Friday Offcuts – 10 December 2021

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With expectations that La Niña this year is going to become the dominant climate driver during the upcoming fire season, we’ve included this week results from some comprehensive research, the first of its kind, from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO. Although eight drivers of fire activity have been identified, it shows that climate change has been the driving force behind significant increases in forest fire activity in Australia over the last three decades. And from New Zealand, the NZIF points out that rather than pin it all on climate change, that some of these other factors resulting in unwanted rural fires need to be addressed. One of these, already hotly debated by Australia’s forest and land managers, has been changing land use patterns. In New Zealand, fuel loadings and the spread of wildling pines have increased significantly in recent years. As a consequence, the Institute in a media statement this week is calling for current Crown land management policies to be re-examined to improve fire prevention.

In last week’s issue we provided a link to recent research undertaken by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. It reinforced the fact that engineered timber can significantly cut carbon emissions in the building and construction sector. Building with timber they estimated was able to reduce embodied carbon by a staggering 75 per cent. Another study using the Clearwater Quays apartments in Christchurch draws similar conclusions. Using wood in place of concrete and steel to build this new five-storey building has been able to remove over a million kg of carbon dioxide from the environment. As well as the environmental benefits, the use of offsite manufactured mass timber components for this job also provided a much quicker and less costly build. The NZ case study can be viewed now on the Mid-Rise Wood Construction website.

We’ve also included several stories this week on local students who’re making forestry their future career choice. A Gisborne student has just won a NZ$32,000 scholarship to pursue her dream of becoming the first female forester in her family. Like her father, Phoebe Naske is pursuing a Bachelor of Forestry Science next year at the University of Canterbury. Also, off to study forestry next year is Hayden Bartlett who’s just picked up a Northpine scholarship at last week’s Northland Forestry Awards. And forestry student Liam Gilroy, a Bachelor of Forest Engineering student in his final year, has been able to put his NZ$6000 scholarship to good use to complete his end of course dissertation. He used satellite imagery to remotely monitor turbidity levels in rivers and tributaries for his studies to help out with Waikato Regional Council’s River and catchment management.

And finally, hats off to all of our Wood Councils, both in New Zealand and the Green Triangle region of Australia. Most of them have been hard hit this year having cancelled or postponed the industry’s annual major awards evenings. For some, it’s been the second year in a row. For all though, major sponsors and supporters have generously stayed with the programmes with the intention that once the impact of Covid diminishes, the annual awards celebrating local business and forestry training achievements will be back – bigger and better than before. Northland, after cancelling their event last year decided that this year that they’d switch instead to a virtual platform rather than let Covid cancel the awards evening for yet another year. Congratulations to all involved and to those who were recognised with major awards that were presented last Friday. And, that’s it for this week.

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NZ forestry contractors feeling the pinch

NZ forestry contractors are bracing for a tough summer as they wait for log prices to recover and harvesting to regain momentum. A recent survey of Forest Industry Contractors Association members found only about 35 percent were operating business as usual.

Prices were at near record levels earlier in 2021, but last month sunk to lows not seen since late 2015. As a result, the amount of logs heading to ports had slowed significantly, with many harvesting crews being told to work at a reduced capacity, or down tools.

China is New Zealand's largest overseas market for logs, accounting for about 70-90 percent of exports. The Forest Owners Association president Phil Taylor said a "perfect storm" had caused the sudden drop in prices. This included reduced processing capacity at sawmills in China and significant increases in shipping costs.

"International shipping at the moment has been significantly disrupted... basically everything is being impacted," Taylor said. Phil Taylor said the situation was very fluid, but it anticipated the low prices would carry through into the first quarter of next year.

He said its biggest concern was the impact lower rates of harvesting had on logging and trucking contractors. "Obviously they need to keep busy, they've got a lot of money invested in capital," he said.

The Forest Industry Contractors Association president Prue Younger said a recent survey of members found only about 35 percent were operating business as usual. Younger said there was support available, including through regional Ministry of Social Development (MSD) offices.

"As an organisation we're doing as much as we can to get them some support with MSD and subsidies... and also looking at other industries they might be able to move their crews onto like horticulture, maybe viticulture."

Source: RNZ

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ForestTECH 2021-22 interest ramping up

Every year one major forest technology series is run in this region. It’s designed by and for Australasian forestry resource managers, inventory foresters, researchers and tech developers. It’s the one event every year where remote sensing, GIS, mapping and forest inventory specialists, and for the first-time last year, tree crop and silvicultural managers - get-together.

