Friday Offcuts 17 July 2020
And yes, the battle’s still raging between New Zealand forestry and beef and sheep farmers on the issue of converting “productive land”. Is it ever! We reported a couple of weeks ago that the lobby group, 50 Shades of Green, had opened with their own television campaign, "Save Farms for Food". Forestry hit back with their own tv commercials which aired for the first-time last Sunday. The response has been fast and furious. Farmers are up in arms. The advertisement they said implied that they’re stupid if they’re not planting trees on their land. On social media they didn’t mince their words either. “Bloody appalling” and in “broadcasting standards complaint territory” is how they’ve described the advert.
A more conciliatory note was taken by Beef and Lamb New Zealand when they said that they didn’t want this to become a fight between the industries, they weren’t anti-forestry and in fact, a lot of their farmer members were looking to integrate trees on to their own farms. However, they’re still concerned with the concept of plant-and-leave “carbon farming”. We've included their stinging response to the tv commercial and the advert that's causing them so much angst. You can draw your own conclusions.
And finally, we’ve had a brilliant turnout this week for the first two on-line interactive webinars that ran for wood processing and manufacturing companies. Around 250 registered for the WoodTECH 2020 webinar series. Next week, the remaining four webinars will be running. Insights into disruptive technologies already having a huge impact on manufacturing operations including worker augmentation, wearables and the use of exoskeletons for manual tasks around the mill will be covered. We've also included in-mill dashboards for better utilizing collected machine data, a troubleshooting workshop out of the US for local timber machining and planing operations and an Australian timber manufacturing business owner who'll be outlining how he and his team have radically turned their company around by changing their business culture, with outstanding results.
Any wood processor that missed out on the first two can still register for those running next week on the event website. And on that note, enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Government support needed to keep mills running• It's estimated more than 50,000 hectares of pine plantation in southern NSW was lost in the Black Summer bushfires
• Tumbarumba's Hyne Timber mill has lost 40 per cent of its future plantation wood supply
• The timber industry is seeking federal freight subsidies to haul logs from other regions to sustain local mills
When bushfires razed the outskirts of Tumbarumba in southern New South Wales on New Year's Eve, residents on the forest fringes lost everything: their houses, stock, infrastructure and livelihoods.
They also lost an estimated 25,000 hectares of native bush and 50,000 hectares of pine plantations that encircle towns like Tumbarumba and Tumut.
The loss of forest, especially pine plantations, means a cloud of economic uncertainty hangs over the region. At Tumbarumba, Hyne Timber directly employs 230 people and just as many indirectly. It's one of the largest sawmills in the southern hemisphere. The loss of plantation pine has immense implications.
"That's about 40 per cent of our available logs going forward, so it's a substantial impact to us in the future," mill manager Marcus Fenske said. "We're really fighting to survive, and we want to survive."
Faced with a shortage of local logs, the timber industry wants the Federal Government to provide freight subsidies to make it viable to haul sawlogs hundreds of kilometres from other regions to the district's timber mills. So far, it has been unsuccessful; it doesn't qualify for any of the AU$600 million in federal bushfire recovery funding.
Hyne Timber estimates it will have to spend an additional AU$10 million a year, at a time when margins are slim. The company is racing to salvage as much of the fire-killed blackened timber while they can.
Source: ABC, ABC Landline: Tim Lee
Forestry's role recognised in Bushfire inquiryThe South Australian Forest Products Association welcomes the findings of the Independent Review into South Australia’s 2019-20 Bushfire Season. The Report, chaired by Mr Mick Keelty AO, has recognised the scale of losses by the forest sector in the 2019-20 fire season, with AU$143.31M out of AU$186.57M (76%) of losses incurred by agriculture attributed to the forest industry. The bulk of these losses were on Kangaroo Island.
At the same time the report notes that recent reforms which allowed for greater involvement by professionally trained and equipped fire fighters from the forest sector in local fire suppression command structures were yet to take effect. The South Australian Forest Products Sector calls on state government to continue with these reforms and formally recognise the contribution of the forest sector in local fire command structures.
The report also acknowledged the importance of fuel reduction through cool season burning of vegetation, as well as the opportunity for improved deployment of heavy machinery and equipment in direct suppression strategies as well as mechanical fuel load reduction where appropriate.
Interim Chair of SAFPA Keith Lamb welcomes the findings and recommendations of the report, emphasising that vegetation management for fire risk is the responsibility of all land-owners and managers, government and private. Local government has a role to play and can use its existing powers to work with the community, farmers and foresters, to improve landscape planning and prevent future disasters such as we saw on Kangaroo Island.
