WoodWeek – 30 January 2019

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Greetings from your WoodWeek news team. Wow, is it hot out there or what? The combination of the high winds earlier this week and now extremely hot dry weather will be shortening the work day for many loggers – as the fire risk goes sky high on both sides of the Tasman with this hot spell of weather. Meanwhile, in China their forestry sector output is hot too – it reached 7.33 trillion yuan (about 1.1 trillion US dollars) in 2018, 2.88 percent up from than in 2017. Looking to Canada, a recently elected British Columbia government has just announced plans to change log export laws to keep more logs for processing in their province. The government is the major owner of the forest resources there.

Looking to compare the NZ and BC forest sectors to put the planned change into perspective: log exports from British Columbia from 2013 through 2016, volumes shipped out of BC were about 26 million cubic metres, valued at an estimated NZ$3.3 billion. In comparison, New Zealand log exports were running at about NZ$2.5 billion per annum back in 2016.

Forestry is also getting attention from the Irish government. There they plan to invest €250m in major expansion hoping industry to add 6,000 jobs as turnover doubles to €1.6bn.

Moving on to one of our upcoming events which draws a wide technical and management audience from across the primary industries – it’s all about how technology is a necessity in our businesses. While farmers, foresters and horticulturalists continue to integrate new digital technologies into their businesses, this data reliance does bring with it new vulnerabilities and risks. The next generation of producers are doing away with basic spreadsheets and building their businesses using a real-time data streams and cloud-based platforms for analysis and storage.

In the past, a simple computer backup was, in many cases, all you needed. It has now been replaced by a complex web of data-points, data validation, storage, security access and data control. While this may not sound as exciting as a topic like artificial intelligence or robotics, in today’s new world, it is increasingly becoming an essential requirement for any successful business strategy. A key focus for this year’s agritech event, MobileTECH 2019, is the importance of smart data and how to ensure it is working towards the right outcomes.

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BC: About-face on log exports

British Columbia government plans to change log export laws- The British Columbia Premier has announced policy reforms to rebuild coastal forest sector - Plans are in the works to rebuild the wood and secondary timber industries in British Columbia by ensuring more logs are processed in the province, said Premier John Horgan last week.

The forest sector revitalisation plan will be done through incentives and regulation changes, he said in a speech at the annual Truck Loggers Convention last Thursday.

The policy changes include increasing penalties for late reporting of wood waste, and reducing the waste by redirecting it to pulp and paper mills.

The actions will reverse a systematic decline that has taken place in the coastal forest sector over the past two decades, he said, adding the plan will be implemented through a series of legislative, regulatory and policy changes over the next two years.

More timber can be processed here in B.C. and to accomplish that the government will reform raw log export policy, discourage high grading and curtail the export of minimally processed lumber, he said.

This will be a phased-in process and will apply to new sales through B.C. timber sales programs, he said.

“For too long the vision for our coastal forest sector … was to ship our natural resources somewhere else,” he said.

Employment on the coast has declined by 20 per cent, lumber production has dropped by 45 per cent and pulp production by 50 per cent while log exports from Crown lands have increased by nearly tenfold, impacting communities profoundly, he said.

These policies are not going to be accomplished by the stroke of a pen or a magic wand but by hard work, he said.

“To continue on the track that we are on with respect to leaving too much waste in the woods and shipping too much product offshore without any value added to it is not sensible and it's not sustainable.”

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Source: The Globe and Mail

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China forestry output growth

China's forestry sector output reached 7.33 trillion yuan (about 1.1 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2018, 2.88 percent up from than in 2017, according to the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

The growth came amid the country's ongoing drive for environmentally-friendly development, as the government banned grazing on degraded grasslands, increased financial input and stepped up law enforcement in the sector.

China's desertified land has shrunk by 10 million hectares since 2012, while nearly 34 million hectares of forest has been planted, bringing the national forest coverage to 21.66 percent.

China unveiled a plan last November to enhance land greening and boost domestic ecological resources.

