Friday Offcuts – 14 February 2020

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Amidst the issues facing the Australian forestry industry following the devastating bush fires and the NZ industry, still grappling with the fallout from the Coronavirus on its log export markets (and flow on effects through the wood supply chain – see story this week on the immediate impacts on harvesting crews in some regions), we’ll start this week with a few more positive stories.

In Australia, the CFMEU and the forestry industry have joined together to fund a TV advertisement that shows the extreme conditions forestry workers have been working under fighting the recent fires. It also expresses gratitude for the huge and continued involvement of those operating on the front-line. The ad features stunning footage taken by a forestry worker as he and his workmates cleared a containment line in regional Victoria. It’s planned to air for two weeks across all major networks and is being supported by an expansive social media campaign.

Also, in response to the fires, Forest and Wood Products Australia has just updated its free resources aimed at helping re-build resilient homes in bushfire-prone areas. A programme of workshops and further resources are going to be rolled out over the coming months for fire affected communities, local councils and building design professionals. They’re also developing a best-practice guide for log storage and salvage operations following a bushfire event.

Also, from Australia, comes the welcome news this week that Timberlink is planning to build a Cross Laminated Timber and Glue Laminated Timber manufacturing facility to service the growing market for mass timber panels in Australia. The new operation plans to be opened in 2023 and is going to be based in either Victoria or South Australia.

We’ve also included this week a call out from young foresters across Australia involved in the Future Foresters Initiative. They’re looking to attract new blood. So, if you’re young (or youngish), eager, maybe early on in your career and think you could help a team of young foresters pave the way for the next generation of foresters, well, here’s your chance.

Finally, we’ve included a few encouraging stories on timber being used in construction. Housing starts in the United States have surged to a 13-year high with a 17 percent increase recorded in new home construction. Contained in this story is a link to the Forbes Magazine, Real Estate Report, which provides a number of predictions for the upcoming year on the US housing market. In the other story on Timber Trends, among the seven trends covered, Think Wood, an industry-funded initiative responsible for increasing demand for softwood lumber products in North America, is predicting that both the capabilities and height of timber buildings are only going to continue to increase in 2020. And on that more uplifting note, enjoy this week’s read.



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Coronavirus outbreak hitting forestry industry

The coronavirus outbreak has forced more than 1000 New Zealand forestry workers out of a job. The Forest Industry Contractors Association said about 30 percent of the country's logging crews were unable to work amid supply chain disruption and no one knew how long the situation would last.

Last Wednesday, Pakiri Logging in Gisborne had the tough job of telling its forestry crew harvesting is on hold and they can't work. Adrienne Wikiriwhi said most of their 20 employees were from Ngāti Porou and it was an incredibly stressful time for them and their whānau. "We are really really concerned about how they are able to manage without their wages - and we are not able to do anything," she said.

"They have got kids, they have got family that rely on them - their wider family that rely on them - they don't have spare cash just sitting around." In the meantime, Pakiri Logging is offering its employees work doing odd jobs in the bush to keep them earning an income.

But with no certainty about when the situation will be resolved, Wikiriwhi said the company itself was on the line. "Our first focus has been on our boys, on our crews, to make sure they are taken care of as best we can and then we need to look at the realities of our business, if it goes on into next week - we are in serious trouble," she said. "We need to work by next week, or by the end of the month, there will be no business."

Yesterday afternoon, authorities including Te Puni Kōkiri, Provincial Development Unit, Trust Tairāwhiti Business and Ministry of Social Development met in Gisborne to work out how they can help. The East Coast has some of the most expensive wood to harvest because the forests are harder to access and are some distance away from the port. On top of that, about 90 percent of the volume of logs from Gisborne usually go to China.

Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri said the East Coast was being hit hard. "Unlike larger areas, our economy up the coast is very heavily weighted on forestry, and so when we have a big hit like we are having with the forestry, it is going to have a huge impact," she said.

But it's not just the East Coast that's suffering. The Forest Industry Contractors Association estimates that nationwide up to 1000 forestry workers are out of work. Overall, about 75 percent of forestry workers are Māori.

Association chief executive Prue Younger said there was a lack of empathy for the workers who were going through a stressful time. "These guys are without any knowledge of when they might pick up work again," she said. "It's not just a matter of 'hey, I have lost my ability to get my cash flow in'. It's actually 'I have lost any cash flow and I have got to feed my family'."

