Friday Offcuts – 24 April 2020

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So, no start up this week for NZ forestry operations. As announced, the country will be moving out of Alert Level 4 at 11.59pm Monday April 27. It will then be in Alert Level 3 for two weeks, before then being reviewed again by Cabinet on 11 May. Forestry operations, provided COVID-19 safe practices are being implemented will be allowed. A COVID-19 Protocol Document has been developed by industry representatives across the country (see attached document in the lead story this week). This covers extra measures required in all parts of the forestry supply chain from forestry nurseries, land preparation and planting through to harvesting, processing and exports. As we know, NZ forestry operations began to feel the impact of COVID- 19 way back in February with the shutdown in China so in effect, harvesting and wood transport operations have been in lockdown now for over two months, not just the one. So, roll on Tuesday of next week.

As anticipated, we had numerous comments, both on the newsletter story and by email this week from the letter to Shane Jones from a young forester and the Ministers comments on the country’s forest owners needing to look at "changing their business plan". We’ve included one of the many well written responses received (in full and as supplied) in this week’s issue written by Roger Dickie, a long-term promotor of forest investment for New Zealand and overseas investors on the issue.

In tree planting news this week we’ve included results from a national survey of commercial forestry nurseries across New Zealand undertaken by MPI. With the Government’s One Billion Trees Programme now in full swing, you’d think a noticeable upswing would be picked up from the survey this year – and it was. Tree stock sales reported in 2019 totalled 88.8 million seedlings, up from the 59.9 million that were sold in 2018. Along with this, the total area of planting was estimated to be 85,000 ha, of which 22,000 ha was in new planting. However, there are still some concerns at the moment around the uncertainty of getting in a labour force for this planting season. Phil Taylor from the FOA commented that “we’re already late in site preparation, and for some planned planting it may already be too late.”

These same issues are also being experienced on the other side of the world as well with their labour force and the social distancing that is required for forestry workers as a consequence of COVID19. Even if working in remote environments, forestry companies and crews are working through issues like separating workers living in camps, travelling to and from the job, taking meals and breaks, working on the job …. In British Columbia at the moment (and it’s being replicated across other regions in North America), with one of the province’s largest ever tree planting programmes ready to go, the brakes have well and truly been applied as the Government and the industry work out how best to manage the risks of worker safety.

And finally, we’ve included a couple of good news stories out of Australia. The first relates to the announcement earlier this week by the NSW Government that it’s establishing a AU$140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package. This is going to assist the State’s forest product industries damaged by the catastrophic fires. The second is about a local forestry company that’s been working together with school students in their own patch. OneFortyOne set up a short film competition, the theme ‘Forests and Biodiversity: Too Precious to Lose’ coinciding with the United Nation’s International Day of Forests (21 March 2020).

As well as reinforcing the already well-established linkages that existed within the community, the primary and secondary students involved in producing the 30 short videos were able get into local forests to showcase through film, the plants and animals living there. You’d have to think that this may just might have sparked a life-long interest in forestry. A great initiative – one that might well work for other companies and regions going forward in the future. On that note, enjoy your weekend break.

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Safe to start guidance for NZ forestry operations

This COVID-19 Protocol Document has been developed by industry representatives across New Zealand. It is a great example of collaboration and cooperation across the industry and thank you to the many people who contributed. The document covers the extra measures required in all parts of the forestry supply chain from forestry nurseries, land preparation and planting through to harvesting, processing and exports.

The protocols meet the Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industry (MPI) requirements to operate at Alert Level 3, and Alert Level 4 if permitted, and has been reviewed by WorkSafe and the Forestry Industry Safety Council (FISC). The document has been presented to MPI to demonstrate that the forestry sector is well prepared to begin business with COVID-19 safe practices.

There is no room for complacency. The forest industry is very fortunate to be allowed to work at Level 3 and the use of COVID-19 safe practises is of critical importance to the continued success of our industry. If we have further cases or outbreaks of COVID-19 in Level 3 then NZ will very quickly be put back to Level 4. As forestry is not an essential service this will have significant consequences for our sector and those who work in it.

