WoodWeek – 1 March 2017

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Greetings from your WoodWeek news team. Over on the East Coast, the excitement must be nearly unbearable thanks to today’s breaking news from the Economic Development minister Simon Bridges. Imitation is the kindest form of flattery don't they say, so he has taken a leaf out of Labour’s East Coast promise of $20M and stumped up $2M to be partly funded through a Callaghan Innovation growth grant. The long and short of it is that we in the forest and wood products industries were well overdue for some attention from our friends in Wellington, so we’ll take it! Great news for the proud people of Gisborne too, on a day when the morning news has included commentators saying some regional centres need to accept they may never grow.

The big news this week is almost 400 industry leaders are here in Rotorua to learn about the latest in-forest safety developments from two excellent sources. The FIEA Forest Industry Safety Summit – running today and Thursday – is the first time we will have teams from our own Forest Industry Safety Council meeting and learning alongside two senior leaders from the BC Forest Safety Council. We extend a warm welcome to CEO Rob Moonen and Peter Sprout who led their faller certification programme for many years. You may be able to register at the door – come along to the Distinction Hotel if you have people on your team who are now able to attend.

Moving to look at the markets, export prices for New Zealand logs lifted for every grade covered by AgriHQ's survey. The average wharf gate price for unpruned A-grade logs advanced to $128 a tonne, the highest level since AgriHQ records began in late 2008, while prices for various K-grades haven't been this high since the early-mid 1990s. Prices for export pruned logs were firmer than any of the previous six months.

Last, but by no means not least – the Forest Owners Association says a new Federated Farmers’ policy on climate change is a major step to help farmers understand trees are not an alternative to farming, but rather trees are tools to assist farming’s survivability. Federated Farmers has announced a new policy accepting the reality of human-induced climate change, after years of policy uncertainty from the farmer organisation on the issue. New Zealand Forest Owners Association Chairman Peter Clark describes Federated Farmers’ policy stance on the use of trees as ‘absolutely correct and potentially far reaching’.

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Government wood technology investment

Wood technology investment in forestry sector - Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith today announced $2 million funding for a wood-processing facility which uses automation and robotics to turn low-value pine trees into high-value wood products.

This is just one of the local initiatives announced at the release of the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan in Gisborne.

“Forestry is a major employer in the region and this funding accelerates research and development in this sector. This technology from Wood Engineering Technology Ltd ensures that even low value ‘pulp’ logs, or forestry blocks on remote sites, can become economically viable,” says Mr Bridges.

WET Gisborne Ltd, a joint venture between Wood Engineering Technology Ltd and the Eastland Community Trust, is building a $9 million prototype plant, where this technology is being developed.

It is expected that there will be three plants on the initial site creating 120 highly skilled jobs, and see potential opportunity in opening further plants in the more remote locations of Eastland.

“The processing plant is being partly funded through a Callaghan Innovation growth grant and demonstrates how innovative technology can improve productivity and profitability,” says Mr Goldsmith.

“Delivering commercialised technology to market is a core part of Callaghan Innovation’s mandate, so it is pleasing to see the Gisborne region benefitting directly from the government’s investment in research and development through growth grants.”

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Record roundwood prices

NZ roundwood log prices jump to a record on demand from construction, horticulture industries - Strong domestic building activity combined with buoyant horticulture and viticulture industries has pushed up the price of roundwood logs to a record.

The average price for roundwood logs rose to $90 a tonne in February, up $5 from January's average price and at the highest level since AgriHQ began collecting the data in early 2002.

New Zealand local councils approved consents for 29,970 new dwellings last year, up 10 percent from the previous year, as record net migration and low interest rates spur demand for additional housing. A booming horticulture industry is also spurring investment activity in that sector, helping stoke demand for roundwood.

"The roundwood sector is currently in a period where interest is at unprecedented levels," AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said in his monthly forestry market report. "Demand for poles has been especially strong, for the likes of foundations and retaining walls.

