WoodWeek – 24 April 2018

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Greetings from your WoodWeek news team.

Over the weekend, Forestry Minister Shane Jones planted the first tree in the One Billion Trees planting programme at a primary school in Tairawhiti.

“Twenty-six per cent of the district’s land is susceptible to severe erosion, compared to 8 per cent of land around the rest of the country. The One Billion Trees programme will see some land in the region able to be retired or used to regenerative native bush and return land to a productive and sustainable state,” Shane Jones said.

A forest owner and harvesting company responsible for a 197-hectare pine forest in steep mountainous terrain southeast of Opotiki have received a hefty fine for their environmental offending. The charges relate to disturbance of streambeds and discharging sediment, trees and forestry debris into streams. Whitikau Holdings Limited, the forest owner, pleaded guilty to five charges of contravening the Resource Management Act 1991 and was fined $57,000. The harvesting contractors, Paturakau Limited and Neville Walker, also pleaded guilty, and were fined $4,000 and $3,000 respectively.

In Australia, Forestry OneSafeGroup focuses on mental health first aid training. As part of its ongoing commitment to safety, OneFortyOne and its contractor partners in the OneSafeGroup are continuing their work improving safety across the region’s forestry industry, expanding their focus into mental health and wellbeing.

A representative of the group, OneFortyOne’s Adam Bowe, will provide a presentation outlining the developments their group has been responsible for, at the upcoming FIEA Woodflow Logistics Conference in Melbourne. For details see: www.woodflow.events.

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First tree planted on East Coast

Over the weekend Forestry Minister Shane Jones planted the first tree in the One Billion Trees planting programme at a primary school in Tairawhiti.

Minister Jones, Associate Minister of Agriculture Meka Whaitiri and Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon each planted a native tree at Manutuke School this afternoon. Interim head of forestry at MPI, Julie Collins, and Cindy Wills, the school’s board of trustees’ chairperson, also attended the ceremony and planted a tree.

“While a lot of work has already been under taken on the One Billion Trees programme, today marks the official start of what will be a ten-year effort to get one billion trees in the ground across New Zealand,” Shane Jones said.

“This Government is committed to its tree planting ambitions, which will help create sustainable jobs in our regions and help meet our carbon emissions targets. The planting programme will also help landowners, particularly Maori, use their land more sustainably and will help combat erosion issues.

“I’m making good on my word to plant the first tree in Tairawhiti – the first place to see the sun. I’m proud to be in Tairawhiti with my ministerial colleague, Meka Whaitiri, who went to school at Manutuke.

“The five symbolic natives that we planted – Kowhai, Totara, Kahikatea and Puriri and Matai – are just the start for Tairawhiti, which has huge afforestation potential.

“Gisborne has the worst eroding land in the country because of poor soil quality and the increasing frequency of adverse weather events.

“Twenty-six per cent of the district’s land is susceptible to severe erosion, compared to 8 per cent of land around the rest of the country. The One Billion Trees programme will see some land in the region able to be retired or used to regenerative native bush and return land to a productive and sustainable state,” Shane Jones said.

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EPA approvals methyl bromide reassessment

EPA approves methyl bromide reassessment An application to decide whether grounds exist for a reassessment of the controversial timber and log fumigant methyl bromide has been approved by an Environmental Protection Authority decision-making committee.

Methyl Bromide, an extremely toxic and ozone-depleting substance, is used to disinfest logs and timber products destined for export as part of quarantine and pre-shipment importing requirements.

“The application was made by industry group Stakeholders in Methyl Bromide Reduction Inc [STIMBR] in part because New Zealand’s use of the fumigant has increased from over 400 tonnes a year in 2010 to more than 600 tonnes in 2016,” says Dr Fiona Thomson- Carter, General Manager of the EPA’s Hazardous Substances Group.

“A significant change in quantity imported and manufactured is one of the criteria under which an applicant can apply for grounds for reassessment under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

“During that time extensive industry research has also been undertaken and this new information may have an impact on the current controls, or rules, around its use if a reassessment is carried out,” adds Dr Thomson-Carter.

