WoodWeek – 14 June 2017

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Forest owners want the government to get extra forest planting underway, rather than waiting for a report on climate change to be presented next year. In a media release this week, Forest Owners' Association president Peter Clark said the time to start using trees to sequester carbon is now.

Clark’s comments mirrored those made by the Forest Industry Contractors Association following the budget announcements at the end of May. FICA’s view is that a greater financial signal could have been made in the Budget announcement so tree nurseries and forestry employers could begin planning for a growth boost. We need time to plant seeds and grow seedlings. (See Woodweek issue 31-May-2017).

Clark also pointed to the independent view in the recent Vivid Economics report on the clear need for doubling the current 1.7 million hectares of New Zealand's plantation forests.

Moving to health and safety, it’s pleasing to see our forestry people being recognised for their leadership. At last week’s National Safety Awards ceremony in Auckland, both Waratah and PF Olsen won national awards for their industry-leading initiatives. Competition in this area comes from all industries up and down the country.

In today’s commodity price update – log prices increased 0.6% month on month, as a challenging Japanese market was offset by buoyant Chinese demand. Domestic market competition for logs to produce sawn timber is supporting prices too.

The last word today (before the humour section) goes to Canada's response the US softwood duties … you guessed it … the Canadian Government announced: more subsidies ... (seriously). Enjoy!

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Forest owners don't want to wait

Forest owners want the government to get extra forest planting underway, rather than waiting for a report on climate change to be presented next year.

Minister for Climate Change Paula Bennett has announced that the Productivity Commission will report back in June 2018, with recommendations for achieving a lower-carbon economy, to enable New Zealand to achieve its Paris Agreement commitment of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels, by 2030.

Forest Owners' Association president Peter Clark said the time to start using trees to sequester carbon from them was now.

"The government is already supporting the up-take of electric vehicles without waiting for the Productivity Commission. There's every reason to get the same impetus for tree planting, especially on farm and Maori-owned land," he said.

"I agree that it might make sense for the government to take time to carefully work out a process to bring agriculture into the emissions trading scheme, for instance, but if you want to lock up carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere there is only one option. It's a no-brainer. It doesn't need a year to think about it. The answer is to get on and help get more trees planted. "The recent Vivid Economics report on the need for nearly doubling the current 1.7 million hectares of New Zealand's plantation forests was quite clear on this." The Vivid report had stated that planting new forests was the only technology currently known and implementable on a large scale that had the capacity to remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Mr Clark said planning had to begin now to ensure labour availability and sufficient volume of seedlings.

"As it is, if there is going to be any meaningful expansion of planting, then it'll take another year to build up seedling capacity, which will result in planting out in 2019," he said.

"The government timetable will add at least an extra two years to that, more if legislation is required. That's far too long a delay, especially when you consider that, even on the most rapid government timetable, it would then take until at least until 2026 to grow trees big enough to become effective carbon sinks.

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Source: NZ Herald

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Waratah wins National Safeguard Award

Waratah New Zealand, a leading manufacturer of mechanical tree harvesters based in Tokoroa, has been awarded the “3M Best use of innovative New Zealand design or technology to eliminate or manage a risk” award at the recent Safeguard New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards for its head orientation sensor.

The award was given to the New Zealand-originated design or technology initiative which best demonstrates a solution to a specific health and safety issue, including new designs or control methods which help to eliminate or minimize a risk. Chain shot is a phenomena that can be caused when a saw chain breaks during operation, potentially releasing high speed fragments during the operation of a cutting head on a mechanical tree harvester machine. There are currently effective features already fitted to mechanical tree harvesters to reduce the risk of chain shot.

The Waratah head orientation sensor is a conceptual supplementary system designed to alert the machine operator when the chain saw is aligned with the machine cab. The operator can then rotate the saw to a different orientation to reduce the risk of chain shot impacting the machine.

Waratah approached the New Zealand company, Hunter Safety Lab, to see if they could adapt their award winning IRIS technology for potential use with mechanical tree harvester heads. IRIS was originally developed to help prevent hunters from accidentally targeting other members of their hunting party.

The head orientation sensor consists of a highly ruggedized infrared laser sensor which is mounted to the harvester head. The sensor detects retroreflective tape which is applied around the perimeter of the cab window, directly in front of the machine operator. When the sensor detects that the saw is aligned with the cab, the system then alerts the machine operator that the head position is not optimal and that it should be adjusted away from the cab.

The system is currently under evaluation.

