WoodWeek – 27 August 2014

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Greetings from your WoodWeek team. Forestry safety stories continue to dominate the news this week. As families make their way through the necessary legal processes, lessons are being learnt that will hopefully pave the way for a better future for regulators dealing with these difficult situations. The judge made specific comments regarding the unnecessary pain caused by time delays in the most recent prosecution case, following the death of Robert Ruri-Epapara. Meanwhile, the coroner has determined that the cause of death of South Otago worker Mark Rogan, who died in May last year, was from a rare bacterial infection caused after he ingested a wood chip.

Well done to the keen team at Dynes Transport down in Tapanui for their near-miss app. Good on them!

This election year is notable for the small (but perceptible) focus being put on how forestry can potentially benefit the longer-term economy – both in export earnings and emissions trading terms (see Labour’s proposal to set up an independent Climate Commission). It’s something that has never really featured in previous campaigns. How did it happen? Follow the money and you’ll see. As the media chirped on about the ‘rock-star’ economy, it brought forestry’s future potential earning into the public spotlight, alongside milk powder. That was until ‘rock- star’ economy headed for the rocks with prices plunging just as the campaign started. But at least some politicians continue to show that they understand how we can turn future forests and wood harvests into better outcomes for the local economy, as well as our export customers.

The latest group to recognise an opportunity to grow forest earnings is the newly announced United Forestry Group, with the ‘Superpen’ backing of Australian timber marketer Pentarch and China's Xiangyu Group. With listed companies reporting the season is in full swing, log exports are also showing up in the very positive results being recorded by New Zealand port companies.

Who says we can’t be world class in little old NZ? Not the folks in Kawerau! For the first time ever there is a World Exclusive new attraction to be launched at Kawerau Woodfest. Prideaux Park will be the site of a giant marquee (making the activity fully weather proof) and will involve almost 10,000 rolls of Kawerau produced Purex toilet roll!

Meanwhile, further afield, the Tasmanian government is on course to pass legislation that would tear up the state’s forestry peace deal. The Canadians continue to demonstrate why they excel at lumber exporting to China – their government’s long-term efforts at underpinning the market are unique and give them a market capability all of their own. In a decade they've grown the business from very little to $1.4 billion annually.

While the last story looks like it is about quad bikes on farms, it is also about how farm forestry will change after the Health and Safety reform bill becomes law.

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Lengthy accident procedure criticised

There were few dry eyes in the courtroom as Robert Ruri-Epapara's parents spoke of the impact of losing their son. Mr Ruri-Epapara was 23 when he was killed while working in the Waione Forest near Lake Rotoiti on March 26, 2013. His crew's 26-year-old foreman Major Nelson had felled a tree further up the slope that struck Mr Ruri-Epapara on the head. Nelson had radioed other workers - Mr Ruri-Epapara didn't have a radio - to check on his mate's location and believed it was safe to proceed.

In the Rotorua District Court on Wednesday Nelson pleaded guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 that he, as an employee, failed to take all practicable steps to prevent an action of his at work, namely felling a tree, from causing harm to Mr Ruri-Epapara.

He was fined $35,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $15,000. Complete Logging Ltd, of which he was a director and 40 per cent shareholder, had already been fined $60,000 and ordered to pay $75,000 reparation.

Judge speaks out - After handing down the sentence, Judge Chris McGuire said there was something else he wanted to say. "This accident, this tragedy, happened on 26 March 2013. That is almost 18 months ago. Everyone in this courtroom is the loser on account of the effluxion of time," he said.

He said Mr Ruri-Epapara's family and friends had been hurting for almost 18 months, as had Nelson. Defence lawyer Hamish Evans had earlier told the court Nelson had sought counselling after feeling like a "headless chook" since the accident that killed his close friend.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (through WorkSafe) has six months to decide whether to lay charges after a workplace accident. Judge McGuire said he understood the need for a thorough investigation but questioned how long that should take.