At Level 3 MPI, WorkSafe and Police NZ will all be authorised to visit, and audit registered operating businesses to verify COVID-19 safe practices are being implemented effectively. Use this document as a guide to develop your own COVID-19 safe practises for your business and workplace in discussion with your workers and your supply chain connections. Document what has been agreed and check in with your people that these measures are working. Be prepared to adapt as needed.

The document reinforces the Ministry of Health existing guidance to keep yourself and others safe:

• Maintain physical distancing; Alert Level 3: Stay 1 metre apart; Alert Level 4: 2 metres apart.
• Wash hands for 20 seconds regularly with soap and dry thoroughly or use sanitiser
• Clean and disinfect common contact surfaces frequently and keep other surfaces clean
• Provide PPE only if appropriate.

Our focus is a safe restart when we move to Alert Level 3. This is not a return to business as usual. In addition to COVID-19 safe practices we must consider other pressures arising from the shut down and our existing critical risks in forestry. These additional pressures, very real concerns relating to financial pressures and future of work, may increase the already significant risks associated with forestry operations and must be effectively managed alongside the COVID-19 infection risks.

This is also the longest break from work that many people will have had. Be aware of your people’s mind set, physical fitness and general health and wellbeing when they return to work. Ensure you are aware of any pre-existing health conditions of any workers or of their family / dependents within their existing ‘bubble’.

A well planned and phased return to work addressing COVID-19 safe practises, the pressures introduced from the shutdown and our known industry risks is needed to ensure a safe restart of the whole industry.

Additional information that came out mid-week in the WorkSafe endorsed version of the guidance includes;

• All business need a plan to manage the risks of Covid-19. Businesses need to look at their operations and identify what work can be done safely. If they can't keep people Covid-19 safe, then the work should not be done.
• Physical distancing requirements at Level 3 are: 1 metre in a controlled work environment, 2 metres outside home or on public transport
• All works sites must have soap and water/hand sanitiser available
• You must have a register for all workers, including those travelling in work vehicles, visitors and service providers with contact details recorded to ensure contact tracing can be done by Ministry of Health if there is a COVID-19 case at your workplace.
• When car-pooling, the maximum number of people in a car is 2. The sole passenger should sit in the rear left-hand side passenger seat, diagonally opposite the driver.
• When travelling in larger vehicles people should only use the window seats in each row and should use alternative rows.
• When travelling in vehicles with more than one person, run air-conditioning on fresh air not recirculate.

Source: FISC

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Estimates of tree stock sales and NZ forest planting

Each spring the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in New Zealand undertakes a survey of tree stock sales from commercial forestry nurseries. The results are aggregated to produce estimates of total national sales, and then modelled to estimate the area of planting by species, species groups, and total area.

Tree stock sales reported in 2019 totalled 88.8 million seedlings, compared to 59.9 million sold in 2018. The main increase was in radiata pine where sales rose by 27.4 million seedlings (48 percent), and notably in Stand Select.

The total area of forest planting in the winter of 2019 is provisionally estimated from the nursery survey data and associated modelling to be 85,000 hectares. The total area of new planting in 2019 is estimated to be in the order of 22,000 hectares. This is based on a separate survey of large-scale forest owners and managers, and information from Te Uru Rākau for Crown Forestry and smaller-scale owners under forestry grant schemes.

Replanting of harvested areas is provisionally estimated to be 63,000 hectares in 2019. This is the residual area from the estimated total area of planting (85,000 hectares) minus the estimated area of new planting (22,000 hectares).

The 2019 nursery survey asked commercial forestry nursery managers about anticipated sale levels in 2020. The bulk of the nurseries responded to this question, and their feedback indicates that total seedlings sales may reach 100 million in 2020. Further details on the survey and results can be seen here

Source: MPI

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NZ forest industry back to work – next week

The Forest Owners Association in New Zealand says its members and the supply chain are gearing up to meet the challenge of getting back to work on Tuesday 28 April, working within the health and safety provisions of Alert Level-3.

The forest industry was deemed to be a non-essential industry when the government imposed the Level 4 lockdown on 26 March. The government’s move to cease Level-4 on Tuesday 28 April means the following parts of the forest supply chain can start moving again;

• forestry management, including aerial spraying, weed and pest management
• nursery operations, planting, and seed collection
• log harvesting and haulage
• log sales
• wood products processing

MPI has advised that businesses wanting to operate in Level-3 will have to develop site- specific procedures and processes to work safely to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

FOA President, Phil Taylor, says his organisation supported the Level-4 restrictions, but now is the time to get back to work. “Right from the outset we have been focussed on the safety of our workforce.”

