Friday Offcuts 29 July 2016
This week we cover a new report Forestry for a Low-carbon Future that’s just been released by the UN Agency, FAO. Although designed largely for policy makers, it’s being pitched also at the architects and specifiers. The message of forests playing a key role as a carbon sink to help battle climate change has already been well promoted. Less well known though is the value of using wood products to assist with the climate change cause.
The take home message from the report is that buying a table made out of wood instead of metal or plastic could significantly help reduce carbon emissions. Wooden furniture, floors and doors - not only do they require less energy to produce than aluminium or plastic but they continue to store carbon for years. A link to the report is given below. In the same vein, we’ve included a new five minute video, “Forest to Frame” produced by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. It also highlights the environmental benefits of wood construction and using wood products sourced from sustainably managed forests.
Forestry has also been getting the ”thumbs up” in the central North Island of New Zealand where so many forests over the last five years or so have been cut down with large areas being converted to dairy farming. The profitability of forestry, particularly when environmental costs are factored in, really does stack up. The full report can be downloaded in the story below. We’ve also got a link to another report on New Zealand building forecasts. As any home owner or building products supplier will be able to tell you, building activity in the country is currently at an all-time high. The good news for the timber industry is that the current building boom is projected to continue for at least another five years.
Finally, registrations continue to roll in for this regions two-yearly technology update for Australasian forestry and wood transport companies, Wood Flow Optimisation 2016 that runs in September. We have several stories linked to this theme; the demonstration of a new tele-operated harvesting operation in New Zealand this week, coordinated safety training that’s being set up by major forestry companies in Australia for log truck drivers and we cover the planned arrival of the largest container ship to ever visit New Zealand waters. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Record house build and construction under wayNew Zealand building activity is at record levels nationwide and is forecast to continue to boom in the latest National Construction Pipeline Report, Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“This report shows annual construction activity across New Zealand has topped NZ$31 billion, an all-time high, and is projected to reach NZ$37 billion in 2017. The report shows residential construction is particularly strong and forecasts construction activity to remain stronger for longer as compared to last year’s report, with the boom continuing to 2021.
The latest National Construction Pipeline Report provides six-year national and regional forecasts of residential, commercial and infrastructure activity. The report is produced independently by BRANZ and Pacifecon to help the industry in planning and recruitment. The latest report shows the rate of house build was correctly projected within 1 per cent accuracy but that the commercial building activity was over-estimated. The methodology is being revised constantly to improve projections.
“The growth in residential activity in Auckland is particularly encouraging as it forecasts that next year more homes will be built in Auckland than ever before. Residential construction has been growing at more than 20 per cent a year in Auckland for the past five years and is projected to reach an all-time high of 13,332 homes in 2017, and to stay at those record levels until 2022. The scale of this growth is unprecedented and equates to Auckland growing by the equivalent of Whangarei every three years.
“Forecasts are showing a move towards multi-unit consents, such as apartments, terraced housing and townhouses. In 2013, about 16 per cent of consents were multi-unit but by 2015 the figure was 30 per cent and by 2021 it is projected to be 40 per cent – more than one in every three of all consents nationally. The report also identifies a sharp increase in retirement village units to 1900 per year – more than double the historic norm and taking them to 6 per cent of new homes.
The National Construction Pipeline Report 2016 is available at www.mbie.govt.nz
Log truck driver training to improve road safetySafer log transport and safer local roads are among the improvements expected to follow two days of safety training Forestry Corporation of NSW held for log truck drivers in Oberon earlier this month. Forestry Corporation’s Haulage and Sales Manager Tijmen Klootwijk said more than 80 drivers, schedulers and transport fleet managers who work in State Forests throughout the Central West attended the training.
“Each year, around a million tonnes of log products are transported from Forestry Corporation’s softwood plantations to timber processors in Oberon, Bathurst and Tumut, which equates to around 30,000 loaded truck movements, not including return trips. We want to see each and every one of these trips completed safely,” Mr Klootwijk said.
“Around a quarter of crashes involving log trucks involve rollovers, so this training focussed on raising driver awareness about centre of gravity and centrifugal force, which are the primary factors affecting heavy vehicle stability, and giving drivers the skills to prevent rollovers.”
