Friday Offcuts – 21 January 2022

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Welcome back. We trust that your summer break has been a good one, that you’re now recharged, refreshed and reinvigorated for 2022. Come on - it has to be better than 2021 – or the year before that – right? We’re looking forward again to working with you this year. The plan is to continue to bring you the very latest in news as well as insights into innovative technologies that we think may assist you in your own business or operation.

We’ll also continue to provide you with the very latest updates on upcoming events, jobs, tenders and equipment that have been posted during the week. Every week the newsletter stats tell us very clearly, it’s the jobs and classifieds board that’s one of the first links clicked by our readers. It’s still by far the most comprehensive and targeted listing of job vacancies within forestry and wood products companies across Australasia. Of course, any contributions, leads or contacts that you wish to supply during the year for much wider distribution in Friday Offcuts, WoodWeek and our growing communities will be welcomed. Please send them through.

To start this year, we’ve built in a full calendar of 2022 technology events that have been set down to be run in 2022. The first six months of 2022 will be hectic with two major events running early in the year that had to be postponed from late 2021 because of enforced Covid restrictions. At this stage, to the end of March, we have;

ForestTECH 2021- 22 (Note – discounted early bird registrations to this event because of the number of readers still on an extended or deferred summer break has been extended to next Friday, Friday 28 January).

WoodWorks 2021-22

Residues to Revenues 2022, and

DigitalAg 2022

that have been set up to run for forestry and wood products companies from across the region. With a little more certainty around travel, registrations to attend physically in Rotorua to meet up with the wider industry is now back on the agenda. It’s certainly been a while. For those unable to get into New Zealand, virtual remote streaming options have also been set up for you. Check out the programmes and format for each of the events using the links above and we look forward to re-engaging with you (ideally face-to face and over a coffee or a beer as we’ve done in previous years) all in 2022.

And to wrap up the week, a number of major investment and funding announcements were made at the back end of last year. They provided a real shot in the arm for the Australian forest products industry as we start 2022. In wood processing, OneFortyOne announced that over AU$11m is being invested at its Jubilee Sawmill, Mt Gambier over the next two years and Timberlink announced that they're planning to get underway this year with AU$63 million of capital investment that's planned for their Bell Bay Tasmania site. And in industry support, the Federal Government allocated AU$26.2 million of additional funding for forestry R&D and the Victorian Government set aside AU$100 million for those who are going to be affected by the planned phase-out of native forest logging, which is expected to begin in 2024. And that’s it for this week. Back into a new year.

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This week we have for you:

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Addressing climate change - where to from here?

It is an ongoing obstruction. The rigid divide between science and emotion that if not resolved will leave us scratching our heads and unable to move forward on climate change. Following decades of campaigning, the misinformation around Tasmanian forestry has resulted in less investment and less trees in the ground than there could and should be.

The world wants wood! This is undisputed and the demand is growing by the day as outcomes from the COP26 in Glasgow are implemented by governments and industries around the world. Any business that is environmentally conscious is currently looking at how they can replace metals, concrete and plastic from their products, their packaging, and their supply chains to lower their environmental footprint.

And there is one product the world is talking about – wood!

Problem is that past and present politicians and environmental activists have created empires by condemning forestry without considering of the bigger picture. But now, the outcomes from Glasgow and the scientific community have put the environmental politicians squarely on the wrong side of history as they continue to slow progress to real climate action. They will tell you they “support plantation forestry but not native” however as recent letters to the editor prove, this is just political opportunism. They will again as they have done in the past change this stance to ensure political relevance.

We need a diverse forestry industry. Engineered timber products, bio-composite materials, construction grade timbers and ply, dressed timber products and some of the highest quality fibre in the world is coming out of Tasmania.

But to continue to be successful, to continue to be a part of the solution to climate change, these products will always need to come from a variety of tree species. A diversified industry is stronger, more varied, and more able to invent and create the environmentally friendly products of the future.

