WoodWeek – 27 February 2019

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Greetings from your WoodWeek news team in Rotorua. It's a ‘mainly positive’ news week here in the wood industry. For logs going to Japan, Russia increases log export duty to 40%, with a plan it will be increased to 80% in 2021. Meanwhile, in China the combined effect of strict environmental inspection, US-China trade friction currency volatility is impacting trade levels and prices at the Zhangjiagang timber market. However, we have no indication if this is affecting softwood log trade.

Moving closer to home where Scion surveys the business outlook for those in the wood export trade. In November, participants’ responses suggest log price outlooks remaining stable, with only little positive movements expected in log prices. Volumes are also anticipated to be relatively consistent with perhaps a 3% increase in a year’s time.

This week we continue to see strong demand for both our March HarvestTECHX conference in Vancouver and the HarvestTECH Rotorua conference coming in June. If you’re considering registering your team, it would pay to move quickly as both events are selling fast. See full details at www.harvesttechx.events and www.harvesttech.events.

Last week, an international energy agency forum on hydrogen saw several international energy experts gather in Rotorua for their annual meeting. Many commented on the future of hydrogen for heavy transport and energy intensive 24/7 industries, including chemicals and pulp & paper. Despite the expert commentary, Fraser Whineray, CEO of Mercury Energy painted a different picture for hydrogen as an energy export to countries with much more expensive infrastructure, like Japan.

In Australia, Victoria's state-owned forestry corporation has been told to suspend the release of new areas of native forest for logging, in a decision the timber industry says has put scores of regional small businesses in peril.

One of New Zealand’s largest forest nursery operations is now under new management. Also, last month John Deere commemorated the production of its 5,000th forestry swing machine, a 2656G log loader, with a special ceremony at the John Deere-Hitachi Specialty Products (DHSP) factory. Komatsu America Corp announced this week it plans to acquire TimberPro.

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Japan: Russia increases log export duties

Market update: Russia increases log export duty - Export duty on three species (larch, spruce and fir) in Far East Russia is raised by 15 points to 40% since January 2019.

This will be increased to 80% in 2021, which analysts say will practically stop log exports. However, if more than 25% of export sales amount by log exporting companies is processed products such as lumber, veneer and wood chip for last three years, log export duty is held at 6.5% for 2019 for such companies.

The purpose of higher log export duty is to promote industrialization of Far East forest industry but there are only limited companies, which already have wood processing facilities so log export will be more difficult.

For Russian log users in Japan such as lumber and plywood mills, increasing log export duty means higher log cost so they have been switching to domestic species and end users of lumber are buying Russian made lumber or genban for reprocessing.

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Business Outlook Survey

Scion Forest Industry Business Outlook - In November, fifty-three people from various parts of New Zealand’s domestic and international forestry products supply chains participated in this outlook. These participants represent a substantial component of the NZ forestry industry. Log price outlooks remain stable, with only little positive movements expected in log prices. Volumes are also anticipated to be relatively consistent with perhaps a 3% increase in a year time.

As with the last outlook, most of the respondents do not expect any impact of the 1 Billion Trees Policy on their business in this year.

The word cloud above is very similar to previous outlooks - China and market demand are always in the focus of respondents, however, less caution about the impacts from the USA-China trade war were apparent from comments, and some positive business confidence from the current upswing in sawn timber markets was noted.

To access previous outlook reports please visit this web site.

If you operate a business anywhere along the forestry products supply chain then please consider casting your vote in our February Outlook. All information is treated as confidential and results are reported anonymously and at an aggregated scale only. The Outlook will be shared exclusively with participants in March and will then be made publicly available in April.

Please participate before Thursday 28 February.

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China: Zhangjiagang timber market gloomy

China market update - The combined effect of strict environmental inspection, the trade friction between China and the United States and the volatility of RMB exchange rate coupled with declining domestic demand is having a big impact on the level of trade and prices at the Zhangjiagang timber market. Analysts write that it is the falling domestic demand that is of most concern to traders.

Zhangjiagang city is the largest distribution centre for imported timber in China. At present there are 28 timber markets around the Zhangjiagang Port with an operation area of more than 1 million square metres and over 2000 timber traders and hundreds of timber processing mills. About half of these mills have developed in recent years.

Zhangjiagang timber imports account for about 25% of all timber imports. The major issue for the industries in the area during 2018 was environmental protection as wood processing plants become the focus of attention because of their poor pollution abatement technologies.

Most of the timber enterprises around the Zhangjiagang Port are family workshops having no effective measures to deal with pollution. This led to the Zhangjiagang industries becoming the focus of investigation in 2018.

