WoodWeek – 16 October 2019

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Greetings from your WoodWeek news team. News in the wood space this week gets a bit heavy with a bit of political farmside pressure. Forestry Minister Shane Jones is considering reining in conversions of farmland to forestry after a rural backlash. Jones, who is also regional economic development minister, conceded he felt the tension between his roles of promoting forestry and managing fears that forestry conversions are stripping the life out of smaller towns.

Moving to the markets now and this week’s update of the Scion log price outlook includes a summary of the most recent survey. Respondents expect the price to increase at a steady rate over the next twelve months to about $118/ m3, and probably stabilise at a much lower price level than in recent quarters. Volumes are now anticipated to also follow price loss with a 6% decrease in the next 3 months, but reach the August 2019 volumes in 6 months’ time.

In the logger's space this week, the engineers at John Deere have been using invaluable customer feedback to design and roll out increased options on their G-Series forestry swing machines, helping to lower daily operating costs, boost productivity, and increase uptime. Meanwhile, Canadian manufacturer Tigercat has introduced a smaller wheel harvester. The 1165 is a mid-sized machine, well suited for thinning, selective cut and final fell applications. With strong swing and levelling capabilities it is well suited for steep slopes. It’s available in both six-wheel and eight-wheel drive configurations.

Finally, we finish this issue with a carbon forestry focus. Summing up today's news we have details of Professor Bruce Manley, who has won a Forestry Science Award for his dedication to, and leadership within, forestry research, and his innovative work on carbon forestry.

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Minister warns foreign foresters

Forestry Minister Shane Jones is considering reining in conversions of farmland to forestry after a rural backlash - He has also warned foreign owned forestry companies - which make up nearly 75 per cent of the industry - that unless they provide more access for local processors to get timber they could face an "oil and gas" style ban.

Jones, who is also regional economic development minister, conceded he felt the tension between his roles of promoting forestry and managing fears that forestry conversions are stripping the life out of smaller towns.

"I feel it deeply. I do," Jones said.

Jones said too many foreign companies had not provided enough access for domestic processors to get timber.

"Some of the international owners haven't covered themselves in glory," Jones said. "They don't believe that's their role - their role is to maximise their interests in New Zealand. But hey, all industries can lose their social license. And if you think the forestry industry is beyond further regulation, then just have a look at oil and gas. Once society speaks through politics, industry play second fiddle."

He said he wanted to see more foreign investors "enjoying exposure to the whole vertical chain" - planting and husbanding trees, investing in sawmills and in processing capacity.

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Source: Stuff news

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Scion log price outlook

Summary of most recent survey -Sixty people from various parts o f New Zealand’s domestic and international forest products supply chains participated in this outlook. These participants represent a substantial component of the NZ forestry industry.

The export log price dropped by $26/m3 from May 2019 to Aug 2019, with the lowest monthly price of unpruned export logs at $106/m3 in July, including a drop of -$15USD in just 1 week.

Respondents expect the price to increase at a steady rate over the next twelve months to about $118/ m3, and probably stabilise at a much lower price level than in recent quarters. Volumes are now anticipated to also follow price loss with a 6% decrease in the next 3 months, but reach the August 2019 volumes in 6 months’ time.

Graph: Forestry business expectations outlook for different segments and markets over Aug 2019 to Aug 2020 and wharf log price outlook (A Grade is used as a general proxy)

Download pdf survey summary with long-term trend graphs.

Source: Scion

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Scion developing AI for seedling surveys

Deep learning algorithm can identify seedlings - Scion has pioneered a new artificial intelligence (AI) based system that uses low-cost RGB imagery from UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to identify radiata pine seedlings. The algorithm they have created could soon replace manual surveys, which are laborious, sometimes dangerous and only suited to small areas.

Surveys are traditionally carried out after planting to ensure the right number of trees have been planted and survive to reach the target for each site. Scion’s advanced AI- system can detect seedlings with extremely high accuracy, detecting between 94-98 per cent of seedlings in a range of test sites and landscapes.

The next steps are to trial the method with industry partners and explore expanding the algorithm to detect native tree species.

All afforestation efforts in New Zealand stand to benefit from this work as it unlocks the potential for large-scale automatic assessments of newly planted sites for density and survival.

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SnapSTAT - Is a picture worth a 1000 tweets?

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1BT: Native tree numbers unknown

Number of natives under one billion trees is anyone’s guess - How many of the one billion trees planted in the next decade will be native species? Government tree planting agency Te Uru Rakau has clarified that it can't hazard an estimate.

