Friday Offcuts 17 April 2020
The Forest Owners Association pointed out that log supplies to domestic and export markets are inextricably linked and can’t be separated. If you’re harvesting, wood is being allocated to a range of grades and markets, based on the specs of the logs being sought from both. As forest owners and contractors were working alongside the Government to get the industry back and working again, a young forester (and one of the team of Future Foresters) put pen to paper. He wrote an open letter (see the lead story this week) to the Minister putting his case for the industry to be working together in times like these rather than as separate parts. This particular issue has been bubbling away behind the scenes for a couple of years now.
So, as the industry, still battened down and unable to get back to work under the enforced shutdown, contractors not knowing if they’ll still going to be in business in a week or so, forest owners starting to stress about the 300,000m3 of logs sitting at New Zealand’s ports with similar volumes unable to be moved in cutover, on skid sites, and in the supply chain, the Forestry Minister was suggesting that forest owners need to “reassess their business” in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Timing is everything, right? We’ve also included another article in this week's issue supplied by Margules Groome Consulting exploring further the issues raised by the Minister on whether the country should be ‘on-shoring’ the processing of its log resource. With time still in lockdown (at this stage the expectation is that the forestry industry will largely be back at work this time next week) for the kiwis, by all means, feel free to comment.
In the tech news section this week we’ve included stories on some US researchers that have developed a new method that could one day replace conventional pressure treating of lumber along with news of a large investment being made in a Finnish sawmill (which they’re claiming will be the world’s most modern and a leap forward for the sawmilling industry). Also, a Finnish-German start-up that we’ve reported on before, CollectiveCrunch, has just received further funding from the European Space Agency to progress it’s push to become the “Google Maps” of the forestry industry.
And finally, a couple of issues ago we made reference to the postponement and alternative plans being made for the Forest Safety & Technology 2020 series that had been scheduled to run in May. Our Innovatek team have been working with speakers and sponsors this week and the plan is to run instead, a series of six interactive on-line webinars. Very soon we’ll be offering webinar registrations, in addition to those that have already registered before the lockdown came into effect, to the wider industry for this long-running conference series. Watch this space and www.forestsafety.events That’s it. Enjoy this week’s issue. Stay safe.
This week we have for you:
An Open Letter to Shane JonesDear Minister Jones,
Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Adrian. I am an employee in the forestry industry, a Future Forester, a graduate of Canterbury University and, albeit very small, a forest owner.
Since starting out in the forestry industry 4 years ago I have been lucky enough to experience your leadership first-hand and hear your passionate encouragement of the forest industry and forest owners within it. During this time, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to speak at the beehive and describe the amazing opportunities for people involved with forestry. For me the forestry industry represents a world of incredible opportunities, amazing people and is an industry that I am extremely proud to be a part of.
Last year I was honoured to be invited to speak directly with His Royal Highness Prince Charles about our industry. During this meeting I gave explicit support for the opportunities you are providing farmers and landowners under the One Billion Trees Programme. I described how amazing it was to see these rural landowners committing to forestry with the support of the Government and our Minister Shane Jones leading at the helm.
Suffice to say I was shocked when I heard your interview with Heather Du Plessis-Allan earlier this week. Shocked at the comments uttered with such disregard for our country’s forest owners. In utter shock that you, the Minister of Forestry, our Government representative would speak in such derogatory terms about the forest owners. Forest owners that you have been actively encouraging to expand their investment in New Zealand. Investment that has directly led to job creation, economic growth and most important investment that is actively combating climate change.
I agree with you that there are immense benefits to New Zealand through ensuring consistent supply for our domestic processors. Stable supply for our sawmills stimulates job creation, provides opportunities for kiwi companies and has multiple benefits for our economy. Forest Owners Association President Phil Taylor hit the nail on the head when describing these amazing opportunities and I cannot reiterate the importance of this comment enough. ”Shane Jones is talking about creating new jobs. We’d love to see those, but not if we fail to protect current ones.”
