Friday Offcuts 30 April 2021
It’s a statement of fact that the forest and wood products sector is also largely male, white and aging. As outlined in our lead story this week, this demographic is sometimes disparaging referred to as “male, pale and stale.” We’re also hand on heart, often slow to incorporate and act on change. Embracing diversity within our workforce is another issue that’s perhaps hamstrung our industry on reaching its full potential. We know we could do better. Diversity and inclusiveness matter within the workforce. Morally, we should all be embracing these differences anyway. It can also make a substantial difference to a company’s profitability.
In this week’s issue a well-known industry leader has provided his own personal opinion on the importance of actively embracing diversity and inclusiveness within our businesses. A new public pledge website has just been set up (the iRESPECT Pledge) where current and future leaders can declare their support for this new initiative, the idea being that they can make themselves available to coach and support a wide diversity of talent to help grow our sector.
We’ve covered the supply/demand and escalating timber prices phenomenon in recent issues. As we’ve reported, timber prices in the US are going “nuts” right now. In the Softwood lumber prices reaching stratospheric heights this week, it’s reported that the rise in the wholesale price of a common softwood lumber commodity item was 6 percent. This wasn’t over a year. It wasn’t even a month. This rise was reported in just one week! In the Aussie Timber Prices article below a 400 percent increase in lumber over just one year has also been reported. Australia’s also now entering a building and construction boom of its own. Some are describing it as the start of a 3-4-year boom cycle. Read more in several articles this week.
And for those a little greyer, older and wiser amongst you. Remember the NZFS? Many Kiwi readers (and quite a few in Australia as well) will have had their early forestry training and first jobs with the NZ Forest Service. It was established way back in 1919 and then disbanded about 70 years later, in 1987. Well, it’s back. On Thursday it was announced that Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) is to be renamed Te Uru Rākau - New Zealand Forest Service, and they'll be shifting their operational headquarters from Wellington to Rotorua. And finally, if you haven’t yet registered for this country’s major Carbon Forestry event, remember today is the last day to access discounted early-bird registrations. Registration details can be found here. Enjoy this week’s bumper read.
This week we have for you:
I respect diversity – opinion pieceOver the last three months, it is quite clear that one person can make a difference in the consciousness of Australia. The powerful speech by Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, a teenage victim of sexual abuse has enabled many people to find their own voice and talk about their experience with sexual abuse, bullying or harassment.
In the forest and wood products sector, we also heard a very eloquent and passionate speech at the 2019 AFPA Dinner in recognition of International Women’s Day. Linda Sewell, then CEO of OneFortyOne, spoke about her own career and the challenges of a talented and ambitious woman who had to deal with overt and covert prejudice. In telling her story, Linda identified the pivotal moment when one influential person judged her on merit and not gender. Linda got the standing ovation from the audience that she deserved.
One person can make a difference. We can all make a difference.
It is a simple statement of fact that the forest and wood products sector is largely male, white and aging. This demographic is sometimes disparaging referred to as “male, pale and stale.”
Sadly, this is me. While I can’t change my age and ethnicity, I can and do try to respect the potential and contributions of people who are not like me.
That is not to say that I am some paragon of virtue. In thinking back over my personal and professional life, I am sure that I have said and done things that today would not make me proud. To those that I may have inadvertently offended, then I say sorry, and I truly hope that I have not caused harm.
I certainly know that that I have witnessed bullying, sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviours and I did not speak up loudly at the time. For that, I am also very, very sorry.
The Australian forest and wood products sector is proud and it is conservative, which is not a good combination for embracing change. But even in my own working life I have seen change. Perhaps not as transformational or as quick as I or some others may have liked.
One of the innate features of humanity is that we are attracted to people like ourselves. Deep within our psyche is a fear of “others” and this has a practical implication in how organisations and sectors are built. We try to recruit, retain and promote people like us.
There is a growing body of evidence that diversity and inclusiveness matters. And it can make a substantial difference in a company’s profitability.
Respected international management consultancy, McKinsey and Co, have been measuring and tracking the performance of companies around the world and according to their 2020 study, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.” The business case for ethnic and cultural diversity is equally compelling.
