Friday Offcuts 2 September 2022
In New Zealand, Mike Hurring Logging (whose team picked up, as reported in a story this week, a number of major awards in last Friday’s Southern Wood Council awards evening together with numerous national training certificates) has begun operating the country’s first diesel-electric harvesting machine. The hybrid harvester is paired up with a forwarder machine and it’s being used in a production thinning crew down South. A video has been built in to the story this week with Josh Hurring explaining just how the new machine is operating and advantages that they’ve seen in their harvest operations.
From Australia this week we’ve built in another opinion piece from Nick Steel, the Chief Executive of the Tasmanian Forest Products Association. This time, Nick expresses his thoughts on the recent live social media streaming of a young woman protestor. She’d stopped her car in the middle of the road at the entrance to the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, locked herself to the steering wheel and blocked both lanes at peak hour. The point of the protest? To draw attention to climate destruction and you’d guess, to boost the number of likes/views received on social media. Like recent changes made to protesting on forest logging sites in Victoria and the new workplace protection laws that have just been passed in Tasmania’s Upper House, the message here is that laws need to be continually updated to keep pace with rapidly changing technology and disruptions to business – including social media protesting.
And finally, with a massive planting season now drawing to a close, thoughts will be on just how to do it better and more efficiently next season. Forestry companies around the CNI of New Zealand have been trialling and using mechanised planting now commercially for three years. Likewise, in NSW, two forestry companies have been trialling some of these mechanised planting machines on both pines and eucalypts this planting season.
A much closer look at some of these planting results, new innovations in mechanised planting equipment, the application of fertilisers at the time of planting, applying hydrogels to extend the planting season and an insight into how fleets of planting machines are operating on steeper slopes in South America all are going to form part of the eagerly awaited ForestTECH 2022 series in November. For the first time in 2-3 years, the series will be running in both New Zealand and Australia. Registrations continue to roll in. Programme details can be found on the event website. That’s it for this week.
This week we have for you:
Social media protests – a growing issuePlanned changes to legislation won’t mean we’ll lose our right to protest, but there will be consequences for those who cause disruptions just for fame, writes Nick Steel.
OPINION PIECE: You may have recently seen the “Blockade Australia” protests in Sydney. The defining moment being the live social media stream of a young woman who drove to the entrance of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, stopped her car in the middle of the road and locked herself to the steering wheel to block both lanes at peak hour.
This is the social media era protest. A live stream, where the severity of the disruption and number of likes/views on social media have become the only clearly defined goal, and astonishingly it would seem, the sole purpose of the action.
I watched the full video, with her neck clamped to the steering wheel as she masterfully moved the camera around to frame the shot while declaring the purpose of her action, which is the vaguely stated “protesting the climate destruction”.
It is still unclear what she was specifically drawing attention to, other than herself of course. Perhaps it was the use of petrol-powered motor vehicles, such as the one she used to drive to the tunnel?
Maybe she was objecting to the mass production of technology that requires new mineral exploration, such as for the phone she was using to project her message to the world? Perhaps it was the issue of plastic pollution, demonstrated by the disposable bottle she was drinking from?
But enough about the hypocrisy, let’s get to the point, even if our Sydney protester couldn’t articulate it. The tools of her trade, her car, her phone, her drink bottle on their own do not contribute much to climate change, so even though she is a consumer, I imagine she doesn’t view herself as part of the problem.
That is a wonderfully ideological and privileged position to take but it’s far removed from reality.
It’s this type of self-indulgent protest that we take issue with and that we are calling on new laws to address. It’s not the well-organised and well-attended protest movements that result in important social change: Such as decriminalising homosexuality, workplace relations reform and rallies on climate change.
If a cause attracts hundreds or thousands of people to mobilise to have their message heard then shut the streets, clear the path and let them be heard. It has been done in the past and will be done again. But laws do need to evolve to keep up with the changing pace and mindset of the rouge social media protester who just wants to single out a business and shut it down for attention.