"Multiple strands of the horticulture and viticulture industries have also maintained their presence in the roundwood markets as well. The sheer volume of activity has meant some mills have battled to fill orders in recent months."

Export prices for New Zealand logs lifted for every grade covered by AgriHQ's survey of exporters, forest owners and sawmillers.

The average wharf gate price for New Zealand unpruned A-grade logs advanced to $128 a tonne, the highest level since AgriHQ records began in late 2008, while prices for various K-grades haven't been this high since the early- mid 1990s. The $166 a tonne recorded for export pruned logs was firmer than any of the previous six months, although lower than the first half of 2016, Brick said.

Shipping rates to New Zealand's key log export destinations slipped. The rate to China, New Zealand's largest export market, declined 1 percent, while South Korea and India both dropped 3 percent.

The latest data showed New Zealand log exports increased 9 percent to 15,913,512 cubic metres last year compared with the year earlier. China took 69 percent of the country's logs while South Korea took 17 percent.

Forest products are New Zealand's third-largest commodity export group behind dairy and meat products.

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Labour shortages limiting contractors

The leading professional group for loggers in New Zealand says their members are being challenged by the lack of young skilled people available to work in rural areas, but the solution is not likely to be importing the people with skills. Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) president Ross Davis says a lack of good people with the right skills is now having a real impact in forest workplaces. Together, industry and government must re-look at how school leavers are being prepared for real employment and work together to improve funding and access to technology skills training.

Davis says, “Our members have been working closely with some of the really practical technology institutes but we need more people with different skills from the past. Many more of our logging crews are using mechanised harvesters – providing a great workplace while at the same time making steep slope forest harvesting safer.”

Davis says forestry employers have also been working hard at drug-testing regimes for more than ten years. Our members have led the way in drug testing and positive test results have been declining among their workforce for several years now. He said the bigger challenges for employers in the forest are:

  • Students and their parents don’t yet understand that technology skills are now the key to getting good forestry jobs. “We need early risers and hard workers. For highly skilled young people, the jobs are there now to run multi-million machines forest harvesting machines,” says Davis.

  • “We don't need so many low-skilled people, but the training must be based around practical operating skills. They need to be productive when running a large harvester with several on-board computer systems.”

“Our industry is New Zealand’s third largest now. We’re poised for growth in both logs for export and to local sawmills. We really need smart skilled young people who are not afraid of hard work. The rewards are there for the right people,” says Davis.




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Reducing truck roll-overs in Green Triangle

A truck roll-over prevention program being delivered in the Green Triangle region of south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia, is showing signs of success with the number of incidents decreasing by 65% in 2016.

Alan Pincott from Australian Trucking Safety Services and Solutions, said the Green Triangle area has been over represented in heavy vehicle crashes, particularly log and woodchip truck roll-overs, so these numbers are an encouraging sign that the program and subsequent activities are having an impact.

“The roll-over prevention program, which is driven by the timber industry, was delivered to 230 participants at various locations in the Green Triangle area in 2015 and to a further 300 in 2016. It is supported by a marketing program including high quality posters, and large roadside banners, featuring local trucks, which were strategically placed in the area as a reminder of the dangers and the key learnings of the rollover program,” he said.

Truck roll-over data shows that in 2015 there were 14 recorded rollovers in the Green Triangle area. In the time since the prevention program work began, there was a steep decline with only 5 rollovers being recorded. There was also a 35% reduction in overall recorded heavy vehicle crashes from 2015, all of which is a benefit to all heavy vehicle industries in the area, all road users, and the general community. Read the full media release.

Source: VAFI The News Mill

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Farmers encouraged to plant more trees

Forest Owners urge farmers to plant more trees - Forest Owners say the new Federated Farmers’ policy on climate change is a major step to help farmers understand trees are not an alternative to farming, but rather trees are tools to assist farming’s survivability.

Federated Farmers has announced a new policy accepting the reality of human- induced climate change, after years of policy uncertainty from the farmer organisation on the issue.

