Friday Offcuts 14 April 2022
Click to Subscribe - It's FREE!So, the date for Australia’s Federal election has been set down. Saturday 21 May has been selected and the 41-day electioneering campaign has started. Today AU$219.5 million of funding for the forestry industry is expected to be announced by the PM as part of a wider pitch to woo voters in the regional seats. As well as the politicians, the forestry industry has already got on the front foot as well. It’s encouraging both the Coalition and Labor to commit to policies to get one billion new production trees planted by 2030. An Australia, we need a tree change major TV, digital and social media advertising campaign, the largest ever undertaken by the Australian Forest Products Association, is now underway and it's going to run through to election day.
In New Zealand, the eagerly and long-awaited decision by the Environmental Protection Authority on the gas fumigant, methyl bromide’s replacement has been made. They’ve approved the application for a less hazardous substance, ethanedinitrile (EDN) for the future fumigation of export logs and timber. Debarking has been used to get over the fumigant issue of sending logs into key export markets like China but India is still stipulating methyl bromide has to be used for NZ log imports. Following the announcement this week, the Forest Owners Association are calling for a delegation to head up to India to try to re-open the export log market now that EDN has finally been given the green light.
And we take a look this week at a raft of new technologies linked to forestry and to the hot topic of conversation right now, carbon forestry. A kiwi start-up has just launched a new carbon web app. The concern is that New Zealand, like other countries, is going to need to rely heavily on forestry in the coming decades to meet its net- zero obligations. The recent proposal to ban exotic trees from the new permanent forest category in the ETS was just the catalyst needed to build and launch this new interactive website. It’s going to allow anyone to experiment with different theoretical tree-planting scenarios to better understand the long-term impacts that future forestry policies will have on climate objectives, biodiversity and financial returns for farmers and landowners.
Telecommunications giant Telstra has also started to plant trees to offset their own emissions, using drones to plant and maintain 158,000 native trees in a 240-hectare trial site in northern NSW to enable them to access carbon credits on a reliable basis to meet their future commitments. NASA’s GEDI mission has also announced that they’ve just released a new data product providing the first near-global estimate of above-ground forest biomass and the carbon it stores.
And finally, a large seller of carbon offsets in North America has recently grabbed headlines with his criticism on the sales of “meaningless offsets” and the widespread claims being that we’re making progress on mitigating the impacts of climate change. In his opinion, it’s just not happening. Lyme Timber CEO Jim Hourdequin recently spoke at a forest industry conference where he told his audience of fellow forest managers that offsets just weren’t delivering on their promise. He was challenging the industry to raise its standards. To finish the week on, you can check out his presentation linked to the story. And that’s it for this short week. Enjoy your Easter break.
This week we have for you:
New log export fumigant application approvedA decision-making committee of New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved an application for a new gas to fumigate export logs and timber. EDN is a new tool to kill common pests found in wood. It is a potential alternative to methyl bromide, which is now heavily restricted.
EDN is already approved for use in Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, and Russia. The Czech-based manufacturer, Draslovka, applied to the EPA for approval to import the gas into Aotearoa New Zealand.
"The EPA’s role in regulating hazardous substances involves carefully balancing environmental, health, economic, and cultural factors. The application process for EDN has been lengthy due to the complex technical considerations required for the safe use of the fumigant," says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of the EPA’s Hazardous Substances group.
"The benefits of EDN are that it rapidly decomposes after use, it is ozone-friendly, and has reduced risks to human health and the environment compared with methyl bromide." A range of strict rules (known as controls) have been developed for the use of EDN. These include a maximum application rate, and that it is used in specific wind conditions, only under tarpaulins or in shipping containers. EDN is only for use by professionals in commercial settings.
Although the EPA has approved the EDN application, the fumigant cannot be imported or used immediately. Additional WorkSafe rules to protect workers, which are approved in principle, now require ministerial sign-off and gazetting. The EPA decision-making committee will sign the approval to take effect along with the WorkSafe rules.
The EPA decision means the Ministry for Primary Industries can progress negotiations with trading partners on acceptance of EDN, as an option to meet their import biosecurity requirements.
