Friday Offcuts 1 October 2021
This week, we’re pleased to announce for the first time a long overdue tech event for the forest industries: our Residues to Revenues 2022 Conference. As we’ve covered in recent issues, interest across the region has really ramped up with significant investments being made by large scale industrial operations converting their heat or energy plants from burning fossil fuels across to renewables, including biomass. This event is aimed at those producing or looking at supplying, harvesting or collecting woody biomass, forest slash, logging residues and stump wood, principally from wood harvesting operations. Also, those that have surplus wood wastes from sawmilling and wood manufacturing operations are going to be involved.
Details on business models for aggregating bio-fuels regionally to ensure a consistent and ready supply and quality to the end user along with technologies best suited to harvesting, handling, transporting and drying bio-fuels will be covered as part of this new event. Details on the March 2022 event, including practical workshops on in-field chipping innovations and wood fuel quality requirements being sought by major heat plant operators running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 9-10 March 2022 can be found on the event website.
And finally, we also take a look this week at five strategies that can be employed by forestry companies to better leverage digital intelligence and do more with some of the data that’s available and being collected. The change that’s happening in forestry now with data-enabled AI and analytics is being likened to the previous century’s doubling in productivity with the advent of chainsaws and mechanised harvesting. Forestry companies, like other businesses, are already on their own journey of "turning collected data into information, information into insight, and insight into intelligence". Check out the story and the link supplied by Remsoft below. And on this note, enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Major deficit in Australian framing production forecastAustralia faces a major sovereign capability gap in the production of timber house frames by 2035 – further signalling how crucial it is for the federal and state governments to deliver policies to urgently drive new production tree plantings.
A landmark new report by Master Builders Australia (MBA) and the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) shows Australia is headed towards a major cliff in timber framing production, concluding we will be 250,000 house frames short by 2035 – the equivalent of the cities of Newcastle and Geelong combined.
CEO of Master Builders Australia Denita Wawn said supply of quality Australian timber for new homes and buildings was critical for the national construction sector. “This analysis is a wake-up call for decision makers to act now to avoid a construction industry crisis in the next decade. It’s in Australia’s national interest to secure our local timber supply by ensuring our timber plantation stock can meet future housing demand,” Denita Wawn said.
“The housing construction industry is the engine room of the Australian economy and it needs a consistent, reliable domestic timber supply. As the timber shortages of the past 18 months have shown, we cannot rely on imports to fill the gap when we have increased construction activity – we need to act now.”
The state-by-state analysis reveals just how many house frames short of demand Australia will be by 2035. Victoria will be a city the size of Geelong short, NSW will be Wagga Wagga and Tamworth short, Queensland will be a city the size of Cairns short, South Australia a Mount Gambier short, WA a Bunbury short, Tasmania a city the size of Kingston short, the NT a town the size of Tennant Creek short and the ACT a suburb the size of Kambah.
CEO of AFPA Ross Hampton said, “This report shows that state and federal governments need to seriously tackle the policies which will drive forward new plantings of the right types of trees at the right scale and in the right places.
“Australian governments need to work together on a national plan that delivers an immediate increase in our plantation estate to ensure Australia can meet its future housing construction needs. Future generations of Aussie homeowners are counting on it.”
Residues to Revenues 2022 event announcedFor New Zealand and Australia, it’s been over 8 years since a wood residues programme has been run by FIEA showcasing new innovations around harvesting, bio-fuel handling and transport technologies.
Because of the huge interest being shown right now by forest owners and wood harvesting contractors in extracting wood bio-fuels to supply the ever-increasing demand from large industrial scale heat or energy users, a wood residues event, Residues to Revenues 2022 has been set up to run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 9-10 March 2022.
In addition to case studies of early adopters of in-field chipping and delivery systems, successful operations being employed from outside this region will be showcased along with some innovative business models that have been adopted elsewhere to ensure suppliers of bio-fuels are able to provide a timely and consistent quality fuel to end larger end users.
This well overdue event is aimed at forest owners and managers, logging and wood transport operators who are looking right now at opportunities of extracting and processing forestry slash and logging waste from their wood harvesting operations along with sawmilling and wood manufacturing companies who are exploring options to better utilise their wood waste streams.
The event will include a one-day conference, a pre-conference in-field chipping technology showcase where new and emerging technologies for processing forest slash, logging residues and stump wood will be outlined by major equipment suppliers from around the world and a post conference workshop run by the Bioenergy Association of NZ. In this, further details on quality and delivery requirements for wood fuels to larger scale industrial heat and energy plant users will be discussed.