Methyl Bromide is controlled under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act and Ozone Layer Protection Regulations. Its use for anything other than quarantine or pre-shipment purposes was phased out in 2005.

Following its 2010 reassessment, the EPA ruled that users would need to ensure recapture technology was in place by 2020 to collect and store the used gas, preventing its spread into the atmosphere.

In granting the approval, the Decision-making committee said it had not reviewed the current controls, including recapture, but that these should be considered if any follow- up application is made to begin the reassessment process.

To read the grounds for reassessment application and decision, click below:

Grounds for Decision

Application Form for Reassessment

The EPA and WorkSafe continue to work with industry on the use of methyl bromide and controls currently in place.

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Fines for reckless harvesting operation

A forest owner and harvesting company responsible for a 197 hectare pine forest in steep mountainous terrain south-east of Opotiki have received a hefty fine for their environmental offending. The charges relate to disturbance of stream beds and discharging sediment, trees and forestry debris into streams. Whitikau Holdings Limited, the forest owner, pleaded guilty to five charges of contravening the Resource Management Act 1991 and was fined $57,000. The harvesting contractors, Paturakau Limited and Neville Walker, also pleaded guilty, and were fined $4,000 and $3,000 respectively.

In her decision, Judge Harland concluded that the offending effectively destroyed the beds of two streams for a period.

The defendants “caused large amounts of sediment, bark and slash to be mobilised and discharged to the downstream receiving courses, including the Whitikau Stream, and would have killed any aquatic life in the streambed or forced it to retreat”. It’s estimated the stream will tale “at least 5 – 10 years” to recover, says Judge Harland.

The resource consent to harvest the forestry block, was granted to Whitikau Limited in 2014. Shortly after harvesting commenced in June 2015, Regional Council received a complaint by a member of the public, who was concerned about the impact of the construction of a ford on native eel and duck populations. The council officer who investigated the complaint identified a number of concerns, which were subsequently addressed by Whitikau.

Subsequent council inspections continued to identify compliance issues at the site. This culminated at an inspection in October 2016, where a compliance officer noticed one of the tributary streams flowing through the forest was particularly muddy.

The officer investigated further and found logging machines working directly in the waterway, vehicles hauling logs through the stream, and logs deposited on the streambed to allow machinery to drive through the stream. Furthermore, there was a significant volume of slash and debris in the streams. These were significant breaches of both resource consent conditions and the Resource Management Act, which resulted in an abatement notices being issued that required Whitikau Holdings to cease its unlawful activities at the forest.

Unfortunately, follow-up inspections throughout late 2016 found that, while there was some improvement, the harvesting operation was still non-compliant with both the resource consent and the abatement notice.

Regulatory Compliance Manager Alex Miller says resource consents come with a very important responsibility.

“Consent holders are required to consider the effects of their resource use on the environment and their community, and to reduce any significant effects. The conditions included in a resource consent are specifically designed to avoid, remedy or mitigate any adverse effects on the environment; in this instance, from forestry harvesting in steep and difficult terrain, which carries a higher level of risk.” he says.

“In this case there was a clear disregard for the environment, with heavy machinery operated in and near streams, logs dragged through streams and tracks cut through areas that didn’t hold and ended up in the water.” he says.

“The really disappointing thing is that Whitikau had identified environmental risks at the forest and committed to managing these risks in their consent application. Furthermore, the rules and requirements were reiterated a number of times throughout the council inspection process, but Whitikau still failed to provide adequate infrastructure and controls for the job to be carried out in a suitable way”, says Mr Miller.

Judge Harland said Whitikau’s behaviour was extremely reckless, bordering on deliberate.

“Whitikau Holdings was obliged to comply with the conditions of the resource consent. If there were difficulties with the infrastructure to the extent that conditions were breached then its options were to either cease the harvesting operation or ensure necessary infrastructure was provided,” she says.

The stream nearest the operation is Whitikau Stream and this ultimately flows into the Motu River. Short jawed kokopu and whio (blue duck) have been recorded in the stream and koaro in a tributary to that stream.

