Friday Offcuts 3 June 2022
In the Australian building and construction markets this week, there's more pain for timber supplies with 35 per cent tariffs going to be placed on timber from Russia and Belarus from October. Although not a major source of overall timber imports, they do provide around 60 per cent of laminated veneer lumber being used in housing frames. It just adds to an already stretched home-building industry that's currently facing four-month delays for new stand-alone homes. It’s being predicted that the demand for building materials could remain elevated for at least 18 months and Australia’s already-stretched home builders are going to be busy through to at least June 2023.
With an eye to the future, the Tasmanian Government announced as part of their recent budget that they’re committing to build 10,000 new homes by 2032 as part of a new 10-year AU$1.5 billion housing package. Also, in recognition of ensuring that timber including softwood framing and hardwood timbers for specialist end-uses is going to be available, funding was set aside to help shape the Government’s strategic approach to achieve long-term sustainable wood resource security.
But despite material shortages and timber price rises of 25 per cent seen over the last two years, tall timber buildings continue to rise. Shortly, Australia could be home to two of the world’s tallest timber towers with a number of other ambitious projects also in the works. The world’s tallest timber tower at 183 metres has been pitched for Perth, just edging out tech giant Atlassian’s approved Sydney timber hybrid tower. With timber shortages still continuing to bite, it’s expected that 2022 is going to shape up as one of the biggest years for steel-timber hybrid building developments. Further details on these trends can be read in the story below.
And finally, in the wood residues space, this week a number of new additions have been made to the in-field chipping workshop being run just before the major Residues2Revenues 2022 event runs in Rotorua, New Zealand on 26-27 July. Vermeer Corporation have just been added along with the well known chipping expert out of Australia, Mal Windrim into an already impressive array of international suppliers of in-field chipping and handling equipment. As an added bonus, we’ve also confirmed that one of Australia’s oldest and largest chipping companies (operating a fleet of in-field whole tree chippers as well as running major chipping and debarking facilities along with wood harvesting operations in pine and eucalypt plantations) will be presenting. Already, over 200 have registered for the event so it’s going to be a full house. Details are contained in the story below. And, that’s it for this week.
This week we have for you:
Global Forests selling NSW forest assetsForestry investment giant Global Forest Partners appears ready to harvest another big Australian asset, this time calling in advisers to sell some of its holdings in New South Wales.
Fresh from seeing strong demand for its Green Triangle Forest Products business in South Australia/Victoria, the American forestry giant has started testing buyer interest in its Hume Forests Ltd, a maturing softwood plantation estate located in the Murray Valley and Oberon regions in southern NSW.
Interested parties were told Hume Forests had about 19,000 hectares of freehold land, and was situated nearby to state-owned Forestry Corporation of New South Wales’ plantations and land held by other well-known private operators, including Sydney-based specialist fund manager New Forests.
It’s also close to a bunch of processing businesses including Visy, AKD, Hyne, and Borg. Potential bidders said the deal was pitched as something actionable in the near term - unlike Forestry Corp’s mooted privatisation, which has been kicked down the road a few times - and a portfolio large enough to attract global real assets investors looking to deploy capital.
GFP, which has about $US3.3 billion in assets, acquired Hume Forests Ltd in 2004 for one of its timber funds. It is understood the forestry manager tapped boutique Resolute Advisory to handle the sale - the same firm that stitched up its Green Triangle exit, which was Australia’s biggest ever forestry deal. (Green Triangle included more than 22,000 hectares of managed land and a mixed-age portfolio of radiata pine forests, one of the big sources of saw-log supply.)
Resolute Advisory, an independent corporate advisory firm based in Melbourne, has been appointed by GFP as financial advisor to manage the sale of Hume Forests. Further information on the forest sale can be viewed in the video below.
Source: AFR, Resolute Advisory
Timber tariffs adding to building industry chaosThe Australian building industry, reeling from material shortages, will have its main source of a special timber from Russia dry up after October, adding to chaos for builders and consumers during the biggest boom for new detached homes on record.