Read more detail on the EDN decision.
Following the announcement on Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Authority approving EDN fumigation of export log stacks, the Forest Owners Association wants a delegation of government ministers to urgently go to India to try to re-open the export log market there. India still stipulates that methyl bromide must be used for log imports from New Zealand. No other fumigants are currently approved by India.
China is by far New Zealand’s biggest log export destination, but other log treatments, such as debarking, have enabled log exports there to continue. The President of the Forest Owners Association, Grant Dodson, says the Indian requirement has meant the collapse of a quarter of a billion dollar a year log export market, as the use of methyl bromide is now highly restricted in New Zealand.
Source: Environmental Protection Authority, Forest Owners Association
"Australia, we need a tree change" campaign launchedCoinciding with the start of the federal election campaign, Australia’s forest industries have launched Australia, we need a tree change, a major TV and digital advertising campaign promoting our need to plant one billion new forestry production trees to build future homes, provide sustainable packaging and help fight climate change, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Ross Hampton said.
“Ahead of the federal election, the Coalition and Labor need to commit to policies to get one billion new production trees planted by 2030. If we don’t achieve this target, we won’t have enough timber to build the homes of the future, create sustainable packaging products or realise our potential fighting climate change,” Ross Hampton said.
“Australia, we need a tree change is AFPA’s largest ever campaign and it conveys those messages to the public and those vying to form the next Federal Government.”
The campaign which features a storyline video of Gracie explaining her school project to her father Tom about the need to plant one billion trees, started on Monday on Sky News and will feature in digital and social media advertising in key marginal electorates nationally right up to election day.
“Without one billion new trees planted by 2030, we won’t have an adequate supply of sustainable timber in the decades ahead. We just won’t have all the timber we need to build all the homes our growing population will demand, or create fibre-based packaging to replace plastic. Furthermore, in this increasingly uncertain world, we need to achieve sovereign capability in timber. It’s a national security issue. Both side of politics need to recognise that and deliver before the election,” Ross Hampton concluded.
AU$219m to woo Tasmanian forestry workersAustralia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce AU$219.5 million to invest in new technology and create 73,000 forestry jobs in a pitch echoing John Howard’s successful 2004 bid to woo Tasmanian forestry workers.
Mr Morrison is to make the announcement on Thursday (today) and cite the importance of jobs and skills in Australia’s AU$23 billion forestry sector as being critical to the national economy.
Under the commitment, AU$100 million will be allocated to establish an Australia-wide National Institute for Forest Products Innovation, including a central host hub located in Launceston and up to five regional locations.
A grants program worth AU$112.9 million will be established to accelerate adoption of new wood-processing technologies, and AU$86.2 million will be allocated to help reduce the upfront costs of establishing new plantations and get more trees in the ground in key regions around the country. A further AU$4.4 million will go towards policing illegal logging and stopping illegal timber imports from undercutting Australian producers.
Further coverage of the impending announcement can be read here
Source: AFR, SMH
NASA releases new forest biomass-carbon productNASA’s GEDI mission has reached a major milestone with the release of its newest data product, which provides the first near-global estimate of aboveground forest biomass and the carbon it stores—filling a key gap in climate research. The data enables research into how Earth’s forests are changing, what role they play in mitigating climate change, and the regional and global impacts of planting and cutting down trees.
With the new data product from GEDI, the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation, ecosystem and climate researchers can quickly locate their regions of interest and study forest structure and carbon content with greater precision than in the past. The new biomass product release comes as GEDI is within a one-year mission extension and represents the culmination of critical advancements in spaceborne lidar (a type of laser) research.
Counting carbon in Earth’s forests
GEDI is a high-resolution lidar instrument designed specifically to measure vegetation. From its vantage point aboard the International Space Station, GEDI rapidly bounces laser pulses off the trees and shrubs below to create detailed 3D maps of forests and land formations. The resulting data product, processed and gridded at a 1-km (0.39-square mile) resolution, allows researchers to study questions about forest ecosystems, animal habitats, carbon content, and climate change.
