Friday Offcuts – 27 May 2016

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The timber industry this week has welcomed the announcement (and congratulates Xlam) on the planned construction of Australia’s first Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) manufacturing plant. It’s being valued at AU$25 million, it’s expected to produce around 60,000m3 of CLT every year and is going to be sited in the Albury Wodonga area (see this week’s lead story). High rise (and already high profile with local architects and engineers) buildings using CLT have already been built in Australia and a significant number are on the books right now for construction. Currently, two 10 storey CLT residential towers in Sydney are being designed which if constructed, will be the tallest CLT buildings in Australia.

To meet the growing demand in Australia for both residential and commercial buildings, Xlam are expecting to have this new CLT facility operational by mid-2017. For the first time, rather than sourcing CLT from Europe, Australian builders are now going to be able to choose a CLT product that’s designed and made in Australia from Australian timber. In addition to adding significant value to the timber construction market, the local manufacturing facility will encourage architects, engineers and designers from across the region to integrate other wood and wood products into their build specifications.

In keeping with the new wood innovations theme, this week timber treatment, wood processing and manufacturing operations from throughout New Zealand have been meeting in Rotorua. The reason, the two-yearly independent update on new innovations and trends being seen in timber preservation, wood modification and timber engineering. An array of new and emerging technologies over the last couple of days have been profiled to local businesses, many of which can be readily adopted to diversify and add value to existing manufacturing operations. The construction and building markets are indeed looking very positive with MBIE predicting unprecedented levels of construction activity for the country in the next couple of years with over NZ$35 billion of construction being forecast. This is 30% higher than the last highest peak recorded back in 2007 with Auckland residential construction being the major driver of the demand.

To capitalise on the wood focus in Rotorua this week, a one-day conference also ran on Thursday showcasing the changing perceptions of engineered timber in buildings for the country’s leading architects, engineers, construction companies and Councils. New methods of wood construction in larger buildings along with the strengths and opportunities being offered by new engineered wood products were covered by presenters drawn from throughout New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK.

Next week the focus switches to Australia. The Timber Preservers Association of Australia will be holding their Council and Technical meetings in Melbourne on Monday. This is followed by the Australian leg of the Wood Innovations 2016 series. Over the last two weeks, over 400 key wood producers, manufacturers, designers and specifiers will have been involved in the series of timber technology events. Further details on some of the key issues raised from the last two weeks will follow.

Other forestry technology related stories this week to get you thinking include; the commissioning of New Zealand’s largest wood-fired boiler, results and images from recent trials using UAV’s in local controlled burn off operations, plans to assemble a satellite that’s going to monitor the status of global forest resources and we’ve included a link to a new report looking at technology trends, including the rise of the augmented human, that are currently shaping the world. Take a good look and enjoy this week’s read.

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Australia’s first CLT factory announced

Australia’s first Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) manufacturing plant will be built in the Albury Wodonga region, representing a AU$25 million investment and creating 54 local jobs. Announced this week, the high tech sustainable timber facility will produce 60,000m3 of CLT each year, which is enough to construct the equivalent of one Forte Melbourne – Australia’s greenest apartment building – every week.

CLT is a high tech alternative to concrete, made with sustainable plantation timber. XLam, which presented at this week’s Wood Innovations 2016 event in New Zealand, has been manufacturing the innovative and versatile building material in New Zealand for five years and shipping it to Australia, in competition with European importers.

XLam has been assessing possible Australian sites for the facility over the last year, and has now selected the Albury Wodonga region, with a final site to be announced in the coming weeks. Operational mid-2017, the new facility will be the sole manufacturer of CLT in Australia, and one of the most technologically advanced CLT plants worldwide.

XLam CEO Gary Caulfield said the investment would be a game-changer in the Australian market. “For the first time Australian builders will be able to choose a CLT product that is designed and made in Australia from Australian timber, meeting a significant demand in the current market,” Mr Caulfield said.

“It’ll also mean the jobs and proceeds stay in Australia, rather than going back to Europe. By building this facility in Albury Wodonga we’ll be in easy reach of Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra via the road and rail networks, and from there Australia wide.

