Friday Offcuts – 29 April 2016

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On the day that 175 countries were signing the Paris Climate Change agreement in New York (see story below), a green business think-tank in New Zealand, Pure Advantage, released a report proposing a novel approach to battling climate change - planting billions of trees. The fundamental issues around improved environmental, economic and community benefits have been pushed for decades by forest owners. They’re now also being touted in this particular report. In addition to planting more trees, the group is also calling for a new national forest strategy to halt deforestation, increase tree planting and ultimately create 1.3 million hectares of new forest.

The impetus for the Morgan Foundation report is to attempt to mitigate the effects of climate change and to meet the country’s obligations (a 2030 target of reducing emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels) signed up to by the NZ Government on the same day – half way around the world. The report argues that by planting huge new blocks of permanent native forest and fresh high-carbon commercial forests the country could avoid large areas of land being lost to erosion, help off-set agricultural emissions and put the country on course for a net-zero greenhouse gas future. Further, it’s recommending options to fix the ETS and to encourage tree planting across the country.

As anticipated, the report was welcomed both by the forestry industry (it’s been pushing this particular barrow for some time now) and the Government – and some of the other political parties as well. Maybe, just maybe, the time is right for a cross party accord on climate change. It might just be “the” time for politicians to put aside their differences, face up to the challenge and collectively work with industry on a national forestry strategy to encourage afforestation and provide the industry some sort of surety to longer term investment. Further comment can be found here and links to the full report are contained in the stories below.

The week after the New York signing, the third Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) auction began in Australia. Missing though in action are commercial plantations. As the AFPA points out, there is still no agreed methodologies for contracting payments to farmers and landowners who wish to establish new plantings. This anomaly needs urgent attention by Government. The figures on potential for new planting (as highlighted in the Morgan Foundation report on the other side of the Tasman) and the resultant benefits through sequestered carbon are clear.

Finally, it was only a matter of time. We’ve seen already in the US issues around drones or UAV’s endangering lives of pilots and ground crews whilst battling bush fires. US officials have been lobbying to pass legislation that would allow wildfire containment crews to take down drones over wildfires and levy fines against those who are caught interfering at the scene after numerous near misses during last year’s fire season. Much closer to home, a drone pilot in Christchurch has been in court this week for shooting footage whilst a helicopter was battling a forest fire. He’s being charged with unnecessary endangerment and two charges of flying the drone in controlled airspace. The case is going to be a test case for Civil Aviation and its rules around drone usage. The trial continues and we'll keep you updated on the ruling - and implications. Enjoy this week’s read.



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NZ forest strategy proposal welcomed

New Zealand forest owners say a Pure Advantage report that proposes a near-doubling of the area of planted forest in New Zealand is very welcome. “The independent report by Dr David John Hall raises many issues that forest owners have been emphasising with politicians for decades,” says Forest Owners Association (FOA) technical manager Glen Mackie.

Mr Mackie says it would be very helpful for the government, ideally with support from other political parties, to have a national forestry strategy. “As Dr Hall points out, forestry is an intergenerational commitment, so land owners need to know that future governments will weigh the effect of any proposed new policies on forests and forest owners.

“The constant changes in the NZ emissions trading scheme which, to use Dr Hall’s words, have ‘dejected and disenfranchised land owners’ are a case study in how not to manage forest policy. They are also one of the main reasons why such a strategy is needed.”

Mr Mackie says the report presents a very good analysis of the benefits that arise from forests, not only for the forest owner but on “surrounding communities and future generations”.

“Dr Hall’s proposal to increase forest plantings by 1.3 million hectares would not only be hugely beneficial to New Zealand’s carbon position, but would position us to reap the other associated benefits of forestry – employment, economic advantage and environmental – while not adversely affecting other land uses. “

“The report presents an ambitious, but very achievable proposal that would transform forestry in New Zealand.”

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Australian underwater logging focus for evening dinner

In line with the Innovations theme for the upcoming Wood Innovations 2016 conference series, SFM Environmental Solutions Managing Director Andrew Morgan will be giving an after-dinner presentation in Melbourne on Tuesday 31 May. The subject for the evening's dinner presentations is Harvesting Underwater Specialty Timbers – an Australasian First .