Under the plan, China will increase its forest coverage to 23.04 percent by 2020, while the volume of forest resources will expand to 16.5 billion cubic meters.

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BC log export statistics

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Biochar focus for new group

Putting carbon back into soil - In a world having too much carbon in the atmosphere and obsessed about expensive and dangerous technologies for it’s removal, it is comforting to know that a form of charcoal has now been accepted by the IPCC as a useful tool in the fight against climate change.

Biochar is charcoal which can be used to lift productivity in agriculture and as a long-lived carbon store in soils. It can be used to enhance water quality and as a bioremediation tool for contaminated soils. The production of biochar can also deliver secondary bioenergy benefits and deal with many types of ‘liability’ biomass. Biochar has attracted worldwide attention as a Negative Emissions Technology (NET) in the latest IPCC report, presented at COP24. Biochar has been identified as having positive impacts on 12 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

A growing number of New Zealand farmers are becoming interested in making and using biochar, leading to a new organisation is being formed, Biochar Network New Zealand (BNNZ), which will have its Inaugural General Meeting in Pukekohe on 14 February.

BNNZ is planning to promote and support activities that provide widespread awareness, understanding and acceptance of Biochar in New Zealand, leading to a diverse range of production and application scenarios for the benefit of New Zealand’s agriculture, industry and environment.

The BNNZ IGM will take place at 10am on 14 February 2019 at the Reid Anderson Lounge, 18 Wesley Road, Pukekohe.

If you wish to attend, or participate via remote access, please email your request to: BNNZ@soilcarbon.org.nz

For more information about biochar see:www.soilcarbon.org.nz

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Tree resin could replace fossil fuels

The loblolly pine isn’t the first choice of Christmas tree lovers. It’s not as compact as fir or spruce, and its needles are longer, so it doesn’t hold ornaments well. But the loblolly has a storied history, nonetheless.

The famous Eisenhower Tree, on the 17th hole of the Augusta National Golf Club, was the bane of President Eisenhower. He hit it so many times while playing that he asked the club to cut it down. To avoid offending the president, the club’s chairman abruptly adjourned the meeting, rather than reject his request. (In 2014, the late president finally got his wish when an ice storm damaged the tree so badly, it had to be removed.) Loblolly pine seeds also travelled aboard Apollo 14 and were planted all around the country upon their return, including on the grounds of the White House. Some of these moon trees still survive.

Today, the loblolly is serving a more noble purpose by helping limit the need for fossil fuels. Researchers, tinkering with the tree’s genetics, have found a way to reverse-engineer how the loblolly produces resin, a discovery that could help manufacturers produce greener alternatives for a range of goods now made with oil and gas, including surface coatings, adhesives, printing inks, flavors, fragrances, vitamins, household cleaning products, paint, varnish, shoe polish and linoleum.

“The chemical composition of resins is not very different from that of certain fractions currently obtained from crude oil,” said Mark Lange, a professor in Washington State University’s Institute of Biological Chemistry. Lange wants to improve the production of resin to help reduce the chemical industry’s reliance on fossil fuels.

“These are fossil resources that were formed over millions of years,” he said. “They also are non-renewable, which means that once we run out, there is no way to replenish them within a reasonable amount of time. Before the advent of crude oil as a cheap raw material, pine resins were harvested and converted into many common household goods by the naval stores industry.”

Currently, only two industries generate commercial value from pine trees—lumber and paper. Thus, in conducting their experiments, “we were thinking about how we could decrease our reliance on fossil resources while increasing the use of renewable resources,” Lange said.

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How big are log exports from BC?

Here are further details of the value of log exports to the BC forest industry and economy.

Raw log exports from British Columbia – Between 2013 and 2016, according to some reports, log export volumes from BC were close to 26 million cubic metres worth an estimated $3 billion.

In BC logs are required by law to be manufactured domestically, but there are exceptions. Raw logs are subject to a "surplus test," where loggers must first advertise logs to the domestic market. If there are no fair offers, the logs can then be sold and shipped overseas.

In parts of the province where there are few or no processing plants, raw logs don't have to be offered to local industry.