The suggestions you made in this interview were brilliant from a political perspective. To suggest that you want to look after kiwis’ interests by potentially imposing regulations to our “international forest investor” forest owners sounds great. A headline that is easily digested and is adequately palatable for the average kiwi. However, in my opinion these suggestions are not putting New Zealand first. In fact, I’d describe these comments as putting Shane Jones first…. New Zealand second.
To suggest that impositions that impact a forest owner’s profitability would only be detrimental to international forest investors is utterly ridiculous. Its common knowledge that 40 percent of the currently harvestable trees are owned by small scale owners. Small scale owners such as mum and dad investors, farmers, lifestyle properties, hunting blocks, or in my case a group of 10 friends who purchased a small forest for building mountain bike tracks in. Any negative impacts would be equally be felt by these small-scale forest owners.
Farm Forestry Association President Hamish Levack echoes these concerns. He correctly suggests that if the government introduced compulsory acquisition at low prices for instance, that most farm foresters would choose to not harvest at a loss and would shut up their woodlots. The impact on these farmers would be a direct loss of income through their incapacity to harvest. These are the same farmers that have been feeding our country, the same farmers who have been supporting New Zealand as essential workers during the level 4 lockdown and the same farmers who you have been promoting should invest and grow more forestry through the One Billion Trees programme.
The same sentiment goes for the 40 percent of the New Zealand forest estate which is growing commercial forests on land owned by iwi. Any regulatory outcome that negatively impacts New Zealand forest owners will in turn be negatively impacting Maori and our country’s farmers. This outcome is most certainly not putting New Zealand’s interests first.
During my time in the industry I have been willingly positioned on both sides of this fence; both managing log supply for a domestic processor and working for a management company that represents small scale forest owners. In my opinion the solution we should be aiming for is not of segregation of the industry. This strategy will not bring forth the desired outcomes for anyone. It is more important now than ever for forest owners, domestic processors, and exporters to work together for the betterment of New Zealand.
Shane, I urge you to look for a solution to support the forestry industry as a whole. A solution that supports all parts of the sector as opposed to using the threat of a regulatory stick for certain participants. A solution that facilitates growth for the New Zealand economy and supports job creation and opportunities for all parts of the industry I adore. A solution that continues to support the growth of our country’s forest area. A solution that does indeed put New Zealand first.
Database of Australian forestry plantation fire lossesFWPA has developed a report and database capturing historical information on larger-scale Australian plantation fire losses. The aim of the report was to build a knowledge base that will assist with risk management strategic planning in the future.
Geddes Management was engaged to gather the data from Australia’s forest growers, who provided information on plantation fire losses for events whereby 100 ha or more was burnt. The information dates as far back as the early 1920s.
For more information on the report and database, click here.
Strong interest in new 2020 Mill MapsThe only thing that is constant is change … and isn’t that the truth. Not only do we face uncertainty with our businesses linked to COVID-19 at the moment but changes for our own wood products industry over the last 12 months have been significant.
Every two years Australasia’s wood processing and manufacturing industry is detailed in an eagerly awaited Forest Products Industry Map that’s produced for this region. The new 2020 map has just been printed. We covered the printing and production a couple of weeks ago and orders have been flowing in.
This is the fourth edition of a full colour 980mm wide x 680mm tall map produced by the Forest Industry Engineering Association combining major wood processing and manufacturing plants in both Australia and New Zealand.
It features 171 wood processing operations including over 65 sawmills cutting in excess of 25,000m3 sawn lumber per annum (with sawn production levels), all fibreboard, particleboard, plywood, pulp & paper, veneer/LVL/CLT, paperboard and chip export operations along with major wood manufacturing operations.
Since the last edition produced in early 2018 there have been over 50 major updates to mill locations, ownership and production. Changes in the last two years have indeed been significant. The new map is now the most up-to-date industry reference providing an essential mapping resource for New Zealand and Australian forest products companies.
A folded copy of the map will be inserted into two industry magazines in April/May. If you wish to purchase your own folded or flat laminated copies of the new map, orders can now be made from the FIEA website (www.fiea.org.nz) or by clicking here
Note: Orders are being taken now and the maps will be posted as soon as we can.