The training was conducted by Alan Pincott from Australian Trucking Safety Services and Solutions, who was instrumental in developing and implementing VicRoads’ Heavy Vehicle Roll Over Prevention Program which lead to a significant improvement in heavy vehicle safety.
“Whilst our operators in the log transport industry are some of the most experienced and skilled drivers in the country, they face many challenges, including changing road conditions and high centre of gravity loads and thus it’s important to keep raising their awareness of heavy vehicle safety,” Mr Pincott said.
The forest industry has recognised the need to improve truck safety throughout the industry and Forestry Corporation has joined forces with a number of interstate forest managers including VicForests, Hancock Victorian Plantations, OneFortyOne and Australian Bluegum Planations to establish the Forest Owners Group and engage Mr Pincott to work with supply chains to improve log transport safety.
As well as driver training, the forest industry has been working with local governments and road managers to increase the use of safer log transport configurations that adopt improvements in trailer design and new technologies including electronic braking systems and rollover protection systems.
Source: FCNSW, Image: courtesy Mangan Harvest and Haul
New tele-operation harvesting targets safetyNew forest harvesting technology revealed on Monday in Moutere Forest in Nelson, New Zealand sets its sights on further increasing safety in steep land harvesting operations. The new teleoperation technology provides out of harm’s way operation of a purpose-built tracked feller-buncher, from the safety of a separate operator cabin and console.
Four cameras attached to the John Deere 909 feller buncher transmit live images to three video monitors inside the operator cabin. The console with joysticks and pedals is a replica of the layout in the felling machine.
The breakthrough is part of Steepland Harvesting, a 6-year, NZ$6 million Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and a consortium of forestry companies and contractors, led by Future Forests Research Ltd (FFR).
The system is the latest result of three-and-a-half years of design and engineering research and development by the FFR team involving Scion, Cutover Systems Limited and ADM Design Ltd. It was first tested by harvesting contractor Ian Harvey and machine operator Aaron Finnegan of FPNZ Ltd in the North Island before being installed into the 909 owned by contractors Ross Wood and Simon Rayward of Wood Contracting Nelson Ltd. Simon Rayward of Wood Contracting said “A shift to mechanised operations is a logical next step to create a safe but productive industry”.
The teleoperation control system is still in commissioning mode as further improvements are made such as the aerial to improve reception and the operator environment to reduce ‘sun strike’.
“The successful development, installation and demonstration of the tele-operated harvester builds on the Steepland Harvesting programme’s integration of remote control technology into a forest harvester in 2015,” says Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew. “Teleoperation of the tracked harvester enables trees to be felled and bunched by remote control, beyond line-of-sight on steep slopes, which is believed to be a world first.”
“It marks a big advance in the safety of forestry harvesting operations, while improving the operator’s environment and potentially increasing productivity. It is a fantastic achievement for the Steepland Harvesting PGP programme and for New Zealand’s forest industry as a whole.”
The Steepland Harvesting programme has delivered a number of innovations aimed at keeping forest workers safe, while increasing harvesting productivity. This includes development of the ClimbMAX harvester, a ground-based, winch-assisted machine which can fell and bunch trees on steep slopes of up to 45 degrees.
“Eight of the million-dollar ClimbMAX harvesters are now operating commercially in Canada and New Zealand, with the ninth machine recently shipped to Canada and the first machine sold into the United States is currently being built.”
“The Steepland Harvesting PGP programme, and this latest innovation in harvesting technology, is a clear example of the value of government and industry working together to keep forestry workers safe and improve productivity in forest operations,” Mrs Goodhew says.
FFR Chief Executive Russell Dale said the development of the teleoperation control system brought the forestry industry closer to their ultimate goal of having "no worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw". He hoped that as well as ensuring workers stayed safe on the job, young people looking to enter the workforce would see forestry as a more attractive employment option. Photo: Operator Andy Waters drives the 909 feller buncher from the comfort of the operator cabin
Note: This technology development along with others are going to feature in the 2017 Forest Industry Safety Summit running on 1-2 March in Rotorua and again on 7-8th March in Melbourne next year. People, safety and technology are the key areas of focus for this FIEA conference series. Further information will follow.
