Friday Offcuts 24 May 2019
In keeping with the focus for the ForestTECH 2019 event at the end of this year – and responses received from our Expressions of Interest to present at this year’s annual tech series that we posted in last week’s issue, we cover a couple of stories directly linked to technologies around forest resource management and data collection. In New Zealand, eight regional councils have just received the green light, and NZ$14 million of co-funding from the Provincial Growth Fund, to obtain LiDAR elevation datasets. This follows on from an PGF announcement late last year that through PGF, NZ$19 million was going to be invested in expanding 3D mapping in the regions.
The project is going to provide data for over half of New Zealand’s land area and once the initiative is complete, the country’s total LiDAR coverage is expected to increase to approximately 80 per cent, from the 10 per cent currently. One of the major beneficiaries of course will be the forestry industry with local Council’s now able to better utilise the data for work on infrastructure planning and investment. In Australia, a project by Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has also just commenced. It’s the State’s largest ever acquisition of airborne LiDAR data across some 1.35 million hectares of Victorian public forests.
And finally, as anticipated and reported, the two-yearly tech update ( HarvestTECH 2019) being run for logging operations around this region SOLD OUT last Friday. This is five weeks before the event is due to run in Rotorua on 26-27 June. It’s going to be the largest gathering of harvesting contractors, harvest planners, forestry operations and equipment suppliers to the industry yet seen in New Zealand. It’s going to be a full house with around 450 registered for the event. In addition to Kiwis coming into Rotorua from throughout the country, over 50 key contactor’s and suppliers will be travelling in from Australia, North America, South America and Europe. Registrations can still be made on the website but at this stage we’ll only be registering your interest to attend with any details being added to a waiting list. Information and some of the key announcements from the two-day event for those who have been slow to register will follow in July. That’s it for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
New brand launched to reframe forestryForest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) is preparing to launch The Ultimate Renewable™, a new brand that offers a universal, positive communications message for the sector to share. Eileen Newbury, National Marketing and Communications Manager at FWPA, said it’s all about reframing forestry in the eyes of the public.
“The messages underpinning the brand will aim to educate the public that Wood is The Ultimate Renewable™ resource, as it can be replanted and will continually grow back,” Eileen said. “By making and reinforcing the association between wood and the word ‘renewable’, we are aiming to encourage the community to embrace forest and wood products across the supply chain.”
FWPA will be encouraging as many industry players as possible to access The Ultimate Renewable™ branding via the FWPA and WoodSolutions websites, and incorporate it into their own collateral and communications.
“The brand will promote wood and forestry as unique compared to other renewable resources, thanks to the versatility and utility of timber. After all, it’s the only renewable resource that can be used to build and create – you can’t build a house from sources such as solar or wind,” Eileen said.
“The fundamental goals are to drive demand for wood and wood products, attract local and international financial investment and prompt regulatory and educational changes – all of which will contribute towards growing the forestry industry here in Australia and beyond.” The Ultimate Renewable™ brand resulted from extensive collaboration and consultation between FWPA and the industry.
Research consultancy Pollinate was engaged by the Australian Government to host workshops with 70 industry CEOs and managers from across Australia. From these workshops, it was agreed the biggest impact could be made through the creation of more positive positioning to be adopted across the industry.
To back up the insights gained through these industry workshops, focus groups were conducted with consumers, exploring attitudes and testing various brand concepts to pinpoint the messages and elements that resonated.
FWPA will act as the central point for the coordination and marketing of The Ultimate Renewable™. Promotion includes a consumer television advertising campaign and these details are set to be announced at a series of launch events in June.
At the same time, FWPA will be phasing out its existing branding on Wood. Naturally Better™. Since its launch in 2009, many companies have used this branding on their websites, letterheads and signage, and FWPA will now make contact with these licensees to support them with the migration to The Ultimate Renewable™.
Details on the new brand and planned launches of the campaign across Australia can be veiwed here.
NZ$14M to expand LiDAR mapping across NZThe Bay of Plenty is one of the eight regions that will receive co-funding from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to obtain LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) elevation datasets. Eight Regional Councils, in partnership with their Territorial Authorities and others, have applied for and will receive NZ$14 million of co-funding from the PGF to obtain LiDAR elevation datasets.
Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is managing this initiative on behalf of the Provincial Development Unit (responsible for administration of the Government’s PGF) following an announcement that the PGF will invest up to NZ$19 million to expand 3D mapping in the regions.
The eight regions which will receive co-funding from the Provincial Growth Fund are Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Tasman, Marlborough, Canterbury, West Coast and Southland. The first round of applications for co-funding closed on March 1 2019. The LiDAR capture proposed in the eight applications will provide data for over half of New Zealand’s land area. Once the initiative is complete, New Zealand’s total LiDAR coverage should increase to approximately 80 per cent, from 10 per cent currently.
“The elevation data captured by LiDAR supports the regions to make critical infrastructure investment decisions and prepare their communities and industries for climate change,” says Jan Pierce, Deputy Chief Executive, Location Information, LINZ. “It’s also crucial for urban planning, construction and engineering.”
“Having highly accurate land information also supports good planning and decision-making by industries looking to invest in the regions, particularly in the agriculture and forestry sectors. This investment will be an important enabler of investment and growth into the future,” says Robert Pigou, Head of the Provincial Development Unit.
LINZ will soon issue a request for tender to select aerial survey companies for data collection. A second round of co-funding, with applications due February 28 2020, allows more time for other councils to prepare co-funding applications.
Elevation data products created through the project will be available as open data through the LINZ Data Service.
September sawmilling technology series details outMark the dates into your diary – if you’re a sawmiller. Two years ago – over two weeks – the WoodTECH conference series run by the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) achieved a record turnout of sawmilling companies. They were drawn from throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Over 400 delegates from all major sawmilling companies in the region in addition to leading technology providers from throughout Australasia, North America and Europe converged on Melbourne, Australia and Rotorua, New Zealand.
Two years later, in September 2019, WoodTECH 2019 will again be attracting scanning, sawing, saw and mill maintenance technology specialists, innovators and leading practitioners from around the world to this region.
The two-day independent programme will again provide New Zealand and Australian sawmills a unique opportunity to learn about the very latest in technologies and operating practices from around the globe. “This will be achieved through a series of tailored presentations, practical workshops and on-site exhibitions that have been set up with industry”, says FIEA Director, Brent Apthorp.
Together with industry, the two-day programmes have now been completed and have been uploaded onto the event website. They can be viewed on the WoodTECH 2019 website. For ready reference, click here for the NZ Programme and Australian Programme. They run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 11-12 September and Melbourne, Australia on 17-18 September.
Who’s involved. The list is comprehensive. Check it out. It’s one of the largest gatherings of international sawmilling and tech providers seen at any WoodTECH event in Australasia. Companies involved in either presenting or exhibiting at this stage now include;
USNR, USA/Canada, ScanMeg, Canada, Optimil Machinery, Canada, LMI Technologies, Sweden, Nicholson Manufacturing, Canada, JoeScan, USA, EWD/Linck, Germany, IWT-Moldrup Asia Pacific, Singapore, TS Manufacturing, Canada, SiCam Systems, Canada, GCAR Design, Canada, Lewis Controls, USA, Taqtile, Singapore, TimberSmart, NZ, Timberlink, Australia, Precision Machinery, Canada, Williams & White, Canada, Simonds International, USA, Winsaw Mill Services, NZ, Holtec, NZ, KeyKnife, Braford Industries, Australia, Andritz, NZ, ILS, NZ, Pacific Sawmill Engineering, NZ, Supply Services, NZ, High Duty Plastics, NZ, Modern Engineering, Australia, Thode Knife & Saw, NZ, Tui Technology, NZ, Checkmate Precision Cutting Tools, NZ, Saito, NZ, HewSaw, Australia, Stinger World, Australia, Automation & Electronics, NZ, AKE Sales Tech, Australia, Accurate Group, Australia, Indufor Asia Pacific, NZ, The Lean Hub, NZ, Fagus Grecon, Germany, Prodetec/Firefly, Australia, Phoenix Sawmill Supply, Australia
Further details on the tech series will follow. Registrations to both events in the series are now open and can be accessed via www.woodtech.events. Registrations are already coming in. So, if you’re involved in sawmilling in either country, now’s the time to look at options to get your production teams through to either of the two major events being planned for September.
