Friday Offcuts 4 October 2019
Better news from Australia this week is the NSW Government’s decision to include forestry and wood products operations into its new laws aimed at cracking down on farm invasions. This follows a similar ruling by the Federal Government designed to protect forestry workers and to take action on activists that have in the past disrupted forestry operations (as well as putting themselves and contractors at risk) by occupying harvesting and regeneration sites.
Also, from Australia this week, the green light has been given to yet another tall timber building, this time a six-storey office tower in Fremantle which is going to be constructed out of cross-laminated timber, a first for Western Australia, we cover news on a new method for mapping bushfire risk based on past fire patterns and cover reported concerns by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over a proposed sale of Tasmanian hardwood plantations owned by Resource Management Service.
From the East Coast of New Zealand this week locals are courting Auckland-based company, NZ Future Forest Products, who recently announced their acquisition of New Zealand’s largest wood manufacturing and manufactured pine exporting business, Claymark Group Holdings. The company’s planning on building a NZ$45 million engineered timber manufacturing operation to supply panels for use in modular housing – and the East Coast is pretty keen on attracting that investment into their region.
Aratu Forests Ltd, one of the largest forestry estates in the Gisborne District, also launched their new brand on Thursday last week. The company, formerly Hikurangi Forest Farms, acquired by New Forests in July 2019, manages around 27,000 ha of radiata pine plantations. The new brand, as explained, is a key part of the company’s future strategy and planned direction.
And finally, for those looking to register for this year’s annual ForestTECH 2019 series this year, today is the last day to take advantage of the discounted early-bird registrations. So, if keen, and planning on either yourself or some of your staff attending and you wish to save a few dollars, best get onto it today. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Norske Skog announces sale of Albury MillNorske Skog this week announced the sale of the Albury assets to Australian papermaker Visy who plan to undertake feasibility studies into the potential future uses of those assets on the site. The sale is part of a broad Strategic Asset Review of the Australasian operations by Norske Skog’s owner Oceanwood. The review confirmed the need to reduce newsprint capacity in Australasia. The sale to Visy addresses this issue.
Norske Skog’s Regional President, Eric Luck, said Norske Skog and Visy had signed a binding Asset Sale Agreement and the Albury Mill will cease newsprint production during December 2019. Immediately following the shutdown there will be a period of clean up and make good in preparation for handover of the Albury assets to Visy in Q1 2020.
All employees employed by Norske Skog at the Albury Mill will be made redundant. Any employee made redundant will receive their full entitlements under the relevant policy or contract. Mr Luck said the company will work with employees and their union representatives to make the process as smooth as possible. Counselling and outplacement services will be provided. He said the mill will continue to operate as per normal up until it ceases newsprint production.
“A positive aspect in today’s announcement is Visy’s plans to undertake multiple feasibility studies on potential future uses on the site in the shorter and longer term. This provides the opportunity for future jobs in the region”, Mr Luck said. “Today’s decision will also be sad news for many people. However, it reflects the structural change in the newsprint industry and the need to address declining domestic sales, lower prices and increased reliance on exports into volatile Asian markets”.
“I take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank everyone who has worked at and for the mill over the last 38 years. I also acknowledge that today’s decision comes after what has been a very tough year for the mill and its employees, families and friends. I therefore want to again acknowledge and thank everyone for their efforts during this time”.
The Albury Mill commenced newsprint production in 1981 and has produced over seven million tonnes of paper during its 38-year history. Newsprint production will continue at the Boyer Mill in Tasmania and the Tasman Mill in New Zealand.
Source & Photo: Norske Skog (Australasia)
Timber Cladding on low-rise apartment buildingsA recent regulatory decision regarding the use of timber cladding on three-storey apartments in Australia will have a detrimental impact on the local wood products industry. This week Boris Iskra from Technical Promotion & Consulting Solutions (Aust) Pty Ltd explains the issues industry face and what businesses can do to voice concerns.
Following the devastating and tragic building façade fires (Lacrosse Building, Melbourne; Grenfell Tower, London), there has been a public outcry regarding how combustible cladding products have been allowed to be used on high-rise buildings.
As a result, politicians and regulators have stated that combustible cladding products will not be permitted for use on buildings. Unfortunately, this has now impacted on the use of timber cladding on three-storey low-rise apartment buildings which has been a viable timber market over the last 20 years.
Industry discussions with the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) have not been able to persuade the regulators that the construction sector’s compliant use of timber cladding on low-rise apartment buildings has not seen an increased risk of building fires; and that there is a major difference in fire safety risk between a 30-storey high-rise tower and a 3-storey low-rise building.
The ABCB has issued an out-of-cycle amendment to the National Construction Code 2019 (NCC). Public comment is sought by Friday 11th October 2019 The aim of the out-of-cycle amendment is to provide clarification of existing concessions for low-rise Class 2 (apartment) and 3 (hotel/motel) buildings which, if accepted, would effectively see the “banning” of the use of timber cladding on low-rise buildings under the Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions of the NCC.
