WoodWeek – 5 December 2018

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Greetings from your WoodWeek news team. As we edge closer to the festive season, Shane Jones is starting to look a lot like Santa Claus for regional and rural New Zealanders. He must be the envy of other ministers with money to mulch and a knack for ignoring difficult questions in the beehive from opposition MPs. It is on that happy note that our first story for this week is about even more money for the One Billion Trees programme (1BT).

From a forest industry perspective the attention and targeted resources are welcomed (I think) and considered well overdue, especially when you take into account New Zealand’s commitment and obligations to the Paris agreement. But I’m not sure the farming community even knows which trees they want on their farms, if any. That said, this week State- owned commercial farmer Landcorp Farming released a tender for an afforestation partner.

Back to the business of technology updates. We are experiencing strong demand for both our MobileTECH and HarvestTECHX (Vancouver) conferences right now as the super early bird rates are still available. But it would pay to get your team registered if you have not already, before the discounts expire.

At our upcoming MobileTECH 2019 agritech event we will host to a number of international guest speakers and technologies. “MobileTECH is one of New Zealand’s largest annual agritech events and we are looking forward to showcasing a wide range of world-class digital technologies for our food and fibre sectors,” said programme manager, Ken Wilson.

Looking to Vancouver, our HarvestTECHX 2019 conference has a stunning array of international loggers and forest managers – all focused on how they are applying technology to improve safety and productivity to forest harvesting operations. This international gathering of forest managers and loggers – which started in Rotorua in 2015 and expanded in 2016 to Vancouver – attracts practitioners from across North America, Europe and South America. It’s a good place to get a global perspective on who’s bringing innovations to forest operations. Register now to get super early bird rates.

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Log export market update

Log export market graphics - This week we've got our monthly update from the good folks at Champion Freight.

The chart shows total log export values to China to the end of October are up 28 percent year-on-year contributing to overall log exports growing 28 percent across all markets.

To the end of October, China shipments month-on-month are up 21 percent and overall log exports up 16 percent.

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New fund means new opportunities

Achieving the goal of planting one billion trees by 2028 – Late last week Forestry Minister Shane Jones and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor launched the One Billion Trees Fund – a crucial step toward that goal.

Led by Te Uru Rakau/Forestry New Zealand, the Fund provides $118 million for simple and accessible grants to landowners and organisations looking to plant trees. Another $120m is being committed to research initiatives that help reduce the barriers to tree planting through innovation, research and sector development initiatives.

“The One Billion Trees Programme sets an ambitious target, but brings with it the huge opportunity to revitalise our regions and create real economic, social and environmental benefits across the country. It will also support Maori to realise the potential of their land,” Shane Jones said.

“The Government is committed to achieving these benefits for New Zealanders who have already shown an impressive amount of interest and goodwill in the programme. This year we exceeded the planting goal, with over 60 million trees planted.

“The new Fund will build on this early momentum by supporting planting to reduce erosion, improve water quality, achieve regional development goals, enhance biodiversity, develop Maori-owned land and diversify productive land use.

“Officials will monitor the rollout of the new grant scheme to ensure our focus remains on putting the right tree in the right place for the right purpose,” Shane Jones said.

“This is another example of the Coalition Government’s partnership with farmers to help them extract more value from their businesses because we recognise the significant contribution they make to the wellbeing of New Zealand and our economy,” Damien O’Connor said.

“The key to any sustainable business is diversification and I encourage those interested to take up these grants that reflect our ambition to work in partnership with farmers to get more from what they do,” Damien O’Connor said.

It brings the total for the One Billion Trees Programme, funded from the Provincial Growth Fund, to $480 million, with other initiatives including joint ventures between landowners and Crown Forestry to plant commercial forestry, and the community planting programme Matariki Tu Rakau.

Applications to the new Fund are now open through Te Uru Rakau and can be submitted all year round.

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Source: Radio NZ & Scoop

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Landcorp seeks forestry partner

This week, State-owned commercial farmer Landcorp Farming - which trades as Pamu, put out a tender document seeking an afforestation partner.