It’s independent. It’s run by this region’s leading forestry technology events company, the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA). With lockdowns and restrictions forced on all of us by Covid-19, as reported in mid-October, rather than cancelling the event or rolling it over to the back end of 2022, it was decided instead to postpone it for just a few months.

With the rules now in New Zealand re events attendance and vaccination rates right up where the Government has been aiming, the timing for late February next year is again attracting keen interest from across the industry and adding to the many physical and virtual registrations that had already been received for this major forest technology update.

The format for the annual technology series that’s been run in both countries since 2007 has been slightly modified. The format again will enable planning with some degree of certainty for ForestTECH 2021-22 delegates, presenters and exhibitors.

So, what’s the format?

1. One location. Like 2020, the physical event (on-site presentations, exhibitions and workshops) will again be run in just one location this year, Rotorua, New Zealand.

2. Live links from the New Zealand event have been set up for those unable to travel into Rotorua. The live virtual linkage is going to ensure international delegates can still actively be involved early next year. The last time the event ran, in November 2020, a record number of international delegates from over 20 countries were able to pick up this option. On-line questions from virtual conference delegates will be able to be made to all presenters - live.

3. Two distinct themes. This was trialed in 2020 for the first time. Overwhelmingly the written feedback told us to keep with this same split in focus for the next event. In addition to the usual technology updates on remote sensing, new data collection technologies and forest inventory management, a second day will be focussing on mechanised planting and automated silviculture. European technologies are already well advanced and have been trialed and used commercially on flatter terrain by larger forestry companies in both New Zealand and Australia.

4. Increased international involvement. In addition to New Zealand presenters, key technology presenters and forest companies from Canada, Finland, Germany, South Africa, Chile and Australia will all be presenting at ForestTECH 2021-22.

5. Additional half-day workshops. Three additional half-day pre-conference workshops for those delegates attending Rotorua have been set up for delegates. Details on each are contained on the website.

Note: Programme details and further information can be found on the event website.

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Study on ending native forest harvesting questioned

A study by Frontier Economics and Professor Andrew Macintosh, from the Australian National University, estimates that NSW taxpayers would be better off by approximately AU$62 million over the next 30 years if harvesting of native timber was stopped.

Professor Macintosh said the study showed native forests in the state's south-east would be better left untouched and believed one of the major benefits would be carbon abatement. "One of those benefits is the possibility of putting some of the money associated with carbon credits, if they are sold, into supporting the expansion of the plantation estate," he said.

"There is a great demand for plantation wood at the moment, so putting some of those resources into subsiding the expansion of the plantation estate would provide employment for the region." The study weighs up the economic, social and environmental benefits of ending logging against Forestry Corporation profits and local employment.

Other states are already making a move away from logging — Western Australia is set to ban native forest logging under a state budget plan unveiled in September and Victoria will phase the practice out over the next decade. Professor Macintosh said that was not surprising.

"State forest agencies across the nation haven't really turned much of a profit – if a profit at all – since about 2010," he said. "I think in the most recent years you're talking about a couple of hundred thousand dollars' profit."

Claim numbers 'undercooked'

Former Institute of Foresters president Rob de Fegely said Professor Macintosh's report was not particularly "well founded" or "well researched. It would appear from reading that report that he's certainly not trained in forestry or forest management," Mr de Fegely said. "So, he makes some basic mistakes in how they've undertaken the analysis."

More >>

A link to the study can be found here.

Further coverage on this story can be read here.

Commentary by the South East Timber Association on key elements of the ANU law Professor Andrew Macintosh and Frontier Economics report is also attached here for your information.

Source: SMH, SETA

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2021 Northland Forestry Award winners announced

Diversity, strength and professionalism all came to the fore in the 2021 Northland Forestry Awards which saw a very colourful James Wilson (photo) walk off with the top award as the Skilled Professional of the Year.

James, a breaker out for Rosewarne Contracting who is better known as JDubb Yo who loves nothing more than to spread positive vibes through the industry, also won the Breaker Out Excellence Award. He was a unanimous choice from judges Nick Jessop, Brett Gilmore and Mandie Skipps who were impressed with the calibre shown amongst a solid number of nominations this year.

