Friday Offcuts 16 October 2020
While accepting that expansion of the State’s plantation resource is important, the Australian Forest Products Association have expressed their concern that the initiative could be used by the Government to defend its decision to end sustainably managed native forestry by 2030. The Unions were less upbeat. Comments following the announcement included, “it’s another half-baked re-announcement driven by an unviable ‘Trump like’ plan which is really no more than a mishmash of incoherent talking points”. No beating about the bush on this one. Full coverage on the announcements and commentary are contained in this issue.
Out of New Zealand, this week, an entrepreneur has announced a new crowd funding campaign that’s aimed at encouraging tree planting. They’ve very cleverly wrapped a raft of “unique” new technologies around the scheme. If donating to the cause, you’re going to be able to sponsor a tree (or several trees). The claim is that you’ll be able to track the tree’s journey from its planting through to maturity (50 plus years). Each tree is going to receive a unique ‘BarkCode’. What’s more, individual photos (every six months) of the tree will be able to be viewed via a new App that’s being developed. Now that’s really an ambitious project. Actually, so ambitious that the promoter stopped the crowd funding campaign yesterday. You can check out the full story below.
From Europe this week, we’ve included a couple of stories on tech development. The first features a ten-tonne autonomous forestry machine. It’s been designed and built by a Swedish University along with a number of key industry stakeholders. The designers say that there’s no other machine like it in the world – and it’s now ready for trials. Results from a recent study by a Finnish company, looking into consumer attitudes towards textile materials and sustainability, has found that wood is considered to be the most sustainable out of all currently available textile raw materials. Despite this positive take on wood though, only about a third of all respondents had any experience of wood-based textiles and even a greater number weren’t sold on the idea of wood-based apparel.
And finally, we’re looking forward to meeting up with a number of you at next week’s mass timber event, WoodWorks. Either it’s the content or it’s the desire to finally get outside of our bubbles and get back into meeting face-to-face, but the event looks like it’s going to be a full house. Architects and property developers from throughout the country are coming into Rotorua, New Zealand to be inspired by the exciting opportunities that exist for using wood in residential and commercial construction. And, that’s it for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Abandon forestry at your own riskNew Zealand’s Labour and National parties’ policies on forestry, leading into the election this weekend, are disappointing to forest industry leaders. They say the policies jeopardise New Zealand’s post-covid economic recovery and New Zealand reaching its carbon emission goals.
Industry leaders are pointing to recent statements from both the major parties which want to restrict forest planting, as well as potential changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Labour ministers are saying that they want a 50-hectare limit on planting forestry on all but the steepest and most erodible land. They say local councils should be given the power to impose these restrictions. Labour says carbon offsetting is threatening rural communities and unfairly competing with farming.
But Forest Owners Association President, Phil Taylor, says the recent PwC report, on forestry compared with farm economies, shows that forestry should be seen as a lifeline for some rural communities, and not as a threat.
Farm Forestry Association President, Hamish Levack, says statements by some in the National Party are equally unfounded and negative. “National Leader, Judith Collins, has complained that pine trees give her hay fever while others in her caucus have complained that plantation forestry planting should be restricted,” Hamish Levack says.
Phil Taylor also points to the National Party Manifesto which he says plans to reintroduce bureaucratic obstacles in the way of overseas forest investment. And it plans to review the place of forestry in the Emissions Trading Scheme.
“If this is a genuine attempt by National to severely decrease industrial greenhouse gas emissions over the next few years, then that is wonderful. In the meantime, though, National needs to understand forestry is a vital short-term tool to get New Zealand through the transition.”
Phil Taylor says ACT seems to want to copy the main political parties, with some completely unfounded idea that overseas investors were receiving planting subsidies from the government, and these – non-existent – subsidies should be stopped and restrictions put on where trees can be planted to maintain food production.
But Hamish Levack says ACT is at least on the right track with its wish to have carbon locked into timber products recognised as carbon-capture from the atmosphere in the Emissions Trading Scheme, just as trees are recognised.
Phil Taylor says the Green Party policy sounds the least negative for the forest industry. “It encourages forestry because of what the Greens say is its important contributions to water quality, greenhouse gas sequestration, and economic success.”