From a social licence perspective, surely a sector that better reflects the diversity of the community is also more likely to better communicate and respond to the community’s needs and gain its ongoing support.
Through most of my working life, I have played a role in promoting the positive benefits of the forestry sector and its products. I was born into the sector with a family that had deep connections with forestry in northeast Victoria. There is no doubt in my mind about the socio-economic and environmental benefits of wood products compared to the alternatives.
But I always hoped that we could do better. We could respond to change better (instead of defending the status quo until it was undefendable). We could be more innovative and inclusive. We could invest more in our future.
In my current role, I have the enormous privilege of dealing with the senior levels of the sector, something that my bulldozer driving father could never have fathomed. And despite our different backgrounds and upbringing, I mostly see people like myself at the senior levels of the sector.
I rarely see people of a different gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability. And this makes me worried about the future sustainability of our sector.
Diversity matters and we need to embrace it and take positive steps now. I am somewhat torn around the idea of quotas and would rather appeal to the better nature of those in positions of influence. We need to recognise that embracing diversity and inclusiveness is not only morally right, but it also makes commercial and strategic sense.
Therefore, I now publicly call on all those in leadership roles within the sector, from CEOs to shift supervisors, to join me in a public pledge: I respect diversity!
I RESPECT I will make a difference
R eflect on my own behaviour and unconscious bias
E mpathise with those who come from a different position or background
S peak out when I see inappropriate behaviour
P romote human diversity in all its forms
E mpower those around me to speak out if they see inappropriate behaviour (including mine)
C elebrate changes that have been made
T ransform myself and those around me.
To this end, as a personal initiative, I have established a new public pledge website where current and future leaders can proclaim their support to diversity and inclusiveness. By signing up to this public pledge, then iRESPECT Supporters give their permission to others to hold them to account.
You can express your support for this initiative at: www.iRESPECT.com.au
I am also hopeful that those in leadership positions who support the iRESPECT Pledge will join me in making themselves available to coach and support a wide diversity of talent to help grow the sector.
In my professional capacity as managing director of FWPA, I would welcome anyone to contact me if they would like advice on how their uniqueness can play an important role in the future of our sector ( firstname.lastname@example.org).
A personal opinion piece by Ric Sinclair
The NZ Forest Service – it’s back!A greater role for a public forestry service has been outlined by New Zealand’s Forestry Minister, to drive the focus on regional economic development, skills training, and a low-emissions future.
Stuart Nash on Thursday announced Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) will be renamed Te Uru Rākau - New Zealand Forest Service, and will shift its operational headquarters from Wellington to Rotorua.
“The name change is small but significant. It signals a more hands-on role for a public forestry service, with specialists and advisors working alongside the sector,” Mr Nash said. “We will lift planning and advisory capabilities within Te Uru Rākau - New Zealand Forest Service so it can offer a professional advisory service and share its forestry management expertise.
“It will provide more on-the-ground support to iwi, private landowners, farm foresters, local councils, timber processors, training institutes, and other forestry organisations. The Forest Service will maximise opportunities for the forestry and wood processing sector.
“Forestry is the third largest primary exporter by value so it’s important we keep innovating to support regional development, drive economic growth and meet our climate and environmental goals. That will feed into our vital work on the Industry Transformation Plan and the delivery of the Government’s Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential roadmap.”
“Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service will continue to work alongside local communities on the remaining tree planting projects that endure from the One Billion Trees funding. More than 258 million trees have been planted towards the goal of one billion trees by 2028. The dedicated fund to kick-start the public-private sector programme was time-limited, and last year it stopped accepting new applications for funding”.
“It has served its purpose as a cornerstone of the programme by building momentum for new planting. Approximately NZ$23 million of the fund is unallocated and will be reprioritised towards the new work of Te Uru Rākau – the New Zealand Forest Service, making it cost-neutral.
“The operational headquarters will be based in Rotorua in a new wooden building that highlights the potential of timber construction, and reflects Rotorua’s central location in our largest plantation forest region”.