In her decision Judge Harland also considered the issue of insurance for fines for environmental offences.

To read the full sentencing decision click here.

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OneFortyOne forms group focused on safety

Forestry OneSafeGroup focuses on mental health first aid training - As part of its ongoing commitment to safety, OneFortyOne and its contractor partners in the OneSafeGroup are continuing their work improving safety across the region’s forestry industry, expanding their focus into mental health and wellbeing.

OneFortyOne’s Emma-Kate Griffiths recently organised an accredited St Johns ‘Mental health first aid course’ for Group members, teaching people how to provide initial support to adults who are developing a mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis.

“We know that mental health has taken over physical injury as the largest cause of absences from work in Australia, and so it was important to all the companies in the OneSafeGroup to prioritise mental health training in the same way we train our people in first aid”, Mrs Griffiths said.

Local harvesting company, Harvestco, was keen to participate and support the mental health of its workers. Safety Officer, Tim Stapleton said “At Harvestco, we want to actively influence the positive mental health of our team, and this training provided the perfect opportunity for me to learn how to recognise and respond appropriately to signs of mental illness.”

Chipping and Logging contractor LV Dohnt & Co were also delighted to take part in the training, sending 7 of their team to participate with plans to send all their supervisors and team leaders in the future.

LV Dohnt’s Alicia Geue said “We know how important mental health awareness is. Unfortunately, we make judgements on the unknown and I personally misunderstood so much about this topic, but because I was fortunate enough to participate in the course I am now more prepared to deal with my own emotions and behaviours, and those around me.”

LV Dohnt’s WHS and Compliance Manager John Bruttomesso thanked OFO for organising the training, finding the course exceptional in helping to understand mental health illness.

“I am confident that I now have the tools to identify persons that could be affected by this illness, and my approach would definitely be different at home and my workplace as a result of the training”, said Mr Bruttomesso.

The nationally recognised OneSafeGroup who will be presenting at the Australian leg of the upcoming WoodFlow 2018 event in Melbourne on 20-21 June. It was formed to foster collaboration and improve safety across the forestry industry and the wider Green Triangle region.

“We know through our industry collaborating in all aspects of safety, physical and mental health and wellbeing, our people can have a positive impact at work and in the wider community”, said OFO’s Emma-Kate Griffiths.

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Could wood be the new Styrofoam?

If you’re interested in insulation, you may be surprised to learn that researchers have found that by stripping away all the filler material in wood, leaving just their fibres, the resulting “nanowood” material outperforms just about all existing insulation. Wood, it seems, might be the new Styrofoam.

A research team at the University of Maryland developed this new nanowood simply by exposing wood to three simple, cheap chemicals: sodium hydroxide, sodium sulfite and hydrogen peroxide. The team discovered these substances strip out the cell walls in wood (which are made up of lignin and hemicellulose), leaving behind just the skeletal nanofibres of cellulose.

It seems the unusual properties of the resulting nanowood can be attributed to the fact that these nanofibres are mostly parallel to one another. And the solid filler material in wood that will usually convey heat is gone, replaced by air. Poorly conducting air.

As well, the parallel alignment of fibres dissipates any heat that does penetrate. It can’t become concentrated.

During lab tests, the research team found the substance’s capacity to keep heat from penetrating from one side to the other is on par with Styrofoam, which is hundreds of times better at blocking heat than wool, glass or epoxy. The team also found that the nanowood is extremely strong, withstanding loads as high as 13 megapascals. That’s the equivalent to almost 2,000 pounds per square inch.

The sample researchers tested was small — just 15 centimetres long and two centimetres thick — but they say it could be made in virtually any size or shape. Because the material is so versatile, it could be used to insulate a wide range of things, from entire buildings to very small computing components.

Since it is extremely light, it could be used where weight is important: aircraft engines, or cars, even spaceships.

And it’s cheap.

Liangbing Hu, who led the research team, says just seven dollars’ worth of chemicals would be enough to make a square metre of nanowood.