Judges described James as an “amazing professional bushman” who was humble with an incredibly high work standard and someone who was always focused on health and safety. He had done plenty of good for the wider industry and had led his team through some of the toughest country in Northland keeping them all safe and morale high. He had initially contemplated a career as an engineer but soon changed his mind and followed in the footsteps of his father into forestry.

It was a great award for Rosewarne Contracting with Scott Ringrose also winning the Harvesting Excellence crown with the other awards well spread across the region. Judges were excited to see an exceptional number of wood processing nominations and tipped their hats to the women in forestry, saying some had to overcome a few extra challenges to do their job.

Leevon (Libby) Popata from Mold Logging Ltd won the hotly contested category. Libby was described as a woman with a real “can-do” attitude who balanced a busy home life with her work. From modest beginnings, she has achieved notable success through hard work and training. As a foreman on a high production ground-based harvesting crew, Libby has transformed the culture within. Those who work with her say she has reignited the fun in their work.

The Sullivan Family from Forest Protection Services won the Forestry Family of the Year Award. They are celebrated as a family whose strong desire to do things differently has been the driver behind their success in the industry. They have faced many a challenge that has seen the family become even more committed to the industry with the second generation now well entrenched in the business. Family is at the heart of this business and those who have hired the company describe them as “just amazing”. Forestry Protection Services also won the Contractor of the Year Award.

Judges also said how great it was to see high performing operators being mentors who would only strengthen the industry for the future. Northpine also put up their educational scholarship once more and the recipient Hayden Bartlett from Bream Bay College was successfully awarded, setting him up with funding to study the Bachelor of Forestry Science programme at UC.

The awards were cancelled last year due to COVID and this year were postponed and then moved to a virtual platform, with comedian Jeremy Corbett hosting the on-line event on Friday December 3. The awards were established in 2016 and are a true celebration of a key industry that makes an impressive economic contribution to the region.

Andrew Widdowson, chair of the Northland Health and Safety Group and Wood Council thanked the 2021 judges for their time. “This is a really fantastic judging panel,” he said. “It is such an important element to the whole forestry awards model and programme.”

A full list of 2021 award winners can be found here.

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Genesis to begin biomass trial

Genesis Energy have announced that they will trial burning wood pellets instead of coal in the Huntley Power Station to see how well it works. There are not only technical issues to see how much biomass is needed to fire up the generators, but also biomass fuel supply-chain issues.

Genesis CEO has said that the wood has to be sourced from regenerative forestry. Genesis advised that finding new fuel for Huntly is key to extending its future, and its proximity to Auckland makes its geographical location important.

Genesis is talking to the government's NZ Battery Project team about the part Huntly could play to solve the ‘dry year’ problem the country will increasingly face as it tries to remove thermal electricity generation from the system.

The use of biomass for electricity generation is not new. In the UK, power company Drax is using wood pellets in some of its coal generation.

Source: BANZ

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Record profits for European & North American sawmills

Sawmills in Europe and North America enjoyed record profits during the first half of 2021, but fell in the 3Q when lumber prices plunged.

Sawmill profits in North America and Europe continued to rise in the spring and early summer of 2021, surging to all-time highs on both continents. With lumber prices reaching unprecedented levels and costs for sawlogs moving up relatively less, profits for sawmills reached record highs in the 2Q/21. The gross margins, defined as the margin between lumber prices and net wood costs, were by far the highest in most regions covered by the WRQ since it started tracking quarterly sawmill profits in 2005.

The surprisingly strong demand for lumber and high operating rates at lumber manufacturers resulted in increased costs for sawlogs during the past year, with some of the most significant increases occurring in western Canada, the Nordic countries, and Central Europe.

Despite the higher production costs, the gross margins more than doubled in Europe and tripled in North America over the past year. However, in July and August 2021, margins fell substantially because of plunging lumber prices, while sawlog costs saw smaller price adjustments. As a result, many sawmills reduced operating rates in Western Canada and North Western US, where the revenues from lumber sales infrequently did not cover the cash costs.

In the US South, gross margins also fell as lumber prices crashed, but thanks to low sawlog costs, sawmills were still running at profitable levels into the 3Q/21. As a result, the estimated gross margins in August were noticeably higher than the average over the past decade.