There is one thing we can be sure of. Our Sydney activist would have the view that forestry should stop. These ideologues always do, while they simultaneously demand paper and card products to replace plastics, demand an increase in social housing and demand use of natural products in the built environment over high polluting, manufactured ones, they still say stop forestry.
Yet it is industries like forestry that are on the cutting edge. We are the ones creating the solutions that we need to create a better environment and these advancements are happening right now, just Google “mass timber”.
So why have I used the Sydney protester as an example? Hypocrisy for one, but also this time the disruption came out of the forest and impacted the general public, not just our workers and contractors.
Like us, I bet while in that traffic jam, thousands of climate and environmental scientists, academics, engineers, researchers and others, who are doing amazing work were underwhelmed by her contribution to finding environmental solutions.
While the world acts, one (or a handful) of entitled and uninformed individuals decide to bring the world to a halt for a social media moment. There should be consequences for this.
Once she was free to get on with her day, after a quick release of course, she monopolised on her newfound fame by appearing on The Project on Channel 10 and various other media outlets where she stated that she was “happy to have drawn attention to the issue” and “has no regrets”.
Now I understand that while locked on to the car her thoughts might have been a bit scattered, but by now she’d time to consider her reasonings and make her point, the stage was hers, she had just brought thousands to a standstill, the nation was waiting, and her point was, to draw attention to climate change. Underwhelming isn’t it.
Protests in the past achieved some great things, they certainly made our industry look at itself and make improvements, but with the uprising of social media fame this individual grandstanding must stop.
Their moment in the spotlight can’t and shouldn’t come at the expense of others. With the proposed legislation changes to the Police Offences Act we will not lose the right to protest, but there will be at least some consequences for these ideologists who cause disruption looking simply for social media fame.
Nick Steel, Chief Executive, Tasmanian Forest Products Association
NZ's first hybrid harvester operatingMike Hurring Logging & Contracting in Balclutha, has begun operating New Zealand’s first diesel-electric harvesting machine. Not only is the machine cheaper to run and better for the environment, it has some great health and safety features.
Mike’s using this hybrid harvester in a production thinning crew, paired up with a forwarder, and is extracting wood that in the past would have been left as waste. Good for the environment, people and business. Thanks to Josh Hurring for telling the company’s story.
Forest establishment & mechanised planting profiledForestTECH is this region’s premier forestry technology series. It’s the one forestry technology event that brings together forest resource managers, inventory foresters, remote sensing, GIS, mapping and forest inventory specialists and researchers from throughout Australasia. For the last two years, tree crop, forest establishment and silvicultural managers have also been involved as part of this annual series.
In the last 2-3 years, there’s been a resurgence of interest being shown by forestry companies in Australasia on mechanised or automated operations for planting and silviculture. The cost and availability of labour for planting have both been major drivers to testing out mechanised planting operations here in Australasia, just as they have been in Europe and South America and more recently, the USA.
A raft of mechanised planting systems used commercially in New Zealand by Manulife Forest Management and Henry Fear Contracting were profiled to the wider industry as part of the last event, ForestTECH 2021/22 that ran earlier in the year.
Developments out of Europe on mechanised planting, scarifying, ripping and direct seeding along with the integration of irrigation and fertilisation at the time of planting were also detailed by leading European technology suppliers and equipment manufacturers, Risutec, Plantma X and Bracke Forest. Details on content and videos of some of these planting machines in action can be viewed here.
The economics are really starting to stack up. Operational trials and now commercial operations have successfully been undertaken in the central North Island of New Zealand over the last three years with more extensive plantings using mechanical planting systems planned for this year in both the CNI and in northern NSW (with both pine and eucalypts).
As well as integration of the very latest data capture and remote sensing technologies into forest operations, part of the upcoming ForestTECH 2022 series running on 15-16 November 2022 in New Zealand and 22-23 November 2022 in Melbourne, Australia (after three years of Covid enforced meeting and travel restrictions) will be on recent advancements made in North and South America, Europe and Australia around mechanised planting systems.
