WoodWeek – 17 April 2019

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Greetings from your WoodWeek news team. This week Weiler Forestry announced its definitive agreement to purchase Caterpillar’s purpose-built forestry business. The deal will include acquiring Caterpillar’s forestry product line and operations facilities in LaGrange, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and Smithfield, North Carolina.

With changes to the ETS, attention has once again focused on the One Billion Trees programme. Permanent forests planned as part of the government’s one billion tree programme need to be targeted at the country’s high-erosion areas, two leading environmental groups say. Most plantation forestry isn’t allowed on land considered at very high risk of erosion – so-called red-zone land – without resource consent.

Exemptions are available when harvesting is done in small blocks, or when at least 75 percent of the canopy is maintained. But the Environmental Defence Society and Forest & Bird say it is unclear whether those continuous cover forestry practices would be viable in New Zealand.

In a recent media interview, Minister Shane Jones says farmers can’t have it both ways on the One Billion Tree strategy. Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones told Q+A recently that farmers can’t criticise the growth of forestry if they reject the idea of a carbon tax. The Minister was addressing concerns by some farmers about the future of their local communities and the environment due to farms being converted to forestry.

Bringing annual statistics into the equation, the latest Inventory shows approximately 6,536 hectares of new forests were planted in 2017 and 4,007 hectares were deforested. Commenting on this, Green Party co-leader James Shaw said that the One Billion Trees programme, and the recently announced changes for new forests registered in the NZ ETS, meant that the trend of more forests being planted than cut down would continue.

It is with sadness and regret that we advise that Thomas Song, the founding Managing Director of Ernslaw One, has passed away following a sudden illness while on business in Malaysia. Thomas moved to New Zealand with his family from Sarawak in 1990 following the purchase of state forests by the Malaysian based Tiong family. Then through a succession of purchases and development of new forests, he built up Ernslaw One to become one of the larger forestry companies in New Zealand.

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Weiler to buy Cat production facilities

Yesterday, Weiler Forestry Inc. announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Caterpillar’s purpose-built forestry business. Closing is anticipated to occur late 3rd quarter of 2019. This agreement follows the preliminary agreement between the two companies, which was announced in August 2018.

With this agreement, Weiler Forestry will acquire Caterpillar’s purpose-built forestry product line consisting of wheel skidders, track feller bunchers, wheel feller bunchers and knuckleboom loaders, along with operations facilities in LaGrange, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and Smithfield, North Carolina.

“We are very excited to add Weiler-branded purpose-built forestry equipment to our product portfolio,” said Pat Weiler, owner and founder of Weiler, Inc. and Weiler Forestry. “Since the initial announcement, I’ve met with numerous Cat dealers and forestry customers. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and provided us with valuable feedback as we make plans to expand the existing forestry product line. We are eager to complete the acquisition and get to work.”

Founded in 2000, Weiler currently produces an extensive portfolio of products and has a long- standing history of successfully manufacturing purpose-built equipment distributed through the Cat dealer network. Upon the closing of the sale, Weiler Forestry will design and manufacture purpose-built forestry products, which will continue to be available through the Cat dealer network, providing customers with the same outstanding sales and service support they’ve come to expect.

Weiler Forestry and Caterpillar will work closely with Cat dealers to best support customers during this transition to ensure product availability and support services.


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NGOs on 1BT and permanent forests

Permanent forests planned as part of the government’s one billion tree programme need to be targeted at the country’s high-erosion areas, two leading environmental groups say.

Most plantation forestry isn’t allowed on land considered at very high risk of erosion – so-called red-zone land – without resource consent.

Exemptions are available when harvesting is done in small blocks, or when at least 75 percent of the canopy is maintained. But the Environmental Defence Society and Forest & Bird say it is unclear whether those continuous cover forestry practices would be viable in New Zealand.

Economic viability depends on a host of factors beyond the scope of the national environmental standards for plantation forestry – such as revenue streams, subsidies, and landowner aspirations – but they will need to be addressed if the country is to transition to more sustainable forestry methods, they say in a discussion paper on the country's national forestry regulations.

“When it comes to establishing permanent forests, ensuring the one billion trees programme’s criteria are calibrated to favour red-zoned areas is critical,” according to the 42-page report.