There is also an important ecological benefit because it’s made from ordinary, recyclable wood. For its experiments, the team used American basswood, but Hu says any wood would do.

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Next week, we'll tell you about plans to build a bridge in California using concrete infused with wood nanocrystals.

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Timberlab - 60 years YOUNG

This month TimberLab Solutions celebrates its 60th year in the production of Glulam and engineered timber solutions. Emerging from a long and successful history as the most experienced manufacturers in NZ, McIntosh Timber Laminates has completed its rebranding and has emerged with new colours and new capabilities into TimberLab Solutions Ltd.

Extending the boundaries for engineered timber solutions is an ongoing passion for TimberLab. From exclusively manufacturing Glulam in the early days, TimberLab is developing new technology and expertise to be able to offer solutions taking into account a full suite of engineered timber possibilities. As part of that strategy we are pleased to announce the appointment of Sam Leslie to enhance our technical and sales capabilities. Many of you will know Sam comes from his previous experience as Engineering and Innovation Manager at Xlam. Now entering the world of Glulam , Fabricated LVL and other Engineered Timber Solutions, he will bring to TimberLab a wealth of timber experience and innovative skills. Sam’s passion is to see digital technology enhance engineered timber’s ability to achieve expanding horizons in providing detail designed, prefabricated construction packages.

At TimberLab we believe there is great potential yet to be fully realised in advancing the unique capabilities of engineered timber in New Zealand and overseas. In an effort to better service our important South Island designers, contractors and customers, Sam will be available to personally visit and provide expert advice and sales assistance.

Owen Griffiths of Timberlab said, "We welcome Sam to join our team to help us pursue our objective of being New Zealand’s best provider of engineered timber solutions, distinguished as world class with dependable service."

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New kinds of fertilizers for sustainable forestry

Torgny Näsholm is awarded the 2018 Marcus Wallenberg Prize for having documented how trees use amino acid molecules as sources of nitrogen. He has also shown how this organic nitrogen dominates the nutrition of trees in boreal forests. The findings have resulted in new types of fertilizers.

Professor Torgny Näsholm, The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden, has examined the role of amino acids in supplying the nitrogen required for the growth of forest trees. His work has caused a paradigm shift in explaining the nutrition of plants.For his discoveries Torgny Näsholm is awarded the 2018 Marcus Wallenberg Prize of SEK 2 million.

With a little help of amino acids
The ability of boreal forests to take up atmospheric carbon dioxide and produce wood depends on the availability of nitrogen in the soil. The growth of most forests is however limited by a low supply of nitrogen.

Some species have developed symbioses with bacteria that can process nitrogen gas into amino acids.More than a century ago some plants were demonstrated to have the capability of taking up amino acids directly. The process was not considered important until the isotopic methods were further developed and could simplify chemical analyses of different elements.

Torgny Näsholm has in different studies since 1998 investigated the nutrition of forest trees – particularly Scots pine and Norway spruce. He found that nitrogen from amino acids was taken up by tree seedlings and discovered that the amino acid concentrations in forest soils are high enough to provide a substantial supply for tree uptake. He could also testify that the major nitrogen source of pine and spruce in boreal forests is amino acids rather than ammonium ions or nitrate.

Environmentally friendly
The new insights inspired Torgny Näsholm to develop fertilizers based on amino acid and nitrogen. Field studies revealed the improvement of shoot growth when seedlings were grown on this organic nitrogen. Leaching of nitrogen was also reduced compared to conventional inorganic fertilizers.

The findings have had an impact on nursery and forestry practices in coniferous forests in the Nordic countries.

The first patent for this approach was issued in 2000 and a fertilizer called Argrow, based on the amino acid arginine, was introduced on the market. Arginine is a nitrogen rich amino acid that is easily absorbed by plants. The fertilizer is mainly used in forest nurseries in Sweden, Finland, USA, Canada, Uruguay, China, New Zealand and Australia. It is also being tested on other commercial crops and garden plants. The innovation has been further developed. Subsequent patents have highlighted improved plant growth.

