WoodWeek – 15 December 2021

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Greetings from your festive WoodWeek news team. We've got a bumper issue for you, so pour yourself a big cup of coffee and enjoy.

Beyond the moves of the Chinese government to take tight control of the Evergrande debt default disaster, there are other signs that our log export industry could see a break in the clouds for sunnier 2022 prospects. This time the news comes from Germany, a recent log exporter to China of scale in the past two years. Analysts at Timber Online are reporting that last year, 66 million m³ of damaged wood accumulated in Germany. Thanks to the cooler and wetter weather this year, the volume could fall to 43 million m³, possibly allowing for a harvest volume which will only be slightly bigger than normal.

Today's SnapSTAT shows how forestry employment fared in the pandemic compared to other sectors. Thanks to our feature sponsors - Chainsaw & Outdoor Power and Oregon for their support.

Picking up on the conversations about planting more forests and what the mix of exotics and native planting could, should or would be, the Forest Owners Association says Fish and Game’s criticism of exotic plantation forests doesn’t accord with reality. “Fish and Game is, quite simply, barking up the wrong tree when it invents what it calls a ‘myriad of adverse impacts’ from exotic forests,” says FOA president Phil Taylor.

We are pleased to announce our first Environmental Forestry Conference coming in May, Environmental Forestry 2022. It’s planned for Rotorua, New Zealand on 10-11 May. At your next team meeting, sort out who will attend and mark the dates in your diary. The programme is now online. Further information is included in this week’s issue.

Looking to the chance for a brighter New Year, we have some dates for your diary. Here are some of our upcoming technology events coming for your networking and upskilling early next year, Residues to Revenues 2022, DigitalAg 2022 and WoodTECH 2022.

From our WoodWeek team, we would like to say Thanks to all of you, readers, sponsors and advertisers for your loyal support of WoodWeek for another year. Have a great break!

Finally today, to ease you into the holiday break, we have a delightful holiday comedy routine featuring Julian Dennison (you know, from Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and Ronan Keating, once again brought to you by that airline that does a sideline in funny videos.

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Champion Freight: Log exports by the numbers

This week we've got our monthly update from the team at Champion Freight. For the month ended October our log export efforts to China saw shipments lift by 10 percent, compared to October 2020, taking overall log exports up a up just a meagre 1 percent from the same month year. Looking to other export destinations, logs exports to India went to zero, while shipments to Japan were oddly up 23 percent on the same month last year.

Looking to the annual statistics, our chart shows total log export values to China to for the year to end of October are up a whooping 41 percent year-on-year contributing to overall log exports lifting by 33 percent across all export markets. Log exports to South Korea were up for the year by 14 percent while India took 64 percent less over the past year. Thanks to the Champion Freight team for their graphic update across log export markets.

Source: Champion Freight

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China: Can authorities control the debt spiral

Evergrande’s debt default is now controlled implosion being managed by the state: The $300 billion dollar question - Evergrande had 800 projects across 200 cities. Things have moved quickly last week as a debt management committee was formed with a strong element of state control. It appears 95% of the Evergrande’s $300 billion debt is local. The Chinese Government injected over $200 billion. This will be the biggest debt restructuring in China. The global view is that the world’s biggest property boom is over.

Listen Here>> Source: RNZ

More>> (from NYTimes)

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Forest technology: Interest ramping up says FIEA

Every year one major forest technology series is run in this region. It’s designed by and for Australasian forestry resource managers, inventory foresters, researchers and tech developers. It’s the one event every year where remote sensing, GIS, mapping and forest inventory specialists, and for the first-time last year, tree crop and silvicultural managers - get-together.

It’s independent. It’s run by this region’s leading forestry technology events company, the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA). With lockdowns and restrictions forced on all of us by Covid-19, as reported in mid- October, rather than cancelling the event or rolling it over to the back end of 2022, it was decided instead to postpone it for just a few months.

With the rules now in New Zealand re events attendance and vaccination rates right up where the Government has been aiming, the timing for late February next year is again attracting keen interest from across the industry and adding to the many physical and virtual registrations that had already been received for this major forest technology update.