Industry experts fear the “magic pudding era” of plentiful supply for home building has ended as Victorian plantations, which require decades to reach harvest, lack the resources to catch up with demand and international supplies become increasingly scarce.
The invasion of Ukraine has led international forestry groups to deem timber from Russia and Belarus “conflict timber”. Australia will place tariffs of 35 per cent on timber from the two nations after October, which allows some leeway for timber already in transit.
Russia accounts for low overall timber imports to Australia, but provides 60 per cent of laminated veneer lumber, or LVL, which is used in housing frames. “That hasn’t hit us yet,” Frame and Truss Manufacturers Association executive officer Kersten Gentle said. “There is timber still being delivered overseas that was ordered before.”
Tim Woods, of IndustryEdge, wrote in a report for the association that local softwood plantations would need to increase in size by 50 per cent to meet local demand by 2050. “This is the end of the magic pudding era for wood supply,” he told The Sunday Age. “The softwood plantation estate that supplies the wood has not grown in any meaningful way over the past three decades.”
The home-building industry is already facing four-month delays on average for new stand-alone homes, and the cost of materials has increased 15 per cent in the past year – the biggest increase since 1980, according to Housing Industry Association economist Tom Devitt.
Exciting new additions to in-field chipping workshopForest-based biofuels are occupying an increasingly important role in energy supply. Conversions of large sale industrial heat plants to renewables, including biomass is ensuring that local forest owners and wood harvesting operations are starting to sit up and really take notice. The market and demand are already there. It’s increasing and the economics are starting to stack up<.
Aggregating bio-fuel supplies regionally to ensure a reliable and consistent supply to these large end users is now being grappled with. How best to extract or harvest logging residues, procedures that can be used to store, dry, handle and transport these residues or chips are also being trialled and used out in the field operationally.
Chipping or grinding at the landing or skid site, chipping at a centralised processing site inside the forest, outside the forest or at a customer’s operation and extracting and delivering loose or bundled logging residues, all require specialised equipment.
In-field Chipping Workshop planned
As part of this region’s major Residues to Revenues 2022 (R2R) event being run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 26-27 July, a spotlight is being put on the opportunities opening up to forestry companies to better utilising forest residues, bin wood, offcuts that until now have been left on landings, short length or malformed logs that won’t meet MDF, pulp-mill or chip export log specifications.
An informative 90-minute showcase (including equipment that’s being brought to the venue for display) has been set up for R2R delegates. It will cover new technologies for processing forest slash, logging residues and stump wood and will feature major equipment suppliers from around the world.
Recent addition to workshop
In addition to presentations from leading tree and wood chipping suppliers, Morbark, Peterson (Astec) and Precision Husky, Vermeer will also be presenting. The Managing Director of one of Australia’s oldest and largest chipping companies, Phillip Dohnt, of LV Dohnt & Co, operating a fleet of in-field whole tree chippers, major chipping and debarking facilities and wood harvesting operations in pine and eucalypt plantations across the SE of South Australia, Western Victoria and the Great Southern Region of Western Australia, has also just confirmed that he'll also be presenting live in Rotorua as part of the pre-conference workshop.
A family-owned business it continues today with fourth generation family members running the innovative company. Further details on the company can be viewed below.
Details on the Residues2Revenues 2022 event can be seen here. Room at the venue is filling up fast and at this stage, is likely to be a sell out. Details on the pre-conference In-Field Chipping workshop, which is free to Residues2Revenues 2022 delegates, can be viewed here.
Fiona's final forest safety blogAfter seven great years this is my last Safetree blog. What an experience it’s been overseeing Safetree/FISC’s growth from a recommendation in the 2014 Independent Forestry Safety Review to an established organisation with a focused work programme agreed by key stakeholders.
The achievement I’m most proud of over those seven years is the role Safetree/FISC have played in helping the New Zealand forestry industry develop a more sophisticated and effective approach towards health and safety.