State government has a role to play in reducing red tape and unnecessary bureaucracy, and researchers and professional managers can assist in educating the public on the natural role of fire in the Australian bush.
“Fire is part of the Australian landscape and is essential to the health and wellbeing of our ecology” he said. “But when the balance is not right, and policies and practices allow unnecessary build-up of fuels, particularly near farms, dwellings and infrastructure, we see the disasters such as the 2019-20 bushfires which cause so much unnecessary damage to the local communities and economies that live and work in these areas. We all have a role to play in ensuring the lessons learned from the 2019-20 fire season are not forgotten”.
The full Keelty report is available here.
Source: The South Australian Forest Products Association
NZ forestry turns up the heatA couple of weeks ago, to add to the hard-hitting media campaign raising awareness of the impact carbon forestry is having on New Zealand’s sheep and beef sector, 50 Shades of Green launched their TV campaign. The campaign was produced “because we don’t think the vision of a New Zealand covered in pine is a vision that resonates with most New Zealander’s nor have New Zealanders caught up with what the impact on our landscape will be” said 50 Shades of Green spokesperson Pattie O’Boyle.
You can check out the advert here.
The forestry industry decided to respond with a video of their own. It’s a first in a 12-day schedule of television commercials that went to air on TVNZ last Sunday.
And the response? It was as expected, swift. See the story below.
Ad 'implies farmers are dumb'New Zealand Sheep and beef farmers are up in arms over an advertisement which they say implies they’re stupid if they don't plant trees on their land. The NZ Wood advertisement, screened on TVNZ One on Sunday night, opens with footage of a smoking chimney, gridlocked traffic and melting ice.
“The time to stop runaway global warming is running out,” a voiceover says. “Fast-growing forest trees are the most effective way at this time for us to fight climate change. They suck carbon from the atmosphere – that’s a big environment plus.
“And there’s more jobs and income if you grow tress than farming sheep and beef. That’s why so many smart farmers are so bullish planting out tress and loving our forest.” The 30-second advertisement drew swift criticism from farmers on social media, where it was described as “bloody appalling” and in “broadcasting standards complaint territory”.
As well as calling out a lack of evidence to support the claimed economic advantages of planting trees, farmers took offence to it “virtually saying sheep farmers are dumb if they don’t plant”. NZ Wood did not respond to requests for comment. A link to the television campaign on its website is “currently down for revision”.
Aratu Forests turns oneAratu Forests Ltd celebrates its first year of operation this month. Australian based New Forests, on behalf of its investors, purchased Hikurangi Forest Farms on the East Coast of the North Island, New Zealand from Samling (a Malaysian family business) in July 2019. New Forests saw significant potential in the company through improving processes and focus on operational, environmental, social and sustainability outcomes.
At the same time the company name was changed to Aratu, a clear statement of intent. The name Aratu comprises two Māori words “ara” meaning pathway and “tū” meaning stand, which signifies the journey the organisation is embarking on to improve the business, its connection with the community and the strength of its values.
Aratu Forests has a dedicated Board of Directors, guiding strategic direction and providing strong governance to the company. The Board comprises three Australian based directors and three NZ based directors. Over the past year Aratu has restructured its organisation to better fit with its new business model and align with its new mission and values. The new structure puts emphasis on operational excellence, improving safety, environmental and cost efficiency, as well as developing and strengthening connections between its business and the communities in which it works and lives.
Aratu Forests has faced tough challenges in its first year. The impact of Covid-19 which has been felt by the industry since the end of Jan 2020, extending into lockdown and cessation of all forest operations during April, has been particularly difficult. However, the combination of a great team of dedicated staff and an excellent complement of contractors minimised the impact on the business through this challenging time.
Aratu is now well placed to continue along the path (ara) of developing its business and engagement strategy and is looking forward to addressing the challenges of plantation forestry on the East Coast of NZ in the years to come.
Photo: Aratu Forests Senior Management Team; from Left to right: Front: Jody Walters (Community Liaison Manager), Liu Xu (Resource Planning Manager), Ian Brown (CEO). Back: Brendon Lennane (Finance Manager), Warren Rance (General Manager Operations), George Swanepoel (Health, Safety and Environment Manager)
Source: Aratu Forests
Forestry conversion figures scaremongering‘Slanted and scaremongering’ is how the Southern North Island Wood Council describes Beef + Lamb NZ’s figures on forestry conversions. Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) says some 70,000 hectares of productive sheep and beef land has already been converted to forestry since 2019, with carbon-related investment, or ‘carbon farming’ as a major driver for this.