“We’ve moved on from one month ago. Since then, there has been a collaborative process to develop protocols for operations right through the supply chain. They are at least as robust as those which have been used in the food packing and processing industry, and as far as I am aware completely successfully.”

“The New Zealand timber processing industry has a whole month of virtually no production which it needs to catch up on. Some processers have already started producing for essential industries, such as making pallets for fruit exporters. But there will be thousands of work sites around New Zealand which are anxious for new timber supplies and construction workers keen to get back on the job and earning incomes as soon as they can.”

Phil Taylor says forest owners are just as eager to get exporting back to normal as well. “Most of the timber processed in New Zealand is for export and that sector has taken a hit over the past month of lockdown. For our log export trade, we felt the impact of COVID-19 back in February with the shutdown in China and our logs sat on the wharves on the Chinese coast when their sawmills stopped working. In March and April, the number of export log shipments will be half the number of last year. In effect, much of our harvest and logistics labour force has been in lockdown for two months, not just one. We have a lot of catching up to do.”

“The first step is for the various parts of the industry to work out their compliance with the protocols at company and individual level. We are seeking clarification from the government as to what work setting up and preparing for full production that we are able to do. For instance, there’s about NZ$40 million worth of logs around the country which are becoming marginal for timber production. We need to transport these to processors or ports pretty much immediately.”

Phil Taylor says the forest industry has concerns that uncertainty of a labour force this winter will jeopardise the planting season. “We are already late in site preparation, and for some planned planting it may already be too late.” MPI has just released its survey estimate of potentially 100 million plantation forest seedings (see story in this week’s issue) in nurseries for planting out starting next month. “That’s the highest seedling production since the early 1990s. It reflects the widespread confidence in the long-term future for New Zealand’s forest industry.”

“We are already in discussions with the government in what we need as an industry to maximise productivity and employment as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.”

Source: Forest Owners Association

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Response to Open Letter to NZ ‘s Forestry Minister

My name is Roger Dickie, I am a long-term promotor of forest investment for New Zealand and overseas investors. Adrian Loo's comments are right on target. We speak to a wide range of forest owners who are appalled at the way the Minister of Forestry has spoken in such derogatory terms about forest owners.

One assumes his actions are some sort of cheap shot to increase his electoral prospects in Northland. That he would even propose the idea of confiscation of private property rights from tens of thousands of New Zealanders is abhorrent. Coming so soon after his abuse of Indians living and working in New Zealand one questions this person’s ability to represent anyone in a fair and balanced manner.

Below I have made a series of factual points relevant to the discussion raised by the Minister.