Key presentations at ForestTECH 2022 will include;
1. Trial results and key lessons from 2022 commercial mechanised planting operations with pine and eucalypts in Australia
2. Results from 2022 trials using hydrogels at the time of planting to extend the planting season
3. Insights into how mechanised planting machines are being employed across steeper slopes in South America. After developing and improving the equipment in Brazilian conditions in eucalyptus forests, a fleet of mechanised planters are expected to be operational this year
4. How GPS planting spades being used commercially this year have performed
5. New Scandinavian mechanised planting systems being used in Sweden and North America
Note: Programme and registration details and further information on both the NZ and Australian events can be found on the ForestTECH 2022 website.
Forestry training & success celebrated in the SouthLast Friday saw yet again another outstanding turnout by local forestry companies and contractors from throughout the lower South Island of New Zealand. The function was the 2022 Southern Wood Council Forestry Awards run in conjunction with the country’s industry training organisation, Competenz/Te Pūkenga.
In addition to profiling the contribution forestry and those working within the industry make to the economic and social well-being of the region, the night was really designed to celebrate the success of those that had achieved formal training qualifications over the year. Through a series of nine major awards, the event also recognised the forest industry’s top performers from across Southland, Otago and South Canterbury.
After Covid related travel and meeting restrictions had postponed previous planned dates for the annual awards evening, the industry certainly rallied on the night. Around 350 forest managers, forestry contractors, wood processing and transport operators and product and service suppliers to the industry attended the awards evening at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.
“The turnout by forestry workers, their families and supporters on the night continues to reflect the momentum that’s been building with training and safety in this region” says Grant Dodson, Chairman of the Southern Wood Council. “In addition to increased on-site training, two training courses in the region are now well established and are providing a regular stream of trained workers to the industry”.
As well as eight well established annual awards that have been celebrated now for eight years, this year marked the first time that a Women in Forestry Excellence Award was set up and recognised by the wider industry. Some outstanding nominations were received and it was only fitting that for the first time, two joint winners were announced on the night, representing women working in forest management and wood harvesting operations in the South.
Hannah Lawson, Rayonier Matariki Forests and Emma Diack, D and K Contracting were announced as joint winners of the inaugural Women in Forestry Excellence Award.
Over 300 National Training Certificates had been achieved in Forestry & Wood Processing across the region in the last 12 months and 200 plus framed certificates were awarded to top local contractors and forestry and wood processing employees on the night. Twenty harvesting apprentices that have been involved in the Mike Hurring Logging Balclutha training school were also recognised at the awards ceremony.
2022 Major Award Winners:
Training Excellence Award - Apprentice of the Year (Sponsored by Southwood Export) Award Winner; Spencer Horsewood, Summit Logging 2020
Training Excellence Award - Forestry Trainee of the Year (harvesting) (Sponsored by Log Marketing) Award Winner; Bradley Walsh, Mike Hurring Logging
Training Excellence Award - Forestry Trainee of the Year (silviculture) (Sponsored by Port Blakely): Award Winner; Eddie Collins, Proforest Services
Skilled Professionals Awards – Forestry Excellence Award (establishment, silviculture, fire, harvesting) (Sponsored by Rayonier Matariki Forests): Award Winner; Alistair McKenzie, Johnson Forestry Services
Skilled Professionals Awards – Wood Processing Excellence Award (Sponsored by UDC): Award Winner; Jayden Lamb, Niagara
Skilled Professionals Awards – Women in Forestry Excellence Award (Sponsored by Venture Forestry): Award Winners; Hannah Lawson, Rayonier Matariki Forests & Emma Diack, D and K Contracting
Industry Excellence Awards – Forestry Environmental Management Excellence Award (Sponsored by Ernslaw One); HWH Logging
Industry Excellence Awards - Training Company/Contractor of the Year (Sponsored by City Forests): Award Winner; Roxburgh Contracting
Industry Excellence Awards - Forest Products Health & Safety Award (Sponsored by Wenita Forest Products): Award Winner; Dynes Group
Photo: Women in Forestry (LtoR): Anne Bridger, Venture Forestry (Award Sponsor), Brittney Kircher, Cable Logging Geraldine (Finalist), Hannah Lawson, Rayonier Matariki Forests (Joint Winner), Emma Diack, D & K Contracting (Joint Winner), Tegan Anderson, Roxburgh Contracting (Finalist), Xshikarna Harvey-Ryder, Mike Hurring Logging (Finalist)
Photos from the awards evening have been uploaded and can be viewed on the Southern Wood Council website.