Seedpad is an example of another new technology for improved germination of pine and spruce seeds, that Torgny Näsholm recently developed as CEO for the startup company Arevo AB, Umeå, Sweden. More products characterized by the slow release of amino acid-based fertilizers will soon be introduced on the market.

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Timber Design Awards reminder

Dr Andrew Barrie, M.Arch, D.Eng (Tokyo) is Professor of Design at the University of Auckland. In 2017, his company Andrew Barrie Lab together with Ruamoko Solutions, Tezuka Architects, Ohno Japan and Contract Construction won the Supreme Award in the New Zealand Wood-Resene Timber Design Awards, plus the Commercial Architectural Excellence Award.

NZ Wood talked to him about how he believes this project has shifted attitudes within the industry.

Cathedral Grammar Junior School, designed in collaboration with Japanese architects and engineers, consists of seven classrooms, a common room, office, and amenities all arranged around a central courtyard. Construction of the building required new milling technology to deliver ±0.5mm accuracy in the cutting of the large LVL frame elements, which arrived on site with grooves, notches, and bolt holes to make them ready to assemble.

“The design tested the accuracy of milling machinery to its limits,” said Dr Barrie. “The apparent simplicity of the building belies the challenging engineering and innovative fabrication that was required.”

“I think there had been a suspicion that New Zealand was behind in the timber technology field,” said Dr Barrie. “What was achieved with Cathedral Grammar was not only something of a first for the country, but has probably moved local expectations up a step or two. It was amazing to see the very tight tolerances, initially thought laughable, achieved through very close collaboration between architects, engineers, fabricators, and contractors.”

Gaining the Supreme Award also served to give the winners added confidence in their work. “We had a feeling the project was special, but it’s wonderful to have it confirmed by your peers,” he said.

There’s still time to enter your exciting project in the 2018 NZ Wood-Resene Timber Design Awards – they don’t close until Monday, April 30.

For more details go to www.nzwood.co.nz or call Debbie Fergie on 021-807 002, email [email protected]

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Did you know about this hot wood product?

Thermowood, originating from Finland, is now probably the most recognised brand. The process of thermal modification dramatically increases the durability and stability of wood – and results in a beautiful brown coloration. The result: a new, sustainable, environmentally friendly timber species.

Thermal modification is achieved by using steam and high temperatures in excess of 190 degrees celsius. The real trick to the process is in the cooling and reconditioning phase. The modification process requires a purpose-built computer-controlled kiln to ensure every piece of timber is modified to the correct specification and quality. At the end of the process the moisture content of the timber is around 7% moisture content and the chemical and physical properties have been permanently changed.

During the thermal modification process, many of the extractives are “cooked” out of the wood so that there is little chance of ‘resin bleed’ in service. This, combined with a degrading of the hemicellulose (sugar compound) in the wood, means that the conditions for fungal growth are almost eliminated. As a result the durability of softwoods like radiata pine is increased to equivalent of H3 level – providing a 30 year expected service life in above ground vertical (cladding) applications. As an added advantage, thermal insulation properties are improved by around 20%.

All this is achieved without the use of wood preservatives or chemicals of any type. Thermally modified wood is perfect for eco decking, cladding and weatherboard applications, especially where “healthy” building materials are desired.

Abodo’s Vulcan Cladding is made from FSC certified clear wood modified at 230 degrees. Vulcan Cladding is available in a range bevel back, rusticated and vertical shiplap weatherboard profiles. The Vulcan system is CodeMark certified for compliance with the New Zealand building code.

In the image above, standard pine is shown on the left, thermally modified pine is on the right.

Source: www.abodo.co.nz

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Process of bringing agriculture into ETS begins

Agriculture in ETS a step closer with appointment of interim climate change committee - Inclusion of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme is a step closer with the appointment of a six-member Interim Climate Change Committee.

Announced last week by Climate Change Minister James Shaw, the interim committee has two specific tasks to complete ahead of the creation of a permanent body under the Zero Carbon Bill, which Parliament is considering at the moment, prior to the creation of a permanent Climate Commission next May.