• Forest owners have had their money invested for 28 years to reach this harvest date, in that time they have had no return, only costs.
• Because of inflation, demand/ supply factors and increasing compliance costs the forthcoming returns from their forests will be significantly less than what owners thought they were getting when they made their first investment 27 or 28 years ago.
• There are well over 30,000 Mum and Dad New Zealanders invested in these forests, the major syndicate operators have at least 28,000 shareholders that I know of. None of these New Zealanders will take kindly to a politician retrospectively changing the rules and diminishing their private property rights.
• Using Red Stag Timber Mill website figures "about 300" staff (their words) produce 600,000 cubic metres of sawn timber. MPI statistics for 2019 show that New Zealand produced 4.4 million cubic metres of sawn timber. So, extrapolating the Red Stag figures there will be 2,200 staff working in saw mills. Allow a few more for inefficient small mills, maybe it is 2,500 FTE.
• Using the figures from three significant forest owning companies I calculated that there are 10.3 full time employees per 1000 ha of forest. Interestingly all the three companies had very similar employment statistics. Those figures are for permanent staff salaried or contracted to do forest management, harvest, silviculture, planting and trucking. For 1.72 million ha of forest then there are 17,700 permanent employees working in the forests. In addition to this, additional employment takes place at the mills they supply and the port and log scaling infrastructure.
• Virtually all these 17,700 forest workers live in the provinces, small towns and cities.
• Shane Jone’s proposed changes favour 2,500 or less mill workers over 17,700 permanent forest staff and more than 30,000 New Zealand forest owners.
• Sawmills have been closing because the old-style small mills are too small to efficiently cut wood in the present environment. Now we have less sawmills cutting in total more wood than before.
• In 2019 MPI figures show sawn timber production of 4.4 million cubic metres, ten years earlier in 2009 the production was 3.64 million cubic metres i.e. 20% more production from significantly less mills and a smaller work force.
• Forests in regions that are far from port, like Gisborne are already very marginal in operation because of distance from port, high road making costs, high harvest costs high transport costs and high environmental and compliance costs.
• Harvesting forest owners have suffered significant price drops in the past nine months with major fall in prices in January because of Covid 19 and also the July 2019 price collapse brought on by Trump tariffs, Chinese New Year, Belt and Road transport initiative from China to Europe and the massive European Spruce bark beetle die off releasing 400 million tonne of logs on the world market.
• Because of the above, any imposition of costs or reduction in revenue on forest owners will mean that forest owners will stop harvest and more provincial staff will go to the unemployment queue.
• We and almost every forest owner we know are already supplying our local mills. Out of our organisations million odd tonne of logs per annum about 20% of our cut which is in range of Napier goes to Pan Pac and other mills there. We also supply logs to mills on the east coast from Masterton to Hastings. We cannot supply local market in Gisborne (much to our disappointment) because there is not a local mill there that will buy our logs. We supplied a total of ten domestic saw mills over the past year.
• Local mills only want certain log grades, they do not want some grades and they have to be exported. For most of New Zealand we have a symbiotic relationship with the mills and exporters. Each takes the grades of logs they prefer.
• The log prices for domestic pruned sawlogs are set by Pan Pac Mill and Tenon, not by the forest growers. If sawmills cannot make a profit at those prices then they need to look at their own efficiency of operation.
• Obviously, Northland has its own specific supply issues, that the Minister will know all about.
• An action taken retrospectively to reduce forest owners’ income will have a hugely negative effect on foreign investment in New Zealand because investors in all categories will not trust government to act any differently than some of the delinquent countries of the world. New Zealanders have worked hard for many decades to earn the reputation of second safest country to do business. This reputation would be in tatters overnight if retrospective legislation was introduced.
• If government want to help out mills that are too inefficient to pay the market price then perhaps they should subsidise them.
• With the depression coming in the world because of Covid 19, export prices of sawn timber will fall along with volume requirements. In the coming year or two sawmills will most likely have less customers to sell to especially in USA.
• Manufacturers of panels and other wood products in New Zealand have said they have no issue with the present arrangements.
• Labour government promised to change New Zealand building code to ensure use of more environmentally friendly wood, it hasn't happened, if it did it could be a game changer for local mills.
• The much vaunted Billion Tree programme will suffer under this move. 600 million trees were already being replanted in the next ten years in harvested forests. These 600 million trees are planted by the forest owning companies at zero cost to the government. Most of the other 400 million trees i.e. 40 million per year rely on commercial foresters embarking on new planting with zero subsidy from the government. The proposed action to tax log exports will bring new plantings to a halt.

Roger Dickie

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Australian students filming forests

To celebrate the United Nation’s International Day of Forests (21 March 2020) and inspired by the theme ‘Forests and Biodiversity: Too Precious to Lose’, OneFortyOne announced a Limestone Coast school student film competition and the results are in. Now in its second year OneFortyOne’s film competition encouraged students around the Mt Gambier region to create a short video that showcases the biodiversity of our local forests.

OneFortyOne was thrilled to receive over 30 short videos from primary and secondary students starring the amazing plants and animals that live in our local forests. Entries were assessed by a four-person panel for originality, creativity, time (1 minute or less) and relevance. The films highlighted the value Limestone Coast residents place on forests for reasons beyond biodiversity such as shelter for native animals, areas of recreation, building resources and employment.

Film panellist and a member of OneFortyOne’s finance team, Megan Jones said, “The standard of the videos was very high and it’s great that so many kids wanted to show the natural beauty of our forests in a way everyone can relate to.” Panellist Ockert Le Roux, OneFortyOne’s Harvesting and Roading Manager added “A great amount of time goes into planning, filming and editing a video. It was such a big effort for our entrants to participate, especially with all their other commitments. Their passion for biodiversity and the wonder of nature really came though.”