There’s been a growing understanding that the best way to improve safety is not by adding more rules and compliance. It’s by focusing on things that set crews up for success – like improving worker wellbeing, adopting more collaborative ways of working, and managers working to better understand what really happens on site (not just what they think happens).
Safetree’s Toroawhi have played an important role in spreading that understanding. When they visit sites, they kick-off by talking about their own wellbeing and work experiences, which creates trust and gets people talking about their own situations. As a result, all sorts of things can come to the surface – often things crew bosses and managers had no idea about. Outing these issues is important because if you don’t know about them you can’t deal with them.
It's also been good to see people become more accepting of the fact that what happens at home can affect us at work. Bosses might not be able to help someone with these personal problems, but they do need to be aware of them because if someone’s distracted, stressed or upset it impacts their ability to work safely.
I’ve visited a couple of crews where I’ve seen first-hand the positive changes that occur when the boss drops the ‘take a concrete pill and harden up’ attitude and realises that their people are their biggest asset and are worth looking after. That’s why Safetree’s Leadership and Understanding Risk workshops have taken a different approach from traditional safety workshops and have focused on people, and how their input is vital in creating safer workplaces.
I really believe that more ‘safety work’ is not what we need in forestry. We need to focus on creating ‘better work’ – where all parts of the forest value chain collaborate and where those paying the bills live up to their moral and legal obligations to make sure that the workers who help them make money aren’t harmed in the process.
I’d like to thank all the people who have supported me over the last seven years – particularly those who’ve been willing to evolve the way they think and act around health and safety. I leave the organisation well placed to continue the work we’ve started and to continue to support forestry stakeholders to work together to create change.
Fiona Ewing, National Safety Director, Forest Industry Safety Council
Project to TRIGger more Victorian tree plantingsAn exciting new forestry project has been launched to support the integration of more trees on farms in Victoria – helping the state achieve its net zero carbon goals by 2050. Overseen by Forestry Australia, the Trials Review, Information and Genetics (TRIG) project aims to improve information pathways to assist the expansion of farm forestry in Victoria.
TRIG Project Steering Committee Chair, Dr Kevin Harding (pictured) said the project aims to build on Victoria’s history of farm forestry to help the state reach carbon targets and expand the productive farm-tree estate.
“Victoria has a proud legacy of extensive farm forestry trials and research established during the 1980s through to the early 2000s,” Dr Harding said. “The TRIG project intends to build on this history to empower and enable the next generation of farm foresters to harness the remarkable carbon sequestering power of trees to reach net zero goals. It will also diversify products and income streams from farms making them more resilient enterprises.
“Well-managed farm forestry sequesters enough carbon to partly or even completely offset farm greenhouse gas emissions. This is by far the cheapest option for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, plus creates rural and regional jobs and provides diversified farm income.
“Funding from The TRIG Project will support a review that will revisit previous trials to identify priority sites to target for enhancement and data collection. The project will also identify plantings that have performed well to inform how landholders can get better growing trees for their land.
“The project will assess high quality plantings and make recommendations about establishing Seed Production Areas to supply improved seed for farmers. These datasets and reports, along with advice will be made publicly available in mid-2023.”
Forestry consultants PF Olsen Australia will manage the project. PF Olsen Australia’s Research and Consulting Manager, Dr Phil Lacy, said there was a lot to be learnt from Victoria’s historical species trials.
“These historical species trials offer a wealth of information that can be used to make decisions about future plantings of the most promising species. We aim to identify ‘the best of the best,” Dr Lacy said. “There is also the potential to identify trial sites that could, with some stand improvement work, become seed orchards and demonstration plantings that help farmers get better production on their land”.
“We will engage with farm forestry groups, forestry consultants, CSIRO, and the Victorian Government to learn more about these historical trials and develop a plan for more detailed re-assessment of those that are most promising.”
The TRIG project was designed in consultation with Farm Forest Growers Victoria with AU$503,750 of funding provided by the Australian Government and delivered via the Victorian Government’s Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions. The project will tie closely in with and support Victorian Government programs currently under development including the Victorian Carbon Farming Program and VicForest’s Farm Forestry Program.