Source: Waratah NZ

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PF Olsen wins National Safeguard Award

The Safeguard New Zealand Workplace Safety Awards were held on Wednesday evening the 7th of June at a gala dinner at the Sky City Convention Centre in Auckland. These awards commenced in 2005, and this year 15 awards were presented in front of an audience of over 600 who celebrated the achievements of a wide variety of businesses and entities.

PF Olsen won the award in the Best Collaboration Between PCBU’s category, for “initiating a project involving multiple PCBU’s to clarify and improve the expectations on forest contractors and for forest service providers when they come onto a working forestry site.“

A PCBU is a person conducting a business or undertaking. In forestry, a number of PCBU’s can work in the same or adjoining area. This contracting chain typically involves a forest owner or manager, contractors, subcontractors, and specialist service providers for activities such as refuelling, repairs, training, auditing etc.

Two incidents, both involving service providers, highlighted the need for further focus on the 3C’s to consult, co-operate and co-ordinate where there are overlapping duties between PCBU’s. At the same time, Sheryl Dawson CEO of McFall Fuel approached PF Olsen letting the Company know that it required more clarification on what was required around interactions with contractors and when they as service providers would come onto forestry work sites. The forestry guidelines were good, but very general and it was clear that a collaboration between the PCBU’s would be helpful in determining these requirements.

A project management team, a sub-committee of PF Olsen’s Central Safety Committee (CSC), was established in July 2016. It comprised PF Olsen staff and contractors, one other larger forest owner and a range of service providers e.g. Gough Group, Waratah NZ, Bridgestone NZ, Truck Stops NZ and McFall Fuel. These service providers have a national reach, making the project work useful for the whole of the industry.

This sub-committee then set about clarifying the various possible interactions and exactly what the contractors would provide to – and would require from – each service provider prior to site entry. This included forest owner permits, written procedures for each task, hazard and risk assessments, site inductions, communication protocols and relevant emergency procedures. A draft guidance was circulated amongst staff, contractors and service providers for feedback. This team then developed a training guideline to ensure a thorough understanding of the more complex provisions.

PF Olsen’s Health and Safety Manager Nic Steens presented this guidance along with risk management training to 330 individuals around New Zealand, including all staff, senior contractor representatives and their service providers. This training has enabled safety systems to be updated in line with the HSW Act 2015.

We have received very positive feedback from service providers, especially who interact with other forest owners, about the quality of their interaction with other PCBU’s in the forests we manage. One of the project’s greater benefits is that the PCBU’s now understand how they should act at a forestry worksite, and in particular what constitutes appropriate safety behaviours. They are also appreciative of the clear protocols around how to cease work when it deviates from their own safety and risk management systems.

PF Olsen thanks the many contributors to this achievement and while we are proud to be recognised as an industry leader in health and safety, the key driver is our goal toward zero harm and improving safety in the forest industry.

Source: PF Olsen

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Study post-harvest land viability

Research project to investigate viability of reverting pine forests post- harvest to native bush, or replanting them in manuka - An East Coast research project will investigate the viability of reverting pine forests post- harvest to native bush, or replanting them in manuka to support the burgeoning honey industry. The three-year Landcare Research project will look at the best land use options in steep, erosion-prone East Coast land, factoring in a predicted increase in high-intensity storms due to climate change.

Landcare Research received a $450,000 grant for the project from a $3.3 million pool of government funding for climate change research projects. Project leader Dr Suzanne Lambie said it is an important project for the East Coast, which has the highest erosion levels in the country.

The researchers will build on a body of work done by Gisborne-based Landcare Research researcher Dr Mike Marden, but also look more closely at social, environmental and economic factors, and the impacts of climate change.

“We will be looking at the best land use which retains, or improves, erosion control capacity and water quality,” Dr Lambie said. “We will assess the potential impacts associated with land-use change from pinus radiata plantations to natural regeneration or manuka plantations, against the status quo of production forestry.”

A significant proportion of the exotic forest estate established since Cyclone Bola in 1988 is planted on highly erosion-prone landscapes and is now of harvestable age.

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Source: Gisborne Herald

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ANZ Commodity Price Index

The ANZ Commodity Price Index lifted in May, climbing 3.2% m/m to be 26% higher than the same time last year. There was broad-based strength across most components, but the horticulture sector led the charge, rising 12.1% m/m as more new-season fruit hit markets.

In NZD terms, the index rose 4.0% m/m and is 22.3% above the same time last year. The NZD index is now just 5% below the all-time peak registered in March 2011. The stark difference this time around is that while the previous spike was driven largely by dairy prices, recent gains are much broader across forestry, horticulture, and meat as well. This means the gains are being more widely spread across sectors, regions and individual businesses.

