WoodWeek – 25 November 2015

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Along with temperatures outside, the news for forest industries is hotting up this week. New Zealand export log prices jumped to a seven-month high in November as demand picked up in China, the country's largest market. The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs rose to $92 a tonne from $83 a tonne in October, marking the highest level since April.

With climate change policy set to become global news in coming days, yesterday’s announcement of the start of a review of the NZ ETS brings an opportunity to consider how New Zealand can further incentivise the planting of more forests, says Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew. “Forestry is one of New Zealand’s largest and cheapest forms of carbon storage,” says Mrs Goodhew. “It is critical that foresters engage in the review so that together we can develop policy proposals that are in the best interests of the scheme and the sector.”

In more positive news for wood products, more and more architects are making the link between the value of wood as a new age building material and the ‘values’ of wood environmentally. Modern engineered timber is lighter than concrete but can be as strong as concrete, provide better insulation properties and is actually fire resistant, not to mention a crucial store of carbon.

One such advocate, London-based architect Alex de Rijke, is touring Australia to say, “Timber is the new concrete.” He added that there is vast potential and versatility for engineered timber. It holds the key to construction for the 21st century, just as the 18th century was about brick, the 19th steel, and the 20th was concrete. Everyone in forestry agrees! More architects and building developers need to know now.

With technology bringing increasing benefits to land-based businesses, Innovatek is again leading the way with a pan-primary industries technology conference bringing a European influence this time. Dr Adam Ultrich, the Secretary General of the European Agricultural Machinery, says digital technologies are set to transform the world of agriculture. Company founder, Yasir Khokhar of Connecterra, a Netherlands-based agri-startup, won the ALPHA category for their innovative ‘Fitbit for cows’ technology.

Both Yasir Khokhar and Dr Adam Ultrich will be presenting at New Zealand’s MobileTECH 2016 conference. This event is to be held in Rotorua on the 30-31 March 2016 and will bring together the rural industry leaders, technology developers, innovators and early adopters from the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors.

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Log export prices jump

NZ export log prices jump to 7-month high on pick up in Chinese demand- New Zealand export log prices jumped to a seven-month high in November as demand picked up in China, the country's largest market.

The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs rose to $92 a tonne from $83 a tonne in October, marking the highest level since April, according to AgriHQ's monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and sawmillers. The AgriHQ Log Price Indicator, which measures log prices weighted by grade, increased to 92.51 from 88.41 last month.

Log prices increased sharply this month as Chinese demand picked up to 70,000 cubic metres a day towards the end of October, and about 50,000-60,000 cubic metres a day in November. The pick up in demand comes after log exporters reduced shipments to China following weak market conditions, and has caused inventory levels on Chinese ports to fall to between 2.3-to- 2.6 million cubic metres from about 3 million cubic metres last month and 4.7 million cubic metres in August, AgriHQ said. Some now expected inventories to drop below 2 million cubic metres, AgriHQ said.

"The main cause of this sharp increase has been a reduction in supply and high off-take from Chinese ports. Due to the poor market conditions some exporters delayed harvesting over winter while others diverted supplies to other markets," said AgriHQ analyst Emma Dent. "The current lack of supply has resulted in a knee-jerk reaction from Chinese traders who are now seeking to source product to fill contracts."

Prices are expected to firm through December, although the market remains volatile, Dent said.

"The market has the potential to overshoot in its price recovery, in which case prices will need to drop for the market to find the right balance," she said. "Improved market conditions mean supply to China is likely to increase which would place downward pressure on prices."

Lower shipping rates and a favourable New Zealand exchange rate were helping underpin the local export market, she said.

Meanwhile, prices for New Zealand domestic logs were steady with pruned logs at $167 a tonne from $164 a tonne last month, and structural logs at $103 a tonne from $105 a tonne.

Domestic log processors are struggling to source supply in some regions due to competition from the export market, Dent said.

Logs, wood, and wood articles are New Zealand's third-largest commodity export behind dairy products and meat.

Source: Scoop via BusinessDesk

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Australia increases log harvest by 8% in 2014-15

Australia’s forestry sector is showing continuing signs of improvement, according to a report released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES). The report, Australian forest and wood products statistics: March and June quarters 2015, highlights positive results for the forestry sector for the second consecutive year, with increases in the estimated volume and value of logs harvested, dwelling commencements and trade in most wood products.

