Friday Offcuts 8 June 2012
Over the last decade the number of Australian mills operating has dropped by a whopping 70 percent. A link to the report is given if you want to dig a little deeper. As log availability from hardwood forests has declined, so too have the hardwood milling operations. Conversely, softwood mills have been consolidating and growing in size with the average mill now processing more than 100,000 cubic metres of logs each year. The other bit of dour news this week came out of Australia’s Housing Industry Association where they’re predicting that unfortunately, new home building isn’t going to pick up in Australia for some time yet. The US housing market on the other hand is starting to look a little more promising.
Now, onto much better news. Despite a tough couple of years, the global trade of softwood lumber increased by 25 percent over the past two years. China has also been busy planting (according to China’s State Forestry Administration) with their total forested area jumping by an estimated 60 million hectares over the last 20 years (c.f. a total area of 1.7 million ha of planted production forests in New Zealand at the moment and just over 2 million ha of plantation forests in Australia).
The annual Timber Design Awards which reward excellence in timber design on both sides of the Tasman are both now open to architects, engineers and builders. We also have a couple of stories this week - hot on the heels of Australasia’s Wood Preservation 2012 series that’s just finished - on new wood treatment processes and formulations that have just been unveiled in Europe and New Zealand.
Finally, for all you forestry folk out there who are right into big landscapes, big trees and heavy equipment. Check out the story and the link to several video clips of the world’s largest log yard. It’s Sweden’s answer to storing some of the 75 million cubic metres of logs that got hit hard by hurricanes seven years ago. The world’s largest timber storage area – 2.5 km in length and 13 metres in height was created. Now that has to be a great way to start the morning.
This week we have for you:
Australia's building market looks gloomyNew home sales mounted a partial recovery in April following a very weak end to the first quarter of 2012, said the Housing Industry Association, the voice of Australia’s residential building industry.
HIA Chief Economist, Dr Harley Dale said an April lift in new home sales of both detached houses and multi-units was an imperative result. “Even with this latest improvement, the aggregate volume of both new home sales and local government building approvals imply that in the absence of a rapid and sustained recovery, national new home building is heading to a recessionary level in 2012,” said Harley Dale.
“That’s an unfortunate fact which everybody needs to face and which requires further interest rate cuts and immediate government action,” Harley Dale said. “We keep hearing that Australia is one of the world’s strongest economies in aggregate. That’s a redundant concept if people on the ground aren’t feeling and experiencing that, and they haven’t been for quite some time.”
The HIA - JELD-WEN New Home Sales report, based on a survey of Australia’s 100 largest builders, showed a rise of 6.9 per cent in total seasonally adjusted new home sales in April 2012. Detached house sales rose by 6.4 per cent while multi-unit sales were up by 10.3 per cent.
In April 2012 the number of seasonally adjusted new detached house sales increased by 17.2 per cent in Victoria ahead of the removal of the First Home Bonus. Detached house sales also increased in Western Australia (by 9.8 per cent) and New South Wales (by 1.8 per cent). Detached house sales fell by 5.9 per cent in South Australia and by 5.5 per cent in Queensland.
U.S. housing market strongerThe U.S. spring home-selling season got off to a strong start in April with rising sales and prices providing evidence that a housing market recovery was gaining some traction. The housing sector has been the Achilles' heel of the economy ever since the home-price bubble burst. Recent data however, have painted a relatively upbeat picture for the market and underscored the economy's resilience.
"The recent buoyancy in housing market activity has raised hopes that this beleaguered sector may finally be on the verge of a rebound," said Millan Mulraine, senior macro strategist at TD Securities in New York. New home sales increased 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted 343,000-unit annual rate, the Commerce Department said. Compared to April last year, sales were up 9.9 percent.
The report came on the heels of news on Tuesday that home resales hit a two-year high, with the sector getting support from investors who are increasingly seeing value. Even more encouraging, the median price for both new and previously owned homes surged last month, a further sign of life for a market that has struggled to come back from its 2006 collapse. Source: The Vancouver Sun
Carbon forestry landscape changingCarbon forestry investments in New Zealand and Australia have taken a blow from the combined effects of legislative uncertainty and the depressed prices for carbon based on Euro problems, but the sector remains cautiously optimistic.