This would then require a developer or builder wishing to use timber cladding on a 3-storey apartment building, to engage the services of a fire engineer to prepare a Performance Solution which is both costly and offers no guarantee of acceptance by a Building Surveyor/Certifier. If the proposed amendment impacts your business please make a submission.
Source: VAFI News Mill
Gisborne considered for NZ$45m wood plantIf efforts to get a NZ$45 million wood processing plant built in Gisborne come off the region could end up at the heart of helping fix the nation’s housing shortage. Auckland-based company NZ Future Forest Products, which specialises in producing engineered timber such as cross-laminated and glued-laminated timber, is at the forefront of the environmentally sustainable construction sector. It is looking at bringing a state-of-the-art plant to Gisborne.
Eastland Community Trust chief executive Gavin Murphy confirmed the trust made contact with NZFFP after it heard the company was searching for a location. The plant would cost NZ$45m to build but Mr Murphy said the benefit to the local economy could be two to three times that.
“That’s pretty significant. From our perspective, we will be working with them to understand what the job outcomes are and make sure those job outcomes are for our locals. We reached out to them but I think they had gone through an internal process to focus on Tairawhiti and a couple of places in New Zealand”.
“Between our work in wood processing and our wider wood-processing aspirations, and their coming the other way — looking nationally and focusing on regions — we would probably have collectively arrived at the same place within a few weeks of each other.
ECT commercial general manager Richard Searle said Tairawhiti was NZFFP’s preferred location. A feasibility study was near completion and a build decision was expected in June next year. Mr Searle said if Gisborne was chosen it was hoped it would also lead to more vocational pathways for people here, particularly with robotic technology. “Those skills aren’t widely available in New Zealand so to some extent you have to home-grow them.”
The plant will produce engineered timber that can be used in modular housing, which will target the social housing sector, along with retirement villages and academic institutions for accommodation.
Mr Murphy pointed out that with ECT’s involvement with the Prime Wood Cluster Centre of Excellence (comprising Far East Saw Mill and WET Gisborne Ltd) and the region’s forestry estate, the region already had industry-related infrastructure in place.
Source: Gisborne Herald
Concerns over Tasmanian forestry asset saleConcerns have been raised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over a proposed sale of Tasmanian hardwood plantations owned by Resource Management Service. The company has made its plantations and a 30-per-cent share of its woodchip marketing and export business in the state open to competitive tender which has attracted interest from New Forests Asset Management and Global Forest Partners.
Acquisition by New Forests would mean New Forests would own 50 per cent of the state's hardwood plantations and could lead the company to because the only wood resource exporter from Burnie port, the ACCC said.
"We are concerned that the acquisitions could impact the viability of competing export channels for hardwood plantation chips in Northern Tasmania, which could lower prices paid to private growers of plantation logs," ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said. "We have the strongest competition concerns about the impact of the New Forests bid on exports from Burnie in Tasmania's North-West."
"The diversion of RMS' woodchips into the export operations linked with New Forests could jeopardise access to the export channels in Burnie by other market participants. This is likely to result in a reduction in buyers of plantation timber from private growers, reducing the price paid to growers."
He said there were further concerns that acquisition by either New Forests and Global Forest Partners could reduce export options at Bell Bay and weaken competition for timber from private growers. The ACCC has invited both parties to submit to its preliminary concerns. The commission will make a decision on the asset sale on 5 December.
Source: The Advocate
FSC Australia appoints new CEOThe Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Australia is pleased to announce the appointment of Damian Paull as its new CEO, effective as of Monday 30 September. Damian joins FSC Australia with a strong background in corporate leadership with a number of regulatory and membership-based organisations that are involved in the development of voluntary standards and codes of practice.
As National Director of the Australian Account Standards Board and the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board, Damian was responsible for assisting the two Chairs and Boards to develop and maintain high quality financial reporting and auditing standards. Daman’s career spans risk and compliance, education, law enforcement, and climate change mentoring, as part of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.
Announcing Damian’s appointment, Chair of the FSC Australia Board of Directors, Mark Gauthier, commented, “Damien is a proven CEO, and Director with an excellent track record of inspirational leadership and change management, and building trusted relationships. His experience in managing high performing teams operating in complex environments will be an asset to FSC Australia.”
Currently, FSC certifies 1.22 million hectares of Australian forests to full FSC Forest Management standards, an increase of 37% since 2012.
Source: FSC Australia
Presenter profiles – ForestTECH 2019ForestTECH 2019, this region’s annual gathering of resource managers, remote sensing, GIS and mapping specialists, inventory foresters and technology providers into this part of the forestry industry, runs again in November.