Should New Zealand export its logs?New Zealand currently exports around NZD3.5 billion of unprocessed roundwood a year. New innovative wood products combined with environmentally friendly construction can create value-adding alternatives which would more than double the current value of roundwood exports.
The export of commodities in return for a free flow of finished goods in a global free trading market is being questioned, particularly in respect of growing supply chain risk, security and the need to create local employment in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic. As a result, is it time for New Zealand to consider more ‘on-shoring’ processing of one of its major primary export products?
New Zealand harvests ~36 million cubic meters of roundwood annually with about 60% of this volume (22 million cubic meters) exported as roundwood mostly to China (around 80%). Domestic processing includes sawmilling for timber, laminated products, panel products and pulp. Local mills compete on price with the export market to secure volume.
Chinese demand for softwood timber arises from three industry segments; construction (which accounts for ~50% of the demand), packaging (~15%) and the furniture manufacturing and finishing timbers (~35%). Within the construction segment, New Zealand wood is largely used in concrete forming applications (including plywood) which is a low-value use and counter-intuitive given the 30-or so year production (growth) time required to produce logs.
China’s concrete use is in large part driven by its rapid rate of urbanisation. The use of concrete and its significant impact on the environment is being increasingly questioned. The Guardian in 2019 reported that China pours more concrete every two years than the US did in the entire 20th century.
It further reports, that concrete mixing accounts for about a 10 per cent of the world’s industrial water use. It is understood to worsen the silicosis problem and other respiratory diseases. The dust from concrete stocks and mixers reportedly contributes up to 10% of the coarse particulate matter that chokes Delhi. The Asia Institute, in a recent (March 2020) podcast, focused on the high demand for sand, a non-renewable resource which makes up about two thirds of concrete material. Sand is further used in the production of glass and microchips.
It is estimated that the world uses 40-50 billion tonnes of sand annually, a volume sufficient to build a 27m wide wall, 29m high around the planet each year. Sand suitable for concrete manufacture, is mined from sand bars, riverbeds and estuaries with consequential environmental impacts such as downstream erosion, sedimentation and flooding. Countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia have all supplied sand to meet demand from Asia’s economies and rising living standards are set to boost demand. The United Nation’s Environmental program in 2019 referred to sand mining as one of the major sustainability challenges of the 21st century. The BBC reported in late 2018 that cement, another key ingredient in concrete is the source of about 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions according to think tank Chatham House.
Wood is an environmentally friendly, sustainable construction material. Innovative products such as cross laminated timber (CLT) and glued laminated timber (Glulam) are increasingly being used to construct multi-story buildings. Further, in Australia the National Construction Code was changed in 2019 to allow up to 8 story buildings to be constructed from CLT. The “25 King” building in Brisbane is one example of what can be achieved using new technologies and materials. In New Zealand, Red Stag is planning to build a CLT plant in Rotorua and are constructing demonstration buildings in Christchurch. Commerical interest is also increasing with Robert Jones Holdings planning a multi-story office block in Wellington CBD.
New Zealand’s XLam started to produce small volumes of CLT in Nelson but the plant closed in 2019 sighting the small scale and manual operations impacting profitability. XLam now plans to supply the growing New Zealand market from its production facility in Australia (Wodonga). New Zealand plantation growers understandably seek to maximise value return while minimising risk. In the absence of large scale, internationally competitive domestic value adding operations, roundwood exports ticks both boxes.
It is the role of government to provide the vision, environment and leadership to foster new initiatives. There is no reason why New Zealand could not establish itself as a major CLT and/or Glulam producer and designer of wooden buildings, exporting value-added, pre-manufactured and environmentally friendly building components to Asian markets. The Asia Pacific is a major wood deficit region and New Zealand is well positioned to potentially play a leading role in introducing a new generation of green buildings to the region. A new generation of buildings will not only be constructed from a renewable resource but will also be much more energy efficient for heating and cooling. With the right vision and leadership, markets such as Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China can be developed over time.