The panel will be chaired by David Prentice, a professional engineer, former managing director of Opus International, and chair of Business New Zealand’s infrastructure sub- group, with Lisa Tumahai, the kaiwhakahaere (CEO) of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, the South Island’s largest tribal incorporation, with substantial agricultural holdings, in the role of deputy chair.

Also on the committee is the immediate past Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, former Meridian Energy CEO Keith Turner, leading climate change economist Suzi Kerr, and agricultural greenhouse gas research expert Harry Clark.

The first and most controversial task is to determine how agricultural emissions – nitrous oxide and methane, which collectively account for around half the country’s total contribution to greenhouse gases – should be included in the ETS.

The coalition agreement that allowed a government to be formed last October included agreement that 5 percent of agricultural GHGs should enter the ETS.

The second issue is to start planning for transition to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035, assuming normal hydrological conditions.

"These are two of the most politically charged questions" in the government's climate change action agenda, said Shaw, with the committee and commission intended to take an independent view and make recommendations.

The interim committee is tasked with making recommendations which the government will only consider around mid-2019, following examination by the permanent commission. Some but not all members of the interim committee are expected to be appointed to the commission.

A key issue will be whether to include both nitrous oxide and methane, or just nitrous oxide, given the absence of technological fixes to the methane gas produced by cows and sheep.

Methane is a far more powerful GHG than carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide, but is comparatively short-lived.

The new Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, has spoken publicly about the potential wisdom of only including nitrous oxide in the first instance.

The committee's terms of reference include whether to include agriculture in the ETS at all and where the point of obligation for declaring emissions should be applied.

Source: BusinessDesk

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Kauri gum sought after again

Kaimaumau kauri resin and wax extraction consents granted - Resource consent has been granted for a commercial kauri resin and wax extraction operation covering roughly 10 percent of the Far North’s 4000-plus hectare Kaimaumau wetland.

Auckland-based Resin & Wax Holdings Ltd applied to the Northland Regional Council (NRC) last year for a raft of consents needed for the staged extraction of resin and wax from peat taken from 400ha of wetland that forms part of a wider almost 950ha block now owned by Ngai Takoto.

Colin Dall, the council’s Group Manager – Regulatory Services, says initially extraction is proposed over an area of up to five hectares annually, increasing to 20ha a year if the operation reaches full production.

He says the recently-issued non-notified consent was granted because – subject to extensive conditions imposed – any adverse effects of the proposed activity on the environment will be “no more than minor”. The consented area excludes Department of Conservation-managed wetlands to the north, and Kaimaumau’s scientific reserve, both of which the council says will not be affected by the extraction operation.

“A large part of the property involved is already modified due to past activities; however, the applicant will be re-establishing the more ecologically significant areas of existing indigenous vegetation and will also be taking special measures to minimise any adverse effects on any threatened species in the areas they’ll be working in.”

Mr Dall says most of the peat removed from the wetland will be returned to it once the resin and wax has been extracted. “The peat shrinks by about 10 percent as a result of the resin and wax extraction process, after which it will be re-wetted, returned to roughly the same area it was taken from, topped up with soil and sand and then reinstated with previously stripped topsoil.”

Proposed extraction areas will be confined to places previously disturbed by Kaurex – which mined peat there in the 1980s – and by subsequent farming operations. (Later stages of the proposed new works will also include some areas of burnt shrubland.)

Mr Dall says the land involved is now owned by Ngai Takoto and covers an area of almost 950ha known as ‘Mekerene’. Under the proposal, 404ha is proposed for peat extraction operations over four stages, with 107ha proposed to be restored with indigenous vegetation.

He says Ngai Takoto approves of the applicant’s plans and is keen to ensure future productive use of its property.

“The development will provide some land suitable for activities including livestock farming and horticultural enterprises, and any kauri logs and stumps excavated during the peat extraction will also be put aside for use by Ngai Takoto.”