As many as 60% of wood processing enterprises around Zhangjiagang Port have been forced to close due to environment control problems since the beginning of 2018. In addition the domestic economic downturn is proving fatal for many small enterprises.

The Chinese real estate industry is the mainstay of the national economy and this suffered a heavy blow in 2018 due to the economic downturn.

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Australia: Andrews stalls timber releases

Forestry industry in limbo as Andrews stalls timber release plan - Victoria's state-owned forestry corporation has been told to suspend the release of new areas of native forest for logging, in a decision the timber industry says has put scores of regional small businesses in peril.

The Andrews government has intervened to stop VicForests putting out its next timber release plan, due to concerns about threats to protected wildlife and the impact of recent bushfires and climate change on the state's forests.

The timber release plan – a document that identifies areas, called coupes, that can be logged over the next three to five years – is already more than a year overdue. Last Thursday VicForests said the Andrews government had directed it not to proceed with a timber release plan until further policy work was completed.

“In the meantime, we are working with customers and contractors to manage supply under the existing [plan],” Alex Messina, VicForests' general manager of corporate affairs, said.

The intervention does not affect logging in coupes that have already been allocated, but timber millers and logging contractors fear they are potentially months away from exhausting their allocated supplies.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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Milestone for John Deere

Achieving yet another manufacturing milestone, John Deere commemorated the production of its 5,000th forestry swing machine, a 2656G Log Loader, with a special ceremony at the John Deere-Hitachi Specialty Products (DHSP) factory. Held on the morning of Jan. 31, John Deere invited the customer who purchased the milestone unit, Bighorn Logging, for a unique presentation and factory tour during a signature Gold Key event.

“This is a paramount moment for the DHSP factory and our employees,” said Jarvis de Groot, DHSP product marketing manager, forestry swing machines. “As a company, we are committed to producing high-quality, reliable equipment, and the achievement of this milestone is a nod to our hardworking, dedicated committees, both in the DSHP factory and worldwide. Our customers are the heartbeat of the company and the reason we are able to do what we do every day. It is an honor to open our doors and celebrate with Bighorn Logging.”

For the event, the DHSP factory hosted Bighorn Logging president, Harve Dethlefs, and vice-president, Mark Standley, as well as their dealer, Papé Machinery. The event started with an overview of the storied history of the DHSP factory, followed by a question and answer session. During the session, which was held in front of the factory employees, Dethlefs and Standley discussed their business and the critical role equipment plays.

Following the interview, Bighorn Logging was presented with a plaque and the 5,000th swing machine was revved up for the very first time in celebration. The day concluded with a factory tour and small reception.

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Rotorua nursery under new management

One of New Zealand’s largest forest nursery operations is now under new management - Rotorua Nursery founder Grant Hastings has sold his business to a new company led by Peter Harington. He had built the business over 12 years, outgrowing two sites.

The new business will now trade as Rotorua Forest Nursery. The nursery will continue to be based in Rotorua. It supplies about 10 percent of New Zealand’s forest planting stock.

Peter Harington told WoodWeek, “The business has built a reputation for excellent plant quality. With our key staff and excellent site, our goal is to maintain that standard. With the help of a great growing season, our first cuttings and seedlings are on track to produce a bumper crop.”

Peter has been involved with managing forest nurseries for 30 years. He has in recent years managed the Scion research nursery and also led the project to set up Minginui Nursery for Ngati Whare.

With a forest management background, he originally started nursery work at Tokoroa Nursery with Carter Holt before moving to Rotorua to set up Te Ngae Nursery for Forestry Corporation, now Timberlands.

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Report: New growth for Australian Forests

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has today released Australia State of the Forests (SOFR) 2018.

ABARES acting Executive Director, Peter Gooday, said the five-yearly report covered all areas of Australia’s forests—public and private forests, forests managed for production and forests managed for conservation—and the full range of social, economic and environmental values.

“Gaining a better understanding of our forests is a crucial part of ensuring they are managed sustainably. That’s why this report is so important—it provides the information that Australia’s policy-makers and planners need if they are to plan continued growth into the future,” Mr Gooday said.

“In 2015–16 Australia’s forest area was 134 million hectares, and has increased by almost 4 million hectares over the previous 5 years.

“The area of commercial plantations did reduce, however, by 44 thousand hectares or 2 per cent between 2010-11 and 2014-15.

“In 2015-16, the value of logs harvested from native forests and commercial plantations was $2.3 billion, and the value of production of wood products industries was $23.7 billion.

“Australia’s trade in wood products experienced strong growth, with imports and exports combined exceeding $8 billion for the first time in 2015–16.

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Komatsu acquires Timberpro

News coming late last week that Komatsu America Corp, a leading global heavy equipment manufacturer has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire TimberPro Inc. The acquisition is expected to close on 1 April, subject to completion of the closing conditions.