Domestic projects can showcase possibilities, including the construction of wood-based earthquake safe buildings. Such a transition will require vision and leadership. It was a vision that resulted in the creation of New Zealand’s softwood plantation industry a century ago. In the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic, nations and corporations will re-think supply chain risk and opportunities to restructure their economies with a fresh focus on local manufacturing and value add. Is now the time for New Zealand to write the next chapter in its plantation forestry strategy?
For further insight click this link
Photo: CLT & Glulam based building Brisbane
Source: Margules Groome Consulting
Start of Bushfire Royal CommissionThe Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has welcomed the formal start of proceedings of the Bushfire Royal Commission and has reiterated its call for Australia’s forestry assets such as timber plantations to be considered critical infrastructure which must be a firefighting and mitigation priority.
This week the Bushfire Royal Commission began its formal proceedings with a ceremonial hearing. Due to social distancing requirements because of the CoVid-19 pandemic the hearing wasn’t open to the public but was live streamed. A recording of the hearing can be viewed here.
The acting Chief Executive Officer of AFPA Victor Violante has welcomed the start of the hearings. “The Royal Commission provides the opportunity for Australians to find out why the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires were so catastrophic, and what needs to be done to limit the impact of such events in the future,” he said.
AFPA has also called on the Royal Commission to recognise the importance of Australia’s forestry assets such as timber plantations, timber-producing native forests, and processing facilities, as the recent fires highlighted the enormous economic impact on regional communities from the loss of such assets.
“While saving lives must be the priority for firefighting resources, we must also redefine critical infrastructure to include key economic assets such as timber plantations because they are the economic backbone of many regional communities, and they can take decades to recover. This should apply not just to the deployment of fire mitigation and suppression resources, but also recovery funding and timber salvaging operations.”
AFPA is also urging the Royal Commission to examine the need for a whole-of-landscape approach to bushfire mitigation and land management. “With the Royal Commission’s terms of reference including ‘the preparedness and resilience responsibilities, which includes land management and hazard reduction measures’, this is an opportunity to ensure Australia has a coordinated, whole-of-landscape approach to land management and more aggressive fuel reduction that includes mechanical fuel reduction alongside prescribed burns in the future.”
“Currently there are multiple approaches to fuel reduction by multiple land managers and agencies across different land tenures, and that hasn’t worked,” Mr Violante said. “We need a whole-of-landscape approach which should include using mechanical fuel reduction techniques, which have proved highly effective in other bushfire prone countries,” Mr Violante concluded.
AFPA has prepared this report Using Fire and Machines to Better Fire-Proof Our Country Towns, which makes the case for mechanical fuel reduction.
If you want to make a submission to the Royal Commission you can do so here.
Submissions close on 28 April 2020.
New research nursery facilities for ScionScion’s research nursery has been upgraded with new facilities and demonstrations of state-of-the-art machinery not yet used in New Zealand forestry. The facilities are pilot scale, but show how a modular, automated, lean-flow, environmentally sustainable propagation facility could work in New Zealand conditions.
With their upgraded facilities, cuttings can now be propagated at any time of year. The upgrade includes an enclosed growing area with automated climate controls. The facility will also allow Scion to do parallel testing of different environments, speeding up the research and development required to develop plant propagation solutions. Enclosed hedge tunnels and mini hedges are another new feature in the upgrade. Used for indigenous and exotic species, these miniature motherstock are novel in New Zealand. They provide savings in time, labour and space.
An automated paper pot sowing line, on loan from Ellepot, is one of the key pieces of new technology. Paper pots will now replace plastic potting bags for most seedlings as we demonstrate this technology. Another key feature of the upgrade is the automatic tray washer that cleans so thoroughly it prevents the spread of weed seed. The nursery team is enjoying the benefits of the washer, which has led to roughly 90 per cent fewer weeds.
Source: Scion Research
A new process for preserving lumberPressure treating – which involves putting lumber inside a pressurized watertight tank and forcing chemicals into the boards – has been used for more than a century to help stave off the fungus that causes wood rot in wet environments. Now Georgia Tech researchers have developed a new method that could one day replace conventional pressure treating as a way to make lumber not only fungal-resistant but also nearly impervious to water.