“If these two things don’t happen, there is a real risk that red-zoned land will remain bare, or continue to rotate through a cycle of cover and stability to sediment loss, both of which are environmentally suboptimal.”

The one-year-old regulations were introduced to standardise forestry practices nationally, reduce costs and increase certainty for landowners and foresters.

But the Ministry of Primary Industries will start a formal review of them next month.

The one billion tree programme and the heightened role of forestry for regional development and carbon sequestration were cited as reasons when the review was announced in February. Other factors were severe flood damage below forestry areas at Marahau in Tasman and Tolaga Bay on the East Coast last year, and recommendations on biodiversity from other agencies.

Afforestation is a core part of the country’s strategy for meeting its climate change commitments and New Zealand already has about 1.7 million hectares of plantation forest.

But the Productivity Commission last year said a further 1.3 million to 2.8 million hectares would need to be planted to help get the economy to net-zero carbon by 2050. That would mean the extra 50,000 ha of annual planting implicit in the government’s goal to plant a billion trees by 2028 would have to continue at that same rate for a further 20 years.

The commission believed much of the planting would be on “marginal” sheep and beef land, although many groups doubt there is enough suitable land available.

Planting of slower-growing natives is favoured as a permanent carbon sink, but they are generally much more expensive than plantation species like pine and are slower to deliver a carbon benefit.

Forest & Bird, often calling for faster action on climate change, now finds itself seeking a more thoughtful – and inherently slower - approach to afforestation.

While plantation forestry presents a “significant opportunity” it also presents a significant risk if it is not carefully located and managed.

“How do we get the right tree, in the right place, for the right purpose,” the discussion paper asks.

While noting the regulations have operated for less than a year, the two groups argue their “desktop” analysis shows they are too permissive and that more needs to be done to mitigate the “significant” adverse environmental impacts from clear-felling.

The presumption that plantation forestry should generally be a permitted activity needs to be revisited, they say. They also want greater set-backs from waterways to better marry with government policy for fresh water protection.

While calling for greater use of continuous cover forestry, the paper suggests that should not be allowed in orange- and red-zoned areas – which the regulations class as posing a high or very- high erosion risk.

Planting and replanting of red-zone land is currently permitted if less than two hectares are harvested annually.

“The question needs to be asked: Should trees that are planted specifically for removal be put in these areas?

“They might provide some stabilisation benefits but those are short-term and the erosion and sediment discharge that will follow on harvesting will be significant, even from smaller areas.”

Radiata pine is typically harvested after about 28 years, according to NZ Wood.






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1BT progressing goals

The first partnerships under the One Billion Trees Fund (1BT) have been approved, with over $1 million committed to projects that will help achieve the goal of planting at least one billion trees by 2028.

Launched in November, the Fund includes $120m for partnership initiatives that support an increase in planting throughout New Zealand.

“These first partnerships will progress initiatives across science, nursery sector capability and environmental restoration – all key priority areas of the Fund,” Forestry Minister Shane Jones said.

The three projects are:
- a native seed planting trial in Otago and Canterbury which aims to deliver more effective methods for planting large scale native forests;
- a regional study in Hawkes Bay to identify commercial and non-commercial forestry activities that provide benefits to the community;
- a national strategy for native tree nurseries to address sector capability and support the success of seedling production as the One Billion Trees programme ramps up.

“Our aim with the fund is to create even closer working relationships with partners across New Zealand,” Shane Jones said.

“Supporting projects like these are a critical part of achieving our goal and we have some very enthusiastic individuals and organisations ready to help reduce the barriers to tree planting.

“This is about working together, putting our thinking caps on and creating innovative ways of achieving our goal. We are a country full of Number 8 wire thinkers and I’m extremely encouraged by these first partnerships.

“We’re looking to work with regional councils, sector organisations, environmental NGOs, researchers, training organisations, Maori entities, community groups and other agencies.”

More information on the Fund can be found at www.teururakau.govt.nz/1bt





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Minister Jones pushes back at farmers

Minister Shane Jones says farmers can’t have it both ways on the One Billion Tree strategy - Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones told Q+A tonight that farmers can’t criticise the growth of forestry if they reject the idea of a carbon tax.