Further details will follow but early information including the planned programme can now be found on the event website, www.woodresidues.events
The manufacturing skills pipeline – broken but repairableCompanies, educational institutions, communities and non-profits must come together to raise awareness and create innovative career on-ramps.
Despite US manufacturing activity hitting a 37-year-high this spring, half a million factory jobs remain unfilled. The talent gap, which has plagued goods producers for over a decade, continues to hold back not only the industry’s growth, but our entire economy’s: A recent report suggested it could shortchange GDP by up to US$1 trillion by 2030. In Northeast Ohio, it’s estimated that simply filling the 8,000 manufacturing jobs now open would boost the region’s economy by US$5 billion annually.
Unwarranted fears that automatons will take our jobs, a misperception of factories as dark and dangerous, memories of mass layoffs in the ‘70s and ‘80s—all of this obscures the truth, which is that advanced manufacturing jobs offer a world of opportunity in everything from robotics to blockchain to artificial intelligence, and an average salary of more than US$75,000 a year.
So, what’s stopping manufacturing decision-makers from fixing the talent gap and seizing all this potential at the very moment we need to the most?
Another future for Tasmania's eucalyptus nitens?If you travel the back roads of Tasmania, you'll likely pass thousands upon thousands of eucalyptus nitens growing in neat rows. Many of these plantations were established to feed domestic pulp mills, but as those projects disappeared, so changed the fate of these skinny, grey gums.
Today, much of the around 210,000 hectares of nitens growing across Tasmania are routinely cut down, chipped up and shipped to Asia. And while there was a considerable international market for pulpwood, PhD researcher Michelle Balasso believed there might be an alternative.
"There's a lot of forest resources that are undervalued," she said. "Moving forward to a market where structural timber is most required, we need to investigate how we can get some of those products out of the sustainably grown plantations."
The fast-growing and frost-resistant nature of nitens made them an attractive option for plantations, however, the timber is riddled with knots and the strength can vary greatly from tree to tree. But pockets of construction-grade nitens are growing in Tasmania's plantations and through research with the ARC Centre of Forest Value, Ms Balasso set about finding them.
Her PhD involved shooting sound waves into the trees to test their quality and investigating what factors helped nitens grow into construction-grade material. The research attracted the attention of Tasmania's largest private plantation owner, Forico, which now employs Ms Balasso as a project officer.
Photo: A eucalyptus nitens plantation being harvested by Forico near Surrey Hills, north of Burnie, ABC Rural: Lachlan Bennett
Source: ABC Rural
Just Published: Chain of Custody CertificationIn September 2021 Responsible Wood published the latest version of the AS 4707 standards for chain of custody. Click here to download the standard.
Reviewed by Responsible Wood every five years, the standard was approved for publication following review by the AS 4707 standards reference committee and working group chaired by Peter Zed.
Businesses that achieve AS 4707 chain of custody certification are able to identify and provide Responsible Wood and/or PEFC certified wood or wood products. Customers of these businesses can reward and encourage good forest management by demanding products from certified forests and suppliers rather than other sources.
“With more than 300 chain-of-custody certified companies in Australia, the AS 4707 standard has a tremendous impact on internal management processes of businesses along the timber value chain,” Responsible Wood CEO Simon Dorries said.
“The standard provides organisations in the wood or forest products certification chain with the minimum criteria and requirements to implement a credible system,” he said. “The standard incorporates the latest knowledge, best practices, and evolving stakeholder expectations.”
Mr Dorries said the system tracked wood or forest products originating from Responsible Wood-certified forests through all phases of ownership, transportation, and manufacturing to the end consumer.
Sustainability teams need forestry expertsSoon after a tech company announced its ambition to become carbon neutral, a senior executive from its sustainability department called one of us for advice on developing and implementing a well-rounded nature-based solutions strategy.
In their own words, "… we see a lot of corporations handwaving at nature-based solutions, but we want to develop a truly impactful and robust nature-based solutions strategy. Unfortunately, however, we do not have in-house expertise in our sustainability team who can craft novel and effective initiatives."
Of course, these remarks come from a single company, but this lack of nature-based solutions expertise is not unique; it is a pervasive phenomenon. Unless it is a natural resource sector company (forestry and agriculture sector companies), the likelihood of in-house expertise in nature-based solutions is indeed slim.
Nature-based solutions harness the power of functional ecosystems to mitigate climate change. Sustainability efforts of companies in natural resource sectors, agriculture and forestry, are inherently tied to nature-based solutions.
