Friday Offcuts – 15 February 2019

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Aside from the heat all of us have been struggling with over the last few weeks, many of our readers have been toughing it out on the front lines battling fires, on both sides of the Tasman. Many are still going. The impacts on the forestry industry are now just becoming apparent. In New Zealand, the Nelson fire has potentially affected up to 1,900 ha of forest plantations. Aside from the logging and silvicultural crews impacted, the fire and equipment ban that has been imposed outside the fire perimeter is also hitting contracting crews, sawmills, log cartage operations... They’re estimating about 1,500 people across the region have been affected and it’s currently costing the forestry industry about $2 million per day.

The same story, but on an increased scale, is being seen in Australia. A recent meeting of stakeholders determined more than 70,000 hectares of private and public production forest land has been lost in the fires, with the greatest impact hitting Tasmania’s south. The full extent of the damage and potential to recover resource from these areas is yet to be assessed. Of real concern right now is the Ta Ann and Neville Smith Forest Products mills in the Huon valley where damage has been sustained to both mills, to log stocks and of course, future log supplies. In northern NSW a fire has burnt through 18,000 ha. As of yesterday, around 40 fires continue to burn across NSW, 10 of which were reported to be uncontained.

This week New Forests announced that they’ve agreed to acquire another sizeable forest estate in New Zealand, Hikurangi Forest Farms, based in Gisborne. It includes around 25,000 hectares of radiata pine plantations on 35,000 hectares of freehold, forest rights, and leasehold land. New Forests manages investments on the North and South Island of New Zealand, including the Timberlink sawmill business in Blenheim. Last year approval was given to New Forests to purchase 22,500 of forestry land in Otago and a 38% stake in Otago's largest forestry company, Wenita Forest Products.

This week we also cover a number of stories linked to wood harvesting. In Australia, a draft of the Forestry Log Haulage Registered Code of Practice has been released. Feedback is being sought until the end of this month. John Deere has confirmed that AFGRI Equipment from 1 May will be distributing its construction and forestry equipment in Western Australia. In New Zealand, we’ve included a story on a local company that’s putting to work findings that came out of a national study on truck driver health and wellness. They’ve introduced a raft of positive initiatives, from adjusting their working hours through to paid gym memberships for their many drivers. A healthy and safe crew is a happy crew.

We also take a look at the concept of introducing “Lean Techniques” to harvesting operations. Sound foreign? Not so. One local harvesting contractor has embraced the philosophy. They haven't looked back – improved performance, improved productivity and improved safety out on the hill. More will be covered in the HarvestTECH 2019 event planned for 26-27 June in Rotorua, New Zealand.

And finally, we’ve included a story - along with a number of eye catching images - that appeared in a Sunday paper and across social media recently. It takes a good look inside the operation of a New Zealand sawmill. Ideally targeted it was aimed at the wider community. It dispels the myths of the mill being a dirty, dark and a dangerous place to work, through the mill workers they've been able to highlight the new technology being employed in a modern mill and it also puts a much-needed plug in for the industry’s need for future workers. Great coverage. That’s it for this week. Enjoy this week’s read and for those still on the front line working on forest fires, let’s be careful out there.

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Hikurangi Forest Farms acquired by New Forests

New Forests is pleased to announce that it has agreed to acquire Hikurangi Forest Farms (HFF), based in Gisborne, New Zealand, on behalf of its investment clients.

New Forests anticipates that the purchase, from current owner Samling Group, will be complete by mid-2019, subject to consent from the Overseas Investment Office, with the intention to launch a rebranded business at that time.

HFF is one of the largest forestry estates in the Gisborne region and includes around 25,000 hectares of radiata pine plantation on 35,000 hectares of freehold, forest rights, and leasehold land. Significant investment has been carried out since the assets were acquired in 1997, building a high yielding and sustainable forest estate that is a significant contributor to the regional economy.

New Forests is currently working through an ownership transition plan incorporating continuity of operations and New Forests’ forward-looking management plans, and will be undertaking engagement with key stakeholders, including local businesses, Tangata Whenua representatives, councils, and community groups.

New Forests’ objective is to manage investments to ensure long-term sustainability. “New Forests looks forward to engaging with stakeholders during the ownership transition to chart the future for this business and ensure the long-term sustainability of this regionally significant forestry asset,” New Forests’ CEO David Brand said.