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Forestry training and success celebrated in the South

Last Friday saw another outstanding turnout by local forestry companies, contractors and transport operators from throughout the lower South Island of New Zealand. The function was the Southern Wood Council Forestry Awards for 2016.

The Council, representing all major forest owners and most of the major wood processing companies in Otago and Southland ran the 2016 Awards programme in conjunction with the industry training organisation, Competenz.

The event was designed to profile the real contribution that forestry and those working within the industry are making to the economic and social well-being of the region, celebrate the success of those from within the industry that have achieved formal training qualifications over the year and through a series of new awards, to recognise the industry’s top performers from across the lower South Island.

The industry certainly rallied on the night. Like 2015, over 350 forest managers, forestry contractors, transport operators and product and service suppliers to the industry from throughout the lower South Island attended the awards evening at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.

“The turnout by forestry workers, their families and supporters on the night is probably a true reflection of the momentum that’s been building over the last year or so with on-site training and safety in this region” says Brent Apthorp, Secretary of the Southern Wood Council. “In addition to celebrating the training achievements of forestry crews, many travelling into Dunedin, some driving 3-4 hours to attend the evening, also brought with them other workers to celebrate the year – and to recognise the success of forestry workers, crews and companies that had stood out over the past 12 months”.

Presenters and speakers at the awards programme included rural broadcaster Jamie MacKay from Newstalk ZB and Radio Sport’s show The Country, Hon Jo Goodhew, Associate Minister for Primary Industries, Peter Gallagher, All Blacks Physiotherapist and High Performance Sports Consultant, Stephanie Rotorangi, Principal Rural Fire Officer, Otago and representatives from local forestry companies.

Around 120 National Training Certificates that had been achieved in Forestry & Wood Processing were awarded to top local contractors and forestry and wood processing employees. In addition, nine major industry awards were presented to:

Training Excellence Award - Modern Apprentice of the Year (Sponsored by Southern Wood Council) : Award Winner; Keanu Falconer, Shane Griffin Logging

Training Excellence Award - Forestry Trainee of the Year (harvesting) (Sponsored by Rayonier/ Matariki Forests) : Award Winner; Wayde Lindsay, Shane Griffin Logging

Training Excellence Award - Forestry Trainee of the Year (silviculture) (Sponsored by Dynes Transport) : Award Winner; Darren Lundin, McHoull Contracting

Skilled Professionals Awards – Forestry Excellence Award (establishment, silviculture, fire, harvesting) (Sponsored by South Wood Export) : Award Winner; Craig Gamble, Gamble Forest Harvesting

Skilled Professionals Awards – Wood Processing Excellence Award (Sponsored by Competenz) : Award Winner; Phillip Townshend, Niagara Sawmilling Co

Skilled Professionals Awards – Forest Products/Logistics/Transport/Port Award (Sponsored by UDC) : Award Winner; Blair Keelty of McNeill Drilling Company Ltd (Logging Division)

Industry Excellence Awards – Forestry Environmental Management Excellence Award (Sponsored by Otago Regional Council) : Award Winner; Greg Kendall/Paul Hart of Ernslaw One

Industry Excellence Awards - Training Company/Contractor of the Year (Sponsored by City Forests) : Award Winner; Johnson Forestry Services

Industry Excellence Awards - Forest Products Health & Safety Award (Sponsored by Ernslaw One) : Award Winner; Gillion Logging

Tree Faller Certification – Otago Southland. Four new certificates for Professional Tree Faller Certification, a new scheme that has just been implemented in the Otago/Southland region were also awarded.

Images from last Friday’s 2016 awards evening can be found on the Southern Wood Council website.

Congratulations go to all the winners, the nominees, their employers and families. This year’s awards programme with strong support from the wider industry, supporting organisation’s and major equipment and product suppliers has again been an important milestone for the forestry industry in the lower South Island. It’s another stepping stone to now, what is the major fixture each year on the local forestry calendar.

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UAVs used to help in local burn off

Interpine continues their UAV/RPAS services as they relate to practical application for forestry. In the area of vegetation fire management, the company has recently conducted a range of controlled burn monitoring using their UAVs equipped with thermal camera technology.

