Friday Offcuts 14 July 2017
A new report was released on the possum this week by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. As expected, it found established zones for the Leadbeater's possum have been effective in slowing its extinction. The review also found that the zones will result in lost revenue for sawlog harvesting of AU$14.77 million by 2030. The timber industry has responded to the review (see stories below) and have suggested another look at the size of the exclusion zones now that more and more colonies of the possums are being found. In line with wood supplies in this region, VicForests has also just released its 2017 Resource Outlook (link below) which forecasts the amount of high quality timber that can be commercially supplied from State forests in eastern Victoria on a sustainable basis.
This week we also cover an interesting perspective on job losses that can results as a consequence of new technology being introduced. We’re regularly being warned of the new tech-transformed future that’s in front of us with machines taking over many of today’s jobs. Just last year we were warned that up to 4.6 million jobs could be at risk if Australia doesn’t prepare its workforce for the digital future.
The fact is though, according to one commentator, this really isn’t anything new. Employment in NZ manufacturing for example has fallen by 18% since 1990. Over this same period though, there has been an 81% growth in jobs. Where? In other industries and in new industries – industries that weren’t there in the 90’s. They’re suggesting that the negative impact of technology on jobs is likely to be at much slower pace than some commentators are proposing. Also, the new technology is likely to create new industries – which in turn – will create new jobs. A link to the opinion piece along with stats to back up the argument has been included in the story below.
Finally, and in keeping with jobs, you will have picked up over the last 6-12 months, that advertising has continued to really ramp up within this newsletter. This trend has also been borne out in recent stats within NZ (Australia the same sort of trend has been seen). Labour demand in the country remains buoyant. On-line job advertisements have risen by 14% on a year ago. More surprising maybe is the fact that all of the 11 less-urbanised regions (typically where much of the forestry and wood products businesses are located) have been experiencing stronger annual job advertisement growth than in the three main centres. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Extra timber conference added to NZ WoodTECH 2017As an added bonus for those attending the WoodTECH 2017 conference in New Zealand, a one-day conference, Changing Perceptions of Engineered Timber in Construction will be run on the day after the WoodTECH 2017 conference, on Thursday 28 September.
It’s in Rotorua, it’s at the same venue and is likely to appeal to many of those in town attending the two-yearly sawing, scanning and mill optimisation event.
The Second Annual Changing Perceptions of Engineered Timber in Construction conference will be showcasing the use of engineered timber internationally as well as explore changes in timber use in New Zealand. The value of wood will be explored from different angles, including both emotive and economic responses to engineered timber buildings.
International speakers will share their experiences and learnings from overseas. Topics will include architectural, engineering and construction aspects of engineered timber buildings. This event is being hosted by a collaboration of local, regional and central government organisations with support from the Timber Design Society. Further details on the event will follow in next week’s issue.
If making travel plans for Rotorua in this week, you may well look to capitalise on the extra day on offer. For further information and registrations for the event, please click here.
Satellites put plantation water use into contextForest plantation managers can better understand water use and the potential impact of different forest management approaches by integrating satellite based water consumption estimates, according to research co-funded by the FWPA.
Being able to accurately measure how much water is used by all land-uses, including plantations, is vital for the forest industry to lead an ‘evidence-based’ informed debate about forestry water use. Such research can help state and federal regulators to understand the nuances and complexities of ‘normal’ water use across catchments containing multiple land-uses.
In this FWPA co-funded project, researchers from CSIRO Land and Water determined water-usage across two large study sites that include forestry plantations in NSW (covering over 27,000 square kilometres) and the Green Triangle region of Victoria and South Australia (covering over 32,000 square kilometres).
The researchers “blended” low frequency/high resolution Landsat data with high frequency/low resolution MODIS data. The “blended” high frequency/high resolution satellite data was used as input to an algorithm that accurately estimated actual evapotranspiration (AET) across the study sites for all land-uses.