The format for the annual technology series that’s been run in both countries since 2007 has been slightly modified. The format again will enable planning with some degree of certainty for ForestTECH 2021-22 delegates, presenters and exhibitors.

So, what’s the format?

1. One location. Like 2020, the physical event (on-site presentations, exhibitions and workshops) will again be run in just one location this year, Rotorua, New Zealand.

2. Live links from the New Zealand event have been set up for those unable to travel into Rotorua. The live virtual linkage is going to ensure international delegates can still actively be involved early next year. The last time the event ran, in November 2020, a record number of international delegates from over 20 countries were able to pick up this option. On-line questions from virtual conference delegates will be able to be made to all presenters - live.

3. Two distinct themes. This was trialed in 2020 for the first time. Overwhelmingly the written feedback told us to keep with this same split in focus for the next event. In addition to the usual technology updates on remote sensing, new data collection technologies and forest inventory management, a second day will be focussing on mechanised planting and automated silviculture. European technologies are already well advanced and have been trialed and used commercially on flatter terrain by larger forestry companies in both New Zealand and Australia.

4. Increased international involvement. In addition to New Zealand presenters, key technology presenters and forest companies from Canada, Finland, Germany, South Africa, Chile and Australia will all be presenting at ForestTECH 2021-22.

5. Additional half-day workshops. Three additional half-day pre-conference workshops for those delegates attending Rotorua have been set up for delegates. Details on each are contained on the website.

Note: Programme details and further information can be found on the event website.

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SnapStat: Forestry employment grew since first lockdown

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RNZ: Recovery hopes after logs drop

Forestry operators hope for recovery after 'perfect storm' hits log prices - Logging contractors are bracing for a tough summer as they wait for log prices to recover and harvesting to regain momentum. Prices were at near record levels earlier in 2021, but last month sunk to lows not seen since late 2015.

As a result the amount of logs heading to ports had slowed significantly, with many harvesting crews being told to work at a reduced capacity, or down tools. China is New Zealand's largest overseas market for logs, accounting for about 70-90 percent of exports.

The Forest Owners Association president Phil Taylor said a "perfect storm" had caused the sudden drop in prices. This included reduced processing capacity at sawmills in China and significant increases in shipping costs.

"International shipping at the moment has been significantly disrupted... basically everything is being impacted," Taylor said.

Phil Taylor said the situation was very fluid, but it anticipated the low prices would carry through into the first quarter of next year. He said its biggest concern was the impact lower rates of harvesting had on logging and trucking contractors.

"Obviously they need to keep busy, they've got a lot of money invested in capital," he said.

A recent Forest Industry Contractors Association member survey found only about 35 percent were operating business as usual.


Source: RNZ

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Germany - Bug harvest slows thanks to weather reprieve

Last year, 66 million m³ of damaged wood accumulated in Germany. Thanks to the cooler and wetter weather this year, the volume could fall to 43 million m³, possibly allowing for a harvest volume which will only be slightly bigger than normal.


Source & Photo Credit: https://www.timber-online.net/log_wood.html

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BMO: Timber REIT implications of low China demand

(BMO Mark Wilde, PhD • Timber & Wood Products) China's Log Demand Remains Very Weak: Timber REIT Implications

Bottom Line: New Zealand's log export market is grappling with steep declines in Chinese demand. Chinese log inventories are reportedly 5mm+ cubic meters. Demand is expected to remain weak in FY22. Trade reports are pointing to construction declines of 20% y/y. While this will have some impact on US PNW log exports, NZ producers are more highly levered to China. NZ log prices have eased. Among the US Timber REIT’s, Rayonier is the most leveraged to China.

Key Points - Falling prices, lower demand, and elevated inventories have triggered a 30% drop in NZ production between July and November. Producers are reportedly taking longer- than-normal Christmas breaks to help balance S/D and reduce Chinese inventories. January 2022 could see some relief as Russia's log export ban kicks in. However, the central near-term issue is the slowing in Chinese construction markets.