The company’s UAV team are all trained rural fire firefighters with one of their certified CAA UAV multi-rotor pilots also having trained as a certified FLIR thermographer. The company now has 4 CAA certified UAV pilots and current operate 3 UAVs across their operations.

Images from recent trials collected from UAVs looking through smoke clouds to monitor fire spread / jumping, working with hotspot detection with mop up crews and machinery and using low cost smartphone based handheld thermal cameras for ground crews to direct machine and personnel activity can be found on this link.

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NZ export log prices lift in May

New Zealand export log prices advanced this month as a decline in the local currency made the country's shipments more competitive, offsetting a lift in shipping costs. The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs edged up to NZ$120 a tonne in May, from NZ$119 a tonne in April, according to AgriHQ's monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers.

The in-market price of A-grade logs in China, New Zealand's largest market, advanced to US$113/JAS from US$111/JAS last month as inventory levels on Chinese ports remain moderate, following a relatively low build-up of stock on ports during the Chinese New Year holiday period.

Log inventories on Chinese ports are about 3.6 million cubic metres, with a consistent offtake of 50,000 to 55,000 cubic metres per day, although volumes are coming at a faster rate, suggesting inventories are building, AgriHQ said.

"The outlook for the market varies between NZ market participants," AgriHQ analysts Reece Brick and Shaye Lee said in their report. "Some believe the market will maintain its current trend in the coming months, given the recent stability of the market. Others are more pessimistic, believing current returns are too high to be maintained in the long run."

Chinese log imports lifted 2 percent to 6.1 million tonnes in the first quarter, with New Zealand and Russia each accounting for about a third of the trade. March imports lifted 53 percent from February, signalling recovery of market activity after the Chinese New Year and trade is expected to lift in the second quarter, in line with the seasonal trend, AgriHQ said.

Meanwhile, in the New Zealand domestic market, prices lifted for both pruned and structural logs as demand exceeded supply. In the pruned market, P1 logs rose to NZ$181 a tonne from NZ$180 a tonne last month, supported by house construction.

"The continuation of the housing boom has acted to support structural log markets," AgriHQ said. "Housing construction through both Auckland and Christchurch remains the main driver of demand, but interest in other centres such as Hamilton is also positive, as the high cost of living is leading to some moving away from the Auckland region."

In the structural market, S1 logs firmed to NZ$114 a tonne from NZ$112 a tonne last month. Demand for structural logs is expected to ease heading into harsher seasonal weather, which will slow construction activity, AgriHQ said.

Source: Scoop

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Australia's forestry and wood products sector needs a plan

Australia's forestry and wood products sector requires more investment and planning if it is to take advantage of growing global demand for fibre, paper and packaging, construction materials and bio-fuels. A new report prepared for Forest and Wood Products Australia says that, as the global population grows and becomes wealthier, demand for wood fibre will increase strongly.

Consumers will want more processed foods, which require paper packaging, and hygiene products, such as tissues and paper towels, according to the report by accountancy and financial consultancy firm Ernst & Young. Demand for timber for housing is also set to grow and there is expected to be increased demand for food fibre to supply new energy and bio-chemical products. Choosy customers are expected to seek sustainable forestry products.

Ernst & Young said Asia would experience a growing lack of wood fibre as the region's middle-class population exceeds 3.2 billion within 15 years. Asia had limited opportunities to expand domestic wood fibre supplies, and accessible land would be increasingly directed to food production.

"The strong growth in domestic and regional fibre demand has not led to a commensurate growth in fibre sources within Australia," the Ernst & Young report said. "Australia has not been able to create needed investment to expand plantations in key wood supply areas to maintain industry competitiveness."

Australia's domestic processors had also been unable to capture opportunities to add value to wood fibre that is currently shipped in unprocessed forms such as woodchips and logs. Ernst & Young said state governments continued to reduce the area of public native forests designated for wood supply, and the establishment of plantation forests had declined over the last decade.

Many plantations established under managed investment schemes had returned to other land uses. There are currently no large-scale planting programs in place and no government frameworks to foster such programs.

Ernst & Young recommended that Australia develop a nationally co-ordinated strategy to improve the international competitiveness of its forests and wood products sector. Governments and industry should also develop regionally-based plans to identify opportunities for new domestic processing, and consider expanding the productive forest estate in each supply region.