SnapSTAT - New Zealand log exports
Anti-protest laws for TasmaniaThe Tasmanian Liberal Government has consistently fought to protect Tasmanian workers and allow them to go to work safely, without threat from extremists who invade workplaces and endanger employees.
This is the purpose of the Government’s Workplace Protection legislation and we will continue to support the Bill’s passage through the Parliament as long as it delivers better protections for workers and their workplaces.
Intimidating, threatening and endangering employees will never be acceptable. We’ve been elected three times with policies designed to protect the rights of workers and to deter unlawful interference with workplaces.
The Tasmanian Government respects the right to protest and every Tasmanian’s right to free speech, but it is also important this is not at the expense of the right to lawfully work or run a business. We are amending the Police Offences Act to ensure that our police are able to better protect workers and businesses through strengthening trespass and obstruction laws.
Source: Guy Barnett, Minister for State Development, Construction and Housing
For further commentary on the passing of the anti-protest laws by the Tasmanian Legislative Council click here along with commentary on the announcement from the ABC.
Source: Tasmanian Times, ABC
Numbers point to importance of SA forest industryOn National Forestry Day, new research commissioned by the Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub shows direct and indirect employment in South Australia’s forest and timber industries has increased to more than 21,000, up from 18,000 in 2016.
The research, prepared by ERC on the Economic Contribution of the SA Forestry Industry in 2019/2020 and funded by the Commonwealth Government, shows that there are 21,309 direct and indirect jobs in forestry production in South Australia and that the industry contributed nearly AU$3 billion to the state’s Gross Domestic Product in that year.
SAFPA Chief Executive Officer Nathan Paine said these numbers illustrate the importance of the industry to South Australia and the Limestone Coast region. “The size and the growth of the forest products industry in South Australia clearly demonstrates the importance of the industry to the State and backs the commitments made by the Labor Government in forest industries. In particular the commitment to a Centre for Excellence to showcase our research excellence and the development of a domestic manufacturing masterplan to optimise domestic value-add and new product development”.
“Importantly, the report also shows that by doubling the proportion of forest industries product processed in the region, rather than being sent out of the region, would increase the State’s GSP by a whopping AU$2.9 billion and create around 24,300 new jobs.
“Our opportunity is to get more trees in the ground and grow domestic manufacturing. More trees will not only grow the economic contribution of South Australia’s forest industries but supercharge the Limestone Coast economy and population.
Photo: Minister Clare Scriven (Minister for Forest Industries), Julian Speed (CEO, Forestry SA) and Nathan Paine (CEO, SAFPA) celebrating National Forestry Day which this year is celebrating the theme Planting for the Future
Ponsse launches an electric forest machinePonsse and Epec are introducing the PONSSE EV1, an electric forest machine technology concept. While the forest machine will be commercially available later, Epec's technology can already be used in electric or hybrid-electric commercial vehicles and non-road mobile machines. Ponsse's technological concept is a peek into the future, paving the way for technological development and sustainable harvesting solutions.
The PONSSE EV1 concept has been developed for forwarders with a 15-tonne load-carrying capacity, the most popular Ponsse forwarder size category. The concept machine features a fully electric powertrain, as well as Epec's power distribution unit and hybrid control unit. The machine's powertrain operates fully with battery energy.
Batteries are charged using a Range Extender, which is a combustion engine at this stage of development. Testing and development are advancing continuously. This technology provides significant improvements in fuel economy in this size category.
Ponsse has been studying and developing new technological solutions for several years now. The PONSSE EV1 concept took its first steps in 2019 when Ponsse and Epec started to investigate responsible power source solutions in line with sustainable development.
