Friday Offcuts 24 July 2020
Also, out of Australia this week, there’s been another call for greater clarity around Regional Forest Agreements following last month’s Federal Court decision challenging the future of Victoria’s native forest operations. To make a very public point, four logging trucks on Wednesday were also used to block off the entrance of a local Bunnings store to highlight the company’s recent decision to stop stocking local hardwood timber in their stores.
In the resource management space this week, we’ve included a short article on the recent acquisition by Interpine of the Emesent Hovermap LiDAR simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) technology. In short, it’s a huge step forward for collecting detailed tree stem data beneath the forest canopy. The technology was first demonstrated as part of the ForestTECH 2019 event last November and since then, a series of research and operational trials have followed.
What’s more, the results and planned field demonstrations showcasing this new technology are being planned as part of this year’s reconfigured ForestTECH 2020 event. Despite all sorts of COVID-19 imposed restrictions, ForestTECH 2020 is planned to run this year in Rotorua, New Zealand on 18-19 November 2020. To meet the changing landscape though, a number of exciting changes have been made for the 2020 event.
This year, one of the two days (in addition to advances being made in remote sensing and forest inventory) is being dedicated to innovations and operational trials around mechanised planting and automated silviculture, a half-day Remote Sensing Cluster Group meeting is planned to run on the afternoon of Tuesday 17 November and a half-day workshop and in-field demos of the Hovermap technology following the conference and exhibitions is being planned. For the first time, the Rotorua event will be also offered as a virtual live on-line event for those outside the central North Island, New Zealand. So, mark the dates into your diaries. We’ll get further details on the event to you next week. And on that note, enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
New timber research and innovation centreGippsland has been announced as host for a new timber research and innovation centre.
An AU$4 million centre for timber research and innovation will be set up in Gippsland to service the region's forestry industry. In a joint project, the federal and state governments have committed AU$2 million each during the next four years to establish the Gippsland Centre of the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation.
Projects funded under NIFPI are expected to cover forest and plantation management, timber processing, wood fibre recovery, value-adding, advanced manufacturing and the bio-economy. Forest and Wood Products Australia will provide ongoing administrative support to the centre, which will have no staff.
Like existing NIFPI centres in Launceston, Tasmania and Mount Gambier, South Australia, it will have an investment and management committee and an independent chairman. Committee members usually cover the whole value chain, from forest growers to harvesters, sawmillers and the pulp and paper sector.
The centre will operate as a virtual structure to reduce management and administrative costs, and will be linked to activities underway in existing centres. Successful projects, which will be managed by Forest and Wood Products Australia, will be chosen by the management committee.
Forest and Wood Products Australia managing director Ric Sinclair said the organisation would have no say or input into the committee. "Using the existing NIFPI infrastructure - websites and management systems - we can hit the ground quickly," he said.
Federal Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonathon Duniam said the governments' funding would be supported with additional money and in-kind contributions by industry and research agencies.
As reported last week, the federal government announced AU$2.2 million in funding to set up a Gippsland Regional Forestry Hub, which aims to reduce barriers to forestry expansion and develop a farm forestry strategy. It is one of nine forestry hubs under the federal government's AU$20 million National Forest Industries Plan.
New LiDAR technology set to change forest inventoryInterpine has recently purchased the Emesent Hovermap LiDAR simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) solution to better serve the company’s clients. “We’ve been using Hovermap technology in a series of forestry trials since late 2019 combined with our own customised deep learning algorithms for segmentation and quantitative tree assessment,” said David Herries, Director and GM of Interpine.
“We are very impressed with the technology and applaud Emesent's innovative approach to SLAM based LiDAR solution and developing systems that produce exceptional results which are a game-changer for the forest sector”.
Interpine will be deploying this for both on-ground 3D scanning and aerial drone LiDAR survey, providing a range of industry solutions from engineering, to forest resource assessment and carbon inventory. There are numerous opportunities and efficiencies in using this type of technology and we look forward to continuing to work with our industry partners, clients and researchers across the sector by making this technology available”.
