Friday Offcuts – 23 August 2019

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We covered the launch on 1 July of The Ultimate Renewable™ being led by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) in previous issues. The message very clearly is aimed at the wider community reinforcing the association between wood and the word ‘renewable’. With the campaign scheduled to run until the end of September, the figures so far are pretty impressive.

In an exclusive this week we look at some of the coverage and stats that are now coming back. Half way through the campaign, it’s already reached millions of people across Australia. More than two million Australians have watched the video, online articles highlighting the advantages of forest and wood products have received more than 40,000 views and television advertising with people in the target age group of 25-54 years, have already been exposed to the advertisement seven times on average. In the social media space, a further 1.76 million people have viewed the video through Facebook and Instagram with younger 25-34-year-olds accounting for almost half of all views. So far, the campaign has achieved an impressive reach. Further details can be found in this week’s lead story.

In sawmilling this week, we’ve included an article that looks at sawmills in BC that like NZ and Australian mills, are struggling for answers to saw-doctors (or saw-filers) who are closing in on retirement and apprentices that are now few and far between. Staff increasingly are hard to find and margins continue to be squeezed. Sound familiar? In addition to building in new technology, setting up centralised saw doctoring to service a number of mills is explored with one mill turning this concept into a reality. Check out the story in this issue that details the steps and the lessons learned in switching across to centralised saw-doctoring.

And finally, we’ve mentioned the interest already being shown in the annual ForestTECH 2019 series that will be running in Australia and New Zealand in mid-November. Early details on the four half and one-day workshops set up this year for delegates were outlined in an earlier issue. Numbers for some of the more hands-on workshops have had to be restricted and are already filling up. The programmes, including information on the two-day conference and associated workshops have just been printed. Details for the Australian and New Zealand events can be downloaded here. Further details will follow.

Remember also, the annual WoodWorks – Changing Perceptions Conference is running in Auckland, New Zealand in just over a week. Architects, quantity surveyors, developers, project managers along with wood producers from throughout the region will be meeting to learn about the very latest developments in mid and high-rise timber building systems. That's it for this week.

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The Ultimate Renewable campaign hits the mark

With still another one and a half months to go, The Ultimate Renewable™ consumer campaign by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) has reached millions of people across Australia since it launched on 1st July.

Advertisements featuring host of Grand Designs Australia, Peter Maddison, and content explaining the renewable attributes and environmental advantages of responsibly sourced wood, have featured across a range of channels. The campaign spans traditional mediums such as television and billboards to online, social media and some print such as the Qantas Magazine. Managing Director of FWPA, Ric Sinclair, said the organisation is very pleased with the success of the campaign to date.

“The Ultimate Renewable™ message is all about reinforcing the association between wood and the word ‘renewable’. It’s critical we get this message out to the community, so everyone better understands the forestry and wood sector and how using more responsibly sourced wood can benefit our planet”.

“We have also received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the industry with over 100 companies downloading the new The Ultimate Renewable™ logo, banner ads and TV commercial for their own use so far. These logos and videos will be used on their company collateral including letterheads, invoices, business cards, websites, signage, truck curtains, packaging and other areas,” he said.

Metro television advertising successfully pushed out the renewable message, with people in the target age group of 25-54 years being exposed to the advertisement seven times on average. Of the top 10 metro programs during July, the ad ran in five of them including Australian Survivor, the Masterchef finale, Ninja Warrior, Have You Been Paying Attention and Nine News.

The reach continued online, as more than two million Australians watched the video in full across Catch Up TV, Premium Video and YouTube and thousands clicked on the ad through search engines such as Google. Online articles highlighting the advantages of forest and wood products have received more than 40,000 views.

Next week an innovative 3D cover wrap-a-round using the Viewa phone app, will be launched in the National Geographic magazine, as well as in next month’s edition of the Grand Designs Australia magazine In the social space, The Ultimate Renewable has reached a further 1.76 million people through Facebook and Instagram. The video has appealed most strongly to a younger audience, with 25-34-year-olds accounting for almost half of all views.

Outdoor billboards in traditional and digital formats have appeared along roadsides, landmarks, in office lobbies, lifts, on public transport shelters, telephone boxes and wifi hubs across metro and regional cities nationwide.

“The Ultimate Renewable™ brand aims to generate ongoing approval and acceptance of forest and wood products by the broader community, with industry collaboration. This consumer campaign is an important first step,” said Sinclair.