Family moving forward - For the past eight months Mr and Mrs Edmonds have been travelling the country talking about safety: 56 presentations, 6382 people, 45 flights, 38 cities, 33 companies, 1200 plus kilometres driving. "Robert's death will not be in vain . . . What happens from here will be the difference," Mrs Edmonds said.

To read the full story click here

Image: Major Nelson leaving court after his sentencing.

Source: Rotorua Daily Post

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Dynes lead with near miss iPhone App

Near miss App from Dynes Transport in Tapanui - Apple iPhone users can now use a simple mobile application to capture near miss incidents. Designed and used by Dynes Transport Tapanui Limited, the app allows staff to record an incident by taking photos and recording a voice message without the need for long winded forms. Near miss incidents are the hardest to capture, so making easy for staff is key to getting good reporting, which in turns can help improve safety and develop a culture of safety.

The system sends an email with all the required information including the photos, voice message, date & time, GPS location and contact information. Emails can be set to send to more than one person if required. Simple setup requires no logins or accounts.

To see the app (which is free to download), click here

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Forestry group plans woodlot gains

A new company called United Forestry Group, backed by Australian timber marketer Pentarch and China's Xiangyu Group, is targeting small forest owners in New Zealand in a bid to cash in on a looming 'wall of wood' it estimates will generate NZ$30 billion over the next two decades.

The Wellington-based company wants to consolidate the country's 14,000 small forests, which account for just over a third of New Zealand's plantations, and use its forestry management skills and supply chain to achieve a more efficient network and boost returns for the owners, it said in a statement. Acting managing director Malcolm McComb told a briefing in Wellington the company aims to build a 30,000 hectare plantation, and is initially eyeing trees ready for harvest in the next 10 years.

United Forestry, which counts Pentarch and Xiangyu joint venture Superpen as a cornerstone investor with 60 percent, is offering to buy small forests outright, or buy a combination of land and trees. It will also offer advice on harvesting and marketing mature forests.

Forest owners will also have the ability to take cash and shares in the company, and McComb said the company hopes to grow the number of New Zealand investors by doing so.

"We are taking a whole new approach to this emerging problem, and are committing major resources to be in a position to buy forests outright, control shipping services and consolidate forest output through the country to give the participating small forest owners a strong hand to play with," he said. "We will have the financial strength, expertise and presence in the local and Asia markets to offer them a much more comprehensive range of options."

The company will focus its efforts on forest owners in the south of the North Island and north of the South Island, he said. While it hasn't signed up any owners, McComb said it has "got a few forest owners ready to commit in a foundation group."

Superpen partners Pentarch and Xiangyu have made funding commitments, and McComb said the company would be open to other investment partners further down the track.

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Coroner: Worker died from rare infection

An inquest into the death of a forestry worker has found he died from an infection caused by swallowing something like a wood chip. Mark Rogan died in May last year after working in the Tokoiti forest near Milton in South Otago.

The Coroner's Court in Dunedin was told this week that the Milton man died from a very rare bacterial infection that probably started from a small graze on the back of his tongue five days before.

Mr Rogan had complained of swallowing something while cutting up tree waste with a chainsaw. Two doctors who saw him said they had examined his throat but could not see anything wrong, and believed that he had flu.

Coroner David Crerar said in preliminary findings that there is no evidence of any failure by Mr Rogan's employer or his doctors.

"There is no evidence of any failure by LEJ Contracting to provide a safe workplace for Mark Rogan and the independent expert GP report stated that the doctors who treated Mark Rogan cannot be faulted for their decision-making."

Mr Crerar says Mr Rogan died by a very unusual series of events.

Source: Radio New Zealand News

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Foresters like Labour's climate proposal

Labour’s proposal to set up an independent Climate Commission to advise the government on how to meet its emissions targets has been welcomed by the Forest Owners Association.