Source: Nelson Mail (Fairfax) and Beehive.govt.nz
New video makes case for building with woodLast week we had the video casting doubt on the use of CLT put out by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association from the US. This week we profile a new video produced by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute that highlights the environmental benefits of wood construction and using wood products sourced from sustainably managed forests.
The five-minute "Forest to Frame" video seeks to enhance public understanding of how building more structures with wood helps address pressing global challenges such as population growth and climate change. Wood stores carbon, meaning increased use could help fight climate change, says OFRI Director of Forest Products Timm Locke.
"Half of the dry weight of wood is carbon," he says. "Wood buildings are essentially huge carbon storage units. This fact alone is causing more and more architects, engineers, developers and policymakers to take a fresh look at building with wood."
With the advent of advanced wood products such as glulam and cross-laminated timber (CLT), architects and engineers are using wood for structural components in an increasing number of commercial structures, including mid-rise and even high-rise buildings. Project teams are developing all-wood and hybrid building designs that address seismic and fire safety requirements, and building codes are starting to recognize these applications of wood.
Oregon has emerged as an epicenter for the wood-building movement, with dozens of projects underway across the state, including several using CLT in structural applications. "There are plenty of good reasons to build with wood, and we see a ton of value in the momentum building in this state for wood buildings," Locke says. "We hope this new video contributes to that momentum."
Source: Oregon Forest Resources Institute
Forests and wood products fight climate changeForests have an acclaimed role as a carbon sink needed to tackle climate change. Less known is how their contribution can be scaled up even after a tree has been logged.
A new FAO publication, Forestry for a Low-carbon Future: Integrating Forests and Wood Products in Climate Change Strategies offers insights in how to catalyse a "virtuous cycle" that exploits the life cycle of wood products - ranging from home furniture to wood pellets burned for fuel - to enhance and even multiply the well-known ability of forests to remove and store carbon from the atmosphere.
"Forests are at the heart of the transition to low-carbon economies," says Ren Castro-Salazar, FAO's Assistant Director-General for Forestry, "not only because of their double role as sink and source of emissions, but also through the wider use of wood products to displace more fossil fuel intense products."
Forests do herculean work in locking carbon dioxide into leaves, branches and soils, while deforestation and forest degradation account for up to 12 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. The relative speed and cost-effectiveness with which forests make their presence - or absence - felt is one key reason they figure prominently in the plans countries are crafting to meet commitments made in the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Designed primarily for policy makers and experts but of interest to architects and the energy industry, the report - the fruit of innovative collaboration involving more than 100 experts - looks at how forests can be harnessed to the global climate change challenge.
Its guiding message is that optimal engineering of the carbon lifecycle of trees and wood products allows, over the long term, for sustainably harvested forests to complement and even enhance the climate mitigation benefits provided by conserved forests. More >>
Kebony selected for large decking projectKebony was recently selected for use in the construction of The Wharf, a new commercial and residential development in Washington, D.C. along the Potomac River. Opening in October 2017, Kebony will be used for more than 100,000 square feet of decking, as well as cladding on certain store fronts and rooftop decks.
Construction of the US$2 billion development is currently underway. The Kebony portion of construction will begin in the spring of 2017. The D.C.-based developer duo of PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette teamed up to form Hoffman-Madison Waterfront to create an eclectic mix of uses and public spaces connecting people to the waterfront. Clark Construction Group is constructing the public spaces at The Wharf.
“This is a really neat opportunity for us as Kebony becomes well-known and recognized in the U.S. for its waterfront applications,” said Andy Hehl, manager for Kebony US. “The Wharf has chosen a beautiful, modified wood that’s sustainable and durable at the same time.”
About Kebony Technology:
The Kebony technology is a patented process which enhances the properties of non-durable wood species to give them similar characteristics to the best performing woods. Through a sustainable process wood species such as pines and some non-durable hardwoods are impregnated with a bio-based liquid derived from agricultural crop waste. With the addition of heat, the furfuryl polymer is permanently grafted into the wood cell wall, resulting in greatly improved durability and dimensional stability.