In its first three years in orbit, GEDI has captured billions of measurements between 51.6 degrees north and south latitudes (approximately the latitudes of London and the Falkland Islands, respectively). The new data product combines data from GEDI with airborne and ground-based lidars to construct a global biomass map that reveals the amount of vegetation contained in an area.
The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) is a full-waveform lidar instrument that produces detailed observations of the three-dimensional structure of the Earth’s surface. GEDI precisely measures forest canopy height, canopy vertical structure, and surface elevation which enhances our understanding of global carbon and water cycle processes, biodiversity, and habitat.
“One big area of uncertainty is that we don’t know how much carbon is stored in the Earth’s forests,” said Ralph Dubayah, GEDI’s principal investigator and a professor of geographical sciences at the University of Maryland. Trees pull carbon from the atmosphere to fuel their growth. But scientists need to know how much carbon forests store so they can predict how much will be released by deforestation or wildfires. Approximately half of plant biomass is composed of carbon.
GEDI’s new product is not the first global biomass product, but it is the first to include well-described uncertainty for its estimates using advanced statistical models. This means GEDI’s biomass estimates also come with a sense of how accurate those measurements are. “That is, for each 1-kilometer estimate of average biomass, the mission knows how confident that estimate is,” Dubayah said.
Source: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Showcasing forestry’s environmental stewardshipFWPA’s WoodChat podcast focuses its latest episode on an approach that will enhance the Australian forestry industry’s sustainability credentials through improved use of natural resources. Globally, an increasing number of organisations are turning to natural capital accounting (NCA) to demonstrate their efforts around environmental stewardship.
Natural capital refers to the world’s stock of renewable and non-renewable resources, such as soil, air and water. NCA describes a commitment to the measurement, recording and effective management of those resources as they are used to create products and services.
“NCA provides us with the framework to best utilise our limited resources and demonstrate efforts to protect our natural world,” said FWPA Statistics and Economics Manager Kevin Peachey. “This WoodChat episode delves deep into how NCA can be used to benefit the industry as well as the environment.”
A recently completed FWPA-commissioned report lays out a series of sample ecosystem accounts for use by the forestry industry relating specifically to the Green Triangle area of Australia. During the episode, listeners will hear from Dr Anthony O’Grady, Senior Principal Research Scientist at the CSIRO which led this research.
Dr O’Grady talks about how the approach has many potential benefits, including making businesses a more attractive investment to the growing pool of impact investors focused on the sustainability of enterprises. Discussion then moves into how NCA could support businesses in receiving payments for environmental services such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity outcomes, and water filtration services.
Dr O’Grady said, “There’s also a real opportunity to reduce your business risk through opportunities to become better managers of your natural capital inputs and make your business more sustainable. “Forestry is well-placed for this kind of work as it has a strong background in data collection. We found you can get a long way by using the kind of existing data that most forestry companies are already collecting as part of their day-to-day operations.”
Listeners will also hear from Chief Financial Officer at Forico, Rayne van den Berg. Forico has committed to the development and publication of an annual Natural Capital Report relating to its own activities. The report, now in its second year, has been so well-received globally that it is being used as a best-practice case study by organisations across various sectors.
You can listen to WoodChat on Soundcloud, iTunes and Spotify.
Wildlife species springing back after Black SummerSmall native mammals including bandicoots, antechinus and Bush Rats are showing remarkable recovery two years on from the Black Summer fires, long-term camera monitoring in State forests south of Eden shows.
Forestry Corporation of NSW Senior Field Ecologist Rohan Bilney said Forestry Corporation of NSW has been monitoring wildlife at 40 sites in State forests south of Eden since 2007 as part of the Southern Brown Bandicoot Species Management Plan, and every monitoring site was impacted by fires in 2019-20.
“The Black Summer fire and the severe drought that preceded it caused numerous small mammal species to decline, with some showing a greater than 50 per cent decline, but within two years of the fire we’re delighted to see most species bouncing back, some rather dramatically,” Dr Bilney said.