The document said the SOE's current expansion and diversification plans are using a significant amount of its time and capital. It's interested in finding a partner to help fund and manage part of its future afforestation programme. The farmer wants to capture the afforestation potential for land well-suited to forestry, including carbon farming and traditional rotation forestry.

"Pamu anticipates the arrangement to involve it contributing land suitable for afforestation and the partner group funding the forest establishment and ongoing management of the forests," the document said.

Source: BusinessDesk via Scoop

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Agritech conference: Top international lineup

The upcoming MobileTECH 2019 agritech event will play host to a number of international guest speakers and technologies. “MobileTECH is one of New Zealand’s largest annual agritech events and we are looking forward to showcasing a wide range of world-class digital technologies for our food and fiber sectors,” said programme manager, Ken Wilson.

“Artificial intelligence, machine learning, smart data and other automation technologies are starting to make a big impact on productivity for early-adopters throughout our agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors,” said Mr Wilson.

Of the over 30 speakers at MobileTECH 2019, close to half are flying into New Zealand to take part in the programme.

Keynote speaker, Sarah Nolet, CEO of Australian-based Agthentic, is a global trailblazer on the adoption of agri technologies and how innovators and growers can succeed together. When asked about the programme, Sarah said, “I'm really looking forward to speaking at MobileTECH 2019 about how we can continue to bridge the gap between ag and tech, as well as enable more collaborations between Australia and NZ.”

Netherlands-based artificial intelligence for ag leader, Yasir Khokhar, CEO of Connecterra, has been making waves internationally over the last couple of years. His mission has been to ‘build an artificial intelligence that will grow food sustainably to feed future generations’.

While Connecterra has released an award winning ‘intelligent cow-monitoring system’, his company’s drive has been that data and algorithms in themselves won’t change anything - but they do offer us the potential to experiment and to learn what works best under what circumstances. Connecting individual data points with multitude of related data can have an enormously positive impact on farm productivity.

Andrew Bate is another with big plans. Andrew is an Australian farmer who founded agritech startup, SwarmFarm Robotics. He developed the SwarmBot, a platform of robotic machines which can ‘talk’ to one another and work in swarms to autonomously plant, weed and undertake pest control.

The opening keynote at MobileTECH 2019 will be Russell Craig, Microsoft New Zealand’s National Technology Officer. His focus will be on how digital innovations are transforming the NZ economy. “NZ is world-leading digital nation. I'm excited to see all the digital opportunities and innovation happening across our primary industries,” said Mr Craig.

The MobileTECH 2019 event is running on 3-4 April 2019 in Rotorua, New Zealand. Further details can be found on the event website, www.mobiletech.events.

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International logging innovation showcase

Globally technology innovations transforming forest management and harvesting - Control innovations for harvesting equipment are removing workers from the ground and improving safety and productivity simultaneously.

A few short years ago, a few innovative loggers recognised how the speed of technology could transform their operations. They worked with application and research specialists and learned from other industries. Now, with advanced operational testing in place, these same loggers are poised to bring step-change technologies to the forest.

The rugged realities and rocks and mud in working forests means that loggers only get interested when it is one of their own who makes a real breakthrough and proves a new machine or technology on the forest floor. This is now happening at pace and the innovators are set to soon achieve the vision of “No man on the hill; no hand on the saw.” It is now only a few steps from coming to reality to disrupt the logging business.

These early leaders are bringing safety and productivity to West Coast forestry workplaces. They are all keynote speakers at the HarvestTECHX Conference coming to Vancouver in mid-March 2019. Dale Ewers of internationally-recognised logger and innovator from DC Equipment (DCE) will outline the development his 15 logging sides are beginning to pilot in their operations. DCE now has advanced beyond camera grapples (operated by one man safely housed a machine cab) to realising a 5-year dream – a yarder mounted tree-felling head for steep slope logging achieving the vision of no men out on the steep forested slopes.