“It will reduce the likelihood of governments tinkering in the ETS. This, together with clear price signals for carbon, will enable businesses and land owners to adopt low-carbon strategies with a much higher level of confidence,” says FOA environment committee chair Peter Weir.

“Ever since climate change arrived on the agenda, we have been asking the major political parties to stop playing politics with carbon emissions and pricing. The most recent ETS change undermined investment in forestry with an overnight, unannounced, change that prevented Kyoto forest owners from using international units to settle their emissions obligations. Forest owners were the only emitters to be singled out in this way, contradicting assurances made by the government only six months before.

“The government has agreed to reconsider that change, but we are still waiting to hear if they will work with us on a mutually beneficial solution.”

Mr Weir says moving New Zealand to a low-carbon economy has huge benefits, quite apart from the message it sends to the world about Kiwis playing their part in addressing the global problem of climate change.

“Crown Research Institute Scion says there are around half million hectares of marginal farmland that would be better off in forestry for a whole host of environmental and economic reasons. Among them, cleaner rivers, less soil erosion, more biodiversity protection and greater long- term surety of log supply to major wood processors.

“But at current land prices, it is not economic to develop this land for forestry based on log prices alone.”

Mr Weir points out that the prevailing low carbon price has devastated the tree nursery sector. Nurseries scaled up production when new land planting took off in response to an initial carbon price approaching $20 a tonne, only to have to mulch in seedlings when the government allowed the carbon price to fall back to 12 cents a tonne.

“A realistic price for carbon and an independent Climate Commission to keep the policies of successive governments on track, would – in combination with Labour’s proposed “Wood-First” construction policy – encourage both new planting and replanting to the benefit of the economy and the environment,” he says.

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Ports logging healthy profits

Port of Tauranga, New Zealand’s pre-eminent freight gateway (NZX: POT), today reports an improved financial result for the year to 30 June 2014 and a strong outlook following a successful year extending its freight catchment across the country.

EBITDA increased 5.5% to $142.5 million from $135.0 million as an increase in bulk cargo transported across the Company’s wharves offset a temporary decline in container volumes. Total cargo volumes rose 3.5% to more than 19.7 million tonnes from 19.1 million tonnes a year earlier.

Trade trends - Imports increased 6.4% to nearly 6.4 million tonnes from 6.0 million tonnes in the prior period. This increase was driven primarily by imports for the buoyant agricultural and construction sectors. Total exports rose 2% to 13.4 million tonnes from 13.1 million tonnes in the prior period driven by dairy and forestry exports.


South Port New Zealand, the Bluff port operator, lifted annual profit 2.7 percent to a record as increased volumes of stock food and logs drove cargo growth.

Net profit rose to $6.68 million, or 25.5 cents per share, in the 12 months ended June 30 from $6.5 million, or 24.8 cents a year earlier, the Bluff-based company said in a statement. Trading revenue rose 6.7 percent to $31.3 million on a record 2.72 million tonnes of cargo going through the port. Imported stock food volume was twice the 2013 level, while log exports were at a record 390,000 tonnes, it said.

South Port anticipates similar cargo levels in 2015, though forecasts a "slightly lower" annual profit in the 2015 financial year as global demand for dairy and forestry goods comes off the boil.

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NZ's ETS facts and figures

New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority released their latest ETS Facts and Figures report for the 2013 calendar year, alongside the more detailed report required under section 89 of the Climate Change Response Act. The latter covers a slightly different period from 1 July 2013 to end June 2014.

Some of the headline numbers highlighted by Carbon Match earlier this week include;

- 97.41 million tonnes - the emissions reported under the ETS in the course of the 2013 calendar year.

- 45.5 million tonnes - the actual surrender of units for the 2013 calendar year (note the large increase from 16.5m (2011) and 27.1m (2012).)

- The lion's share of the increase? Attributable largely to de- registrations from the ETS by post-89 foresters - emissions from the liquid fossil fuels sector were almost flat, and emissions from industry and energy down on the previous years.