Profit levels for sawmills in the Nordic countries have also increased in the past year, although at a slower pace than in Canada and the US. Higher revenues for lumber and by-products more than compensated for recent increases in the costs for sawlogs in both Finland and Sweden in the 2Q/21. This positive development resulted in gross margins for sawmills in the Nordic countries hitting their highest levels in over 15 years.

Swedish lumber companies have seen their profits rise faster than their Finnish competitors. They have benefited from lower sawlog costs than lumber mills in Finland and have had a higher share of lumber shipments to high-paying markets, including the US, Norway, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Some of the major destinations for Finnish lumber have been lower-cost markets such as the MENA region and China.

Source: Wood Resources International LLC

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New Biomass Carbon Monitor launched

The Biomass Carbon Monitor provides global maps of annual change in carbon stocks held in forest biomass

Forests and vegetation play a major role in removing CO2 from the atmosphere. The Biomass Carbon Monitor, just launched, is the first geospatial platform to provide information about regional biomass carbon changes, which can be used as to track net gains and losses from forest policies.

The carbon stocks are derived from vegetation optical depth measurements from the European Space Agency (ESA) SMOS satellite (L-band VOD) and a map of above ground biomass from the ESA GlobBiomass project. Provided at 25x25km resolution, going back to 2011, the data will be updated on a quarterly basis.

The new platform aims to provide governments, forest managers, conservation agencies and citizens with science-based information to continuously track changes in forest-based carbon stocks and assess the carbon losses from extreme climate events in near-real time.

It was developed by Kayrros, in collaboration with the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE) and the French Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences (LSCE). The products have been used in the ESA CCI RECCAP-2 project, which supports and accelerates the analysis of regional carbon budgets based on the results of data-driven models and process-oriented Global Dynamic Vegetation Models. They have also been used in the ESA CCI Biomass project.

"This is a revolutionary tool that complements existing inventories and space observations with comprehensive information on how biomass carbon stocks are changing over time,” said Philippe Ciais, Research Director at the LSCE, and science lead for the RECCAP-2 project.

“These data, combined with information on the drivers of biomass variations such as fires, land use change, forest management and regional climate trends, will provide the scientific community and decision-makers with brand new insights and resources about the dynamic of carbon in forests,” concludes Jean-Pierre Wigneron, Research Director at INRAE, which created the Vegetation Optical Depth datasets used to quantify biomass carbon change.

ESA's Climate Change Initiative (CCI) aims to increase the availability and use of global, satellite-based Earth observation data for decision-making. The research programme was launched in response to UNFCCC requirements for systematic monitoring of the climate system. It is developing a suite of 23 global data records of key components of the climate system, known as Essential Climate Variables (ECVs).

The ECVs released by ESA CCI include long-term global datasets for fire, land cover and soil moisture, and are a major contribution to the evidence base used to understand climate change, which drives international action.


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Review of land management practices called for

Commercial forests and climate change are regularly cited as contributors to an increase in unwanted rural fires in New Zealand. However, evidence suggests other factors are exacerbating the causes and impacts of fires. The New Zealand Institute of Forestry is concerned. It is calling for current Crown land management policies to be re-examined to improve prevention rather than cure.

For the past decade throughout New Zealand, significant unwanted fires have originated beyond forests, but impacted our forest lands. Examples include the 2017 Christchurch Port Hills fires (suspected cause being ignition by powerlines) and in 2019, the Pigeon Valley fire in Tasman district (started on farmland by cultivation activities in extreme fire hazard conditions) which spread to an adjacent commercial forest.

In October 2020, the Lake Ohau fire’s suspected cause of ignition was powerlines again. This fire spread into areas of unmanaged wilding pine. In August 2020, Lake Pukaki region saw a fire spread to unmanaged wilding pines – that fire originated from a campfire.

A 2020 research project assessed New Zealand’s historical fire weather behaviour indices (such as fire rate of spread, drought levels and fuel available to burn). It found these had barely changed over the last four decades. But the management of land use has changed. For example, in the Lake Ohau and Lake Pukaki areas wilding pines are well established.

Other examples of changes to land use include the removal of grazing from tussock grasslands in Central Otago and inland Canterbury. Fuel loadings on tussock grassland have increased, as lands under tenure review have been retired from grazing. One such example is the 2019 Te Papanui Conservation Park near Middlemarch, where more than 5,000 hectares of tussock grasslands were burnt.