However, the wood-industry lobby group Southern North Island Wood Council (SNIWC) disputes these figures, claiming B+LNZ “don't know the difference between regular forestry and carbon forestry. MPI figures are only 22,000 ha of planted trees. Including carbon forests which so far is only about 10% of that,” said SNIWC on Rural News’ Facebook.
SNIWC said carbon farming, a term employed to describe speculators buying up farms to plant trees for carbon credits, was only invented a year ago. It said that farmers don’t have much to worry about as such investment covers just 1% of new planting in New Zealand, with plantation forests only covering 7% of the country and farming 46%.
The group also claims B+LNZ’s employment figures on forestry are “completely fabricated”. B+LNZ says for every thousand hectares of sheep and beef farming, 7.5 jobs are created, whereas in forestry, around 2.5 jobs are created and around 0.5 for carbon farming.
SNIWC says the New Zealand Forest Owners Association figures show around 5 workers are employed per thousand hectares of farming, compared to 7 for forestry.
Source: Rural News
Planet partnership to provide daily satellite imageryHaving introduced the use of the Planet Satellite Imagery to the forestry sector in 2017, Interpine has announced that they have extended their capability by partnering with Planet to offer support and ease of access to high-frequency, high-resolution satellite imagery.
Interpine and Planet have established a partnership allowing forest owners and land managers to have a New Zealand industry-specific point of contact to access and leverage Planet’s extensive global daily satellite imagery service. Planet provides capabilities and content that enable Interpine to build a new range of solutions across forestry and land-use management.
“Very early on we recognised the daily imagery product Planet was offering was a game-changer for forest operational management and wanted to ensure New Zealand forestry companies were at the forefront of the spatial and temporal resolution this technology offers” said David Herries, Interpine’s Director / GM.
Forestry companies are already realising the benefit of 4-band (R,G,B,NiR), daily imagery for operations like cutover and windthrow mapping, where clipped imagery can be brought straight into their Forest Management and GIS systems (such as ESRI ArcGIS and GeoMaster). This significantly reduces harvest coordinator involvement, provides improved health and safety and increased reliability in the process.
The introduction of 50cm resolution SkySat imagery further opens the door of an array of applications including finalising plantable areas and stand remapping/stock changes.
“Planet is thrilled to have Interpine as a partner and is looking forward to helping them in their mission to shape today’s forests with the technology of tomorrow. Together, we are well suited to enable forestry organizations across the ANZ region to leverage high cadence satellite imagery to scale their businesses” said Simon Campbell, Director of Asia Pacific Channel Partnerships, Planet.
A recent case study looked at how Interpine implemented Automated harvest cutover mapping with satellite imagery at Pan Pac Forests in Hawke’s Bay NZ. Led by consultation from Interpine, Pan Pac automated the collection and reporting on clearfell areas by using high frequency, 3.7 meter PlanetScope imagery. This resulted in significant time and cost savings for their team, streamlined workflows for end of month and year-end reporting, and improved data accuracy. Click here to download the full case study.
Interpine together with Planet provided an Innovative Approach to a Long-Standing Problem. Using PlanetScope imagery for cutover mapping, Interpine helped Pan Pac bring fresh, data-driven approaches to their forest division. This resulted in;
• Significant Time Savings: Significant time was saved by the harvest coordinators that could be utilized for more productive task. The overall collection of data, analysis, and reporting timeline was reduced from 1 week to 1 day.
• Higher Accuracy Monthly and Year-End Inventory Reports: 5% reduction in error.
• Cost Savings: Affordable, scalable solution when compared to UAV and aerial photography.
• Greater Contextual Information: For example, assessing storm and wildfire impacts.
“Pan Pac has found Planet to be an absolute game-changer in the way we do things. It has been beneficial for health and safety of staff as well as the use of staff time. It will be even better once we can access the SkySat (50 cm imagery) more freely” said Sue Stone, GIS Technician, Pan Pac.
Currently the ForestTECH 2020 programme is being designed with industry. It is being run on 18-19 November but in a slightly different format this year. Two half day workshops are also being set up to run in Rotorua, New Zealand. Early details can be found on the event website. Further information will be supplied in the next few weeks.
As part of the ForestTECH 2020 event this year, Tara O’Shea, Director of Forest Programs for Planet, USA will be presenting on combining remote sensing and analytics technologies for operational deployment in forestry operations.
Improving plantation & small woodlot descriptionsIndufor, Scion and the School of Forestry, University of Canterbury in New Zealand are currently developing new methods to improve regional descriptions of plantations and small woodlots. These methods will use a range of freely available datasets that include LiDAR and satellite imagery. Such media can be used to map plantation areas accurately and to provide updated estimates of resource age class and volume.