At both study sites, the research found that although forestry plantations had high relative rates of AET, due to their smaller area, the impact of forestry plantations at the catchment scale was less than other land uses like agriculture and native vegetation, which used greater volumes of water. Since forestry plantations are planted in higher rainfall parts of the catchment, the study found putting AET rates in a hydrologic context to be important for interpretation of results.
When accounting for rainfall (P) variability (reporting water use as AET/P), forest plantations were found to be low water users at the NSW site. There was also high variability of water use across the forestry plantations, suggesting that forestry plantation water use needs to be considered on a site-by-site basis and within the hydrological context of the catchments they are operating in.
Integrating satellite-based estimates of actual evapotranspiration with forestry management and planning information should help plantation managers to better understand water use efficiency; surface water and groundwater usage; and how different forest management actions impact on water use.
To download the FWPA project report, click here
Source: FWPA R&D Works
Does technology actually threaten employment?Many jobs that exist today will be displaced by technology. But there is nothing new in this. Manufacturing is an industry where technology has already decimated many jobs. Despite this, unemployment rates in the likes of NZ and Australia haven't experienced trend increases.
There is too much focus on the jobs at threat from robotics and artificial intelligence. Such threats are easier to identify than are the new jobs technology and the evolution of industries will generate.
In a recent post by Rodney Dickens, Managing Director and Chief Research Officer for Strategic Risk Analysis Limited, he argues that new jobs will in fact be created by technology and the evolution of industries faster than current jobs are destroyed, as has been the case in the past.
Want to know more. Read more.
Source: Rodney’s Ravings, www.sra.co.nz
Leadbeater’s possum exclusion zones need rethinkA report by the Victorian Government has recognised that the Leadbeater’s Possum population is likely bigger than previously thought, strengthening the case for the Government to ease its 200m Timber Harvesting Exclusion Zones and conduct a comprehensive population study of the possum.
The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) welcomes some of the recommendations in the report that could ease some of the restrictions on timber harvesting imposed by the 200m buffer zones, but the report missed an opportunity to provide meaningful relief by proposing no change to the 200m requirement, which takes out 12.5ha of forest with each new Leadbeater’s Possum sighting.
AFPA CEO Mr Ross Hampton said the report echoed AFPA’s position on the urgent need for a study to determine the Leadbeater’s Possum population and habitat range, and to review the possum’s critically endangered status. As at 29 June 2017, there are 649 known colonies identified, 496 of which have been identified since 2014. This is significant given that, as the report notes, only 6-10 per cent of the possum’s potential habitat range has been surveyed.
“While AFPA strongly supports the ongoing actions seeking to secure the long-term survival of the Leadbeater’s Possum, and that every attempt is made to ensure the ongoing viability of our sustainable forestry practices, it is important that all decisions are informed by the best available conservation advice,” Mr Hampton said.
“When the 200m buffer zones were introduced, it was considered highly unlikely that any more than 200 new colonies would be found, and thus the impact on the timber industry would be manageable. But with almost 500 new colonies detected in three years, we now know that these exclusion zones have resulted in an annual reduction of 65,000m3 of ash sawlog, and will cost Victorian taxpayers more than AU$20 million in foregone revenue and additional infrastructure costs. This doesn’t take into account the flow-on economic impact on industry resulting from the significant reduction in timber.”
The report notes that “the recent increased number of located colonies, while only a small proportion of the potential habitat has been surveyed, casts doubt over the accuracy of earlier population estimates, and further work is required to provide more robust estimates.”
Mr Hampton urged the Victorian Government to implement the report’s recommendations aimed at reducing the impact of the exclusion zones on timber operations, especially the proposal to move towards a “strategic landscape-scale planning and management approach” and away from the ad-hoc detection-driven exclusion zones currently in place.
Northland’s forestry leaders awardedA man who leads by example to the highest of standards was last Friday crowned the Northland Forestry Skilled Professional of the Year before nearly 500 of his peers at the annual awards.
Shayne Maxwell was awarded the prestigious and much sought-after trophy by Hon. Louise Upston (photo). He was nominated for three categories – for health and safety, felling and harvesting, and en route to the supreme award, took out the Individual Harvesting Excellence Award, and was joint winner of the Outstanding Health and Safety Management award.