ABARES Executive Director, Karen Schneider, said the latest data suggested that Australia’s forestry sector is showing signs of continued recovery. “ABARES interim estimates indicate that the volume of logs harvested increased by around 8 per cent, to more than 27 million cubic metres in 2014–15,” Ms Schneider said.

“This follows a difficult period that saw the industry contract under adverse conditions, including low levels of residential construction, weak global demand for wood products and a high Australian dollar.”

Increases in log volumes coincided with an increase in housing activity and wood product exports, with house commencements approaching levels similar to those seen in 2009-10 and the value of exports reaching an all time high of $2.8 billion. However, strong growth in imports meant that the trade deficit in wood products continued to increase in 2014-15, to around AU$2.3 billion.

Ms Schneider also said that production and consumption of selected wood-based panel products showed further signs of recovery, with an increase in production and consumption of plywood, medium density fibreboard and particleboard in 2014-15.

“This may be indicative of a turnaround for the forestry sector,” Ms Schneider said. “However, production and consumption statistics for other wood product categories, which will become available later in the year, will provide a clearer picture of how the sector is tracking.”

For a copy of the report visit ABARES Publications

Source: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
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ETS review an opportunity for forestry

Yesterday’s announcement of the start of a review of the NZ ETS brings an opportunity to consider how New Zealand can further incentivise the planting of more forests, says Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew.

“Forestry is one of New Zealand’s largest and cheapest forms of carbon storage,” says Mrs Goodhew. “It is critical that foresters engage in the review so that together we can develop policy proposals that are in the best interests of the scheme and the sector.”

The review will be run in two stages. Stage one will focus on the current situation where non- forestry participants can surrender only one NZU for every two tonnes of emissions, or pay the Government a fixed price of $25 per NZU. Submissions on this stage will close on 19 February 2016.

Stage two will consider ways to improve the operation of the NZ ETS and set its future direction. Technical notes will be released to support discussion on these issues. These will include information on a number of issues of interest to foresters, including:

  • accounting methodologies for post-1989 foresters, including averaging, harvested wood products, and emissions from adverse events;

  • the exemption provisions for tree weeds for pre-1990 forests;

  • the transfer of participation for post-1989 forestry; and

  • the penalty and prosecution regime.

“We will begin engaging with the sector in early 2016, once the technical notes have been released,” says Mrs Goodhew. “Submissions on stage two will close on 30 April 2016 and I expect proposals will be developed by the end of 2016.

“Foresters engagement will help us achieve greater regulatory certainty, improve the scheme’s operational efficiency, and remove unnecessary barriers to planting.”

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Eucalypts makes up large volume in China

Currently eucalyptus is the third most available plantation timber in China. The area of eucalyptus plantations is around 4.5 million hectares accounting for just 2% of China’s forest area.

However, the annual timber output from these eucalyptus plantation will exceed 30 million cubic metres making up around 27% of the annual domestic timber output. It is estimated that more than 10 million jobs are supported along the eucalyptus supply and manufacturing chain.

Source: ITTO TTM Report 19:21

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NZ to learn from European ag-innovators

Like New Zealand, innovation is seen as a major driving force in the future growth of Europe’s agricultural sector.

Agritechnica, one of the largest agricultural machinery shows in the world, has just finished in Germany and attracted over 450,000 visitors and 2,907 exhibitors. Agriculture 4.0 was front- and-centre of this event, with precision farming, sensor-based data collection, remote and automated systems and internet-based technologies being showcased at the 2015 event.

Growth in the Agri-tech industry also made an impact at Europe’s Web Summit, labelled ‘the best technology conference on the planet’. Connecterra, a Netherlands-based agri startup, won the ALPHA category for their innovative ‘Fitbit for cows’ technology. Company founder, Yasir Khokhar, believes the industry can solve some of the big real-world problems through technology.

In another event, the CECE-CEMA Summit, agricultural leaders met in Brussels to discuss how driverless tractors and intelligent machines were completely changing the way land owners are producing, driving and using equipment on the farm. The digital transformation of the industry in Europe is seen as a massive opportunity and it is helping to attract major investment into the sector.