Brand continued, “The HFF acquisition secures a cornerstone asset for New Forests’ Australia New Zealand Forest Fund 3, complementing the fund’s existing New Zealand forestry portfolio in the North and South Island”.

Mark Rogers, Managing Director for New Forests’ Australia-New Zealand business said, “We are proud of our track record and commitment to sustainable forest management, and this estate has significant potential to be a preferred provider of sustainable wood products.”

“New Forests and our clients represent long-term, stable, institutional ownership that we believe will be a key enabler for the future growth of New Zealand’s forest industry,” said Rogers.

About New Forests

New Forests is an Australian-based international sustainable forestry investment manager that has been operating in New Zealand since 2005. New Forests has a New Zealand office in Tauranga and manages investments on the North and South Island, including the Timberlink sawmill business in Blenheim.

Globally, New Forests Pty Ltd and its subsidiaries manage investments in around 550,000 net hectares of forests and timberlands across a global portfolio of nearly 1 million hectares of forestry and conservation investments. The firm is committed to investment strategies at the leading edge of forestry, land management, and conservation. New Forests has international reach, with offices and assets in Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and the US.

Source: New Forests

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Forestry trade hurt by Tasmanian fires

The damage to Tasmania’s forestry industry remains unknown as fires continue to burn in remote parts of the state, several weeks after they started. Hundreds of fire hotspots remained on Monday afternoon, although cooler weather has reduced the threat to lives and homes.

A meeting of stakeholders determined more than 70,000 hectares of private and public production forest land has been lost in the fires, with the greatest impact hitting Tasmania’s south. “The extent of the damage and potential to recover resource from these areas is yet to be assessed,” Resources Minister Sarah Courtney said.

“Of significant concern to the industry is the impact of bushfire damage to the Southwood forestry hub in the Huon Valley, where the Ta Ann and Neville Smith Forest Products mills operate and employ dozens of Tasmanians.”

Almost 500 personnel – including 175 interstate and New Zealand firefighters – remain on the ground and in the air, working to extinguish a series of fires. “There is still a lot of work to be done. It is a beast that is sitting calm with the favourable conditions,” Tasmanian Fire Service public information officer Peter Middleton told AAP.

Source: The Advocate

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Why LEAN? Lessons from a NZ logging contractor

If you have a business that is experiencing the following ‘symptoms’ read on……

- Are your costs rising?
- Are mistakes on the increase?
- Are your efficiency levels unsatisfactory?
- Are your profits evaporating?
- Could the morale and culture of your people be better?

The good news is that it’s all reversible, but the first step is to recognize that change is hard, you need to have the patience and provide the resources to support change. “Success comes from knowing what to do and when to do it!”

People often ask - “What is LEAN?” and it is difficult to define Lean in just a few sentences as Lean encompasses so much. Lean is about creating value, it is about customer service, it is about revolution and evolution of your systems and processes, it is about development and encouragement of people to better understand how they add value, it is about analyzing everything you do and why you do it, it is about leadership, it is about having a plan, it is a never ending journey towards perfection leading to sustainable success.

We find ourselves saying “If you want your company to thrive not just struggle to survive in this global economy then Lean techniques need to be at the core of how your business operates”. In short – Lean is about ‘Doing more with Less, taking out the Waste and adding Value to what your customer actually wants’

It’s no secret that one of the most important aspects of Lean is the involvement of everyone in the business from the CEO down to the newest crew member. Everyone has a voice and everyone is expected to make a contribution within Lean, it is often this involvement of the workforce where companies fall down, while they may say that they value and involve their employees, many fail to actually demonstrate it. Recognizing and celebrating success is an important factor when trying to encourage improvement.

In years gone by businesses (Toyota being one of many) have invested significantly over many decades to develop improvement systems for business, but in today’s fast moving global market, businesses cannot afford to spend that long improving so they need a proven, robust and effective system to improve. That system is called LEAN. In addition to a raft of new technology, operating practices and clever tools being used in wood harvesting operations, the concept of lean and how it has successfully turned around a local harvesting contractor’s business is being built into the HarvestTECH 2019 event in Rotorua on 26-27 June 2019.