Mr Maxwell works as a health and safety manager and company trainer for Kohurau Contracting, but still keeps his hand in as a faller, breaker out and hauler driver. He grew up in the central North Island, starting his forestry career in ground base and hauler logging before moving his family to Northland. He’s known for his integrity, morals, character and values, which he integrates into his work days.
Not one to sit on his laurels, Mr Maxwell is part way through a bachelor’s degree in psychology, which he is already putting to good use out in the forests. He works on mindfulness and other platforms to motivate people to maintain safe practice.
His employers say that he brings mana to their company and as an expert hauler faller, can truly walk in the shoes of others he works with. Mr Maxwell developed the health and safety systems, with a particular focus on falling and breaking out, for Kohurau Contracting. He pioneered the use of video and photographs for the company, recording faller behaviour and techniques and using them to teach crews.
He has also helped develop the company’s use of scanning technology and smart phones to record and share vital information. His peers say the much-improved safety record of the company is a huge credit to Mr Maxwell.
“These awards are showing in this second year, how important they are for the industry in Northland because it is a chance to role model the professionals we have and continue the development of our safety culture within the region,” says Andrew Widdowson, chair of the awards organising committee and spokesman for the Northland Wood Council.
“The Northland Forestry Awards provide us with an occasion to celebrate the industry and the positive impact it has for the region, the fantastic people we have working on the ground and the opportunities if offers.”
Check out the Council’s website www.northlandwoodcouncil.co.nz for full results.
Leadbeater's possum costs timber industry AU$15mSpecial buffer zones to protect Victoria's endangered faunal emblem have helped reduce the risk of extinction but will cost the state's timber industry nearly AU$15 million in lost revenue. A report, released by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) late on Tuesday, found established zones for the Leadbeater's possum were effective in slowing extinction. But the review also found the zones would result in lost revenue for sawlog harvesting of AU$14.77 million by 2030.
"While the Leadbeater's possum remains at a high risk of extinction until 2050-70, that risk has been reduced within the Leadbeater's possum reserve by 34 per cent, thus demonstrating the effectiveness and efficiency of this action in contributing to [its] conservation outcomes," the report found.
Currently the sighting of a possum creates a 200-metre buffer zone for all timber harvesting and the issue remains environmentally and politically sensitive in Victoria's central highlands. Environmentalists said the report highlighted the need for a national park as a long-term strategy to protect the Leadbeater's possum's current and future habitat. "This long-awaited review confirms that the only path forward for government to save our emblem, and a host of other threatened species, is to create the Great Forest National Park," My Environment group spokeswoman Sarah Rees said.
Victorian Association of Forest Industries chief executive Tim Johnston welcomed the review but said it did not offer immediate solutions to shore up future timber supply. "Industry has worked hard to balance the values of the forests in which it operates, from the environmental value to the economic value," Mr Johnson said in a statement.
"Our forests need to be actively managed for all values … and to achieve this, the regulatory system the industry operates under must be more flexible and give consideration to the adaptability of industry to any changes. We will continue to work with government to ensure that the Leadbeater's possum continues to survive, and to ensure that there is a secure future for the industry." Mr Johnson said he welcomed a recommendation to review how protection zones were applied in the future to reduce the impact on loggers.
Source: ABC News
Positive ideas put forward for forestry trainersThis is a response in the form of a letter by a forester to an article appearing in the Gisborne Herald on the urgent need for forestry graduates (June 13) and advice on graduate success. You’ll be able to relate to or pass on some of the points raised here to forestry training institutes or centre’s in your region.
“On 15 June, the EIT campus director stated they had produced two people to work in the industry in 2016. Turanga Ararau has been silent but I understand they produced 11 — from the same pool of potential workers.
Let’s show the public some real plans and actual results to meet the requirements of an industry that is set to require 40 percent more workers. In your combined reply, you asked me to give positive ideas after I questioned why EIT made no mention of forestry results in a two-page spread that included Level 2 and 3 certificate students from automotive, agriculture, driving, winemaking, engineering and carpentry.