Because of its high dependence on Asian exports, NZ is among the world’s most volatile timber markets. Early 2021 saw the highest pricing levels in recent memory. Since late summer, markets have pivoted dramatically in the other direction. Weyerhaeuser ships ~20% of its West Coast log exports to China. Rayonier also has West Coast exposure, but it is further exposed through its large NZ operations. RYN has already flagged the China issue. The question is whether the current drop proves deeper/longer than expected.

Source: BMO Capital Markets • Timber and Wood Products

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Connect the dots: Forest owners, fish and barking up trees

Okay, let’s clarify that weird word scramble in the title … what they are saying is “Forest owners say Fish and Game folks are barking up the wrong tree. - The Forest Owners Association says Fish and Game’s criticism of exotic plantation forests doesn’t accord with reality.

“Fish and Game is, quite simply, barking up the wrong tree when it invents what it calls a ‘myriad of adverse impacts’ from exotic forests,” says Phil Taylor, the FOA President.

“It is true that forests moderate rainfall entering waterways – which reduces the risk of floods. But that also applies to native trees – which Fish and Game wants a lot more of – as well as to exotics – which Fish and Game wants less of.”

“The same applies to water quality. Water emerging out of forests is cleaner than that flowing off farmland – irrespective of the type of forest or type of farmland,” Phil Taylor says.

“Biodiversity is another issue with Fish and Game. It is true that, by very definition, indigenous forests have more indigenous biodiversity than any other land cover. But if you look at the facts, there is a higher level of indigenous biodiversity in New Zealand’s exotic forests, than there is on New Zealand farmland. There’s more indigenous wildlife in any type of forest than there is in pastures,” Phil Taylor says.

“On top of that, there are the areas of mostly native bush in both exotic forests and pastureland. It’s about 19 percent in our forest areas. Beef + Lamb NZ estimate the same indigenous vegetation area on its farms is 13 percent.”

Phil Taylor’s strongest criticism of Fish and Game is its demand to switch to indigenous forests for carbon sequestration.

“We all love native trees. They are a natural part of our landscape, culture and history. Many of them have incredible wood qualities. There’s 8 million hectares of native forests in the D0C estate. But they lock up carbon very slowly.”

“So when Fish and Game, and the new Native Forest Coalition, start arguing that native trees are a much better means of meeting New Zealand’s greenhouse gas reduction targets than exotics, then that needs to be called out,” Phil Taylor says.

“Pine trees, the majority of the plantation estate, sequester carbon at a great rate, as well as providing an income from timber on a forest rotation.”

“The sequestration power of pine trees is so substantial that without at least another 380,000 hectares planted in the next 15 years, then even more drastic and rapid cuts would have to be made to both agriculture and transport to get to carbon zero by 2050.”

“Though exotic forests are vital to transition our economy, we agree such an expansion cannot go on indefinitely. We would run out of land.”

“In the shorter term though, if the projected modest exotic forest expansion was stopped now, and replaced by native trees, it would need, to absorb the same amount of carbon by 2050, taking over more than two million hectares of farmland and the cost to taxpayers would be tens of billions of dollars.”

“I would think that both the land, and the taxpayers’ money, could be used in much better ways to fight climate change.”


Source: NZFOA

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Otago group debates forests on farms issues

Is forestry a threat to rural communities or an opportunity too good to refuse? About 70 people attended the panel debate "Plantation forestry — threat or opportunity?" in Dunedin last week to discuss and debate the issue. Independent debate chairman Stephen Woodhead, of Milton, gave each of the four panel members 10 minutes to speak.

Ministry for Primary Industries Te Uru Rakau forest and land use senior adviser Duncan Harrison, of Christchurch, said a Ministry for the Environment report published in October estimates up to 1.37million ha of new forest — a mix of native and exotic — could be planted in New Zealand between 2020 and 2050.

The Government was investigating how permanent exotic forests could be "controlled" within the ministry’s current regulatory limits, Mr Harrison said.

Beef+Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor, of Wellington, said the biggest issue facing his sector was the "unfettered ability" of industrial carbon emitters to offset their emissions by buying farms to grow trees for carbon.