“But then Co-Leader Marama Davidson is quoted in the media as saying pine trees were inferior to indigenous forests at carbon capture – which is quite wrong.”
Phil Taylor points to The Opportunities Party’s manifesto support for gene editing. “Most politicians avoid talking about the advantages of this technology. It’s great that TOP has raised this, as our New Zealand primary sector is increasingly being left behind by our competition in the rest of the world, though completely misplaced fears of what gene editing actually is.”
Phil Taylor also acknowledges the New Zealand First Party forest policy. “It supports things which are important for us, such as industry training. But most importantly, I have to say that Shane Jones, as Forestry Minister, has done a great job of looking after our industry concerns and ambitions. We haven’t supported everything he’s wanted to do, but in the end, a track record can be far more important than promises.”
Source: FOA, NZFFA
AU$110m for Gippsland Plantations ProgrammeThe Victorian Government has committed a record AU$110 million to invest in growing Victoria’s plantation wood supply through the establishment of plantations in Gippsland via the Victorian Forestry Plan’s Gippsland Plantations Investment Programme.
In 2019 the Victorian Government announced the Victorian Forestry Plan to cease native forest harvesting in State Forests by 2030. As part of the plan, Victorian industries relying on native forest sourced wood are being supported to move to a plantation-sourced wood supply https://djpr.vic.gov.au/forestry/plantations
The Gippsland Plantations Investment Program is currently seeking private sector investment to assist in boosting timber plantation supply in Gippsland. The Victorian Government is seeking Expressions of Interest from experienced and capable plantation investors, developers and managers who are interested in expanding their plantation forestry portfolio in a manner that is sensitive to environmental and community values and creates jobs.
Successful respondents to the Expressions of Interest process will contribute to informing design of the program, ahead of a final competitive program application process. Interested parties will need to respond to the Expressions of Interest Guidelines providing detailed evidence to support their claims of capital contribution, plantation development experience and responsible and sustainable forest management.
The Expression of Interest Guidelines can be accessed via the Buying for Victoria portal. The Expression of Interest process is open until Friday 6 November 2020.
Comment from industry on the plan can be found in the story below.
Kawerau mill future uncertainThe future of the Tasman newsprint mill in Kawerau is in doubt, with its Norwegian owners seeking alternatives to newsprint production at the site. Late last week Norske Skog announced it has ordered a strategic review of one of the central North Island's largest industrial plants. The company has hired KPMG to find alternative production options and is running a strategic review process for the Tasman mill in Kawerau.
The review is the latest to put the future of one of New Zealand's most energy-intensive industries on the line. The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, NZ Steel's Glenbrook mill and the Refining NZ oil refinery are all currently going through similar reviews. James Hardie’s Penrose building products factory is also facing a review.
The impact of covid-19 on demand for newsprint was cited as the primary reason for a review that has been announced just a week before the Oct. 17 general election. “Norske Skog has announced to employees and stakeholders in New Zealand that, due to the likely irreversible and rapid negative impact that covid-19 has had on the newsprint industry in the region, the group has engaged in a broad process to identify alternative production options to reposition the Tasman newsprint mill at Kawerau industrial site in New Zealand,” the company said in a statement to the Oslo Stock Exchange.
The mill typically employs 170 staff and contractors, producing 150,000 tonnes a year. Norske Skog said it’s considering several options for the long-term future of the site and will start consulting with staff when it has a preference. Among possible uses being considered is a bleached chemical thermo-mechanical facility at the site. The mill was already unprofitable heading into the pandemic, reporting a loss of NZ$20.4 million in calendar 2019, including a NZ$31.5 million impairment charge on the value of its factory. Its gross profit dropped 27 percent to NZ$36 million.
State owned nursery for East GippslandThe Victorian Government has announced it will commit AU$10 million to establish a Victorian Forest Nursery in East Gippsland, with a focus on eucalypts. The funding drawn of the AU$110 million program for new plantations, which was announced in the 2016-17 state budget. It includes a AU$2 million grant to VicForests to establish and manage the nursery, on the former P.R. Adams sawmill site at Nowa Nowa.