Wood. The Ultimate Renewable™ launchedForest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) hosted a launch event in Melbourne on Tuesday evening, unveiling a new brand to the industry ahead of a consumer advertising campaign next month.
The Ultimate Renewable™ (detailed in a lead story two weeks ago) will promote the sustainability and environmental advantages of Australia's forest and wood products industry, with the goal of reframing forestry in the eyes of the public.
The messages underpinning the brand will aim to educate the public that Wood is The Ultimate Renewable™ resource, as it can be replanted and will continually grow back. The brand offers a universal, positive communications message for the sector to share and was warmly received by more than 100 industry representatives in attendance.
Speaking at the event was Ric Sinclair, Managing Director of FWPA, John Simon, Chairman of FWPA, Peter Maddison, award-winning architect (photo) and host of Grand Designs Australia, and Howard Parry-Husbands, CEO of research consultancy Pollinate, which oversaw the consultation process that informed the brand.
The Ultimate Renewable™ brand resulted from extensive collaboration between FWPA, the industry and consumers. Through a number of focus groups and extensive data analysis, the consultation found that the most impactful messages were the idea of forestry being renewable, providing a wealth of benefits for the environment and tackling climate change, at a time when environmental issues are becoming increasingly important to Australian businesses and consumers.
Parry-Husbands said The Ultimate Renewable™ will galvanise stakeholders across the sector to unite with the singular focus of positively changing public perceptions around forestry. “Our initial analysis showed that, while the mainstream media was concerned with the perceived negative environmental impact of forestry, what was missing from the narrative was a focus on replanting”.
“During our extensive consultation about potential ways of turning negative perceptions into positive ones, a common theme emerged ... the fact that Wood is The Ultimate Renewable™. “If the industry can properly demonstrate this, we can change the world to one built on sustainable resources! Everybody will benefit if we work together,” Parry-Husbands said.
Sinclair said The Ultimate Renewable™ is a concept built on an ethos of collaboration, and urged stakeholders to become champions of the brand by promoting the benefits of using sustainably sourced and well-managed forest products.
“We operate in an incredibly diverse sector. But no matter where our stakeholders sit across the supply chain, the reality is that we all share a common resource, which is renewable. What we have created is a brand that everyone can embrace and incorporate into their own collateral, in turn amplifying the message,” Sinclair said.
As well as hearing the story behind the new brand, attendees were treated to a sneak peek of the new The Ultimate Renewable™ TV consumer advertisements featuring Peter Maddison. The ads share the key messages behind the brand and will be launched as part of a multi-platform, AU$1.8m campaign from the first week of July.
FWPA will act as the central point for the coordination and marketing of The Ultimate Renewable™, with variations of the logo available for use by different areas of the sector. FWPA will be hosting similar events for industry stakeholders in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart over the coming days and weeks.
Victoria’s largest acquisition of forest LiDARVictoria’s largest ever acquisition of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data across 1.35 million hectares of Victorian public forests has just commenced. This work will provide important information for supporting decision-making during the RFA and forest modernisation process.
Mapping the location and density of high-conservation value forests, such as ecologically mature forests and rainforest, with the assistance of the LiDAR measurements provides the foundation for long-term monitoring programs and management strategies. It also helps us to manage threatened and endangered species reports the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) in their April newsletter.
Identification and precise description of mature forests for the existing RFAs was carried out 20 years ago using aerial photographs and information about forest growth. Mapping quality was variable and since that time there has been no comprehensive mapping of Victoria’s mature forests.
DELWP have commissioned a comprehensive airborne LiDAR measurement program of Victoria’s forests. Their team will collaborate with researchers at the University of Melbourne to model and map the State’s forests to identify areas that are likely to contain high conservation values.
Tom Hill, Team Lead of the Forest Values Assessments says “data derived from LiDAR measurements, verified by on-the-ground surveys will allow us to create models that can be used to produce detailed, accurate forest maps.”
Focussing on public forests, it will identify areas with: rainforests; cool temperate mixed forests; giant trees; multi-aged stands; areas with old-growth trees which have suffered recent disturbance; and old-growth stands, where the influence of past disturbances is now negligible.