She wants to see more support for contractors offered by forestry owners, many of whom are making the decision not to harvest their trees. This is an extra blow for the industry, which only just managed to claw its way back up after log prices dropped in May last year.

The Forest Owners Association said problems stemmed from the virus spread in China, extensions to the lunar new year holiday there, and competition from increased softwood supply from Europe. It's unclear how long harvesting will be paused.

However, Monday marked the end of the public holidays associated with the lunar new year in China, and it's hoped that as public servants return to work more will be known later this week.

Source: RNZ

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New video says “thank you” to forest workers

In a powerful show of unity following the bushfire crisis industry employers, VAFI, AFPA, AFCA and the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union have come together to co-fund a TV advertisement to thank workers in the timber industry who performed and are performing vital work to protect homes and lives during the recent and current bushfires.

The commercial features stunning footage taken by a forestry worker as he and his workmates cleared a containment line in regional Victoria. It will air for two weeks across all major networks and be supported by an expansive social media campaign.

The media release is available here.

The advertisement can be viewed here.

Source: AFCA



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Timberlink to build a CLT and GLT operation

The Timberlink Board has approved plans to enter the growing mass timber market enabled through building a state-of-the-art Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) & Glue Laminated Timber (GLT) manufacturing facility that will service this growing market segment.

Timberlink Chief Executive Officer Ian Tyson said “CLT and GLT products are used as the structural elements for building residential housing, medium density and high-rise timber buildings. With around half of all CLT currently used in Australia being imported and strong growth in demand expected over the next decade, this investment in local production is great news for Australian manufacturing, the forestry sector and Timberlink.”

The significant investment will see the construction of Australia’s second major softwood CLT plant and first combined CLT & GLT manufacturing facility. Mr Tyson said this would place Timberlink at “the forefront of integrated forestry and softwood processing in Australia. Timberlink with its integrated forestry, production and market position is very well suited to play a significant part in this growing and dynamic market.”

A total of 27 full-time permanent jobs will initially be created when the facility opens in 2023 rising to 50 at full output. A significant number of additional jobs will be created during the construction phase. Timberlink will commence discussions with both state and federal Governments, to secure a location for the world-class manufacturing facility to be built in either South Australia or Victoria.

Timberlink CEO Ian Tyson concluded by saying that “this is a major and exciting next step for Timberlink. In the last seven years the company has heavily invested into its three softwood processing mills and expanded our market position. I am confident that now is the right time for the company to build on its strong foundations with this move into engineered timber, the building material of the 21st century and the ultimate renewable.”

Source: Timberlink

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Young Australian foresters looking for input

The Future Foresters Initiative (FFI) is a committee in Australia within the IFA/AFG comprising 7 students, researchers and early career forestry professionals who are passionate about forests, forestry and leadership in the industry. They are currently looking for eager new committee members to help them achieve their objectives for 2020 and to contribute toward defining new goals for the future of this vibrant committee.

About the FFI

Like the Future Foresters NZ Group, the FFI was established as a platform for young and emerging foresters in Australia to connect with each other and the broader IFA/AFG community. FFI committee members have regular conference calls to discuss how the IFA and industry are addressing issues of importance to emerging forest professionals.

In particular, the FFI aims to support professional development by facilitating access to networking, mentoring and career development events. Additionally, a key role of the FFI is to engage broadly with the IFA/AFG board and its sub-committees to advise them on key issues in the future of forestry, and to provide guidance in the direction of IFA/AFG strategies and activities.

What they’re looking for?

If you are an early career forester or forestry student and would like to help pave the way for the next generation of foresters in Australia, the FFI committee is the perfect opportunity for you.

The FFI is looking to expand the committee’s reach across Australia. Consequently, preference will be given to applicants based in South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and rural/regional areas working with the forest industry. The FFI encourages applications from Indigenous Australians and other minority groups.

How to apply

Please send a 200-word Expression of Interest (EOI) and CV to: futureforesters@gmail.com by Monday 2nd of March 2020. Please outline your: Background, Prior experience working as part of a committee or small team, Reasons for wanting to join the FFI committee and Specific goals you want to reach being part of the committee For more information visit: www.forestry.org.au/FFI

Photo: Some committee members in a HVP redwood plantation during a recent field day

Source: FFI
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CHH closes Whangārei sawmill

On Monday, CHH Timber chief executive Clayton Harris confirmed a final decision had been made to close the mill, with the loss of 111 jobs, after consultation started in January. Workers at Carter Holt Harvey's Whangārei mill are "disappointed" with the company's announcement confirming the mill's closure, union representatives say.