If you have built a house recently you would know all to well how in demand timber is, all species. Australia imports around 25% of our framing timber simply because we do not grow enough here. To understand why you need to look back fifteen to twenty years, to when these plantation trees needed to go in the ground.

The extreme pressure from the environmental politicians and activists, who were dead against expanding plantation forestry at the time, put downward pressure on plantations and investment. They selfishly politicised plantation forestry to get themselves elected, and we are paying the price for that today.

Now proven wrong about plantation forestry they have other species in their sights, longer growing species that we need in the ground today so that they too will be available in the future.

So where to from here? Well just like the attitude flip on plantation timber from fifteen years ago it is time to accept the fact that sustainable, mixed species forestry is the future, for both people and for the climate.

It’s time we catch up to the rest of the world in understanding and celebrating the benefits of forestry products and appreciate what our local industry produces because it really is the best product on earth and is part of the solution to climate change.

Nick Steel, CEO, Tasmanian Forest Products Association

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1st fully autonomous ship navigation system tested

The Nippon Foundation, Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co have successfully completed a demonstration test of the world's first fully autonomous ship navigation systems on a large car ferry, conducted on the Iyonada Sea from Shinmoji, Kitakyushuu City, on 17 January.

This demonstration was part of MEGURI 2040, a project promoting the development of fully autonomous vessels supported by The Nippon Foundation. This test demonstrated the world's first fully autonomous navigation system, on a 222-meter ferry, with autonomous port berthing and unberthing using turning and reversing movements and high-speed navigation of up to 26 knots.

Other new technologies included in the advanced fully autonomous operation system include sensors to detect other ships using infrared cameras, a remote engine monitoring system, and a sophisticated cyber security system. These advances in fully autonomous ship navigation are seen as a significant step toward safer and more efficient coastal shipping.

Research and development of fully autonomous ship navigation is intended to address maritime issues including crew shortages and accident prevention. This is also expected to become a "future industry" through which Japan can demonstrate to the world its advanced technologies in areas including ICT, AI, and image analysis technology.

The Nippon Foundation launched the MEGURI 2040 fully autonomous ship navigation project in February 2020 through support for five consortia, which will all be conducting demonstration tests to verify their fully autonomous navigation system concepts from January to March 2022.

The demonstration test of the world's first fully autonomous ship navigation systems of the 222-meter smart vessel was conducted on a 240-km route from Shinmoji (Northern Kyushu) to Iyonada, which takes approximately 7 hours, at a maximum speed of 26 knots (approximately 50 km/hour).

The test vessel was equipped with a high-precision sensor image analysis system with infrared cameras that can detect other ships even in darkness, a SUPER BRIDGE-X automated ship navigation system that includes an automated avoidance function, and an advanced automated port berthing/unberthing operation system that can perform turning and reversing movements that are even difficult for manned vessels.

One of the biggest issues of a fully automated vessel is fault prediction, and enhanced engine monitoring technologies that monitor motor conditions are being developed and tested as well.

The project is also developing various other technologies essential to the promotion of fully autonomous navigation, including platforms for advanced data security to protect the navigation data used for onshore monitoring and support.

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AU$100 m for transition from old-growth logging

The Victorian government late last year announced AU$100 million funding boost to workers and communities that may be affected by the planned phase-out of native forest logging, which is scheduled to begin in 2024 and be completed by 2030. The funding will be accompanied this year by new environmental standards for logging in native forests.

The funding is part of the Victorian Forestry Plan, which is designed to help the industry shift entirely to plantation timber by the end of the decade. “The timber industry is changing – this is why we have a substantial financial package ready to support workers and communities, as we move to a new timber future based around plantations,” said Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas.

Source: SMH

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AU$63m for Timberlink’s Tasmanian mill

An AU$63 million capital investment at Bell Bay Tasmania will see an increase of more than fifty percent in on-island sovereign timber manufactured from sustainably managed pine plantations. The project will commence in 2022 with commissioning expected by the end of 2025.

