Friday Offcuts – 17 May 2019

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It’s time now for some 16.5 million Australians to vote in tomorrow’s Federal election. From a forestry perspective, the Australian Forest Products Association has been out there actively pushing the industry’s case and keeping the main political parties honest with a series of regional meetings, a national live streamed forest industries debate and a barrage of media releases. So, with one day to go, how do the political parties’ rate then – from a forestry and wood products perspective? From the AFPA’s analysis, the ALP is leading the Coalition. Further details on the ranking and analysis can be found in this week’s lead story.

At recent FIEA technology events, tech providers have been outlining how integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into businesses and operations is already making a significant difference to their bottom line. The release of results from a new AI study undertaken by Microsoft, in partnership with IDC Asia/Pacific reinforces that message. From NZ business leaders polled, those companies that have adopted AI expect it to increase their competitiveness by 2 times by 2021. Similar stats from an Australian survey are also supplied. Next week in New Zealand, the nationwide Techweek festival starts with hundreds of events again this year being run across the country, including many focused on Artificial Intelligence. In Australia this week, AI has also featured in the country’s largest gathering of manufacturing professionals at the National Manufacturing Week. It’s being run in Melbourne and finishes today. With all of this AI technology though comes the requirement for upskilling or reskilling existing workers.

AI though isn’t the only industry looking for skilled workers. Forestry is desperately looking to attract young technology savvy students and workers into the industry. We know that it’s a pretty competitive market place out there and I think most of us have now twigged that a couple of pull up banners and a brochure at the local school’s career day these days just isn’t going to cut it. We’re increasingly turning to demonstrating, using recent graduates or younger workers, the increasing array of high-tech tools that we’re now using. Just how competitive the marketplace is out there has recently been highlighted in a piece written by Graeme Muller, CEO of NZTech.

For IT Professionals, a local campaign has been set up to attract skilled tech professionals into New Zealand. When last it ran 18 months ago, more than 48,000 applications (yes, you’re reading this correctly) were received for just 100 tech roles on offer. This year, within just a few weeks of the marketing kicking in, over 2,500 screened profiles had been received for LookSee Tech with candidates being drawn from all around the world.

The competition is fierce. With numbers like these though, if we’re able to position the industry in the right light and we’re able to push the right buttons, the opportunities are there to attract these same skills into our increasingly high-tech forestry industry. Take a look for example at the Think Digital team who are delivering immersive technology experiences for students across Australia using virtual reality. A real-life immersive experience of the Australian forestry and timber industry is now ready to be rolled out to classrooms across Australia! Maybe we just need to think outside the square on how best we can position ourselves. And on that note, enjoy this week’s read.



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Australian election scorecard for forestry

An analysis by the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), of forest industry related policy commitments has revealed that the ALP leads the Coalition as the campaign enters its last few days.

Chair of AFPA, Mr Greg McCormack said, “Our industries have spent two years developing a growth plan for our sector to provide all candidates clear guidance as to the enabling policy change and seed funding, which is required to grow and support forest industries. Our plan would generate another AU$5 billion in economic activity and see the creation of some 20,000 more jobs, especially in our rural and regional communities.”

AFPA’s 10 Actions for Growth, ranged across the bio-economy, trade, social purpose and renewable energy policy. The pillars of the growth plan however, were the twin policy objectives of ensuring no further reduction of the very small amount of native forestry which is vital to supply hardwood timber, and the growth of our plantation estate.

The ALP and Liberal/National Parties both signed up to support native forestry by promising rolling Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) and no further reduction in the small area of multi-use forests nationally that are available for timber production and sustainably regenerated.

Both Parties also scored well for backing the growth goal of 400,000 additional hectares of production forest trees to be planted over the next decade. The key change which industry has been seeking throughout the campaign however is the altering of a policy to allow that bipartisan 400,000-hectare target to be met.

Mr McCormack said, “Forest industries have been requesting the removal of an artificial regulatory barrier, or water rule, which discriminates against farmers and landowners gaining carbon credits planting production trees. No such barrier exists for planting trees for environmental purposes. The ALP announced early on in the campaign that this ‘nonsense’ rule would be quickly removed with no caveats attached to the promise.

“For its part the Government declined to match this promise instead announcing AU$500 million in low interest loans to help the planting of production trees. Whilst a welcome development, our analysis suggests that this will not be as successful a policy measure as allowing forestry into carbon markets, which is why it was not requested during this campaign. For this reason, the removal of the water rule earns the ALP higher marks than the Liberal/National Parties,” Mr McCormack said.

“The key to achieving a sustainable and careful uptick in plantations in Australia must be to ensure that we now plant the right trees, in the right places, at the right scale and gain community support wherever this occurs.