The Government’s tree planting agency, Te Uru Rakau, says it can’t estimate what proportion of the one billion trees programme will be native species, saying a previous figure it gave to Newsroom was meant to be purely "illustrative”.

The illustrative figure was used to calculate the estimated climate benefit from the tree scheme, which Te Uru Rakau has put at 384 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the trees’ lifetimes.

The Government plans to foster planting of half a billion new trees over a decade, using a mixture of grants, education and co-funding forestry projects with other entities.

The one billion figure that gives the programme its catchy name was reached by counting another half a billion plantation pine trees in existing pine forests. These likely would have been replanted anyway by commercial foresters after harvesting, and these trees won’t receive any government assistance.

Te Uru Rakau has a goal of funding two-thirds of native trees, but the agency has clarified that this target applies to only a small proportion of the trees: an estimated 60 million that could be paid for by $120 million in grants to landowners, from money set aside from the Provincial Growth Fund.

If the two-thirds target is met, that means roughly 40 million of the trees planted with direct landowner grants will be native species - roughly 4 percent of the billion trees programme, or 8 percent of the half a billion genuinely new trees that will arise during the programme.

That's just one part of the mix. As for the overall proportions of new trees, the agency says that’s largely up to landowners who will choose what trees they want. It expects people to continue voluntarily planting natives with no subsidies, but the agency says it's impossible to forecast how many indigenous trees we will end up with.

Te Uru Rakau previously told Newsroom it had estimated the carbon sequestration benefits of the billion trees scheme (by assuming the total mix of species) would be 70 percent exotic and 30 percent indigenous, equating to 384 million tonnes of CO2 sequestered over the forests’ lifetimes.

The mix of native and exotic species is important for working out the carbon sequestration, because pine absorbs more carbon, by forestry scientists’ measurements.

That’s despite pine usually being harvested and replanted about every 27 years, which allows native forest to slowly catch up with the pine over more than a century. (These greenhouse estimates don’t count everything - for example, they exclude how much heat the forests absorb or reflect, and the carbon cost of harvesting machinery and trucking, something native forest advocates argue should be studied and factored in properly).

To work out how much carbon the scheme would sequester, the agency assumed the average carbon stock of pine was reached at age 21, while indigenous forests’ maximum storage is reached at maturity (after 200 or so years). Te Uru Rakau also assumed indigenous forest had twice as many trees per hectare. Despite that, it put pine’s average carbon sequestration at 650 tonnes per hectare compared to indigenous forests’ 257 tonnes.

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Source: Newsroom

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Feds weigh in on carbon debate

Flawed policies will bite future growth, Federated Farmers warns - Before giving thought to splurging funds from the surplus, Finance Minister Grant Robertson should check on the effects some of his colleagues’ policies are having on the economy, Federated Farmers says.

"The warning signs are there as growth in provincial economies slows - predominantly because of a significant drop in farmer confidence, not any fall in product prices. As any economist knows, a drop in provincial growth will flow through to hit national growth," Feds commerce and trade spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

There have been media reports that the sharp fall in log prices is hitting employment in regions such as Northland and the East Coast and sentiment in key dairy regions such as the Waikato, Taranaki, Manawatu and Southland is fragile due to concerns about government policy.

"Proposed new freshwater regulations have added a deep chill to the already cooling business confidence in rural New Zealand," Hoggard says.

The coalition government’s pro-forestry policies, including the ‘streamlined test’ for overseas investors, the One Billion Trees subsidies, and flawed climate change targets - are ending up pushing the wrong tree in the wrong place, threatening the long term viability of rural communities and the economy.

"Forestry is a big earner, and a valuable land use option. However, it is by no means a panacea for the chunks likely to be torn out of productive pastoral farming." Overstatements in a New Zealand wood advertising campaign of forestry’s employment benefits compared to livestock, amended after a complaint by former Feds Ruapehu President Lyn Neeson to the Advertising Standards Authority, underlines the point that more and more land is being purchased for carbon farming and a large percentage of logs currently being harvested are not further processed.

"Treasury needs to do the sums - there will be minimal provincial income, minimal tax paid and stuff-all jobs generated from farmland planted in trees after they are planted - for 25 years or potentially ever if the trees are never felled," Hoggard says.

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John Deere: New swing machine options

Utilising invaluable customer feedback, John Deere is rolling out increased options on its G- Series forestry swing machines, to help lower daily operating costs, boost productivity, and increase uptime. New updates, including improvements to the machine design and the addition of more standard features, provide loggers with a streamlined, reliable machine.