"In 30 years, when we reach carbon zero, what will the landscape, those investments and communities look like?"

Risks of carbon farming included the spread of pests, weeds and disease and the loss of jobs and services in rural communities and export earnings for New Zealand.

About 90% of sheep and beef was exported, he said.

Demand for carbon farming was "escalating" the price of rural land and put farm ownership out of reach of future generations.

However, farmers were in a "sweet spot" at the moment — being paid the best commodity prices in the past 40 years, able to sell their farms for a good price, or plant trees on them for carbon farming.


Source and photo credit: ODT

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Improvements coming for log load securing

As part of the FGR programme in Automation and Robotics, a project has commenced to develop a safe and efficient alternative load securing system for logging trucks. Many logging truck drivers suffer musculo-skeletal injuries that are caused by throwing chains over the load and then manually tensioning the load restraints (Figure 1). An improved method of load restraint is required so this project is aimed at developing ways to automate chain throwing and tensioning.

In addition, as debarking in the forest becomes more common, there will be changes to the loads the trucks will be carrying with more debarked logs could be carted from the forest to the port. So, the industry must also consider any changes that may be required to current methods of load restraint to adequately restrain these more slippery debarked logs on logging trucks.

To date, the automatic chain thrower is well advanced with two trucking companies having developed working prototypes for field testing. In addition, two forestry companies have also built machines that lift all the chains over the load simultaneously (Figure 2). These machines are proving effective for use in log yards.

The project will develop a system whereby:
• the chains are automatically thrown over the load.
• the chain tensioning is automatically done by winches that are driven off the truck’s auxiliary power system.
• chain tension will be monitored automatically and if any load settling during the journey is detected the winches will automatically retention the chains without any intervention by the driver. • the status of the chain tension will be displayed on an in-cab system that will notify the driver if any corrective action is required.
• This project is being undertaken with support of the Log Transport Safety Council, in conjunction with Trinder Engineers Ltd of Nelson.


Source: FGR

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Nelson: Opportunity for forestry pivot

Nelson has the opportunity to pivot to a 21st Century approach to forestry Ekos CEO Dr Sean Weaver told the Nelson City Council today. He was speaking at the public forum for the Nelson City Council meeting on the Adoption of Forestry Activity Management Plan.

“Nelson is looking down the barrel of massive risk to ratepayer property and infrastructure from extreme weather events that promise to get worse under a changing climate”, Weaver said.

“We need to build climate resilient landscapes that do not involve clear cut forestry on steep hillsides. This means moving away from the 20th Century model of clear felling in sensitive landscapes.”

“Forestry planners now have the advantage of much higher carbon prices that make continuous canopy exotic and native forestry profitable. At Ekos we have been doing this for a number of years and we know it works commercially”, he said.

Nelson City Council is contemplating a decision to continue with the cycle of clear cut pine plantations on steep Nelson hillsides owned by the Council, whilst also undertaking a review of forestry options for the future. The key is whether the Council locks in business-as-usual forestry plans before the review has been completed.

“If the Council makes a long-term commitment to continue clear cut pine forestry before a review is completed it will clearly have the cart before the horse”, Weaver said.

“And a review can only genuinely explore all viable options if it is independent and not run by the same forestry company that undertakes forest management for the Council. This would be like asking my son to mark his own NCEA exams”, he said.

Weaver recently published a paper in the New Zealand Journal of Forestry on the economics of native reforestation carbon forestry and made it available to the Council. It describes how a mix of exotic and native continuous canopy forestry is commercially viable at current and projected future carbon prices.

“When the Council reviewed the carbon economics of forestry in 2016 the carbon price was around $18. It is now nearly $70 and this is a game changer,” Weaver said.

He urged the Council to not close the door on forestry innovation and putting genuine rubber on the road of a climate emergency response by committing ratepayers to living with clear cut forestry on Council lands for another 30 years.


Source: Scoop

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... almost finally ... A Merry Christmas meme

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Buy and Sell

.... and finally ... Enjoy! Because its a Summer Wonderland

That's us for another year ... time for a well-deserved holiday break for everyone!
See you in mid-January.
John Stulen

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