Quite a few students entered for the second time this year, showing a solid level of interest in the program. And, just like last year we were thrilled to see these quality pieces coming from our community and very impressed by the level of output, irrespective of age, it really was, top-class work. Major prizes were awarded to one student in each of the primary and secondary winner categories and coaching / mentoring opportunities awarded to runners-up to nurture their film talents. The videos and winners can be found on OneFortyOne’s Facebook page and website.

Source: OneFortyOne

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NSW government bushfire recovery package welcomed

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has welcomed Monday’s announcement by the NSW Government that it is establishing a AU$140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package and ensuring a strong focus on the State’s forest product industries damaged by the catastrophic fires.

Speaking on Sydney Radio 2GB Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery the Hon John Barilaro said, “This will help the timber industries, the mills and haulage companies, to invest so they can actually get access to that burnt timber. A significant announcement, a AU$140 million package supporting jobs in agriculture, horticulture and timber so we can make sure there’s a future for those sectors.”

The Chief Executive of AFPA Ross Hampton has welcomed the package. “With this announcement the NSW Government’s providing a clear sign that primary industry and regional NSW is a priority, and our renewable forest product industries are an important part of that,” he said.

“The bushfires have had a devastating impact on all sectors of our industry, from forest growers to harvest contractors to hardwood and softwood timber processing and manufacturing. In areas like the Tumut/Tumbarumba region, the softwood timber industry is the major economic driver. The fires, combined with the current CoVid-19 crisis, is causing a major slowdown in sales of timber for construction, which is affecting those regional communities. This package could be the shot in the arm that’s needed to help recover.”

“It will also support the hardwood timber industry along the coast affected by the bushfires, which is also struggling. The forest products industries are mostly based in regional NSW, and when they are affected negatively, the communities who directly rely on them for jobs feel the pain as well. This package may be aimed at industry, but its relief will flow on to everyone.”

“We will urgently engage with the NSW Government on how the funding will be distributed, and I look forward to seeing the recovery package implemented quickly,” Mr Hampton concluded.

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BC delays biggest tree planting ever

The Province of BC was set to plant 308 million trees this spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put major brakes on the situation. The key issue is what to do with the hundreds of people who would be relocating to work camps across the province, according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

This was set to be one of the biggest year’s for tree planting ever, because of the need to replenish forests not only from logging, but the wildfires from 2017 and 2018, as well as to help with climate change.

“With the support of BC Timber Sales (BCTS) and the Western Forestry Contractor’s Association (WFCA), the chief forester suggested delaying the spring 2020 Interior planting season to implement proper workcamp processes,” said Dawn Makarowski, the media contact for the Ministry of Forests.

“Collaborative processes between government, BCTS, licensees and the WFCA have been underway to prepare for this year’s planting season in light of COVID-19. These include camp health and safety procedures, workforce support, communications, and engagement with municipal leaders,” she wrote. The government understands the importance of the tree planting plans, and wants to continue with it, she said, but is still trying to find ways to manage the risks that will come up in it.

Earl Hughes owns Waterside Ventures, a reforesting company, in Burns Lake. He’s supposed to plant around 3 million trees starting in May of this year, with a team of around 40 planters. But right now, he’s not entirely sure what his options are.

“People are coming from all across Canada, and so when they get here, we don’t know if there’s going to be restrictions for them to isolate for a while or not… That’s the big question right now,” said Hughes.

While some of the other tree plants that were supposed to start in April have been delayed, he hasn’t need to worry too much just yet because he has a few weeks until his start date. But it’s growing closer each day. He suspects he will have to keep the tree planters separate somehow, but hasn’t been told by Ministry what the specifics of this will be.

He’s considering having them stay in motels, and plant in isolation, as well as cooking food from his home to bring to them for their dinners. Sometimes his company has work camps for planters—like many other tree planting companies do, sometimes with as much as 50 people grouped together—but this, too, could be a problem. Having people sit together for dinner is likely out of the question for now, because of COVID-19, so managing even just dining would be very difficult.

More >>. Further coverage can be seen here.