Dr Adam Ulrich, Secretary General of the European Agricultural Machinery (CEMA), said that “digital technologies are set to transform the world of agriculture in the years ahead and will fundamentally reshape the agri-food value chain in Europe and beyond." However, smart regulatory frameworks are needed to unlock the full potential of the industry. This is especially important in building stronger broadband infrastructure into rural Europe.

Yasir Khokhar and Dr Adam Ultrich will both be presenting at New Zealand’s MobileTECH 2016 conference. This event is held in Rotorua on the 30-31 March 2016 and will bring together the rural industry leaders, technology developers, innovators and early adopters from the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors.

The MobileTECH 2016 programme is available and further information can be found on the event website www.mobiletech.events.

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A fresh approach to business finance

A new company Finance NZ, has been established by the majority of the Equipment Finance sales team previously employed by GE Capital offer a fresh approach to business finance by providing independent business finance solutions.

Finance NZ can offer a full suite of business finance solutions from a wide range of funding partners – from trading banks through to specialist business funders. They act as one point of contact for all your finance requirements investigating multiple funding options on your behalf. “Our clients at GE really appreciated the personal relationships and understanding that comes with finance”, said Finance NZ Business Partner Andrew Partington “We felt there was a good opportunity to continue these service levels as well as offering independent business finance solutions.”

Finance NZ has teamed up with multiple funding partners to deliver structured solutions that minimise the total cost of finance including; finance for fleet and equipment, business finance, working capital facilities, property finance, import finance and insurance premium funding.

To learn more about Finance NZ visit www.financenz.co.nz or email info@financenz.co.nz

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CLT will be considered conventional in Australia by 2020

Founding Director of London-based architecture firm de Rijke Marsh Morgan Architects (dRMM), Alex de Rijke has played a central role in pioneering cross-laminated timber panel construction in the UK and Australia.

de Rijke is currently touring Australia as part of a Forest and Wood Products Australia and WoodSolutions-sponsored seminar series that discusses the role of engineered timber in 21st century architecture.

Architecture & Design caught up with de Rijke to see why he thinks architects are increasingly turning to wood to construct big buildings and how technological advancements will see engineered timber increasingly specified by architects in the future.

What tips would you give architects considering using cross-laminated timber (CLT) for domestic architecture for the first time?

Don’t just think of CLT as a replacement for concrete but as a beautiful material in its own right which you can do different things with.

During the design phase, it’s worth considering what size the panels come in to avoid waste and cost.

Use your imagination, but be practical – for example, CLT needs to be kept out of the ground and out of the rain.

CLT doesn’t need to be covered internally with paint or plasterboard but, in order to enjoy its looks, you need to be careful not to damage it in the construction process.

What’s the main difference in using CLT compared to more conventional materials?

The speed of construction – it’s phenomenally fast. You could literally build a house in a day or two – all the preparation happens beforehand rather than on site.

You don’t need large numbers of highly skilled tradespeople on site. You need one person to operate the crane, and two people to handle the panels on the ground.

Modern engineered timber is lighter than concrete but can be as strong as concrete, provide better insulation properties and is actually fire resistant, not to mention a crucial store of carbon.

Timber is the new concrete. The vast potential and versatility of engineered timber holds the key to construction for the 21st century, just as the 18th century was about brick, the 19th steel, and the 20th was concrete.

What are the challenges facing engineered timber?

Ignorance is the biggest challenge. People aren’t familiar with it and don’t realise its advantages. They can be suspicious or not believe it’s worth doing that way, as opposed to the way they’ve always done it. It’s not just contractors who can need convincing, but local authorities and insurers.

Engineered timber is a very practical material and any issues can be demonstrably shown to not be anything to worry about. For example, many people are concerned about fire but mass timber behaves very differently to conventional timber and has strong performance in this area.

How do you see the material evolving?

I think there will be a wider range of types of timber used to make CLT, and it will evolve in that it will be produced in Australia in future rather than being imported from Europe or New Zealand.