See more at:


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ETS one-for-two subsidy to be phased out

The New Zealand Government is phasing out a subsidy in the Emissions Trading Scheme that allows some businesses to pay one emissions unit for every two tonnes of pollution they emit, Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett says.

The one-for-two subsidy was a temporary measure introduced during the global financial crisis to help moderate the initial costs of the ETS while businesses were struggling. “The subsidy will be phased out over three years to give businesses time to plan and adjust, to support a more stable market,” Mrs Bennett says.

“This is a significant step in helping New Zealand meet its ambitious target of reducing emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. More importantly, it will support our efforts to grow a lower-emissions economy.”

The current 50 per cent unit cost will increase to 67 per cent from 1 January, then 83 per cent from 1 January 2018, with all sectors in the ETS paying the full market price from 1 January 2019. The current price ceiling which caps units at $25 will remain.

“It is time businesses move towards paying the market price of their emissions. Gradually removing the one-for-two measure is a pragmatic and practical way for them to manage the costs,” Mrs Bennett says.

Removing the subsidy will positively impact the operating balance by $356 million over the next four years, based on a New Zealand Unit price of $12. Changes to the subsidy primarily affect ETS participants in the waste, transport, energy, electricity and industry sectors, and importers of goods containing synthetic greenhouse gases.

Businesses exposed to international trade competition, and whose emissions are a big part of their costs, will continue to receive an allocation of emissions units to protect their competitiveness.

Source: Scoop

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The augmented human will be here soon

MYOB recently released the latest instalment to their Future of Business series: The Augmented Human. It’s the third report from the leading online accountancy software business, and takes a longer-term view of the technology trends shaping the world.

MYOB uses a number of examples of what the future could look, including a restaurant where, without you having to order a thing, the chef prepares the food you’ve been thinking about all day; a shop where the owner who can tell you what’s in stock by consulting their neural-linked artificial intelligence; unlocking your office with a wave of your hand; or lifting heavy machinery with the help of an exoskeleton.

MYOB chief technology officer and futurist Simon Raik-Allen says the rise of the augmented human is essentially inevitable. “All sorts of things that are actually happening today, from neural transmitters to artificial hearts, are bringing about fundamental changes in the way we view and challenge the limitations of our biology,” says Raik-Allen. “We are on the cusp of an evolution revolution.”

According to Raik-Allen, one of the biggest benefactors of this development will be the business world. “It’s going to be massive for business – giving rise to a whole range of new industries that we’re only just starting to imagine the possibilities for,” says Raik-Allen. “Imagine a version of today’s app store – the brain-app store or the body-app store – which you can connect to in order to download the latest developments in intelligence, mental performance, or simply entertainment.”

While it may seem like something out of Star Wars or Back to the Future, Raik-Allen assures we are on the cusp of something incredible, with report’s predictions based on the evolution of technology currently in development, or even in use.

“Got an important business meeting in China? Download the language app and speak like a local with an accent add-on,” Raik-Allen says. “Worried about offending your hosts at dinner while you clinch the big business deal? Connect with the app-store through your neural interface while you’re riding the hyperloop train to Beijing and pick out the social etiquette app with the best reviews on Weibo.”

In addition to the physical and mental enhancements, it could offer massive improvements in understanding, communication and productivity. The MYOB Future of Business: The Augmented Human report is available for download now here.

Source: bizedge

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East coast forestry expertise recognised

Hoot Knowles has the reputation for working more than just a little magic in his job, so it was fitting the 36-year veteran of the forestry industry walked off with two big prizes at the seventh annual Eastland Wood Council Forestry Awards last Friday night.

More than 520 people packed the Showgrounds Park Events Centre to honour and applaud the many involved in the industry. Hikurangi Forest Farms’ William ‘Hoot’ Knowles received the big one of the night – the Eastland Wood Council Skilled Forestry Professional of the Year, as well as the Eastland Port Roading Excellence Award. He started his career in 1980, graduating to his own forest roading business in 1994 before joining Hikurangi Forest Farms in 2011.

Those around him have nothing but praise for the man they say believes in never rushing a job, is dedicated and determined to provide a top quality product, is generous to work mates and fellow contractors, and has been known to weave a little magic around a job to preserve his roads.