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Electronic logging devices next year for Canada

FPInnovations, Canada, announced that a new federal mandate is expected to come into effect next year making electronic logging devices (ELDs) mandatory for federally-regulated motor carriers and their drivers. With few exceptions, anyone who currently uses paper logs to keep track of their hours behind the wheel will need to use ELDs beginning in June 2021.

Transport Canada included the mandate in the recently amended Commercial Vehicle Hours of Service Regulation. It comes into effect on 21 June 2021. All provinces and territories are expected to adopt the rules as well. FPInnovations’ transportation research group has extensive experience conducting third-party verifications of several ELD systems for the U.S. market. It is applying that know-how to advise fleet managers in their decision-making and implementation process.

For forest-haul managers, the new regulation may also create challenges in fully optimizing the shift time of drivers and may require changes to how trips are scheduled. Adime Bonsi, a senior transportation researcher with FPInnovations, leads a team that conducts ELD verifications for the U.S. market and is leading the organization’s application to become an ELD certification body in Canada.

The certification process is expected to be in place by this summer. Several ELD suppliers have already contacted FPInnovations’ transportation research group to have their systems certified for the Canadian market. Forest-operation companies can become familiar with developments at Transport Canada by checking this Transport Canada webpage, which has resources and information about ELDs.

Fleets with existing electronic on-board recorders should ask whether their suppliers will have their systems certified for use in Canada. The coming ELD regulations will exclude trucks built before the model year 2000 and for short-term rentals under 30-days. Drivers operating under either a permit or a statutory exemption will also be exempt from having to use an ELD. The terms and conditions of a permit or an exemption can be complex and vary significantly depending on the circumstances.


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Emissions from Australian summer bushfires released

Devastating 2019-20 fires estimated to have released 830m tonnes of carbon dioxide, more than all bar five countries in the world

Australia’s devastating bushfire season is likely to have released 830m tonnes of carbon dioxide, far more than the country’s annual greenhouse gas pollution, according to a government estimate. If compared with international emissions, it suggests the Australian temperate forest bushfires between September and February would rank sixth on a list of polluting nations, behind only China, the US, India, Russia and Japan.

The federal government analysis of the fires says temperate forests usually eventually recover from bushfire and they were expected to reabsorb most of the released carbon dioxide in the years ahead.

It cites the example of the 2003 fires that overran the Australian Capital Territory. It is estimated 96% of the carbon dioxide released then had been absorbed in regrowth by 2019. But the report notes rising climate change impacts, including droughts or more frequent and intense fires, could affect the ability of forests to recover.

Other scientists have been less optimistic about the capacity of Australian forests to reabsorb all emissions released during bushfires, warning under normal conditions it could take decades for enough regrowth to occur and the climate crisis was increasing the risk of repeat fires within shorter timeframes.

By 11 February, the 2019-20 fires had burned 7.4m hectares of temperate forest, mostly in New South Wales and Victoria. The report makes clear the area affected is unprecedented. More than 40% of the area burned, an estimated 3.14m hectares, lies within national parks. Another 1.86m hectares is labelled “other conservation and natural environments”. About 1.8m hectares is described as “production native forests” – state forests available for logging by the timber industry.

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Log ship a ‘welcome sight’ after long break

The log trade through Eastland Port resumed on Tuesday this week after a break of three weeks. The port has taken every precaution to protect staff from Covid-19. Eastland Port was granted a dispensation from the Ministry of Transport to begin exporting logs while the country remains in Level 4 lockdown.

The dispensation allows the port to export logs already in the port storage areas. “This will clear the way for cart-in work to resume when the forestry industry returns to work at Level 3,” said port chief operating officer Andrew Gaddum. “We have taken every precaution to ensure the health and safety of staff set to return to work this week, with the first log ship since last month due in port this afternoon.

“This is very welcome news, as international demand for logs looks to be increasing and the Chinese economy starts to ramp up after Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed.” Tairawhiti’s forestry supply chain was one of the first local industries to experience the impacts of Covid-19, with a significant decrease in log exports to China that began in early February. Mr Gaddum said as of yesterday 300,000 tonnes of harvested logs were sitting at ports around New Zealand. “More than a third of that total (106,000 tonnes) is at Eastland Port.

