Friday Offcuts 22 February 2019
The announcement has been warmly welcomed by industry this week. The plan is that the hubs will bring together industry, all levels of government and the local communities to work on issues and opportunities for forestry in each of their regions. The size and makeup of each hub are yet to be determined. And it’s about time according to AFPA. A five-yearly report released yesterday by ABARES detailing the state of Australia’s forests shows that the area of forest plantations has dropped off significantly, principally through the inaction of Government setting any clear policies to increase planting. Details and a link to the full report are provided below.
Recently we covered autonomous trucking and operational trials being undertaken by Scania and Rio Tinto across in Western Australia. This week we look at progress that’s being made on automating agriculture in China. One of the principal drivers behind the move is the aging work force and the lack of interest by younger people wanting to work in rural environments. Sound familiar? The Government, now with its own homegrown satellite navigation system (it’s a rival to the U.S. Global Positioning System), is pushing for fully-automated machinery capable of planting, fertilizing and harvesting each of China’s staple crops - rice, wheat and corn. They plan to have this in place inside seven years.
In Australia, an Israeli drone provider has also just been granted the first-ever approval by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to operate drones beyond visual line of sight from a remote operations centre. The waiver enables them to operate without the need of an air crew on site. It’s the first such waiver issued by CASA. They’re actually going to be operating the drone some 620 miles away. So, like the autonomous mining operations in Western Australia, forestry companies should sit up and take notice. The first move to operate drones remotely in this part of the world has just been taken.
And finally, thanks to all of the major technology and equipment suppliers along with mills who have already expressed an interest of being involved and presenting at the two-yearly Australasian gathering of sawmillers, at the September WoodTECH 2019 series. The first call went out a couple of weeks ago. We’ve included a final call for Expressions of Interest to present in this week’s issue. If you have a new technology or equipment relevant to local sawmilling companies, case studies linked to improved productivity or performance inside the mill or you’re able to share your own learnings with processes or systems that you’ve have adopted within the mill to the wider industry, then please get in touch. Details relating to exhibiting at the September series will be sent out shortly. That’s it for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Five-yearly State of the Forests report releasedThe authoritative report mapping the state of Australia’s forests that was released yesterday by ABARES shows a serious reduction in the area of forest plantations in Australia. The State of the Forest Report 2018 says that the area of plantations had fallen to just 1.95 million hectares by 2015, when the last data was available.
This was an alarming decline of 44,000 hectares over the previous five yearly reporting period. Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association, Mr Ross Hampton said, “This is exactly what we have been warning that the State of the Forests 2018 would reveal. There is no evidence that this downward trend has reversed in the three years since 2015 and it is my expectation that the next report will paint an even bleaker picture.”
The reason is clear. There has been no policy to increase, or indeed even maintain the area of plantation trees in Australia for production purposes. The only current available policy which might act as a brake on this trend would be for plantations to be able to fully participate in carbon storage policy but, as yet, the Government has not removed the barriers which stand in the way.
“State and Federal Governments over the last decade have continued to lock away vast areas of natural forest and have reduced the area and volume of timber which our industries can access. Industry can only access timber from a modest 5 million hectares of the total 132 million hectares of native forest across Australia and of that total only a tiny half a percent a year is harvested. Every area cleared, is regrown.
Over the twenty-year life of the last Regional Forest Agreements the natural estate available for forestry decreased by more than 3 million hectares. Whilst this has occurred, governments have not put into place mechanisms which will deliver offsetting growth in the plantation estate and it is showing in the statistics.
“The Government has just announced 4 pilot ‘forest industry hubs’ and 5 more prospective hubs around Australia and a goal of a billion more trees. Both the planting goal and the focus on hubs are very welcome, however without changes to allow tree planting to gain carbon payments we may see little change in the alarming downwards trajectory in plantation plantings,” Mr Hampton concluded.
However, aside from the drop in area of commecial plantations there were a number of positives that came out of the five-yearly report including: an increase in the total forested area of 4 million ha, strong growth being experienced in wood products trade with imports and exports exceeding AU$8 billion for the first time ...
