WoodWeek – 13 November 2019

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Greetings from your WoodWeek news team. This week we begin by acknowledging the devastating impact on our Australian colleagues, whose lives and livelihoods are being totally disrupted by the forest fires which have come early this year. In another blow to the people of Victoria, logging in native forests is set to be banned within a decade, potentially wiping out up to 2000 jobs across the state.

Looking to markets where we once again invite people in the log export trade to participate in the next Scion price outlook survey. 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.

Our FIEA ForestTECH Conference is running today and tomorrow in Melbourne. Thanks to everyone involved including speakers, delegates and sponsors. Tickets are still available for you to attend ForestTECH in Rotorua next week. Click here to register.

Forestry groups say the 50 Shades of Green march on Parliament last Thursday deliberately created confusion about the true nature and recent scope of forestry expansion. Farm Forestry Association President Hamish Levack says the 50 Shades of Green demands on the government to restrict forest planting would not be supported by many farmers he knows.

Levack says the 50 Shades of Green petition demanding the government prevent farmers planting trees to offset carbon emissions sounds to him like climate change denial. He also cited a recent Beef + Lamb commission report on the Wairoa District, which concluded that a typical sheep and beef farm was unable to compete with forestry returns over a 60-year period.

Finally, in a desperate call for help you can see we are scratching the bottom of the humour barrel with today's meagre effort. Got jokes ... send 'em in (please)!

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Victoria: Native logging ban costs add up

Native forest logging to be banned in Victoria by 2030 - Logging in Victorian native forests is set to be banned within a decade, potentially wiping out up to 2000 jobs across the state. The Andrews government is expected to announce as early as Thursday that it will phase out the industry by 2030 and reveal a detailed transition package costing taxpayers up to $500 million, sources told The Age.

A decades long debate between environmentalists and industry relying on Victoria’s native forests has been largely focused on the state’s critically endangered faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum, with vast sections of forest blocked from timber harvesting.

Several industry sources said taxpayers would likely fork out up to $500 million in compensation for workers and companies, with millions expected to go towards Australian Paper’s Maryvale Mill — the Latrobe Valley’s single biggest employer.

The mill has a contract for native timber supply from the state's Central Highlands under a deal passed by the Victorian parliament in the 1990s. But the decision will likely close many small timber mills, some of which have operated in Gippsland for more than a century.

The future of the sector has been subject to fierce debate within the Victorian government. The industry has been under increasing pressure in recent years, with supply of sustainable sawlogs dwindling for many of the state’s small timber mills.

The Andrews government delayed a decision on the industry's future before last November’s election, to avoid tensions within the Labor movement involving the powerful Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union.

The union will fiercely oppose a logging ban. About 500 of the 900-strong workforce at Maryvale mill are union members, as well as most of the 250 employees at Heyfield’s Australian Sustainable Hardwoods mill. The Victorian government paid $40 million to become a major shareholder in that business in 2017.

The move will also cast doubts over the future of VicForests, the state-owned business that harvests, sells and regrows timber from State Forests.

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Scion log price outlook

Scion's 19th Log Outlook Survey - Have your say. In the most recent survey, sixty people from across the NZ 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.

If you operate a business anywhere along the forestry products supply chain then please consider casting your vote in our November 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 December and will only become available publicly in January.

Please participate before Tuesday November 26th.

Figure 1: Wharf log price outlook (A Grade is used as a general proxy)

To START THE SURVEY, click here >>

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More wood construction for Zero Carbon

OPINION (Marty Verry): University and Scion research shows how New Zealand can achieve "zero carbon" in our third-biggest area of emissions, buildings - Our three main greenhouse gas (GHG) emission sources are transport, agriculture and buildings.

How we build the latter has a significant impact on how well we respond to climate change.

Having visited the Tokyo Car Show this month, it is clear to me that, by 2050, most land transport will be electric. Agriculture is on its own pathway to working out how to play its part in that timeframe.

The potential for a big early climate change win is in what we build with. Buildings cause GHG emissions in two ways; the embodied carbon from the extraction, manufacture and transport of the materials used, and the ongoing emissions from the energy used by the building.