“To take a good machine and make it better, we knew we needed to go to our customers. Their input has helped us engineer the best equipped swing machines to handle the daily demands loggers face,” said Jarvis De Groot, product marketing manager, John Deere Construction & Forestry. “The new forestry swing machines were designed to increase uptime and reliability, even when navigating harsh and challenging terrain.”

The improved machine design includes changes to the boom and arm cylinder guards, hood, and underdecking. Additionally, the larger undercarriage offered on the 3754G and 3756G swing machines is now available on the 3145G and 3156G models, increasing productivity. A new front sunshade increases operator comfort and visibility in sunny conditions. The inclusion of a deck handrail increases operator safety while traversing the upper deck, and the redesigned 7-inch tool tray improves access and security.

Additionally, three previously optional features are now available as standard offerings. Available on all Final Tier 4 engine models, a standard pre-cleaner for engine air intake extends filter life and minimizes service frequency. Additionally, the auto-reversing fan, now standard on all machines, is controlled by a dash-mounted button that reverses airflow to eject debris from the cooler cores, reducing cooler-maintenance frequency. Finally, the extremely effective and durable LED light package, which includes access and service compartment lighting, is now standard.

To learn more about updates to the G-Series forestry swing machines, as well as the full line of John Deere forestry equipment, visit your local John Deere Forestry dealer or www.JohnDeere.com.

Source: John Deere

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New harvester from Tigercat

Tigercat introduces the highly anticipated smaller wheel harvester – The 1165 is a mid- sized harvester well suited for thinning, selective cut and final fell applications. With strong swing and levelling capabilities that exceed the competition, the 1165 is well suited for steep slopes. The machine is available in both six-wheel and eight-wheel drive configurations.

Powered by the Tigercat FPT N67 engine, the 1165 provides full emissions compliance for Tier 4 final regions, along with excellent fuel economy, all in a simple and reliable package. Both Tier 4f and Tier 2 options deliver 210 kW at 2,000 rpm.

The 1165 wheel harvester uses the same swing components as the larger 1185, as well as oscillating and articulating centre section components used on Tigercat forwarders. The new active oscillation balancing technology provides unparalleled machine stability even while travelling. This allows crane operation while driving, thus increasing productivity. The patented long reach ER crane is energy efficient and provides the same action as a parallel crane, but with simplified construction and less maintenance. The 9 m (30 ft) crane comes standard for heads up to 1 600 kg, an 11 metre telescopic crane for heads up to 1 100 kg.

Dedicated attachment and carrier pumps provide ample oil flow for uninterrupted power and multifunctioning capability. Many hydraulic components are common with other Tigercat machines, and efficient hydraulic system design and plumbing help the 1165 deliver exceptional productivity and optimal fuel economy.

Operator visibility is unmatched in the quiet, comfortable, ergonomically designed cab. The hooked crane design and large windows provide a clear line of sight to the attachment’s working area and surrounding terrain. The 360° continuous swing upper turntable supplies strong swing torque. Leveling capacity is 24° backward, 18° degrees forward and 18° side/side. This, along with tethering lugs built into the frame facilitates steep slope cable assisted harvesting applications.

Source: Tigercat

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Carbon market update

Market Update - The New Zealand carbon unit remains fairly range bound, giving the impression of going nowhere fast and leaving a vague feeling of incongruity as we witness growing global concern about climate change.

This week the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney spoke again of the need for those who manage and invest wealth to pay closer attention to the risks their assets face from climate change, warning that a failure of companies to transition and adapt could ultimately lead to abrupt financial collapse.

Carney had previously spoken on the subject earlier this year saying that “the commitment of all actors in the financial system to act will help avoid a climate-driven ‘Minsky moment’ – the term we use to refer to a sudden collapse in asset prices.”

This is true not only of assets of the traditional fossil fuel variety but perhaps also of land-use, something that we are seeing perhaps for the first time in New Zealand as livestock farmers become ever more concerned about their ability to remain competitive in the face of stronger environmental constraints.

Carney’s point is that hiding from climate risk won’t help in the long run; that in fact it may just drive a more abrupt transition for which we are ill prepared. He further pointed out that this situation comes at a time when we need increased global investment "to get us out of this low-growth, low interest-rate trap we are in." Food for thought.

NZUs are currently bid at $24.70 and last traded a smidge above that level, best offered today at $24.80.

Source: Carbon Match - every weekday from 1-5pm.