The Minister was addressing concerns by some farmers about the future of their local communities and the environment due to farms being converted to forestry.

“‘I don’t buy into the exaggerated claims that the Billion Tree strategy is destroying the Wairarapa economy. We are in the business of allocating $120 million for purposes of forestry grants targeted primarily on land which is erodible, on red zone on orange zone land for want of a better expression. I accept that there are some dangers in terms of the wrong tree in the wrong place at the wrong time but actually our mantra is the opposite and I’ve just had all the farming leaders into my office where I have undertaken to work with them to ensure that inadvertently I don’t inundate the countryside with trees, but the majority of the money that’s been put aside for working with landowners is actually for native trees.”

Minister Shane Jones rejected criticism about the number of overseas investors in forestry:

“Now, there may be some farms that are being sold internationally, and they go through the OIO process, and, you’re right, the OIO process has been simplified for forestry purposes, but at the same time, we have tightened up the amount of land that can be sold without you requiring the permit.”

Minister Jones denies it is about a subsidy for foreign investors. “I don’t know of a single foreign investor who has received a grant from Te Uru Rakau.”

More: Q+A, 9:30pm Mondays on TVNZ 1 and one hour later on TVNZ 1 + 1.
Streamed live at www.tvnz.co.nz

Source: Scoop news


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Vale Thomas Song

It is with deep sadness and regret that we advise that Thomas Song, the founding Managing Director of Ernslaw One, has passed away following a sudden illness while on business in Malaysia.

Thomas moved to New Zealand with his family from Sarawak in 1990 following the purchase of state forests by the Malaysian based Tiong family. He then through a succession of purchases and development of new forests built up Ernslaw One to become one of the larger forestry companies in New Zealand.

He was also instrumental in assisting the Tiong family to purchase a number of other businesses in New Zealand through Oregon Group Ltd including the land development company The Neil Group and Winstone Pulp. He later successfully promoted the restructure of the NZ Salmon industry through the formation of NZ King Salmon Ltd which is now listed on the NZX and the ASX.

Thomas developed a reputation for being a strategic thinker and pragmatic in business. He was commercially astute and built high quality enduring business relationships. He invested confidence in his management teams and was held in high regard by the many employees of the businesses that he had oversight of.

Thomas became regarded as a leader in the forestry industry and gave wood processing his best shot. He pioneered carbon markets in the early days of the NZ ETS. His passing will represent a huge loss to the business interests of New Zealand.

Thomas is survived by his wife, Leh Sieng, his son Steven and his daughter Swee Sing and two grandchildren.

Some of you caught up with Thomas at the 50th Jubilee of the NZ Forest Owners Association in Wellington only 3 weeks ago or at the 25th Jubilee of Ernslaw One back in 2015. Thomas was in very good heart on those nights. Let’s remember him that way.

It is likely that there will be a remembrance service for Thomas in Auckland in the near future.

Mai Chen interviewed Thomas about his success in New Zealand >>


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Massive new hangar in wood

Air New Zealand to build world's largest single arch timber aircraft hangar - Air New Zealand will build a new 10,000 square metre hangar at its engineering base in Auckland. The airline said it would be the largest single span timber arch aircraft hangar in the world.

The new Hangar 4 will be one and a half times the size of the airline's largest existing hangar. It will be able to house a wide body aircraft such as a Boeing 777-300 or 787- 9, and two narrow body aircraft such as an A320 or A321neo, at the same time.

It will be built at the airline's Auckland engineering base at Geoffrey Roberts Road in Mangere.The roof will be double layer insulated allowing the hangar to retain heat without the need for heating.

The hangar will be a 5-6 "green star" building certified by the New Zealand Green Building Council. Green Star is an internationally-recognised rating system for the design, construction and operation of buildings.

More >>

Source: Stuff news


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Pondering pasture to pines?

A rural property near Manawahe of over 800 hectares is currently rolling hills of pasture - but some of this is set to change to pine forests.

The time has come for Viv to sell part of her stake in the pasture and turn a small section from pasture to lush pine.

“In 2005 my husband Alan, or ‘AJ’, and I went into an equity partnership and bought more than 900ha of land here under four titles with two other couples, so there were six of us in the partnership,” says Viv. “We named the land ‘Vista Farms’.