The closure was disappointing and a "double-whammy" for the industry which is already under stress from coronavirus, said Northern Amalgamated Workers Union secretary Maurice Davis. The mill's closure would impact 111 jobs, plus up to 40 sub-contractors, Davis said.

Davis said the union was working hard to find work opportunities for all the employees, which may mean having to travel to north Auckland. Carter Holt Harvey would also pay workers a "reasonable" redundancy, as per their collective agreement, he said. Harris said the mill would continue to operate until early April, with staff finishing progressively over several weeks.

Source: stuff.co.nz

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Forest owner pledges 20% of NZ's climate target

One of New Zealand’s largest forestry owners will plant 120 million trees to meet 20 per cent of New Zealand’s 2030 Paris climate commitment Agreement targets for carbon reduction, the Environment Select Committee was told in Wellington earlier in the week.

New Zealand Carbon Farming (NZCF), a locally-owned company which has nearly 73,000 hectares of forest in New Zealand, told the Committee that minor settings changes to the ETS will enable it to invest in an additional 100,000 hectares of planting. Under the Paris Agreement, New Zealand must make 178 million tonnes of carbon reductions in the next ten years. NZCF’s programme will deliver 36 million tonnes of that target.

NZCF managing director Matt Walsh says New Zealand must show leadership on the climate emergency by taking real and concrete action to reduce emissions. “Delivering 178 million tonnes of carbon reductions in the next ten years will require major commitment to strategies that are proven and effective, now – we can’t afford to wait for a magic bullet as this target looms closer,” says Matt Walsh.

“This will take real leadership on the part of both the Government, and local businesses and communities. That’s why we’re making the largest emissions reductions pledge ever made by a New Zealand company, to deliver 20% of New Zealand’s climate commitments.” NZCF told the Environment Committee that its pledge, which the company will meet entirely through private funding, will do more than provide an increase in permanent carbon forests in New Zealand.

“Our planting programme alone will create 2,000 new jobs in rural New Zealand – in regions that are crying out for investment,” says Matt Walsh. “We are also leaders in the science of forest regeneration – a technology we’d like to see recognised in climate legislation. We actively manage our forests to return them to a native state, managing succession and speeding up regeneration to create an indigenous, biodiverse forest.”

“We have also seen the potential for a wide range of complementary businesses, from honey to adventure tourism, to establish alongside our forests, creating business and employment opportunities for regional economies.” Mr Walsh says the selection of land for new planting is also very important to the success of the programme.

“This programme isn’t going to have any effect on the availability of productive farmland. We only plant on the most marginal land – areas that are hard to access, erosion prone and with no other productive purpose. And the amount of land we need to meet this legacy is tiny. By planting less than half of 1% of marginal land – we will achieve 20% of New Zealand’s emissions target.”

NZCF has the proven ability to deliver on the pledge. Over the last 10 years, the company has reduced New Zealand’s emissions by 19 million tonnes. “Our forests are currently the engine for New Zealand’s carbon reduction programme, storing 4.5 tonnes of carbon per minute – every minute of every day. To-date, we have achieved the equivalent of taking every car off New Zealand’s roads for a year.”

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FWPA helping with resources for rebuilding efforts

In response to recent tragic fires, Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) has updated its free resources to help re-build resilient homes in bushfire-prone areas. A program of workshops and further informational resources will be rolled out over the coming months in fire affected communities.

FWPA’s Managing Director, Ric Sinclair, said FWPA fully supports the current Australian standard (AS 3959-2018) and its structured approach to increasing bushfire attack levels (BALs) that gives flexibility to designers and homeowners in accordance to the appropriate fire risk. “There is often some confusion about what can and what can’t be built in bushfire prone areas” and the answer lies in determining the appropriate BAL,” said Sinclair.

To assist designers and home owners, FWPA has updated and released its online BAL calculator that can be accessed at the WoodSolutions website. The free design tool allows users to easily and quickly calculate the BAL for a particular site based on the details they input.

Also available is the updated Design Guide 4: Building with Timber in Bushfire prone areas, developed to assist architects, designers, builders and owners to understand what construction requirement is required for traditional building methods using timber for each BAL.