- 39% - the increase in free allocations to industry (4.8 million) which the report attributes to changes to baselines and increases in production.

- 2 million tonnes - the overall increase in emissions from the agricultural sector (a total of 33.0 million tonnes were reported for the 2013 year, though no surrender obligation currently exists).

- >90% - the proportion of the 45.5 million units surrendered to Government that were Emission Reduction Units (ERUs). Nearly a further 9% were CERs and RMUs.

- 227,000 - the number of New Zealand units surrendered in the ETS - just half a percent overall.

- 17 million NZUs - the number of NZUs given out to post-89 foresters in the year to 30 June 2014.

- 17% - the decline in post-89 participant numbers as at 30 June 2014 c.f. the previous year.

The full reports are available here on the EPA website.

Source: www.carbonmatch.co.nz

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Record Setting at Kawerau WoodFest

For the first time ever there is a World Exclusive new attraction to be launched at Kawerau Woodfest. Prideaux Park will be the site of a giant marquee (making the activity fully weather proof) and will involve almost 10,000 rolls of Kawerau produced Purex toilet roll!

The new attraction is a partnership between Asaleo Care (formerly SCA), Kawerau District Council and Team Tarawera Raft crew and is the basis for a series of whacky and bizarre Record Setter World Record attempts (www.Recordsetter.com) - never attempted on New Zealand soil.

With the kind support of the local industry leader Asaleo Care and NZCT, local children and in fact any age can turn up at Kawerau Woodfest to practice a series of specifically designed Record Setter World Records ranging from the fastest time to unravel a toilet roll to balancing the tallest tower of toilet rolls on one hand.

The world records administered by the American online company ‘Record Setters’ (created by two eccentric record breakers Dan Rollman and Corey Henderson) is quickly becoming a global sensation as the premier online resource for Record Setter World Records.

RecordSetter is an interactive media company building a global brand centered around human achievement. Their website allows anyone, anywhere, to compete against others in any type of category. The RecordSetter database hosts over 25,000 world records submitted from 90+ countries, making it the largest collection of world record videos on the Internet. The New Yorker calls it “a Web site that is to the Guinness World Records as Wikipedia is to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.”

To read the full story click here

For more update see the event website

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Canada drives Chinese wood building

Chinese educators are spending three weeks this month honing their wood frame building skills at the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia (BC). The program consists of 50 per cent classroom instruction, 35 per cent hands-on training, and 15 per cent project visits.

"It's a technology we take for granted here in North America," said John English, dean of applied and technical studies at UFV. "These structures are seismically sound and, when constructed correctly, have a long life."

Organized in conjunction with the Chinese National Ministry of Urban & Rural Housing Development, the program is sponsored by 11 Chinese vocational schools, nine building companies and Canada Wood, an industry coalition that represents Canada's forest sector's interests in offshore markets.

It's the first program of its kind. It's also one facet of both governments' long-term efforts to promote wood building in China. Last week, BC’s Forests Minister Steve Thomson and Tan Yueming, minister of housing and urban rural development in China's Zhejiang province signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

The MOU calls on the two governments to promote the use of environmentally friendly low-carbon, wood-frame construction, develop wood-frame construction codes and standards for application in China, and organize exchange visits for government and representatives to share technical experience and knowledge.

BC will also increase co-operation with Zhejiang on wood-frame construction research, with a specific focus on local construction needs in Zhejiang province, including government-funded public building projects and home renovations. It's one of many agreements designed to push Chinese wood building forward.

The past 10 years have seen the Chinese wood building industry go from being almost non-existent to importing more than $1.4 billion in B.C. wood last year.