The report can be downloaded by clicking here.
Source: ABARES, AFPA
Early interest for Australasian sawmilling seriesThe two-yearly technology update for sawmilling companies in New Zealand and Australia is being planned with local industry and key technology providers. It runs in September 2019.
Record numbers attended the last event in 2017 and exhibition spaces sold out at both venues. 2019 plans to be even better. Mark the date now into your diaries. Early expressions of interest (EOI) are now being sought for those who’d like to present at this years’ series.
Background: The WoodTECH series was reintroduced to Australasian sawmilling and wood manufacturing companies in 2017. After a decade of national training programmes falling over, saw-doctors groupings folding, mill closures and consolidation within the industry, local wood producers were keen on getting their teams together again at one central location. An independent forum to learn about new technology, new processes and systems, to exchange ideas and to network was being called for.
That’s where the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) stepped in. This had been a core component of their technology related events in the past. The WoodTECH series was set up with local industry and key national and global technology providers.
The WoodTECH 2017 technology series focussed on sawmilling or green-mill operations. It drew in a record number of over 400 delegates in September 2017. It was the largest gathering ever seen of sawmilling companies, saw-doctors and technology providers in Australasia. WoodTECH 2018 achieved similar support with the focus being on dry-mill or wood manufacturing technologies. Details of both events can be found on the WoodTECH 2019 website.
What’s going to be covered?
Again, an independent platform will be provided in both New Zealand and Australia for local companies to evaluate new innovations, technologies, processes and systems in sawmilling, scanning, saw maintenance and mill optimisation. Practical troubleshooting, maintenance, QC, saw alignment, training and recruitment sessions are also expected to be built into the two-day programme with short presentations, workshops, trade exhibitions and tech talks being planned.
So, if you would like to be considered as a presenter (you’d like to talk about new technology, systems or practices that are being employed which are making a real difference to a mills profitability or productivity, troubleshooting tips, case studies ... please contact email@example.com BEFORE Friday 1 March.
Airobotics wins unique drone flight approvalIsraeli drone provider Airobotics has secured the first-ever approval by Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority to operate drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) from a remote operations centre. In addition, the unique waiver allows the company to operate without the need of an air crew on site, making it the first such waiver issued by CASA.
Remote pilots are located within Airobotics Australia’s remote centre, operating more than 620 miles away from onsite systems at its customer sites. “This new ‘man on the loop’ level of operations enables human operators to supervise flights, but without requiring ‘man in the loop’ pilots to intervene in flight operations,” a company release says.
Airobotics Vice President of Aviation and Compliance Niv Russo added: “This landmark approval is a major achievement for Airobotics and its future growth across Australia. Removing aircrews from potentially dangerous environments, like mines, enables customers to extract maximum value and reduce risk from their business operations by leveraging technology and automation.”
“The [remote operations] approval sets a new benchmark for unmanned drone operations for the Asia-Pacific region, and given the technical complexity that has been overcome, is a real testament to our in-country capability,” said Joe Urli, Airobotics’ Director of Flight Operations and Chief Remote Pilot.
The company had already obtained a primary level of CASA BVLOS approval, but the new designation is the first and only ever issued by the Australian agency. Earlier this month, Airobotics secured a Certificate of Waiver from the FAA that allows them to fly Beyond Visual Line of Sight for automated drone operations over people.
Keeping our forests safe from pests and diseaseTo make reporting biosecurity risks in New Zealand as easy as possible a new smartphone app has been developed. The Find-A-Pest app ( www.findapest.nz) that allows anyone to quickly and simply report pests, diseases, and weeds and get feedback from experts within the forest sector or from iNaturalist NZ.
The app includes over 200 fact sheets of particular pests with 31 specific forestry pests. Find-A-Pest is a community of people that includes iNaturalist NZ and members of the FBC committee that will help you with identify what you see when out in the forests.
The app is being piloted between January and April 2019 and FOA is keen to use this as an opportunity to get feedback from users across New Zealand.