Crisis in New Zealand Log Supply?New Zealand wood processing leaders held a hui with senior government officials and political leaders in Whangarei on Tuesday to assess the acute log supply shortage to local mills in Northland. The joint industry/government meeting saw statistics that clearly show: the completely unsustainable forest harvest rate in Northland, Northland forests being harvested and exported at an immature stage, limited evidence of replanting and certainly no new afforestation.
Mr Brian Stanley, Chair of the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association of New Zealand (WPMA), said that the Northland circumstance is severe but he is hearing a clear message from WPMA members that a threatening log supply situation is being observed from Northland right through to Southland.
"If New Zealand wants economic growth in its regions, jobs for local people, affordable housing and environmental protection then it needs a viable New Zealand wood industry", said Mr Stanley. This view was strongly reinforced by Mr Pita Tipene of Taitokerau Maori Forestry Inc, who added the importance to Maori of being able to take the long term view on forestry development. "What we are seeing unfold here in Northland is rabid global demand for wood coinciding with short term speculation in the industry", added Mr Stanley.
"The pillaging of our forests cannot continue. We owe this to future generations. I want to see our forest resources treated as a national strategic asset; held with the same mana, for example, as our land, minerals and fisheries", commented Brian Stanley.
Mr Stanley concluded that, "30 years after New Zealand took the radical step to privatise the industry we are now at the end of one growing rotation of our trees. We need to know where this "privatisation experiment" has landed us. It's for this reason that I am, today, calling for an urgent review of the industry. This joint government/industry Rotation Review needs to start in Northland now and extend nationwide”.
Currency bites NZ export log pricesNew Zealand export log prices slid to a seven-month low in July as a stronger local currency and weaker prices in key export markets dented returns.
The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs dropped to $114 a tonne in July, from $116 a tonne in June, according to AgriHQ's monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers. That's the lowest level since December's $104 a tonne.
The in-market price of A-grade logs in China declined to US$117/JAS (Japanese Agriculture and Forestry Standards) from US$120/JAS last month as Asia's largest economy heads into a seasonal construction slowdown. A lift in the New Zealand dollar following the UK's vote to leave the European Union also made the country's export logs less competitive.
"New Zealand log exporters have experienced some weakness in returns," AgriHQ analysts Reece Brick and Shaye Lee said in their report. "While in-market returns for logs fell a little, the exchange rate had a large influence on wharf gate prices." Still, inventory levels at ports were moderate compared to past seasons and would act to counter some of the potential weakness, they said.
Forestry’s financials stack up against dairyingLast year, Carter Holt Harvey environmental manager Philip Millichamp told the Climate Change and Business conference in Auckland, New Zealand that when environmental costs were factored in, forestry stacked up well against dairying.
Large amounts of forest land in the central North Island have been converted to dairy farming since the collapse in carbon prices in 2011 slashed the carbon liability associated with deforestation. Millichamp told delegates at the conference that a report by the Crown Research Institute Scion showed that forestry could be as profitable as dairying.
That report, commissioned by Oji Fibre Solutions and the Waikato Regional Council and reviewed by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, has now been made public. It compares a 28,000 hectare representative forest in the Central North Island with a dairy farm in the same area, with 26,600 grazable hectares.
The report says that based on pure market drivers, a hectare of dairy generates, on average, 50 per cent higher returns than does a hectare of steady-state forest. But that’s without accounting for the environmental benefits of forestry, and the environmental damage caused by dairy farming.
While the report’s representative forest produced just under NZ$161 million of manufactured product, compared with the dairy farm’s NZ$194 million, the forest produced nearly NZ$31 million worth of environmental benefits, in the form of carbon sequestration and prevention of nitrogen leaching. The dairy farm produced NZ$18 million worth of environmental costs. Adding in other ecosystem services from forests, such as the impact on biodiversity, recreation opportunities, flood mitigation and erosion reduction, would further boost the profitability of forestry.
The full report can be downloaded here.