The expansion project installation and construction will be in two stages, from 2022, with full output achieved at the end of 2025. This will include:

• Offline Log Debarking and Sorting

• Saw Mill Expansion

• Residue and Energy Optimisation

• Additional Continuous Kiln for Drying of Timber

• Planer Infeed Systems

• Site Infrastructure Improvements

Timberlink Chief Executive Officer Ian Tyson said, “At the completion of this project, the combined output of Timberlink’s Bell Bay Tasmania and Tarpeena South Australia manufacturing facilities will position Timberlink to increase supply of manufacture of structural timber for use in the construction of homes in Australia. The project has been brought forward by over two years in order to support additional supply into the Australian market.”

The upgrade will increase both the volume of renewable plantation pine logs that can be processed and the yield per log, creating a workplace of the future, with high tech machinery improved accuracy, safety and job security. The planned investment is in addition to major upgrades completed two years ago and the construction of Tasmania’s first Wood Plastic Composites manufacturing facility announced earlier this year for the Bell Bay site.

In addition to 25 contractor jobs during the capital upgrades and expansion, Timberlink expects that this project will create 18 new permanent full-time jobs at the facility for the next generation. It is estimated that the Timberlink Bell Bay manufacturing facility supports approximately 600 direct and indirect jobs in the region.

Photo: -R: Timberlink CEO Ian Tyson, Bridget Archer MP, The Hon Michael Ferguson MP

Source: Timberlink

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FWPA appoints new CEO

Forest and Wood Products Australia’s (FWPA) global search and recruitment for a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) unearthed a number of highly qualified candidates. After a rigorous selection process, the Chair and Board are pleased to announce the appointment of Andrew Leighton to the role.

“We were impressed by the calibre of people shortlisted for the job,” said Craig Taylor, Chair of the FWPA Board, “and on behalf of the Board members I would like to thank them all for their time and energy in applying. The successful candidate, Andrew Leighton, brings a wealth of technical, management and leadership experience relevant to the FWPA position of CEO.”

“Andrew’s senior executive roles have included 7 years as Managing Director of Norske Skog Australasia, time as Vice-Chair of the Australian Forest Products Association and a diversity of other positions that relate to the many areas in which FWPA is active. Andrew is the ideal person to continue the great work of FWPA, finalise and implement our new strategic plan, and lead the company into new areas of service to the Australian forest and wood products industry”.

“I see huge potential for increasing the applications for, and use of, forest and wood products as the world adapts to a carbon-constrained economy,” said Mr Leighton, “I have a longstanding passion for the forest products industry and a strong belief in its ability to play an important part in supporting environmental sustainability and driving the bioeconomy. I very much appreciate the importance of R&D investment and innovation and have a strong track record of championing this throughout my career.”

“As an observer I have been impressed with the range and quality of FWPA’s achievements throughout the supply chain and I look forward to building on that solid foundation,” he continued, “and one of my first objectives will be to meet with FWPA members and I encourage them to contact me at FWPA.”

Source: FWPA
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Rehabilitating workers back into the forest

Gisborne contractors Gavin and Chrystal Edmonds are helping forestry workers recover from drug problems and get back to work in the forest. Difficulties accessing rehabilitation support for workers prompted the couple, who run Stirling Logging, to start bringing workers into their own home to help them recover.

Gavin and Chrystal say they’re motivated by a desire to help workers who want to change – who they consider to be good people who’ve made bad choices. They also say forestry can’t afford to lose experienced workers to drugs when there is such a shortage of skilled workers.

Watch their inspiring story

Stirling Logging: Getting Good Workers Back in the Forest from Safetree Nz on Vimeo.