New Zealand Forest Owners Association Chairman Peter Clark describes Federated Farmers’ policy stance on the use of trees as ‘absolutely correct and potentially far reaching’.

The Federated Farmers’ policy states; “Soil erosion control plantings on steep hillsides will see emissions sequestered in new forest plantings, reduce sedimentation and phosphate in our waterways, and could also achieve biodiversity objectives.”

Peter Clark says more farmers will now see trees are beneficial and helpful but it will be beyond locking up land for erosion control or riparian planting.

“Planting trees for later harvesting also achieves the aims of carbon sequestration, improving water quality, biodiversity and erosion control”, he says, “So long as the land is again replanted in trees after harvest.”

“And, for a well-managed woodlot, farmers will get a substantial return on their planting investment. The return will be easily comparable with pastoral farming, either through eventually selling their logs, or selling a farm with tree assets on it.”

"Planting trees now will also enable farmers to positively enter into the Emissions Trading Scheme and sell carbon credits if and when they are required to meet their greenhouse gas liabilities by this or any future government.”

“It’s not a competition for land use between stock and trees, any more than it used to be a competition between farming sheep for meat or wool. There’s a place for both on farms.”

Peter Clark says in this context he will be keen to share with farmers an upcoming NZIER report on the plantation forest industry in New Zealand.

“From preliminary analysis, it’s clear the New Zealand forest industry now ranks economically at least as important as the meat industry or horticulture. But we are increasingly seeing, and being able to measure, the beneficial environmental effects of forestry as well. This is what Federated Farmers are obviously turning their attention to as well,” Peter Clark says.

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Australian-made CLT a reality

The long wait for Australian-made cross laminated timber (CLT) is nearly over.

Xlam Australia will open its first CLT manufacturing plant in Wodonga and be producing panels for construction by the close of 2017.

The company shared its plans to build a factory in the Albury Wodonga region with Architecture & Design last year, but only now do we know that it is actually going to happen.

Fairfax is reporting that the plant has the backing of local, state and federal government and will be complete by April.

The facility will produce 60,000m3 of CLT each year and at capacity production will produce enough to build a project the size of Forte Melbourne – Australia’s largest timber apartment building – each week .

It will be produced from local pine, increasing demand for the plantation industry and shortening delivery time and distance.

Currently, CLT is being purchased overseas from companies like Stora Enso, Meyer Timber and Novatop. Australia’s Lendlease has opened a prefabrication plant in Sydney that manufactures CLT framework but it doesn’t create the actual CLT.

Xlam has a number of Australian projects currently underway, including a massive CLT house designed by Fitzpatrick + Partners director James Fitzpatrick.

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Forest tool launched for Rotorua

Tool launched to check if money grows from trees - An online tool has been launched to help landowners in the Lake Rotorua catchment understand the potential economic gains from converting all or parts of their property to pine or Manuka.

Toitu Te Waonui, a Maori forestry initiative group comprising Interpine Innovation, Tuia Group and iwi leaders have developed dNITRO with funding from Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Ministry for the Environment as part of the Low Nitrogen Land Use Fund.

Regional Council general manager integrated catchments Chris Ingle says the purpose of the fund is to assist landowners with reducing nitrogen discharged on to their land and entering Lake Rotorua.

“We are committed to supporting landowners to do their part to protect lake water quality.”

“The decision to award funding to Toitu Te Waonui aligns with our key priority for the fund by promoting uptake of existing low nitrogen land uses such as pine and m?nuka.”

Toitu Te Waonui Project manager Andy Dick says the user-friendly, spatial tool is particularly useful for M?ori landowners.

“It fills a knowledge gap that exists for landowners who are looking to plant out less productive land in to trees.”

The next phase of the project will see Toitu Te Waonui reach out to M?ori landowners and guide them through the tool to show opportunities and funding avenues available.

The dNITRO Land Use Change Tool is now live at www.dnitro.co.nz.