To read the full story click here

Source: Journal of Commerce

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WA forestry appointment welcomed

WA Forestry Minister Mia Davies welcomed the appointment of Vince Erasmus as the new general manager of the Forest Products Commission. "Vince comes to the position with a great deal of experience of working in the forestry industry both in Australia and his native South Africa. I am confident he will lead FPC and the industry as a whole with a great sense of direction and purpose as he tackles the challenges ahead" said Minister Davies.

Vince's experience spans a strong background in forest management of both softwood plantations, native and hardwood plantations coupled with an extensive solid wood processing career. This experience will enable him to engage with all stakeholders towards optimally matching the forest resource with appropriate downstream processing technologies. Having been involved in both the primary conversion of solid logs to high- end value adding process, he has a deep understanding of the elements required by processors to build and grow sustainable and profitable long-term business.

Over the recent six years he has been responsible for an extensive estate of both Australian and Indian sandalwood plantations. This exposure, and in particular research, into the marketing opportunities for the product internationally gave him a solid understanding of the international sandalwood trade. A forester at heart, Vince has a deep love of the industry and the region. Having been exposed to forest certification programs for the past two decades, he has an appreciation of the responsibilities bestowed on the FPC to manage the assets for the greater good of all stakeholders and the communities within which we operate.

Vince Erasmus commenced his new role as General Manager on Monday, 11 August 2014.

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Tasmania changing forestry legislation

The Tasmanian government is on course to pass legislation that would tear up the state’s forestry peace deal, with environmentalists claiming the move will open up 1.5m hectares of largely pristine forest to logging.

The state government’s forestry bill has already passed the lower house, which it controls, and is in the process of negotiating the legislative council, the upper house of parliament. Key independent Robert Armstrong has indicated support for the bill, meaning it is likely to pass.

The bill will remove 400,000ha of native forest from reserves set up by the Tasmanian Forest Agreement. An additional 657,000ha in conservation areas and 454,000ha in regional reserves will also be opened up to “partial logging” for the speciality timber industry.

Green groups say that 1.5m hectares of forest, some of it pristine old growth rainforest that has been protected for 30 years, could potentially be felled.

The state government argues that the existing forestry agreement, which ended decades of battles between loggers and conservationists, is stifling jobs and investment in the timber industry. Paul Harriss, Tasmania’s minister for resources, said he was “optimistic” the bill, which designates particular species of tree for logging, would pass.

To read more click here

Source: The Guardian

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Chernobyl forests don't decompose

Almost three decades after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, dead forests in the immediate radiation zone are still not decaying. Researchers say that this shows a disturbing facet of long-term radiation exposure that is little considered - how radiation impacts the process of decomposition.

According to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Oecologia forest around Chernobyl, particularly the infamous Red Forest - have shown little sign of decay since they first died nearly 30 years ago. This could be due to the fact that microbes and fungi have not recovered well from radiation contamination in the area.

The researchers involved in this latest study have been conducting analysis on environmental changes in the irradiated area since 1991, and have "noticed a significant accumulation of litter over time" - namely leaves and other dead brush that would normally decay in the course of a few years.

According to the researchers, this is worrying. It shows that the radiation affected microbes and fungi severely, and is preventing natural decomposition, even after bush plants and other small trees have begun to grow once more in the region.

The result is building dead brush over decades - the potential kindling for a catastrophic forest fire in the future if decomposition rates do not correct themselves.

More >>
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Safety Corner - ACOP Alert

13.2.4 No person shall use a chainsaw while standing on stockpiled, stacked or heaped stems or logs.

ACOP definition, page 117: Stacked, stockpiled, or heaped: logs or stems that are stacked more than one log or stem high or layed out on bearers for the purpose of trimming or cross cutting.

It is common practice amongst harvesting crews, particularly those with mechanical processing capabilities, to lay out all logs to be QC’d on top of bearers as shown in the photo below. Although this is an acceptable practice, and helps to keep the SEDs and LEDs out of the mud for measurement, it must be remembered that under the ACOP classification this is deemed to be a stack.