This work is an important step in informing the Forest Modernisation Program with best-practice science.
For further information on this project, visit interpine.nz.
Source: The State of Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
NZ$13.5 million CNI debarking operation openedTimberlands Limited (TL) and Kaingaroa Timberlands (KT) are proud to announce the opening of our new Murupara based log de-barker on Wednesday 22 May. Commissioned as an alternative to Methyl Bromide treatment for log exports (to China) the plant is expected to debark 660,000 tonnes in the first year of operation, rising to 1 million tonnes in the second year.
The ultimate design capacity is 1.8 million tonnes per annum. Construction commenced in September 2018. However, the project took eighteen months from feasibility to opening with a speedy decision required to secure their place in the debarker factory order file. The construction project represents a significant investment of over NZ$13.5 million, where over 30,000 trade hours were worked with 200 people inducted to the site, and inputs of 1,760m3 of concrete and 620 tonnes of steel. This included one single concrete pour of 367m3.
The Murupara debarker will be able to run twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week with a throughput of fifteen logs per minute. Capacity is for logs between 20 and 75 centimetre diameter and 3.7 and 12.1 metres in length. While the plant will only employ an additional four people it will help protect many other roles by helping to preserve New Zealand’s China log exports and retaining crucial rail cartage from Kaingaroa to the Port of Tauranga.
Debarking is also expected to assist the industry in other ways, for example reducing pressure on Port operations hindered by the recapture process and significantly improving KTs environmental footprint at the wharf by introducing less bark and dust to the Port. TL’s CEO, Robert Green, says he is “proud to see the project come to life. This debarker will play a significant role in in reducing New Zealand’s Methyl Bromide emissions, whilst complimenting other industry initiatives and meeting our FSC driven pesticide reduction commitments”.
Source: Timberlands Ltd
A forest, a swamp and saving the batsWhile most people know that forests absorb carbon dioxide, helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change; that they are one of the biggest contributors to regional economies; and that wildlife and ghost mushrooms live in them; did you also know they are also home to a bat cave or two?
Nestled in the Green Triangle forests in the lower South East of South Australia are a series of caves that are home to the critically endangered Southern Bent-winged Bat. At a tiny 52-58mm these microbats have seen their populations in rapid decline since the 1950s.
In 2016 leading regional environmental organisation Nature Glenelg Trust and OneFortyOne joined forces to purchase land and trees next to the Mount Burr Swamp, with the aim of restoring the drained wetlands on site. Lying between the neighbouring forests containing bat caves, both organisations were hopeful that once the wetlands were restored the bats would make use of them.
OneFortyOne’s Chief Forester, Glen Rivers said “We wanted to partner with Nature Glenelg Trust on this project as soon as we heard about it. Our organisations share the same values being strongly committed to ensuring our respective activities have a long-lasting positive impact on this region”.
It certainly didn’t take long for that positive impact to materialise, and two years into the wetland restoration project the wildlife has returned, including the critically endangered Bent-winged bat. Nature Glenelg Trust’s Rose Thompson said “We were fairly confident that the bats would make use of the swamp property as they are known to forage in wetlands, but it hadn’t been confirmed – until now!”
The team at Nature Glenelg Trust undertook a series of surveys and discovered Long-eared Bats, Forest Bats, as well as the critically endangered Southern Bent-winged Bat. “This is just fantastic news”, said Mr Rivers “It just goes to show you that something as simple as raising the water level in a wetland, can help save a critically endangered species. OneFortyOne are extremely proud that we’ve played a small part in this important wildlife renewal.”
Photo: Southern Bent Winged Bat, Credits, Nature Glenelg Trust, Steve Bourne and Terry Reardon
Award for making dirty water cleanerGisborne Eastland Port staffers on hand to pick up the Eastland Wood Council Environmental Management Award have so much faith in their stormwater treatment processes they’ve drunk the water.
Contracts project manager Mark Richards and project assistant Matt Schmelz have dedicated the past two years to ensuring the efficiency of the port’s storm water treatment system upgrade, checking in whenever rain events triggered the plant to treat water, and poring over the nuances of how to make dirty water cleaner.