The campaign is set to continue through to September with a focus on digital content. To download logos and promotional materials, go to

Source: FWPA

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Industry welcomes the arrival of new SNP Chip

The era of genomics for forestry is here! Scion and the Radiata Pine Breeding Company (RPBC) have developed the world’s first commercial SNP chip for radiata pine. SNPs (pronounced “snips”), or single-nucleotide polymorphisms, are a type of DNA marker, and SNP chips are a way to test tens of thousands of these markers across whole populations in a single experiment.

As part of their Genomic Selection programme, the RPBC has been working towards making such a tool available for the last five years. Scion began the process of uncovering SNP markers for radiata pine back in 2012, finding more than a million of them. However, there was no easy way to test them cost-effectively across the breeding programme.

Collaborating with like-minded researchers in an International Conifer SNP Consortium enabled access to cutting edge developments in genomic testing technologies at extremely competitive pricing, and the programme is now pleased to report that this goal has now been achieved.

The accuracy and affordability of this SNP chip over previously-available technologies will be a game changer for the breeding programme. In the few short months since its design, it has already been tested across more than 8,000 trees – at less than a third of the cost it took to test about 4,000 trees over the previous five years – and indications are that it is working really well. We are seeing less than 2% missing data across the ~36K SNPs that this chip can test, and accuracy is consistently higher than 99%.

Furthermore, the chip is performing equally well on a wide range of samples, from ancestral genotypes through to the very latest 2018/19 elites from New Zealand, as well as on Australian material. This tool makes pedigree confirmations achievable within months, and the implementation of genomic selection can start in 2020/21, which makes the RPBC one of the first commercial forest tree breeding programmes in the world to use genomics on an operational scale.

RPBC Chief Executive, Brent Guild, said “the programme is a credit to those individuals and organisations who had the vision to develop and support it back in 2013. We are delighted with the outcome and look forward to entering a phase of practical application for the Radiata Pine breeding programme”.

Photo: Each radiata pine SNP chip can test 36,285 SNPs across 384 samples at a time, with each of the 384 “pegs” measuring 2 mm x 2 mm.”

Source: Radiata Pine Breeding Company

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International log war hurting New Zealand

New Zealand’s wood processors say the international log price war and protected overseas economies are crippling the New Zealand trade. The Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association told a meeting in Nelson that distortions in international trade were starting to make it difficult for local processors to be competitive globally.

The industry worked to add value to New Zealand's raw timber and supported 25,000 jobs nationwide, but it was fighting to survive. The association's chief executive, Jon Tanner, said the global playing field was tilting less in New Zealand's favour.

That was because international competitors were playing by a different set of rules. "And all this, we believe, is being caused primarily by subsidies that are being paid out across the world, and that are supporting the industries we are competing with," Mr Tanner said.

"MFAT (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) likes to call them non-tariff barriers - let's just call them the covert world of subsidies because they're really, really, really hard to see." They were focused on finding ways to tackle the problem, but the elephant in the room was log supply and prices, he said. The global manipulation of pricing was hurting New Zealand processors and timber growers.

The government recently commissioned an inquiry into the log market, which was looking into barriers to fairer international competition. Mr Tanner said it was a good start.

“We’ve certainly made the case for the issue. What officials are doing now is drilling into what we can understand about the sector and what’s supporting it around the world because we really don’t - as a global industry, understand that.”

The government was also working on securing a range of trade agreements, but warned it would not be a quick-fix. The Minister for Trade and for Export Growth, Damien O'Connor said agreements in principle with ASEAN member countries - from South East Asia - were expected to be in place by the end of the year.

"We won't get all the things we want but if we can get in place rules of trade that all those countries have to adhere to, around e-commerce, around investment and around goods, then we'll be in a safer space," Mr O'Connor said.

Source: WPMA

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Privatisation is ‘short-sighted’

NSW Labor will oppose privatisations that were floated by Premier Gladys Berejiklian while at a trade delegation in London. Shadow Treasurer Walt Secord and Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Paul Scully responded to a report that Berejiklian plans to sell the Forestry Corporation (formerly State Forests) and the remaining half of the WestConnex, Australia’s largest road infrastructure project.

“Selling public assets is a short-sighted approach, as it takes away a stable long-term revenue stream for NSW,” Scully said in a joint statement with Secord. According to a report from the Australian, a number of agencies could potentially be sold, in the hope of covering costs of future state projects.