Source: Forestry Australia
AU$1.5 billion housing package announcedThe Tasmanian Forest Products Association has welcomed the Tasmanian Government’s budget commitment to build 10,000 new homes by 2032 as part of a 10-year AU$1.5 billion housing package.
Nick Steel, CEO of the Tasmanian Forest Products Association said, “today’s announcement comes at a crucial time for housing supply in Tasmania. Critically, the State Government has also recognised the urgency of ensuring domestic supply including softwood framing and hardwood timber for floors, doors and windows through their AU$200,000 investment in resource security in the Forestry Sector, designed to inform the Government’s strategic approach in achieving long-term sustainable wood resource security.”
“Timber is in such high demand already, and without a plan to get more trees in the ground they will find themselves falling short of these targets,” said Mr Steel. “The TFPA and our members look forward to working closely with the state government, to put a plan in place, that will achieve domestic timber security and that will continue to provide renewable and sustainable building products that underpin our construction sector” Mr Steel concluded.
For further coverage on the announcement, click here
Tasmanian Forest Products Association
New Log Traders and Forestry Advisors registrationFrom 6 August this year, log traders and forestry advisors operating in New Zealand will be required to register under a new regulatory system being developed by MPI, and as a result of the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Act.
The registration system aims to ensure logs grown in New Zealand are bought and sold in a transparent and professional manner. Registration will be a legal requirement for any business acting as a log trader and individuals providing forestry adviser services. People operating in these areas should be aware of the benefits of being registered, as well as their obligations, and penalties for not being registered apply from 6 August 2023.
Those required to register under the Act will need to pass a fit and proper person test and comply with regulations and practice standards to support a more transparent and open market for log sales and professional advice. This also aims to provide investors and forest owners with greater confidence in the forestry sector, including in the advice they receive on the management and valuation of their forestry assets.
A log trader is a person, in trade, buying, or exporting logs grown in New Zealand, processing logs they have grown themselves, or a person acting as an agent for another person doing any of those things.
Forestry advisers are individuals who in the ordinary course of business provide advice on one or more of a range of forestry matters. They may also act on behalf of another person in relation to the sale and purchase of timber, or other forestry products, make inspections or prepare reports in connection with a forestry advisory service.
The range of forestry matters covered in the Act include advice on the establishment, management, or protection of a forest, management or protection of land used for forestry, appraisal, harvest, sale, or utilisation of timber or other forest produce, and the application of the emissions trading scheme to forestry activities.
Te Uru Rākau - New Zealand Forest Service is currently working on developing the registration system including building the core IT infrastructure and portal for lodging and processing of registrations. We are developing the online public register, systems for payments and invoicing, customer contact, and information services.
The launch of the registration system will be a significant milestone for the forestry and wood processing sector and the businesses and people who work, invest, trade, and provide advice across the sector. It is step forward in strengthening the integrity of the forestry supply chain and enhancing transparent and openness for those in the sector.
From May 2022, you are able to register your details as an expression of interest and be emailed a registration link to as soon as the system becomes live in August.
More information on the portal and registration process will be provided in the coming weeks., and anyone trading logs or providing forestry advice can contact us for more information, or visit mpi.govt.nz
Photo competition highlights connection to forestsOneFortyOne’s 2022 Forest Photo Competition winners have been selected. Launched on International Day of Forests in March, the competition received over 150 photo entries from students from across the Limestone Coast and Western Victoria. Entries were brought to a panel of judges, and top honours were given to Year 10 student Raine Scott, and Year 6 student Matilda Neale.
OneFortyOne External Affairs Manager Charlene Riley said based on the inspiring entries received last year, OneFortyOne again asked students to share stories with their photos. “We loved the stories students sent in last year,” Charlene said.
“So, we asked students again this year to send in their best photos, and share with us how they connect to the forest, and we were impressed with the response.” Student connections with the forest ranged from adventuring amongst plantations with family, to connecting with trees as they too have limbs and need water and air to live.