The magnificent forests of Tasmania's remote west coast appear prehistoric, but hidden among the trees are a series of man-made hydro waterways that are barely 30 years old. Underneath the inky tannin-stained waters hides sunken treasure that one innovative Australian company is bringing to the surface. Having looked overseas at similar underwater harvesting projects, Mr Morgan's company has found a way to harvest underwater trees.

All the harvesting machinery mirrors forest operations on land except the harvester sits on a barge. Attached to the harvester is a long hydraulic extension arm that can reach depths of 26 metres. As a start point, there is expected to be at least three year’s work and about 80,000 tonnes of timber to be harvested out of Lake Pieman (deep valleys of forests, stretching kilometres were flooded when the Reece Dam was built on the Pieman River in the 1980s).

The company is expecting that Lake Pieman will be just the first of many hydro lakes that it will be harvesting and is already surveying other lakes in Tasmania and has its sights set on lakes in Western Australia and Queensland as well.

Andrew will be outlining this exciting new venture, the history of how they got to where they are right now and some of the results from the early harvesting and sawing of these underwater specialty timbers. Further information on the business and Hydrowood can be found on the company’s website, www. hydrowood.com.au/.

For those in Melbourne on the evening of Tuesday 31 May, you may well wish to join timber treatment companies, wood processors and manufacturers who will be attending the two-day technology update, Wood Innovations 2016. Registrations can be made on the event website, www.woodinnovations.events.

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Drone endangered forest fire-fighting

A helicopter pilot who fought a blaze in trees in rural Canterbury, New Zealand was shocked to find out there had been a drone shooting footage in the vicinity. The drone pilot, Simon Roy Reeve, 38, has gone on trial in the Christchurch District Court on three charges – causing unnecessary endangerment and two charges of flying the drone in controlled airspace on different days without permission.

The incident took place in Pines Beach. The hearing before a judge may turn out to be a test case about drone flying rules. Civil Aviation Authority prosecutor Chris Macklin told Judge Gary MacAskill the pilot of the helicopter would give evidence at the three-day trial about the risks posed by having a drone operating in the area.

The trial was told the drone was a remotely piloted Phantom II helicopter, which weighed about 2kg and had plastic blades. Macklin said the prosecution related to flights on January 5 and 20, 2015, and the unnecessary endangerment charges related to Reeve flying the drone on January 5.

"The allegation is that his model aircraft was airborne while helicopter fire-fighting operations were taking place," he said. "The defendant was operating without the consent of Air Traffic Control in an already hazardous environment. It is alleged he caused unnecessary danger to those operating the helicopter." The trial is continuing.

Source: stuff.co.nz

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Forestry carbon left out again in the 3rd ERF auction

The third Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) auction that began yesterday highlights the missed opportunity from the failure so far to include commercial plantations in the list of eligible activities.

Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Mr Ross Hampton said, "Following the much publicised signing of the Paris climate change agreement, Australia’s forestry enterprises stand ready to add their weight to the efforts to battle dangerous climate change.[1] However, forestry projects will be missing yet again from the reverse auction process, as there are still no agreed methodologies for contracting payments to farmers and landowners who would like to plant rotational trees.

The process of producing a methodology deserves full Government support to enable it to be concluded as soon as possible. AFPA modelling suggests that an additional 300,000 hectares of plantings would amount to a 450 million tree program and deliver some 50 million tonnes of sequestered carbon.

[1]. The current commercial plantation estate contributes an emission offset of around 4.5% of Australia’s total emissions of 552 million tonnes (or almost 25 million tonnes of CO2-e per year). This is sourced mainly from the approximately 800,000 ha of plantations established on cleared agricultural land since 1990 (i.e. Kyoto compliant plantations). Given these are not new plantations they are not eligible to participate in the ERF auction process.





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2016 Afforestation Grant Scheme now open

The second funding round for New Zealand’s Afforestation Growth Scheme (AGS) opened this week and comes at an important time for forestry, Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew announced.

“The goal of the AGS is to increase the planting of new forests and the rate of afforestation. Estimates suggest that 1.1 million hectares of land is at serious risk of erosion, and forest cover is the best form of erosion control. Through the AGS, we aim to plant 15,000 hectares of new forest by 2020, and we are on track to meet this goal,” Mrs Goodhew says.