Scully’s main concern is in regard to the Forestry Corporation, which is the largest manager of commercial native and plantation forests in NSW, with more than two million hectares of state forests and an output of 14% of Australia’s timber production. The corporation has offices in West Pennant Hills, Wauchope, Dubbo, Tumut, Bathurst, Coffs Harbour, and Bateman’s Bay.

“As we saw with the privatisation of electricity, these sell-offs result in job losses especially in rural and regional areas,” Scully said. “Over the eight years of the current government, Forestry Corporation has contributed AU$124 million in dividends to the NSW Budget which is a revenue stream that helps pay for essential services throughout the state.”

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Smart farmers welcome trees

For almost 20 years, Peter Clark was the CEO of New Zealand’s largest forestry and land use consulting and management company, PF Olsen. He is immediate past president of the New Zealand Forest Owners Association and a member of the New Zealand Institute of Forestry. Now a forestry consultant, Mr Clark weighs in on the current hot topic — farmland versus forestry.

The campaign against forestry in New Zealand, most recently run by Federated Farmers vice president Andrew Hoggard, assists neither the fight against global warming nor the interests of New Zealand landowning farmers. Mr Hoggard told Parliament’s environment select committee that trees last only 30 years and forestry is killing local communities.

The longevity of the individual tree is neither here nor there. Nearly all of our 1.7 million hectares of plantation forest are harvested at different times and then replanted with new seedlings. The forests themselves effectively go on forever, continuing to lock up massive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.

Forestry adds to local employment, especially as the forests mature. Forest owners may not employ the workers directly, as they usually do on farms, but the forest workforce per hectare is considerably higher than that for sheep and beef farming. New forestry fosters local communities, not diminishes them.

In contrast, the number of farm workers on sheep and beef properties has been steadily decreasing for decades.

. . . the return from forestry is a number of times greater than that from farming sheep and cattle With a larger forestry workforce, goes a larger return on the same area. Per hectare, per year, the return from forestry is a number of times greater than that from farming sheep and cattle. It’s also Mr Hoggard’s organisation’s membership which appears to be realising these economics and doing most of the planting.

Recent foreign investment in planting new forests is negligible. Of the estimated 30,000 hectares of forest conversions along the east coast of the North Island this year, more than 90 percent are by New Zealand owners. Only four properties have been approved for new forest plantings by the Overseas Investment Office for all of New Zealand since new rules were introduced in 2017.

However, given the capital-intensive requirements prior to harvest returns, the area of conversion which will be required to meet our international greenhouse gas commitments is unlikely to be met through just domestic funding. There is also more indigenous biodiversity in plantation forests than on pasture land.

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Source: Gisborne Herald

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Nominations open for inaugural Forestry Awards

In New Zealand, the local forestry industry body, the Hawkes Bay Forestry Group, have announced that nominations are open for their first forestry awards campaign. The awards will see heroes from the industry step up on stage to be given the recognition deserved of their skills and achievements.

“It’s a chance for the industry to get together in one room and share in the celebrations which the industry does not do often enough”, says chair Matt Croft. The awards emulate other similar events around the country and will provide an ideal platform for a positive spotlight on the industry. “We have to be proud of the role forestry plays in the Hawkes Bay”, emphasizes Croft. “The industry has been criticized for many things in recent times and we will do well by supporting good new stories around the second largest sector in the NZ’s economy which supports over six thousand jobs just in planting and harvesting alone.

They’re now calling on the industry to put forward those that are doing so well in training, in building sound health and safety systems and who really enjoy their jobs. Nominations are open until 30 September and anyone can nominate their co-workers, employers or self-nominate. The categories cover individuals as well as teams and companies and the key idea is to recognise the extensive skills and practical talents across a diverse range of roles in the industry.

The judges will be looking for great examples of best practice, high achievers and industry representatives who mentor others. The awards will be celebrated on Friday November 29 at the Napier Conference Centre by an audience of 300. For more information head to:

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Roo poo replaces commercial paper production

For 75 years the northwest Tasmanian town of Burnie was synonymous with paper. At its peak, the town’s Associated Pulp and Paper Mills employed about 3500 people, exporting Reflex paper made from eucalypt pulp around the globe. But now Darren Simpson is the only paper-maker left in Burnie. While the industrial factory closed almost a decade ago, the tradition continues with Creative Paper Tasmania.

The company sells handmade reams manufactured using ancient techniques, from recycled cotton — that would otherwise go to landfill — as well as waste hemp products, and even using other sustainable materials including wombat and roo poo, preloved denim and apple pulp from a local juice company.