The PONSSE EV1 features Epec Flow, Epec's electromobility system solution. The solution is based on the Epec Flow Power Distribution Unit (PDU), to which electric motors, batteries and various devices can be connected. The PDU's integrated safety solutions enable effective manufacturing and maintenance of the machines, as well as their operations in demanding conditions. The Epec Flow Hybrid Control Unit (HCU) controls the electric powertrain and includes software developed through simulations, enabling optimal energy consumption, productivity and usability.
"The Epec Flow solution is at the heart of everything. It has been developed for the electrification of various commercial vehicles and non-road mobile machines. The software can be developed using simulation models, and the solution can be agilely developed for the needs of different machinery. The different systems, including the transmission and control system, work seamlessly together, enabling the manufacture of safe and efficient zero-emission machines in the future," says Jyri Kylä-Kaila, Managing Director of Epec.
Source: Ponsse Oyj
Timber homes impact on fighting climate changeBuilding new homes from timber could save about 10 per cent of the world’s carbon budget which is needed to limit global warming to 2 degrees according to a new study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
This research clearly demonstrates that increasing use of timber and fibre is critical to fighting climate change and that we need more sustainable forestry, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Ross Hampton said. The study found if 90 per cent of the world’s new urban population is housed in new timber mid-rise buildings – 106 gigatonnes of CO2 could be saved by 2100.
For further commentary on the study and it's results click here
Source: AFPA, Science Daily
Victoria backs ASH’s timber expansionAdvanced manufacturing leader and timber supplier Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) has received AU$1.2 million in funding through the Victorian Forestry Plan innovation program.
The latest funding will enable the company to expand its plantation timber manufacturing operation and help in the construction of a new AU$2.4 million specialised MASSLAM manufacturing facility. The expansion is expected to help ASH’s Heyfield mill transition to alternative fibre resources, create 12 new full-time jobs and help retain the mill’s existing 172 roles.
As Australia’s only large-scale manufacturer of glue laminated timber, also known as MASSLAM, the latest grant will help ASH introduce new products to the market, such as mass flooring systems, engineered floorboards, kitchen benchtops, and components for staircases, windows, doors, and furniture.
“Plantation shining gum is a key pillar in the future of MASSLAM production. This investment will mean that ASH can continue to produce Australian-made large-scale section columns and beams,” said Vince Hurley, managing director for Australian Sustainable Hardwoods.
Minister for Agriculture Gayle Tierney visited the mill last Wednesday to announce the latest funding and inspect a new retail outlet established with government grants. Heyfield mill previously secured an AU$1.6 million funding through the Victorian Timber Innovation Fund to install a new manufacturing line to produce engineered flooring made from plantation shining gum and Australian-made pine plywood.
The new floorboard line is slated for rollout by the end of the year, making ASH the only company in Australia that manufactures this kind of high-value plantation product, according to a press release issued by the Victorian government. “We are proud to support ASH to continue to support local jobs and manufacture world renowned timber products into the future,”’ said Tierney.
For further coverage on the announcement, click here
Source: Australian Manufacturing, ash.com.au
Changes to Australia’s National Construction CodeAustralia's National Construction Code (NCC) 2022, which was initially slated for release in September, has been delayed and is now unlikely to be published until at least October. Here, FWPA provides an overview of what the forestry and wood products sector can expect.
The NCC sets the minimum technical design and construction provisions for Australian buildings, and several changes included will impact the way timber can be used.
As part of the development process of the NCC 2022, FWPA submitted several proposals seeking modifications or additions in relation to the use of timber products. Unfortunately, due to the volume of requests received, the majority of timber-related requests will not be considered until the code is revisited again in 2025.
One timber-related change proposed by FWPA that was accepted as part of the new NCC relates to the attachment of timber decking. This update involves the accepted sizes of ledger plates (also known as ‘wall plates’), which are used to attach decking to buildings or structures.
