place such as strong domestic markets and in high quality basic research.
The report identified eight high-potential opportunities for Australia in digital innovation, set to be worth AU$155 billion annually in the Asia- Pacific region over next decade: precision healthcare, digital agriculture, data-driven urban management, cyber-physical security, supply chain integrity, proactive government, legal informatics, and smart exploration and production.
Data61 has already begun tackling some of these high-potential opportunities, through the launch of a national digital challenges program, which is designed to facilitate stronger collaboration between research, government and industry on strategic and national data-driven challenges to accelerate large scale outcomes.
To download the Digital Innovation report, visit: www.data61.csiro.au/digitalinnovationreport.
For more information on the Challenge, visit: www.data61.csiro.au/challengeprogram
Poland pushing forest agenda as climate hostPoland will ask all nations to agree on forests’ central role in the fight to curb climate change when they host UN talks later this year, a leaked document has revealed.
In a draft statement intended to be adopted by all governments at this year’s major climate conference, host country Poland emphasised the “essential role of carbon sinks in mitigating climate change” and called on states to ensure “that global forest carbon stocks are maintained and further enhanced by 2050”.
The draft has been circulated to governments ahead of the meeting in Katowice in December. It calls on scientists from the UN climate science panel to “explore and quantify” the role of forests in storing carbon in “achieving a balance” with greenhouse gas pollution.
The declaration ends with the statement: “Finally [we] affirm that there is no future without tackling climate change, but there is no future without forests either.” Scientists and NGOs interviewed by Climate Home News welcomed the declaration, but warned against using forests as a get-out-of-jail-free card for continued pollution.
“I could only support bringing forests in the picture,” director of the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research Michael Tausz said. “However, in the context of COP24, managing forests to take up CO2 does not release [governments] from the duty of curbing emissions, particularly from land-use change, of course.”
In particular, environmentalists are nervous Poland will focus on offsetting carbon emissions through forests, rather than curbing its polluting coal sector. In 2015, nearly 81% of the country’s electricity came from coal.
“Yes the climate is important and forests are important – but to tackle climate change we both need to keep trees standing and reduce fossil-fuel emissions,” said Hannah Mowat, a campaigner specialising in the relationship between climate change and forests from the Dutch NGO Fern.
Poland has some of the largest forest expanses in Europe and has lobbied the EU to give greater prominence to forest carbon in its climate policies. But the country was recently found to have violated EU law by logging the Unesco-protected Białowieża forest.
In 2014, the New York Declaration on Forests committed to globally halve forest loss by 2020. That goal is still far out of reach, however. By comparison to the period between 2001 and 2013, the pace at which trees disappeared between 2014 and 2017 rose by 42%.
Source: Climate Home News
Project showcases Queensland’s finest timbersCertified timber held the floor as Timber Queensland and Responsible Wood met with SCS Global Services to kick-start project certification of their new office space at Timber House in the northern Brisbane suburb of Kedron. The project is undergoing an audit and stands to be the second registered under the ‘Responsible Wood Project Certification Scheme’; with the space under heavy construction to allow for a full relocation later this year.
According to Timber Queensland’s Mick Stephens, the project showcases Queensland’s finest timbers with all hardwoods and softwoods generously donated by Timber Queensland members and valued industry partners. “As it stands, we have commitments from several Timber Queensland members and other partners to supply hardwood and softwood species which will be used for flooring, cladding, panelling, doors, mouldings and timber beams,” Mr. Stephens said.
To date Timber Queensland has received donations on-site from Parkside and Hurfords Wholesale with additional timber materials committed from Hyne Timber, Finlaysons, Boral Timber, Kennedy’s Timbers, Carter Holt Harvey, Austral Plywoods and PNG Forest Products. Other partners on the project include flooring installation services from Scribed Flooring and Timberoo Timber Flooring Specialists, as well as timber prefabrication with Kennedy’s Timbers.
Underpinning its commitment to certification, the project is seeking up to 90% of all species to be sourced from the Responsible Wood Certification Scheme. Detailing the certification process Responsible Wood’s Simon Dorries identified the importance of developing project procedures to monitor compliance with Chain of Custody standards.
“The project certification team has developed a Project Certification Manual that is used as a reference point,” Mr Dorries said. “On project completion we hope to make this very helpful document readily available, free and online to assist with future project certifications.”
The Responsible Wood Project Certification Scheme represents the commitment by Timber Queensland and Responsible Wood to procure timber-based materials in accordance with AS 4707 Chain of Custody for Forest Products or PEFC ST 2002:2013 Chain of Custody of Forest Based Products.
In order to claim using the Responsible Wood logo SCS Global Services Nick Capobianco explained that a minimum requirement of 70% of all timber used on the project must be claimed in accordance with AS 4707 or PEFC ST 2002:2013 and validated by an approved certification body. SCS Global Services is one of 11 certification bodies approved by Responsible Wood to certify Chain of Custody and is the only certification body that has participated in a Responsible Wood Project Certification Scheme. SCS Global Services have generously donated their time pro-bono to assist with the project.