Unlike other countries, the Department of Conservation has no plans to reduce fuel loadings on the Crown tussock grasslands through controlled burns. Following the extreme 2019/20 bush fires in Australia, an official inquiry received submissions. Australia’s Institute of Foresters submission pointed to the misguided focus of fire suppression strategies.

New Zealand’s Institute of Forestry concurs with the Australian Institute’s view: it’s about greater prevention efforts. President James Treadwell says “We believe New Zealand must focus on reducing the incidence and impacts of unwanted fire through better land management practices. Changes like fuel reduction burning, restrictions or prohibition of high-risk activities during very high or extreme fire danger periods, and further research to support a science-based approach to risk reduction and readiness, will get better results.”

Until the increased exposure to unwanted fires in the forest and rural landscape is minimised through better land management practices, New Zealand will continue to see a build-up of fuel loadings in the hill and high-country landscape. Unwanted fires will continue to damage our rural landscape and be costly to extinguish. A review in land management practices is urgently required.

Source: NZIF

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Student keen on making mark in forestry sector

A Gisborne student has won a NZ$32,000 scholarship to pursue her dream of becoming the first female forester in her family.

“I have always been passionate about the environment but you don’t see a lot of female participation in this industry. That’s why I want to make a mark,” Gisborne Girls’ High School’s Phoebe Naske said.

Like her father, she is pursuing a Bachelor of Forestry Science at the University of Canterbury. Her dad loved the idea of Phoebe doing the course and getting a “hands-on” understanding of the industry just like he and Phoebe’s uncle did. “He keeps telling me stories about the field trips during his time at university,” she said.

Phoebe’s parents were advocates for experiencing what the outdoors has to offer, and Phoebe has fond memories of hiking with her dad. She was also lucky enough to go on an Outward Bound experience in Anakiwa last year. “That’s probably where my interest for forestry comes from,” she said.

Phoebe said she learned about the scholarship through an online course organised by GirlBoss — an initiative that creates programmes for a network of high schoolers. “My mum shared the Facebook link to the course with me and I took up the programme relating to the primary industry,” she said. After the course she was given the opportunity to speak with mentors from the agriculture and forestry industries.

“That’s how I got to know about the scholarship,” she said. The scholarship programme, now in its fourth year, aims to increase the number of those that identify as female or of Māori descent, encouraging greater diversity in the industry.

She is hopeful that becoming a forester would encourage her younger sister to pursue a career which lacks a female presence. “It is important to see other women and people of Māori descent joining this industry to have more inclusivity,” she said.

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Source: Gisborne Herald

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11 million trees start their journey in Blowering

On the back of a record 2021 planting season, Forestry Corporation of NSW’s 2022 seedling crop is well and truly underway with 11 million radiata pine (Pinus radiata) sown in the organisation’s Blowering nursery. Over the past eight weeks, nursery staff have sown around 300,000 seeds a day to supply the 2022 planting program, said Plantation Improvement Manager Phil Green.

“The process starts in September and moves through cycles of seed stratification, sowing, crop tending, topping, consolidation and ultimately dispatch in the winter months between May and September. All up, 430 kilograms of seed were sown at Blowering nursery this year for the 2022 forestry planting program.”

“We've dispatched more than 70 million containerised seedlings from Blowering nursery over the last 10 years”. Forestry Corporation is the largest producer of plantation-grown radiata pine in Australia, managing more than 240,000 hectares of plantations around the state and producing more than 3.5 million tonnes of timber each year.

Source: FCNSW

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Australia’s forest fires linked to climate change

New research by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, shows climate change has driven a significant increase in Australia’s forest fire activity over the last three decades. A lengthening of the fire season towards Autumn and Winter were also identified, along with an increase in fire activity in cooler and warmer regions including alpine forests in Tasmania and tropical rainforests in Queensland.

The research published in Nature Communications is the first of its kind and combines analysis of previous forest fire sites with eight drivers of fire activity including climate, fuel accumulation, ignition and management (prescribed burning).

Thirty-two years of satellite data and 90 years of ground-based datasets from climate and weather observations, and simulated fuel loads for Australian forests, formed the basis of the research, which allowed researchers to identify climate change driven increases versus natural variability.

CSIRO scientist, Dr Pep Canadell, said the research was one of the most extensive studies of its kind performed to date, and was important for understanding how continued changes to the climate might impact future fire activity.