For example, commonly adopted sustainability practices of forestry and food companies such as selective harvesting, growing native species, minimizing soil disturbance and promoting regenerative agriculture are all nature-based solutions. These ecologically responsible forest and agricultural practices provide twin benefits: They reduce CO2 emissions associated with agriculture and forestry operations and enhance the capacity of soils and forest ecosystems to store CO2.
Notably, these nature-based sustainability practices are tied to the core operations of natural resource companies. So, these companies often have nature-based solutions experts who can carefully craft effective projects.
For companies outside natural resource sectors — be it a tech company, an automobile manufacturer, a drugmaker — the situation is quite different. Nature-based initiatives are not tied to their core operations. So, even when they adopt such initiatives to bolster their sustainability efforts, they typically take a minimalistic approach.
This often results in an arm’s length engagement, that is, purchasing carbon credits from a seller on the offset market. At best, this passive approach precludes companies from harnessing the full potential of nature-based solutions, and at worst it can have negative ramifications. We feel that companies must take the following three steps for a fuller and deeper engagement with nature-based solutions.
WA sawmills devastated by Government decisionParkside Group entered the Western Australian timber industry in late 2019 by purchasing the sawmilling assets from Brickworks. If Parkside Group did not proceed with the purchase, then Brickworks were going to make all remaining employees redundant and close the businesses.
Since acquiring the business, Parkside Group have invested AU$54.4 million to date and employed over 160 employees to re-establish Greenbushes as a specialist Karri sawmill and Nannup as a specialist Jarrah sawmill. The Manjimup site has been rebuilt as a specialist processing centre with AU$12 million invested since January 2021 in the latest technology in the world and will be operational in 4 weeks’ time.
Over the last two years, the Parkside Group have been encouraged by the Premier, Minister and local Mayors to continue development of the business into a world-class milling centre. The Parkside Board subsequently approved additional capital improvements to the WA businesses which would see a total investment of AU$103.2 million with a requested contribution of AU$25.8 million from the WA Government.
The outcome would mean 720 full time jobs in WA and an internationally competitive business in south west WA supporting local communities. Parkside Group understands the need to protect bio-diversity and ecological values of the forests. Parkside Group was attracted to invest in the Western Australian timber industry due to the world class sustainable logging practices adopted by the Western Australian Government.
The announcement by the Minister on the 8th September 2021 regarding the closure of Native Forest Harvesting in 2024 came as a complete surprise to Parkside Group, and it is extremely disappointing to Parkside Group, our employees and contractors. Parkside Group will continue operating business as usual as we await further details from the WA Government. The announcement has devastated the Parkside Group employees and the communities we work in.
Robert Tapiolas, Director, Parkside Group
Another timber company in Western Australia’s south is also concerned. Redmond Sawmill, north of Albany, has been processing hardwood timber of jarrah and karri for over twenty years to local, national, and overseas customers. Their most recent AU$5 million upgrade to its mill in late 2019 has left the company in major financial difficulty following the government's snap decision to ban hardwood logging. Managing director Corey Matters, who took over the business in 2015, said the upgrade will cost the business significant capital loss. "We will not get to see the benefit of that investment, if we have to pack up; it's going to be a AU$10-12 million capital loss for sure," he said. "We had no idea this ban was coming." More >>
Source: Parkside Group, ABC
Free US$43m high-resolution imagery now availableIn September 2020, the Norwegian Government announced a contract providing public access to high-resolution satellite imagery of tropical forests.
Never has the public had open access to satellite imagery with such high spatial and temporal resolution. But what does this data windfall mean for forest monitoring? How will it contribute to our goals of reducing tropical deforestation and restoring forest landscapes?
Under this new contract, the earth imaging company Planet will provide free public access to 5-metre resolution satellite imagery covering the entire tropical forest region, to be updated monthly. Any person can view the mosaics—compilations of the clearest images taken the previous month— via websites like Global Forest Watch(GFW). More technically inclined users can download the data directly from Planet to conduct analyses and create derivative map products.
The contract is valued at US$43 million and is secured for a two-year period, with the possibility of extension for an additional two years. Existing forest monitoring systems, GFW included, rely primarily on freely available medium-resolution imagery (10-30 meter pixels) from NASA’s Landsat or the European Space Agency’s Sentinel programs. At this scale, we can detect with reasonable accuracy where forests are cleared, and— over longer time periods— where forests have grown back.
Landsat captures a complete picture of the Earth every eight days, although it may take many months or even years to capture a usable image in areas with high cloud cover, including many tropical rainforests.