The collaboration will construct a spatial framework, showing the location and extent of forest plantations and woodlots. To this will be added resource datasets that describe a range of forest attributes. Until now, this work has relied on manual delineation (Manley, Morgenroth, & Visser, 2017; Manley, Morgenroth, & Xu, 2020) or semi-automated approaches (Xu, Manley, & Morgenroth, 2019; Xu, Morgenroth, & Manley, 2017).
A defining feature of the new initiative will be the capacity to show the dynamic characteristics of the forests. Rather than confining the resource description to some past date, the system will show the results of ongoing growth. This can then be extended to predicting future supply. In providing this capability, LiDAR-based methods will figure prominently.
Pete Watt, Head of Indufor's resource monitoring team, notes that the initiative is timely given the government's recently announced intention to fund further LiDAR capture. This will increase the coverage to 80% of New Zealand's forested area. As proof of concept, a prototype has been developed and run across a large portion of the Wairarapa region.
Further information and links to this story can be found on www.foresttech.news.
Forestry project for the Northern TerritoryA new research project, managed by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA), will investigate the potential for commercial Indigenous forestry in the Northern Territory’s East Arnhem Land. The project aims to support the Traditional Owners to facilitate a sustainable forest-based livelihood and will provide the necessary insights to underpin the long-term commercial viability of forestry in the area.
Funded jointly by industry and the Australian Government, the research project is part of FWPA’s voluntary matched funding program, which offers up to 1:1 matched funding against the cash commitments of external investors in support of project proposals. Since launching in 2016 more than AU$12m has been allocated as part of the program.
Ric Sinclair, Managing Director at FWPA said, “FWPA is very proud to be able to facilitate this important project through our matched funding program, which will support Indigenous forestry in northern Australia.” This project is being delivered by the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), with a number of partner entities led by Developing East Arnhem Limited (DEAL), an independent not-for-profit company that aims to drive economic development in East Arnhem, promoting the resilience of the region and opportunity for its people.
DEAL and USC will work with the Gumatj Corporation, the National Indigenous Australians Agency, Aboriginal land management organisations, a range of Northern Territory government bodies and other Aboriginal workforce development organisations in the region.
Dr Chris Lafferty, Research and Development Manager at FWPA said the project provides a great example of how voluntary matching supports projects that might not otherwise have been able to progress. “The voluntary matching agreement allows for the support of research projects in smaller markets, that is not necessarily driven by the promise of big returns or wider industry inclusion,” Dr Lafferty explained. “But by supporting emerging markets through R&D we can help place them in a strong position to thrive over time and grow into much more significant sections of the industry.”
Jordy Bowman, CEO at DEAL, said forestry has the potential to support Indigenous communities to use their land for employment and economic benefit, alongside cultural purposes. “The project will support Traditional Owners to recognise the commercial assets they have on their land. It will provide an evidence base that enables them to make informed decisions,” Ms Bowman said.
Balapalu Yunupingu, Gumatj elder and director of Gumatj Corporation, said the project is about bringing together old and new ways. “It’s about developing partnerships for our future, working together and learning from the past, and creating sustainable jobs for our young people,” Balapalu said.
The project Indigenous Commercial Forestry Opportunities: East Arnhem, northern Australia is funded by DEAL, the Gumatj Corporation, the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), and the NT Government, with matched funding from the Australian Government, as part of its voluntary matching agreement with FWPA. In addition, The University of the Sunshine Coast is making a significant investment in the project.
Low log prices hurtingA sharp fall in log prices has raised concerns of job losses but a South Canterbury logging company director believes the industry will recover with minimum damage done. Evan MacClure, a Timaru-based director for Forest Management (FM) said "an estimated 30 per cent drop in price" will impact companies and contractors.
"There's not an abundance of optimism out there, and it does have an effect but things can turn around very quickly. The market has not the best it's been, but it certainly is not the worst it's been over the last 30 years. The short and curly is we're back in business selling wood, and we've got regular ships booked right up to the end of December so that is positive."
MacClure admitted logging and cartage contractors will be the hardest hit, and jobs could be lost, but this was not currently on the cards. "We've got enough intestinal fortitude to continue through the business. We're a forest owning company, so we're not burdened with overheads but it will be our contractors that are affected.
Regional Forestry Hubs grow in AustraliaThe Gippsland Victoria and Central West New South Wales forestry industries have been provided an AU$2.2 million boost with the development of two new Regional Forestry Hubs. Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Senator Jonno Duniam said the investment would support the vital forestry industries in both regions to drive new investment and create new jobs.