Darren says the paper has helped change the fortunes of the town. “In the ’80s and ’90s the demise of the commercial production started and the town hit some tough times, industries left and employment was high,” Darren says.

“So the town saw an opportunity in tourism. The beaches were cleaned, a boardwalk was made and this program began.” In the last years of its life, in the late ’90s, the mill (at that stage with a new owner) helped support a community-run organisation aimed at getting unemployed people job-ready through making handmade paper.

Now working with a group of volunteers and two part-time staff, he oversees the paper manufacturing, as well as offering eight 30-minute tours to visitors each day, or up to 10,000 tourists a year. The team makes, on average, 400 reams of A5 sheets a day or about 200 A4 sheets, as well as a variety of other products. These are sold in the shop, online and in retail shops in Melbourne, Canberra and Hobart.

Their biggest buyers are artists seeking paper for watercolour painting, as well as brides and grooms, and tourists keen to take home a slice of paper made from bulldust (or cow poo). “Every couple of months I’ll go out into the bush and collect garbage bags of roo and wombat poo or go to a farm and collect cow poo,” Darren says. “I’ve become quite the poo-ologist, knowing what is the correct dung. It has to be an animal that doesn’t eat meat”.

Tourists who take part in tours can even dabble in the process themselves. “It’s a simple technique, pretty much the same as they used in ancient China or Egypt, separating plant fibres to create a thin layer of material,” Darren says.

Source: Weekly Times

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Scion’s new innovation hub taking shape

Scion’s new three-storey building is rising up on the Rotorua campus as the massive timber components, assembled into diagonal grids, are secured in place. Diagonal grids (diagrids) are an efficient way to provide strength and stiffness and require less material than traditional structures.

Ready-to-assemble diagrid components arrived on site 26 July 2019. A specialist team started putting all the pieces together on Monday 29 and the building is coming along in leaps and bounds. Completing the structure expected to take four to six weeks.

Scion’s diagrid is unusual as it utilises timber. The diagrid wall frames and floor/roof beams have been manufactured by TimberLab from precision cut laminated veneer lumber. The diamond and triangle diagrid sections were prefabricated and delivered complete with fittings to the site. TimberLab is also suppling the Glulam and cross laminated timber entry canopies.

To make sure the diagrid was up to the job, the strength of the components was tested at Scion. An apex portion was subjected to 45 tonnes of downward pressure then pulled upward by a 31.5 tonne force. A node section, where diagrid components are integrated with a horizontal member, was subjected to 20 tonnes of compression to try to twist the horizontal component.

Doug Gaunt, Science Leader for Wood Processing at Scion, says all the pieces tested passed with flying colours. “Both the elements tested comfortably performed even at the maximum design loads the engineers had calculated.”

Irving Smith Architects, RTA Studio and Dunning Thornton Consultants have collaborated in the design of the building, which features a three storey timber diagrid with central atrium and wrap-around diagonal curtain-wall cladding. The ground floor will be open to the public and showcase not only the innovative structure, but also Scion’s research across the forest and biomass value chain.

Construction is expected to be completed by end of April, followed by internal fit out and open for business mid-2020.

Source: Scion

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US & China. Will 2019 be a complete blowout?

It is now clear that 2019 has so far been a blowout, with company results splattered with red ink from weak sales prices to key markets (especially the U.S. and China). Wood products companies have been operating their sawmills at or below cash costs for strategic reasons for part of this year. “Burning cash,” especially for lengthy periods, is always a complicated decision, and companies analyze the pros and cons of it before considering curtailments.

Some of the objectives of not curtailing include maintaining (or even gaining) market share during weak markets (at the expense of higher-cost competitors); this in turn forces higher-cost or less capitalized companies to take downtime first. Also, during unsettled markets, companies want to hold on to their key employees, and perhaps even pick up some skilled workers from mills that do curtail or close. The same applies to contractors: losing a key partner can be problematic when it’s time to restart operations.

For some companies, cash-flow can be a requirement to meet commitments to financial institutions, so mills often continue operating at large losses long past when they should have curtailed. This is why the decision to do so can be a least-desired company strategy and will be delayed as long as possible — until, eventually, it simply >i>needs to happen. When companies delay right-sizing their lumber output to balance overall market demand with supply, it puts more product in the market for longer, exacerbating oversupply.