Horgan says the province is looking to develop higher standards that will encourage more processing in B.C. Those will roll out over the next two years following consultations with First Nations and industry stakeholders.

The premier says it could mean increased fees for log exporters in certain regions, as early as the summer of 2019.

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Source: CBC

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Irish see forest growth opportunity

Irish forestry to invest €250m in major expansion - Industry to add 6,000 jobs as turnover doubles to €1.6bn

The State’s forestry industry is likely to invest around €250 million in coming years as it prepares for a period of major expansion.

A new trade body, Forest Industries Ireland (FII), predicted yesterday that supplies of timber will double up to 2035, boosting turnover to €1.6 billion from €800 million and adding 6,000 jobs to its current 12,000.

Speaking after the body’s launch, Fergal Leamy, chief executive of State forestry company, Coillte, pointed out that the sector has invested €250 million over the last three to four years.

“I would say that there will probably be the same amount again invested in the next few years,” he said, adding that it would be needed to process increased production from Irish forests.

FII predicts that production will double to 6.6 million cubic metres of wood in 2035 from 3.3 million in 2017. Coillte now supplies 51 per cent of this, while 21,000 private growers accounting for the balance.

Forests planted with the aid of incentives introduced in the 1980s and ’90s are maturing, increasing overall production.

Mark McAuley, director of FII, which is affiliated to employers’ body Ibec, explained that production is heading for a high point in coming decades, when it will level out.

According to Mr McAuley, Brexit is the main immediate challenge facing the industry as Britain is its main overseas market.

Michael Glennon, joint chief executive of Longford-based sawmill group, Glennon Brothers, explained that half the timber produced and processed here is exported, with 95 per cent of that going to Britain.

He pointed out that the industry fears the impact of delays at Irish and British ports, as timber is delivered to customers as they order it. “Logistics is the key issue for us,” Mr Glennon said.

More >>

Source: Enterprise Ireland

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Death by chocolate

Novel pest control discovery – Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council are taking the phrase ‘Death by chocolate’ to a whole new level with an innovative rat control method – using chocolate instead of poisonous bait.

The councils are partnering to investigate how well rat numbers can be controlled without poison at Te Ahumairangi (formerly Tinakori) Hill.

“As far as we know this area doesn’t have possums so is an ideal trial site to focus on the rodent population,” says Senior Biosecurity Officer Paul Horton.

Greater Wellington’s biosecurity team has set up several self-setting traps made by Kiwi innovators Goodnature. The traps feature chocolate lures that attract rodents with their sweet smell and then instantly kill any curious rodents.

The lures are designed to last six months and the trap can kill 24 rodents before CO2 needs to be replaced.

“This is just one method we can use to get our rodent populations under control,” says Paul. “Because the traps can be used more than once before checking it would save staff time spent checking traps regularly. Plus, native birds aren’t drawn to the traps and cannot interact with the bait.”

According to Daniela Biaggio, Urban Ecology Manager for Wellington City Council “to protect biodiversity in urban environment we need to continuously improve what we do and how we do it. This is a great example of how we embrace new ideas and innovation so we can stay ahead of our biosecurity challenges and have a city thriving with wildlife.”

The rodent numbers on Te Ahumairangi Hill are being monitored by tracking tunnels – cards in tunnels with ink on the floor that show footprints. These are showing numbers remaining at low levels. The site also has chew cards with peanut butter smeared on them. Staff are able to see what kind of pests are visiting by looking at bite marks left in the cards.

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Calling all timber engineers in Canterbury

Hello all,

This invite is directed to all timber design engineers in the Canterbury region. The deadline for public comment on NZS AS 1720.1 Timber structures is approaching fast (9 February). In order to encourage you to read and comment on the draft, Björn from EngCO and Daniel Moroder have decided to run a small workshop on the new standard on Thursday evening, 31 January.

Let's meet at 5.30 pm for a 2 hours workshop, no social part this time. Location will be announced once we know numbers. Please RSVP to d.moroder@ptlnz.com by Wednesday 30th.