“This dispensation will also be welcome news for our local forestry industry, as it allows us to get the port up and running as quickly and safely as possible, and ensure that the rest of the supply chain can return to work with minimal disruption.” However, Mr Gaddum said kick-starting the biggest supply chain in the region came with some challenges. “We have been working closely with local and national stakeholders to develop protocols around all aspects of working safely on site — from the truck drivers to the debarking teams, log marshallers to pilots. “I am proud that Eastland Port has been able to play a part in the national return-to-work for the export industry. The protocols we have been working on will be applied at ports across New Zealand.”

“Our forestry industry has shown great unity during this crisis. I am optimistically declaring there some light at the end of the tunnel, and very much look forward to getting our supply chain operational once again.” A second log boat is due here on April 27. The log ship Albany Sound will dock this afternoon, with the logger Port Botany due next Sunday and the Erradale due on April 28, also for logs.

Eastland Wood Council chief executive Kim Holland said there was “a feeling of positivity in the air” with news that the forestry workforce and industry would be back in operation next Tuesday. “It will be great to see that first ship come into the wharf (today) and take the first load of wood out, particularly as the log price is looking good, and there is an increasing international demand for ‘fresh’ wood,” Ms Holland said. “The shipping and movement of wood from the port during this week will enable harvesting and transport work to get moving from next Tuesday, with confidence.”

She said there had been a lot of work going on behind the scenes over the lockdown period to ensure that the forestry workforce could operate at Level 3, and that all steps were being taken to ensure their health, and safety at work, under Covid-19 “(see story in this week’s issue). I would like to acknowledge the work that Andrew Gaddum from Eastland Port and Ian Brown from Aratu have put into the national industry stakeholder group to develop the Covid-19 forestry industry operating protocols.

“These protocols cover operations and workers across the whole forestry supply chain, and meet the Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industry (MPI) requirements to operate at Alert Level 3, and have been reviewed by WorkSafe and the Forestry Industry Safety Council (FISC).”

Source: The Gisborne Herald

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Transparent wood film acclaimed at awards

Congratulations to Qilang Fu and team, whose transparent wood film was highly commended in the Wood and Fibre Products Technology and Innovation category in the 2020 Resene Timber Design Awards. The novel wood is ultra-strong, flexible and 80% transparent. The process is simple – a chemical treatment removes lignin/hemicellulose from thin layers of wood that are compressed and dried.

The material becomes 20 times thinner and 25 times stronger than the original wood and mechanically stronger than most materials (strength-to-weight) such as steels, alloys and plastics. Directly derived from wood, it can be produced sustainably and is easily recyclable or biodegradable. The functionality of the material’s surface can be modified by printing or coating, with organic nanoparticles or hydrophobic molecules, for example.

Qiliang Fu, who is a wood and fibre scientist, says preserving the original orientation of the cellulose fibres gives the translucent wood strength and allows it to be flexible. “Wood is made up of strong and flexible cellulose chains glued together with lignin and hemicelluloses. We wondered if we could remove lignin and hemicellulose but leave the cellulose structures intact – similar to the papermaking process. And could it be made using traditional paper making infrastructure, like a continuous roll-to-roll process, for example”.

“We have actually made a wood-based electronic circuit from the translucent wood and conductive containing carbon fibres derived from lignin as part of a collaboration with my Scion colleague, Dr. Yi Chen,” says Qilang. “This shows the potential for using wood-based flexible electronics in other areas such as wearable devices, smart packaging and sensors.”

“Transparent, flexible wood film could replace petroleum-based plastics and reduce our reliance on non-degradable polymers in our daily life.” The first samples were made with balsa wood. The team is now working on exploring the use of New Zealand-grown wood such as pine and eucalyptus, as well as alternative chemical treatments (e.g. wood bleaching and traditional pulping approaches) to make new transparent wood films.

The New Zealand Wood Resene Timber Design Awards showcases the innovative, structural and aesthetic use of timber by New Zealand architects and engineers. The event allows engineers, architects, architectural designers and builders to showcase innovation using timber. The Wood and Fibre Products Technology and Innovation category is open to novel wood, wood fibre and derived products or for novel technology and process development, or original application of existing technology and processes.

Photo: Scion. From top to bottom: original balsa wood; treated wood; transparent wood film

Source: Scion

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Transportation scheduling for Remsoft Operations

Remsoft has announced that a new Transportation Scheduling module will be available by mid-year for Remsoft Operations, the company’s cloud-powered operational planning system for forestry. The new module adds capabilities for assigning fleets to road-side inventory, and creating delivery schedules from the unit to the mill.