“While all eight drivers of fire-activity played varying roles in influencing forest fires, climate was the overwhelming factor driving fire-activity,” Dr Canadell said. “The results also suggest the frequency of forest megafires are likely to continue under future projected climate change.”

More >>

Source: CSIRO

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Case Study delivers insights on low carbon building

Building with engineered wood instead of concrete and steel offers a significant win for the environment, a new case study revealed. The study used Clearwater Quays apartments in Christchurch as its test case.

Clearwater Quays is being constructed as a part of Mid-Rise Wood Construction, a public-private programme encouraging the use of New Zealand-engineered timber in mid-rise, prefabricated buildings.

“Calculations show that using wood in place of concrete and steel to build this five-storey building is removing over a million kilograms of carbon dioxide from the environment,” says Barry Lynch, director of Logic Group, and Eoin McLoughlin, senior quantity surveyor for the Clearwater project.

Mr Lynch says carbon calculations for the Clearwater building show its timber construction saved 87,400kg of carbon dioxide (CO2), compared with a CO2 release of 952,600kg if it had been built of concrete, and 794,600kg if built of steel and concrete.

The NZ$3.37m price to design, develop and construct the apartment block would have been NZ$3.89m for concrete construction or NZ$3.59m for steel and concrete. The calculations include financial impacts of construction time and cover the structure, foundations and any aspects that vary based on material choice such as fire and acoustic measures.

“As well as the obvious environmental benefits, the use of offsite manufactured mass timber components is making the Clearwater building quicker and less costly to construct,” says Mr Lynch. “The Clearwater project is supported by MPI as this construction method fits well with the Government’s climate change mitigation targets and forest industry development strategy.”

The Clearwater case study is now available for construction professionals. The project has been deliberately designed to be open source, with all project information being made available to showcase the advantages of the new building materials and methods.

The Clearwater demonstration building is part of the ‘Mid-Rise Wood Construction’ partnership between Red Stag and the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI). The programme aims to accelerate and increase the use of mass timber and prefabrication in a range of public and commercial building types.

Programme projections suggest if engineered timber is widely adopted, this construction method could save the country NZ$330m annually by 2036.

More details, including the Clearwater case study and regular updates are available here.

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Changes for Australian forest reporting?

This ABARES Position Paper identifies drivers for change in the mechanism of forest reporting through Australia’s State of the Forests Report (SOFR), including increasing user expectations for access to current forest data, and access to information and analysis in digital, online formats.

Three major options are then presented to respond to these drivers: status-quo five-yearly reporting; online-only five-yearly reporting; and online-first reporting. The latter option permits a focus on key metrics, data updates at variable frequencies, and the opportunity to highlight key advances as they occur, and would include publication of a five-yearly 'Synthesis Report'. This option is proposed as the approach for Australia’s national forest reporting for 2023 and beyond.

Publication of this Position Paper follows a process of consultation by ABARES with the Montreal Process Implementation Group of Australia (MIG), the National Forest Inventory Steering Committee (NFISC) and other stakeholders, the delivery of a webinar to the Forestry and Forest Products Committee (FFPC) in September 2021, and a presentation at the national conference of the Institute of Foresters of Australia-Australian Forest Growers (now Forestry Australia) in October 2021.

The MIG, NFISC, and FFPC each consist of representatives from state and territory governments and the Australian Government, with the MIG and NFISC reporting to FFPC. The MIG and NFISC are co-authors of Australia's State of the Forests Reports in recognition of the collaborative nature of Australia's national forest reporting.

Download the Position Paper

Source: ABARES

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Forum for Murray Valley region meets

The Murray Valley timber catchment holds great potential for forestry plantation growth and offers a viable solution to shoring up future timber supply for housing and construction following the Black Summer bushfires, according to a professional forum held in the region last month.

Forestry Australia, an independent association of forestry scientists, professionals and growers, convened the forum to discuss how best to maintain and expand forest-based industries in north-east Victoria and the southwest slopes region of NSW.

50 people attended from across the plantation industry, including growers, contractors and large timber processors. The forum considered land access, processing capacity and key risks for the sector in this region. Participants also took part in a field trip to forests in the Myrtleford area for a firsthand look at replanting after the fires, the complexities of salvage harvesting and innovations in harvesting steep slopes that improve environmental outcomes while reducing costs.