“The development of new Hubs supports forestry industries within Australia to be globally competitive,” Assistant Minister Duniam said. “The two new Hubs will improve the productivity and efficiency of Australia’s forestry sector, and support each region and its economy.
“I am delighted we are partnering with the forestry industries in Gippsland and Central West NSW to deliver these Regional Forestry Hubs. The seeding funding provided by the Australian Government will help determine the priories for growth of the industry in these areas and what can be done to overcome the barriers.
“The Hubs will engage the community, industry and governments to identify the actions and solutions to the many challenging issues forestry is facing at present, and to help support a sustainable economic industry into the future.”
The Morrison Government has committed AU$9 million for nine Hubs across the country, and the Gippsland Victoria and Central West New South Wales Hubs are the final two Hubs to be announced. This funding is a core part of the implementation of the Australian Government’s National Forest Industries Plan.
SWC describes forests amendment bill as 'a lemon'Southern forestry groups are wary of an amendment that would attempt to control log market prices for the industry. The Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forest Advisors) amendment bill would require compulsory registration of log traders and forestry advisors, and set up a Forestry Authority to make rules and regulations for forestry practice standards.
So far it had reached a lot of opposition, with the majority of submissions against it. The bill is sitting with the committee of whole house in parliament. Southern Wood Council (SWC) chairman Grant Dodson said the bill was “a total lemon” that would create a lot of admin for the industry, and achieve nothing in current state.
The bill was designed to manipulate markets to supply domestic sawmills, however the industry already made it a priority, Dodson said. While the domestic market was fairly stable and the export market very volatile, they would use the domestic market to stabilise costs as much as they could.
The issue with forestry domestic markets was that it struggled to compete against the larger mills overseas, he said. New Zealand’s largest mill was only half the size of its competitors in Europe.
Forestry Minister Shane Jones said the bill would not force the industry to subsidise domestic sawmills. The bill would allow for domestic sawmills to have more sale and purchase information, with some logs being sold internationally with sawmills not knowing they were available, he said.
Kennington-based Log Marketing general manager Greg Lindsay said a strong domestic market was important for a stabilised industry, but he had concerns about the amendment bill from what he had read. After a spike in export price coming out of lockdown, prices were starting to drop again, Lindsay said.
Bushfire protection and management discussion documentPotential opportunities and strategies for improved bushfire pine plantation protection and management across Australia
After the large bushfires killing considerable areas of pine plantations in recent years, it is opportune to review potential protection arrangements inside and outside pine plantations across Australia. John O'Donnell, a forester that used to work with the then NSW Forestry Commission, has prepared a draft document titled "Potential opportunities and strategies for improved bushfire pine plantation protection and management across Australia", July 2020. A copy of this draft is attached here.
The draft document has been issued in good faith in order to aid progression of this important issue. It is up to each pine plantation owner to develop opportunities and strategies to best protect pine plantations from bushfires inside and outside plantations and to best protect personnel involved in fighting bushfires within the pine plantations.
The document focusses on potential opportunities and strategies, but doesn't get into detail re specifics to any great degree, some of this is covered in some of the guideline documents listed in this document. It is also opportune to pull together information in the guideline documents listed below, the majority over five years old, this has been completed, as noted, but doesn't get into detail re specifics to any great degree.
It is also opportune to review pine plantation fire salvage, to explore opportunities to maximise pine salvage, maximise timber value associated with fire salvage and possibly integrate pine plantation bushfire protection and salvage strategies.
Any additional ideas, opportunities, comments and input would be appreciated by the author and will be considered, and where feasible, be added in into this draft document at a later date. His contact details are included in the attached document.
EOI in NSW contractor training pilotForest contracting businesses have had to adapt to more complex and demanding business process changes, reporting and compliance requirements.
ForestFit is developing and delivering training and certification pilots designed specifically for Australian forest contractors that will be rolled out nationally. The Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) is currently seeking expressions of interest (EOI) for the upcoming training pilot located in NSW. The cost of the pilot training is fully subsidised, including travel and accommodation expenses.
ForestFit fosters continual professional development, increased business competency, operational compliance and risk management and industry sustainability by providing a pathway for national engagement with training and certification.
The NSW Government, in partnership with the forest industry and AFCA, committed funding to support the development of ForestFit. The project is supported by an Industry Reference Group (IRG) of forest contractors and other industry representatives who have provided input into the development and delivery of every stage of the training modules for the NSW forest industry.
Be part of leading best practice for forest contractors, apply to participate in this exciting opportunity for you and your business! Applications close 27 Jul 2020. For more information, visit ForestFit
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... a few more from lockdown
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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