Established in 2002, TimberPro is a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of purpose-built forest machines and attachments, offering tracked feller bunchers and harvesters, forwarders, wheeled harvesters, and felling heads.

“Acquiring TimberPro will strengthen the company’s position in the full-tree-length market and enables us to offer a highly competitive range of products for professional logging,” said Rod Schrader, CEO, Komatsu America Corp.

About Komatsu America Corp - Komatsu America Corp. is a US subsidiary of Komatsu Ltd, the world’s second largest manufacturer and supplier of earth-moving equipment, consisting of construction, mining and compact construction equipment. Komatsu America also serves the forklift and forestry markets.

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Wilding pines: Deerstalkers' concerns voiced

Spread of wilding pines: Government must in for the long haul – The continuing spread of wilding pines is a serious menace to New Zealand’s back country, says the NZ Deerstalkers’ Association Inc.

“We join other public groups in asking the government to tackle them now and in the foreseeable future, says NZDA spokesman Bill O’Leary, of Nelson. “If left unchecked, they will forever change our unique high country landscape. The biggest impacts will be on our unique biodiversity, pastoral farming and soaking up our precious water resources.

“Also wilding conifer forests will make access to the high country increasingly challenging for recreationists, including hunters. Recent events have also highlighted the fire risk. We have every good reason to be concerned. ”Hunters had already reported seedlings growing in remote places from the northern Ruahines to the Marlborough back country and the Mackenzie basin, Mr O’Leary said.

“Individual hunters and trampers pull some up but not in a systematic or comprehensive way. The scale of the problem is immense and it has to be tackled on a large scale. The way that pines can seed and multiply very rapidly makes it a different challenge compared to possum control programmes.

“Communities and government must consider this a priority for future funding and control. Proven control methods of including spray and helicopter wanding and the work of ground based personnel are having the desired effect. Costs of these operations are significant, but hunters believe there is no alternative; we need to be in for the long haul.”

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Tigercat goes BIG with forestry line-up

Tigercat continues to set the bar high with the introduction of the new 890 logger – the largest machine in the Tigercat forestry equipment line-up – a heavy duty, purpose-built forestry carrier that can be configured for loading, shovel logging or processing.

Weighing 47 900 kg (105,600 lb), it is the largest, highest capacity machine in Tigercat’s purpose built forestry product line. The Tigercat FPT C87 engine delivers 245 kW (330 hp) at 2,000 rpm for Tier 2 and Tier 4 emission compliance.

The large swing bearing provides increased capacity and swing torque. The twin swing drive system reduces gear tooth loads, and a massive single-piece, forged pedestal strengthens the undercarriage and improves durability.

A new, longer F7-172 heavy-duty10 roller track frame with a wide stance carbody gives the 890 exceptional stability. Track components are co-designed with Berco to provide maximum durability in forestry applications.

The 890 logger shares the modular main hydraulic valve with all other Tigercat 800 series carriers for improved parts commonality. With the ability to easily swap out a valve section, the modular design simplifies maintenance. New larger capacity valve sections are used for main and stick boom circuits to provide higher flow rates and improve efficiency.

The 890 has plenty of cooling capacity with an automatic variable speed fan for improved fuel efficiency and an automatic reversing cycle to clean the heat exchangers. Another fuel saving feature is the energy recovery swing system. A closed loop drive feeds power back to the engine when swing decelerates, reducing fuel consumption and recovering energy for other machine functions.

Service access is outstanding with the power operated side engine door and overhead roof enclosure. The entire upper assembly is designed for extreme duty. Heavy wall side bumpers and a solid cast counterweight protect the upper assembly from impacts when swinging.

Convenient walk-up access to the rear entry door leads to a generous interior cab. The cabin is quiet and comfortable with excellent visibility. The full-length front window and additional floor windows provide clear sightlines. The high output climate control system keeps the operator comfortable even in temperature extremes. LED lighting and the new rearVIEW camera system improve operator visibility.

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Energy futures: Hydrogen = Yes / New Zealand = No

Opinion - Fraser Whineray: Hydrogen not the answer to energy saving in NZ. Much has being written and spoken about hydrogen of late, focused on its potential place in the energy mix for a world needing cleaner, more sustainable sources of fuel. Cam Hosie in the Herald talked of the hydrogen industry being at a "tipping point", but in making a case for it in New Zealand he left some comments hanging that deserve a response.

He said, "[Renewables] are intermittent electricity producers, with daily, seasonal and regional limitations that create availability gaps".