“We’re writing the operations manual as we go,” says Matt Schmelz. “But in this day and age, like everyone else, Mark and I worry about the effects of industry on our neighbours,” he says. “It’s part and parcel of working in the marine environment.”
Eastland Port’s innovative stormwater treatment system was installed in the upper log yard in 2018 and uses technology and processes more commonly found in town drinking water processing to clean its stormwater. Port staff are pretty sure they’re the only ones worldwide adapting the technology for log yard stormwater treatment.
After an intense process* that includes log yard sweepers, natural settlement, lamella clarifiers and flocculation, the clarified water exiting the port disappears via a pipe under Crawford Road and spills into the nearby Kopuwhakapata Stream and eventually into the harbour. Twelve hours of steady rain isn’t a problem for the system, but an hour of torrential rain from a thunderstorm adds challenges for the team.
“In just one hour you can get a hell of a lot of water rushing along the ground and so we get that pump shifting up to 50,000 litres of water an hour through the plant,” says Mr Schmelz. “A rain event like that will be smashing into other streets around us, not just the port, and when that happens everyone’s stormwater starts pouring into the stream. We all face a challenge.”
“All our trials and tests mean here at the port getting better at what we’re doing and the testing shows there’s much cleaner water from our pipe disappearing into the stream.” It’s been a labour of love for Schmelz who vowed he would drink the treated log run-off water when he and his colleagues had perfected the process. “I’ve taken a glass with me to the upper log yard and filled up with complete confidence.”
Mark Richards says “at the start of the project we discussed quantifiable measures for success and we decided that one of them should be that we would all drink water from the treatment system at some point. We knew stakeholders like Gisborne District Council would ask the question….so we did it!”
The innovative water treatment system is to be replicated in the wharfside log yard currently under construction, and later in the existing southern log yard. Schmelz and Richards say lessons learned from the upper log yard stormwater treatment upgrade will be transferred to the new yard and they’ll put everything they have into making it work.
Photo: Matt Schmelz and Mark Richards from Eastland Port show the difference lamella clarifiers (at rear) are making to stormwater coming off a log yard. The men, who are happy to drink the cleaned water, collected the Eastland Wood Council Environmental Management Award on behalf of Eastland Port on Friday. Image credit: Brennan Thomas Strike Photography
Source: Eastland Port
Vale Bob HawkeAs well as the Australian election and perhaps unexpected results over the weekend, Australia lost one of their longest serving, well liked and respected Labor Prime Minister’s. Bob Hawke served as Prime Minister of Australia and Leader of the Labor Party from 1983 to 1991.
One of our readers sent in the snippet below to mark the passing of the peoples PM. In it Bob is sharing a joke with 1983 America's Cup winning skipper John Bertrand and syndicate owner Alan Bond on the 30th anniversary of Australia II's historic victory. Enjoy.
SNI log trains getting longerTrains carrying logs from Wairarapa to Wellington in New Zealand are going to be longer from this month, ultimately increasing capacity by a third and taking 6000 logging trucks a year off the road. KiwiRail’s group general manager of sales and commercial, Alan Piper, says about 15 wagons will be added to one of the two daily trains once more wagons become available.
“We expect this to be within a few weeks,” he said. “That will increase the capacity by around 100,000 tonnes a year from the current 270,000 tonnes. It will also mean around 6000 fewer logging truck trips annually across the Rimutaka hill road.”
KiwRail runs two log trains each day from Waingawa to Wellington’s CentrePort. CentrePort has an inland hub for logs at Waingawa. Piper said the log trains can carry more so they will be lengthened rather than extra trains being put on. Two hundred new wagons intended for logs are due to arrive by the end of the year and KiwiRail is also converting container wagons nearing the end of their useful life to carry logs.
The conversion process will provide an additional 100 wagons this year on top of the 200 new wagons. Log exports from the region are booming and when Shane Jones visited last year the industry raised the issue of capacity constraints on log trains. He is Forestry Minister and Regional Economic Development Minister.
The damage logging trucks do to roads has been an issue and the trucks have been in the news with a logging truck overturning on Monday on the turn into Norfolk Rd at Waingawa, and a log dropped on the northern roundabout in Masterton last December.