Source: 2016 Carbon News
Investing in the future of regional VictoriaOver AU$5 million dollars is being invested into the Victorian timber industry by local businesses which will boost regional economic growth and provide job security in rural areas. The majority of the investment has come from three VicForests’ regional customers, however, there has also been significant support via a range of Local, State and Federal Government grants aimed at supporting regional communities.
Robert Green, VicForests’ Chief Executive Officer said that these investments will help provide economic stability in regional areas that rely heavily on the timber industry. “The majority of the residents in many rural communities where timber mills operate are in some way connected to the local timber industry”. “By investing in the future of the company, our customers are also investing in the future of their town and all its residents,” Mr Green said.
Radial Timber Australia is investing AU$4 million into building a new radial sawmill and dry mill upgrade in Yarram. The Yarram site is the only commercial radial sawmill in the world and operates by cutting logs into wedges in order to utilise more of the timber. Ryan and McNulty in Benalla and Talbot Timbers in Talbot, near Maryborough, are also investing in upgrades in technology and increasing their capacity to improve productivity and energy efficiency”. Talbot’s new operations will save at least 50 per cent in diesel usage and double productivity.
Tim Johnston, CEO of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries, said it is great to see continued investment by business in the industry. “The work these companies are undertaking now is vital in ensuring we continue to use this natural renewable resource to its full potential for the benefit of Victoria.”
Multi-sensor modelling of a forest’s productivityAn understanding of how plantation productivity varies spatially is important for forest planning, management and projection of future plantation yields and returns. The 300 Index is a volume productivity index developed for Pinus radiata D.Don that has been widely used within New Zealand to assess site productivity.
Although the 300 Index is routinely characterised at the stand level, Scion researchers have investigated if remotely sensed data sources can be used in combination with environmental layers to precisely predict this metric at fine spatial resolution.
Researchers constructed 28 different models from 433 central North Island plantation plots and found that models constructed from LiDAR provide the most precise means of estimating the 300 Index. However, in many situations LiDAR is too expensive to acquire the stand age required for linking LiDAR to 300 Index.
In the absence of stand age, results show that precise models can be constructed from variables derived from the combination of satellite imagery and environmental surfaces.
For more information and a link to the study and results, visit the latest issue of FWPA’s R&D Works.
Carbon tax could lower emissions and GSTA new, powerful way of modelling the impact of carbon pricing has been developed by University of Auckland doctoral researcher Sina Mashinchi in collaboration with experts at Cambridge University. It shows how a carbon tax in New Zealand targeting emissions-intensive industries, along with a revamped Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), could boost economic growth, with the extra tax generated used to cut GST from 15 percent to 12.5 percent.
A signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand is committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by five percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and by half by mid-century. But in 2013, its emissions were up 21 percent from 1990 levels.
Currently, the ETS is the main economic tool in use to lower carbon emissions. Industries start with a set number of carbon credits, and when they use them up through generating greenhouse gases, they have to buy more. This is meant to encourage practices that will lower emissions.
Critics argue that the ETS is hamstrung by its lenient application. The government gives freebies and two-for-one deals to many industrial emitters. And even though agriculture is responsible for half of New Zealand’s emissions, it’s entirely exempt from the scheme (which is true across the world). New Zealand has also bought many “junk” fraudulent credits from Eastern Europe.
It’s widely recognised that the price of carbon credits, currently sitting around NZ$17 per tonne, is too low to change behaviour. But the new modelling shows that even if the price was gradually raised to NZ$300, we still wouldn’t crack our 2050 target with the ETS alone.
Mr Mashinchi argues there’s another basic problem: the ETS is based on a weak and ill-fitting model. The model he helped develop is more sophisticated and finely tuned to real New Zealand experience. While the model on which the ETS is based used only one year of data, this new model draws on 45 years of economic, environmental and energy data from 1970 to 2014. More >>
Exporters deliver first large container ship visitMaersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company and Kotahi, New Zealand’s leading export supply chain collaborator, are set to welcome the largest container ship to ever visit New Zealand waters capable of carrying 9,500 TEU calling at Port of Tauranga at the start of the peak export season.
Maersk Line Oceania Managing Director Gerard Morrison said the collaborative partnership with Kotahi has been a catalyst for Maersk Line’s pursuit of bringing larger ships to New Zealand which will deliver benefits to their customers and the country’s supply chain.