In New Zealand that is not correct. Unlike the rest of the world, where Governments have chased the only renewables they had — often not so sunny sun (particularly on shorter winter days), and not very windy wind — renewable electricity here is largely "controlled", not intermittent.

Geothermal (17 per cent of New Zealand's electricity) is a renewable system not reliant on the weather. Hydro (59 per cent), whilst dependent on rainfall, has storage in the form of dams. In this country, hydro provides the vast majority of the daily, weekly and monthly peaking requirements for Kiwi consumers.

Whineray went on to to summarise: New Zealand has very limited intermittent renewables risk, effective regional coverage and much cheaper forms of seasonal storage.

Domestically, hydrogen will have limited commercially viable applications. It is suggested for transport, but here's the science.

If you start with 100 units of electricity at a generation site, about 80 per cent of that energy will move the rubber on the road using an electric vehicle.

If you take the same electricity and turn it into hydrogen, compress it, distribute it and use a fuel cell vehicle, less than 25 per cent of the original energy is left by the time it hits the road. This is less efficient than a petrol engine.

This means that to use renewable hydrogen to "turn the tyres", the electricity sector will need to build more than three times as much new generation than if the electricity was simply used directly through electric vehicles.

That unnecessary expansion could be great for power companies and equipment suppliers, but it's not in the interests of New Zealand and its citizens.

Stated in another way, renewable electricity costs the equivalent of 30 cents a litre for transport, but going from electricity to hydrogen and then back to electricity again will be at least three times more expensive.

Hydrogen could have a place in our economy. The place for it is in a way that leverages our renewable energy advantage to the world: Where we look at hydrogen as a way to transport energy created here to a country with a significant energy deficit, such as Japan.

This hydrogen opportunity, in effect, becomes an "electricity cable to Japan" through which we can obtain export revenues based on our largely renewable energy resources with a key trading partner.

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Source: NZHerald

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Is this tech gone too far?

Imagine a device that feels like and is no bigger than a piece of chewing gum, which allows you to answer the phone simply by biting down on it. We now have the technology with ChewIt, a novel interface developed by the Augmented Human Lab team at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI), University of Auckland.

It’s a tiny piece of technology encased in a flexible custom-made PCB that you pop in your mouth and which allows for discreet and hands-free interaction with your phone, your computer, your smartwatch and so on.

ChewIt, developed by Pablo Gallego (ME student) under the supervision of Dr. Denys Matthies and Associate Professor Suranga Nanayakkara

ChewIt was developed by the team lead by Associate Professor Suranga Nanayakkara who made international headlines in recent years with the FingerReader, a prototype device worn on the finger that allows users to point at words (those on the spine of the book, or in a restaurant menu) which is then translated to voice.

Since moving from Singapore to New Zealand last year, Nanayakkara and his team have produced a number of innovative technologies. Along with ChewIt they have also developed GymSoles, a pressure sensitive insole that vibrates, giving users vibrotactile feedback to help them maintain the correct body posture.

GymSoles was tested and shown to be effective on people performing certain exercise such as squats and dead-lifts, to help them maintain the correct Centre of Pressure, but they could be used to improve posture in myriad contexts.

Nanayakkara has an almost philosophical approach to technology. He wants to address what he says is a mismatch between what technology has to offer and innate human behavior, and his research focused on developing technologies that are more responsive to innate human behavior rather than oblige humans to adjust to the requirements of the technology.

“We want to design and develop systems that can understand the user rather than us having to tell the technology what to do every time – technologies that can understand us much better than technology currently does.”

He defines such technologies as ‘assistive augmentation’. “It’s when the system understands the abilities, behavior and emotions of the user. And when the system is unobtrusive and integrated with our body or our behavior.

“And it should be about strengthening and extending the physical and sensorial abilities of the user, allowing them to do what they couldn’t do before. When you meet all three measures, that’s assisted augmentation.”

Source: Scoop News 19 Feb

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Buy and Sell

...and finally... Get that belly laugh going...

What is Beethoven doing now?



What happens if you play a country song backwards?

Your wife returns to you, your dog comes back to life, and you get out of prison.


The census statistician told the mayor of the little bush town that he was puzzled about the town’s population. For the past five years he had been on the job the population was the same – 1503. “Must be something wrong.”

“No,” said the Mayor. “It’s always been 1503.”

“But don’t you have babies being born?”

“Yep,” said the Mayor, “and every time we do some bloke has to leave town.”


When we decided to sell our house, we nailed "FOR SALE BY OWNER" signs on two trees in our front yard. Before long, the doorbell rang. "How much do you want for the trees?" a young man asked.


"A recent study found that many types of head lice have mutated and now have become resistant to over-the-counter treatments. The problem has scientists scratching their heads." - Conan O'Brien

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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