Forest Enterprises is part of a new company called Log Distribution Ltd, which is trying to make transportation of logs as efficient as possible. Spokesman Bert Hughes, the Forest Enterprises chief executive, says LDL is happy to see the new log wagon capacity.
“It is the amount we expected based on our long-running consultation with KiwiRail and CentrePort. Longer trains are an efficient way to better utilise existing transport capacity.”
He acknowledges that log harvesting levels are rising and says the peak volume is difficult to predict because much of the increase comes from private woodlots where harvesting tends to correlate with change in log prices rather than be programmed into an annual plan. Most of Forest Enterprises’ annual export log volume could go to Wellington by rail, except for three- metre length logs which are difficult to stow on rail wagons, he said.
Hughes said transport planning is dynamic by nature, and rail is the best way to deliver consistent daily volumes from aggregated stockpiles to the wharf where they are accumulated for log ships. Truck carriage is more adaptable to volume fluctuation and widespread harvesting sites, and therefore remains a crucial part of the transport plan.
Daily volume fluctuations are common due to the influence of weather on forest roads and production rates as well as normal variability in the ability to utilise labour and machinery. Not all logs are exported.
“We are harvesting approximately 350,000 tonnes per year from the forests we manage in Wairarapa. Around 60 per cent [210,000 tonnes] is exported via CentrePort – two-thirds of which is transported by rail; the rest by truck and around 40 per cent [140,000 tonnes] is supplied to local mills.”
Forest Enterprises and LDL prioritise rail transport over road cartage where it has benefits of increased efficiency of resource use and reducing impacts on the travelling public.
Source: Wairarapa Age
Te Uru Rākau expansion vital for forest developmentIn response to the pre-Budget announcement reported on last week, Forest industry leaders say the announcement by Forestry Minister Shane Jones of additional regional resources for Te Uru Rākau is potentially of great benefit to regional New Zealand.
Farm Forestry Association President, Neil Cullen, says Shane Jones’ announcement goes beyond the Billion Trees Programme and aligns with the forest industry’s recently released roadmap for 2020 to 2050. He says there has been an urgent need for the government to put more resources into working with hill country farmers.
“At the moment, there are farm leaders who say they feel their communities are threatened by forestry. They are expressing these views because there is not enough available information to explain to these farmers how a well-planned and managed farm forest planting can be a highly profitable complement to running livestock,” Neil Cullen says.
“Our Association is keen to work more with Te Uru Rākau to improve buy-in from local communities.” Neil Cullen says it is now becoming obvious to everyone that all reports on climate change point to a need for extensive afforestation to meet New Zealand’s international commitments.
“Land use change on this scale will mean that government should implement measures to minimise social and economic disruption. Te Uru Rākau regional extension officers will be able to encourage and advise farmers to plant the right species in the right parts of their farms and help ensure that farmers can grow their log resource to maximise their forestry profits,” Neil Cullen says.
Forest Owners Association President Peter Weir says more government involvement in recruitment into the industry is very welcome to deal with critical gaps in silviculture, logging and log cartage. “Forest owners are investing heavily in promoting forest education courses, recruitment and training. But in the short term, there are things which only government can do to help, including as working with Pacific Island governments to get the increased planting done over the next two winters. The Minister has announced a laudable aim of a sustainable domestic workforce – but the need is now.”
“Without enough labour, the Billion Tree programme will drive up costs for those replanting after harvest, and New Zealand’s very ambitious Zero Carbon 2050 target will not be met.” Peter Weir is emphatic that a strong domestic processing sector is critical to complement our very healthy log export markets. “It is unwise for any exporter to rely on one product and access to one market” Peter Weir says.
“About half our exports are further processed, with sawn lumber going to Australia while medium density fibreboard, laminated veneer lumber and wood pulp goes to a variety of countries.” Forest growers lament the very recent closure of New Zealand’s only cross laminated timber plant in Nelson, but Peter Weir says its Australian owners stated that did not have the necessary scale to compete. “This demonstrates that our wood processing sector needs to be more able, and have greater confidence, to invest in large scale modern timber processing.”