I am just a forester. If you want to know about cleaner water, less erosion, a greater range of life, safety, return on investment, jobs, the technical nature of our activities, plus a key response to global warming, see a forester. While we wait for you to publish your own plans, here are some ideas, off the top of my head:
• Aim to be the best in NZ
• Total accountability (this is how our businesses run)
• Manage performance
• See Ministry of Education and ITO Competenz for advice, nationwide contacts
• Benchmark and brainstorm with other forestry courses
• Survey your students and prospective students
• Have contractors interview prospective students
• Survey your customers
• Institute a real advisory committee with contractors and forest owners
• Eliminate drug use by students
• Plan, act, review
• Have plans B, C etc with Eastland Wood Council
• Hold forest visit trips (the last one was three years ago!) — not only for school children but anyone interested in work (including from outside the region)
• Use GoPros in training
• Set targets everywhere
• See other good youth trainers, eg rural fire, Waipaoa cadets
• Continuous improvement culture
Other ideas for training put forward can be seen here. You probably have your own list to add as well.
In response to the forester’s letter to the editor, Henry Koia, added that from his perspective, quality training outcomes are a by-product of achieving what he deems to be the ultimate sector goal — commercial forestry sustainability. He has come up with a Maori commercial forestry sustainability model and a strategic planning tool which are geared towards lifting the performance and resilience of the Maori economy for the benefit of all New Zealanders. Read more.
ViForests releases 2017 Resource OutlookVicForests has just released its 2017 Resource Outlook which forecasts the amount of high quality timber that can be commercially supplied from State forests in eastern Victoria on a sustainable basis.
Nathan Trushell, Acting CEO VicForests said the Resource Outlook is developed using a range of systems and processes. “The Outlook models how much wood is in the available forest, how much it will grow over time and how much timber is likely to be produced when harvested,” Mr Trushell said.
“We have invested heavily in improving this modelling process over recent years. The model is updated regularly to account for changes in the forest and market conditions and the results are used to forecast future sales and guide timber harvesting levels”.
VicForests separate the timber species they supply into two categories, ash and mixed species. The 2017 Resource Outlook forecasts mixed-species sawlog supply to yield between 100 000m3 and 115 000 m3 each year for the next five years.
Ash sawlog supply is forecast to be at a level of 153 000m3 per year for the next three years and then 130 000m3 per year from 2020/21. “The forecast for available ash sawlog has reduced by 88 000m3 per year since the 2013 Resource Outlook,” Mr Trushell said.
“This reduction is a result of modelling current and future impacts on the available ash supply including an equivalent of the recent rate of Leadbeater’s possum detections continuing for seven years,” he said.
VicForests Resource Outlook has been assessed by the Victorian Auditor General’s Office and more recently by the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) in April 2017. The VEAC report specifically looked at our 2017 Resource Outlook and agreed with VicForests modelling method.
“VicForests modelling approach is sound and the sustainable harvest levels are reasonable,” the VEAC report said. In addition to high quality sawlogs, timber harvesting operations produce low quality sawlogs, pulp logs, firewood and other timber products that are also made available for sale.
For more information on the 2017 Resource Outlook please visit www.vicforests.com.au/resource-outlook-2017
Wood made motorcycle run on algae oilA major pain for any car or bike enthusiast isn’t that parts are hard to come by or minor scratches can ruin the pristine look. It’s that rising fuel prices make it considerably more expensive to use a modified vehicle to commute, let alone take joyrides. So, what if you could modify your ride to not need fuel at all?
Two Dutch innovators, designer Ritsert Mans and scientist Peter Mooij, teamed up to do just that – modify a motorcycle so it doesn’t run on petroleum. However, the alternative they chose wasn’t electricity or solar power; they instead went with fuel made from algae.
Mans designed a custom off-road motorcycle where much of the bike, including the frame, handlebar and swingarms, is made from wood. To complement that natural theme, Mooij supplied a specially created fuel made from microalgae, and the result is as effective as it is innovative.