In fact the loggers and technology specialists working closely at DC Equipment have a plan out to the year 2030 already with developments they know will increase productivity and safety in logging to levels most people can’t even grasp yet. These plans, concepts and latest pilot-stage and proven technology developments are at the core of the 2019 “HarvesTECHX” Conference. It runs on March 13 at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel in Richmond, BC. Delegates are also invited to an evening welcome reception on March 12. Register at: www.harvesttechx.events. There are limited seats available to people who get in early for an in-forest workshop hosted by BC Forest Safety Council and WorkSafe BC.

This conference sold out when it last ran in Vancouver in 2016.

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Video: You'll be surprised how common this is

Earlier this week we were fortunate to get an update on the very popular work being delivered to log transport companies and their drivers up and down the country. Of course it is led by the good people at the Log Transport Safety Council (LTSC). In the course of our meeting, LTSC's Bruce Nairn made mention of the high levels of interest aroused when they raise the subject of sleep apnoea. They now have an excellent resource they have developed in the accompanying video. You might want to watch this for yourself or show it to someone else in your work team. It could literally change their life and save the lives of other people too.

Give yourself a break, get a coffee and watch this:

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CLT pioneer: UK government over-reaching

CLT pioneer says UK government “overreaches” brief on fire safety - One of the UK’s leading pioneers of cross-laminated timber construction (CLT) – Waugh Thistleton Architects –has expressed “disappointment” the government is proposing a ban on CLT in new residential buildings above 18m.

The practice, which designed the landmark 30m-high CLT Stadthaus building in Murray Grove, said the government’s latest statement on amending the Building Regulations has “overreached its stated aim” of fire safety improvements following Grenfell.

As well as cladding materials – the original scope of post-Grenfell fire safety scrutiny – the document targets structural timber and other combustible external wall systems.

In a government policy document timber building over 18m is specifically flagged up as being within the scope of prohibition under the proposals. The effect of this, the document says, would be to slow down the use of engineered timber in developments in the medium to long term.

“We are clear that mass timber construction is not a valid target for this change and will continue to advocate for its exemption,” said Waugh Thistleton.

As well as expressing disappointment, Waugh Thistleton said the government statement demonstrated a “misunderstanding” of the fire performance of engineered timber.

“The UK is a world leader in the development of engineered timber construction with over 500 buildings completed,” it added.

“As the government acknowledges this change in regulations will have an impact on the continued innovation and development of low carbon construction, and hence on the rate at which the construction industry can tackle climate change.”

Waugh Thistleton made clear that the government is not proposing a ban on using CLT, but a different approach to building tall residential structures.

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Carbon: NZU Update

Good volume traded last week but this week has seen lower volume. The dip below $25 saw buyers return to the market with greater interest, but on the basis of lower volume offered we have quickly seen prices head north again. So, end of the month today and just like that NZUs are back at $25. Best bid $25, best offer $25.10.

New Grant Scheme Announced – Today saw the announcement by Minister Shane Jones of a new forestry grant scheme to the tune of $118 million. The grant scheme will support the Billion Trees program but its aims are broader than just carbon sequestration, with the Minister saying that applicants for the grants could be looking to plant for reduced erosion, improved water quality, the development of M?ori-owned land or to diversify productive land uses. More detail to follow.

Concern About Climate Change Still Lower Than It Should Be – Climate change has been in the news a lot in NZ this week as COP 24 approaches. But research from UMR focus groups suggest that for many kiwis concern about the issue is still “wafer thin”, reported Rob Stock yesterday for Stuff. CEO of UMR, David Talbot, said that the situation was changing, however, with 2018 the first election year in which the environment and climate change was in the top five of people's political concerns, though that may have been partly driven by concerns over the state of the country's rivers.

And Even Lower For Certain World Leaders – Even wafer thin concern would be too much for Donald Trump, who earlier this week cast aspersions on a the findings of the 4th National Climate Assessment, a US government report which highlighted the economic and physical cost that would be imposed on the American economy by unmitigated climate change. I don’t believe it, said Trump, telling the Washington Post that “One of the problems that a lot of people like myself - we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers”.