We need your help
We need people who are working on the ground in our forests to download the Find-A-Pest app, and report anything they think could be a suspicious pest, disease or weed. Pinenet is a major component of the forest industries biosecurity readiness plans and we value your contribution to surveillance by using the Find-A-Pest app.
You can help by: - Talking to friends and colleagues that you know are interested in forestry and encourage them to try out the Find-A-Pest app.
- Check out the ‘weed’ sector within the app and help your local council look for pest plants.
- Giving us feedback on what works well and how we can improve the app
Download the app
The app is available for Android or iPhone and is free and simple to use. Check out our short help video that explains how simple it is to make your first observation. A team of volunteers from iNaturalist NZ and forest health experts from throughout New Zealand then swings into action and helps you identify what you have seen. Identifications and comments are then fed back to you via your phone.
Download the app via this LINK.
For more information check out Find-A-Pest and our helpful tutorials online.
The Find-A-Pest app has been developed by Scion and Lincoln University in conjunction with the BioHeritage National Science Challenge, Envirolink Tools and with support from the Forest Owners Association and NZ Farm Forestry Association.
PM announces forestry boost in TasmaniaNine regional forestry hubs will be created across Australia under a federal government plan to boost the industry. Scott Morrison made the AU$12.5 million announcement on Saturday at a forest nursery at Somerset in northwest Tasmania.
Four pilot hubs will be set up in northern Tasmania, NSW, Western Australia and across the South Australia and Victoria border. "It's a recognition of a region that is strong in forestry, looking at infrastructure needs, employment needs and making sure facilities are in place to grow trees," Mr Morrison said.
"This is an exciting day for Tasmania's forest industry," Mr Morrison said. Another five hubs will be created in 2020. The government plans to add a billion trees to the national plantation industry in the next decade, to meet a growing demand for timber.
"Growing one billion new trees is a huge task," he said. "We need the infrastructure, labour and the region selected to achieve that target. We will talk to other forest communities around Australia to identify more sites."
Forestry company looks to replant by winterThe forestry company that owns 60 per cent of the plantations lost in the Nelson fire is hopeful it can start regrowing the area this winter. Tasman Pine Forests - owned by Sumitomo Forestry NZ - manages 36,200 hectares of forest in the Nelson Marlborough region of New Zealand.
The Pigeon valley fire started outside of Tasman Pine Forests estate, but soon spread to an area of 2300ha. About 1400ha - or 60 per cent of the total area burnt - was owned by the company. With the fire now contained, the company was taking stock and planning for the future.
Tasman Pine Forests chief operating officer Steve Chandler said the forestry losses were serious and the supply of logs to customers had been affected. But he said the fire was not expected to have a short or long-term impact on Tasman Pine's business in the region.
"Due to the variety of tree age classes that have been burnt with the fire containment area and the presence of areas of partially and unburnt trees which are planned to be salvaged, an estimate of financial loss will not be known until salvage operations are completed."
Tasman Pine was planning to replant parts of the burnt area this winter and further replanting would happen in subsequent years as areas are harvested or cleared of burnt material. "Once the state of emergency is lifted, we are planning to resume harvesting and log delivery operations while at the same time increasing precautionary measures to manage the risk of any further fire outbreaks.
With a number of forestry crews in the Nelson region stood down in the wake of the fire, affecting an estimated 210-240 contract workers, it was expected Tasman Pine's silvicultural crews who have had their normal work curtailed by the fire risk would be fully employed with fire control and patrol work.
Report out on new excavator-based yarderSmaller scale forest owners in New Zealand (those owning less than 1000 hectares) made up 30% of the national plantation forest estate in 2017 (MPI, 2017). Recent forecasts indicate that the potential harvest volumes available from these small-scale owners’ forests could increase from 8 million cubic metres per year to around 15 million cubic metres per year from 2020 through to 2035. This increase will help lift the total available volume for harvest up to 35 million cubic metres per year by the mid-2020s (MPI, 2016) from current levels around 30 million cubic metres.