Source: Scoop

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Tasmania sawmill boss issues warning

Sawmill boss warns against return to Tasmanian 'forest wars', says wood may go unclaimed - The head of Tasmania's largest native sawmill has warned no-one in the forestry industry wants a return to the "forest wars" and says wood from forests the Government is proposing to reopen to logging may go unclaimed.

As Australia's State Parliament returns next week, and the Government will table legislation to allow 356,000 hectares of reserves to be logged, ahead of the 2020 moratorium date.

In 2016, Resources Minister Guy Barnett said the financial position of Forestry Tasmania required a dumping of the moratorium in order to reinvigorate the industry.

Mr Barnett named Neville Smith Forest Products (NSFP) as a company interested in purchasing timber from the areas, which are scattered across the state and include areas in the Western Tiers and Tarkine.

NSFP director James Neville-Smith today told ABC Radio Hobart he had made it clear to the Government that the industry did not want to return to conflict of years ago.

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Source: ABC News

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In BC: Renewed call for log export ban

Unions, environmentalists call for log export ban - Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report prompts call for ban on log exports from old growth forests.

One of the planks in NDP Leader John Horgan’s election platform is made from raw logs (he wants their export “curtailed”), and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is helping him hammer it down.

Horgan has criticized a sharp increase of raw logs from coastal forests over the past decade and has promised to curtail those exports, if the NDP forms government, although he has stopped short of promising an outright ban. The CCPA published a report Monday February 27 that says one out of every three trees cut on the B.C. coast were sold as logs to export markets in 2016 – 6.6 million cubic metres, which is slightly short of the 6.9 million cubic metres record in 2013.

This is at a time when the Interior forest sector is facing a long-term shortage of timber, thanks to the Mountain pine beetle epidemic that wiped out half of the merchantable timber in BC’s interior.

“If you believe – and the writing clearly is on the wall – that there are going to be significant declines in available log supply in the Interior of the province, then the future of the forest industry – at least the immediate future – is going to be much more dependent on coastal forest industry activity,” said Ben Parfitt, who authored the report.

“If we continue down the road that we’re on, we run a very real risk of fewer and fewer sawmills, and more and more log exports, which means more foregone job opportunities,” Parfitt added.

Rick Jeffery, president of the Coast Forest Products Association, says the reverse is true.

“Log exports are very important part of the economics of the coast, ensuring that we can harvest the entire profile of the allowable cut, and that means getting into some of the harder, more economically challenged area into the lower quality stands,” Jeffery said. “Log exports help you do that and they help you do that in a manner that puts logs in front of domestic mills.”

It also helps marketing lumber in Asia, Jeffrey added. The increase in raw log exports has been driven largely by demand in China, which imports both raw logs and BC lumber.

More >>

Source: biv.com
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Jobs


... and finally ... time for some drinking jokes

Wow! - It's March 1st already - how time flies! Next thing you know it will be St Patricks Day - so we thought we would start the drinking jokes a bit early in anticipation:

When I drink alcohol people say I am an alcoholic. But when I drink fanta, no one says I am fantastic.

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A juggler, driving to his next performance, was stopped by the police. "What are those knives doing in your car?" asked the officer.

"I juggle them in my act."

"Oh yeah?" says the cop. "Let's see you do it." So the juggler starts tossing and juggling the knives.

A guy driving by sees this and says, "Wow, am I glad I quit drinking. Look at the test they're making you do now!"

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A New Drink?

A guy walks into a bar and approaches the barman, 'Can I have a pint of Less, please?'

'I'm sorry sir, 'the barman replies, looking slightly puzzled, 'I've not come across that one before. Is it a spirit?'

'I've no idea, 'replies the guy, 'The thing is, I went to see my doctor last week and he told me that I should drink less.'

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A man was felling ill so he went to see the doctor.
Doctor: “I am not exactly sure of the cause. I think it could be due to alcohol.”
Patient: “That’s OK. I will come back when you are sober.”



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