Nearly all electricity in New Zealand is from renewable sources so measurement of ongoing energy use, known as "Life Cycle Analysis", is fairly irrelevant in terms of climate change. Don't get me wrong, it's always good to save power for economic reasons, but right now the biggest show in town is climate change.

So when it comes to buildings and climate change, it is only the upfront embodied carbon in the materials that is relevant in New Zealand.

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Source: Red Stag Timber

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SnapSTAT - Industry facts in a snapshot

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Invitation to call for WoodFirst support

Your invitation to be part of an Open Letter to Government - All New Zealand wood processing and forestry companies are invited to add their name to an Open Letter to Government calling on it to implement its promised ‘Wood First’. The policy requires favourable consideration to building in wood up to 10 storeys for all government buildings.

This has been an election policy promise by all 3 coalition parties, and with election year next year we want a show of support from the whole industry to push for the policy to be implemented.

If you would like your company and name added to the signatories to the letter, simply email Nikki.Corbett@redstagtimber.co.nz with your name, role, company and total number of employees including full time contractors.

To read the letter, click here

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Road carriers say leave port in Auckland

Moving port will cost Government, consumers and environment says National Road Carriers Association - Making Northport Auckland’s main port will require massive investment in rail and road and will increase carbon emissions and the cost of goods says National Road Carriers Association CEO David Aitken.

Mr Aitken was responding to news reports that the final report of a working group led by Whang?rei mayor Wayne Brown recommends the Ports of Auckland be moved to Northland. If it goes ahead, it will reportedly be the largest infrastructure project in New Zealand history, costing $10 billion.

“Although it would be good for road freight as they would get a lot more work and travel a lot more miles, it doesn’t make sense,” says Mr Aitken, whose organisation represents 1,800 trucking companies nationally.

“Where else in the world has a port for a country’s largest city been moved 140km away from its main market? This will increase freight costs which will inevitably be passed on to consumers.”

Rail will only be able to carry a small portion of the freight said Mr Aitken. Road will carry most freight based on the current volumes going through Ports of Auckland.

Mr Aitken said any relocation of Ports of Auckland functions to Northport needs to be based on sound economic analysis and proper costings of all the infrastructure improvements needed including:
> Ports – Northport development and de-commissioning Ports of Auckland
> Rail, including a freight line from Whangarei through Auckland to service the lower North Island;
> Roading, four-lanes, some through difficult terrain.

Mr Aitken said Northport should build and compete on its own merit.

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Support for workers in forestry transition

Securing the future for forest industry workers - The Andrews Labor Government has moved to ensure a long-term and sustainable future for Victoria’s forestry industry – and for the Victorian workers who rely on it.

As Australian Paper moves away from using native timber in its paper production and with a reduction in available native timber resources due to fire and wildlife protection, the Labor Government has unveiled a new 30-year plan to support the sector as it transitions.

As part of the plan, $120 million will be set aside to ensure the industry is fully supported, backing long-term sustainable jobs and giving local workers confidence about their future. VicForests will extend existing timber supply agreements until 2024, after which native timber supply will be stepped down before ending in 2030.

In addition, logging in remaining old growth forests will cease immediately, protecting around 90,000 hectares, with all logging in native forests across the state to stop by 2030.

The plan includes the release of the Greater Glider Action Statement, which makes another 96,000 hectares of forest across Victoria immediately exempt from logging in order to protect this iconic marsupial and other threatened species.

To assist businesses as they prepare for this transition, the Labor Government will provide dedicated funding to help local mills invest in new equipment that will allow them to process alternative timbers and support local jobs.

That includes Australian Paper, which will be supported to transition to a full plantation- based supply, ensuring it operates until at least 2050 – providing support to its almost 1,000- strong workforce and stability to its customers.

Additional funding will go to ensure industry employees are afforded the certainty and security they deserve, with support for impacted workers to access re-employment and re-training services. The plan will also help fund community projects that support local businesses and help create local jobs.

The announcement builds on the Government’s existing efforts to increase our state’s supply of plantation timber, with a record $110 million allocated in the Victorian Budget 2017/18 to help ensure ongoing access to affordable, locally-produced paper products.