In Australia Carbon Conscious Chief Executive Officer, Peter Balsarini, confirmed they are on track to achieve results in line with previous guidance to the market. Their current programme, one of the largest carbon forestry projects in Australia, includes 10,000 hectares of mallee eucalypt planting in the Australian Wheatbelt.
A leading developer of carbon forestry projects, Carbon Conscious, says it has received a substantial increase in new client enquiries from organisations now facing major carbon liabilities under the Clean Energy Act 2011, as well as from New Zealand companies with liabilities under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
Meanwhile, celebrating the purchase of their Kiernan Creek Forest in Marlborough, NZ Carbon Farming managing director Matt Walsh said his company intended growing their investments in New Zealand. They remain positive about gaining more forest to lease for the carbon market and more land to plant.
Some industry commentators say harmony needs to be achieved between the New Zealand and Australian emissions trading schemes and that carbon prices need to lift and stabilise for the sector to see much upside. Others say the prices need to recover before much more action starts happening.
Either way, there is an underlying factor that the New Zealand government really needs the carbon forestry industry to grow in order to continue to provide the crucial carbon offsets to balance emissions in the short to medium term. A government directed emissions trading scheme review panel has identified a need for New Zealand to deal with future carbon liabilities resulting from harvesting. They also need to focus on mitigating the risks of financial mismatching in doing so.
All of the major players in the carbon forestry industry in Australasia are meeting on 22-23 August 2012 at the 2nd Annual Carbon Forestry Conference to be held in Auckland, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Conference organisers at the Forest Industry Engineering Association have brought together a strong cross-section of key industry speakers.
The speakers will detail updates to operational markets on the implications of political, economic and market uncertainty to the investment and forestry markets and how at this time companies reduce their exposure to market risk.
Westpac this year are the Principal Sponsor to Carbon Forestry 2012 and more information on their carbon and investment related services can be found by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Carbon Forestry 2012 conference and programme check out www.carbonforestryevents.com or call +64-7-921-1383. Weekly updates are available from this e-newsletter and www.woodweek.com
Wood treatment process developed in EuropeOn the back of the recently completed Wood Preservation 2012 series in Australia and New Zealand comes news that a consortium from Europe have created a new system that they believe will produce better quality timber as well as be more economically viable for small to medium sized enterprises.
The present state-of-the-art large-scale drying and chemical treatment processes for wood are highly expensive, and it takes between 24-80 hours for the drying and treating process to be completed. These processes use a variety of heating systems in an inert gas water vapour atmosphere, and while they are attractive to large-scale enterprises, they are impractical for smaller enterprises due to factors such as the cost of the technology and smaller volumes of output.
As well as cost limitations, these heat treatment methods affect the chemical and physical structure of the timber. This, along with the fact that some of the preservative chemicals used mean that the timber cannot be used for interior applications, has created a need for a more cost-effective and efficient system for the treatment of wood.
The new process, devised by Jean-Baptiste Saget and supported by a consortium of other partners, will give smaller enterprises the ability to heat-treat wood species such as spruce, pine birch, aspen, beech and plywood. The process that has been developed over the course of the Torchwood project involves a 2-stage system.
The first part is a novel heat treatment process that utilises microwaves to preserve the timber by directly heating it, while the second stage involves the application of a natural oil formulation to the hot timber while it is still in the heating chamber. This secondary process helps to restore the natural mechanical and physical properties of the wood.
For further details on the story and process, check out the latest R&D Works Newsletter
Sawmill numbers drop by 70% in AustraliaThe number of sawmills processing logs in Australia has declined considerably over the past decade, according to the National Wood Processing Survey 2010-11, released on Friday by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).
Executive Director of ABARES, Paul Morris said the number of sawmills processing logs in Australia had declined by over 70 per cent in the past decade to 332 sawmills in 2010-11. Despite these changes, total production of sawn-wood in Australia has declined by only 4.3 per cent since 1999-00, reflecting much of the capacity loss being in smaller and less efficient mills, Mr Morris said.
The National Wood Processing Survey 2010–11 is available on the ABARES website
Source: AFPA Canopy
New wood preservative developed in NZA New Zealand company, Mattersmiths Holdings Ltd, has developed a new wood preservative. The inventor, Paul Maynard, is a Director of the company and holder of a range of patents relating to compositions for treating wood and processes for wood preservation.