“Maersk Line’s existing Triple Star service will now link its northbound export calls into the company’s South America – North Asia (AC) service offering a fast weekly connection to North Asia providing New Zealand exporters with a sustainable, direct service to important markets including Taiwan, China, Korea and Japan. To complement the recently announced southbound service, the enhanced Triple Star will increase its frequency from fortnightly to weekly, and from late September, call at Port of Tauranga, arriving from Chile,” he said.
Kotahi Chief Executive David Ross said the new era of big ship visits to New Zealand has been made possible through Kotahi’s collaboration with exporters, Maersk Line and Port of Tauranga.
“Two years ago, Kotahi entered separate long-term agreements with Port of Tauranga and Maersk Line to lay the groundwork to bring larger, more sustainable and efficient vessels on to the country’s key trade lanes. It’s fantastic to see this now being delivered in a shorter timeframe than originally envisaged.
“The arrival of larger ships to our waters is a key milestone for New Zealand on its journey to become a more efficient export nation. The new Triple Star enhances services to Asia, and the recently announced South Pacific Express achieves a direct service to South America, enabling New Zealand to better compete with export nations which have big ships on their main trade routes.
“This new generation 9,500 TEU vessel is more fuel efficient on a per-container basis and will reduce the carbon footprint of the ocean freight component of New Zealand exports by a minimum of 22% per container unit, compared to the existing New Zealand industry average,” said Mr Morrison.
The 9,500 TEU vessel has a length of 348 metres and is designed specifically for the South America and Asia markets with a uniquely high proportion of refrigeration plugs to move chilled products around this region. These are comparable characteristics for New Zealand.
Port of Tauranga Chief Executive Mark Cairns said Port of Tauranga welcomes the changes and is well placed to handle these larger vessels. “The final stage dredging work will be completed in August as part of a NZ$350 million capital investment programme to develop the infrastructure to become a port capable of handling larger ships.
Mr Ross said: “The journey to larger ship visits has spurred a focus to find efficiencies in land-based transport networks to better co-ordinate truck and rail movements. As part of this, Coda Group, our joint venture with Port of Tauranga, recently launched the Coda intermodal freight hub, Savill Drive, Auckland, which brings together import, export and domestic cargo flows into one place, to create efficiencies in the New Zealand supply chain.” he said.
 Twenty-foot equivalent unit
Note: Scott Brownlee, CEO of Coda as detailed in last week’s issue, will be presenting at the NZ leg of this year’s Wood Flow Optimisation 2016 series that will run in Rotorua on 14-15 September providing forestry managers, wood flow schedulers and planners and transport operators an insight into Redesigning and Revolutionising Freight Movements. As outlined in this announcement, Coda is able to leverage the benefits of “real scale” by stepping outside traditional supply chain options. Through collaboration they have been able to achieve what is more difficult in more traditional supply chain options, by harnessing the collective scale of cargo owners and relationships with over 60 of New Zealand’s leading domestic logistics providers.
Full details on the upcoming Wood Flow programme can be found on the event website, www.woodflow.events.
New Forests puts its Otways land to marketForestry company New Forests has put 2600 hectares of Otway Plantation Portfolio in south-western Victoria on sale for what market sources say is a AU$20 million-plus price tag. New Forests Asset Management is offering the plantation, comprising 24 properties, for sale in one line or as individual properties. The preference of Australia's largest forestry company was to sell the properties with leases of up to eight years, to allow it to harvest the timber on it, but it would consider selling the timber as well, said CBRE Agribusiness agent Peter Ryan, who is managing the sale. The sale is not material for New Forests, which manages more than AU$3 billion in assets and whose institutional investors include Mitsui Group and Australia's Future Fund. Read the full article
Source: VAFI The News Mill
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on.... lock-up at the zoo
A kangaroo kept getting out of his enclosure at the zoo. Knowing that he could hop pretty high, the zoo officials put up an 8-foot fence. The next morning, however, the kangaroo was out again, idly roaming around the zoo.
And on that note, have a great weekend. Cheers.
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