Market conditions, such as log and lumber prices, harvesting costs, shipping costs and exchange rates, and logistics constraints such as availability of harvesting crews, log transport capacity and harvest planning factors, will drive the decision as to whether these forests will be harvested. Cable harvesting costs, a critical component affecting the economics of harvesting steep terrain forests, have steadily increased over the last 8 years in New Zealand from $32.40 per tonne in 2009 to $39.40 per tonne in 2017 (Visser, 2018), due to increasing labour and machinery costs.
The combination of increased wood availability from small forests on steep terrain, in locations remote from mills or ports means that harvesting systems must be carefully matched to these conditions to avoid high cost harvest access and harvesting. A new report, a Technology Watch report just produced by Forest Growers Research details a new excavator-based yarder, the Alpine Shovel Yarder, now working in New Zealand, that has the potential to reduce harvest access and harvesting costs, and is particularly suited to harvesting small, steep terrain forests.
Excavator-based yarders, also known as ‘Yoaders’ in North America and ‘Shovel Yarders’ in other parts of the world, are not a new development. An excavator yarder concept was described in 1990 as a response to the need for efficient and environmentally acceptable logging systems in the U.S. (Skurdahl, 1990).
Renewed interest in excavator-based yarders has lately been seen in New Zealand. Electrical and Machinery Services Ltd of Rotorua is the manufacturer of the Harvestline excavator-based yarder (E.M.S. 2018). A recent survey of yarders in 2018 identified 20 excavator yarders working in New Zealand (Harrill & Visser, 2018). This type of cable yarder represented 6% of the total number of yarders in New Zealand, up from 3% in 2012, when the last survey was undertaken. The Alpine Shovel Yarder is a recent addition to the numbers stated above.
This model of excavator-based yarder is ideally suited for extracting trees over a maximum of 450m distance on medium to steep slopes in both large scale and small-scale forests. The machine is highly mobile, it is simple to operate, is less capital intensive than larger swing yarders, and is designed to operate safely without the need for guy lines to stabilise the tower. The full report produced by FGR can be read here.
Source: Forest Growers Research
Australia’s largest continuous timber kiln openedThe biggest single capacity continuous timber kiln in Australia was opened in Dardanup earlier this month. The Wespine-operated facility has the capacity to dry 180,000cu/m of timber per year, which allowed for the replacement of five existing kilns that operated with older technology.
It will allow the timber producer to cut its gas usage by 40 per cent and lower its electricity consumption by 25 per cent while reducing ground water usage in the drying process to zero. Wespine chairman Andrew Webster said the opening of the kiln was a major milestone.
“It will be critically important to secure the business into the future,” he said. “The whole project has been a success and I thank all those involved over the past 12 months to safely bring about this outcome which is so important for this business.
South West contractors involved in the project put in more than 16,000 hours of work in order for it to be completed. Wespine managing director Patrick Warrand said the project was completed on time and under budget because of the contributions of those local companies.
Source: The West Australian
Chinese turning to autonomous tractorsA brand-new combine harvester buzzes up and down a field in eastern China without a driver on board, chopping golden rice stalks and offering a glimpse of what authorities say is the automated future of the nation’s mammoth agricultural sector.
The bright green prototype was operating last autumn during a trial of driverless farm equipment as the government pushes firms to develop within 7 years fully-automated machinery capable of planting, fertilizing and harvesting each of China’s staple crops - rice, wheat and corn.
That shift to automation is key to the farming sector in the world’s No.2 economy as it grapples with an ageing rural workforce and a dearth of young people willing to endure the hardships many associate with toiling on the land.
Other countries like Australia and the United States are taking similar steps in the face of such demographic pressures, but the sheer scale of China’s farming industry means the stakes are particularly high in its drive to automate agriculture.
“Automated farming is the way ahead and demand for it here is huge,” said Cheng Yue, general manager of tractor maker Changzhou Dongfeng CVT Co Ltd, which provided an autonomous vehicle that was also used at the trial in the rice field in Xinghua, a county in the eastern province of Jiangsu.
To try to achieve its ambitious 7-year goal, Beijing is supporting trials of local technology across the country organised by industry group Telematics Industry Application Alliance (TIAA). Members include state-owned tractor maker YTO Group, navigation systems producer Hwa Create and Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Co Ltd, which helped develop the combine harvester used in the Xinghua trial along with Jiangsu University.