“From the ground, the unit works as a backpack scanning the surrounding forest completing tree diameter, form, quality and height measurements when combined with Interpine's innovative LiDAR processing solutions. From the air on our fleet of drones the Hovermap collects LiDAR which penetrates vegetation canopies deriving both ground and vegetation 3D models, while also using its own simultaneous location and mapping technology to maintain position and navigate safely avoiding obstacles with or without GPS”.
“Together with Interpine's CAA 102 certification for beyond visual line of sight flights (BVLOS), this greatly enhances safety, autonomy and capability of drone operations over forest canopies in challenging terrain” says David Herries. Further coverage on the purchase can be read here.
Note: The Hovermap technology was outlined for the first time to inventory foresters and resource managers at last year’s ForestTECH 2019 event. Trials were also undertaken by Scion using an industry standard DJI M600 drone carrying an Emesent Hovermap shortly afterwards and a series of operational trials have also been undertaken collecting detailed inventory data below the canopy since, with outstanding results.
As part of the upcoming ForestTECH 2020 event being run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 18-19 November 2020, in addition to outlining the results from some of these early trials, a half day in-field workshop is being planned with Interpine, Scion and Emesent for the morning after the conference concludes, on Friday 20 November. Further details on the comprehensive forest inventory event being planned as part of ForestTECH 2020 will be available shortly.
Sources: Interpine, Photo: Scion
Log Traders & Forestry Advisers Bill passedNew Zealand’s Parliament yesterday passed the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill that will provide better information on log supply and build investor confidence in the forestry sector, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says.
The Bill was introduced as part of Budget 2020 and supports the predictable and long-term supply of timber. It will help build stronger linkages between forest growers, domestic processors and exporters, improved professional standards, and greater confidence in business transactions both domestically and internationally.
The Bill was referred to the Environment Select Committee, which reviewed more than 600 submissions. “I want to thank all those who took part in the Select Committee process. As a result of that input, we have made a number of changes,” Shane Jones said.
The Bill now ensures that small scale operators, such as firewood traders, will not be required to register. It also provides an exemption from the requirement to register as a forestry adviser for those already covered by other occupational licensing regimes established under other legislation, such as lawyers.
Shane Jones said the language of the Bill had also been updated to ensure it was clear that it aimed to provide equity of access to timber for both domestic processors and exporters. “This means all people buying and selling logs will have access to transparent and impartial information and advice, so they can make well informed business decisions, and that our domestic wood processors get a fair chance to purchase logs.”
It also requires forestry advisers, log traders and exporters to register and work to nationally agreed practice standards that will strengthen the integrity of New Zealand’s forestry supply chain.
“As we strive to build confidence in the economy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, having legislation that builds confidence in the log supply sector and quality of advice available can only be positive.”
“Forestry can be a 30-year investment if someone is planting a forest, so it’s important that they receive high quality advice from people who are knowledgeable, qualified and operating in accord with industry good practice and a code of ethics.”
“Mum and dad investors need the right information to make investment decisions and they need to have confidence in the log traders that are purchasing their timber,” Shane Jones said.
The next part of the process is for Te Uru Rākau to work with the forestry sector to develop draft regulations, rules and practice standards. These regulations will be subject to significant industry and stakeholder consultation and are expected to be in place in 2021.
Source: New Zealand Government Press Release
Log truck shutdown of BunningsThere is widespread timber worker, contractor, and community support across the country for the COVID-19-Safe action that took place on Wednesday morning at Bunnings Traralgon in defence of forestry jobs. Four log trucks blocked the entrance to their local Bunnings’ car park in protest of Bunnings’ heartless and ill-informed decision announced earlier this month to stop stocking local hardwood timber in their stores.
The action is a sign of things to come at Bunnings Warehouses across Australia if they do not agree to reverse their ban on local timber. “Timber workers will not sit back and be pushed around by big-end of town fat cats like those in Bunnings and Wesfarmers head offices” said Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union National Secretary Mr Michael O’Connor.