“The land was previously, a long time ago, used for drystock. It had been covered in pine since 1981.

“We quickly sold 68ha out of that 900-plus block, which was physically separated from the rest of the land,” says Viv.

“The partnership changed in the coming years, and in 2011 there were only three of us sharing Vista Farms – my husband, myself and Robin.

“In the first seven years the trees were felled, the land was cleared, fenced, water was put in for stock, yards were built and the grazing pasture was restored. Stock came on as dairy grazers and Vista Farms bought its own stock as well.”

But when tragedy struck in the form of her husband’s death in 2014, Viv decided it was time to take stock and look at her own options. “In 2014, leukemia took his life. He was 56.

“Robin and I have continued on with Vista Farms but I’ve taken a very backseat role – Robin is the person that does all the operations here.”

Viv has three children – one, she says, that is interested in farming and running the 110ha dairy farm 20km away, and two who have non-farming occupations and are “very happy about their brother being on a fourth generation dairy farm.”

The land that Viv co-owns with Robin will be split. Viv wants to hold on to about 112ha for herself, including 20ha of six-year-old pines and an additional 20ha of natives that will go into a QEII covenant, as well as a flat skid site at the top of the farm for a possible house site in future. And it’s no wonder she wants to hold on to it, with it’s vista views of Whale Island on one side, and the fantastic geothermal clouds of Kawerau on the other.

But the rest of the land? Well, Viv wants to turn about 50ha of her chunk of land into further radiata pines.

More >>

Source: Coast and Country News

To register for the NZFFA annual conference in May click here


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Lone worker solution a winner

Guardian Angel Security’s lone worker solutions a winning formula - Guardian Angel Security, a solutions provider for lone and remote workers, has won a share of up to $500,000 for a five year interest free loan from global female entrepreneur network SheEO.

The company was one of five New Zealand businesses selected by 500 women (SheEO Activators) who contributed $1100 each to support early stage female entrepreneurs. This is the second year SheEO New Zealand, led by businesswoman Theresa Gattung, has backed ventures via their unique ‘Act of Radical Generosity’ crowd funding model.

The win continues a successful run for Guardian’s Angel Security’s founder and CEO Petra Hakansson (pictured) who in February was selected through a competitive application process for the Sprint Global programme run by ecentre, the business incubator hosted at Massey University, to help startup founders accelerate their garage-to-global journey.

Hakansson set up Guardian Angel Security in 2014, to deliver solutions that deliver safety and protection for lone and remote workers, after seeing a gap in the market for technology solutions that provided 100% connectivity with immediate response and support for this growing group of workers.

“We take our guardian role very seriously and bridge the gap between people and technology to keep them safe,” says Hakansson. “We were first to market with complete technology, training and monitoring solutions for lone and remote workers in New Zealand, and the success with ecentre and now SheEO provides important validation for our business.”

The fast growing lone worker market is estimated at around 500,000 in New Zealand and 1.9 million in Australia. Recent Health and Safety law changes have put the onus on companies to protect high risk workers with panic button pendants – if staff spend time out of cell cover an alternate means to communicate must be provided.

Guardian Angel Security solutions integrate the best personal GPS panic button solutions from around the world with signals that link directly to their response software in NZ to ensure fast reliable delivery of the SOS, with 24/7 monitoring. Solutions circumvent the 111 process to speed up an emergency response, and to ensure connectivity even when cell coverage is unavailable.


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Training heavy machinery operators

Investment to meet demand for heavy machinery operators - The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest up to $4.3 million to help establish a state-of-the-art heavy machinery operator training centre in Northland to address skills shortages and grow jobs, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced last Friday.

“The talent pool of experienced people working as heavy machinery operators is reducing every year as workers retire or move on, making it difficult for companies to fill vacant roles with qualified candidates,” Shane Jones said.

“The skills shortage is chronic in Northland where a lot infrastructure and construction work is underway and the forestry, wood processing and agriculture sectors are expanding. The vacancies exceed the available labour pool.

“The training centre will develop a skilled, work-ready workforce in Northland, focusing on heavy machine operators for the civil, forestry, farming and construction sectors.”