The first of those plantation trees – 250,000 blue gum seedlings – were planted near Australian Paper’s Maryvale mill earlier this year.

In providing a 30-year forward plan, we’re creating a new, more sustainable future for this industry – but just as importantly, we’re giving workers the certainty they deserve.

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AI is tomorrow’s number 8 wire

AI is the 21st century’s number 8 wire for Kiwi agriculture, according to an artificial intelligence research report just released.

The new AI Forum of New Zealand report AI for Agriculture / Ahuwhenua i te Atamai Iahiko launched in Christchurch last night examines the New Zealand and international AI industry landscapes for agriculture and investigates AI’s potential impacts for New Zealand’s place in the global food value chain.

AI Forum executive director Ben Reid says their research shows New Zealand urgently needs to increase its focus on the core foundations needed to operate in an AI enabled future, particularly using data throughout the food value chain, not just behind the farmgate.

“The rapid development of AI technologies presents major opportunities and challenges for our country. New Zealand needs to actively engage with AI now in order to secure our future prosperity,” he says.

Agriculture and horticulture play a dominant role in New Zealand’s economy with food exports - dairy products, meat, fruit, wine, fish and seafood - making up around 40% of New Zealand’s $80 billion annual exports.

However, the agriculture sector continues to face significant ongoing challenges including climate change, low productivity growth, labour shortages, increasing regulation and environmental sustainability, the report says.

“The report identifies how AI can be used in diverse use cases throughout the food supply chain: yield optimisation, addressing labour shortages, meat alternative research, food quality assurance, isolating disease outbreaks in animals and plants, waste reduction, biosecurity and conversion efficiency. AI technologies can also be applied to reducing the environmental impact of agriculture in New Zealand and supporting more sustainable practices.”

“On the food testing front, we are seeing the application of AI help develop new test methods and interpret complex test outputs faster, and machine vision used as an alternative test method in some applications.

“We are starting to see digital twins of farms and orchards emerge which simulate operating and business models to allow smarter, no-risk cause and effect modelling.

“An innovative research project supported by Callaghan Innovation uses machine vision AI for animal identification - applying facial recognition for sheep to reduce the cost of tagging and improve animal tracking.

Darren Wilson, chief digital officer of research partner AsureQuality, says with the accelerating rate and scale at which we can produce data, it is only through using emerging AI capabilities to collect, collate, curate and crunch these datasets that we can stay ahead of our competition and meet societies’ challenges head on.

“As a country we need to leverage our knowhow in food production, whilst meeting the challenges of supplying food in an increasingly discriminating world. The good news is that we are starting to see the building blocks emerge.”

While there is some agricultural AI activity in New Zealand, it is disproportionately focused behind the farmgate, the report says. On-farm commercial activity to date appears to be focused on sensors, precision farm data with smarter alerts, robotics and decision support, Reid says.

“In the end, how we progress in shaping New Zealand’s place in the world’s food system will depend on how boldly we step up to the AI horizon. “The conversation and activity in AI need to lift from behind the farmgate to include the whole value chain. AI is the 21st century’s number 8 wire - enabling New Zealand to achieve a premium position in the global food supply.” Reid says.

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Biophillic design for Scion offices

Scion office upgrades with biophilic design in mind - The occasional pot- plant is common in modern offices, but how about large trees, potted palms as tall as people, and banks of greenery?

It’s what’s included in biophilic design – a concept that’s likely to become increasingly popular as more organisations see the wellbeing benefits in surrounding their people with plants as they work. And it’s entirely fitting that biophilic design is at the heart of Scion’s staged campus redevelopment in Rotorua.

The forestry Crown Research Institute sits on Rotorua’s Te Papa Tipu Innovation Park, a 112 hectare area shared with other forestry-associated organisations, on the edge of the city’s Whakarewarewa redwoods forest.

“This is a really special place to be,” says Aoife Mac Sharry, Scion’s campus redevelopment project manager. The extensive campus upgrade includes the total renovation of one office block (almost completed, barring a basement refit to include showers and a wellness room) and the construction of a totally new timber building opening to the public in July 2020.