“It is great that the government is building a showcase Te Uru Rākau office in Rotorua made out of timber. We hope that will include cross laminated timber and laminated veneer lumber to demonstrate the amazing qualities of modern engineered wood as a building material in larger scale construction.”
Source: NZFFA, NZFOA
Dogs for Australian wildfire investigations?For decades, Assistant State Foresters John Bird and Don Kelley have helped train and certify bloodhounds and their handlers from across West Virginia to track down forest fire arsonists, sniff out other crime suspects, and locate missing hikers and hunters.
The services of the two veteran Division of Forestry fire investigators and their K-9 colleagues have also been sought by wildfire officials in dozens of states, ranging from Georgia to Washington and Arizona to North Dakota.
But interest in work performed by the bloodhound-assisted West Virginia forest fire investigators has officially gone global with the arrival on Monday of an ex-Australian wildfire investigator, who spent the week shadowing Bird and Kelley, and their dogs, Boone and Raisey, on training exercises.
“I became aware of this program several years ago,” said Richard Woods, a recently retired Australian wildfire investigator who now lives in his country’s capital city of Canberra. “I’d heard about how it works and how effective it is, but after seeing it first hand, I’m convinced it’s something that needs to be promoted widely.”
In the brushy, sparsely populated wildlands where most of Australia’s larger wildfires take place, “investigators often have nothing to start with,” said Woods. There’s no accelerant to look for, since it only takes a match start a fire in the tinder-dry terrain, “and there are usually no witnesses to question, since the area is so remote. But with dogs like these, you can show up with them three days after a fire was set and be led to a house where a suspect is inside.”
Australian wildfire investigators employ the same basic techniques as their North American counterparts to track down arsonists, Woods said, “only we don’t use tracking dogs. The reason for that is that people there just don’t know about them and what they are capable of doing. They can achieve so much, and they’re such nice dogs with great personalities.”
Bloodhounds, with a sense of smell estimated to be 300 times more powerful than humans, are not a part of the dog breed mix found in Australia, according to Woods. “I don’t know why that is,” he said.
While West Virginia forest fire arson K-9 teams have racked up an enviable arrest record over the years, their deterrent effect may be more significant, according to Kelley.
“We can’t prove what’s been prevented, but I’m convinced we’ve gone a long way toward eliminating acts of arson by repeat offenders,” he said. “When I first started working with bloodhounds 25 years ago, arson was the No. 1 cause of forest fires in the state. Now, it’s No. 3, and the total number of fires is way down.”
Woods is taking a video of what he experienced with the West Virginia forest fire investigators back to Australia as part of an effort to set up a similar program there through the university with which he is now affiliated. “The program needs to be expanded in this country, too,” he said. “It would be good to have enough bloodhound teams in each area to allow for some redundancy and back-up.”
How we might pick the brains of clever treesThe discovery that some trees can “remember” heatwaves could help forest managers to deal with the impacts of climate change. Scientists have discovered that an Australian production tree, Eucalyptus grandis (also known as flooded or rose gum), can cope better with extreme heat if its parent tree had survived previous heatwaves.
Researchers at Macquarie University exposed seedlings from a range of environments to a simulated four-day heatwave in a laboratory, with temperatures up to 42deg. Those whose parent trees had experienced more days of extreme heat in the wild were better able to survive, thanks to the production of protective proteins.
Lead author Dr Rachael Gallagher says the finding is significant, because it shows that trees have a form of molecular memory. “By using this approach, we can work out which populations might provide the best seed for restoring ecosystems and climate-proofing forestry as temperatures become more extreme,” she said.
The paper, published in the journal Functional Ecology, says the research has implications for restoration, translocation and silvicultural programmes. “Tree populations with low exposure to extreme heat conditions may be limited in their ability to respond to heatwave events, potentially limiting their adaptive capacity to withstand novel climate conditions,” it says.
Eucalyptus grandis is found naturally across the east coast of Australia from Newcastle to Cairns. It is an important timber production tree in Australia, Brazil and South Africa.
Source: Carbon News
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... Irish discretion
Retired Irishmen were playing poker in O'Leary's apartment when Paddy Murphy loses $500 on a single hand, clutches his chest, and drops dead at the table. Showing respect for their fallen brother, the other five continue playing standing up.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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