“For this reason, we have been working with farmers for several years to ensure they are a major beneficiary of an increase in production trees. They potentially can gain carbon credits for trees as they grow, increase the value of their primary production and then sell the timber when the trees mature and start the cycle again. To ensure this happens, AFPA has also been calling for thirteen Regional Forest Industry Hubs to be funded to the tune of AU$1 million each.

“The Hubs would be centred around current forestry regions ensuring that there are established buyers for the timber which will be grown and underpinning further economic growth in these communities. Labor has said it will commit AU$13 million across the 13 Hubs, while the Coalition has committed AU$5 million in funding for five Hubs and has said four more will follow next year. The ALP therefore also has a superior position in this policy area,” Mr McCormack concluded.

Neither side scored well in terms of support for research and development. Labor says it will examine the issue if elected, but has not addressed requests to support the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI). The Liberal/Nationals say they support the NIFPI, but have not announced funding for the two existing centres in Launceston and Mount Gambier, or specifics around any additional centres.

Both Parties scored for supporting the circular economy and efforts to improve social purpose.

Source: AFPA

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NZ$58 million earmarked for forestry

The Wellbeing Budget will enable further transformation of New Zealand’s forestry sector after the successful rollout of the Government’s One Billion Trees programme, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says.

“Forestry plays a key role in many of our Government’s priority areas – enhancing regional development, supporting Maori to realise the potential of their land, improving water quality, reducing carbon emissions and creating jobs,” Shane Jones said.

“The One Billion Trees ambition is ahead of target. The Wellbeing Budget is delivering NZ$58 million in funding to ensure this remains the case while also catalysing further transformation of such an important sector.

“The funding will allow Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) to increase its regional presence to ensure foresters and landowners have the support they need and will also see the agency focus on the Government’s goal of developing a sustainable, domestic forestry workforce.

“A key part to achieving our vision for the sector will be delivering in the regions and we will see a new premises built in Rotorua – the heart of the forestry sector – showcasing the use of wood in construction and accommodating Te Uru Rākau’s growth.

“By growing the regional presence, we have a huge opportunity to work even more closely with landowners – particularly Māori and farmers – to revitalise our regions and create real benefits across the country. Forestry is a great choice which will help landowners to diversify their income, invest in a sustainable future and increase productivity through improved land-use, including tackling erosion".

“Along with this, we will see Te Uru Rākau lead important work to capture and add value to the sector. They have been tasked with strengthening the domestic market for wood products and working closely with the sector to support investment in forestry.

“One of the priorities for the wellbeing budget is to transform the economy. This announcement will help us to do this in a sustainable way. With forestry worth over $6 billion to our economy, the Wellbeing Budget gives clear and visible leadership to Te Uru Rākau to build a sustainable sector that delivers improved social, environmental and economic benefits for New Zealand,” Shane Jones said.

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Connected C-me vest enhances driver safety

Truck driver safety takes big steps forward with the introduction of the technology laden safety vest. The Scania C-me vest is a connected safety vest that features automatic lighting when exiting the cab. If the driver falls while outside the truck and becomes inactive a sensor in the Scania C-me will trigger a call for help. Final verification tests are underway, and the vest is planned to be available at Scania dealers from mid-2019.

The patented vest, developed on behalf of Scania by Swedish start-ups Light Flex and Imagimob, addresses a growing concern about the dangers of work conducted in the vicinity of the truck. Professional driving is a highly hazardous activity, involving risks far higher than those encountered in virtually any other occupation or most other activities of daily life.

As noted in an EU report, drivers have numerous additional tasks to perform such as loading and unloading of vehicles, coupling and uncoupling trailers, ensuring that cargo is appropriately secured, as well as checking and maintaining their vehicles before starting their next journey. All these activities can pose risks to drivers.

In Europe, transport and storage constitute the third most common work activity involved in fatal accidents. A Danish study has confirmed that among truck drivers, falls from heights causing fractures are commonplace. Analyses show that major triggering factors for falls from heights on and around the truck are stepping off the edge at height, wrong footing and loss of balance.

The sensor fitted in the C-me collar automatically detects when the driver exits the cab and the vest is automatically lit, optionally with blinking or steady lights. The sensor also detects if the driver is inactive after a rapid involuntary movement such as a fall. This triggers the connected app to allow the driver to send a text alert to a pre-set emergency number while also relaying their GPS position.

The Android app, Sense, can also display user data such as battery status, the number of times the cab has been entered and exited, and other relevant information. With a wireless connection the vest can update its software over the air. The vest is reversible with one hi-vis lit side while the other is a more neutral grey to wear when not working in or around the truck. Even without the lighting features the vest meets European legal Class 2 requirements for hi vis protective clothing.