The first year of the AGS resulted in contracts of NZ$3.77 million to plant around 2,900 hectares of new forest. Applications for the Afforestation Grants Scheme open on 27 April 2016 and close on 8 June 2016 for planting in Winter 2017.

About the Afforestation Grants Scheme: - The AGS aims to enable planting of 15,000 hectares of new forest by 2020.
- The Ministry for Primary Industries, through the AGS, provides grants of $1,300 a hectare (to a total of $19.5 million) to help with planting of new forests.
- Any individual or any organisation that owns land or has a right to use land for forestry can apply. Applicants who are about to acquire land or a right to use land can also apply.
- Applicants must be able to commit between 5 and 300 hectares of land to planting in new forest. - Every application is assessed against eligibility criteria, which includes consideration of a detailed technical forestry assessment.

- For further information about the AGS, see: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/funding-and-programmes/forestry/afforestation-grant-scheme/.

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Registrations open to SWC Forestry awards evening

In June 2015 the Southern Wood Council (SWC) in conjunction with the country’s Industry Training Organisation, Competenz, revamped the regions forestry industry awards programme. The event and the response from industry throughout the lower South Island of New Zealand was outstanding. A record turnout of close to 400 people attended. The evening saw forestry companies, contractors and transport operators from throughout the lower South Island attending. It’s probably the largest gathering yet seen in the region.

For the forestry industry in Otago and Southland, the newly designed Awards Programme for 2016 provides a unique opportunity for those involved in training, in growing, processing and transporting wood and for those who support the industry through the provision of products and services.

It’s a once in a year opportunity to come together to celebrate success. It’s the industry’s chance to recognise those who had achieved formal training qualifications over the year, to celebrate through a series of new industry awards, the top performers from across the lower South Island and to profile the real contribution that forestry and those working within the industry are making to the economic and social well-being of this region.

The 2016 SWC Forestry Awards Programme run in conjunction with Competenz will run this year at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin on the evening of Friday 20 May 2016. For those in the South, you will have already marked the dates into your diary. Many of you have already saved your spaces at the venue. Please find attached an invite to the evening. Places can be saved by registering now (at no cost) on the SWC Website, www.southernwoodcouncil.co.nz .

Best get in early as last year space was certainly at a premium. If you have any questions on the nominations or evening, please get in touch with caroline.rickerby@southernwoodcouncil.co.nz.

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Funding available in Victoria for business growth

Grants of up to AU$100,000 are available for scoping, planning and feasibility studies to investigate growth opportunities for Victorian businesses. Projects that may be funded in Stream 1 include:

- road mapping
- supply chain analysis
- sector capability audits
- economic impact analyses
- feasibility studies
- sector opportunity analysis
- pathway to market strategy.

Stream 2 – Project Implementation

Grants of up to AU$1 million are available to implement projects aligned with the Future Industries Sector Strategies that will generate new jobs and increase competitiveness of Victorian businesses. Projects that may be funded in Stream 2 include:

- shared infrastructure solutions
- piloting new technologies, such as demonstration plant/equipment
- establishing consolidated industry capability.

All grants must be matched by a minimum cash co-contribution of $1 for every $1 granted. For more information visit www.business.vic.gov.au/support-for-your-business/future-industries.

Source: VAFI News

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Australian Anti-Dumping Commission initiates investigation

On 12 April 2016, Australia's Anti-Dumping Commission issued a notice that it had initiated an investigation into possible dumping of A4 copy paper from Brazil, China, Indonesia and Thailand, after receiving an application from Australian Paper Ltd. Australian Paper, which is owned by Japan-based Nippon Paper Industries Co. Ltd., claims the imports have caused material injury to the Australian industry.

The period under investigation is Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2015. The investigation aims to determine if dumping and subsidization occured. Australian Paper is seeking publication of a dumping duty notice for A4 copy paper from all four countries, as well as publication of a countervailing duty notice in respect of the paper exported from China and Indonesia, according to the notice. Click here to view the notice.