Please have a look at the draft, so that we can have a solid discussion on what this new standard will bring.

Regards, Daniel Moroder, PTL - Prestressed Timber Ltd

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Should primary producers do more to protect their data?

While farmers and horticulturalists continue to integrate new digital technologies into their businesses, this data reliance does bring with it new vulnerabilities and risks. The next generation of producers are doing away with basic spreadsheets and building their businesses using a real-time data streams and cloud-based platforms for analysis and storage.

In the past, a simple computer backup was, in many cases, all that was needed. It has now been replaced by a complex web of data-points, data validation, storage, security access and data control.

While this may not sound as exciting as a topic like artificial intelligence or robotics, in today’s new world, it is increasingly becoming an essential requirement for any successful business strategy. A key focus for this year’s agritech event, MobileTECH 2019, is the importance of smart data and how to ensure it is working towards the right outcomes.

Production chains, government agencies, farmers and researchers are experiencing a “Big Data Deluge” from sensors, space, legacy systems and more. But how safe and reliable is the data coming from satellites or IoT devices? Are you actually making good sense of it? How secure are the devices that collect that data? Are they working accurately and transmitting with precision? Should you consider establishing a “hardware root of trust”?

In the 2018 Inmarsat Research Programme global report, ‘Industrial IoT on Land and at Sea’, 98% of agricultural companies said that they had security concerns around data and the use of IoT. Security was one of the main factors hindering use of data, with 36% reporting that insecure data storage and transmission limited how effective it was. Only 34%, however, had moved to improve the security of physical assets like sensors and just 25% invested in new security technologies.

Nicolas Erdody is founder and CEO of Open Parallel and one of New Zealand’s foremost experts on next-gen computing technologies and how they will impact the whole high-tech production chain - with cybersecurity being a core component. Mr Erdody has also been part of the global team designing the computing platform of the Square Kilometre Array radio-telescope (SKA), one of the world’s largest supercomputers and the ultimate big data project.

At MobileTECH 2019 he will be discussing the above questions so primary producers can securely rely on data and take the adequate decisions on issues like water management, precision agriculture and supply chain distribution.

“I’m looking forward to speaking at MobileTECH 2019,” said Mr Erdody. “With the large amounts of data now being generated, it’s important to discuss the application and implementation of these state-of-the-art technologies into New Zealand’s primary sector.”

The MobileTECH Primary Industry Summit is now in its seventh year. Since it’s conception, the MobileTECH’s conference director, Ken Wilson, has seen technology and the use of smart data evolve within the sector.

“This event provides a platform for the agritech community to meet and discuss the big ideas impacting our sector,” said Mr Wilson. “Smart data has become an essential component in growth of industries like agriculture, horticulture and forestry, so it makes sense that data security and data reliability are critical issues going forward.”

MobileTECH 2019 is running on 3-4 April 2019 in Rotorua, New Zealand. It’s the country’s annual agritech event where tech developers and early adopters from around the region meet to discuss the latest digital technologies impacting on our food and fibre sectors.

Further details can be found on the event website, www.mobiletech.events.

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Sending emails to trees? (pull the other one …)

No, it’s true! Yes, it does also confirm how most social media is a waste of time or how silly people can really be … but the tourism promotion folks in Melbourne are hoping this goes viral …

People from all over the world are sending emails to Melbourne’s trees – The city of Melbourne gave 70,000 trees email addresses so people could report on their condition. But instead people are writing love letters, existential queries and sometimes just bad puns.

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Buy and Sell

... and finally...

As a potential juror in an assault-and-battery case, I was sitting in a courtroom, answering questions from both sides.

The assistant district attorney asked such questions as: Had I ever been mugged? Did I know the victim or the defendant?

The defense attorney took a different approach, however.
"I see you are a teacher," he said. "What do you teach?"

"English and theatre," I responded.

"I guess I better watch my grammar," the defense attorney quipped.

"No," I shot back. "You better watch your acting."

When the laughter in the courtroom died down, I was excused from the case.

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

John Stulen Editor

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