Stubbs Contracting Ltd, a Gisborne based Logging Operation with four crews decided to adopt Lean philosophy’s and haven’t looked back. Coached by The Lean Hub they find themselves experiencing improvements in productivity while being one of the leaders in the Industry for safety. Responsibilities are being shifted from Senior Management to Supervisors and Front-Line staff which is enabling Management to focus on driving the business forward while the Supervisors focus on ‘getting the job done’.

Staff accountability is improving due to staff being empowered to make positive changes without fear of being pulled into the boss’s office for a ‘please explain’. Leaders and front-line staff not only know now what successful performance looks like but know how to influence and improve performance. Not only are managers using data but they are allowing staff to see the data in very simple formats so that they can help improve the operation. Companies are also realising the undisputable benefits of having the entire operation ‘singing off one song sheet’.

In summary: LEAN shouldn’t be looked upon as a short-term diet for business but more as a long-term sustainable health programme. Trevor Hall, Director of the Lean Hub and Robert Stubbs, MD of Stubbs Contracting will be outlining the concept and just how it has made such a positive impact to a local harvesting business as part of the HarvestTECH 2019 event.

Full details on the programme and registrations can be found on the event website,

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Hardwood timber mill hit by Tasmanian bushfires

Fire has again dealt Tasmanian business Neville-Smith Forest Products a savage blow. The business, which has mills at Mowbray and Southwood, near Huonville, had to shut operations at its southern site after it was affected by the bushfires that tore through the Huon Valley.

This comes only 18 months after the Mowbray mill was targeted in an arson attack, which cost the business about $800,000. Neville-Smith Forest Products chief executive Andrew Walker said the Southwood mill had not been operating since January 22 due to fire risk.

“Our southern mill on the Southwood site houses us and the Ta Ann business. Both businesses have been affected by the fires for the past couple of weeks,” Mr Walker said. “There is infrastructure damage to both mills. Ta Ann was more heavily affected, but our mill suffered superficial damage. It’s not good for either our business or Ta Ann.”

Beside the impact to the mill itself, Neville-Smith's forest perimeters were impacted by fire, along with processed logs waiting in the mill yard.

“The logs in the yard have been heavily affected by fire. Even if we wanted to operate, we couldn’t because the timber is burnt or fire affected,” Mr Walker said. “We had people on site dealing with ember attacks, with the TFS and STT. The site got hit a number of times with direct fire attack.”

A figure cannot be put on the cost of stock lost in the fires or on lost operations yet, but more will be known once Sustainable Timber Tasmania had conducted a survey of forests, he said. “STT will do a survey on the forest to get an understanding of what effect the fires have had,” Mr Walker said.

“There is no power to the site due to power poles burning down. We won’t be operating for the short term while we have no power,” Mr Walker said. “It could take months to restore power to the site. Obviously TasNetworks is overwhelmed right now.

Private Forests Tasmania said 39,097 hectares of private forest had been burned in these bushfires, up to February 5. Hardwood plantations, like the forest products Neville-Smith processes, account for 3239 hectares of that figure. The remaining 35,858 hectares is made up from softwood plantations, industrial estates and private forest estates.

Source: The Examiner

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Nelson fire costing forestry industry $2 million per day

A total fire and equipment ban in the Nelson area has thrown up to 240 forestry contract workers out of jobs and closed two sawmills, with more closures threatened. New Zealand’s Forestry Minister Shane Jones said industry sources estimate the cost to the sector of lost production and earnings is NZ$2 million a day.

As of mid-week, about 1900 hectares of plantation forest is within the fire perimeter and expected to have been affected by fire. Jones is expecting to have more information about the exact area, age and condition of the forest within the next 48 hours.

The fire and equipment ban is preventing forestry crews from working in forests outside the fire perimeter, he said. "The impact is on the whole forestry supply chain as logging and silviculture are halted, affecting sawmills, wood processors and log exports. This affects around 1500 people across the region," Jones said.

The two sawmills that have closed have insufficient logs to operate. Across the region other sawmills have enough logs to work until the end of the week and are then expected to shut down, Jones said. This was not a direct result of the fire but because of the fire and equipment ban across the whole region.

About 30 forestry crews in the Nelson region have been stood down, affecting an estimated 210-240 contract workers. The cost per crew was about $10,000 per day in wages and overheads, Jones said.