“Conditions over the past two years have been ideal, as we’ve experienced increased rainfall and prolific vegetation regrowth providing ideal conditions for breeding and recovery for a range of animal species including Southern Brown Bandicoots, Long-nosed Bandicoots, Bush Rats and Agile Antechinus.
“In particular, populations of Southern Brown Bandicoots and Bush Rats have exploded, with our cameras recording the highest occupancy rates we’ve seen in 5-6 years, and approaching our highest ever detections.
“But the most remarkable change in occupancy has been with the Painted Button quail, a small bird species rarely detected pre-fire, being detected at over two-thirds of the monitoring sites last year. That equates to greater than a 10-fold increase in occupancy rate within a 12-month period.
“While the recovery of smaller native mammals has been most pronounced, larger and more common species including Common Wombats, brush-tailed possums, Swamp Wallabies, Lace Monitors, Short-beaked Echidnas and Superb Lyrebirds have continued to be recorded at rates similar to those recorded before the fires and drought.
“While this is preliminary monitoring data, our cameras have been monitoring the same 40 locations in State forests south of Eden for more than a decade and this latest data is a really promising sign that many native species have not only survived the Black Summer fires quite well, but are currently thriving.”
Source: Forestry Corporation of NSW
Telstra starts carbon farming to offset emissionsTelecommunications giant Telstra is starting its own carbon farm, growing trees to reduce its emissions.
Big polluters that want to move towards net zero emissions need to buy carbon credits to offset what they put into the atmosphere. But not enough carbon credits exist in Australia, so Telstra boss Andy Penn is becoming a farmer. "A carbon farmer," he laughed.
The telecommunications company – more used to data farms storing information – is getting into the business of dirt, using internet-linked drones to plant and maintain 158,000 native trees in a 240-hectare trial site at Yarrowyck in northern NSW.
The project will take carbon out of the atmosphere, help improve sensors, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) technology in the field, and set the company up to take advantage of the growing carbon abatement industry. "What sparked this was feedback from my team, that we were seeing challenges in getting access to carbon credits on a reliable basis to meet our commitment to be a carbon-neutral company, which we are," Mr Penn said.
The problem behind that is there are not enough projects either avoiding carbon emissions or getting carbon out of the atmosphere, at a scale that meets the needs of big corporate emitters like Telstra – one of largest companies listed on the Australian stock market.
"It is a trial. But we have done a lot of work and, if we are successful at it, we would love to scale it up."
Web app for smarter forestry decision makingKiwi start-up launches web app to encourage smarter forestry decision making. The Interactive dashboard lets users explore long-term impact of different policy settings
Climate-focused kiwi start-up Carbon Critical has launched an interactive website that allows anyone to experiment with different theoretical tree-planting scenarios, to understand the long-term impacts of future forestry policies on climate objectives, biodiversity and financial returns for farmers and landowners.
The team at Carbon Critical decided to develop the dashboard in response to a recent proposal from the New Zealand government to ban exotic tree species from being registered as permanent forests in the emissions trading scheme (ETS). Carbon Critical founder Jamie Heather is concerned that such a ban could have a serious impact on New Zealand’s deadline to reach Net-Zero emissions by 2050.
“Most people don’t realise that NZ is one of the worst countries in the OECD in terms of progress and commitments to reduce gross emissions. We’ve been slow to get onboard with tackling climate change and now we are going to need every tool we have available to meet our national obligations.”
Jamie says he understands the concerns around monoculture pine forestry and the desire to preserve native ecosystems, but believes a more balanced and evidence-based approach is needed to achieve the best long-term outcomes.
“The Climate Change Commission has advised that NZ needs to urgently cut gross emissions, but will also need to rely heavily on trees, exotic and native, to reach our net-zero targets. But that measured advice is being lost in an increasingly polarized debate that pitches exotics versus natives” Sensing a need for evidence-based reasoning in this ongoing debate, Carbon Critical launched its new net-zero web application to encourage more pragmatic discussions and decision making around land-use incentives.