Source: Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand)
Are Aussie timber prices about to go through the roof?In the US, timber prices are going nuts (see story elsewhere in this issue). The price of lumber has skyrocketed to $US1,048 per thousand board feet, up nearly 400% from a year ago – a result of reduced production during COVID-19’s early months, and a DIY and housing boom sparked by low interest rates. Check out these futures:
Classic stuff. More importantly for US investors, share prices of wood suppliers are flying. Australia is entering a building and construction boom of our own. Could the same situation play out Down Under?
Carbon Conference: Introducing Sean WeaverEarly bird rates finish later this week for New Zealand's upcoming Carbon Forestry Conference - The arrival of the forest carbon sector over a decade ago heralded a new era in forest conservation financing. For forest conservation to be carbon financed at scale it needs to be commercially viable without the help of grants.
The commercial viability of native forest carbon, however, is challenged by high costs and low revenues. A remedy that does not require blunt government intervention in the carbon market is a middle path that combines native and exotic carbon forestry.
Dr Sean Weaver, the founder and CEO of Ekos, will detail how this emerging trend is poised to take off in the coming decade. Ekos is an environmental financing consulting business focusing on indigenous forest carbon projects and zero-carbon certification for organisations and products.
He is an international expert in indigenous forest carbon, carbon markets and market-based mechanisms for environmental and climate financing.
Sean consultants NZ and Pacific Island national and regional governments, multilateral banks (World Bank, African Development Bank), international agencies (UNDP, SPREP) businesses on carbon forestry.
Click here to register >>
China log exports still remain in limboAustralia's forestry sector claims there are no signs of any movement by Chinese officials to end the ongoing log trade deadlock.
China suspended imports of all timber logs late last year amid escalating trade tensions. While round logs are still being exported to some countries from deep-sea ports, the multi-million-dollar log trade to China remains in limbo.
Australian Forest Products Association chief executive Ross Hampton said there had been "no movement" since China banned imports of round logs from Australia. "The Chinese government has said that there wouldn't be any timber accepted, or round logs (as they call them in the trade) out of any part of Australia," Mr Hampton said.
"And they're not at the moment returning the minister's calls. So, we don't have to get any further update on that situation." While the industry was enjoying record demand for structural timber due to the housing construction boom, he said China's import log ban was impacting export markets for non-structural timber and wood fibre. Given the ongoing uncertainty, he said greater domestic processing was needed.
KIPT timber on show in Green TriangleKangaroo Island Plantation Timbers has completed a successful expo of its timber at a yard near Mt Gambier and is now in negotiations with several mills regarding buying logs from the KIPT pine softwood estate. Logs of different size and varying burn classification were shown to representatives of about 10 mills, including logs from an independent grower on the Island.
Buyers were particularly interested in the KIPT wood that had good “resi testing” results, proving its suitability for construction grade lumber. KIPT is now working with the Master Builders Association to try to address the shortage of timber for construction in South Australia. Industry leaders, including KIPT MD Keith Lamb, met with Primary Industries Minister David Basham last week to discuss potential solutions to the shortage which has left small building companies vulnerable and new home builders facing increased costs and delays.
Kangaroo Island Plantation Timber managing director Keith Lamb said there was enough structural timber on the island to build about 10,000 new homes. “We’ve done all the technical specifications on the logs so they know what the quality is like and also the impact of the fire damage,” Mr Lamb said. “Hopefully next week we’ll get a response from them to say they are willing to take the logs and what price, so we’ll negotiate a price, and then we’ll start delivering them.”
Mr Lamb said about half of the island’s 1.3 million tonnes of pine had been blackened by fire but the quality of timber remained unaffected. KIPT is investigating various avenues to start moving larger timber from the Island but remains committed to its Smith Bay wharf development proposal which awaits approval from the State Government.
“We have very large volumes of timber to move. This is just a start on our 4.2 million tonnes,” Mr Lamb said said. The log expo was a joint effort between KIPT, its contracted harvester Harvestco, contracted forester Rob Heathcote, forest manager PF Olsen and seller’s agent Lew Parsons.