The product will become available in more different sizes and with a wider range of finishes – I think a curved CLT would be interesting to develop. Fixings will also become more sophisticated, perhaps even secreted inside the timber a bit like flat pack furniture.

My company dRMM has used CLT made from sustainably harvested Tulipwood, a hard wood. It’s very light and strong, as well as very beautiful. We’re currently using it in a building for the UK cancer charity Maggies.

When do you think engineered timber will become considered a conventional building material?

Engineered timber is already considered conventional in some countries. It’s definitely an option designers would consider in Germany or Switzerland.

In the UK, it would definitely be considered to be one of the materials you can select from when it comes to educational projects. We pioneered the use of CLT in that area, and the success of those projects brought a lot of publicity.

In Australia, I’ve found a lot of interest from local authorities, architects, engineers and even politicians. My prediction? It’ll be considered conventional in Australia by 2020.

Source: Architecture & Design

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Modified wood manufacturer to build second factory

Norwegian modified wood manufacturer Kebony has raised 177.5M Norwegian Kronor (NOK), equivalent to around €19.05M, to fund the construction of a second factory in Belgium, Property Magazine International has reported. CEO Christian Jebsen said international sales had increased by an average of 35% over the last seven years, and demand was about to exceed capacity at the company's existing plant in Vold.

The chairman of Kebony's board, Thomas Hoegh, described the plan to develop its first facility on the European mainland as a milestone for the company. He said the Flanders region in Belgium was the perfect location as a hub for future growth.

Innovations, developments and trends in wood treatment, including modified wood, composites and EWP, is a key theme for next years’ Wood Innovations 2016 event being run in both Australia and New Zealand in mid-late May. Full programme details will be available in the new-year. Further information on the technology event can be found on the event website, www.woodinnovations.events.

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Next 'Living Building' planned for Waikaremoana

Te Wharehou o Waikaremoana - The Waikaremoana Tribal Authority will be next to take on the Living Building Challenge. Tribal Chair Dana Rurehe says, “The building is designed to depict who we are as a people. This is the beginning of the return to the lake side of na hapu o Tuhoe”.

Te Wharehou of Waikaremoana will house the Tribal offices, wanana, retail and taona. It will be a positive representation of what is to come for the southernmost community of Te Urewera.

In 2013 Tuhoe signed a settlement agreement with the crown. Since the deed signing Tuhoe has taken charge of their destiny. Tuhoe has begun their positive journey to the future by developing new and innovative ideas for their people and generations to come. The award winning Te Kura Whare located in Taneatua has set the precedent for future projects of Tuhoe. Te Kura Whare building followed the requirements of the Living Building Challenge to work in harmony with the ecosystem, an example Waikaremoana wishes to emulate.

Work begins this December and will be completed in December 2016. It’s planned that this building will raise skills, knowledge and the confidence of local people as they take on opportunities to participate. Arrow International is confirmed as the build team and Wellington firm Tennent and Brown as the architects.

Individual tradesmen and contractors are invited to submit an expression of interest to be part of this unique project. A full list of trade work, forms and details on Tuhoe and the Living Building Challenge can be found at www.ngaituhoe.iwi.nz.

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Foresters Foundation Award to recognise Jon Dey

The Board of the New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) Foundation has agreed with the family of the late Jon Dey to establish the Jon Dey Award. The Foundation is now seeking donations from Jon’s colleagues and friends in order to supplement funds from the Dey family, Rotary Club of Wellington and others.

Purpose of Award: To assist research projects in the areas of work study or new technology aimed at improving forest engineering and harvest productivity. Projects need to be regarded as likely to be of practical application in New Zealand forestry. The research project must be undertaken at a recognised scientific institute or tertiary education institute in New Zealand under qualified supervision, and with demonstrated support from those working in the field of forest engineering and harvesting.

Size and term of award: To be determined by the Foundation Board in association with members of the Dey family once the available funding is established. It is anticipated there could be one or more annual awards, made available over a few years.

Making donations: If you wish to make a donation to the Foundation, payments are be made by:
> Cheque - to NZIF Foundation, P O Box 10513, Wellington
Internet Banking - BNZ 02 1269 0014573 00, please remember to include your name in the details field.