The project is part the Victorian Forestry Plan and is intended to meet the Government’s timeline for transition from harvesting native forests to a plantation-based sector by 2030.
Read the Government announcement here.
Source: VAFI – The News Mill
New Highland Pine Products General ManagerHighland Pine Product (HPP) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mike Bitzer to the role of General Manager. Mike will replace current General Manager David Knights who recently announced his retirement. David commenced as General Manager in 2016 and since this time has continued to lead the site through growth and change. We thank David for his service to HPP and wish him well in his retirement.
Located in Oberon NSW, HPP is a sawmilling operation employing more than 200 people and is a joint venture owned equally by AKD and Boral. Mike will be seconded to HPP from AKD in November this year and will assume full responsibility for the HPP business and transition out of his current responsibilities as the Chief Technical Officer at AKD.
AKD CEO and HPP Director Shane Vicary comments “the Board is excited about Mike joining HPP in this role and we are looking forward to working with him and the Oberon team as we continue the journey with the many challenges and opportunities that exist at Oberon”.
This is not Mike’s first experience working with the HPP Team, he has a deep understanding of the site having previously worked as the site’s Process Manager, Acting General Manager and almost 5 years as a member of the HPP Board.
Mike combines a highly energetic and passionate approach with significant sawmilling experience, relevant skills, and industry relationships having worked within and been respected in the timber industry for the past 30 years. Mike’s experience, passion and drive will support the team in in identifying and executing on growth and improvement opportunities.
The HPP Board wish Mike all the best in this new role and again thank David for his time with HPP.
Tree planting App for new tree planting campaignA campaign to empower everyday people to become a part of the global effort against climate change was launched in New Zealand this week. TreeTime, a new tree planting non-profit enterprise, is developing an innovative app which will utilise new drone software to enable donors to track their tree’s journey from seed to maturity.
The app gives the assurance to users that each contribution is truly making a difference. Those who donate $9 NZD to sponsor a tree will be able to follow the growth of their individual tree over the course of 50-plus years through the app.
TreeTime is the passion project of Auckland lawyer Nick Muir, a millennial driven to empower people across the globe to contribute towards leaving a lasting, positive legacy on the planet and help prevent irreversible anthropogenic damage.
“We have the vision to make TreeTime the world's leading tree planting non-profit platform,” explains TreeTime co-founder and CEO Nick Muir. “After working on this for more than 12 months, I’m excited to finally unveil this sustainable and engaging way for people to participate in planting robust forests on a large scale here in New Zealand.”
The app development is well underway, and funds raised from the campaign will be applied to the development of the drone software. The creation of a community founders board on TreeTime’s website showcasing the donors will follow.
“We have exclusive access to unique geo-positioning software which will enable app users to follow the journey of their unique trees – TreeTime supporters will know exactly where their contribution is going and receive regular updates on the growth of tree,” says Nick.
When people purchase a tree via the TreeTime app, planting coordinates are assigned to each tree and users receive a unique ‘BarkCode’. The app then links to drone technology that surveys TreeTime’s forests and uploads video footage to the TreeTime database. Individual photos of the trees tracked via the BarkCodes are then automatically sent to that tree’s sponsor.
Every six months TreeTime photos will be shared with each app user so they can see their tree’s progress and rest easy knowing their tree is still alive and sequestering CO2.
STOP PRESS:The promoter cancelled the crowd raising campaign on Thursday 15 October
2020 Forestry Workforce Roadshow runningThe Forestry Workforce Roadshow is running again in New Zealand in November and December 2020. For the first time, Roadshow events will be available online as well as regionally. The Roadshow is designed to help forestry contractors or employers of seasonal forestry workers with their recruitment activities for 2021.
It’s a chance to meet up with government agencies and other key forestry organisations to access information and tools to support successful recruitment and create a better working environment. It’s also a way to connect with peers and hear what’s working well when it comes to recruiting and retaining good employees.
The Roadshow will include information on:
• products and services available through Work and Income
• working with regional work brokers to find employees
• creating a safe work environment
• how to access funding for training and apprenticeships.