This seems to be the pattern since 2018Q4: lumber (and more recently OSB) markets have consistently been oversupplied, keeping prices at low and unsustainable levels. The resulting reduced prices (below breakeven or shut-down costs) eventually lead to capacity closures and longer-term curtailments. However, firms tend to delay these decisions until it is far too late, so low prices start to become semi-permanent.

Looking at the financial results of wood products companies in 2019H1, it is clear that business and market conditions have been a financial blowout thus far. Some companies in the lumber segment have reported losses, with most just barely in the black (on an EBITDA basis). Within any company, this means there are some regions/operations that are more profitable than others, so a below-breakeven situation requires reducing capacity in high-cost or negative-margin areas.

It is apparent from various public companies’ quarterly analyst calls, as well as transcripts and releases over the last four quarters, that some firms have been generally too bullish in their expectations for a U.S. market recovery — and, well, everywhere else. Hoped-for demand increases (in housing starts, repair and remodeling, industrial applications, export markets and even mass timber) have collectively failed to materialize due to a wide variety of unanticipated, uncontrollable factors that have stalled or slowed demand in 2019.

Business strategies that are more heavily weighted to a strategy of waiting for demand improvements can easily fail given that such factors as weather, global politics, etc., cannot be controlled. A dangerous herd mentality can emerge, and if too many producers remain overly optimistic in unsettled times, relatively few negative events are needed to topple market momentum. Furthermore, reacting to unplanned events takes time, so inventories tend to go up while prices drop. A low-cost production strategy works well when you are the highest-margin supplier (versus other mills or regions when markets are more balanced).

In North America, the U.S. South has held this position (at least until recently), while other regions have faced skinny to negative lumber margins. As the FEA global sawmill cost benchmarking analysis shows (full report to be released in 2019Q4), various European countries are now positioned as the second-lowest-cost lumber suppliers to the U.S. South (after the South itself), while the highest-cost mills are mainly in the B.C. Interior. Until more capacity is removed, lumber operating rates will continue to drop until market demand improves; they are also being hampered by steadily rising offshore imports (also a factor in the U.S. plywood market).

Expanding offshore exports can be another strategy to balance domestic markets, i.e., shipping incremental volumes away from the prime North America market to reduce domestic supply. However, exporters from Canada, Europe and Russia have oversupplied the China lumber market, and New Zealand has (almost singlehandedly) oversupplied China’s log market.

Like the industry in general, FEA (in both the U.S. and Canada) remains mildly optimistic that 2019Q4 and (especially) 2020 could surprise to the upside, but there is currently too much supply chasing oversaturated markets. More curtailments/closures are likely (and will eventually reduce the oversupply), but it is the last thing companies really want to do! So … onward the cycle goes.

Source: Russ Taylor, Managing Director, FEA-Canada

Photo: South China Morning Post

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Carbon farmer questions forestry land facts

New Zealand’s largest carbon-farming company says there is more marginal land available for forestry than officials are telling the Government. Officials have apparently told MPs that 30 per cent of current agricultural land will “have to be planted” in trees if New Zealand is to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets under the zero-carbon bill.

But carbon-farming pioneer Matt Walsh says they are wrong, and that 16 per cent of the country’s 2050 target can be met by planting trees on marginal land. Walsh is chief executive of New Zealand Carbon Farming, a company that owns or manages 73,000 hectares of post-1989 forests under the Emissions Trading Scheme and expects that by 2050 it will have at least 120 million trees in the ground, meeting three per cent of the country’s target of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions.

And that’s just for starters, he told Parliament’s Environment Select Committee this week. “With the right settings in the ETS, we can look at 600 million trees, or 60 per cent of the Billion Trees programme, meeting 60 per cent of New Zealand’s 2050 target from our company alone,” he said. “And it will not stop there. We expect our industry partners to also be investing and planting.”

Walsh says none of the planting needs to be done on arable land, a statement that was questioned by National MP Erica Stanford. “We have heard from officials that 30 per cent of our agricultural land will have to be planted,” she said. “It’s so different from what you’re saying with these different grade lands. “You make it sound great, but the advice we’ve got is not that.”

Walsh told her the officials were wrong. “We have had a series of debates with officials on this subject,” he said. “We have shown them our maps. We have demonstrated the evidence of what is available in terms of marginal to plant and for reasons that we don’t understand, they disagree.”