“An overhaul of our labs and workshops will follow to provide fit-for-purpose facilities that reflect the world-class science happening here on campus. Given that our people are dedicated to researching and sustaining our forests, it seems entirely fitting to bring trees and plants indoors and connect workspaces to the outdoors. Our staff are loving it,” she says.

“Biophilic design is design that connects people to nature,” says Neil de Wet, a Medical Officer of Health at Toi Te Ora Public Health, which works with Scion on building workplace wellbeing. “This could be by simply using natural light and ventilation, bringing plants indoors and increasing the visual connection to the outdoors, through to using natural materials and natural patterns and forms.”

Certainly, Scion’s design is all that. In its first nearly completed building makeover, plants proliferate among various timber features, with soft furnishings chosen in shades of green and brown, reflecting the colours of the surrounding forest.

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Forest owners frown on parliament marchers

Forestry groups say the 50 Shades of Green march on Parliament last Thursday deliberately creates confusion about the true nature and recent scope of forestry expansion.

Farm Forestry Association President Hamish Levack says 50 Shades of Green demands on the government to restrict forest planting would not be supported by many farmers he knows.

“There’s at least ten thousand owners of farm woodlots in New Zealand. If they want to retire some more of their farms to earn some more income by expanding their woodlots then that should be their right. If they want to plant out the whole farm that should be their right as well, and shouldn’t be stopped by some misinformed fringes of the farming community.”

He cites a recent Beef + Lamb commission report on the Wairoa District, which concluded that a typical sheep and beef farm was unable to complete with forestry returns over a 60- year period.

Hamish Levack says the 50 Shades of Green petition demanding the government prevent farmers planting trees to offset carbon emissions sounds to him like climate change denial.

“Farmers who contribute towards reducing New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions should be congratulated and not banned.”

“I also can’t understand what they have against the government’s Billion Trees programme either. It’s a fund which is only available to farmers and only for part of a farm. I would think they would be in favour of this.”

“Timber product exports are worth ten times the total value of the wool industry for New Zealand. Our ratio of further-processed product exports is two and a half times that achieved by the wool industry.”

John Bishara is Chair of the Ngati Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board, CEO of the Lake Taupo Forest Trust, and adviser to the Lake Rotoaira Forest Trust, and is very familiar with the impacts of regulation on land use flexibility.

“The tribe has long held that decisions on how we utilise our lands are matters for our many thousands of landowners. While we adhere to the raft of national, regional and district rules which can and do influence how we operate, it must be remembered that we are the perpetual owners of these lands, and we would not welcome further regulatory imposition restricting our land use flexibility.”

Forest Owners Association President Peter Weir is also saying landowners need the options to meet market demands and environmental standards at the same time.

“For forestry that means we are pulling back from planting the most erosion risk terrain, and concentrating on farmland which has been economically marginal for livestock for a long time, but is less expensive to harvest trees on.”

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Source: Scoop news

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TECH-Talk: See where diesel beats electric

British-based multinational company JCB shares its insights into the trends associated with the introduction of innovative electric technology - JCB indicates that for large scale excavators, electric power is quite simply too costly both financially and environmentally. It would cost £160,000 for a lithium-ion battery large enough to power a 20-tonne excavator for an eight-hour shift - not to mention the vast amount of carbon-dioxide produced in the battery's manufacturing process.

Diesel, on the other hand, contains more energy than petrol, natural gas, a variety of battery types and many other fuels or power sources. In fact, by mass, diesel contains around 54 times more energy than current lithium-ion batteries. Diesel is safe to use and can be delivered to site easily - even in remote locations. Finally, with their high torque nature and robustness, diesel engines are perfectly suited to heavy duty applications, including use in construction equipment.

Given these benefits, it is a major concern that the basic power systems the majority of our industry's machines use - diesel engines - are in danger of being caught in the collateral damage caused largely by the automotive sector diesel scandals.

Cutting exposure to air pollutants and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is something JCB take very seriously and, just as innovation has been at the heart of their first fully electric models, it has also been integral to their clean diesel engine development too. JCB is aware that creating cleaner machines starts with creating cleaner engines. As stricter legislation drives innovation, that innovation drives technological revolution and provides a genuine opportunity to differentiate from competitors.