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Forest energy for a sustainable future

Skogforsk has produced a free-for-download report on efficient forest fuel supply chains. Skogforsk has devoted much research time into the collection and use of forest biomass for energy. They have successfully summarised their work into a comprehensive and professional, yet user-friendly and very informative document that deals with the entire forest fuel supply chain. What’s even more pleasing is that the document is free-for-download from the Skogforsk website. The report is titled “Forest energy for a sustainable future”. It covers the results of their research into efficient forest fuel supply chains from 2011 to 2015. Contents of this document include;

- Fuel characteristics: this includes measurement of fuel, weighing energy wood and measuring moisture content.

- Planning and management: This section focusses on best practices for planning and an analysis of supply systems.

- Forest fuel harvest: Different types of forest fuels are covered, as well different harvesting systems for different fuels.

- Fuel production: Systems for processing fuels are included, focussing on grinding and chipping material.

- Forest fuel logistics: Optimising the transport of forest fuels receives the most attention in this chapter.

The report can be accessed here



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Tree planting for the climate – a game-changer

The Green Party in New Zealand is calling the concept of a 1.3 million hectare Forest Future a potential game-changer that could give New Zealand a real shot a creating a safer climate for future generations.

Climate-focused business group Pure Advantage last week released a report calling for the planting of 1.3 million hectares of forest to combat climate change and shift New Zealander to a low-carbon economy.

“Planting on this scale is a huge but necessary step towards creating a safer climate for future generations,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“Trees can suck-up greenhouse gas emissions faster, and more cheaply, than any technology we can create. Planting more native trees on erosion-prone land, around waterways, and in our cities will mean cleaner rivers, greener cities, and more habitat for native birds.

“We really need to put a proper price on carbon pollution to make this happen, which is definitely going to take more than a few tweaks to the Emissions Trading Scheme as National is proposing.

"It's important that National realise forestry is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. We have to plant trees while also cutting pollution in areas like transport and agriculture at the same time.

“I’m really keen to sit down with businesses, farmers, foresters, and iwi over the next few months and see how we can help make this vision a reality.

Source: Scoop



Wood residue exports to resume shortly from southern Tasmania

Exports of wood residues could resume from southern Tasmania within months for the first time since the Triabunna woodchip mill was shut down five years ago. Forestry Minister Peter Gutwein announced the State Government is in negotiations with four parties to export containerised logs from Hobart.

The Government first sought private sector solutions to a bottleneck of woodchips and pulp wood in the south last June and received 19 proposals. "These included export of logs in containers, bulk export logs, export of woodchips in containers, and biomass as well as other port options," he told Parliament. "There was also range of possible, of contractual arrangement purchase at mill door, purchase at stump and agency arrangements as well."

Arrangements involving the four proponents chosen to enter final negotiations could be implemented in the short term. "There will be no woodchip pile on Macquarie wharf, however hull and containerised log exports from Hobart are options included in the commercial negotiations," he said. Negotiations are expected to be finalised next month.

Source: ABC News



ATA welcomes cut to truck fuel tax

The Australian Trucking Association has welcomed the Australian Government’s decision to reduce the truck fuel tax rate – known as the road user charge – from 26.14 to 25.9 cents per litre from 1 July 2016.

The reduction was one of the recommendations in the ATA’s 2016 pre-budget submission, and follows several meetings between the ATA and senior ministers. It will save a typical owner-driver about AU$200 in 2016-17, and a typical small fleet operator about AU$1,100.

ATA Chief Executive Christopher Melham thanked the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon. Darren Chester MP, for working to address the ongoing overcharging faced by the country’s trucking industry.

“The trucking industry pays for our use of the road system through heavy vehicle registration fees and a road user charge on fuel. However, the industry has been overcharged since 2007, because the system used to calculate the charges underestimates the number of trucks on our roads,” Mr Melham said.

“It’s great news for trucking operators in advance of next week’s Federal Budget and follows the repeal of the Road Safety Remuneration Act and tribunal last week,” Mr Melham said.

The road user charge is imposed as a reduction in the fuel tax credits that trucking businesses can claim through the BAS process. As a result of the decision, the fuel tax credit rate for eligible heavy vehicles will increase from 13.36 cents per litre to 13.6 cents per litre from 1 July 2016. The Minister’s road user charge determination is available by clicking here
.
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Construction activity slips to 13-month low

Construction activity in Australia has slipped to a 13- month low on the back of weakness in home building and declining engineering work. The Performance of Construction Index slumped 0.9 points to 45.2 in March, remaining below the 50-point level separating expansion from contraction.