At 5-meter resolution, we can see changes in forests on the scale of a single tree. Furthermore, Planet’s constellation of over 150 microsatellites image the entire Earth daily, which significantly increases the odds of capturing cloud-free images every month.
Imagery can be viewed on Global Forest Watch or be downloaded here.
Funding for new waste-to-building productNew Zealand company saveBOARD has received an AU$1.74 million grant from the Australian and New South Wales Governments towards setting up an AU$5 million facility that will turn packaging waste into high performance building material.
Australian builders will then be able to replace plywood, particle board and plaster board, with low carbon, environmentally sustainable construction boards made from packaging waste such as used beverage cartons and coffee cups.
saveBOARD has the Asian Pacific distribution rights for waste-to-building material technology developed in the United States where it has been widely used for more than a decade. saveBOARD has established a plant at Te Rapa near Hamilton that is recycling post-production industrial packaging waste from Fonterra and Frucor into construction boards that can be ordered now for December 2021 delivery.
The Australian and NSW Governments and the companies behind the NSW project expect the facility will create confidence in a new market for recycled construction materials, similar to roads made from recycled glass, and enable more packaging to become 100 per cent recyclable, in line with national packaging targets.
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) says this is a fantastic step forward for beverage cartons and for the brands and consumers that use this important type of packaging. “It is great to see this level of collaboration across the entire supply chain, addressing post-consumer materials by putting in place effective local end-market solutions,” says Brooke Donnelly, APCO CEO.
The project is the first collaboration between Tetra Pak and SIG Combibloc in Australia under the umbrella of the Global Recycling Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (GRACE) and is a joint initiative with saveBOARD and its supporters Freightways and Closed Loop.
The first Australian saveBOARD plant will reprocess liquid paperboard beverage containers, including both aluminium-lined aseptic packages and non-aluminium- lined containers collected through the container deposit scheme and coffee cups collected through the 'Simply Cups' recycling programme. It will also source material from document recycling company Shred-X.
Together with supplementary material from industrial processes, these items will be used to manufacture high performance low carbon building products to substitute plaster board, particle board, and oriented strand board (OSB) that can be used for interior and exterior applications.
The saveBOARD process uses heat and compression to bond materials, eliminating the need for glues or other chemical additives, to produce a clean product with zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs), suitable for use in homes and commercial buildings.
Strategies to do more with forestry dataWith forestry planning and supply chain management powered by data intelligence, there is a rare opportunity to optimize almost every aspect of forestry operations. In this article, we look at five strategies to leverage digital intelligence and do more with more data.
Digital transformation is bringing data-driven strategies to the board room, forest, and factory floor. The advantages inherent in smart technologies like cloud computing, analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence have been proven across every industry and forestry is no exception.
Forestry is a messy business that may seem digitally intractable, but today’s tools thrive in complexity, and digital initiatives are gaining traction. According to an Accenture survey of forestry executives, most have plans to accelerate their digital strategies. These investments are ever more focused on intelligence technologies that can help them maximize the value of their data, and the potential of these technologies is only beginning to be tapped.
The change happening in forestry through data-enabled AI and analytics has been likened by McKinsey and Company to the previous century’s doubling in productivity from the advent of chainsaws and motorized fellers.
In their analysis of the data opportunity, McKinsey dubbed data the “ next wave in forestry productivity” and highlighted that even the most advanced companies in the sector still have room to make further gains by doing more with more data.
A shift in the way we think about forestry is underway, and the innovators are mapping out the new terrain of improved performance, efficiency, productivity, and planning. Before long, forestry companies will be looking back at the time before data technologies the same way they look back today at the pre-chainsaw era.
Let’s take a look at the five strategies enabling forestry companies to leverage digital intelligence and do more with more data.
Source & Photo: Remsoft
East coast log train schedule increasedGrowing demand to get Hawkes Bay logs to port will see KiwiRail increase its log trains so they run every weekday, KiwiRail Chief Operating Officer Todd Moyle says. The NZ Government invested NZ$6.2 million to re-open the weather-damaged Napier to Wairoa rail line, with log trains running on weekends since late 2019. The trains run from a log hub in Wairoa to the Port of Napier.
From Monday, 4 October KiwiRail will begin running log services every weekday (Monday – Friday). “Our log trains have become a vital link in the region’s forestry supply chain, helping reduce the number of heavy log trucks on regional roads that were never designed for them,” Mr Moyle says.
“Harvest volumes in the Hawke’s Bay region are predicted to exceed 4 million tonnes per annum over the next five years, so there is a clear demand for rail. With harvests now beginning in more forests around Wairoa, our log trains are really coming into their own”.