“Regional Victoria is facing a jobs crisis, Bunnings’ short-sited decision has added to the continued uncertainty in the industry and contractors are bearing the brunt of this. Bunnings must reverse their local timber ban immediately” said Australian Forest Contractors Association General Manager Ms Stacey Gardner.
“Bunnings need to explain why they have taken a hard-line against local workers, contractors and businesses, a line which decimates jobs, families and communities and given themselves the green light to import timber from Indonesian rainforests” said community advocate Ms Felecia Stevenson.
Backing up the blockade, hundreds of sawmill workers, contractors, and their crews are phoning Bunnings head office in Hawthorn East calling for the reversal of the decision. Thousands of Australians have now committed to boycotting Bunnings until they reverse their local timber ban.
COVID-19 has to date prevented larger rallies, demonstrations, and actions at Bunnings’ busier warehouses such as those in Metropolitan Melbourne, however once it is safe to do so and COVID-19 restrictions ease they can expect similar action nationally.
For further coverage and comment click here and here.
Drones monitoring experimental burnsA couple of weeks ago we included a story on six experimental burns of gorse scrub in the Rakaia Gorge, New Zealand carried out by Scion’s rural fire research team. They were part of a set of experiments to test a new fire spread theory in different vegetation fuel types.
As an integral part of these burns, Scion and the University of Canterbury’s UAV teams were also on hand to help out. There were up to five craft in the air at once monitoring different aspects of the burns. The spread and temperatures of each fire were tracked using infrared and regular RGB video cameras mounted on a UAV flying above each burn at altitudes up to 300 m.
For more on this story, videos and insights into the convective fire spread theory being tested in these experiments, click here
Source: Rural Fire Research
Extended support offered to Tasmanian contractorsAFCA has welcomed the announcement made by the Tasmanian Liberal Government to extend the Forestry Contractor Resilience Program to January 2021. This was set up to support Tasmanian Forestry Contractors to access business coaching and improvements. AFCA participated in the Forestry Roundtable last week, where the announcement was made.
It became apparent during roundtable discussions last week with Minister for Resources, The Hon Guy Barnett MP that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still yet to be fully felt by the industry. This follows news in recent days of uncertainty for forestry contracting businesses that are expected to face significantly reduced production quotas against contracted volumes over the coming months.
The reduced quotas are likely to result in forestry contracting businesses facing serious financial implications, with high fixed costs and equipment finance commitments that will still need to be met. In addition, there is a serious concern around the possible loss of skilled employees that will be devastating for regional areas in the current climate.
The Forestry Contractor Resilience Program is going to be extended from 31 July 2020 to 29 January 2021 to further support Tasmanian forestry contractors. Both the Australian and Tasmanian Governments have also announced stimulus packages, many of which can be accessed by forestry companies. Tasmania’s forestry contractors can apply under the AU$500,000 Forestry Contractor Resilience Program for funding to improve their business practices, which is being delivered through Rural Business Tasmania.
Under the program, Tasmanian forestry harvest and haulage contractors have the opportunity to work with specialists in business and financial management to identify future opportunities and build stability and resilience into their operations. Eligible applicants will receive five hours of professional business coaching and may also be eligible for up to AU$15,000 to deliver agreed business improvements.
The Program’s guidelines and application form are available from Rural Business Tasmania at www.ruralbusinesstasmania.org.au.
Source: AFCA, Guy Barnett, Minister for Resources
Australia’s Forests and Forestry Glossary releasedAustralia’s forests and forestry glossary has officially been released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).
Australia’s forests and forestry glossary is a stand-alone publication, developed from the glossary published in Australia’s State of the Forests Report 2018. It is intended to serve as a comprehensive and authoritative reference for the interpretation and use of forest and forestry terms at the national level in Australia, by bringing together a common set of terms with consistent definitions.