Affected employees can apply to the Ministry of Social Development/WINZ for financial support for loss of livelihood. This will be asset and means tested and is not available to employers and companies, Jones said. The extent of business continuity insurance among affected companies and logging contractors in the region was not known.

For further coverage and an update on details relating to the resumption of work by forestry contractors, click here.

Source: nzherald,

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C3 plans for 40 extra forestry staff

One of Australia’s largest forestry logistics companies has major expansion plans for Portland, Victoria, with up to 40 extra staff and tens of millions of dollars of investment needed in the next year.

C3 is eyeing the expansion due to the demand for its harvesting, infield chipping, haulage and log marshalling services. The company currently employs 126 people in the region, a number that has mushroomed since it came to Portland in 2012.

C3 has six operations in Australia, with Portland unique in that it is the only one that handles both harvesting and log marshalling. It is probably best known locally for its prominent timber storage depot on Canal Crt, handling about 600,000 tonnes of softwood logs annually at various sites around the city, but the vast majority of its work is in harvesting hardwood chips that are exported out of the Port of Portland.

While most of its employees are based in Portland, there are others at Hamilton and Mount Gambier. Forestry operations manager Gerald Harvey, one of the company’s original Portland employees, said C3 was in the middle of a growth phase that would see it require between 20 and 40 staff in the next year.

“There’s huge growth in a growth industry,” he said. “We’re also looking to expand our footprint within the region. At the moment we’re only focused on harvesting hardwood (chips) but there’s a huge softwood industry in the region as well that we’re conscious of.”


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Canadian investment in A&E

Leading Canadian Sawmill Machinery Manufacturer TS Manufacturing has recently acquired a majority shareholding in Automation & Electronics NZ Ltd and its AEUSA division based in North Carolina. The acquisition strengthens TS Controls division in the North American market by adding additional controls support combined with AE Optimization technology.

A&E is a well-established company with a 33-year history in the Australasian wood processing market combined with AEUSA having a ten-year presence in the US market. The acquisition consolidates A&E’s position in the US market enabling significant growth and further R&D investment.

For A&E in New Zealand it means business as normal and continuing to support existing clients along with traditional engineering partners in Australia and New Zealand. Brian Smith founding Director of Automation & Electronics says “this is an exciting time for the business that enables us to expand our North American presence, increase our global engineering capability and at the same time be able to better support our Australasian and OEM clients with the added value of TS support in behind.

The other exciting factor in the negotiation is we have retained our valued twenty-five- year association with Windsor Engineering Group who remain as a shareholder within the company which further consolidates the company’s position. There is also opportunity for a Windsor and TS manufacturing combination and we already have one major project on in Alabama where both companies are suppliers to the same mill.

Source: A&E

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Draft Australian Log Haulage Code released

A draft of the Forestry Log Haulage Registered Code of Practice (Log Haulage Code, Dec 18) has been released and is now available for industry to review and provide feedback. Click here to view the draft.

This Draft Log Haulage Code follows the completion of the background work, which included extensive opportunities for industry to participate to identify risks and potential controls to manage these risks. The background work identified 9 key risks that specifically related to log haulage. These key risks have been considered and the Log Haulage Code identifies activities and controls for parties who have Chain of Responsibility obligations in order to mitigate these risks.

The overall aim is to provide guidance on how industry can achieve compliance with the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and to drive best practice. Consideration has also been given to changes to the HVNL, in October 2018 and how to manage these risks ‘so far as reasonably practicable’. All background work is also available on the AFCA website.

It is important to emphasise this is only a DRAFT and is an opportunity for industry to consider what is currently proposed, is it suitable, how should we manage key risks and what controls are suitable. The content of the DRAFT is not a final position. The purpose of releasing is to allow feedback and consideration of the range of views which clearly exist.

As a result of the targeted feedback there are 5 key areas which have been identified which require further consideration and direction from industry. These key areas need to be considered with respect to what should industry ‘best practice’ look like and what can industry achieve with consideration of ‘as low as reasonably practicable’:

1. Use and implementation of blocking systems
2. Limitations of Manual tensioners
3. Crowning requirements for load restraint needs
4. Quantity of lashings required
5. Current requirement for 0.35 SRT for vehicle stability

Feedback is being sought from now until the end of February 2019.