Events will be held in Marlborough, Friday 13 November, Wellington (in conjunction with the SafeTree Conference, Thursday 19 November, Rotorua, Friday 27 November and Whangarei, Friday 4 December. Presentations will be live-streamed and recorded at the Wellington Roadshow event and videos will be posted online later. If you cannot attend a regional Roadshow event, you can attend online session on Friday 20 November to hear from the Roadshow presenters and participate in the interactive Q&A.
For more information on the Roadshow and how to RSVP, please visit Forestry Workforce Roadshow
The Roadshow is hosted by Te Uru Rākau with the support of: Ministry of Social Development, Immigration New Zealand, Department of Corrections, Forest Industry Safety Council, Forest Industry Contractors Association, New Zealand Forest Owners Association, Tertiary Education Commission, Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Council.
Source: Te Uru Rākau
Forest company fined and council labelled 'disgraceful'The forestry company has paid nearly NZ$400,000 towards the clean-up and a judge has labelled the local council’s lack of monitoring as “disgraceful”. But the Māori Incorporation that owns Paroa Station near Tolaga Bay still has piles of logs and debris that will cost it NZ$160,000 to remove at its own cost.
The company managing the pine forest that was the source of some of the mess, PF Olsen, has been convicted and fined NZ$198,000 in Gisborne District Court. In sentencing the company Judge Brian Dwyer noted the failure by Gisborne District Council to monitor the company’s operations over the two years leading to the storm event.
“The council's failure to monitor harvesting operations in a large commercial forest established on land known to be highly vulnerable to slope failure, particularly after forest clearance, over a two-year period can only be described as disgraceful,” the judge said.
The Resource Management Act imposed a legal duty on councils to monitor resource consents and “the council failed to meet that obligation”, he said. The judge also acknowledged that much of the damage suffered at Paroa Station was the consequence of landslides un-related to forestry, or from forestry waste that had been deposited in accordance with consents.
PF Olsen was the fourth forestry company to have been fined in connection to events that led to the devastation that hit the Tolaga Bay area, smashing houses, fences and bridges, flooding and littering the landscape with more than 47,000 cubic metres of forest debris.
Forest Plan no replacement for native forestryThe Victorian Government’s call for expressions of interest from investors and plantation developers to expand the State’s plantation timber supply is important, but the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has again warned the State’s policy makers not to use an initiative like this as another defence of its decision to end sustainably managed native forestry by 2030.
The Gippsland Plantations Investment Program was announced last week by Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture, Resources and Regional Development Jaclyn Symes, indicating it will increase timber stocks by providing incentives for new plantation timber plantings.
However, the statement also included the sentence:
“The Gippsland Plantations Investment Program is part of the Victorian Forestry Plan’s commitment to transition from native forest harvesting to a plantation-based sector by 2030.”
Acting AFPA CEO Gavin Matthew said, “Once again we’re disappointed the Andrews' Government has used an important announcement as a defence of its short-sighted plan to close sustainably managed native forestry in Victoria.”
“Plantation forestry is a vital part of our industry providing the softwood timber framing for our homes, and woodchips for making paper and packaging. But sustainably managed native forestry is equally important. From these trees we get the appearance grade timbers we need for things like floors, doors, stairs and indeed the lining of the new State Parliament annex in Melbourne. We can and should do both sorts of forestry in Victoria,” Mr Matthew concluded.
Commentary from the Unions was also less than enthusiastic saying this latest instalment of the “Government’s shambolic Forestry Plan” falls well short of providing any certainty for the thousands of timber and pulp and paper workers whose jobs are on the block due to the Government’s mismanagement”. And it believes the details of the process outlined is an admission that the Government has no idea about how to sustainably restructure the industry. For further coverage, click here.
Source: AFPA, miragenews
John Simon to retire from FWPAAfter eight years as a director, and five years as Chair, John Simon has advised that he plans to retire from the Board of Forest and Wood Products Australia Limited (FWPA) at their forthcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM). Under FWPA’s constitution, directors can serve for a maximum of nine consecutive years.
John Simon said that next year FWPA will undertake a major refresh of its strategic direction, and that, in his view, it was important that the next Chair of the company leads this activity. John said: “it has been a privilege and honour to lead the FWPA. The many successes and achievements have only been possible with the dedicated work of our wonderful staff, ably led by Ric Sinclair. This has particularly been the case in the past six months, with most of our team based in Victoria and working from home.”