Source: SafeTree

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Stora Enso forestry innovations being showcased

As part of the eagerly awaited annual forest technology event, two key presenters from the European forestry giant, Stora Enso Oy will be presenting as part of ForestTECH 2021-22 being run on 23-24 February along with a number of other key international presenters. The company is one of the largest private forest owners in the world with forestry assets valued at more than EUR 7 billion (land and forests). Globally, the company owns or manages land covering a total area of more than 2.0 million hectares.

From Finland, Sora Enso’s VP Plantation Forest Management, Marco Wichert and the company’s Digitalisation Manager, Mika Korvenranta will be presenting as part of the ForestTECH 2021-22 event on some of the innovations that this company has been working on in their forests in Finland and Sweden.

Marco Wichert is a Brazilian Forest Engineer with 24 years of experience in the forestry industry in different parts of the world. He’s worked for most of his career with forestry operations development, testing, and introducing new technologies in the silviculture, harvesting, and logistic operations of forestry companies in Brazil, China, and Indonesia. He has also worked for five years in Forest Management Consulting companies in New Zealand. As the VP Plantation Forest Management, he is based in in Helsinki, Finland, but works providing technical support for the forest plantations of the Group in China, Uruguay, and Brazil.

Marco’s presentation will address the topics of mechanized solutions for silviculture, Precision Forestry and Big Data Management, and will cover;

- Mechanized and automated solutions for seedling packaging and movement from the nursery to the field
- A new planting machine under development in Sweden
- Eco-RFID tags to automate the tracking process of products in the value chain
- Stora Enso’s approach to precision forestry and big data management

Mika Korvenranta, as the Digitalization Manager for Stora Enso’s Forest Division works with Precision Forestry projects and digitisation across the company’s holdings. Mika will be detailing how drone and forest inventory innovations are being used in the forests of Finland & Sweden. Examples will include a method the company has developed for safer, accurate and fast measurements of mill yard wood and chip pile measurements using drone-based image analyses.

Other topics Mika will be covering include multisource remote sensing data to improve diameter distribution analysis for improving their harvesting operations. They are using the best features of different data sources to improve forest attributes and diameter distribution estimations with an AI model. In addition to accurate estimations of the forest resource it’s also enabling the company to keep estimations up to date with the multisource data.

Full details on the presenters and presentations later in February or the comprehensive programme, if attending in person in Rotorua, New Zealand or registering to attend remotely, can be found on the ForestTECH 2021-22 website.

Note, as outlined in the editorial this week, discounted early bird registrations to this event because of the number of readers still on an extended or deferred summer break has been extended to next Friday, Friday 28 January.

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Bushfire spread prediction model now operational

Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and the NSW Rural Fire Service have released Australia’s most advanced model for predicting the speed and behaviour of eucalypt forest fires, helping to save lives and property during bushfires. Eucalypts make up more than 70 per cent of Australia’s forests and some of Australia’s most extreme fire events, such as the 2009 Black Saturday fires and the most severe of the 2019/20 bushfires, occurred in this type of vegetation.

The Vesta Mark 2 model, a mathematical description of how a fire responds to environmental conditions, is being rolled out nationally this summer and help fire control rooms across the country to predict and suppress bushfires as they spread across the landscape, and to warn the public.

CSIRO bushfire behaviour researcher Dr Andrew Sullivan said although much of eastern Australia was expecting a wetter than normal summer this year, bushfires were an ever-present danger throughout summer and were increasing in frequency and severity. “Forests have critical ecological and socio-economic roles, and often connect to areas where large numbers of Australians live,” he said. “Forest fires are complex and difficult to control and extinguish, and firefighters often have to battle steep terrain and challenging conditions just to reach the fire,” Dr Sullivan said.

“Critically, this model can accurately predict the speed that a fire front will advance across a landscape, which is essential to enable authorities to efficiently identify threats, issue bushfire warning messages, signal evacuations, and plan fire suppression actions."