If a receipt is needed for a donation deposited to the bank account, please email the Foundation (foundation@nzif.org.nz) advising the donation has been made, details of the donation (so it can be tracked in the bank records) and where the receipt should be sent.

Remember, donations qualify for tax rebates, so give more and claim some back from IRD.
Enquiries: Please email foundation@nzif.org.nz or phone (04) 974 8421.

Andrew McEwen, Chairperson, NZIF Foundation

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Scion sets sights high for drones

Forestry crown research institute Scion first to apply for drone beyond-line-of-sight flying - Scion, the forestry crown research institute, will become the first organisation in New Zealand to fly drones beyond line of sight when it seeks approval under new Civil Aviation Authority rules to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for forest monitoring.

Scion has been conducting publicly and privately funded trials of UAVs for the past three months, including flying along the edge of forests to evaluate tree harvesting and using a UAV with interchangeable remote sensing technology to transmit information on tree health and pests in North and South Island forests.

A Callaghan Innovation-commissioned report last year estimated flying drones out of the operator’s line of sight could provide economic gains of up to $190 million annually to New Zealand’s farming, forestry and energy sectors. More than 440 commercial UAV users are registered on New Zealand's Airshare website while the consumer drone market is booming.

Scion project leader Bryan Graham said smaller forest owners struggle to afford getting vital information in other ways. In one example, using drones halved the cost of building roads through private forests, he said.

Scion was proceeding cautiously because it didn’t “want to be the first to have an accident” but Graham said he hopes to gain approval for commercial beyond-line-of-sight operations by February.

That’s despite a public backlash from pilots and others after a September incident when an Air New Zealand pilot on a flight from Christchurch to Auckland said he had experienced a near miss with a red-coloured drone. A CAA investigation concluded without any evidence a drone had been involved.

Greg Dudek, a professor at Canada’s McGill Research Centre for Intelligent Machines, told an Auckland conference last week that New Zealand could become a hotbed for testing UAV technology because of its more progressive regulatory approach.

Dudek said he and colleagues had to stop testing their remote sensing technology affixed to UAVs because of regulatory restrictions. His research involves sensing technologies that allow a robot to recognise something novel and summarise data transmitted to a human operator rather than sending masses of images. Potential uses include underwater robots mapping seabed changes in coral or UAVs reviewing crop damage.

The University of Canterbury got CAA approval last year for a 100 square kilometre test zone south of Christchurch for flying drones out of the pilot’s line of sight.

University spokesman Kelvin Barnsdale said the test zone was being used to attract international researchers to New Zealand to test their UAV technology, with the university likely to benefit from research collaborations and new students.

He said a couple of companies, including Australian-based UAV company Flirtey which trialled a drone parcel delivery in Auckland in June with Fastway Couriers, are interested in using the test site along with two UK universities. He said many outside of New Zealand think it would be a good place for testing because no-one lives here, but “we do still have aviation laws”.

Flirtey founder Matt Sweeney said it was too early to comment on its next planned operation in New Zealand.

Callaghan aviation programme manager Chris Thomson is another who thinks the CAA rule changes will attract international organisations to test UAV technology in New Zealand, and points to Yamaha New Zealand, which set up an office last year.

Yamaha is planning to apply in the next six months for beyond line of sight flights for its RMAX UAV, which sprays noxious weeds or drops fertiliser on farms that are hard to access on foot or by fixed- wing aircraft.

Business development manager Geoff Lamb said initial use may be for power line inspections, where the RMAX flies along the length of the lines out of sight of the operator. The company has been trialling the UAV’s auto-pilot technology to ensure there are no safety issues before applying.

The Canterbury Air Patrol and Christchurch-based Global Aerial Platforms (GAP), which have been jointly developing two UAVs for search and rescue since 2011, are in the process of applying for a half-way step to beyond line of sight flying.

Formerly part of the Coastguard, the Air Patrol holds the intellectual property rights for the communications system within the drones while GAP owns the IP for the composite frames supporting them.

Air Patrol spokesman Gordon McKay said the charity was working on boosting the resolution of images sent via the communications system. It’s in the process of applying for Part 102 approval from CAA that would involve observers watching the UAVs once they got beyond the operator’s line of sight as an interim step.