The next trials are slated for the northeastern province of Heilongjiang and for the hills around the southwestern city of Chongqing in the first half of this year. Those come after a string of automated developments in the sector.
YTO developed its first driverless tractor in 2017 and is aiming to start mass production soon, depending on market demand, said Lei Jun, an executive at the firm’s technology center, without giving a more detailed timeline. Lovol Heavy Industry Co Ltd signed a deal with Baidu in April to apply the tech giant’s Apollo automated driving system to its agricultural machinery.
“China is expected to climb the autonomous technology ladder very quickly, mainly because Chinese companies can access the local navigation satellite system, which gives them an advantage over their international peers,” said Alexious Lee, Head of China Industrial Research at Hong Kong brokerage CLSA.
He was referring to China’s ‘Beidou’ homegrown satellite navigation system, a rival to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS). Beijing has included agricultural machinery in its ‘Made in China 2025’ campaign, meaning the vast majority of its farm equipment should be produced at home by that time.
Semi-automated technology is already fairly common on farms in places such as the United States, but fully-automated tractors and combines have yet to be mass-produced anywhere.
Responsible Wood recertification backs VicForestsVicForests has announced its successful 3-year re-certification under the Responsible Wood standard. An audit was conducted across the business in December 2018 and recommended VicForests re-certification highlighting its thorough workplace and contractor safety standards, contractor management and continued contribution to research.
The Responsible Wood standard is endorsed by the international Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) – the largest such system in the world which covers more than 300 million hectares of forest, has 49 national members and equates to around two-thirds of the world's total certified forest area.
General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Alex Messina, said VicForests was proud of its Responsible Wood certification which has been maintained for more than 10 years. “This is a terrific result which shows VicForests continues to be a responsible native timber harvesting business,” Mr Messina said.
VicForests has maintained Responsible Wood certification since 2007 and undertakes regular independent audits to monitor its management systems and operations in accordance with these requirements. All major commercial native timber harvesting enterprises across Australia are certified under this system including Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.
Under the standard, VicForests’ operations are assessed against 9 criteria, including its management systems, biodiversity and stakeholder engagement. VicForests is audited under the Responsible Wood standard every nine months to ensure it continues to meet the Australian standard of environmental protection, safety and corporate compliance.
In 2018, VicForests also announced it would seek FSC Controlled Wood standard by 2020. The Responsible Wood Audit report is available at the VicForests website at www.vicforests.com.au.
Nominations open for East Coast forestry awardsNominations are open for the biggest celebration of the East Coast of New Zealand’s forestry industry — the Eastland Wood Council Forestry Awards 2019. This is the 10th anniversary of the awards, which celebrate and recognise those who drive the local industry.
Wood council chief executive Kim Holland says the anniversary is also a time to reflect on past awards and achievements. “It is a huge milestone for the industry nationally,” she says. Event manager Prue Younger, who has been involved from the start, has seen a rise in the calibre of entries over the years, along with numbers attending the awards evening.
“Every one has been memorable. The evening is always a sell-out and this year will be no different, with around 600 people expected.” Previous supreme winners will be invited to attend the anniversary dinner and organisers are hopeful all will be on hand to toast the 2019 stars.
A new category this year is the Woman in Forestry Certificate, which recognises a female forester who demonstrates excellence across a range of skills, going above and beyond in any area of the timber industry.
Other categories include forestry excellence, roading, harvesting, distribution, wood processing, construction, individual faller, pavement excellence, health and safety, regional service, contractor of the year and the environment.
The concept of local forestry awards was first floated by Matt Wakelin, a then member of the Eastland Wood Council. “I just thought it would be good to recognise the workers in the forest and, in doing so, present the positive side of the industry,” he said. He left Gisborne before the first awards evening was held, but will be back to help toast those he sought to be recognised and says it is a special event to attend.
“Seeing that room full of people, with people being recognised for their work in the forest, and the community support it gets, it is great.” The awards will be held on Friday, May 17, at the Showgrounds Park Event Centre, Gisborne.