For Stage V, the next phase of emissions legislation, JCB is using Particulate Control Technology to meet requirements but has once again sought an alternative to bolting on a DPF. The next generation particulate technology is more than just a particulate filter. It combines a low emissions combustion system with catalysts and filters, all managed by a sophisticated engine and after-treatment control system. This ensures the exhaust emissions are minimised over a wide range of operating conditions. It's completely integrated, highly reliable, highly effective and invisible to the customer. This latest generation of engines have almost eradicated harmful emissions. NOx is down 97% and soot particulates are down by 98%. Beyond that, JCB’s clean diesel technology has helped deliver a 43 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions from JCB machines by improving fuel efficiency, saving 2.5 billion litres of diesel.

Source: JCB - A British multinational corporation, with headquarters in Rocester, UK, manufactures equipment for construction, agriculture, waste handling and demolition.

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Commissioner critical of OIO exemption

Wrong-headed strategy on trees evident in Govt decision – The Government’s decision to give a foreign-owned forestry company unfettered access to New Zealand land highlights the hypocrisy of their approach to forest management says Maori Climate Commissioner Donna Awatere Huata.

Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage has just signed off a deal to allow Japanese-owned Pan Pac Forest Products special approval to buy up to 22,000ha of local land without the scrutiny of the Overseas Investment Office.

“The Government – including the Greens – are allowing foreign-owned companies to buy up local land to convert into forestry in order to ship the wood off to feed international demand, while leaving all the attendant problems like slash, damage to roading infrastructure and degradation of land and waterways behind,” says Commissioner Awatere Huata.

“Meanwhile, they are not even allowing local Maori the right to determine how they can best use the marginal land they’ve been able to retain. What’s more, Pan Pac themselves have said the decision will allow them to better compete against local investors to buy land here.”

Commissioner Awatere Huata says if the Government is serious about addressing the climate crisis it should be doing more to encourage local owners to plant permanent carbon forests in the appropriate places, rather than given foreign investors carte blanche to buy up local land to turn into rotational forests with few carbon benefits.

“The Government – in this case led by Greens MP Eugenie Sage – is sending all the wrong messages to the world about how New Zealand is responding to its responsibilities under the Paris Agreement. While foreign- owned slash and burn foresters are being welcomed with open arms, the permanent carbon farmers are being tied up in red tape.”

“For example, most major iwi forestry interests have asked the Government to allow a change in the ETS setting to enable them to use offset planting to make the best use of the margin land in their possession. If the Government can’t deliver this for local iwi, which will encourage more permanent regenerating forests on the right land, and yet they can overwrite the OIO to welcome international buyers, then there is something seriously wrong with their approach to the climate crisis.”

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... almost finally... A 'paper' beer bottle

Carlsberg Moves a Step Closer to Creating the World's First 'Paper' Beer Bottle

- Two new research prototypes for its Green Fibre Bottle are revealed - containing beer for the first time

- More leading companies are now committing to paper bottle technology

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Buy and Sell

... and finally ... Christmas cracker dilemma ...

The family of local mother Carol Thompson (57) state they are beginning to worry about the mental wellbeing of their family matriarch.

Believed by her four children to be a sensible person with sound planning and organisation skills, the mum of four has thrown her reputation into disrepute after purchasing Christmas crackers over two months before their intended use date.

The prematurely purchased crackers were discovered by oldest child Matt Thompson (30) during a routine meeting with the Bank of Mum & Dad.

“Four big boxes of them, sitting by the front door,” he stated.

“I asked if they were for a work thing and she said nup. I think she’s brought (sic) them for Christmas which is like ages away.”

After further questioning, Carol Thompson revealed the Christmas crackers were purchased at a discounted price a week ago with the intention of storing them until Christmas day, over two months from now.

“You’re the one who said I didn’t have enough crackers last year,” stated Carol Thompson as if this were a reasonable reaction, “While you’re here, I’ll get you to put them on the top shelf for me.”

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(Don't do it ...)

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

John Stulen

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