Data inputs such as forecast weather and wind information come from the Bureau of Meteorology, while information on the state of fuels within the forest and existing behaviour of a fire can come from vegetation databases and fireground reports. Fire behaviour analysts in an incident management team, often stationed at an operations centre near the fire, collate this information and then run the model to generate a prediction of the likely progression of the fire across the landscape.

CSIRO bushfire behaviour researcher and leader of the project Dr Miguel Cruz said the model used the latest available science on bushfire behaviour. “This model was built using analysis of the most extensive set of data gathered from observations of large high intensity experimental fires and wildfires, collated from around the country over the past 40 years,” Dr Cruz said. “Our research and findings during the 2019/20 bushfire season were also instrumental in the development of this tool.”

NSW RFS Deputy Commissioner Preparedness and Capability, Kyle Stewart, said the new model would be key to providing essential information about expected fire behaviour to support decision making during bushfire outbreaks this fire season. “Knowing with confidence where a bushfire will be ahead of time is critical to the safe and effective deployment of our fire crews and the safety of our communities,” Mr Stewart said.

“This is an excellent example of science agencies and the Rural Fire Service working together to improve bushfire management in Australia. It is the latest in a long line of successful collaborations between the RFS and CSIRO.” The original ‘Project Vesta’ in the 1990s was the largest ever experimental program studying forest fire behaviour in Australia.

Vesta Mk 2 has been incorporated into Spark, Australia’s newest wildfire operational simulator being developed by CSIRO and the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council AFAC, and Amicus, which is CSIRO’s bushfire knowledge support system to help support future bushfire fighting efforts.

A guide to the use and operation Vesta Mk 2 can be found here.

The scientific article about Vesta Mk 2 can also be accessed as an open access article from this link

Source: CSIRO

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Expanded R&D funding announced for forestry

Victoria’s forest sector has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of additional funding for Research & Development in forestry, Deb Kerr, CEO of the Victorian Forest Products Association (VFPA), said. The AU$26.2 million in funding measures, announced late last year by Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. David Littleproud MP and Senator Jonno Duniam, will support innovation in the forest and wood products sector.

The funding includes extension of the National Institutes for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI) based in Gippsland and Mount Gambier along with increased funding to matching additional levy funding from industry for Forest and Wood Products Australia. Additional funds will target illegally logged timber from overseas, with AU$900,000 invested in studies to evaluate Australia’s exposure to illegally procured timber.

Click here for more details on the announced funding package.

Source: VFPA

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New CEO appointed to Forico

Tasmania’s largest private forest and land asset manager, Forico, has welcomed a new Chief Executive Officer in Evangelista (Ange) Albertini, who commenced on 10 January 2022. Mr Albertini will spend an initial transition period with outgoing CEO Bryan Hayes, who has led Forico since the company’s inception more than seven years ago.

Mr Albertini brings an outstanding operational, technical and asset management skillset to the position, having delivered exceptional results in a series of key management and strategic roles over 19 years with Hydro Tasmania, Australia’s largest renewable energy producer. During that time, he distinguished himself as an innovative leader with the capacity to drive both exceptional business performance and transformational leadership.

“Ange will bring a new perspective from outside of industry as well as a wealth of knowledge and experience,” said Forico Board Chair and Managing Director of parent company New Forests, Mark Rogers. “He is particularly skilled in asset management, renewable and sustainable resources, strategy and leadership, and importantly, he shares Forico’s commitment to meeting the highest social and environmental standards.”

The Board considered Mr Albertini’s commitment to future focussed industry aligned him strongly with Forico’s position as a leader in sustainable forestry in the green economy, with natural capital as a critical economic asset. Mr Albertini is a demonstrated builder of inclusive team cultures, with a personal commitment to working environments which both challenge and encourage employees, driving excellence and commitment from within.