The developers have ensured this is an innovative connected wearable piece of protective clothing, including the fact that the vest is washable when the electronics in the collar are removed.

Source: Scania.com



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Deep in the Forest with ForestLearning

If you follow Think Digital you may have seen some recent “behind the scenes” updates from deep in various forests around the country. We've been working in partnership with ForestLearning, whose mandate is to create free teaching resources aligned to the Australian Curriculum with a focus on Australian forests and sustainable timber products.

And what better way to inspire and educate the next generation than to take them on an immersive journey from seed, forest growth and then right through to processing and end product.

This real-life immersive experience of the Australian timber industry is now ready to be rolled out to classrooms across Australia! Partnering with organisations like ForestLearning really inspires us to create content that aligns closely with the curriculum to make it easier for teachers to incorporate the technology, and the stories into their classrooms. For more information on the array of projects the company has been working on, click here.

Source: Think Digital

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Expressions of Interest – ForestTECH 2019

ForestTECH is this region’s premier technology series. It’s run for Australasia’s forest resource managers, planners, inventory foresters and GIS and mapping specialists by the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA). Since 2007, it’s the one event every year that focuses on this particular part of the forestry industry.

Forest owners, forestry managers, key researchers and technology providers now also pick up the opportunity of building in their own client meetings, workshops and discussion groups around the event.

Well over 250 delegates attended the ForestTECH series in November 2018. All of the major forestry companies in Australia and New Zealand were represented. With the technology series now well and truly making its mark on the forestry technology calendar, representatives from major Indonesian, Malaysian, South African and South American forestry companies also attended ForestTECH 2018.

The focus for ForestTECH 2018 was “unlocking the true value of data”. New systems for better measuring, managing and analysing this information were reviewed. Emphasis was also put on research findings and operational implementation of some of the key research findings from in-forest trials and the three-year, AU$1.8 million collaborative research project on remote sensing jointly funded by Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA), forestry companies, universities and government.

What’s planned for 2019?

Key themes for this year’s event will include;

- Storage, processing and management of "big data"
- The practical application of automation, robotics and sensors by forest managers
- Integrating virtual and augmented reality into forestry operations
- Results and lessons from reconciling remote sensing data into the field
- Satellite tools for mapping, planning and operations
- New innovations in mobile forest apps and collection tools
- Results from remote sensing research and in-forest trials
- Workflow solutions for data collected from airborne and UAV systems
- New mapping and GIS applications
- Changing skill sets required by today’s forest resource managers


At this stage, we’re now calling for early expressions of interest for presenting at this year’s November series. It’s planned to run in Melbourne, Australia on 13-14 November and then again in Rotorua, New Zealand on 19-20 November.

Further details can be found on the event website. Information on exhibition opportunities will be sent out in the next month or so. If interested in presenting this year, please contact the Programme Manager, brent.apthorp@fiea.org.nz BEFORE Friday 24 May.



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NZ ETS changes announced

The second set of improvements to the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) have been announced to further encourage greenhouse gas emissions reductions and increase forestry planting, said the Minister for Climate Change.

These latest changes will:

- improve transparency within the NZ ETS,
- increase rates of compliance with the scheme,
- pave the way for robust NZ ETS auctions,
- ensure that the fixed price option is removed no later than the end of 2022,
- enable a price floor to be added to the NZ ETS if necessary, in future.

From 2021, changes designed to increase transparency of the NZ ETS will let the public access more information about the scheme, including the emissions of individual NZ ETS participants.

“It’s critical for public trust in the NZ ETS that information is readily available,” James Shaw said. “It’s also crucial that participants comply with their obligations”.

NZ ETS compliance rates are expected to increase as a result of planned changes to the existing penalty regime which will see penalties separated into two categories; one related to reporting compliance and the other related to surrender/repayment obligations.

NZ ETS auctions, which are planned to begin in late 2020, will also be strengthened by these changes. “We have enabled the appointment of an auction monitor to independently oversee NZ ETS auctions. An auction monitor will minimise anti-competitive behaviour and promote fair access to auctions,” said Mr Shaw.

Under the latest changes the current $25 fixed price option price ceiling (FPO) will be removed when auctioning begins, or no later than 31 December 2022. “This ensures that the FPO will be removed while also allowing for any unexpected events, such as a delay to the introduction of auctioning,” Mr Shaw said.

More >>.

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AI to double the rate of innovation

By 2021, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will allow the rate of innovation in New Zealand to double. Employee productivity gains are also expected to increase 1.5 times, according to a new AI study released by Microsoft, in partnership with IDC Asia/Pacific.