The new method, which was reported February 13 in the journal Langmuir, involves applying a protective coating of metal oxide that is only a few atoms thick throughout the entire cellular structure of the wood. This process, known as atomic layer deposition, is already frequently used in manufacturing microelectronics for computers and cell phones but now is being explored for new applications in commodity products such as wood.
Like pressure treatments, the process is performed in an airtight chamber, but in this case the chamber is at low pressures to help the gas molecules permeate the entire wood structure.
CollectiveCrunch gets €500K to expand its forestry technologyThe Finnish-German startup CollectiveCrunch has received €500K funding from the European Space Agency (ESA) to further develop its one-of-a-kind AI, Linda Forest, and bring its service to new markets. ESA will contribute 50% of the overall cost, as the total volume of the project is close to €1 million.
CollectiveCrunch, a startup that we recently included in a list of 10 promising European forestry tech startups to watch in 2020, was founded in 2016.
Probably one of the largest AI initiatives in this sector, CollectiveCrunch has the potential to become the “Google Maps” of the forestry industry, handling the forests in a much more sustainable and dynamic way. Its innovative AI platform, Linda Forest, was launched in 2019, and is a game changing turn-key SaaS solution that predicts wood mass, wood species and wood quality of target areas far more accurately than any existing conventional methods.
The recently raised funding will be used to further develop and pilot the Linda Forest platform for forest inventories and key aspects of forest planning, investment and management, bringing new AI-based tools to both buyers and sellers of wood and forest lands. The company already has several high-profile customers in Finland, Sweden and the Baltics and interest from Central Europe, Russia and North America.
Applications open for NZIF awards and scholarshipsApplications are now invited for the awards and scholarships offered by the NZIF Foundation for 2020. The total value of awards offered is NZ$29,500.
The awards open for application are:
• One Future Forest Scholarship for post graduate research of up to $10,000
• The New Zealand Redwood Company Scholarship of $5,000 for an undergraduate scholarship at the University of Canterbury School Forestry
• Chavasse Travel Award of up to $3,500 to assist a mid-career person to travel overseas or to bring an overseas person to NZ
• Jon Dey memorial award of up to $3,500 to assist research projects in the areas of work study or new technology aimed at improving forest engineering and harvest productivity
• Otago Southland Award of up to $3,000 to assist a project of relevance to forestry in the Otago/Southland region
• Mary Sutherland Scholarship of $1,000 for a polytechnic student
• University Undergraduate Scholarship of $1,000
• Frank Hutchinson Postgraduate scholarship of $1,000
• Student poster prizes at NZIF Conference (1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes of $800, $500 and $200)
Applications are now open. Further details on the Foundation web page available through www.nzif.org.nz, (link on lower right-hand side of page).
Applications must be received by the Foundation administrator ( firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than 5pm on Monday 18th May 2020.
Metsä to build world’s most modern sawmillMetsä Group is to invest €200m and build the world’s most modern sawmill in Rauma. It will be Finland’s largest ever sawmill investment. Investing €200m in the Rauma project, Metsä’s newest sawmill will have a projected capacity of 750,000 m3 of sawn pine timber per year. The new sawmill will utilise machine vision and artificial intelligence in different stages of the sawing process which Metsä states “Is not yet in use anywhere in the sawmill industry”.
“The next-generation sawmill to be constructed in Rauma is a significant leap forward for the whole industry. The new technology allows for the transition from workstations to control room monitoring and continuous operation. The key elements of the Rauma sawmill’s operating model include employees’ in-depth expertise and multiple skills as well as user maintenance,” said Ismo Nousiainen, CEO of Metsä Fibre. “The demand for high-quality sawn timber will increase globally, especially in the demanding component and woodworking industries.”
The new sawmill will employ around 100 people directly and around 500 people across its supply chain. The total annual log consumption, sourced entirely from Finland, is estimated to be around 1.5 million m3. Sawn timber produced by the Rauma sawmill will be sold mainly to Europe and Asia. The location of the new sawmill was chosen for its easy integration into the pulp mill and logistics through the Port of Rauma. Metsä Fibre has made an agreement with Veisto on the delivery of the new sawline.