“Each weekday service will consist of around 23 wagons. Over the course of a year, that’s removing the need for more than 10,000 truck movements - reducing congestion, road maintenance costs and improving road safety between Wairoa and Napier. “Given trains have 70 percent fewer carbon emissions per tonne carried compared with road, we are also doing more to reduce transport emissions.”
NZ firefighting restructure finalisedFire and Emergency New Zealand has reached a significant milestone as New Zealand’s first unified firefighting organisation.
27 September 2021 marks the stand-up of 17 new Districts, replacing an historic split where there were 24 urban areas and 18 rural fire districts across the country. Chief Executive Rhys Jones says Fire and Emergency New Zealand was established in 2017 and bringing together over 40 rural and urban fire services and 14,000 people has been a huge job.
"But getting all the different firefighting set ups working together as one national organisation has been necessary," Rhys Jones says. "Our structural changes are about building a unified national emergency management organisation to meet the changing risks communities face across both the built and natural environments," he says.
Prior to the new structure announced this week, Fire and Emergency maintained a similar leadership structure to the organisations that preceded it. Area managers led urban focused brigades and stations, and principal rural fire officers led rurally focused brigades. Under the new structure, all brigades and stations will sit together under their respective newly appointed District managers.
National Commander Kerry Gregory says Fire and Emergency’s work goes a lot further than putting out fires and the new teams will reflect its wider remit.
‘Emotional stress' and pressure over forestry land salesA Wairarapa farmer Steve Thomson says selling his sheep and beef station to forestry three years ago was a difficult decision but he had struggled for two years to sell to other farmers. Tensions around the issue of farms converting to forestry across New Zealand been increasing because of the impact it could have on rural communities. But most see the problem as stemming from Government policy rather than greed, farmers say.
Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said there was no transparency about how much farm land was going to forestry because only the current land use is recorded at the time of the sale. Thomson said after selling Bushgrove, on one occasion he was criticised by some farmers at a pub, but later received a number of calls from people who said he didn’t deserve it.
Thomson had batted off three forestry companies because he wanted to sell to other farmers. But two groups of farmers had pulled out at the last minute.“I definitely didn’t want to sell to forestry, but when the second lot pulled out, at that stage farming wasn’t that flash and we were concerned about further droughts. I think that the fact that we struggled to sell it to another farmer tells you a bit about the farm.”
Thomson had farmed the land for 38 years and was keen to get out. “It was more hard country than easy country. And our son had told us prior to that, that he didn’t want to farm it and our daughter kept saying ’just get out’.” Sheep and beef farmer and Federated Farmers forestry spokesman William Beetham, said farmers who sold land to investors for forestry conversions often found the decision an agonising dilemma that pitted financial benefit against the social fabric of rural life.
What was often forgotten was that the farmer often had to consider the interests of a wide range of people, including the beneficiaries of family trusts, who might not be as connected to the land, Beetham said.
Carbon offsets being chased by asset managersAsset managers that own forests logged for timber are expecting a jump in returns through a boom in the sale of units linked to the carbon stored in trees that are used to meet climate change targets.
Managers including Manulife, Gresham House and JPMorgan are among those that have moved this year to launch or grow a business around forestry offsets that are being sought after by organisations looking to compensate for their greenhouse gas emissions. An offset is supposed to represent a tonne of carbon that has been permanently avoided or removed from the atmosphere.
Olly Hughes, managing director of forestry at specialist asset manager Gresham House, said the sale of carbon offsets could add about 1 per cent to net nominal returns from managed forests, which was “significant”. This income would provide an interim revenue stream while young trees were growing, he added.
JPMorgan Asset Management bought forest investment company Campbell Global in June for an undisclosed sum in a bid to “become an active participant in carbon offset markets”. The Portland-based Campbell had $5.3bn in assets and about 700,000 hectares under management.
Demand could push offset prices to $20-$50 per tonne of carbon by 2030, according to forecasts from specialist data group Trove Research, compared with less than $5 that many command today. Several investment managers said the interest in carbon offset projects was driving up land prices in countries including the UK and New Zealand.
“This whole climate finance area is creating an evolution in the forestry asset class,” said David Brand, founder of forestry investment manager New Forests, based in Sydney. The sale of offsets generated by certain of its US forests could add 200-400 basis points to the returns from timber, he said.
Source: FT, californiannewstimes
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... the bell ringers
After Quasimodo's death, the bishop of the Cathedral of Notre Dame sent word through the streets of Paris that a new bell ringer was needed.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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