Eastland Wood Council Forestry Awards chief judge Julian Kohn praised the efforts of all of those who kept the industry ticking along. These awards are all about those who are out there doing the work . . . it is not about senior management or the corporates, but the contractors and the people who service the industry – the men and women on the ground,” he said.

Mr Kohn and fellow judges Mark Preece and Sheldon Drummond were all impressed with the quality of entries for the 2016 awards. A key driver behind the awards is to encourage forestry workers to continually up-skill themselves.

“There is a new generation of forestry professional coming through now. The younger ones are up-skilling far quicker – they are faster to learn and understand what is needed,” he said. “People outside think it is just about growing and cutting trees . . . well, it is a whole lot more than that.”

Three new categories were added for 2016, honouring excellence in breaker out, extraction and skid work and faller. Tom Wehi from Blackstump Logging took out the McInnes Driver Training Breaker Out Excellence Award, Kasimea Afu from Flavell Logging the Ernslaw One Faller Excellence Award and Stephen Harris from Speirs Logging the Bain and Sheppard Chartered Accountants Extraction and Skidwork Excellence Award.

Awards organiser, and chief executive of the EWC, Prue Younger is confident there’s more growth potential. Things are gaining momentum,” she says. “The loyalty of our sponsors is amazing and that area of the awards continues to grow. When we first introduced these awards, we wanted to unite the industry, up-skill the workers and profile success – we’ve achieved all that and more.”

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Largest NZ wood fired boiler being commissioned

The huge new boiler house at Christ¬church’s Burwood hospital is ¬crawling with workers in high-vis gear in the final stages of commissioning the largest operation of its type in the country. In the midst of a labyrinth of pipes and ducting are two clean-burning wood combustion chambers that will produce all the heat and hot water needed for the hospital – energy previously supplied by two coal-fired boilers. Overseeing the project is mechanical engineer Christian Jirkowsky, a man on a mission to wean our industry off fossil fuels. Though this country can boast about its electricity being 80% renewable, often overlooked is the commercial heat and industrial processing sectors, which are heavily reliant on coal.

About 2.8 million tonnes of coal are burnt a year in New Zealand, of which about 54% goes to electricity and steel-making, with the rest going to such users as schools, rest homes, hospitals, milk-drying plants, meat works and timber kilns. Each tonne of coal burnt produces roughly two tonnes of CO2.

The replacement of Burwood hospital’s coal-fired boilers with the new wood-fired system will save 7000-10,000 tonnes a year of CO2 emissions, says Jirkowsky. When the plant swings into full operation in coming weeks, it will consume the branches, roots, bark and other residue from forests near the South Canterbury town of Geraldine – waste material that would otherwise be left on the ground after logging – which will be chipped on site and trucked to the hospital. The boilers can handle wood with moisture content of up to 60% – the chips are dried in the boiler before being gasified and combusted.

Jirkowsky estimates that 3.4 million tonnes of logging residue are going to waste each year in New Zealand plantation forests, a vast untapped renewable fuel stream that could do the job of coal. “You have the resources here,” he says.

Jirkowsky, a mechanical engineer, has 25 years’ experience as a renewable-energy specialist, including advising the Austrian Government. In 2011, he set up a New Zealand-based branch of Austrian company Polytechnik Biomass Energy. He says Austria has perfected wood-based energy systems over the past 50 years, with 800,000 households heated by wood-fired energy plants in that country alone. The Austrian wood-energy sector is worth NZ$2.3 billion and employs more than 14,000 people.

Jirkowsky has overseen the installation of 12 wood-fired boilers in Australasia over the past three years, including at Christchurch’s energy award-winning K&L Nurseries, and Zealandia Nurseries, where the systems heat vast glasshouses.

He laments New Zealand’s failure to make better use of its wood waste and sees the emergence of entire new suburbs in post-quake Christchurch that could have been heated by distributed wood-fired energy as a lost opportunity. And though the new Burwood hospital has gone with wood, the rebuild of the city’s main hospital will most likely include coal-fired boilers. More>>

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Scion in research commercialisation awards finals

Scion has been selected as a finalist for the fourth annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards, designed to celebrate commercialisation success within New Zealand's universities and Crown Research Institutes.