Source: AFCA

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Health and fitness pay off for forestry truckers

A healthy and safe crew is a happy crew. Warwick Wilshier knows that all too well through the extra measures he has put in place to benefit drivers at his logging truck companies Williams and Wilshier and Pacific Haulage.

Starting work an hour later on Mondays and an annual three-month fitness programme called Lose Your Load have proved hugely successful. These measures were the result of a national study done by New Zealand’s Log Transport Safety Council, of which Mr Wilshier is a founding member.

The study’s results led to positive changes by trucking companies, operators and forestry interest groups. “Several years ago, the Log Transport Safety Council was looking at driver health and wellness, and issues around fatigue,” says Mr Wilshier. “Typically, driving is a Monday-to-Friday job, with the highest risk of crashes being on a Monday.”

It’s not just truck drivers. Also, at risk are the likes of loader drivers, who start very early to load trucks, then work a full day with logging crews. Operators and forest companies quickly saw the need to change, with Ernslaw One and Hikurangi Forest Farms both starting their trucks an hour later than normal on a Monday.

“When we have the Christmas break it is the same thing, so we have a soft start,” says Mr Wilshier. “Typically, we will have a health and safety meeting or a Safe Start breakfast just to get everyone refocused. It is always very well received.” His drivers are also about to start their annual Lose Your Load Programme. Mr Wilshier pays for YMCA gym memberships for three months, and offers incentives for the drivers to do well.

“It is so worthwhile,” he says. “We see huge benefit in it. Straight away they start to feel better in themselves and the prizes at the end almost become a secondary thing. It all spins off on us. They turn up to work ready to go and we have far less sickness and fewer absentee issues.”

Williams and Wilshier and Pacific Haulage operate across the central North Island from bases in Gisborne and Rotorua. Between them around 100 staff haul 1.2 million logs and cover six million kilometres annually.

Mr Wilshier has been nationally acknowledged for his services to log truck safety and is on the executive of Road Transport Association New Zealand. It is something he continues to be passionate about.

Source & Photo: Gisborne Herald

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John Deere appoints AFGRI in Western Australia

As outlined in an earlier release a couple of weeks ago, John Deere Construction & Forestry and Hitachi Construction Machinery (Australia) Pty Ltd had announced they were ending a successful 29-year distribution arrangement of Deere branded and manufactured construction, forestry, and compact machinery in Australia. In line with this change, AFGRI Equipment has been appointed by John Deere to distribute its construction and forestry equipment in Western Australia.

According to Patrick Roux, Chairman of the Board of AFGRI Australia, this is thanks to the exceptional relationship that AFGRI has established with John Deere, spanning 56 years. “The success we’ve enjoyed with the John Deere agricultural range in Western Australia, combined with our outstanding service levels and ethos, as well as excellent customer relationships and our extensive retail network in Australia, encouraged John Deere to approach us to manage its construction and forestry equipment retail network in the region.”

Effective 1 May 2019, AFGRI Equipment will be a fully-fledged John Deere construction and forestry equipment dealer in Western Australia. It will initially operate across five strategically placed branches in the state, namely Geraldton, Albany, Esperance, Boyup Brook and Perth.

Roux added that he was confident that AFGRI Equipment’s deep retail knowledge and experience in the agricultural sector could easily be transferred to the construction and forestry space. “We have become the ‘go to’ company for many Australian farmers, and we’re truly delighted to extend our services to local construction and forestry companies, we are sure we will earn this same reputation.”

Roux concluded by saying, “With the contract now signed, we are very enthusiastic to prove ourselves worthy of this appointment and have already actively started to recruit and appoint specialist staff, so we can get off to a cracking start come 1 May.”

Source & Photo: John Deere

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Kaituna Sawmill - a good look inside a sawmill

A sawmill tucked away in a forested corner near Blenheim at the top of the South Island, New Zealand, is not so quietly producing a large chunk of the timber used for the country's houses, decks, fences and furniture.

Nelson Forests harvests about 1.2 million cubic metres of raw logs, and Kaituna Sawmill produces 65,000 cubic metres of high-grade, market-ready timber each year. About half is sold domestically, while a quarter each goes to Australia and countries consuming more timber than they produce.