Chair of Forestry Australia’s Victorian Division Rod Keenan said the forum highlighted the great potential for plantation growth in the Murray Valley. “Plantation-based timber industry within the region directly provides an estimated AU$540 million per year in value-adding (contribution to Gross Regional Product). These industries are already major contributors to the economy and communities of north-east Victoria, and they offer significant potential for growth,” he said.

“Growing national and global demand for wood products presents one such opportunity, however expansion of the sector is currently limited by availability of timber resources. No new plantations have been established in the region for nearly 30 years and wildfires, including the 2019-20 Black Summer fires, have impacted on short term wood supply capacity.

In order to capitalise on the opportunities in the Murray Valley and counteract the threats, the forum put forward a number recommendations for action by the industry and Victorian and local governments.

Prof. Keenan said the sector had demonstrated considerable resilience following the Black Summer fires, with plantation managers, harvesters, haulers and processors working together to salvage and process an estimated 3.5 million tonnes timber from about 47 000 ha of burnt plantation, over the last 18 months. This salvage process has created new levels of cooperation, new log standards and new market opportunities, in the face of the loss of major export markets.

Source: Forestry Australia

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Scholarship helps forestry student gain honours

Winning Waikato Regional Council’s Roger Harris (Waihou Valley) Scholarship allowed forestry student Liam Gilroy to focus on his research investigating the turbidity levels of rivers and tributaries.

Liam, who has just achieved his Bachelor of Forest Engineering with honours from Canterbury University, was awarded the Roger Harris Scholarship at last week’s Waihou Piako Flood Protection Advisory Subcommittee meeting by Deputy Chair Conall Buchanan.

The former Morrinsville College student said he was grateful for the NZ$6000 scholarship, which he received in September, as it enabled him to stop working part-time in the last term so he could focus on his dissertation to “achieve a greater outcome”.

For his dissertation, Liam used satellite imagery to remotely monitor turbidity levels in rivers and tributaries, something that had only been previously done for larger bodies of water.

Waihou Piako Flood Protection Advisory Subcommittee Chair Stu Husband said Liam was chosen as this year’s scholarship recipient because of his studies in river and catchment management. “Last year, Liam was a summer student with the council’s Asset and Land Licencing Team, completing inspections of our leased land and stopbanks.”

The Roger Harris (Waihou Valley) Scholarship was established in 1995 to mark the substantial completion of the Waihou Valley flood protection scheme and particularly to acknowledge the contribution of the late Roger Harris to the successful implementation of that major project.

The scholarship is available to students undertaking post-secondary study in the fields of civil engineering or resource management, with particular focus on river and catchment management.

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... blokes advice

Dear Walter,

I hope you can help me here. The other day I set off for work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn't gone more than a few hundred yards down the road when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband's help.

When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was parading in front of the wardrobe mirror dressed in my underwear and high-heel shoes, and he was wearing my make up. I am 32, my husband is 34 and we have been married for twelve years. When I confronted him, he tried to make out that he had dressed in my lingerie because he couldn't find his own underwear. But when I asked him about the make up, he broke down and admitted that he'd been wearing my clothes for six months. I told him to stop or I would leave him.

He was let go from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant.

I don't feel I can get through to him anymore. Can you please help?

Mrs. Sheila Uisk

Dear Sheila,

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the jubilee clips holding the vacuum pipes onto the inlet manifold. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburetor float chamber. I hope this helps.


And one from a Kiwi reader. In the old days, the Post Office opened letters to Santa. One Christmas a Postmaster opened a letter that read:

"Dear Santa, My mum is very sick. Please can I have $100 so she can go on a nice holiday. Love Chris, age 8."

The letter touched the Postmaster's heart. A member of Rotary, he happened to have a lunchtime meeting so took the letter with him. After a quick whip around he received $70 in donations.

Although not quite the requested amount, he was sure it was better than nothing so popped around to the return address on the letter.

A young boy answered the door. The Postmaster introduced himself as being from Rotary and handed the boy a letter with $70 telling him that Santa had asked him to deliver it. The boy was very grateful.

However, a week later another letter arrived at the Post Office, again from Chris, age 8.

"Dear Santa, Thank you so much for the $70 to take my Mum on holiday. She was really happy. But next time, please don't send it through the Rotary Club because they stole $30!"

And finally, one more sent in this week by an Australian reader.

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. And, good luck by the way with the Christmas shopping. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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