Photo: Colin Wooldridge from Whitehead’s Timber Sales checks out the internal structure of the KIPT logs
Leading logging and haulage firm celebrates 60 yearsOberon-based Mangan Logging & Haulage has reached a major milestone with the Australian-owned business marking 60 years of operation and welcoming its fourth generation into the family-run business. Established in 1961 by Bert and Monica Mangan, the business has grown from one trucking unit to 25, along with numerous harvesting units, two mechanic workshops, a 24-hour breakdown service and a parts store.
They employ over 70 staff and contractors, including six apprentices, many of whom are themselves multi-generational employees with the business. Today, the Mangan Group harvest and haul over 500,000 tonnes of softwood plantation pine each year delivering quality product to Highland Pine, Borg, Visy, Allied Timber Products NSW, and various export markets.
A hallmark of the business has been the seamless management transition over the six decades from Bert and Monica, to son Michael and his wife Suzanne, and to today’s leaders, their grandchildren Mathew, Lisa, Chris, and Michelle. Recently they welcomed Mathew’s son Riley to the business, who began his mechanical apprenticeship, following the same path his father did 24 years earlier.
Photo: Mangan Logging Team
Softwood lumber prices reach stratospheric heightsCompared to March 2020 total residential starts in the US last month shot up by +37% to a 1.74 million annualized rate, from 1.27 in the same month one year ago. Permits for future homebuilding increased spectacularly compared to one year ago, up by +30% to a rate of 1.77 million units last month compared to March 2020 when it was 1.36 million.
March starts of single-family housing, the largest share of the market and construction method which uses the most wood, flew up by +37% compared to March 2020, at 1.24 million. Single-family permits were at 1.2 million, a significant jump of +36% compared to the same month last year.
As for lumber prices, after reaching the seemingly unbelievable level of US$1,130, in the week ending April 9, 2021, the wholesaler price of benchmark softwood lumber commodity item Western S-P-F KD 2×4 #2&Btr was US$1,210 mfbm for the week ending April 16. This is up by +$80, or +6%, from the previous week. That week’s price is up by +$93, or +9%, from one month ago when it was $1,040.
For further coverage on the pricing boom click here
Source: Madisons, TreeFrog, Bloomberg
Trial of world’s first electric log trucksMosaic Forest Management is announcing its partnership with local Vancouver Island service provider, EcoWest Driven, to introduce several Tesla semi-trucks into log hauling. There are currently no commercially available electric log truck solutions appropriate for the terrain on Vancouver Island.
The BC forest sector has a significant role to play in addressing climate change. The working forest captures carbon as it grows, and wood products keep that carbon locked-up for decades. New trees are planted and the renewable cycle repeats. However, forestry operations generate tailpipe emissions, including from log trucks. Electrifying the fleet is a particularly good approach in British Columbia where over 90% of power in the Province is generated from clean hydroelectric sources.
“We are committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2035 and electrifying our log hauling fleet is a significant step in that direction” said Jeff Zweig, President and CEO of Mosaic Forest Management. “BC is a global centre of excellence in forestry, and we are proud to work with our local partner, EcoWest Driven, on this important project”.
“With our in-depth experience and knowledge of the forestry industry on Vancouver Island, we are excited to partner with Mosaic to utilize Tesla’s innovative electric semis into log haulers,” said Timber Johnson, Director and Co-Founder of EcoWest Driven. “We have begun the process of creating charging infrastructure and a new electric vehicle maintenance facility in Parksville, BC to accommodate this new demand for emission-free heavy haulers,” added Jarvis Shaver, Director and Co-Founder of EcoWest Driven.
About Mosaic Forest Management Corp
Mosaic Forest Management is the timberlands manager for TimberWest and Island Timberlands – two affiliated companies that have operated on Vancouver Island for over a century, delivering sustainable forest management within their private forest lands and Crown tenure areas. Mosaic employs several thousand people directly and indirectly striving to achieve the positive economic, social and sustainability outcomes from the working forest. For more information, visit mosaicforests.com.