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Log availability for CNI plant – a clarification

The November 7th issue of WoodWeek ran a story entitled ‘Kawerau set to get new mill’. This was reproduced from BusinessDesk and discussed the recent OIO approval for the Guangxi Fenglin Wood Industry (Fenglin) particle board mill in Kawerau.

The article noted that the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association of NZ had raised concerns over the availability of fibre for the new plant, given existing demand from current wood fibre users in the region. The article then goes on to say “However, an evaluation of wood fibre availability for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise by Finland forestry consultancy Indufor concluded there is more than enough wood available to support an additional 700,000 cubic metres of domestic fibre demand”.

There are a couple of points raised by the BusinessDesk article that need to be clarified.

“…by Finland forestry consultancy company Indufor…”
This statement could give the impression that the project was undertaken from afar with little local context. While Indufor does have an office in Helsinki, this particular project was undertaken by Indufor’s Auckland office. In the course of the study, interviews and/or phone discussions were held with most of the large forest owners, wood processors, and fibre customers in the region. Indufor also undertakes appraisals, resource assessments, and market studies throughout NZ, including the Central NI.

“… Indufor concluded there is more than enough wood available to support an additional 700,000 cubic metres of domestic fibre demand”.
The above sentence is correctly reproduced from the executive summary of the report. However, to reproduce just this sentence, without the wider context of the report can give a quite incorrect impression of the project findings.

The quoted sentence was embedded in the following paragraph: “In the year ended March 2017, some 47% of the Central NI annual harvest was exported (5.4 million m3). There is more than enough wood available to support an additional 700 000 m3 of domestic fibre demand. The question becomes the availability by fibre type (and hence fibre cost)”. This is making the point that there is a significant excess of production over domestic demand at an aggregate level but leads into the issue of availability by log type.
This is expanded on further into the report: “Low quality, small diameter logs were traditionally consumed by the domestic industrial fibre customers. These have experienced strengthening demand in recent years. This is primarily a result of a buoyant log export market competing directly for a similar specification product, as well as solid domestic demand. As a result, the domestic industrial fibre consumers must import logs from regions outside of the Central NI, as well as use industrial and small sawlogs that could otherwise be exported. This highlights that the shortfall is an economic rather than physical deficit.”.

While the scope of the project did not extend to a detailed assessment on the impact on fibre prices, Indufor was asked to comment, at a high level, on possible price effects. The analysis showed that a particle board mill would be able to make use of currently under-utilised forest residues, as well as periodic sawdust surpluses. However, “… the balance of the new demand (350 000 m3 p.a.) will need to be fulfilled by logs currently being exported (mostly industrial grade and small sawlogs), as well as further inter-region transfer of logs and woodchips. This will push up the average delivered cost of fibre to all fibre users in the North Island.” I should add that this statement was based on the domestic sawmilling capacity as at mid-2017. The report highlights that any expansion of the sawmilling base, and corresponding additional production of woodchip, sawdust, and shavings will reduce the impact on overall fibre price. In addition, developing cost effective means of uplifting forest cutover residues would also assist in containing fibre feedstock prices.

Hopefully this article has put more colour around the overall conclusions of the report. The full report and executive summary are available in the public domain for those readers interested in the more detailed findings.

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Timber viaduct restored to former glory

A historic wooden trestle viaduct that once serviced the sawmilling industry has been restored and is once again open to visitors to the magnificent Waitutu forest.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage today celebrated the reopening of southern Fiordland’s Percy Burn viaduct, thought to be the highest surviving wooden bridge in the world, following significant restoration work.

“Congratulations to Southland’s Port Craig Viaducts Charitable Trust and the Southland District Council for their vision, commitment and sheer hard work in restoring this iconic heritage structure,” Eugenie Sage said.

“It is fantastic to see this historic viaduct, which was once part of a logging tramway, now able to be used and enjoyed by the public again as a feature of the South Coast and Tuatapere Hump Ridge Tracks.