In terms of sector specifics:

  • Dairy prices increased 3.8% m/m in May and are more than 50% above where they were this time last year. The gains were broad-based across milk powder and milkfat products. Global prices were supported by lower peak milk flows in Europe’s major producing countries such as Germany and France, due to cold spring conditions. Continued strong demand from China and broader Asia also continued to boost prices.

  • Meat prices continued their strong performance, up 1.9% m/m in world terms and 3.3% m/m in NZD terms. Lamb prices rose 2.8% m/m, with tight Australasian supply spurring further intermarket competition across all major markets and cuts. Many major cuts are now approaching record highs, with in-market prices 35% above last year. Beef prices rose 2.0% m/m, with tight domestic supplies and higher seasonal demands creating a perfect storm. Prices are expected to ease when seasonal demand subsides. In world terms, prices for the meat group are 13.6% above last year, but the weak GBP and euro have suppressed local returns (+6.4% y/y). Wool prices remain lacklustre (-0.3% m/m; -34% y/y).

  • Aluminium prices stabilised (-0.4% m/m) after climbing 22.7% over the last year. The market took a breather in May as inventories rose for the first time since February. There have also been concerns Chinese smelter cuts may not happen.

  • Wood pulp and log prices pushed the forestry group up a further 0.8% m/m in April. Wood pulp prices lifted 2.6% m/m on persistent Chinese demand, particularly for hardwood product (lifting softwood by association). Log prices increased 0.6% m/m as a challenging Japanese market was offset by buoyant Chinese demand (more infrastructure/ housing activity, reduced harvesting of the nation’s own native forests, and steady competitive pressure from the likes of Russia). Competition within the local market for logs to produce sawn timber is supporting prices too.

  • Horticulture prices surged 12.1% m/m as new-season Southern Hemisphere fruit hit markets. Apples lifted 7.5% m/m as lower-quality European supplies closed off for the season. Kiwifruit prices surged 14.1% m/m. A late picking season due to the wet weather and low chill hours meant the market was well primed for new-season fruit to arrive. A slower start for Green exports and a higher proportion of Gold, especially in Europe, is supporting average export prices.

  • Seafood prices were up slightly in May (+0.4% m/m).

Source: ANZ

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Nelson: Frustration over repeated thefts

A Nelson Forests contractor has been hit by a fourth "frustrating" burglary in less than a year - MJ Fraser Logging company which contracts out to Nelson Forests has had tools and a number of other items stolen from its Golden Downs forestry area off Kerr Hill Rd, near St Arnaud.

Logging site owner Mike Fraser said it appeared the site was targeted sometime between Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning. He was still assessing the losses.

The crews arrived to work on Saturday morning to find a number of items had been stolen. Early indications were that tools were targeted during the burglary and attempts to take machinery were also made.

"Buggers. These guys obviously know what they're doing ... it is frustrating," Fraser said.

He notified police on Saturday and worked with investigation crews on Monday while fingerprints and evidence were collected from the area.

"They're on the ball with that."

Fraser said he was hopeful there would be a good outcome following investigations. He said the area ran security cameras. "One other time we got broken into, they got caught."

Fraser said it was unfortunate that he had to think about a possible "next time" but he was already putting in measures to "be smarter" and deter potential future thieves.

"This is probably the fourth burglary since October. We had a bit of a run last year where we had diesel and that stolen from one of our crews and another they had been broken into a couple of times."

He asked if anyone knows any information to call the police.

More >>

Source: Nelson Mail

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Bioenergy coordination would benefit NZ

Coordination of effort could speed up addressing climate change and increase wealth - The Bioenergy Association says that coordination of effort across all of the sectors could speed up New Zealand’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lead to new business opportunities.

Executive Officer Brian Cox says the Government’s current approach to climate change is piecemeal and ad hoc. “With coordination across the sectors and a joint policy response we can use the opportunity of addressing climate change to create new business opportunities. Queensland has recognised this and developed a roadmap to utilise its renewable natural resources to create new bio-based industries. The announcement by Queensland University of Technology that it is leading a $14 million research programme to develop profitable processes for turning livestock-industry wastes into bioenergy and other bioproducts, such as fertilisers, animal feeds, chemicals and plastics shows what we should and could do here. That project in conjunction with Meat & Livestock Australia shows the value of cross sector coordination.”

“The highest quality wood fuel comes from wood processing so there is a significant benefit to New Zealand’s energy supply to have trees processed within New Zealand rather than having logs exported. When logs are exported we are also exporting the processing residues (sawdust and shavings) which our best source of wood fuel – but get no revenue in return.