Full details on the programmes along with details on the four workshops being run in conjunction with this year’s series, can be found on the event website; ForestTECH.events. This week we profile some more of this year’s presentations.
Mark Noonan, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Australia
Incendo is a low-cost and innovative spatial web and mobile tool for managing bushfire risk on New South Wale's Crown Land estate. The tool is a live bushfire management plan that provides the latest information from multiple sources to bushfire officers across NSW. In this presentation you will learn how Crown Lands moved from a desktop environment to a fully mobile and web-based system in under 3 months.
Shaun McBride, Thinxtra, New Zealand
Real-World Applications for the Internet of Things in Forestry Operations. In the last couple of years most of the discussions on IoT where about how this new technology could impact the Forestry Industry - now we are seeing with real life forestry IoT deployments the impact this is making. Shaun will cover an overview of IoT developments and real-world examples of how it is being used in both forestry and other industries with similar working conditions.
Grant Pearse, Scion Research, New Zealand
New methods are emerging from the field of data science that could revolutionize remote sensing approaches. However, these new deep learning methods are not optimised for use in remote sensing and can struggle with geospatial data.
This presentation will cover recent work done by Scion research to re-purpose these algorithms for use with low-cost UAV imagery. The accuracy and transferability of the resulting models exceeded all other approaches tested at Scion and can be readily transferred to end-users.
Sean Krisanski, University of Tasmania, Australia
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are conventionally used above the forest canopy, however, in areas of dense canopy cover, photogrammetry and even multi-echo LiDAR can be limited in how much detail it can capture from the sub-canopy due to canopy occlusion. This project focuses on exploring how UAVs can be applied beneath the forest canopy to capture information from areas which were previously difficult to map. This presentation will focus on the learnings and advancements made in the project since this publication.
VicForests CEO steps downVicForests’ Chief Executive Officer Nathan Trushell is to step down to take up a new role with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR). In three years as CEO, Nathan has been instrumental in maintaining VicForests’ profitability and driving a new strategic direction for the company. Nathan’s expertise in the native timber industry will carry through to his new role where he will guide the future of the wood and fibre industry in Victoria. VicForests has announced that interim Chief Executive Officer Monique Dawson will commence later this month.
Source: VAFI News Mill
WA’s first timber-framed office tower approvedA local council has approved an office tower in Fremantle to be constructed out of cross-laminated timber, in a first for Western Australia. The six-storey building, designed by Harris Jenkins Architects, will comprise five office floors above a ground floor hosting a bar and restaurant.
The building will also feature a suite of sustainability features, including an operable glass facade that will circulate fresh air and deliver maximum sunlight to all levels, while revealing the timber structure to the outside.
Cross-laminated timber buildings are increasingly being recognized as a sustainable alternative to concrete and steel, since emerging in Germany and Austria in the early 1990s. Among the buildings that have made use of the technology in Australia are Tzannes’s completed International House Sydney and its upcoming building at UNSW, Woodwork by NH Architecture, and 25 King by Bates Smart.
Brad Pettitt, mayor of Fremantle, said the council was pleased with the sustainable credentials of the building. “In recent years in Fremantle we’ve seen the construction of some really exciting sustainable buildings that are better places to live and work in, better for the environment and cheaper to operate,” he said. “To be home to WA’s first timber-framed office building will only enhance Fremantle’s reputation as a leader in sustainable development.”
Photo: Image: Harris Jenkins Architects and Yolk Property Group
Aratu Forests launches new brandAratu Forests Limited, one of the largest forestry estates in the Gisborne District, launched its new brand in Gisborne on Thursday of last week. The company is a significant contributor to the regional economy, managing around 27,000 hectares of radiata pine plantation on 35,000 hectares of land, and the new brand is a key part of its future strategy and direction.
Aratu Forests Limited CEO Ian Brown (photo) said that the company’s philosophy, mission and core values are fully embedded in the new brand. “In launching Aratu Forests Limited, we have taken the opportunity to move to a brand that speaks to our pathway to long-term sustainability,” Mr Brown said.
“Our brand demonstrates the important role that Aratu Forests Limited plays in the Gisborne economy and community and more broadly in New Zealand’s economic growth and development. That’s also reflected in our new name – Aratu – which is a combination of the two Māori words ‘ara’ which means path and ‘tu’ which means to stand. The name was developed to reflect the path we are on to pursue active improvement and manage for the long term, and the stand we are taking to protect and invest in our people, and act in an open and honest manner”.
“Our mission is to be recognised as the most responsible, effective and efficient forest manager on the East Coast. This is underpinned by our values, informing everything we do. The new brand reflects not only the importance of our local heritage, but our contribution and our commitment to the communities where we operate. Our mission and values emphasise what people inside and outside our organisation can and should expect of us as we strive for excellence”.