The glossary is available as both a searchable web version and accessible A4 PDF on the Forests Australia website and through ABARES Publications, with an A5 hardcopy booklet to be released at a later date. It is designed to be compatible with the existing Forest Learning and Wood Solutions glossaries, and takes inspiration from the Dictionary of Forestry published by the Society of American Foresters.
Australia’s forests and forestry glossary is suitable for use by the public, educators, students, government employees, and those working in forests, forest management and forestry.
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.
Need for RFA clarityProfessor Graeme Samuel’s interim report into the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act has backed the need for clarity around Regional Forest Agreements following last month’s Federal Court decision, paving the way for urgent amendments to the EPBC Act to provide certainty for Australia’s sustainable native forest industries, the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) said.
“Legal ambiguities in the relationship between the EPBC Act and the RFA Act should be clarified so that the Commonwealth’s interests in protecting the environment interact with the RFA framework in a streamlined way.”
Samuel Review, Interim Report page 60.
The report also recommends the Act be amended to establish 'single touch approvals’ and bilateral agreements with state and territory governments, as RFAs do, in recognition this model reduces duplication and strikes the right balance between environmental, economic and social outcomes.
AFPA CEO Mr Ross Hampton said the recent Federal Court decision has created uncertainty around RFAs nationally, and called on the EPBC Act to be amended to reaffirm the intent of the RFAs. “RFAs are required by law to be independently reviewed every five years, and all reviews have found they are meeting or exceeding all environmental objectives, while providing a level of certainty to industry,” Mr Hampton said.
“However, the Federal Court decision has created enormous challenges for the future of Victoria’s sustainable hardwood timber industry. VicForests is appealing the decision, but in the meantime, it is causing significant damage to livelihoods and uncertainty for Australia’s native forest industries.”
“This could be addressed if the Federal Government urgently amended section 38 of the EPBC Act to affirm and clarify the Commonwealth’s intent regarding RFAs. That would make it explicit that forestry operations in RFA regions are exempt from the Act, and that compliance matters are to be dealt with through the state regulatory framework and do not invalidate the RFA provisions.”
Mr Hampton said the minor amendments to clarify the intent of the RFA exemptions should be dealt with urgently and separately to the EPBC review process. “I commend Environment Minister Sussan Ley for saying, ‘This is our chance to ensure the right protection for our environment while also unlocking job-creating projects to strengthen our economy and improve the livelihoods of every-day Australians’”, Mr Hampton said.
“The Federal Government can start by amending the Act to provide certainty for the tens of thousands of Australians that depend on Australia’s native forestry operations,” Mr Hampton concluded.
New head for WoodSolutions Mid-rise ProgramNow in its fourth year, Forest and Wood Products Australia’s (FWPA) WoodSolutions Mid-rise Advisory Program is operating in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, building on a base of completed projects with many more in the pipeline. The Mid-rise team comprise specialists in timber; from design and engineering to costing, and they act as advisors and facilitators, helping project teams optimise and realise the benefits of timber systems.
“It’s an exciting time to be taking up the role of Lead Program Development Manager,” said Ms Cunich, “I feel this is a logical progression that builds on knowledge and skills I’ve gained in previous stints as Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia and CEO of the Australian Institute of Architects.”
“The benefits of timber in mid-rise projects are a perfect fit for a community wishing to increase the amenity and reduce the environmental impact of buildings – and nowhere is it more applicable than urban infill, affordable housing and aged care. These are some of the areas that have the potential to contribute real social benefits too.”
“I’ve been most impressed by the enormous depth of experience and knowledge that the Mid-rise team and the WoodSolutions program have assembled. One of my first challenges is to share this with industry – both on the supply and the design and build sides.”
Gerry Neylan, the outgoing Mid-rise manager said that he was delighted to hand over to someone of Ms Cunich’s experience and enthusiasm. “I’m sure she will grow the strengths of the program, while bringing a new perspective to add value for the participants and partners.” Gerry will continue to be involved with the Mid-rise program as Chair and consultant.