Photo: Nick Capobianco, regional director Australia-NZ and senior lead auditor at SCS Global Services (left), and Responsible Wood’s Simon Dorries, CEO, and Jason Ross, marketing and communications officer, inspect wood products ready for the Timber House makeover in Brisbane
Tasman pulp and paper mill ownership changesMore than 160 jobs at the Tasman pulp and paper mill near Kawerau will be saved as a result of a US majority-owned buyer picking up the assets. The New Zealand Overseas Investment Office has given approval for NS Norway to buy Norwegian company Norske Skog's Kawerau assets for NZ$29.9 million.
The OIO said Norse Skog was financially distressed and owned the freehold interest in 351 hectares at Fletcher Ave, Kawerau where the mill is located, and 48ha at Springs Rd Kawerau. "We consider that without this Investment, the Tasman mill and New Zealand-based business of Norske Skog Tasman are likely to be closed down in the short term," the OIO said.
Norske Skog's New Zealand subsidiaries have assets valued at more than NZ$100m, but the OIO consent refers to the "sensitive land" that requires OIO consent. The buyer, NS Norway, is an international newsprint and magazine paper producer that has been operating for about 50 years.
NS Norway intends to continue to run the business from New Zealand in conjunction with its international paper mills and product supply chains across several countries including Austria, Ireland, Poland, and Australia. "We note that the international paper market is experiencing aggregate oversupply issues and there is generally expected to be on-going decreasing demand for paper products over the longer term," the OIO said.
Government ministers were satisfied that the investment would be likely to achieve a number of benefits, including saving the 160 jobs, maintaining export receipts of more than NZ$65m a year, market competition in the chip and pulp log processing industry particularly in the central North Island, maintaining productivity on the land, and continuing to produce approximately 140-150 kilo-tonnes of newsprint.
The arrangement would also be retaining paper making expertise likely to otherwise be lost, existing protections for native flora and fauna, and preserve public access and iwi protections.
NS Norway is 57 per cent owned by US investors, Australians (15.59 per cent), Cayman Islanders (10.49 per cent), others (9.81 per cent) and Saudi Arabians (7.14 per cent).
Carbon farming best forestry deal everIn New Zealand, Whanganui iwi have been offered an opportunity to harvest carbon credits off waste or unproductive land if it becomes permanent forest. On September 28 the new Māori Carbon Foundation held a meeting at Cooks Gardens Function Centre to outline its proposal. About 40 people were there to hear it.
On suitable land the foundation is offering to establish, maintain and insure a forest at its own cost. It would pay for this by cashing in the carbon credits (NZUs) for the first seven years.
From year seven until year 30 the forest's NZUs would be split 50:50 with the Māori owners. After that the foundation's carbon and forestry rights would be ended and the owners would get all the NZUs.
Each hectare of average forest could earn $10,000-worth of NZUs over 30 years. Iwi and hapu would continue to own the land and be able to access it. The forest would be permanent, perhaps reverting to native species.
The proposal was outlined by Sir Mark Solomon, who chaired the financially successful Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu until 2016. He said Māori set it up in order to have their voice heard in this new climate change/carbon price/billion trees era.
The foundation was launched on September 17, and is touring 20 New Zealand centres to make its offer to Māori. It got good crowds in Kaitaia, Kaikohe and Wairoa. Whanganui was its seventh stop.
It has backers with "megabucks" to fund the scheme, said Solomon. It will get expert advice from a New Zealand owned private business - New Zealand Carbon Farming. More>>.
Source: NZ Herald
Government funding for NZ$100m erosion problemA total pool of NZ$34 million is up for grabs for regional councils to assess and treat erosion-prone hill country in New Zealand. Erosion and its effects in hill country areas alone were estimated to cost New Zealand's economy NZ$100-to-150 million a year.
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) was inviting councils to apply for the next round of the Hill Country Erosion Fund (HCE) for projects to be delivered between July next year and June 2023. The HCE Fund was established in 2007 and was part of MPI's commitment to improving sustainable land management practices across New Zealand.
As part of the One Billion Trees programme announcements with the 2018 budget, the HCE fund was "boosted" with a NZ$1.8 million one-off fund for projects to be delivered in 2018-2019. At the same time, coastal and alpine/high country erosion areas were made eligible for the fund, and the 2018 four-yearly funding pool was increased to NZ$34 million.
"Planting trees is like a savings account for our future – the sooner we get the right trees into the right land, the greater the benefits over time," said director investment programmes at MPI, Steve Penno. "Conversely, erosion costs our regions millions if not treated."
LonzaFIEApartnerFPH.jpg The HCE was a partnership between MPI, regional councils and landowners that aimed to protect erosion-prone land through implementing sustainable land management practices. It funded projects that were beyond the scope of regional councils to address on their own.
Everyone needed to work together to get the full benefits from tree planting for landowners, councils and communities, Penno said. The previous four-yearly HCE round contributed $8.8 million for projects delivered from 2015-2019, with $35.7 million invested by landowners and regional councils in the projects.
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... and one to end the week on ... medical advances
Sent in by an Aussie reader. You have to admire the ingenuity - of the Doctor?
And one more for you. An 80 year old woman was arrested for shop lifting. When she went before the judge he asked her, "What did you steal?"
She replied: "A can of peaches".
The judge asked her why she had stolen them and she replied that she was hungry.
The judge then asked her how many peaches were in the can.
She replied "6".
The judge then said, "I will give you 6 days in jail."
Before the judge could actually pronounce the punishment, the woman's husband spoke up and asked the judge if he could say something.
The Judge said, "What is it?"
The husband said "She also stole a can of peas"
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