The research, “Future Ready Business: Assessing Asia Pacific’s Growth Potential Through AI”, found more than three-quarters of business leaders polled agreed AI is instrumental for their organisation’s competitiveness. However, only 51% of organisations in New Zealand have embarked on their AI journeys. Those companies that have adopted AI expect it to increase their competitiveness by 2 times in 2021.

Microsoft NZ national technology officer Russell Craig who spoke last week at the country’s premier Agri-Tech event, MobileTECH 2019, says, “Today, every company is a software company, and increasingly, every interaction is digital. To be successful in this new world, organisations need to be a fast adopter of best-in-class technology. They also need to build their own unique digital capabilities.

“AI is the defining technology of our time that significantly accelerates business transformation, enables innovation, boosts employee productivity, and ensures further growth. Economies and businesses that have yet to embark on their AI journey run a real risk of missing out on the competitive benefits that are enjoyed by leaders.”

For the organisations that have implemented AI initiatives, the top five business drivers to adopt the technology were (in priority order): Better customer engagement (46% of respondents named it as the number one driver); higher margins (17%); higher competitiveness (13%); accelerated innovation (12%) and business intelligence (8%). More >>.

Results from the Australian survey can also be viewed here.

Source: Microsoft

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Safety Culture initiative up for H&S award

Safetree’s Growing our Safety Culture programme has been named as a finalist in the NZ Workplace H&S Awards. This nomination is a well-deserved recognition of the work done by everyone who helped get this excellent programme off the ground, as well as all the companies and crews who have used and supported it. Well done to all of you!

The aim of the Growing our Safety Culture programme is to improve worker involvement in health and safety decision-making. Better worker engagement, by default, leads to better risk management. The programme also helps develop the leadership skills of foremen and managers - which also improves risk management.

At the end of March, 786 people had been through the programme - including 73 crews, 37 forest-owner staff groups, and 41 contractors or crew bosses. Eleven forest owners or contractors had run the programme with their crews, contractors, foremen or their own staff. These companies were: Timberlands, NZFM, Port Blakely, Ernslaw One, JNL, Rayonier Matariki, City Forests, Hancock Forest Management, Nelson Forests, Summit Forests and Kohurau Contracting.

Timberlands has decided to put everyone through the programme, including its board. And Port Blakely’s North American shareholders were so impressed with it, that they have run it with some of their crews in the US.

Growing our Safety Culture is a finalist in the category for best leadership of an industry or sector. Another forestry company made the finalists list - Hancock Forest Management NZ in the worker engagement category. Congratulations to everyone at HFMNZ involved in that work.

The winners of the awards will be announced on 28 May.

See more about the Growing our Safety Culture programme.

View the Growing our Safety Culture resources.

Source: Fiona Ewing, National Safety Director, FISC




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The relevance of aerial mapping 2019 and beyond

Reality 3D models, Lidar points clouds, superhigh-resolution aerial imagery and artificial intelligence from aerial imagery… these are just a few of the products derived from aerial mapping that the GIS sector takes for granted in 2019. Despite the plethora of high-resolution Earth observation satellites and the exponentially increasing impact of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or 'drones') on the aerial mapping sector, most large and medium-scale ‘topographic’ or GIS map data is still derived from manned aircraft, whether fixed-wing or rotary.

But the multitude of systems and processes can make selecting the correct aerial mapping technology a complicated and confusing process. This article takes a brief look at the latest aerial mapping systems and processes, along with the ever-expanding range of products and services derived from such systems. More >>.

Source: gim-international.com



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Brazil’s eucalyptus log exports soar

Brazil is Latin America’s biggest economy, and one of its top exports is wood. But with rising concerns over deforestation, businesses are turning to sustainable alternatives. CGTN’s Paulo Cabral reports on the emergence of a new market for eucalyptus.




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Hunter Harrill to leave for Humboldt, USA

Dr. Hunter Harrill, who has been at the University of Canterbury School of Forestry for just over 8 years, will be taking up a new position early August as Assistant Professor at Humboldt State University, USA. It’s not only our University students that have greatly benefited from Hunters’ knowledge and enthusiasm of all things harvesting, but Hunter will also be well known to many New Zealand harvesting contractors – especially those working with cable logging systems.

He has carried out many applied research projects around the country as part of the FGR research programme. As just one example, this knowledge has culminated in him running cable logging and planning workshops, as well as more recently Productivity Coaching for Rayonier and Ernslaw One crews.