“The challenge for me was with every part of the bike to look to what nature could provide me," Mans told New Atlas in an interview. “Like cork for the damper and hemp spring for some reinforcement. With all my designs, it should spark my imagination.” The bike is powered by a 500cc single cylinder fuel engine, drawing the microalgae oil from a 0.4 litre tank driving the 21-inch rear wheel.
“Just like olives, microalgae produce oil,” Mooij said. “And just like olives, we can extract this oil from the algae. This oil can be used in a simple diesel engine without any pretreatment.” Unfortunately, the motorcycle is still a work in progress, as Mans says the design you see here isn’t the final version. However, it still is a working model, one that shows promise for the future of green energy vehicles.
B.C. being hit by major wildfiresA province-wide state of emergency remains in place due to the wildfires burning across B.C. As of yesterday, thousands of people have already been evacuated from their homes, about 14,365 in total, and according to new numbers from the B.C. Wildfire Service, there are 202 fires burning about 70,000 hectares across the province.
More than 1,000 firefighters have been employed in the fight against the wildfires with 300 coming from out of province. In addition to firefighters, there are 200 helicopters flying across the province and nearly 40 fixed-wing aircraft including air tankers. The B.C. Wildfire Service says structures have been lost due to this fire but it has not been determined how many at this time. For further information click here. Mill closures and logging contractors are also being hit hard. read more
Collaborative operational harvest planningAs we’ve reported, the HarvestTECH 2017 event ran a couple of weeks ago in Rotorua with around 450 logging contractors, forest managers, harvest planners and key equipment suppliers to the industry turning up. Details on how event delegates download the many presentations and resources that came from the event have already been sent out.
As part of the two-day conference programme, Dave Robinson, Chief Operating Officer with Nelson Forests outlined the joint approach that their company was taking to harvest operations.
- Maintaining a 6 month ahead constructed position. The rationale here is to ensure that there is a stock of roads and skids in place that will carry you through the wetter periods of the year. As well as engineering staff, the logging crew is involved in the planning of their work so they can have direct ownership of the success of their operations at the area made ready.
- Achieving a 6-12 month field verified plan. Here the harvest unit has been walked by all plan stakeholders (Company, Engineering, Harvesting) to the extent that setting boundaries, and road /skid locations have been verified as feasible and of suitable size, shape and gradeability.
- Achieving a minimum of 12 – 24 month paper planned set of harvest units. Harvest units (typically of 20 to 50ha in size and are defined by their usage of a common set of roading infrastructure and estimated natural topographic boundaries) are drawn off from the combination of stands and terrain classes as provided by the resource plan.
- Maintaining a 5-year view of terrain classified by topographic type. All terrain within the two to five-year harvest plan is classified by its topographic type. Terrain classes form the basis of large scale harvest units which the resources forester can use for harvest planning and in doing so provide the operations team with a smoothed flow of volume by terrain type. This will aid a strategic approach to ensuring the right kind of equipment is available as the forest topology changes through time.
A more detailed report on partnership planning for those involved in resource management, harvest planning and logging operations has already been supplied to HarvestTECH 2017 delegates. The basis of the briefing paper is that it was provided to the Nelson Forests Business in 2013. Since then the business has refined partnership planning and built software tools to support the processes described. A copy of this paper on collaborative operational harvest planning prepared by Dave Robinson has also been included here for wider use.
Biggest CLT plant in the U.S. being builtFlorida-based International Beams, a manufacturer of high quality, pre-fabricated i-joist beams, is converting a General Electric 227,000-square-foot into a highly specialized manufacturing facility.
International Beams says the plant will be the biggest cross-laminated timber manufacturing facility in the U.S. when it opens in early 2018. The US$19.6 million expansion will create 60 jobs at the plant right away, and create other jobs in local timber, sawmill, and trucking. Two hundred jobs will be created altogether.
International Beams says the CLT panels produced in Dothan will be sold mainly in the U.S. market. The company will use southern pine lumber to construct the panels.