Relatively flat, the land involved is made up of series of low sand ridges interspersed with peat soils generally two to five metres deep. It adjoins Motutangi Wetland to the north, Lake Waikaramu to the east, Kaimaumau Road to the south and farmland to the west.

He says if extraction was undertaken continuously, the newly-consented operations authorised by the NRC could be completed over about eight years.

“However, following discussions with the applicant, a consent term of 20 years (to 31 October 2038) was considered appropriate as it will allow sufficient time for setup of the processing plant and provide adequate security for investors.”

The various consents allow drainage of land, vegetation clearance and earthworks, taking and use of surface water, damming and diverting surface water (and installing associated structures) and discharging stormwater. The consent does not authorise any taking of groundwater from the Aupouri aquifer.

Consent conditions include a $20,000 bond and detailed requirements for a range of measures to ensure appropriate ecological, archaeological and cultural protection. These included a requirement for management plans for ecological monitoring, earthworks and revegetation.

Full details of both the consent application and decision are available from the regional council’s website via: www.nrc.govt.nz/consentdecisions Meanwhile, Mr Dall says even with the newly-issued regional council consents, the applicant must also obtain a Crown permit before any resin and wax extraction can begin.

“This is because kauri resin and wax are legally classed as minerals and as such the applicant will also need a Crown mining permit.”

He says a previous mining licence covering an area of 1450ha – including the newly-consented area – expired in July last year.

“An application for a new permit is currently being processed separately by New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, which is part of Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.”

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... almost finally ... old and new ... who knew?

Moving slightly off topic before we give today's funny finish to this issue, we have a new/old story for you. It's new because I just became aware of it ... but in reality it's old because it was first developed in 2013, even released to the garden centre visiting public then as well.

What is it you're asking? TomTato plants!

TomTato' tomato and potato plant unveiled in UK - A plant that produces both tomatoes and potatoes, called the TomTato, has been developed for the UK market. Ipswich-based horticultural firm Thompson and Morgan said the plants were not genetically modified.

Similar plants have been created in the UK, but the firm said it was thought to be the first time they had been produced on a commercial scale.

Guy Barter, of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), said it was looking at the plant with "real interest".

Mr Barter said many of these plants - created by a technique known as grafting - had been created before but taste had previously been a problem.

"We're looking at it with real interest because Thompson and Morgan are a really reputable firm with a lot to lose, but I wouldn't rule out that it could be a very valuable plant to them," said Mr Barter, who is a contributor to BBC Gardener's World.

"In the past we've never had any faith in the plants - they've not been very good - but grafting has come on leaps and bounds in recent years.

"Many people don't have that much space in their gardens and I imagine this sort of product would appeal to them."

Thompson and Morgan director Paul Hansord claimed the tomatoes were tastier than most shop-bought tomatoes and said the plant had taken a decade of work. "It has been very difficult to achieve because the tomato stem and the potato stem have to be the same thickness for the graft to work," he said. "It is a very highly skilled operation. We have seen similar products. However, on closer inspection the potato is planted in a pot with a tomato planted in the same pot - our plant is one plant and produces no potato foliage." The firm said the plants last for one season and by the time the tomatoes are ready for picking, the potatoes can be dug up.

More >>

A similar product, dubbed the "Potato Tom", was launched in garden centres in New Zealand in the spring of 2013. Anyone had them in their garden?

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... and finally ... some mothers do 'ave 'em

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE... "If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."

2. My mother taught me RELIGION... "You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL... "If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My mother taught me LOGIC... "Because I said so, that's why."

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC... "If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me.”

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT... "Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

7. My mother taught me IRONY... "Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS... "Shut your mouth and eat your dinner."

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTION-ISM... "Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!"

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA... "You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER... "This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY... "If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"

Not funny enough...? How about funny phone messages...

I dialed my mate’s phone number the other day and got the following recording:
"Hi, I’m not available right now, but thank you for caring enough to call. I’m making some changes in my life. Please leave a message after the BEEP. If I don’t return your call, you’re one of the changes."

Thanks for keeping up with the latest wood news with us!
Have a safe and productive week.

John Stulen

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