With some similarity to ACQ, the new preservative is water based containing copper with the option of a range of co-biocides. It can be used in standard wood treatment processes and according to Mr Maynard it is a world first and has a number of advantages over traditional wood treatments.
It’s simple to manufacture and eliminates some of the petroleum based components otherwise used in such compositions. Those that are used for replacement are natural renewable materials offering an improved HSE profile. Fixation is rapid and leaching of biocides is reduced the corrosion of fixtures used in service is reduced, the colour of treated wood is considerably lighter and the ‘fixed’ preservative has very low solubility under normal conditions but is bioavailable at the physiological pH of decay fungi.
The new preservative has been tested by an independent laboratory using soil contact techniques and studies demonstrate bioperformance is equal to or better than current preservatives in use. Patents are being have been applied for globally and for further information, contact email@example.com.
Finland introduces prefabricated wood construction standardFinland has established an industrial standard called RunkoPES for prefabricated wood construction, which is expected to significantly accelerate the production of wood apartment buildings. "RunkoPES makes design easier and creates many alternatives for designers, makes the installation of the elements faster and more efficient, and also makes it possible to purchase elements or request competing bids from many different manufacturers," explains Kimmo Järvinen, Managing Director of Finnish Wood Research Oy.
Thanks to the RunkoPES standard, designers can now design a house without knowing who is going to build it. The system is also expected to standardize the interpretation of regulations relating to wood construction across the country.
The absence of an industrial standard for prefabricated wood construction has delayed the breakthrough of wood apartment buildings in Finland, according to Järvinen. The RunkoPES standard is expected to boost the competitiveness of the wood construction industry in the same way that the introduction of the BES-system for concrete construction enabled the rapid increase in concrete house construction in Finland during the 1970s.
Finnish Wood Research Oy has led the research to create a solid and open construction system for a prefabricated wood element in Finland, with the aim of encouraging the development of company specific business solutions and models.
Biomass harvester nears completionIn Australia, a harvester for the mallee tree is in its final stages of development that would allow the country to use the native tree as a viable feedstock for biofuel production, including for renewable aviation fuel.
The prototype mallee harvester developed by Biosystems Engineering and Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) has exceeded expectations in the final stages of its development. During trials near Casino in New South Wales, trees were harvested at a rate of 38 tonnes per hour for 74 minutes, far surpassing the milestone target of at least 20 tonnes per hour for at least an hour.
Peter Zurzolo, Chief Executive Officer of the CRC, said the trial’s success brings commercialisation of the harvester a step closer. “This is a great achievement for the dedicated teams of people involved in this project over the past 15 years. Development of the successful prototype has been passionately pursued by Richard Sulman of Biosystems Engineering, and the Western Australian (WA) Department of Environment and Conservation’s (DEC) Rick Giles and John Bartle, and others. To see the harvester working so well during the trial was a thrill, and a great result for all those involved,” he said.
“The excitement generated by the mallee harvester has helped us to build relationships with aviation industry partners who see mallee biomass as a future source for aviation biofuel. An integrated supply chain, from mallees in the ground through harvesting to biofuel production, is simply not possible without a mallee harvester. The engineering behind this machine is outstanding and full credit to Biosystems Engineering for its design,” Mr Zurzolo said.
The continuing potential for aviation biofuels will form one of the themes of the upcoming FIEA conference series on green growth developments in March next year. The FIEA CleanTECH - Residues to Revenues Technology series will run in early March 2013 in both Melbourne and Rotorua. A call for papers will be issued shortly. The theme will be widened this coming to include developments in clean technology that are being pursued by companies across the primary industries.
China adds 60 million hectares of forest areaChina's total forest area has increased to 195 million hectares from 134 million hectares in 1992, marking a net gain of 60 million hectares within 20 years, the State Forestry Administration (SFA) said. Despite a decreasing global forest reserve, China's forest inventory expanded by 3.6 billion cubic meters to reach 13.7 billion cubic meters during the past 20 years, SFA Vice Minister Yin Hong said at a press conference.
Yin said the Chinese government will continue to increase investment in the sector, focusing its energy on forest cultivation, wetland, wildlife and habitat protection, and land desertification control. China aims to expand its total forest area by 40 million hectares, and its total forest inventory by 1.3 billion cubic meters from 2005 to 2020.