“Percy Burn is a place where visitors can reflect on both our history and our future. Walking across this impressive viaduct, high above the forest, is a memorable experience,” Eugenie Sage said.

“In its day, the Port Craig sawmill was part of one of New Zealand’s major logging ventures. The closure of the mill in 1928 helped preserve the distinctive coastal beech/podocarp forests of Waitutu. They are now recognised as a taonga in their own right and important habitat for birds like kaka and kakariki.

“The Port Craig Viaducts Charitable Trust, especially Tom Pryde and Stephen Canny, deserve the thanks of many New Zealanders. Their commitment to this project has given new life to a major community and heritage asset so that the public can once again enjoy it.”

The Percy Burn viaduct is located on the South Coast and Hump Ridge Tracks. The Hump Ridge Track includes a three-day walk taking in the coastline, forest and alpine regions of southern Fiordland. The Hump Ridge Track is one of three finalists – along with Northland’s Te Paki and Marlborough’s Queen Charlotte Walkway, which are being evaluated by the Department of Conservation as a potential new Great Walk. The Percy Burn viaduct is also a candidate to be one of the top 50 landmark historic sites in Aotearoa.

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Biggest ever BC trade mission to Asia

In British Columbia the provincial government has ever put together according to forestry minister Doug Donaldson.

He along with forty other members are heading to Asia from December 5th to 14th to strengthen relations with China, Japan, and South Korea.

He believes building these partnerships is crucial especially since no deal is in place with the Americans.

“We’ll continue fighting on the softwood lumber front and we know that the tariffs are unwarranted and unjust and we’re going to be fighting that action in court like we did before but that takes time.”

“We have to diversify our markets and continue that trend of diversification so we’re not singularly beholden to the Americans for our export products in wood and this kind of trade mission enables us to just build relationships and sign memorandums of understanding.”

The countries they’ll be in contact while in Asia are heavily tied to BC when it comes to exports on Softwood Lumber.

“After the US, China is BC's second largest market for wood, Japan is third and South Korea is fifth. Taken together, the Asian market represents 29% of BC's exports.”

“BC forestry groups been working with the Chinese ministry to develop their building codes as we have lots of experience with that in BC in order to build taller wood structure buildings. In South Korea, they’ve been working on seismic issues because they’ve had a number of large earthquake events in the last few years. BC research shows wood is a good product to withstand earthquakes.”

Three memorandums of understanding will be signed in China to advance the use of wood construction with government initiatives.

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Gisborne: Council taking legal action

Following the investigation of recent forestry issues the Gisborne District Council has commenced prosecutions against a number of parties under the Resource Management Act.

The prosecutions relate to six different forests in the Gisborne region, including three forests near Tolaga Bay. The first call-over date for these prosecutions will be 9 January 2019 in Gisborne District Court.

“We will not be commenting on these prosecutions while they are before the Court,” said Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann.

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Buy and Sell

... and finally ... time for a joke or two

A man running a little behind schedule arrives at the cinema, goes in to watch the movie that has already started, and as his eyes adjust to the darkness, he is surprised to see a dog sitting beside it’s master in the row ahead, intently watching the movie.

It even seemed to be enjoying the movie: wagging its tail in the happy bits, drooping its ears at the sad bits, and hiding its eyes with its paws at the scary bits.

After the movie, the man approaches the dog's owner, "Wow, your dog really seemed to enjoy the movie. I'm amazed!"

"Yes, I can't believe it myself," came the owner’s reply. "He hated the book."


Okay, it's December (yes, all of a sudden its almost the end of the year). So, its time to remember what is just around the corner ... and a reminder that it is not too early (this is a message for men mainly) to get that Christmas shopping done (or started!).

Not really, just time for a Santa-inspired laugh - watch and enjoy:

That's all for this week's wood news.

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John Stulen
Innovatek Limited
PO Box 1230
Rotorua, New Zealand
Mob: +64 27 275 8011
Web: www.woodweek.com

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