Ai Group head of policy Peter Burn said the fourth consecutive monthly decline of the index was driven by weakness in home building and engineering construction overwhelming small advances in the apartment and commercial building sub-sectors.

He also warned that there was no indication of any potential turnaround in the near future. "With new orders across the sector also falling, the immediate outlook for construction is for further contraction," Mr. Burn said in a statement.

Housing Industry Association economist Geordan Murray said other subsectors sectors were struggling to fill the void left by the decline in engineering construction associated with mining. He said that was a big concern as the contraction in mining-related building work still had some way to go.

"It is unlikely that a pick-up in conditions in other sectors will fully offset the contraction in mining investment over the next few years," he said. "But we need to give non-resource businesses the best possible chance. Bolstering business confidence is the key."

Source: Sourceable



More than 170 world leaders sign UN climate deal

A total of 175 countries signed the Paris climate agreement at the United Nations in New York City last Friday, a record for a one-day signing of an international accord, the UN says. French President Francois Hollande and Canada's Justin Trudeau joined US Secretary of State John Kerry for the record turnout that has boosted hopes of quick action on combating global warming.

Held on Earth Day, the ceremony comes four months after the hard-won deal was clinched in Paris and marks the first step toward binding countries to the promises they made to cut greenhouse gas emissions. While the United States, China and India — the world's top greenhouse gas emitters — were not represented by their highest officials, some 60 heads of state and government were set to be among the signatories.

The Paris Agreement will come into force as soon as 55 countries responsible for 55 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases have ratified the accord. The target date for the agreement to begin is 2020, but momentum is building to ensure the accord enters into force much earlier.

Mr Hollande called on governments to quickly ratify the Paris deal and singled out the European Union, saying the 28-nation bloc should "lead by example" and give final approval before the end of the year. China and the United States have said they will ratify this year and are pushing for others to follow suit so that the agreement becomes operational possibly as early as late 2016 or 2017.

ABC News
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National Construction Code changes applauded

Beginning 1 May 2016, builders in Australia will be able to build timber structures up to 25 metres high. They will be required to have fire sprinklers and fire-resistant cladding, among other requirements. These changes in the National Construction Code catch Australia up with numerous countries that have made similar changes.

Jack Kyle, Owner of Narangba Timbers, timber suppliers based in Brisbane, is happy about the new construction code because it will eventually result in more affordable housing. Mid-rise apartment structures are often cost-prohibitive in many suburbs due to the high cost of building a traditional cement and steel building.

According to Mr Kyle: “This is great news, not only for the timber industry but for builders and developers of mid-rise apartments and anyone looking to buy or rent one at an affordable price. There is really no downside here. Timber is a natural insulator. We expect timber to provide the same benefits that it does in smaller buildings: lower heating and cooling costs and more consistent temperatures.”

Timber will allow smaller developers with a bit less money to build mid-rise apartment structures and make them more affordable. While the materials involved only save approximately 2% for builders, there are many other savings because of the nature of the materials. Generally, materials only account for around 25% of the cost of a building. The rest of the cost is labour.

Timber buildings go up faster because timber weighs less than concrete and steel and is more easily workable. The costs for foundation, scaffolding and cranes are far less. The process of installing air conditioning, ventilation, heating and electrical services is much faster using timber. Timber buildings can save as much as 20% compared to concrete and steel buildings.

Source: prwire.com.au

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... and one to end the week on ... 4 worms in church

A minister decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday sermon.

Four worms were placed into four separate jars.

The first worm was put into a container of alcohol.

The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke.

The third worm was put into a container of chocolate syrup.

The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil.

At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister reported the following results:

The first worm in alcohol ... DEAD .

The second worm in cigarette smoke ... DEAD .

Third worm in chocolate syrup ... DEAD .

Fourth worm in good clean soil ... ALIVE.

So the Minister asked the congregation, “What did you learn from this demonstration?

Maxine was sitting in the back, quickly raised her hand and said “As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!"

That pretty much ended the service!






And on that note, have a great weekend. 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: www.fridayoffcuts.com


This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at www.fridayoffcuts.com

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