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Science award for Prof Manley

The University of Canterbury’s Head of the School of Forestry, Professor Bruce Manley, has won a Forestry Science Award for his dedication to, and leadership within, forestry research, and his innovative work on carbon forestry.

Professor Manley has led research groups responsible for the initial research on carbon capture by planted forests and analysis of commercial forest resource quality.

Instrumental in the wider adoption of estate-modelling techniques for forest planning, he regularly advises government on policy related to his research interests.

Forestry Minister Shane Jones presented the award to Professor Manley at Parliament at an event marking the State Forest Service’s centenary.

“It was a very special moment for me,” Professor Manley says.“It was great to be recognised in a room full of people I have worked with over many years.”

After completing a Bachelor of Forestry Science with Honours, Professor Manley joined the New Zealand Forest Service in 1976 at the Forest Research Institute in Rotorua where he became a highly respected senior manager. He has also completed a PhD in Forest Management and a Bachelor of Business Studies,

He joined UC’s School of Forestry in 1999 and was appointed Head of School in 2006. Professor Manley is internationally recognised for his research in modelling both quantity and quality of forest resources, and says he enjoys seeing the ongoing developments in the forestry sector.

“The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was a world first and provides opportunities and risks for forest growers. I have enjoyed doing analysis and modelling to quantify these opportunities and risks,” he says.

“My research has looked at the potential impact of the ETS on afforestation, silviculture and harvest age, and on the decision of whether to even harvest or grow a stand on for carbon. This work has led to research on ways to improve the ETS.”

A career highlight has been research on the lifecycle of harvested wood products, Professor Manley says.

“In a project for Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Ministry for the Environment (MfE), Associate Professor David Evison and I visited the major markets for New Zealand logs – China, South Korea and India. We tracked what New Zealand logs are being used to produce, and the end-use and life of these products. The results of our work are being use by MfE for Kyoto Protocol carbon accounting and UNFCCC carbon reporting.”

Source: Scoop

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Sea of pines needed to balance budget

Sea of pines that is going to be needed to balance the NZ carbon budget - All eyes are on the new Zero Carbon climate bill. But is anyone thinking about how many trees we may need to plant as a result? John McCrone reports.

With a frown, Canterbury University forestry professor Dr Euan Mason clicks away, looking for the graph he presented at the August conference of the Institute of Forestry.

Sure, the Government is promising its One Billion Trees programme is going to be all about "the right tree in the right place".

But is anyone really looking at how much new carbon forest New Zealand is going to need to meet its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and Zero Carbon commitments, Mason asks?

Forget the talk about pretty native bush projects – all tui and t?tara. That will be the fringe stuff, he says. Bush is too expensive to plant and too slow- growing. It can't fulfil the looming 2030 and 2050 carbon targets.

The reality is New Zealand is giving itself little other choice than to plunge into a mass planting of commercial tree crops – the conversion of perhaps a couple of million hectares of open farmland into wall-to-wall Pinus radiata.

Big blocks of carbon sink that will not only lock up productive land, stopping it earning export dollars, but which in many cases will be remitting their carbon earnings – effectively a tax on New Zealand emissions – to a foreign pension fund or some other off-shore investor.

Mason shakes his head over the illogic of it. But – tap, tap – he has found the file. On his screen, he brings up a plot of the amount of wood the Government must grow to reach net zero on climate gas emissions by 2050.

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Source: Stuff

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... almost finally ... The wheel ... re-invented

Got a minute – look at this re-invented wheel – no really, we're not kidding!

Apologies in advance to everyone in the rubber tyre business … see what you think … this may well have an application in forestry vehicle applications. Although, who knows, maybe a rubber hybrid tyre with this “stoichometric nickel titanium" alloy invention.

See the re-invented wheel here:

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Buy and Sell

... and finally ... Logger Rhythms

When Kaingaroa was the biggest - In the early 20th century forests of fast-growing exotic pines were established in the North Island, making one of the world’s largest timber plantations. This short film explores timber work in Kinleith and Kawerau: from planting to felling to finished product.

Directed by NFU veteran Hugh Macdonald, Logger Rhythms is notable as the first Kiwi film to record sound using Dolby Stereo.

Sound men Kit Rolling and Tony Johnson’s efforts capturing chainsaw and machine ambience, along with Steve Robinson’s score, compelled Dolby in London to use the film as a demonstration reel.

PS - While watching this long-since edited footage remember it's an historic clip. As such it shows industry practices long since changed.

Watch it now >>

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

John Stulen

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