Moreover, the country will convert 1.07 million hectares of farmland into forest during its 12th Five-year Plan period (2011-2015), Yin said. The "grain-for-green program" will be carried out in the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze River, the stony deserts in southwest China and the northwestern Loess Plateau, she said.
Global softwood lumber trade up 25%After a sharp decline in global demand for lumber in 2008 and 2009 as a result of the global recession, global trade of softwood lumber increased an estimated 25 percent over the past two years. In 2011, trade reached just over 90 million m3, which is still substantially below “pre-financial crises” levels. China, Japan, Spain and South Korea saw the biggest rise in import volumes between 2010 and 2011. However, not all markets improved last year, and major importers such as the US, the UK, Italy, France and Egypt reduced imports by between 5-10 percent year-over-year. More >>
Timber Design Awards open on both sides of the TasmanThe Australian Timber Design Awards has been honouring excellence in timber design for thirteen years. With the 29 June close-of-entries date fast approaching you can check out details for entry from the website. Entry is open to architects, builders, designers, engineers, interior designers and landscape architects.
Categories cover all major applications, small budget projects, sustainability, a People's Choice Award and a Rising Star Award. This year's entries will automatically be considered for the 2013 International Timber Design Awards. Visit www.timberawards.com.au to view winners from 2011 and previous years.
In New Zealand, the call for Stage One entries for the NZ Timber Design Awards 2012 is also open and will close at the end of this month, at 5pm Friday 22 June 2012.
Key dates for entries include:
• Stage One entries close 5pm Friday 22 June 2012
• Short listed applicants advised week commencing 16 July 2012
• Finalists provide additional material by Friday 7 September 2012
• Award ceremony Tuesday 9 October at MOTAT Aviation Hall, Auckland
For more information visit NZ Wood.
The largest wood storage area in the worldOn January 8, 2005, a huge cyclone as strong as a Category 1 hurricane hit Sweden and Denmark. Its name was Gudrun and it blew at sustained speeds of 126km/h with wind gusts of 165km/h. It killed 22 people and struck down 75 million cubic metres of trees.
How much is 75 million cubic metres of trees? I have no idea but, to give you an idea, you are looking at only one million cubic metres in this image. This is Byholma, the storage area where the Swedish government created to process all this mess.
Back in 2005 it became the world’s largest timber storage and it’s still working today. Imagine 75 of these put together. It’s staggering.
To see some videos to check out just how huge this whole operation is, click here. Source: Gizmodo
The myths and facts about certificationBen Gunneberg, Secretary-General PEFC International, is visiting Australia for two weeks to discuss sustainable forest management and supply chain benefits relating to certification. He will be speaking at a breakfast meeting in Sydney next Tuesday. This short seminar will focus on the paper and paper related industries including printers, print brokers, paper & tissue retailers and major paper consumers. His presentation will include; global procurement policies, timber legality legislation, compliance issues and the pressure of environmental activists, PEFC progress with China and Asian countries and other hot topics. For further details, click here
Tasmania selected for Forestry CentreTwo significant research facilities will be developed at the University of Tasmania thanks to a AU$5 million grant announced by the Gillard Government last Friday.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Federal Member for Braddon, Mr Sid Sidebottom, visited the University of Tasmania in Hobart to announce the successful projects - the National Institute for Future Forest Industries (NIFFI) and an Experimental Aquaculture Facility (EAF).
"The AU$5 million funding grant will help drive research and innovation in both aquaculture and forestry industries for the benefit of the greater Australian community. The forestry projects announced for UTAS will ensure we remain world leaders in forestry industries," Mr Sidebottom said.
The NIFFI will drive research, development, innovation, extension and training for future forest products and industries. Its research activities will range from plantation management systems and productivity through to sustainable forestry, cleaner technologies and new forest economies including carbon and environmental services.
Importantly, it will retain important people, knowledge and skills already associated with forestry research in Tasmania. Member for Lyons, Dick Adams recently completed a report on forestry in Australia. Both projects will have strong links and widespread consultation with the research sector, industry and government.
Buy and Sell
...and one to end the week on...overtaking in South Africa
When you are feeling rushed and in a hurry, maybe it is time to stop and appreciate the wonder all around you
Road rage, it affects us all.
And on that note, have a great and safe weekend. For the Aussies, enjoy your extra day off this Monday. Cheers.
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