No person is to use a chainsaw while standing on top of a log on a bearer. This includes stems in a manual processing area. If your deck is laid out on bearers you must stay grounded while using a chainsaw.

Also applicable is 13.2.3 which states “The loader operator shall ensure there is sufficient space between stems or logs to allow safe log making and manual processing”. If this is not the case in your operation speak up and make your operators aware of the hazard. This is not only important for the immediate safety of skid workers, but also ergonomics and reducing long term physiological effects. Discuss this amongst your team and work out a suitable plan going forward to manage this process within the ACOP guidelines.

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Workplace Safety Warning

We've all heard about the Marlborough farmworker copping $15,000 worth of fines related to a quad bike.

Helmet use is in the Department of Labour's (now Worksafe NZ) "Guidelines for the safe use of quad bikes", and is not the only farming activity that is under the microscope. While there's been plenty of discussion about the fine, what has slipped under the radar are other recommendations in the guide.

One is recognising dangerous areas on-farm and establishing "no-go" zones. Another case, highlighted by Neil Beadle, a partner at Federated Farmers' legal advisers DLA Phillips Fox, rams home the bite of these recommended "no-go" zones.

It involved a Mangakino sharemilker with an otherwise good record who lost a farm worker when their quad bike flipped. The sharemilker pleaded guilty to a single charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to map "no-go" zones and promoting these zones to their staff. This was the first prosecution of its kind, but it hasn't received the same publicity as the helmet.

There are other recommendations in that guide, so read it before asking yourself, "Have I got my bases covered?"

The sharemilker was ordered to pay reparations of $75,000 to the dead person's family as well as a fine of $28,150.

Under the Health and Safety Reform Bill, now on an election hold, DLA Phillips Fox tells us greater scrutiny will instead fall upon the farm owner and manager and would have led to criminal charges in the sharemilker's case. It imposes clear personal responsibilities on the directors and managers, as opposed to just the corporate or trust entity, which happens to own or manage the farm. This represents a massive shift and will affect anyone who is a "person conducting a business or undertaking".

The bill extends the reach of who's responsible for health and safety, so if a contracted forestry worker is killed or injured on a farm forestry block the farm's owner faces liability. Federated Farmers has pointed this out to Parliament.

This big shift stems from the Pike River Royal Commission. WorkSafe NZ was the first cab off the rank but this Health and Safety Reform Bill is the significant second. The Bill's wording is about providing a "balanced" health and safety framework. The people who wrote it say it is about protecting individuals from harm, providing for workplace representation and encouraging unions and employer organisations to take a constructive role in improving health and safety practices.

It will promote compliance and the provision of health and safety advice and education. This is to ensure that the actions of people exercising health and safety functions are subject to scrutiny, and providing a framework for continuous improvement.

I can hear your intake of breath.

Federated Farmers put our view to Parliament explaining that agriculture tends to be higher risk, because we work in isolated areas and with heavy equipment, not to mention livestock that have minds of their own. Aside from being mostly self-employed our workplaces are our homes too. Yet the message in this bill is clear - review your processes now because big changes are coming.

Source: Stuff News

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Buy and Sell

... and finally ... airplane humour

As a jet was flying over Arizona on a clear day, the copilot was providing his passengers with a running commentary about landmarks over the PA system.

"Coming up on the right, you can see the Meteor Crater, which is a major tourist attraction in northern Arizona. It was formed when a lump of nickel and iron, roughly 150 feet in diameter and weighing 300,000 tons, struck the earth 50,000 years ago at about 40,000 miles an hour, scattering white-hot debris for miles in every direction. The hole measures nearly a mile across and is 570 feet deep."

A lady sitting next to me exclaimed: "Wow, look! It just missed the highway!"

Have a safe and prosperous week.

John Stulen
PO Box 1230
Building X91, Scion Campus, 99 Sala Street
Rotorua, New Zealand
Tel +64 27 275 8011
Web www.woodweek.com

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