Launched in 2018, Remsoft Operations targets coordination challenges across forest operations planning and scheduling. Key among these are lack of visibility into critical and connected planning activity - roads, harvest, transportation, wood flow, inventory and contract management - and the fragmentation of planning information which resides in separate spreadsheets, schedules and systems, making it difficult to source and share data to drive time-sensitive decisions.

Remsoft Operations centralizes and makes all harvest, delivery and destination information instantly accessible via an intuitive and web-based interface, creating a unified view of the forest supply chain that supports collaborative, real-time planning and scheduling. Integration with Esri’s ArcGIS web platform drives the value of spatial analytics across forestry operations, enabling organizations to view their plans on maps to simplify scheduling and identify efficiencies.

“Hundreds of global users, across different teams, are now actively planning and scheduling with Remsoft Operations, and the system is being used to manage thousands of harvest units and several millions of tons of fibre,” said Doug Jones, Remsoft Senior Vice President, Client Solutions and Innovation. “It’s been exciting to see our vision become reality and the addition of Transportation Scheduling takes us one step further towards digital enablement and modernization of the forestry supply chain.”

The new Transportation Scheduling module builds on the powerful crew scheduling and allocation planning functionality within Remsoft Operations, enabling transportation planners to assign fleets to roadside inventory and create delivery schedules from the unit to the mill.

With the ability to define fleet capacity and the cycle-times between units and destinations, planners can create transportation schedules that accurately display both the daily product volume expected at a mill and the number of days it will take a transportation fleet to complete a delivery assignment.

Detailed haul costs can be tracked to allow planners to balance and compare the financial impact of transportation and delivery decisions, providing managers with a better understanding of the impact of transportation on the overall profit margin for a harvest unit.

Remsoft will be presenting as part of the HarvestTECH 2020 – Wood Transport series that is still being planned to run for both the Australian and New Zealand industries once the COVID-19 situation becomes clearer.

Source: Remsoft

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Australia’s strategic fuel reserve on US soil a mistake

The Australian Government’s decision to establish its fuel reserve in the United States is a serious strategic error, Chair of the Australian Trucking Association, Geoff Crouch, said. “The move to establish our strategic fuel reserve in the united states is both a national economic issue, and a national security issue,”

Mr Crouch said, following the announcement from Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor that the Australian government is setting up a AU$94 million strategic fuel reserve in the United States.

Mr Crouch said that at the end of 2019, Australia had just 24 consumption days of petrol and 22 consumption days of diesel in stock. “Angus Taylor has said himself that that it could take up to 40 days for fuel to make its way from the US to Australia,” Mr Crouch said. “That means Australia would be brought to a standstill for up to 16 days with no access to fuel,” he said.

Mr Crouch said that the arrangement is simply unrealistic and has called for domestic fuel security. “Liquid fuel is critical to trucking and critical for our economy. Without trucks and the fuel that powers them, Australia stops,” Mr Crouch said.

Source: Australian Trucking Association

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... and one to end the week on ... one-liners for the home-bound

1. My body has absorbed so much soap and disinfectant lately that when I pee it cleans the toilet.

2. Half of us are going to come out of this quarantine as amazing cooks. The other half will come out with a drinking problem.

3. I need to practice social-distancing from the refrigerator.

4. Every few days try your jeans on just to make sure they fit. Pajamas will have you believe all is well in the kingdom.

5. This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her cat. It was obvious she thought her cat understood her. I came into my house, told my dog..... we laughed a lot.

6. Quarantine Day 4-Went to this restaurant called THE KITCHEN. You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have no clue how this place is still in business.

7. I'm so excited --- it's time to take out the garbage. What should I wear?

Ok. One more. Paddy walks into the site office carrying a flask,

Murphy says “What you got there then Paddy me boyo?”

“Tis a Thermos flask Murphy, the latest and greatest gadget to be sure!”

“What's it do then Paddy?”

“Well to be sure, it 'tis very clever, it keeps hot things hot and cold things cold”

“So what you got in it today then Paddy?”

"I have 2 cups of coffee and an ice-cream!"

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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