“I would also like to thank the directors of the company who have provided wise guidance and ensured that we have maintained high levels of corporate governance. In particular, I acknowledge the two retiring directors, Jim Henneberry and Brian Farmer. Jim has done an excellent job in his role as chair of our Audit & Finance committee, and Brian has successfully led the Growers Research Advisory Group in identifying future research priorities. The strong support that we have received from the Australian Government during my time as a director has also been much appreciated.”
FWPA’s AGM will be held via a Zoom conference at 4pm on 22nd October. Under the terms of its constitution the next FWPA Chair will be elected by Directors at their first meeting following the AGM.
Nathan Paine appointed foundation SAFPA CEOThe South Australian Forest Products Association (SAFPA) is pleased to announce the appointment of its foundation CEO, Nathan Paine. Interim Chair Keith Lamb hailed the significance of this appointment in achieving the vision to have a single unified voice for the South Australian Forest Products Sector – bringing together South Australia’s timber growers, processors, and manufacturers.
"As an organisation, we are starting with well over half of the industry in South Australia and we are committed to creating a body that represents the entire industry and a home for all businesses that operate in the forest and forest products industry in South Australia," Mr Lamb said.
“We are excited to announce Nathan’s appointment as he brings to the role the experience and energy required to lead our organisation and represent our foundation members to the members of state parliament, whether they be government, opposition or the cross-bench, as well as the wider business community of South Australia.”
“This year has seen the South Australian forest products sector, along with the rest of the state and the country, buffeted from the combined impact of bushfire and the COVID-19 pandemic. There has never been a more important and challenging time to bring our sector together, for the wellbeing of the members and for South Australia.”
Foundation CEO Nathan Paine said he was looking forward to representing the forestry products industry in South Australia. “Forestry is already a core industry and employer in South Australia and will be a centrepiece to the economic revitalisation of South Australia – not just in the regions of the South East and Kangaroo Island but indeed the entire state,” Mr Paine said.
“As Governments increasingly look for opportunities to generate new jobs and opportunities in our State, the forest industries provide a pathway for new, long-term manufacturing jobs here. Forestry is a long-term business and investments are generations in nature”.
“Our members are in this for the long haul, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t short term challenges. I am proud to lead the South Australian Forest Products Association in its vision towards growth and prosperity for South Australia.” Mr Paine concluded.
86% consumers consider wood sustainable materialEighty-six per cent of consumers consider wood a sustainable textile raw material, according to a study on consumer attitudes towards textile materials and sustainability by Spinnova. Still, only one third are familiar with wood-based apparel. Consumers think brand sustainability image is single most important sign of conscious buying decision.
The study was made in Finland, Sweden, Germany, France and US in the spring of 2020. Wood was found the most sustainable out of currently available textile raw materials. The highest sustainability rating over wood was given to emerging, waste-based raw materials. Nordic respondents were most pro wood; 90 per cent of Finns and 91 per cent of Swedes consider wood a sustainable textile raw material. Reasons for not finding wood-based textiles appealing were related to both environmental reasons and qualities of the textile material.
According to the study, harmful chemicals are seen as the worst environmental problem of the textile industry; 64 per cent considering this an issue. 60 per cent also associated excessive water use a problem of the industry, followed by ocean microplastics, waste and CO2 emissions.
When asked what factors make up a sustainable image of a product, brand sustainability image got the most replies, 54 per cent. Only 29 per cent of respondents thought high price is a sign of sustainability. Environmental certificates were considered an indicator of sustainability by 48 per cent. “This supports the idea that brand owners should be as transparent as possible about their sustainability efforts and even the environmental impacts of individual products,” Janne Poranen, Spinnova’s CEO and co-founder said.
Despite the positive take on wood, only a third of all respondents had experience of wood-based textiles, although man-made cellulosic fibres have been around for decades. However, 55 per cent did consider the idea of wood-based apparel appealing. Spinnova is a Finnish, sustainable fibre innovation company that develops ecological breakthrough technology for manufacturing cellulose-based textile fibre.