It is important to note timber framing and internal timber joinery can be used in all BAL categories and while external exposed timber becomes more restricted as the BAL increases. Sinclair said the loss of lives and homes has been heartbreaking but communities are looking to rebuild and need up-to-date information to support rebuild efforts and to know that timber construction is a viable option.

FWPA will also be hosting workshops for the community, local councils and building design professionals. As part of the workshops, informational collateral will be provided that can be taken away and considered by attendees. Other FWPA activities will focus on collecting information from the current fires to help support timber usage if there are any proposals to change the current standard.

“FWPA is an evidence-based organisation but there are some groups who seek to remove timber from building construction in bushfire prone areas without regard to evidence or an assessment of the costs and benefits,” said Sinclair. “As an industry, we need to remain vigilant to ensure that the right information is readily available to support and maintain important markets such as landscape timbers, framing and decking.”

Additionally, FWPA is developing a best-practice guide for log storage and salvage following a bushfire event. This will include some in-mill trials focused around recovery rates for wood exposed to the fires.

FWPA is receptive to any other initiatives that align with the company’s mission. “FWPA will continue to look at ways we can provide relevant information to industry, homeowners, builders and designers in order to improve the use of wood while maintaining the safety of dwellings and the community,” Sinclair concluded.

Source: FWPA

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Gippsland logging industry dealt another blow

Almost 100 loggers have returned from fighting fires to be told they no longer have a timber job, with contracts to harvest timber torn up in the wake of the fires reports the ABC.

Forty per cent of the area earmarked for native timber logging in East Gippsland has been burnt by this summer's bushfires, with officials still assessing the extent of the damage. Last week, 10 timber contractors were issued with force majeure notices by state-owned VicForests, voiding current contracts to harvest timber in East Gippsland.

Force majeure, meaning "superior force", is a common clause in contracts that frees both parties from liability in the event of an extraordinary circumstance beyond the control of both parties preventing one of both of them from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.

VicForests said it had advised 10 contractors the force majeure notices were issued because fires had affected logging in their harvest areas in the short term. "We feel for the predicament of contractors and are helping them in every way possible," a VicForests spokesman said.

"Over the mid-term, it will include additional haulage through VicForests selling timber out of storage or negotiating opportunities more broadly across the industry." Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes said the Government was talking to VicForests about work.

The contract termination is a further blow for the industry. The Supreme Court also recently halted logging in the central highlands after environmentalists argued the fires in Gippsland had destroyed sensitive habitat for threatened species, and as a result, their remaining habitats should be protected.

The Andrews Government is phasing out native timber logging by 2030, blaming dwindling sustainable supplies for the shutdown. The shortage is due to environmental protection for threatened species and the impact of bushfires, including Black Saturday.

In the wake of this summer's fires, some senior figures within the Government have privately warned that the 2030 timeline is no longer feasible. Some in the industry have also made the same warnings.

The CFMEU and the forestry industry have launched ads thanking the work of forestry workers in fighting the fires. The videos show the timber workers driving land-moving equipment through the heart of intense fires.

Stacey Gardner from the Australian Forest Contractors Association said it showed the hard work of timber workers during the fires. "They are the first to put their hands up to risk their lives to assist with cleaning up safely. We greatly appreciate their skills and use of equipment and it is vital that we realise the huge contribution that they make,'' she said.

Source: abc.net.au

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Impacts of bush fires reviewed at Tumbarumba

Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Michael McCormack MP, NSW Member for Albury, Justin Clancy MP, Snowy Valleys Mayor, James Hayes and Deputy Mayor John Larter have all visited the Hyne Timber Tumbarumba Mill to further understand the impacts of the bushfires on the softwood industry.

Timber from the Tumbarumba Mill supplies 1 in 4 new homes across the NSW market and beyond, supporting all the local jobs along the way. 7500 harvested plantation pine logs are processed each day resulting in daily structural framing volumes which would stretch from Tumbarumba to Melbourne.

Hyne Timber CEO said the dignitaries visit was focussed on the short and long-term challenges ahead given over 50,000 hectares of pine plantation is fire impacted in NSW alone. “While the full extent of fire impact and salvageability time frames remain unknown, what we do know is full recovery will take many years.