“As society changes, we fundamentally believe it is up to us to make the case – more confidently and effectively – for the positive role that well-run and responsible forest companies, just like Aratu Forests Limited, play in today’s society.”
About Aratu Forests Limited
Aratu Forests Limited is a 35,000-hectare plantation forestry asset and management company located in Gisborne, New Zealand. The company plants over 1 million trees each year and has an annual harvest of around 700,000 tonnes. With 32 permanent staff, the company supports over 200 contracted workers providing inventory, silviculture, roading, harvesting, haulage and log marshalling services. Aratu Forests Limited was acquired by New Forests, an Australian-based, international and sustainable forestry investment manager, on behalf of its institutional investment clients in July 2019.
Mangan Haulage Receives award for Safety CultureOn 19 September, Road Freight NSW held their annual awards. The categories for the awards were:
- Outstanding Contribution to the NSW Trucking Industry
- Transport Woman of the Year NSW Award
- Professional Driver of the Year NSW Award
- Top Technical and Maintenance NSW Award
- Best Safety Culture NSW Award
On behalf of the industry, AFCA has congratulated Mangan Haulage and Director Chris Mangan for winning the NSW Best Safety Culture Award 2019. Mangan Haulage of Oberon
(Established in 1961) Mangan Haulage is a third-generation family business that has specialised in efficient and effective forestry management and softwood plantation logging. Originally from the Wyong area north of Sydney, the family moved to Oberon, switching from hardwoods to softwood and finding that regeneration is the key to operating a sustainable business.
NSW Government’s move welcomedThe Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) and the Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) welcome the NSW Government’s inclusion of forestry and forest product processing operations in its new laws to crack down on farm invasions, mirroring the recent inclusion by the Federal Government in its similar regulation.
Chief Executive Officer of AFPA, Ross Hampton, said the inclusion of forestry in both Federal and proposed State law, rightly recognises that forestry and forest product processing operations on private and public land are carried out in a completely sustainable and legal manner, just like other sectors of the rural economy.
Mr Hampton said, “Forestry operators have enormous empathy for our farmers who are finding at times that groups of poorly informed activists are not just making their views heard at the gate, but actually invading legitimate workplaces. Our shared concern comes from the fact that our sector has been dealing with this for decades. Small numbers of people, who usually live nowhere near the forestry operation, have been disrupting legitimate forestry work by aggressively invading harvest and regeneration sites.”
General Manager of AFCA, Stacey Gardiner, said, “This has had at times disastrous financial and emotional consequences for our businesses, many of whom are small rural businesses that are family run. They deserve the right to have their operations and livelihoods protected.”
Mr Hampton said, “The NSW Bill, if passed by the Upper House, will seek to prevent deliberate trespass through clear boundaries for the purposes of damaging the rural operation. This Bill will support the already enacted Federal laws which cover the use of carriage services to promote, incite and organise an invasion of a rural workplace. We all, of course, respect the right of any individual to engage in protests and make their views known. All we are saying is that this activity should not disrupt another Australian’s legitimate work, which is being carried out in a sustainable and legal fashion to put food on their family’s table.”
Photo: Rachel Vercoe
New bushfire risk mapping methodUniversity of Wollongong bushfire management researcher Owen Price has developed a new method for mapping bushfire risk based on past fire patterns which has the potential to change bushfire prevention strategies worldwide.
The research was recently published online in a special edition of the International Journal of Wildland Fire. See http://www.publish.csiro.au/WF/WF18130.
Source: VAFI News Mill
Spot robot is finally on sale … technicallyTo formally reveal the commercial launch of Spot, Boston Dynamics (who spoke recently at an FIEA tech series) has produced an impressive ad highlighting all the robot’s technical specifications. The current commercial iteration of Spot can run for 90 minutes off a single (swappable) battery charge, can carry up to 14 kg, operate in temperatures spanning -20° C to 45° C, and is built to withstand dusty and wet environments.
All these relatively decent specs quite reasonably lead to the question of what commercial applications Spot could be actually used for. Boston Dynamics has been working for some time with early-adopting companies to explore possible industrial applications but practical uses do still seem relatively vague.
“Early customers are already testing Spot to monitor construction sites, provide remote inspection at gas, oil and power installations, and in public safety,” Boston Dynamics says.
The Verge also reports Spot is being investigated by Cirque du Soleil for possible entertainment outcomes, and some police departments are exploring whether the robot could be adapted for bomb disposal purposes. It is all very experimental at this point, however, those interested in buying a Spot can now contact a dedicated sales department to explore the possibility. Of course, no price tag has been publicly attached, so it certainly feels like a case of, if you need to ask how much it is then you can’t afford it.
Source: Boston Dynamics
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... double booking!
A friend of mine bought tickets for the Rugby World Cup final in Japan without realising the dates coincide with his own wedding date.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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