While his departure will be a great loss for the School of Forestry, it is also an excellent opportunity for Hunter and his wife Katie. They head back to the place where they both studied, have family, and he started his career, in the magnificent redwood forests of northern California. Hunter will be able to make a valuable contribution not only to teaching the next generation of foresters there, but for example also help their logging industry as they start to expand into winch-assist operations. This is already providing some collaboration opportunities between the two regions renowned for cable logging and working on steep slopes.

We thank Hunter for his major contribution to the both the School of Forestry and our NZ industry and wish him and Katie all the best for the future.

Rien Visser, Director of Forest Engineering, UC.

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NZ and China sign forestry cooperation arrangement

An arrangement signed by New Zealand and China this week paves the way for future forestry cooperation and boosting bilateral trade, NZ Forestry Minister Shane Jones says. The arrangement was signed on Monday in Wellington by Shane Jones and Mr Zhang Jianlong, the Administrator of China’s National Forestry and Grasslands Administration.

“The updated arrangement supports and strengthens links between government, industry and research institutes in New Zealand and China. It provides a framework to address matters such as sustainability, wood processing and utilisation, and trade and investment,” Shane Jones said.

“The forestry sector is an important and growing part of our bilateral trade with China, with export revenue topping NZ$3.2 billion in the year ending 2018. Much of this growth has come from increased Chinese demand for New Zealand forestry products, supporting both continued high prices and record export volumes”.

“A number of Chinese companies choose to use wood sourced from New Zealand for their manufacturing, and I’m keen to see how we can grow the relationship further, especially for our respective wood processing industries”.

“With my Chinese counterpart, I have agreed that officials will cooperate to encourage increased trade, including in value-added wood products. I’m pleased to announce that we will hold talks in China later this year, which industry will be invited to, to promote government-to-government and industry-to-industry collaboration”.

“Ensuring an end-to-end value chain for our logs and forest products, along with our relationships with trading partners, including China, are an important part of achieving these aspirations,” Shane Jones said.

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Northern Australia forestry industry consultation forums

Northern Australian forestry industry stakeholders are encouraged to register for free consultation forums to have their say on future actions for regions industry growth.

The forums, to be held in Cairns, Nhulunbuy, Darwin and Karratha in June and July, are part of the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) project to identify the growth potential for northern Australia’s forestry and forestry products industry.

Forum participants will be invited to provide input into initial findings of a literature review of strategic documents and regulatory frameworks to identify the extent of commercially productive resources including native, plantation and farm forests.

The project team seeks to develop longer term relationships with forum attendees to seek further input on the final report and future actions for policy, R & D and investment decisions.

Forums are open to anyone engaged in or wanting to be engaged in the forestry and forest products industry, but specifically:

- forest owners and managers
- harvesting contractors
- processors
- Land Councils
- Associations and peak industry bodies - Government representatives

CAIRNS
When: Tuesday 11 June 10.00am – 12.30pm
Where: Rydges Plaza Cairns, 50 Grafton St, Cairns City

NHULUNBUY
When: Wednesday 12 June 10.00am – 12.30pm
Where: Gulf Room, Walkabout Lodge, 12 Westal Street , Nhulunbuy

DARWIN
When: Thursday 13 June 10.00am – 12.30pm
Where: Northern Australia Development Office Boardroom Development House, 76 The Esplanade, Darwin

KARRATHA
When: Thursday 10 July 1.30pm – 3.00pm
Where: Karratha International Hotel, Corner of Hillview and Millstream Roads, Karratha

To register to attend these free forums, please RSVP to sarah@timberqueensland.com.au providing your name and contact information and which venue you will attend.

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... and one to end the week on ... peanuts

A tour bus driver is driving with a bus load of seniors down a highway when he is tapped on his shoulder by a little old lady.

She offers him a handful of peanuts, which he gratefully munches up. After about 15 minutes, she taps him on his shoulder again and she hands him another handful of peanuts.

She repeats this gesture about five more times.

When she is about to hand him another batch again he asks the little old lady, "why don't you eat the peanuts yourself?".

"We can't chew them because we've no teeth", she replied.

The puzzled driver asks, "Why do you buy them then?"

The old lady replied, "We just love the chocolate around them."



And one more for you. The Prime Minister decided it was time to do some public relations at a local nursing home.

She begins her “tour” down the main hallway and passes by a little old man who doesn’t seem to notice her. Sensing this, the Prime Minister backtracks to the resident and asks, “Do you know who I am?”

The little old man looks up from his walker and says, “No, but if you go to the front desk, they will tell you your name.”






And on that note, enjoy your weekend. For our Australian readers, remember to get out there and vote tomorrow. Cheers.

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


This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at www.fridayoffcuts.com

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