Specifically, the minimum size of ledger plates has been reduced to a standard/common timber size, and typically available fixings have been nominated for the fixing of the plates. This modification will mean the ledger plates used going forward will better accommodate common timber element sizes and fixings.
The NCC 2022 will also require the installation of ‘accessibility features’, with a view to increasing the stock of accessible housing to support Australians with disability and older Australians, their families, and carers.
Implications of this change for the use of timber might include the installation of wooden ramps to provide step-free access to raised timber floors; installation of grab rails in toilets, showers and baths created using timber noggings or sheeting, and the requirement for wider timber doors, door frames, and wall frames.
Significant changes have also been made in relation to improving the energy efficiency of construction practices, many of which will impact how timber is used in buildings post-adoption.
Read more on the range of changes of interest to the industry on the National Construction Code website.
In light of the NCC 2022 changes, all WoodSolutions technical design guides that reference the code need to be updated to ensure any changes to the various clause numbers are accurately reflected. The authors of these guides are in the process of checking all content and making updates where appropriate.
Source: ForWood, FWPA
Quintis puts Northern Territory farm on marketIndian sandalwood company Quintis is looking to sell one of its major projects in the Northern Territory — years before harvesting a single tree.
Quintis sold the western side of Stylo Station near Mataranka for AU$2.1 million in June and in February sold a freehold block near Katherine called Eagle Park West for AU$800,000. It recently also put the rest of Stylo Station on the market.
Qunitis, formerly known as TFS, bought Stylo Station in 2015 from cattle producer and political candidate Tina McFarlane, in a deal that attracted plenty of controversy. The company said in a statement the sandalwood plantation at Stylo "had underperformed for a variety of reasons" and it was looking to sell and focus on its other plantations near Katherine, the Douglas Daly (NT), the Burdekin region of Queensland and the Ord Valley region of Western Australia.
TFS starting planting sandalwood trees in the Ord Irrigation Scheme in 1999 and quickly grew into the world's largest producer of the exotic timber, which is valued for its heartwood oil.
It expanded across the border into the Northern Territory in 2012, but crashed after its Quintis rebrand in 2017 following a scathing report by an American short seller and a string of revelations that the company had lost major customers without informing the market.
Quintis re-emerged as a private company in late 2018 after a AU$145 million takeover by global investment giant BlackRock. The company's operations in the Ord Valley appear to be going well, with new trees being planted this year and a record harvest of about 60,000 sandalwood trees.
Its first harvest in the Northern Territory is not expected until 2027. According to its website, Quintis' sandalwood estate is still the largest in the world, spanning about 12,000 hectares and home to more than 5.5 million trees.
Approval given to overseas investorsApproval has been granted for the sale of several NZ sheep and beef farms to overseas investors, who will turn about 7,100 hectares into rotational forests. The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has issued its latest decisions made under the special forest test.
Introduced in 2018, the test was designed to support the government's forestry priorities, including more tree planting. Farming groups have raised concerns too much productive farmland is being lost to trees.
Furniture store IKEA's parent company Ingka Investments is continuing to buy land to plant trees with its latest purchase, the Huiarua and Matanui Stations in the Gisborne region with a combined area of just over 6000 hectares.
Nearly 5000 hectares of the sheep and beef breeding operations will be converted into radiata pine forests. Swiss company Corisol New Zealand Limited bought a 420ha sheep and beef farm in the Clutha District, a farm in Masterton has been purchased by Austrian company Johannes Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg, and Italian firm Greendom Limited purchased a sheep and beef operation in Hastings for NZ$5.2 million.
All will be turned into forestry operations. New rules changing the assessment criteria for overseas investments that result in the conversion of farmland to production forestry came into force last month, the OIO said.
Consent applications for farm-to-forestry conversions are now considered under the general benefit to New Zealand test, rather than the more permissive special forestry test. The new rules do not apply to transactions or applications entered into before August 16.
Buy and Sell
... and some to end the week on ...
My wife was waving the kids off this morning, I said ”school doesn’t start for another week”. She said, ”I know, I’ve told them to walk slowly!”
On that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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