“Wilson Earthmoving Group Limited has the experience having set up a temporary training centre in Whangarei and investing their own money in purchasing state-of-the-art simulators and machinery. They also have had the input and support of the local industry.

“The new technology they use helps trainees be more accurate, productive and safe and makes it easier for them to progress from a simulated environment to the worksite.

“The training will target school leavers, the unemployed, and young adults looking to get upskilled. The programme also includes pastoral care to ensure trainees have the best chance of completing the course and finding work. Eighty students will be trained this year.

“The PGF is supporting people to learn the skills needed for local jobs, while also helping employers meet their growing labour force needs,” Shane Jones said.


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Call for positive levy vote

The Chair of the Forest Growers Levy Trust, Geoff Thompson, says a positive vote in the current levy referendum is vital to maintain the support of government funding for the industry.

Forest owners are currently voting whether to renew the Commodity Levies Act Order which expires later this year after operating for the past six years.

Voting closes this Saturday, April 20th.

Geoff Thompson says feedback from forest owners has been enthusiastic in support of renewing the order.

“We’ve run meetings and conducted a formal survey of farm foresters’ opinions on how they regard the investment we’ve put mostly into forest research, but also harvest mechanisation, safety, industry recruitment, forest health and biosecurity. That feedback has been pretty keen. All we need now is the vote to support that enthusiasm.”

Geoff Thompson says he is well aware of recent lack of support in other industries for a levy.

“For our part we’ve worked hard to make sure potential levy payers know how the levy money has worked to benefit them. We’ve been transparent and gone to great lengths to get the message out there. We even broadcast a ten-week television series to inform farm foresters of the levy work progress.”

“However, unlike most other levy funded organisations in the primary sector, the forest industry doesn’t know who most of the levy payers are until they sell their harvest once every few decades. Most industries have levy payers who contribute at least once a year and so there is a direct line of communications from then on.”

Geoff Thompson says foresters need to know that not only is the levy invested in ways to help secure higher returns and lower costs at harvest, but that the levy is often paired up with government or other investment.

He says the just announced partnership of levy funds with government support is a $29 million example.

Te Mahi Ngahere i te Ao Hurihuri – Forestry Work in the Modern Age Partnership is a project to bring automation and robot technology into tree felling and log handling, which anticipates saving harvest and transport supply chain costs by nearly $10 a tonne by 2030.

“This is a hugely important project which will benefit small scale woodlot owners by offsetting the size of their forests by clever use of technology. I would hate to see such development in our industry jeopardised by a small turnout of voters.”

Eligibility to vote is restricted to anyone who owns at least four hectares of trees planted at least ten years ago.

Geoff Thompson says this restriction is because those who would be paying the levy are the ones who have the right to vote for it.

“The voter needs to have trees old enough to mature for harvest sometime in the next six years of the new levy order,” Geoff Thompson says.


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Sweden: 400 million seedlings annually

Large increase in the number of Scots pine of delivered seedlings in 2018 - The Swedish Forest Agency conducts an annual survey on the production of seedlings for forest regeneration in Sweden. According to the latest survey the production of Scots pine increased by almost 8 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year. In total 384 million seedlings were delivered in 2018, which is an increase of 2 percent compared to 2017.

The most common tree species are Norway spruce, which constitutes for 51 percent of the production. Scots pine accounts for 46 percent of the production and other tree species production for 4 percent. The production of Lodgepole pine seedlings has been more than halved since 2012 – from 18 million seedlings to just below 7 million. Production of other coniferous species than Scots pine, Norway spruce and Lodgepole pine has increased to about 5.5 million. Seedlings of deciduous trees has a very small share of the production.

Rooted planting material is the dominant production method with 82 percent of the production. Bare-rooted is 18 percent, while the remaining production is virtually nonexistent. Bare-rooted seedlings are primarily used for Norway spruce, other conifers and deciduous trees.

Most of the origin of seedlings comes from Swedish plantations or Swedish forest stands, a total of about 80 percent, which is a decrease by 8 percent compared to 2017.

More >>

Source: Sweden Forest Agency


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... and finally ... It's time for Easter jokes

... because it's got to be funny with a short week coming up!











Thanks for keeping up with the latest wood news with us!
Have a safe and productive week.
Don't eat too many Easter eggs...

John Stulen

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