Seedling donations support koala care groupsForestry Corporation of NSW has donated over 50,000 Eucalyptus seedlings to a number of north coast koala care groups to help rebuild koala habitat on private land. The Eucalyptus seedlings were grown in Forestry Corporation’s Grafton nursery and have begun their journey to locations along the mid-north and north coast of NSW, said Forestry Corporation Ecologist Chris Slade.
“We are in the third year of the program and this year there are more seedlings going out to more areas, including areas to the west of Kempsey; it’s fantastic,” Mr Slade said. “The seedlings will be planted to connect known koala populations across the landscape by creating vegetated corridors and other patches, increasing food and shelter availability”.
“This partnership is a great example of public, private and not-for-profit organisations working together – Forestry Corporation growing and delivering plants free of charge, farms providing nursery storage and local community volunteers providing planting power.”
Photo: Mark Wilson (Friends of the Koala Lismore) and Jenny Sonter (Forestry Corporation NSW).
Source: Forestry Corporation of NSW
World’s first all-timber football stadium wins approvalUK firm, Zaha Hadid Architects has won planning permission for the world's first wooden football stadium. It will be the home of Forest Green Rovers Football Club in Gloucestershire.
Upon completion, the ambition is to be the world's greenest football stadium, constructed entirely from timber and powered by sustainable energy sources. The first application for the 5,000-seater timber stadium was blocked in 2019. However, this second attempt was successful and approved by the local council.
Zaha Hadid Architects originally won the competition to design the stadium back in 2016. The whole structure will be built entirely from resourced wood, including the louvred cladding and cantilever roof. A specialist membrane will cover the stadium. This will allow the grass to grow naturally under the sunlight whilst reducing shadows that could distract players and the crowd during the action.
The football club is chaired by Dale Vince, founder of green electricity company Ecotricity. This connection was the driving force behind the need for renewable energy for the current and long-term objectives of the club.
The contemporary stadium has an organic grass pitch watered with recycled rainwater and makes use of photovoltaic panels to power its floodlights. The pitch is mowed through an electric-powered "mow bot" that makes use of GPS technology. It robotically cuts the grass, with the grass clippings given to neighbourhood farmers to put on their soil.
Kengo Kuma has recently executed the latticed wooden National Stadium in Japan, for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which has a metal canopy. The unique design by Zaha Hadid was controversially scrapped in 2015.
... and one to end the week on ...
Paddy says to Mick, "I'm getting circumcised tomorrow."
Mick says, "I had that done when I was a few days old."
Paddy asks, "Does it hurt?"
Mick says, " Well I couldn't walk for about a year."
A fire-fighter was working on the engine outside the Station, when he noticed a little girl nearby in a little red wagon with little ladders hung off the sides and a garden hose tightly coiled in the middle.
The girl was wearing a firefighter's helmet.
The wagon was being pulled by her dog and her cat.
The firefighter walked over to take a closer look.
'That sure is a nice fire truck,' the firefighter said with admiration.
''Thanks,' the girl replied.
The firefighter looked a little closer. The girl had tied the wagon to her dog's collar and to the cat's testicles.
'Little partner,' the firefighter said, 'I don't want to tell you how to run your rig, but if you were to tie that rope around the cat's collar, I think you could go faster. '
The little girl replied thoughtfully, 'You're probably right, but then I wouldn't have a siren.'
And one more for you. The son of a Saudi mogul goes to study in Europe. One night, the phone rings at the house of his parents. Dad: How's your life going, son?
Son: It's going well, dad.
Dad: Is something wrong? You don't sound happy.
Son: No Dad, everything's fine. Berlin is wonderful, the people are nice and I really like it here.
Dad: Son, tell me the truth. I know something's not right.
Son: Dad, I am a bit ashamed to drive to my college with my gold Ferrari 599GTB when all my teachers and many fellow students travel by train.
Dad: My dear son, why didn't you say so earlier? I will send you 15 million euro this instant. Please stop embarrassing us and go and get yourself a train too.
Must be time since we're in lockdown (you've had plenty of time) to fire us through a few more jokes for us to pass on.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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