Electronic timber market set to trade 1 million m3With the help of a new online service, all the timber available in Finnish private forests can be sold in one place. The service is hoping to broker one million cubic metres of timber before the holiday season in July. In May, a new electronic marketplace for timber trade opened in Finland. The Kuutio service is likely to be the only one of its kind in the world. It helps the forest owner find buyers and to request bids at the same time.
Kuutio was developed by Suomen Puukauppa Oy, a company founded by all the major actors in the forest sector. According to Managing Director Aku Mäkelä, over 90 per cent of Finnish timber purchasing volume is already part of the service. “Kuutio is a joint effort of the entire forest sector, designed together by both timber buyers and sellers. It is significant that we do not compete with any operator,” says Mäkelä.
The aim of the e-service is to get the timber onto the market and attract even the more passive forest owners, often living in cities, to sell some of their timber. The number of such Finnish forest owners is estimated at tens of thousands. More timber is needed because of the new investments of forest industry.
There are more than 600,000 Finnish family forest owners. In total, they own 12 million hectares, or about 60 percent of Finnish forests. Last year, private individuals did 100 000 transactions. Ordinarily, a family forest owner either requests bids for his timber with the help of professionals, such as Forestry Management Associations, or sells it directly as a contract customer to a forest company.
According to Sauli Brander, Senior Vice President of Wood Sourcing and Forestry at UPM, the new e-market is very welcome as it may activate forest owners to sell timber. The company is pleased to note that the online service has really brought in new customers, and the deals are made directly with forest owners. “In addition, launching Kuutio has brought a lot more visitors to our own website for forest owners. With timber being traded electronically, information is looked for on the same channel, too,” Brander notes.
Opening a deal in Kuutio is easy. You do not actually need to know anything about your own forest. After registering and downloading your own forest data, you can ask for bids with a few clicks, using either your computer or a mobile device. An e-service such as Kuutio is possible thanks to Finland’s extensive and accurate forest resource data. Kuutio acquires the data directly from metsään.fi, where every private individual has long since been able to check all information on his forest.
The Finnish Forest Centre collects the forest resource data with laser scanning, aerial photography and field visits. The data shows not only the size of the forest holding and timber volume, but also the species, height, diameter, age and number of trees. Metsään.fi also gives recommendations for forest management and logging and shows valuable nature sites and proposals for conservation.
“Finland’s forest resource data is unique in the world. Using it, the forest owner can decide what he wants to do with his forest,” says Mäkelä. “In Kuutio, the forest owner also receives an estimate of revenue from timber sales based on up-to-date statistics by the Natural Resources Institute Finland.” The opening of a new timber market was well timed, because timber trade in Finland has shown signs of picking up this year. As is usual in Finland, the demand for timber exceeds supply.
Source: Finnish Forest Association
Pine tree seedlings in short supplyA shortage of pine tree seedlings after a poor growing season for tree nurseries has hit some NZ forest owners and farm foresters. Patrick Murray, who is owner of Murray's Nurseries at Woodville in Tararua, said he had turned down orders of 1.2 million pines.
"We grew around five million Pinus radiata but could easily have sold more. It has been a wet summer and poor autumn and that affected badly the growth of the trees." He said there was interest in new plantings by many people who had put off planting for a couple of years, as well as the big forest-owners replacing trees that had been harvested.
"The majority of our trees are grown under contract for big forests - about 60 per cent. The rest goes to forest consultants in the lower North Island and some to farm foresters." Murray said root growth and young pine circumference was impacted by the poor summer and autumn weather.
Forest company Juken Nissho's forest manager, Sean McBride said they provided the seed to the Woodville nursery which grew it on for them. "We have trees and will be able to re-establish the areas we had planned, but the trees will be a little smaller than usual, and they'll be spaced a little further apart than usual." McBride said they also sent seedlings to their Gisborne forests and they would be hit with the same issues.
Murray said he had talked to other nursery owners and the poor growing season was reasonably widespread across the North Island.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... the war is over
An oldie but a goodie. An elderly Italian man who lived on the outskirts of Rimini, Italy, went to the local church for confession.
And on that note, have a great weekend. For the kiwis, wrap up warm. Cheers.
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