The journey from tree to timber is not the dangerous, strenuous job it once was, but a smoothly automated dance of saws, claws and conveyer belts, supervised by people in high-vis, hard hats and earmuffs.

Boilerman Don Boon says when he started at the Kaituna Sawmill 27 years ago the labourers were "pretty rough and ready" and injuries happened "all the time". "You'd have to be a dummy to injure yourself now," Boon says.

"It's not really physical work now; it's more monitoring and computers. It's much more enjoyable. You barely have to touch the wood anymore, so you have time to optimise, to think, 'how can I do this better?'"

Boon monitors his "babies" from home, with a real-time camera in the boiler fire streaming live to his cellphone. A software expert does repairs remotely from Europe. "These new gadgets are the best thing to happen in the boiler industry. I thought I would never get my head around it, but you do. You're learning all the time." More >>.


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Responsible Wood goes Trans-Tasman

Responsible Wood is set to travel to New Zealand as impetus builds towards a historic joint Australian and New Zealand standard for Sustainable Forest Management. Meeting with New Zealand government officials, the New Zealand Green Building Council and a range of PEFC accredited Sustainable Forest Management and Chain of Custody scheme holders, Responsible Wood will tour the North Island; visiting Wellington, Napier, Gisborne and Auckland in the week commencing Monday, 18 February 2019.

According to Jason Ross, Marketing and Communications Officer, the visit is all part of Responsible Wood’s outreach to improve recognition of PEFC forest certification within the New Zealand market. “As it stands up to 500,000 hectares of New Zealand forest area is now covered by the New Zealand Standard for Sustainable Forest Management, with more than 30 New Zealand businesses now scheme holders under the New Zealand Chain of Custody Standard for Forest Products,” Mr Ross said.

This marks an impressive milestone for PEFC in New Zealand. In just two short years since the establishment of the New Zealand PEFC forest certification, the New Zealand standard for Sustainable Forest Management now covers more than 27% of all New Zealand planted forest available for production.

The New Zealand standard for Sustainable Forest Management has become an important benchmark for sustainable forestry. “Responsible Wood is working with stakeholders to improve Chain of Custody registrations and build on New Zealand forestry currently under certification; we have had interest from foresters looking to develop group forest management schemes all through New Zealand.”

“PEFC and Responsible Wood, the Australian endorsed PEFC forest certification scheme, now has a growing footprint in the Australian and New Zealand market places; with the push towards a Joint Australian and New Zealand standard certification is an invaluable tool to verify the origins of timber and paper at the source and in the forest,” Mr Ross said.

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Voxel-based metrics proving accurate

Using voxel-based analysis of aerial lidar is a promising new development in remote sensing. In the past, high-density lidar has largely been restricted to terrestrial laser scanners. Now, high-density scanners are being mounted on helicopters and UAVs flying close to the tops of forests to provide very fine-scale imagery of trees.

This kind of scanning generates very dense point clouds that demand new methods of analysis to extract meaning. One option is to borrow an approach from terrestrial lidar analysis to simplify the data by breaking the information into small parcels called voxels.

What is a voxel?

Voxels can be thought of as 3D pixels or cubes that are formed around a 3D point cloud. The positional information of each lidar point determines which voxel that point falls within, and the metrics describing the 3D data are computed from the voxels rather than the individual points.

For forest inventory, we take the lidar point cloud, and place it into voxels of e.g. 1 x 1 x 1 m size. The distribution of lidar points (and their properties) within each 1 m cube can be used to characterise the forest in new ways that captures information not available from more standard metrics. We then use these metrics to model forest inventory attributes.

Trialling voxel-based metrics

Remote sensing scientist Dr Grant Pearse worked with Forest Wood Products Australia (FWPA) to test voxel-based metrics for forest inventory. FWPA provided high density lidar scans of 73 plots from two radiata pine forests in New South Wales.

Grant carried out modelling using standard and voxel-based metrics to create predictions for standard forest attributes: top height, basal area, stand density and volume.

A comparison of the results revealed that models using voxel-based metrics outperformed models using standard metrics – suggesting these metrics captured more information about the forest plots. Interestingly, the voxel-based metrics performed well even at lower pulse densities e.g. 5 ppm, suggesting it was the metrics not the density that drove improved predictions.