“Until plantations are re-established in 20 – 30 years’ time, interim solutions for viable log supply are required with the support of all levels of government. “This includes prioritising all pine plantation for domestic processing over export, freight equalisation for Australian processors, and dedicated recovery coordination covering the short-term salvage and the longer-term issues of replanting and wood flow management.” Mr Kleinschmidt said.

Hyne Timber is Australian, privately owned and dates back to 1882, employing 630 people nationally, 230 of whom are at the Tumbarumba Mill. “We remain committed to the long journey to recovery and value the ongoing, critical Government support as we work to find solutions to secure pine log supply through challenging times.” Mr Kleinschmidt concluded.

The dignitaries visit to the Mill included a tour of the new AU$3.7M investment in seven robots to stack timber into packs. This area previously had high vacancy rates and the highest risk of manual handling injuries. While the robots themselves came from Japan, most of the installation investment (over $3M) was awarded to Australian suppliers.

Six existing team members are being professionally developed to operate them while others who previously worked in this area are being professionally developed to work in other parts of the Mill.

Photo: DPM Hon Michael McCormack, Mayor James Hayes, CEO Jon Kleinschmidt and Member for Albury Justin Clancy

Source: Hyne Timber



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New Forests to purchase Tasmanian Plantations

Australia-based international forestry investor New Forests has agreed to purchase the Tasmanian plantations of a local subsidiary of Norwegian pulp and paper company Norske Skog. The purchase includes a net plantation area of more than 18,000 hectares of radiata pine in the south of Tasmania and an agreement for timber sales to the Boyer Mill, which continues to be operated by Norske Skog.

The purchase is made on behalf of the New Forests Australia New Zealand Forest Fund 3 (ANZFF3), a closed-end comingled forestry fund focused on sustainable timber plantations in Australia and New Zealand.

Mark Rogers, New Forests’ Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand noted, “This acquisition is a good outcome for New Forests’ ANZFF3 and its investors, who are seeking a diversified exposure to the mature, professionally managed timberland markets of Australia and New Zealand. The purchase brings added geographic and market diversity to the fund, which will also benefit from a secure, long-term offtake agreement to the local mill.”

The plantations have traditionally serviced around two-thirds of the Boyer Mill supply. Through a long-term pulpwood supply agreement, ANZFF3 will supply 360,000 tonnes annually to the mill, commencing at completion of the transaction. Existing contracts related to the plantation estate, including forest harvesting and haulage, will transfer with the sale.

New Forests’ Matt Crapp is Director of Operations for ANZFF3 and will oversee the transition of the plantation management upon settlement, expected in mid-2020. Crapp explained, “New Forests has strong ties throughout the Tasmanian plantation industry and will appoint a reputable and experienced property manager to oversee day-to-day operations. We anticipate opportunities for current Norske Skog forest management staff to gain employment under the new property management arrangement.”

For further coverage on the transaction click here

Source: New Forests, Norske Skog

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China to halve tariffs on US$75 billion US goods

Chinese duties on American goods adopted on 1 September last year will be lowered, with the rate on some dropping to 5% from 10%, and the others to 2.5% from 5%. China will halve tariffs on some $75 billion of imports from the U.S. later this month, reciprocating a U.S. action and likely satisfying part of the interim trade deal.

The cut will be effective from 1:01 p.m. on Feb. 14 in Beijing, according to a Ministry of Finance statement , the same time as when the U.S. will implement reductions in tariffs on Chinese products. Punitive Chinese duties on American goods that were adopted from 1 September last year will be lowered, with the rate on some dropping to 5% from 10%, and the others to 2.5% from 5%.

Both nations agreed to cut tariffs on each others’ goods as part of the phase-one deal signed last month. Even with the world’s two biggest economies pausing their trade war, duties remain on large parts of their bilateral trade with numerous other points of friction in the relationship.

The ongoing coronavirus, is also raising concerns that the Asian nation might have to cancel orders if the situation worsens. Other retaliatory tariffs China has imposed on U.S. goods will remain, according to the statement.


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Global shipping hit by the coronavirus

Shipping companies that carry goods from China to the rest of the world say they are reducing the number of seaborne vessels, as measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus crimp demand for their services and threaten to disrupt global supply chains.

About 80% of world goods trade by volume is carried by sea and China is home to seven of the world's 10 busiest container ports, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Nearby Singapore and South Korea each have a mega port too.