NZ Carbon Farming’s compliance and regulatory manager, Jill Garing, said she thought it came down to a matter of detail; officials were looking for large areas of marginal land for planting, but often didn’t see the small pockets of land available on individual farms. Walsh said planting these small areas for carbon could provide valuable income for farmers.

Source: Carbon News 2019

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China economic update

China’s GDP increased 6.2 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2019, slowing from a 6.4 percent expansion in the previous three-month period and matching market expectations. It was the lowest growth rate since the first quarter of 1992, amid ongoing trade tensions with the United States, weakening global demand and alarming off-balance-sheet borrowings by local governments.

2019 Economic Outlook

The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasted that China’s real GDP will grow by 6.2% per year on average in 2019-20—just above the minimum level required for the government to achieve its 2020 goal of doubling real GDP from its 2010 level. Growth is expected to slow to an annual average of 5.5% in 2021-23. Beijing set a 2019 economic growth target of between 6 and 6.5 percent in March.

Meanwhile, the organization has amended its trade war forecast. It does not anticipate a trade agreement being reached between China and the United States until 2021. In the interim, it expects both sides to refrain from further tariff escalation, although the risks to this forecast are high.

The Construction Sector

Home prices in 70 major Chinese cities were flat in Q2 2019, especially in first-tier cities in China, amid continuous government controls to curb speculation and prevent an overheated market.

Total investment in real estate had an accumulated increase of 10.9 percent year-on-year in June, slowing slightly compared to the previous months in 2019, at a growth rate above 11 percent. Total floor area completed in Q2 was at 757 million m2, up 13.5 percent compared to Q1, but still below the same periods in 2018.

China Wood Imports (cited from China Bulletin)

Softwood log inventories at China’s main ocean ports were 4.1 million m3 at the end of June 2019, a slight increase of 1.5 percent versus the previous month. Radiata pine log inventories were 6 percent higher from the prior month and represented 72.5 percent of log inventory. North American Douglas-fir and hemlock volumes declined 13.7 percent from the month before.

Softwood lumber inventories at Taicang port and the surrounding area were 1.56 million m3 in late June 2019, up nearly 10 percent from last month, excluding inventories of about 60,000 m3 at some new warehouses.

Source: canadawood

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Amazon rainforest is ablaze

This satellite image provided by NASA on Aug. 13, 2019 shows several fires burning in the Brazilian Amazon forest. Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, a federal agency monitoring deforestation and wildfires, said the country has seen a record number of wildfires this year, counting 74,155 as of Tuesday, Aug. 20, an 84 percent increase compared to the same period last year. (NASA via AP)

Huge tracts of the Amazon, which serves as the lungs of the planet by taking in carbon dioxide, storing it in soils and producing oxygen, are ablaze. Smoke from the widespread fires has turned day into night in Sao Paulo, and intensified a controversy over the Brazilian government’s land use policies.

The Brazilian Amazon has experienced 74,155 fires since January, according to data from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, known by the acronym INPE. That's an 85 percent increase from last year and significantly higher than the 67,790 blazes since by this point in the year during 2016, when there were severe drought conditions in the region associated with a strong El Niño event.

"There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average," INPE researcher Alberto Setzer told Reuters. Speaking of the fires, he said, "The dry season creates the favourable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident."

The fires have covered Sao Paulo in dark smoke, and they are raising concerns that the rainforest, which is one of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth, may be suffering from land-clearing operations and other activities intended to transform the land for agricultural use.

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... and one to end the week on ... three little pigs

This is supposedly a true story, indicating how fascinating the mind of a six year old is. They think so logically.

A teacher was reading the story of the Three Little Pigs to her Class.

She came to the part of the story where the first pig was trying to gather the building materials for his home.

She read, "And so the pig went up to the man with the wheelbarrow full of timber and said: 'Pardon me sir, but may I have some of that timber to build my house?"

The teacher paused then asked the class: "And what do you think the man said?"

One little boy raised his hand and said very matter-of-factly, "I think the man would have said: "Well, **** me! A talking pig!!

The teacher was unable to teach for the next 10 minutes!!!!!!

And one more - just for Offcuts readers. Do you keep falling asleep in meetings and seminars? What about those long and boring conference calls? Here is a way to change all of that!

Please find attached a PDF of a template sent in by of all people - a forestry consultant.

Never again will you dread heading off to those meetings. In fact, meetings will take on a whole new meaning for you. As one convert says, "What a gas. Meetings will never be the same for me after my first win." -Bill R - New York City.

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

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

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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