“I would like to thank our industry program partners for their support as the Mid-rise team continues to become the catalysts in accelerating the uptake of timber systems in the mid-rise sector,” said Ric Sinclair, FWPA’s Managing Director, “if any industry members would like to discuss participation in the program, I would be delighted to talk to them.”
More information about the WoodSolutions Mid-rise Advisory Program can be found at www.woodsolutions.com.au/mid-rise.
WorkSafe releases new video for inductionWorkSafe has just released a new WorkSafe Induction video. The video is targeted to New Zealand businesses and has been designed for use during induction process. It provides staff with a high-level overview of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to health and safety. It will also help workers and businesses to better understand WorkSafe and our expectations of their health and safety attitudes and behaviours.
WorkSafe is keen to get the video into as many businesses induction processes as possible to help build better perceptions among workers and businesses of WorkSafe and its inspectors. The video is able to be shared with businesses via the YouTube link: youtu.be/zKaMtbiQ9Io. If NZ businesses are unable to use a YouTube video, WorkSafe will be able to provide it in another format.
Johnnie Walker whisky in paper bottlesJohnnie Walker scotch whisky will be available in plastic-free bottles from early 2021, Diageo Plc said, as the world's biggest spirits maker ramps up efforts to tackle plastic waste. The new bottle, developed in partnership with venture management company Pilot Lite, will be made from wood pulp that meets food grade standards and is fully recyclable, the Guinness and Tanqueray Gin maker said.
Diageo and Pilot Lite have launched a sustainable packaging company called Pulpex Ltd to develop the paper bottle and collaborate on research and development. Pulpex will also create branded paper-bottles in non-competing categories for companies including Lipton team maker Unilever Plc and soda maker PepsiCo, which are also expected to launch next year.
Consumer product companies have come under increased scrutiny for the amount of plastic they use in packaging food and other household items. In Europe, for example, 8.2 million tonnes of plastic were used to package food and drink in 2018, according to ING analysts.
Diageo uses less than 5% of plastic in its total packaging, but along with Unilever and PepsiCo, has set targets to reduce and recycle plastic in their packaging as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals program by 2025.
Whiskey isn't the only drink turning to paper bottles. Wine bottles are also now in on the act. Read more.
Source: thechronicleherald, reuters, thedrinkbusiness
New UK timber campaign to reduce CO2A new industry campaign to showcase timber’s environmental credentials has been launched in the UK.
‘Wood CO2ts less’ is raising awareness of how using wood from sustainably managed forests is one of the simplest ways to help reduce carbon emissions. It is supported by Wood for Good, Swedish Wood, Confor, the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) and Structural Timber Association (STA).
The campaign aims to promote the use of all wood products as low carbon materials. It will illustrate how using wood can help reduce CO2 in the atmosphere and contribute to slowing down climate change. It will target legislators, planners, local authorities, developers, architects and contractors to encourage them to consider using wood first in order to meet national environmental targets.
Sarah Virgo, Wood for Good campaign manager, said: “The government set a target for the construction industry to achieve net zero carbon by 2050 but it’s not feasible for all sectors of the economy to become carbon neutral. To reach net zero, we need to compensate for these emissions by finding ways of removing carbon from the atmosphere. The simplest way to contribute to this reduction is to consider wood first, instead of other materials.”
Dave Hopkins, TTF chief executive, said: “The timber industry is well aware of the impact that building more sustainably can have on the planet and now is the time to spread the message. We encourage everyone to get behind this important initiative and advocate for the industry.”
Supporters can access a range of marketing resources in a dedicated toolkit on the Wood for Good website. Resources include a Wood CO2ts less mark, a press release template, timber facts, videos, animations, logos and material for social media.
Using wood from sustainably managed forests instead of other materials is an effective way to reduce CO2 emissions. To find out more, head to the toolkit at www.woodforgood.com/CO2.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ...
The other day I met a good friend of mine who is a genetic engineer.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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