GAP consultant Warren Head said it had fielded a flurry of offshore inquiries since the Air Patrol showcased the UAV concept at the World Drones for Good competition in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year. The highlight has been a commercial tie up with a global environmental project consultancy.

The robustness of the smaller variant, Kuaka, has also attracted attention from global agencies for its airborne potential to stream critical information on disasters in all weathers, he said.

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China's child policy - What's it got to do with paper?

The end of China's one-child policy herald's the beginning of a baby boom in the world's most populous nation. Estimates lead to expectatsions of 6 million additional births per year, from 2017, for at least a decade.

With an average 34% of Chinese family expenditure in the first five years of a child's life being on milk products, including milk powder and baby formula (and hasn't that been in the news lately), New Zealand and Australian milk exports will rise.

The biggest winner - globally - is expected to be New Zealand. Milk powder is already New Zealand’s largest export, China its largest market and Fonterra, New Zealand’s largest export income earner.

Practically all milk powder and milk products are exported in fibre packaging, including bags and sacks, as well as corrugated boxes, most of which are made from virgin fibre, for strength reasons. As milk product exports grow, so too will the packaging materials in which they are exported.

Production expansion in the region, to meet the new demand, is possible. Industrial grade bag and sack expansion is already underway, with both Oji Fibre Solutions (formerly Carter Holt Harvey Pulp, Paper & Packaging) and Orora currently building their production capacity for supply to New Zealand’s dairy industry.

Supplier opportunities, throughout the value chain of both the dairy and packaging industries will be significant.

Source: Industry Edge

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Safety Alert: Safety on and off the job

Sometimes when we do work at home or for a friend, we forget or ignore the safety practices and procedures that we always follow while on the job. If you get seriously hurt at work or while at home, the results are the same – lost income and a lengthy rehabilitation.

Think about the challenges that you may run into when taking on jobs at home:

  • You may not have the right tools for the job and can be tempted to make do with what you have on hand. Examples include: ladders not tall enough to reach, pushing power tools beyond their limits or missing personal protective equipment.

  • The working conditions might be challenging. Instead of working in a shop with the proper lift, you may be jacking up your truck outside in the snow. These poor conditions add to the hazards that must be managed to do the job safely.

  • You may not have your co-workers to provide that extra set of hands to do the job right. For example: If you’re a faller and doing some weekend work for a friend, ask yourself if you have qualified assistance? Is there someone who is capable of helping you if something goes wrong?

  • The “safety first” attitude may be replaced with a “git-er-done” attitude that can cause us to rush and not take the necessary precautions. Plan all jobs carefully before the work begins.

  • Don’t ignore the hazards associated with recreational activities like hunting, taking the ATVs out for a spin or running the boat out to go fishing. Many of the safety procedures and precautions that you use at work can also keep you and your family safe on days off.

  • Emergency drills are done at work at least once a year. When was the last time you had a fire drill at home? A good drill will test your smoke detectors and the practice will help family members understand how to escape if there is a fire.

Source: BC Forest Safe

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Underwater logging in Tasmania

The magnificent forests of Tasmania's remote west coast appear prehistoric, but hidden among the trees are a series of man-made hydro waterways that are barely 30 years old.

Underneath the inky tannin-stained waters hides sunken treasure that one innovative company is bringing to the surface.

Sustainable Forestry Solutions managing director Andrew Morgan said the project had been in planning for a long time.

"It's pretty surreal, it's been a baby of ours for three years and to take it from paper drawings to actually standing at Lake Pieman and pulling out trees, it's pretty monumental," he said.

The skeletons of giant eucalypts poke through the 50-kilometre long lake, hinting at a wealth of forests underneath.

Incredibly Mr Morgan's company found a way to harvest underwater trees. They looked overseas at similar underwater harvesting projects.

"What we saw was that you can do this, it is possible," he said. "We then went and approached Hydro Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government about a feasibility study and they funded us. "We went out and proved the wood was sound, that there was technology out there to extract the timber safely, the rest is history."

More >>

Source: ABC News

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... and finally ... Hot tips for job interviews!

For more Hot Tips, click here!

Have a safe and prosperous week.

John Stulen

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