Autonomous forest machine ready for testingIn Sweden, researchers at Luleå University of Technology (LUT) have designed and built an autonomous forest machine that they say is now ready for in the woods field testing. "We have replaced everything that humans do with intelligence on the machine; with computers working together and controlling it. We have created conditions for the machine to be better than humans, and will now test that," said Magnus Karlberg, Professor of Machine Design at Luleå University of Technology.
In 2014, Professor Karlberg and his colleagues began sketching on the autonomous terrain vehicle that can be used as a research platform. Since then, Karlberg and other researchers and students at the university have worked to make the vehicle as smart and robust as possible. Luleå University of Technology (LUT) has collaborated with a number of academic and indústry stakeholders in the development of the autonomous terrain vehicle including Poclain Hydraulics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Forestry Cluster, Holmen Skog, SCA, Sveaskog, Norra Skogsägarna, Parker, Nord-Lock, Expander, and Olofsfors. Now it’s ready for the forest.
The purpose is to conduct tests in a number of areas to develop autonomous technology for machines and other equipment used in agriculture and forestry. It is a unique machine – there is no other like it in the world as far as we know, said Magnus Karlberg.The ten-tonne machine can be controlled with a remote control but also be programmed to perform work entirely on its own. The machine is currently powered by biodiesel and is built without a cab, but with a conventional powertrain, crane, pendulum arms, and sensors.
An autonomous vehicle must be able to perceive its surroundings. We have equipped the machine with sensors so that it can make good decisions and to increase safety. For example, if a person gets too close, the machine should turn itself off, explained Magnus Karlberg. The autonomous terrain vehicle opens up for a number of research collaborations with, among others, forestry companies and universities in Sweden and abroad. The researchers are for example investigating how site preparation (e.g. scarification) and transport of logging residues can be done in a more sustainable way.
In the forest, soil damage is a major concern and we want to significantly reduce the proportion of area that is affected. In one of our projects, we are working together with Swedish forest companies to do soil preparation in a completely different way than is done today. We also study productivity. How is it possible to make various operations efficient and cheap, but also environmentally considerate and socially acceptable? We work with research questions to meet these challenges. With the machine, we can do tests and see that it works in reality and not just in a computer environment, said Magnus Karlberg.
Professor Karlberg is convinced that autonomous terrain vehicles will change agriculture and forestry but that it is still a number of years away before these types of vehicles becomes common in Swedish forests. Man will be present even when these vehicles go autonomously in the forest but will do other things. Instead of sitting in the cab, you may be some distance away and control several vehicles via remote controls, envisioned Magnus Karlberg.
Photo: Luleå University of Technology
Harvest plans for KIPT take shapeKangaroo Island Plantation Timbers has advised the three levels of government about its plans to start harvesting of the fire-damaged plantations on Kangaroo Island. Salvage harvesting will begin in the area of fire-damaged pine trees which is most at risk of decay, to recover the higher value logs.
Advice to the Company is that these logs must be harvested within two years of the bushfires and stored under water or sprinklers in order to preserve value. This strategy will allow the company to maximise recoverable volume, as it awaits approval for the KI Seaport facility at Smith Bay.
An Expression of Interests (EOI) process started in 2019 for provision of harvest and haul services and the Company is now received proposals from a number of operators to start initially in the pine and then move to the bluegums. KIPT is also in discussions with independent growers on the Island regarding harvest of their fire-damaged trees.
The Company expects to salvage a total of 3 million tonnes of timber with sufficient value to support building of the KI Seaport. Other uses are contemplated for a further 1.5 million tonnes of timber which is not considered suitable for log export.
The salvage harvest is expected to generate in excess of AU$200 million in economic activity for the Island over the next four years, excluding the beneficial impact of the port.
... and one to end the week on ... BS Bingo
Do you keep falling asleep in meetings and seminars? What about those long and boring conference calls? Here is a way to change all of that! Please find attached a PDF of a template sent in by of all people - a forestry consultant.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. For the Kiwis out
there who haven't yet cast your vote in the General
Election, remember to get out there tomorrow. Cheers.
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