Outgoing CEO Mr Hayes will move into a part-time role with Forico, focusing on industry advocacy, and will maintain his current positions as Chair of the Tasmanian Forest Products Association (TFPA) and Deputy Chair of the Tasmanian Forests and Forest Products Network (TFFPN). Mr Hayes’ leadership had been integral to Forico’s success, said Mr Rogers. “In his time as CEO, Bryan has been an industry trailblazer, steering the company through the launch of its first Reconciliation Action Plan and Natural Capital Report – both heralding a new future for forestry in the state.”

Mr Rogers said Forico was delighted to retain Mr Hayes in a part time capacity to continue his specialist advocacy work for the industry and looked forward to an exciting next chapter for Forico.

Source: Forico

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Timber Act lawfare loophole must be closed

Forest & Wood Communities Australia is calling on the Andrews Government to close the loophole in the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 which has enabled activist vigilantes to devastate the livelihoods of regional Victorians. Unlike the Environment Protection Act 2017 (Section 347), the Timber Act fails to specify just who has the authority to take legal proceedings for even the most minor breaches.

“It’s a loophole which was exploited in the Supreme Court at the end of last year as part of a well-orchestrated attack on timber communities by self-interested activist groups,” said FWCA managing director, Justin Law. “It has crippled timber supply when we need it most and is putting hundreds of Victorians out of work as contractor crews are stood down and mills close.”

Mr Law said it was an embarrassment for the Andrews Government which expressly promised timber supply until the 2030 end date for native timber harvesting. “It was bad enough that Victoria’s Labor/Greens fell out of step with global thinking on sustainable forestry by announcing the end of native timber harvesting,” he said.

“But by leaving open the back door and giving power to vigilante anti-forestry activists, they are failing to keep their promise of ensuring supply until 2030 unhindered by vexatious litigation. It is an appalling double standard that could be simply fixed by introducing the clause from the Environment Protection Act into the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004”.

The Supreme Court action levelled at Victoria’s timber supply agency VicForests late last year is seeing timber production grinding to a halt.

“The premise for this latest round of vexatious litigation is to protect the ‘critically endangered’ Greater Glider,” Mr Law said. “Yet the Greater Glider is apparently so prevalent, particularly in forest regenerated after being previously harvested, that the activists are arguing that no timber production can occur without impacting their habitat. Is it only us which sees the outrageous lie in all of this?”

Source: Forest & Wood Communities Australia

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Wooden telecom towers accelerating 5G market

In the near future, tens of thousands of new telecommunication towers will be constructed in Europe. Towers using wooden structures are in demand, especially for sites with landscape values.

In Milan in the north of Italy, motorists are greeted by an unusual sight next to a busy autostrada. The wooden-structured telecoms tower is the first in Italy. It ensures coverage for mobile phones and emergency calls. The 40-metre tower was erected last summer beside a local conservation area to replace an earlier tower constructed of steel.

’It’s our duty to come up with materials that reduce environmental impact and are more harmonious with the landscape. Glued laminated timber is an excellent choice for creating a more sustainable environment,’ said Giovanni Ferigo, CEO of INWIT, Italy’s largest tower operator, in September.

The telecoms tower erected in Northern Italy is manufactured by the EcoTelligent company located in Finland. The company has found wooden-structured towers to be in particular demand for places where towers with steel or concrete structures are no longer granted building permits.

’In areas with single-family dwellings, for example, the residents are opposed to conventional towers. National parks can’t operate without telecommunications, but the towers must have a more natural look that blends in with the surroundings,’ says Gyöngyi Mátray, CEO of EcoTelligent.

She believes that in the coming years, more and more sites will be considered to possess sensitive landscape values, parallel to new towers and base stations being built.

’Wooden-structured towers have the advantage of being widely accepted by the general public. People feel that they are entitled to have access to telecommunication services, but equally to a pleasant living environment.’

Mátray says that tens of thousands of new telecoms towers will be constructed in Europe in the next few years. This surge in construction is caused, above all, by the need to prepare for the coming of 5G services.

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... Albert Einstein understood

The day that Albert Einstein feared has arrived!

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. 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
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This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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