The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is a consortium of 15 universities, Crown Research Institutes and a Crown Entity established to boost commercial outcomes from publicly-funded research.

The Scion and Sonae partnership, that has successfully established a commercial value chain for wood fibre-reinforced plastics, is one of three finalists for the Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Research & Business Partnership Award.

Plastics with wood fibre are stronger and stiffer than plastics alone, but, until recently, handling the bulky fibre has not been commercially feasible. Scion's patented process forms wood fibre into "dice" that can be made in existing MDF plants and easily added to a range of plastics. With most opportunities for composite plastic manufacture being outside New Zealand, Scion looked for an MDF manufacturer with a global reach who could be key party in a complex and unfamiliar value chain.

European MDF manufacturer Sonae Industria was granted an exclusive licence for the technology in North America and Europe. Sonae owns and has developed the Woodforce brand. End products that meet demands for lighter weight, thermal stability and sustainability are being trialled and approved by major automotive manufacturers. The wide exposure to companies along the value chain has also led to relationships with other manufacturing industries to develop new products.

"Every year the awards uncover more inspirational stories of cutting edge research powering business innovation and economic growth. The awards are a tribute to innovative researchers, working with entrepreneurial businesses and passionate Tech-Transfer professionals across New Zealand. Where others see scientific complexity, they see commercial opportunity," said general manager Dr Bram Smith.

Winners will be announced on June 30 in Auckland. Scion’s Business Development Manager, Jeremy Warnes, presented on the latest developments on wood fibre reinforced plastics as well as the key steps being taken in commercialisation of local research as part of this week’s Wood Innovations 2016 event in Rotorua and will be presenting in Melbourne Australia next week on 31 May-1 June. Full details on the two-yearly technology series and late registrations for the Australian programme being run for timber treatment and wood processing companies can still be made by visiting the event website,

Photo: Materials scientist Damien Even and business development manager Jeremy Warnes, members of Scion's wood fibre dice development team

Source: Rotorua Daily Post

NZ carbon prices jump after Budget breakthrough

Carbon prices in New Zealand jumped yesterday afternoon on confirmation that the one-for-two subsidy is to be phased out, and could reach $20 by the end of the year.

Spot NZUs began the day at $14.05 bid and $14.25 offered on CommTrade, trading 50,000 units and moving up into the mid-$14s in the lead-up to the Budget announcement at 2pm.They then jumped to $14.85 – the highest price they’ve been since the price collapse of 2011.

OMFinancial’s head of carbon, Nigel Brunel, says that 50,000 units traded immediately after the budget announcement. Brunel expects the removal of the one-for-two to push carbon prices into the $20 to $25 range, and says they could get there by the end of the year.

Brunel expects the Budget announcement to increase the current demand for NZUs, of 40 million tonnes a year, by 27 million tonnes in next year, 33 million tonnes the following year, and 40 million tonnes in 2019, when the subsidy is completely removed.

Brunel says the Government is trying to get rid of any Kyoto units in the system before the Paris Agreement comes into force, as carrying over Kyoto units would create a liability for the Crown.“The government has to remove around 250 million tonnes between 2021 and 2030 under Paris, and will, at best, get about 50 million tonnes through new planting, so it’s relying on access to international markets to remove most of the balance,” he said.

“It wants as little carry-over as possible.” Brunel says he thinks that the changes will mean that demand will outstrip supply, as many holders of NZUs will not sell – either because they are foresters with looming harvest liabilities, or because they believe prices will keep going up.

Source: Carbon News 2016

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Technical Design Guides providing timber solutions

With the aim of increasing the specification of timber by design and engineering professionals, FWPA has published four new WoodSolutions technical design guides. The guides are based on the EXPAN system which is the result of research by the Structural Timber Innovation Company (STIC), a unique collaboration between Australian and New Zealand commercial and academic partners to create innovative structural timber solutions.

The new EXPAN prefabricated construction system gives engineers, architects and building designers a new alternative to traditional steel and concrete construction systems – while it offers the timber industry new opportunities to increase high-value product sales by meeting the needs of this emerging market.