The Bioenergy Association has identified that by 2040 biomass and waste based industries could supply more that 15% of New Zealand’s energy needs and achieve 5% of greenhouse gas emission reduction.

Mr Cox said that “With the inclusion of other bio-based products which could be produced previous analysis by BERL showed that that there could be a $6billion sector based on biomass and waste utilisation. You would think that with opportunities such as this that the Government would be showing more interest than it does. Think of the regional development and employment opportunities that would occur. Queensland is putting $14million into researching these opportunities while New Zealand sits on its hands. If we can use our ability as a leading technology developer in American Cup racing we can use that capability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Buying carbon credits offshore sends money that could be used to assist New Zealand industry to other countries resulting in no lasting benefit. We should be taking advantage of low-cost opportunities to reduce our carbon emissions here in New Zealand by increasing our use of bioenergy, particularly in the heat sector.”

“The Bioenergy Association would like to see the Government explore these opportunities as is happening in Queensland. We can be a global participant or sit and watch international boat races where our technology is being used by all other competitors.”

For more information about the potential economic benefit of this Vision see the BERL analysis of the New Zealand Bioenergy Strategy 2010 >>

Source: www.bioenergy.co.nz

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Chemical fingerprints for imported wood?

Chemical fingerprints may save protected trees - Imported lumber is typically accompanied by documents that state its geographic origin, so buyers can check that it wasn't illegally harvested from protected areas. Unfortunately, though, those documents can easily be forged. That's why Oregon-based scientists from the USDA Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station have developed a method of determining where a piece of wood comes from, based on its unique chemical signature.

Led by Dr Richard Cronn, the researchers used a technique known as DART-TOFMS (direct analysis in real time time-of-flight mass spectrometry). This allowed them to detect the presence and relative abundance of various chemicals in the annual growth rings of wood samples, which were taken from two populations of Douglas fir trees located in the Oregon Coast and adjacent Cascade mountain ranges.

The samples themselves were tiny, and could be made ready for analysis in 15 seconds. Upon analysis, it was found that while trees from within each population shared the same unique "chemical fingerprint," those fingerprints differed between the two populations, which were located less than 100 km (62 miles) apart.

It has yet to be determined if those differences are due to genetic factors, environmental factors, or a combination of the two.

More >>

Source: New Atlas

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Elmia Wood highlights

Innovation turns excavators into all-terrain vehicles - It could be the biggest improvement to excavator chassis in many years.

Kalle Mattsson, sales manager and co-owner of the Finnish machinery manufacturer Nisula doesn’t hesitate in his presentation of the company’s world first at Elmia Wood. The chassis is mounted on an excavator from Volvo and turns it into an all-terrain vehicle.

The development work took ten years and was approved by Volvo. In many markets excavators are used as forest harvesters but they have one huge disadvantage: their rigid chassis limits where they can go in the forest.

What Nisuka has done is to design a track frame that is moveable lengthways and has 60 cm ground clearance instead of the standard 40. When the machine is stationary the track frames lock to increase stability.

Nisula has also developed an extension to the excavator’s crane, the XB-14, which adapts the crane so a harvester head can be attached. With the extension the crane has a reach of 10.2 metres.

The result is an excavator that can handle tasks in the forest far better than its standard cousins. Thanks to the tracks it causes less ground damage than wheeled machines. But Nisula says the machine is not intended to compete with normal wheeled harvesters.

“We’re targeting smaller-scale contractors who want to switch jobs so they can work year round,” Mattsson explains. “Because the basic machine has the most functions, it costs far less than buying a dedicated harvester.”

It takes just one hour to turn the excavator into a harvester and vice versa.

Source: Elmia Wood

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Work death prompts new toolbox talk

Portland, OR – The Oregon Occupational Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program recently released a toolbox talk guide in response to a fatal incident in which a forestry worker was killed when a falling tree struck her vehicle.

The worker was driving in a densely forested area. According to OR-FACE, it was not apparent that the worker or the tree faller stationed uphill saw one another before the incident occurred. The worker died of traumatic head and neck injuries.

The guide recommends workers:
  • Identify and report hazards to proper officials during pre-work assessments.
  • Use flaggers to control traffic and ensure road signs warning motorists of tree- trimming operations are adequate and up to date.
  • Be trained in safely bucking logs and cutting trees.
  • Ask for help if needed.
  • Ensure radios are functional and that crew members communicate regularly.