Secondary School category winner Raine Scott said their connection to the forest was through a feeling of freedom. “I connect to the freedom of exploring the forest and discovering new perspectives on the things I take for granted,” Raine said. “I’m a mountain biker and an outdoor person so I love the forest and I will continue to create adventures with my family.”
This year’s theme was forests and sustainable production and consumption. “This is something OneFortyOne values as sustainable forest management is at the core of what we do,” Charlene said. “Once again through the photo competition, students have inspired us to think about the diverse connections local people have to the forest, which makes our work even more meaningful.”
Photo entries and stories will be shared over the coming months on the OneFortyOne Facebook page.
Transport company tackling driver fatigueDynes Transport are on a mission to save lives and livelihoods. They paired together smart technology solutions from Seeing Machines and EROAD, and reduced their risk of driver fatigue and distraction to make sure all of their team members make it home safely at the end of the day - or night!
Dynes Transport is a transport business based in Dunedin in the South Island of New Zealand. They’ve been in business for over 50 years. They’re trusted by customers to safely and efficiently transport goods and materials across the country whether they’re hauling logs, transporting milk or carting wine for the harvest.
Fatigue - one of the biggest risks for fleets and drivers
Fatigue is a killer on our roads, yet it can be difficult to recognise. It’s not just falling asleep at the wheel. Long before you fall asleep, your reaction time and alertness are impacted. It can be hard to determine if fatigue was a factor in many crashes, however it was still identified as a contributing factor in 26 fatal crashes and 89 serious injury crashes in 2020 – taking the lives of 29 people .
Dynes adopted technology to reduce their biggest risks: speed, distraction and fatigue.
“Every company should have a list of critical risks. The big-ticket items that are going to cause major harm”, says Stephen Divers, Dynes Transport Risk & Compliance Manager.
Dynes are one of the first companies in New Zealand to roll out the Seeing Machines Guardian technology across their entire fleet of 150 vehicles. They’ve also installed EROAD’s dual facing, high definition Clarity Connected dashcams.
“As we released more and more Seeing Machines cameras in the cab, we found that the definition of the forward-facing camera wasn't quite sufficient to be able to identify other road users and registration plates”, adds Stephen, “that's why we approached EROAD and said actually we like the Clarity Dashcam. We don't have to download it from the hard drive on Guardian. We can request it online.”
The Seeing Machines integration with EROAD means that any footage from a fatigue or distraction event is uploaded straight into MyEROAD. From there, Stephen is able to see all the vehicle and driver data, including GPS location, the speed the driver was doing and even his logbook hours – together with high-definition video footage. It makes it easy for his Fatigue Coach to review any events and decide whether further action is needed, such as asking the driver to park up and take a break.
Fight for WA forests far from overAbout 220,000 hectares of previously logged West Australian forest could still be subject to tree removal beyond a 2024 native timber logging ban “for environmental health” as trees compete for water in a drying climate.
The figure, identified in an independent report compiled for the state government, is about 11 per cent of the forests currently available for harvest in the government’s existing forest management plan, which expires when the ban begins.
WA’s remaining native timber businesses, which employ about 500 people, are concerned despite government reassurances that the thinning will not provide enough material for firewood, furniture and charcoal for products such as silicon, a material needed in solar panels. They say without formalising the plans for “thinning”, people will have to accept that all hardwood timber would need to be imported.
For their part, forest protection groups are also concerned that too much land is being made available for thinning. The McGowan government decided in September to lock up almost 2 million hectares of state-managed forest in the South West from logging from 2024, and transition from the forest management plan’s traditional framework, centred around commercial timber harvesting, to one which focuses on forest health.
Close to 1 million hectares of the state-controlled land, including national parks and old-growth forests home to most of the tallest remaining trees, were already a no-go for logging.
The recently released report on the scientific and practical aspects of managing forests and woodlands that will underpin the next 10-year forest management plan says “ecological thinning” should be focused on 220,000 hectares of previously logged forest.