Source: Gisborne Herald
OneFortyOne appoints Industry Career ChampionIn its ongoing transformation into a vertically integrated trans-Tasman sustainable timber products organisation, OneFortyOne has announced a new leadership role in its Green Triangle operations – reflective of its commitment to create a more balanced and diverse workplace.
OneFortyOne’s Chief People Officer, Peter Brydon said “At OneFortyOne, we believe an inclusive culture that is rich in diverse thinking, ideas and experience ultimately brings better results. We have established the role of Industry Career Champion Green Triangle to create greater focus and traction in this important area within our company.”
Linda Cotterill, a member of the company’s senior operational leadership team for the past two years, and with over 20 years’ experience in the industry, has been appointed into the role. Linda has deep understanding of the sector and is well respected in both the timber industry and the Green Triangle community.
In the new role, Linda will be responsible for developing strategies that create a more diverse workforce with a focus on youth and women. She will also work to capture and transfer the extensive experience and knowledge of the company’s more seasoned people, maximising their impact and ongoing involvement in the sector. And finally, she will work within the company on ideas to improve the overall health and wellbeing of all employees.
“I am delighted that Linda has accepted the role. We believe Linda’s personal strengths and qualities will have a positive impact on our business. She has long-standing relationships across the region and a keen interest to transform the industry for the next generation. We wish her every success moving forward.” said Mr Brydon.
We need evolution not revolutionOn Wednesday 13 February the New Zealand government announced the proposed major changes to New Zealand’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) system. Competenz, one of the country’s largest industry training organisations (ITOs), says the announcement by Education Minister Chris Hipkins proposing reforms to the sector could undermine critical workplace and apprenticeship training – training that is vital in addressing New Zealand’s skills shortages.
“The changes the government has proposed in its Vocational Education and Training review are more complex and far-reaching than we expected," says Competenz chief executive Fiona Kingsford. "It’s unprecedented. There is no doubt the VET system needs modification and funding needs to be realigned to deliver what our industries need – but these changes are too radical.
“In a time of critical skills shortages, the last thing we want is a reform that risks undermining workplace training and apprenticeship programmes.” New Zealand’s skills shortage is acute. The engineering industry alone will need another 12,000 engineers by 2022.
“If we start this reform in 2020, there’s no way we’re going to hit that target. Yes, the system needs reform and yes, we need to address the funding inequalities, but in our opinion, the VET changes are not the way to do it,” says Mrs Kingsford.
Research has shown that for every NZ$1million of government investment into tertiary education, the industry training system produces 306 qualified people – people who are able to immediately contribute to New Zealand’s economy - while polytechnics produce 50.
“Taxpayers are getting a much better return on investment through industry training compared to other tertiary options and it is disappointing that the ITPs (Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics) have dominated the government’s proposed changes. We need evolution not revolution.”
The consultation timeline is very tight; we have under six weeks to respond. Submissions are due by Wednesday 27 March 2019.
Source & Photo: Competenz
New publishing system for forestry science journalThe New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science shifted to a new operating model on 1 January 2019. Owned by Scion and operating since 1971, this international peer-reviewed journal is now published via a new website and online editorial system using OJS software, replacing those previously supplied by Springer Nature.
The journal has a new editorial team comprising Drs Peter Beets, Ecki Brockerhoff and John Moore from Scion and Professor Euan Mason from the University of Canterbury. They are supported by associate editors from USA, South Africa, China, Finland and New Zealand.
Covering the breadth of forestry science, the New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science focuses on planted forests but will consider manuscripts on a wide range of forestry topics. The journal is freely accessible online, and subscription is not necessary. Now in its 49th year there is one volume per calendar year but no separate issues. Individual articles are published online as soon as they are ready.
Read more about the journal and make a submission at nzjforestryscience.nz.
Access to PDF files of all papers published prior to 2019 is available on the Scion website by clicking here.
Scion is the only Crown research institute to publish an academic journal and moved to this new operating model to continue its financial support for free access to more than 1550 journal papers.
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... and one to end the week on ... signs of the times
Sign in a shoe repair shop:
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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