"A closure of the world's manufacturing hub impacts container shipping at large, as it is a vital facilitator of the intra-Asian and global supply chains," said Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at BIMCO, an international shipping association. "This will affect many industries and limit demand for containerized goods transport," Sand told CNN Business.

Disruption to the industry could reverberate far beyond China as the country seeks to contain the coronavirus outbreak by keeping factories shut and workers at home. Already, carmaker Hyundai has suspended production at its plants in South Korea because of a disruption to the supply of parts caused by the coronavirus outbreak in China, the company said in a statement.

The shutdowns mean that some ships can't get into Chinese ports, as the loading and discharging of goods slows, said Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, a trade body. Others are stuck in dock, waiting for workers to return to ports so that construction and repairs can be completed, Platten added.

Still more vessels are idling in "floating quarantined zones," as countries such as Australia and Singapore refuse to allow ships that have called at Chinese ports to enter their own until the crew has been declared virus-free, added Sand. Platten said he knew of at least one crew that is running low on food because their ship has been idled for so long.

Giant shipping companies such as Maersk, MSC Mediterranean Shipping, Hapag-Lloyd and CMA-CGM have said that they have reduced the number of vessels on routes connecting China and Hong Kong with India, Canada, the United States and West Africa. The shipowners say that moves to idle Chinese factories beyond the end of the Lunar New Year has curtailed demand for vessels and forced them to adjust their capacity during what is already a low season for shipping because of the Chinese holiday.

Logistics company Freightos warned clients to expect delays in getting goods out of China, and consider shifting some shipments from sea to air or even sourcing goods from other countries where possible. The backlog of shipments that typically follows the Lunar New Year will be made worse by the current situation, pushing ocean freight rates up and exacerbating delays, Freightos said.

Source: cnn.com

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Timber Trends: 7 To Watch for 2020

Today we’re experiencing another seminal moment within the evolution of timber. Nourished and strengthened by technological advances, new prefabrication systems, and a series of processes that increase its sustainability, safety, and efficiency, timber structures are popping up in the skylines of cities and in turn, is reconnecting our interior spaces with nature through the warmth, texture, and beauty of wood. Where will this path lead us?

Below, 7 trends are reviewed that suggest this progress is only set to continue this year, increasing both the capabilities and height of timber buildings in the years to come.

1. New Tools: Streamlining the Design and Construction Processes
2. Cutting-edge Technology: Millimeter Manufacturing, Modular Systems, and New Materials
3. New Business Models: Integrating the Project Life Cycle in a Single Process
4. Changes in Building Codes: Breaking Myths and Expanding Possibilities
5. Climate Action Policies: Governments Boost the Use of Timber
6. Biophilic Design: Reconnecting Humans with the Natural
7. Ongoing Research on Timber's Performance is Expanding its Possibilities

All the signs seem to indicate that in 2020 and beyond, wood will take a leading role in the development of the cities that we will inhabit in the future. Timber has a potentially important role to play in helping architects, developers and urbanists address one of the greatest challenges of the next decade: the need to respond to the inevitable densification of our cities and deliver habitable spaces of high environmental quality without losing the inherent connection between humans and nature.

To read more about these trends and download a summary report visit Thinkwood.com

Source: archdaily.com

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U.S. housing starts surge to 13-year high

Housing starts in the United States surged to a 13-year high last month, government figures have showed. The Commerce Department said December saw about a 17 percent increase in new home construction, to a 1.6 million annualized rate.

The figure was a substantial improvement over the revised November rate of 1.4 million, and 41 percent higher than it was in December 2018. The U.S. housing market hasn't seen such a level for new construction since 2006.

December's rate, which easily beat economists' expectations, was also the greatest month-to-month improvement in three years. The department said building permits, however, declined in December. An indicator of future construction, the number of permits fell nearly 4 percent last month but were still almost 6 percent higher than they were a year ago.

Forbes Magazine, Real Estate Report -- In 2019 also provides a number of predictions for the upcoming year on the US housing market. For further details click here

Source: upi.com



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Jobs



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... and one to end the week on ... pedestrian crossing campaign

In Quebec, Canada’s public body “Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec” created a device to encourage drivers to respect the priority of pedestrians. The video is part of an awareness campaign, to respect the priority of pedestrians at road crossings. You have to admire them for their inventiveness.



The message on the crossing reads; Crossings protect pedestrians. Thank you for stopping.





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: www.fridayoffcuts.com


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

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