About EcoWest Driven
EcoWest is a recently incorporated company formed specifically to introduce electric semi-trucks to the transportation industry. EcoWest’s goal is to be the catalyst to utilizing hauling fleets, in a variety of industries, from fossil-fueled trucks to electric trucks and in doing so provide a service to our clients that is both efficient and cost competitive. Converting to electric semi-trucks will also significantly reduce, or eliminate, the carbon footprint for the hauling component of the client’s businesses.
For more information on the Tesla semi, please visit: www.tesla.com
Source: Mosaic Forests
Logging company on target for ambitious safety goalFor the past decade, Nelson businessman Dale Ewers’ goal has been to get workers in the logging industry out of harm’s way. In 2010 Ewers, the chief executive of Moutere Logging Ltd and DC Equipment, set a 20-year plan for his company to reduce work accidents to zero – in an industry where logging crews on steep slopes faced challenging and often dangerous conditions.
Now more than a decade in, Ewers said the project had been a huge success – with safety incidents in the past few years having “flatlined close to zero”. “Our biggest risk at the moment for our staff is travelling to and from work.” The key to the reduction in safety incidents and near misses had been mechanising the most dangerous jobs – falling trees and manually retrieving them for transport.
Ewers said for most jobs now, operators were able to both fall and retrieve trees from the safety of an enclosed cab. The first milestone was achieved in 2012 with the innovation of the Falcon Grapple Claw, a motorised ‘grapple carriage’ that can retrieve logs from the slopes controlled by the logger from inside a protective cab on the top of the hill.
The second major breakthrough was the development of a carriage which could fall trees – again being controlled remotely by an operator some 500m away. With these (and other) safety developments, Ewers said Moutere Logging was now manually falling just 10 per cent of its wood, compared to about 80 per cent a decade ago – while at the same time doubling the volume of logs harvested.
He said there had been an even bigger change with retrieving logs, with just three per cent of logs being retrieved manually, from a starting point of about 95 per cent. While at the moment operators still needed to be on site for the harvesting process, Ewers said he wanted to take the plan further over the next few years.
“By 2022, we’ll be able to harvest [fell and retrieve] a tree and return it to the landing with the push of buttons. And by 2025, we’ll be able to do it all from afar, from the office.” Ewers said his vision to improve worker safety was driven by his own experiences in the logging industry from an early age.
NZ wood availability forecast updatesNew Zealand’s MPI has contracted Margules Groome Consulting to undertake the update to the Wood Availability Forecasts, and review the existing regional NEFD yield tables.
These forecasts are intended as a planning tool for the forest industry, councils, and infrastructure and service providers. New forecasts are being undertaken for the nine regional wood supply regions and for New Zealand. Further information about forestry and wood processing data are available on the MPI website.
The last WAF was undertaken in 2014, so it is time for a refresh. MPI would like to invite you to attend the regional meetings to discuss the preliminary results. Your feedback is invaluable to ensure that our methodology and assumptions are appropriate. In particularly we would appreciate feedback from those managing smaller forest resources (defined as <3000 ha).
Upcoming meetings are as follows:
Gisborne- 4th May 1pm – 3pm at the Oasis Motel (5 Sponge Bay Road, Tamarau, Gisborne)
Kerikeri - 6th May from 1pm – 3pm (venue tbc)
Rotorua – 17th May 11am – 1pm at Scion (Titokorangi Drive Formerly, Longmile Road, Whakarewarewa)
Masterton – 18th May 11am-1pm (Copthorne Hotel)
One of the questions MPI hopes this work will address is what level of uncommitted supply exists in each wood supply region, particularly in those log grades that are sought after by the domestic processing industry. This analysis will contribute directly to the Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan (ITP), which seeks to expand the commercial opportunities for forestry, and build value from the resource.
If you would like to attend any of these presentations, please send your RSVP for catering purposes to email@example.com
China’s changing softwood lumber marketAccording to the statistics released by China Customs, China’s import volume of softwood lumber decreased by nearly 10% in 2020. Furthermore, there has been a decline of 23% in the first two months of this year compared with the same period of last year, compounding the very low lumber inventories in China from the end of 2020. The current softwood lumber inventory at Taicang was at 700,000 m3 at the end of March, well below the average normal inventory of 800,000 – 1 million m3 in previous years.