Download the PDF Hazard Alert

More >>

Source: Safety & Health Magazine

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The power behind wood energy

If you've ever wondered why wood for bioenergy seems to be much more integrated part of overseas forest industries, compared to New Zealand and Australia, this little snippet offers a clue:

US Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell recently announced over $8.3 million to substantially expand and accelerate wood products and wood energy markets. Federal funds will leverage almost $37 million in matching funds from 36 business, university, nonprofit, and tribal partners in 19 states for a total investment of over $45 million. The public-private partnerships leveraged with these grants will lead to the removal of hazardous fuels from forests while spurring the economic development of rural communities.

The awarded funds will stimulate the removal of hazardous fuels from national forests and other forest lands to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and promote forest health.

You guessed it - subsidies - Ka ching!

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Those of you who attended our FIEA wood energy conference series "Residues to Revenues"(which ran from 2007 until 2013) may recall the famous last words of our keynote presenter, Don Roberts from Canada, who said "Viability and profitability of wood energy business is very much dependent on subsidies at both the producer and user ends of the industry. A short supply chain helps too."

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Canada's response to US: More subsidies

If it wasn't so important to their industry, you could be excused for thinking this is a parity:

Q: How do Canadians respond when their American neighbours accuse them of softwood subsidies?
A: "Forestry workers welcome softwood aid package"

The relief package for the softwood lumber industry is welcomed by forestry workers as a good start to cushioning the blow dealt by new US duties on Canadian softwood exports.

"Today the federal government has shown real leadership in protecting good resource jobs," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "This is welcome news for dozens of communities that are already feeling the pain of unfair trade sanctions."

The Trump government's re-introduction of duties on Canadian softwood exports threatens tens of thousands of Canadian jobs and could cost the industry billions. Unifor has been lobbying the federal government to take action to support forestry communities in hopes of mitigating the effect of anticipated job losses as duties are imposed and until a new agreement is negotiated.

US industry claims that Canadian lumber is unfairly subsidized have proven to be unfounded in past, including by international trade tribunals.

The union welcomes today's federal assistance measures, but cautions that the softwood lumber trade dispute is far from over.

"We continue to press the federal governments of both Canada and the US to negotiate a fair deal," said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the Unifor National President. "Today's announcement is good progress and we're optimistic that the federal government can add to this relief program as time goes on."

The US has already signalled that anti-dumping duties on Canadian softwood exports could be added in June 2017 to compound the countervailing duties.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.



Ottawa announces softwood lumber aid package

In Canada the Government will provide $867 million in aid to Canadian lumber producers to help them them survive American softwood lumber duties and a potentially protracted softwood lumber dispute.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the plan on 1 June.

In April, the US Department of Commerce announced countervailing duties in the 20% range for Canadian softwood lumber producers. BC and Quebec are the provinces hardest hit by the duties.

Three major BC lumber companies – Tolko Industries Ltd, Canfor Corp (TSX:CFP) and West Fraser Timber Co (TSX:WFT) – were singled out for duties that range from 19.5% to 24%. Unnamed exporters face 20% duties.

“Canada is standing up to the US,” Carr said at a press conference. “We will continue to fight these duties vigorously including through litigation. While we are confident in prevailing, as we always have, that doesn’t make the uncertain days ahead any easier for those affected.”

Carr said the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada will make $605 million available in loans, at commercial rates, to help “viable” companies make capital investments and diversify their markets.

Other financial assistance measures in the package include:

• $160 million to help the industry as a whole expand its product lines and develop new markets;

• $90 million in new funding for work sharing to help companies retain workers and help the workers themselves upgrade their skills and transition to other jobs; and

• $10 million for an indigenous forestry initiative to help First Nations pursue new economic opportunities in the forest sector.

“We will consider additional measures, including additional loans and loan guarantees, to address changing market conditions,” Carr added.

Source: Business in Vancouver

Don't just believe us though, just look at this media headline since the 'extra' government subsidy was announced: US softwood lumber lobby slams Ottawa’s aid package


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Buy and Sell

... and finally ... How rough is this?

Just as a drunk guy staggers out of the bar one Friday evening, a fire engine races past, siren wailing and lights flashing.

Immediately, the drunk starts chasing the engine, running as fast as he can until eventually he collapses, gasping for breath.

In a last act of desperation he shouts after the fire engine, "If that's the way you want it, you can keep your damn ice creams!"


When my girlfriend said she was leaving because of my obsession with the Monkees, I thought she was joking. And then I saw her face...


Bill had been a wild bachelor all his life, but now that he was getting up there in age, his doctor was getting concerned about him.

"Bill," advised the doctor, "I can add 15 more years to your life if you will just quit your routine of wine, women, and song."

Bill thought for a few minutes, then said, "Tell you what doc, I'll settle for five more years and just give up singing."

Have a safe and productive week.

John Stulen

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