The report says jarrah areas should be prioritised with most of the regrowth stands young, highly stocked and using up a lot of water. “Regional reductions in rainfall and global increases in temperatures mean that the amount of water available to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in south-west WA is likely to decline over the next century,” it said.
New Chair of VicForests Board appointedThe Victorian Government has appointed a new Chair of the VicForests Board to lead the organisation and support the community as the native timber industry transitions. From 31 May 2022, Ben Hubbard will take on the roles of Director and Chair of the VicForests board to replace outgoing Chair Chris Lovell.
Mr Hubbard is an experienced executive and non-executive director with a strong record in public policy, governance, strategy and disaster recovery. Mr Hubbard is the former CEO of the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority and showed strong leadership as he worked with affected individuals and communities as they recovered from the Black Saturday bushfires. He also undertook the previous government’s review of long-term bushfire recovery in 2014.
He was previously Chief Strategy Officer at a national law firm and Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He is the current National Chair of the YMCA and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He will support VicForests through its next phase of transition, ahead of the 2024 step-down, as the organisation delivers on the Government’s timber commitments under the Victorian Forestry Plan, concentrating on contracting, harvesting and regeneration.
Timber tower heights continue to riseAustralia could soon be home to two of the world’s tallest timber towers as the appetite for carbon-negative buildings grows, despite 25 per cent timber cost escalations.
Australia has just eight of the world’s 139 timber towers—but there are some ambitious projects in the works. Research from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat shows there are 66 timber towers higher than eight storeys completed globally with a further 73 either proposed or under construction.
The height of timber towers has tripled in the past 10 years.
And the world’s tallest timber tower has been pitched for Perth, tipping out tech giant Atlassian’s approved Sydney timber hybrid tower (pictured). Grange Development recently filed plans for an AU$350-million, 50-storey timber-hybrid residential tower of 245 apartments.
At almost 183 metres, the development, to be known as C6, would be the tallest timber building in the world, outreaching Atlassian’s approved Sydney tower by 3 metres.
But the appetite for timber towers is constrained as timber shortages continue to hamper the construction industry and prices have escalated 25 per cent in the past two years in Australia.
Master Builders recently told The Urban Developer that Australia’s construction industry was heavily reliant on laminated beams imported from Russia. Last year Australia imported $80 million of timber products from Russia with a further $2.6 million from war-torn Ukraine.
While 2018 was when construction of timber towers peaked globally, 2022 is shaping up as one of the biggest years for steel-timber hybrid building developments.
Source: the urbandeveloper
Glyphosate not carcinogenic, says EU chemicals agencyThe opinion is set to influence decision on whether to reauthorize the controversial herbicide in the EU. The controversial herbicide ingredient glyphosate does not cause cancer in humans, according to a scientific opinion published by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
The agency's Committee for Risk Assessment found that "the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate for specific target organ toxicity, or as a carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic substance."
The opinion does not deviate from the stance ECHA took in 2017, when it also did not classify glyphosate as carcinogenic. Then as now, ECHA said glyphosate can cause serious eye damage and is toxic to aquatic life.
The committee will publish its report by mid-August.
ECHA's opinion will influence the EU's decision on whether to ban or reauthorize the herbicide for use, with the European Commission expected to make a recommendation by July 2023 at the earliest, after delays.
In the U.S., thousands of litigants have gone to court alleging that their non-Hodgkins' lymphomas was cause by Roundup, a herbicide sold by Monsanto and now owned by German chemicals' giant Bayer, which contains glyphosate. The World Health Organization’s cancer research arm concluded in 2015 that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen, prompting the EU to renew it for five years instead of 15 in 2017.
ECHA's remit is only to look at the inherent hazardousness of the substance, not its real-world risk of causing harm. The European Food Safety Authority in Parma, Italy, is looking at that as part of a parallel study, expected to be ready in July next year.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... raising the fence
A kangaroo kept getting out of his enclosure at the zoo. Knowing that he could hop pretty high, the zoo officials put up an 8-foot fence.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend (a long one for the
kiwis with Monday being a public holiday). Cheers.
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