“We wanted to help kiwis understand the trade-offs involved and let them see for themselves what might happen in the future depending on decisions we make now,” says Jamie. “Exotic trees are good for removing carbon, and indigenous forests are good for biodiversity. We do not have to choose one or the other - we can do both.”
Members of the public can learn more about the government proposals and submit their own feedback here.
Carbon Critical, a non-profit, climate impact organisation has been studying the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme and forestry industry for 2 years. The organisation does not own any forests. Carbon Critical is best known for creating the Net-Zero fund, which allows Kiwis to earn a tax rebate on donations to the world’s most effective climate change charities.
Source: Carbon Critical
Australian biomass pellet maker ramps upAustralian biomass manufacturers using forestry waste to make pellets capable of replacing coal are ramping up to meet red hot global demand for sustainable energy.
Leading the way is a Queensland company, SEFAAS Pty Ltd, which is drawing on the waste from harvesting two major environmental woody weeds on beef properties - prickly acacia and mesquite. On a per tonne basis, biomass pellets produce around 85 per cent of the energy of coal with less than 5pc of the greenhouse gas emissions.
SEFAAS has supply deals with multiple power stations in Japan, as well as with renewable power companies in Europe and Korea. Part of the Jarratt Group of Companies transport operation, the company has now secured more than 200 million tonnes of biomass feedstock from across Queensland.
It will set up a manufacturing and export facility in Brisbane and is evaluating sites in Gladstone and Townsville. Each facility is located near a major port terminal with arterial road and rail access, to facilitate the movement of product from the field to the destination market.
Each of the sites will have an annual production capacity of 500,000 tonnes of biomass pellets. The plan is for the Brisbane facility to double production capacity in the next few years, allowing the company to produce two million tonnes in total per year and abate tens of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
The feedstock already secured will allow for this target to be met, and eventually SEFAAS hopes to produce 5m tonnes annually. Managing director Phillip Jarratt said the purpose of geographically spreading facilities across the state gives greater security of supply and certainty of production.
Biomass pellets are a renewable, sustainable, low carbon solid fuel for use in thermal power stations as an alternative to coal, he said. SEFAAS was rapidly establishing itself as a major supplier of renewable biomass pellets to the growing Japanese low-emission electricity and industrial sectors, Mr Jarratt said.
For more coverage on this story click here
Source: farmonline, greenmatters
Creating a market to actually slow climate changeLyme Timber CEO Jim Hourdequin wants to fix a broken system to create a market that actually helps slow climate change.
Jim Hourdequin is one of the planet’s biggest sellers of carbon offsets—the widely used instruments that are supposed to act as a balm for the rapidly overheating climate. His company earned $53 million from these environmental transactions over the past two years.
But now the 47-year-old timber executive is calling out the entire system, including some of his own projects, as broken and short-changing the climate. Although critics for years have revealed how carbon markets fail to deliver their intended climate benefits, Hourdequin is likely the first major industry participant to admonish the market from the inside. By speaking out, he says, he hopes he can help repair the flawed system: “We don’t think that forest carbon markets can survive and grow if they do not deliver real climate value.”
As the chief executive officer of privately held Lyme Timber Co., a US$1.2 billion investment company in Hanover, N.H., Hourdequin manages 1.5 million acres of U.S. forests (roughly the size of Delaware). Even before the recent boom in timber prices, Lyme generated most of its revenue from chopping down trees. But over the past decade, it began selling credits for the planet-warming carbon that some of its forests soaked up. Today, Lyme sells carbon credits on about 220,000 acres, or 15% of its land.
On a grey December afternoon, sitting in a café in Berkeley, Calif., where he’s travelled after checking in on some of Lyme’s West Coast operations, Hourdequin inhales a sandwich before expounding on carbon credits. With a thin, wiry build, deep-set blue eyes, and a baseball cap atop his receding, closely cropped brown hair, he looks as if he’d be comfortable trekking for miles through backcountry forests. He perks up when talking about financial models and occasionally slips into the vernacular from his days at Harvard Business School. (“I’m a real stickler for structured analysis,” he likes to explain.)