Here’s what they found

Grant says, “Our results show that using voxel-based metrics will give forest owners a better picture of how their forests are growing. And thanks to new capabilities added to the widely-used LAStools lidar software suite, anyone can try voxel-based metrics on their lidar data.”

“It’s a promising start, but our next challenge is to work with our industry partners to roll out voxel-based metrics on a large forest estate and better understand what the metrics are capturing.”

For further information on voxel-based metrics contact Dr Grant Pearse at


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Fire tower spotters stop spread of spot fires

Forestry Corporation of NSW’s network of fire towers in the Hunter and Mid North Coast proved instrumental in spotting and controlling several forest fires during this week’s extreme high fire danger period, with crews dispatched to half a dozen fires spotted from the towers.

Forest Protection Manager Karel Zejbrlik said Forestry Corporation had more than 100 fire towers statewide and the only network of fire towers on the Mid North Coast. “The faster we can get a crew to a fire, the better chance we have of getting it under control before it develops into a large damaging wildfire that can put the forest or local communities at risk. That’s why our network of fire towers is crucial – because it allows us to rapidly detect new fires and get firefighters on the ground without delay,” Mr Zejbrlik said.

“Tuesday’s heat carried an extreme fire risk, so we had trained firefighters stationed in fire towers across the region to spot fires in State forests and across the landscape. Our spotters picked up six blazes on Tuesday, including three that were previously undetected. One of the fires spotted was in the remote Riamukka State Forest. Firefighting crews from our Walcha office quickly deployed with a dozer and heavy firefighting equipment and worked through the night to bring the blaze under control.

“Another fire spotted from the fire tower at Warrawalong yesterday afternoon was extinguished by early evening thanks to quick work from Forestry Corporation and RFS crews. The fire towers are around six metres high and are built on vantage points that allow us to see over large areas of State forest, national park and private property. When our spotters see smoke, they use a triangulation technique developed in the war time era to quickly detect where the fire is and either deploy a Forestry Corporation crew if on State forest or inform the Rural Fire Service or National Parks and Wildlife Service if on a private property or national park”.

While the fire threat has eased in the Hunter and mid north coast, Forestry Corporation crews continue to assist in fighting large fires threatening homes and plantations in Tabulam west of Casino and near the town of Tingha. Heavy equipment and crews have been dispatched from throughout the State to support the firefighting effort.

Forestry Corporation is responsible for preventing and managing fires in two million hectares of State forests across New South Wales. It also assists with large bushfires on private property, other bushland, interstate and overseas as part of the State’s combined firefighting response.

For more information about Forestry Corporation’s fire towers, click here

Photo: Forestry Corporation of NSW firefighter Paul Douglas at Comboyne Fire Tower west of Kendall

Source & Photo: Forestry Corporation of NSW

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IFA and AFG merger announced

The Institute of Foresters of Australia is reported to have voted overwhelmingly to merge with Australian Forest Growers, creating a body with potentially more punch in the Australian forest industry. More than 90% of IFA voters supported the merger, at an extraordinary general meeting held recently.

“Full implementation of the merger will take several months,” IFA President, Bob Gordon said in the IFA Weekly News Bulletin. The new body will retain the IFA name, and current AFG members will be transferred to the IFA.

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... getting old

An elderly couple had dinner at another couple's house, and after eating, the wives left the table and went into the kitchen.

The two gentlemen were talking, and one said, 'Last night we went out to a new restaurant and it was really great. I would recommend it very highly.'

The other man said, 'What is the name of the restaurant?'

The first man thought and thought and finally said, 'What’s the name of that flower you give to someone you love? You know, the one that's red and has thorns.'

'Do you mean a rose?'

'Yes, that's the one,' replied the man. He then turned towards the kitchen and yelled, 'Rose, what's the name of that restaurant we went to last night?'

One more: A man and woman were married for many years. Whenever there was a confrontation, yelling could be heard deep into the night.

The old man would shout, "When I die, I will dig my way up and out of the grave and come back and haunt you for the rest of your life!” Neighbours feared him.

The old man liked the fact that he was feared.

Then one evening, he died when he was 98.

After the burial, her neighbours, concerned for her safety, asked, "Aren't you afraid that he may indeed be able to dig his way out of the grave and haunt you for the rest of your life?”

The wife said, " Let him dig. I had him buried upside down… and I know he won't ask for directions."

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
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