Not only from Canada, China’s softwood lumber imports from other main suppliers also showed rapid declines, especially for high-grade lumber supplied from Russia, Finland, Swedish, Chile, and New Zealand. However, the supplies from Ukraine and Belarus (mostly for low-end construction lumber application) had strong growth in 2020 and continued the upward trend in the first two months of this year. Currently, Ukraine was the largest softwood lumber supplier from Europe (excluding Russia) to China in 2020.
It’s certain that the Chinese market is facing a tough challenge of tight supplies and extremely prices of softwood lumber, and this situation has been forced Chinese lumber distributors and wood products mills to look for substitution options. There are several solutions emerging in China, and one of the most practical options is using imported softwood logs to produce lumber products by Chinese domestic sawmills.
Compared with the soaring prices of softwood lumber, the prices of softwood logs were at a relatively moderate growth, and the supply volumes remained steady with high inventories currently at Chinese ports. As a result, Chinese mills have been using more imported logs to produce lumber products for non-construction applications to fill the import-lumber supply gap while also having cost advantages versus using imported timber.
Currently, it’s estimated that more than 30% of European spruce logs in the Shandong province (Qingdao and Lanshan ports) and 50% of European spruce logs in the Putian port are being cut to produce furring strips, pallet/packing lumber, or low-grade wall panels/bed slats. This is a new trend given that historically, over 90% of European spruce logs were used for construction lumber applications. Of note, because of the limitation on KD facilities and high KD cost, the lumber products made from Chinese domestic mills normally don’t have the right moisture content or are just air-dried.
Due to the low grade of imported logs and poor KD quality in China, it’s hard to fit the quality requirements for the high-end applications with the imported softwood logs cut into lumber at Chinese mills. These applications include sauna panels, clear-grade wall panels, clear FJ & EG panels, furniture products, etc. These applications are typically produced from SF grade lumber from Russia and Europe, furniture grade lumber from Southern Hemisphere, and #2 & better grade from Canada.
Moreover, the CFR price offers for spruce lumber have already exceeded US$400/m3 for SF grade from Russia and Europe, in contrast to the previous high of US$290/m3 back in mid-2018. Therefore, the end-users have to look at other substitution options, specifically:
• Some Chinese mills are switching over to use hardwood species, such as rubber wood and Okoume, to replace the high grade of imported softwood lumber used in appearance components. Currently, the relative price differential of some hardwood species and softwoods is decreasing, making these hardwoods an attractive substitute as the final products made from these hardwood species can be sold at higher prices than softwood.
• Some Chinese furniture mills are using wood-based panel products to produce panel furniture instead of solid wood furniture. This lowers the overall cost of these furniture items to meet a lower-cost, market niche price level.
Meanwhile, more Chinese domestic species, such as Chinese fir and Mason pine are now being used for pallet/packaging lumber, fences, and other low-end applications. However, the supply volume is still very limited in the short term. It will still take a much longer time to have domestic timber supplies fit the market demands in terms of log diameter, labour skills, supply chain, etc.
Going forward, it seems there will be no big improvement on softwood lumber supplies to China in the short term. China’s softwood lumber market is changing with a new structure of supplies and new volume & cost balance between import lumber and lumber products made from imported logs by Chinese mills.
Source: canadawood.org, China Bulletin, Forest Economic Advisors (FEA)
The most innovative 3D printed house in the worldArchitecture firm Mense-Korte has done an incredible job exploring uncharted territory with this design printed by a Cobod BOD 2 in concrete. Let's dive into the details of this build and examine some of the design choices they made that make this project so unique and before its time. I would imagine after completing this project there are many new things Mense-Korte and Cobod are planning on trying next!
WARNING: This video is not intended for those with short attention spans. Go watch tiktok or something if you want to skip the nitty gritty real-world details of implementing automation on a construction site. Proceed only if you have an interest in cutting edge technology that could change construction.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... adoption suitability
A couple who work in the circus go to an adoption agency.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. And for all you mad-
keen duck hunters, opening day kicks off tomorrow. Let's
be careful out there. Cheers.
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