The problem with carbon markets, he says, is that weak rules have created strong incentives for landowners to develop offset projects that don’t actually change the way forests are managed, and therefore do little to help the climate. Most forest carbon projects, including some from Lyme, fall into this category, Hourdequin says. “I believe in being intellectually honest about it,” he says.
Hourdequin pitched his ideas to a forest industry conference in October, with a speech titled You Get What You Pay For. He immediately got to the point, telling his audience of fellow forest managers that offsets weren’t delivering on their promise. “It can be argued,” he said, “that carbon markets have paid the landowner to not do what they were not going to do”.
Cusp Building Solutions GM appointedWell-known and respected timber researcher Michael Lee has been appointed to the new position of general manager at Tasmanian timber processor Cusp Building Solutions. Michael Lee has been involved in timber research for nearly 40 years. Throughout his career he has either been conducting research or collaborating with research bodies, so he’s no newcomer to R&D.
Michael has spent decades communicating with people at most levels within research, architecture, processing and industry leadership, which is a skill he sees being valuable at Cusp. “There’s huge potential in the built environment to design a whole suite of timber elements that work together with other materials to achieve the most cost-effective and sustainable outcome. But it requires people to think differently about designing buildings,” he says.
According to Michael, not every building needs CLT or GLT, but every building needs timber. There should be timber solutions that service a larger part of the building sector and the community through, for example, sustainable building developments and social housing. “This business is still in its infancy, and while we’ve already had a number of world firsts, I know the best is yet to come. We’re building a team going forward that can produce and deliver a variety of solutions for the built environment that will have a positive impact.”
Cusp CEO Clinton Tilley said Michael is the perfect person to see Cusp through its next phase of growth. “Cusp is about being on the front line of innovation in the built environment and who better to help us work on what’s next than Michael Lee. With over three decades of experience in both academia and industry, working in both timber research and working with processors to improve their operations, Michael’s technical expertise is exceptional.
Moving him from Operations Manager to General Manager was an easy decision. Our first phase was about getting the product right and we’ve done that. “Now Michael can help us facilitate the next stage of change and mentor our team to an outcome. We’re also really interested in developing the capability of our entire team and having Michael pass his knowledge on to others will allow us to sustainably run our business with a strong development curve into the future.”
Source: Cusp Building Solutions
World’s first fully bio-based furniture boardWorld’s first fully bio-based furniture board is born from the cooperation of Stora Enso and Koskisen Oy
Finnish plywood manufacturer Koskisen is the first company to start using the bio-based binder NeoLigno® by Stora Enso in its new sustainable product family. Koskisen and Stora Enso’s co-operation has resulted in the world’s first entirely bio-based furniture board, called Zero Furniture Board.
Koskisen uses Stora Enso’s bio-based binder, NeoLigno®, to replace fossil-based resins used in furniture boards. Both the furniture board raw material and the binder are sourced from the production process flows of both companies. This results in all raw materials of the Zero board being entirely bio-based.
”Our new Zero product family meets the rising demand for bio-based solutions from both domestic and export markets. These new products allow furniture manufacturers to offer alternatives with improved sustainability and health security,” says Koskisen Head of Product Management and R&D Timo Linna.
Previously, as a byproduct of the pulp industry, lignin has been typically utilised as bioenergy in energy production. NeoLigno® serves as an example of how Stora Enso increases the value of lignin without increasing the use of wood.
“Stora Enso has been refining lignin commercially since 2015. NeoLigno® is our first own binder that replaces fossil-based adhesives,” says Lauri Lehtonen, Head of Innovation of Stora Enso’s Biomaterials division. Koskisen is the first company to utilise NeoLigno in industrial production. The Zero Furniture Board will be commercially available in Q3 2022.
Read more about NeoLigno
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... chicken surprise
Since it's Easter, let's go with a chicken theme this week. A husband and wife head for a meal at a Chinese restaurant and order the Chicken Surprise.
OK, I can hear the groans from here. That's the best of the
chicken jokes that we have on hand. On this note, enjoy your
extended Easter break. Cheers.
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