Experts predict that prefabrication will play an increasing role in the building and construction industries, and to date, these forecasts appear to be on track. The benefits of prefabrication include; safer workplaces, reduced onsite construction times, more control over variables like weather, increased quality and the economies of scale – realised through production line assembly processes.

The recently announced XLam CLT plant in Australia, CSR’s new prefabricated panel plant and Lend Lease’s new prefabrication plant are all examples of market leading companies realising the bottom-line benefits of prefabrication and looking to gain the advantages of being among the first in the field.

EXPAN’s totally prefabricated technology is a timely entrant into this burgeoning market. The EXPAN system mimics many of the structural benefits of concrete and steel, cleverly embedding post-tensioned tendons into timber to lock the components together. The EXPAN range of design solutions also includes innovative timber frame, wall and floor systems and quick-connect portal frames.

“This is an outstanding example of the value of collaborative and market-oriented research,” said Ric Sinclair, Managing Director of Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA), “the EXPAN system is in effect, new technology, developed by our industry to anticipate and meet the needs of our design and construction markets.”

Available from the WoodSolutions website (, the new guides are; #30 – Timber Concrete Composite Floors, #31 – Timber Cassette Floors, #32 – Long Span Roofs – Portal Frames and Trusses and #33 – Quick Connect –Moment Connection.

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UK wins satellite contract to weigh Earth's forests

British industry is to lead the construction of a satellite that will weigh the world's trees. The Biomass mission's novel space radar will make 3D maps of forests, improving our understanding of how carbon is cycled through the Earth system. Its data will be important for climate research, and will create a baseline for treaties that seek to monitor the status of global forest resources.

The spacecraft is to be assembled by the UK arm of Airbus Defence and Space. It has signed a contract with the European Space Agency (Esa) last week valued at €229m (£179m). The mission, which will launch on a Vega rocket in 2021, is part of Esa's Earth Explorer programme.

This operates a fleet of satellites that deploy innovative sensor technology to address big, outstanding environmental questions. The newness in Biomass is its P-band radar: a type of instrument that only recently has begun to be exploited in orbit.

By pulsing with a wavelength of 70cm, the radar can look through the leaf canopy of forests to the woody parts below. Using an approach akin to tomography, it will scan slices through the trees on repeat passes to build up a picture of how much woody material is present. Global maps should be produced every six months. The plan is for Biomass to gather at least five years' worth of data.

"Effectively, we'll be weighing the forests," said Prof Shaun Quegan, who was one of the key proposers of the mission. "We'll know their weight and their height at a scale of 200m, and we'll see how they are changing over time.

"This will give us unprecedented information on deforestation - on how much carbon is going into the atmosphere from this source. At the same time, we'll also see how much carbon is being taken up in regrowth," the Sheffield University scientist told BBC News.

Biomass will be permitted under international telecommunications rules to operate everywhere except the far north of the Americas and northern Europe. Military priority for the detection of missiles means the satellite will have to turn off its radar in these regions.

Scientists are not unduly concerned about this, however, because forest statistics in those areas are already reasonably robust. The major regions of uncertainty are in the tropics, where Biomass can wield its instrument without restriction. More >>.

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on...the juggler and the post office

A driver was pulled over by a police officer for speeding. As the officer was writing the ticket, she noticed several machetes in the car.

"What are those for?" she asked suspiciously.

"I'm a juggler," the man replied. "I use those in my act."

"Well, show me," the officer requested. So he got out the machetes and started juggling them, first three, then more, finally seven at one time, overhand, underhand, behind the back, putting on a dazzling show and amazing the officer.

Another car passed by. The driver did a double take, and said, "My God. I've got to give up drinking! Look at the test they're giving now."

And one more for you. Handing over my I.D at the post office and the clerk blurts out

"You've worn a bit since this photo was taken".

"You're dead right love" I replied.

"I had it taken just before I joined your ****** Queue."

And on that note, have a great weekend and we look forward to catching up with many of you at the Wood Innovations 2016 event next week in Melbourne. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
PO Box 904
Level Two, 2 Dowling Street
Dunedin, New Zealand
Ph: +64 3 470 1902
Fax: +64 3 470 1904
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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