Friday Offcuts – 12 July 2024

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Welcome to this week's edition of Friday Offcuts.

The forestry sector is experiencing a period of significant opportunities. NZ's wood processing industry stands to benefit significantly from the new Wood Processing Growth Fund for capital investments. We have a review of the country's work health and safety regulations underway, which offers an opportunity for industry stakeholders to contribute.

Across the Tasman, a new Forest and Fire Services Agreement stabilises Victoria's timber industry, while innovative research explores new markets for Australian engineered wood products using low-quality timber.

The upcoming industry event, Residues2Revenues 2024 is running in Rotorua and showcases the latest advancements in converting forestry waste to meet growing demand for renewable resources. Limited complimentary WIDE Trust places are still available - secure your spot by contacting FIEA directly. And finally, we provide updates on the Gisborne Kanuka Forest court case, the emergence of long-range electric trucks, and autonomous UAV technology.

Read these and more in another packed edition of Friday Offcuts. Enjoy.

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NZ Wood Processing Growth Fund - new applications open

The Wood Processing Growth Fund (WPGF) second capital investment round of the Accelerator programme is now open, and applications must be received by 26 August 2024.

Accelerator provides loans or equity finance to co-fund capital investment in new capacity and improvements that increase onshore wood processing capacity, productivity and improve competitiveness.

This second investment round continues to focus on projects that are investment ready. Investors who are advanced in planning a new wood processing development, or an expansion or upgrade to existing sawmills, engineered wood, panels, or roundwood production should consider applying.

The WPGF also provides grants for pre-investment activities such as business cases, feasibility studies and technical assistance through the WPGF Catalyst programme.

Some details on those two funding streams are as follows:
  • Accelerator – up to NZ$33M in debt or equity investment in capital projects aimed at expanding wood processing.
  • Catalyst fund – provides up to NZ$2 million per year in conditional grants to support feasibility studies and related pre-capital activities for wood processing projects.
The WPGF is managed by Te Uru Rākau - New Zealand Forest Service in collaboration with Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit.

Click here for information about how to apply.

Outside of the WPGF, Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service can help connect you with funding and support programmes across government. These include the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund, NZTE, EECA, MBIE Kānoa, Callaghan Innovation, Green Investment Finance, Waste Minimisation Fund, Scion, Export Credit Office etc.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss making an application, please either email or call us on: Email or NZ freephone call centre 0800 00 83 33.

Source & image credit: Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service

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New Forest and Fire Services Agreement in Victoria

After an extensive and complex negotiation the Australian Forest Contractors Association has welcomed the finalisation and signing of new Forest and Fire Services Agreements between contracting businesses and the Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action.

AFCA General Manager Tim Lester said the new agreements provided certainty for timber harvest contracting business and workers who had been impacted by the government’s decision to accelerate closure of the state’s forests to timber harvesting.

“An unmanaged forest is a disaster waiting to happen,” Mr Lester said. “With these new Forest and Fire Services Agreements we can maintain the skills and equipment needed to protect forest assets over the long term and particular for times of bushfire or other emergencies."

VicForests managed 1.8 million hectares on behalf of the people of Victoria, and that task now falls to DEECA. AFCA welcomes the recognition from the Victorian Government that forest harvesting contracting businesses have the knowledge and workforce that is essential for the practical management of the state’s forests.

“The businesspeople and workers who have spent their lives in and around the bush know the areas, geographies, seasons and species. This is a rich and deep source of knowledge available to the planners in the department and which is ready and able to assist in delivering the best, most efficient and most functional results for the state.

“We also acknowledge that there is another group of contractors who are already providing services to DEECA for similar works, and who have not been afforded an equivalent opportunity. There needs to be equity in arrangements.

"There is also a need to ensure all contractors get paid when on standby to join a fire response. At the moment contracting businesses are only paid when they are called into service but being on standby can mean turning down other work,” Mr Lester said.

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New domestic & export markets for lower quality logs

A trio of key Australian forestry industry bodies are undertaking collaborative research that will support new market opportunities for Engineered Wood Products (EWPs) using lower-quality Eucalyptus globulus (blue gum) and Pinus radiata (radiata pine) logs.

This important value-add project, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), is being led by the Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub (GTFIH), with support from Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA) and the  Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA).

The origins of the initiative can be traced back to November 2021 when demand for this low-value resource from major importer China ceased. With little-to-no existing domestic demand for timber products manufactured using these logs, timber began accumulating in Australian plantations. New markets are needed to prevent this resource going unused.

In response, the three collaborating bodies developed a grant application to the DAFF-led Agriculture, Trade and Market Access Cooperation (ATMAC). ATMAC agreed to provide funding for an extensive program of research, which has progressed positively during the past two and a half years.

A specially assembled team is studying relevant end-use market specifications, conducting in-depth market research, and undertaking manufacturing and development trials of EWPs with potential appeal to new export and domestic markets. The ultimate objective is to create additional market opportunities and fresh income streams for industry.

FWPA sees this project as a highly significant initiative and we are committed to offering ongoing support to the Hub as the research is conducted,” FWPA CEO Andrew Leighton said. “This work is a wonderful example of three organisations with a shared commitment to creating a sustainable future for Australian forestry coming together to create new opportunities to help secure our industry’s ongoing success.

The technical aspects of the research are being conducted at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF) Salisbury Research Facility in Brisbane, under the direction of Principal Scientist Dr Benoit Gilbert. The market research elements are being led by Tim Woods of IndustryEdge, a consultancy that provides data analysis, intelligence and advice to the forestry industry.

After applying the industry grading system to predict the visual quality of EWPs manufactured from veneers, the researchers found veneers recovered from both log types to be D Grade – the lowest grade on the scale. This knowledge has allowed the team to focus on manufacturing LVL products intended for use in markets where aesthetic appeal is not a vital consideration for the end user, such as internal structural applications.

Another significant project deliverable is a detailed analysis of four key export markets for future trading opportunities: Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. The team has also identified that some of these markets may provide additional opportunities for intermediate products such as veneers and lamella.

The researchers are on track to complete all scheduled activities by 30 June 2025, with key findings, progress and milestones continuing to be communicated to industry throughout the project.

More >>

Source & image credit: FWPA

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Transforming our economy with renewable resources

The demand for converting forestry fibre to renewable resources to replace fossil fuel based products is growing every year. 

A popular industry conference – Residues2Revenues brings users together with technology developers and leaders in championing change for renewable products and energy sources from the forest and wood products sectors.

The rapid development of new carbon neutral energy options, improved to reduce emissions to decarbonize our wider New Zealand economy all have been major drivers to the change and rapid adoption we’re now seeing. Fonterra and other major energy users have already moved to use more wood energy.

The very latest technologies and results from up and down the country will be showcased in Rotorua, New Zealand on 30-31 July 2024.

One keynote speaker championing change throughout New Zealand is Sir Ian TaylorHe has worked closely with the NZ Product Accelerator on using forestry renewables to help move our economy onto a more sustainable footing.

Sir Ian Taylor is a polished and entertaining speaker. He is also involved in some major national initiatives. One of them is a Mātauranga programme for school students around the country – showing them that a better future for them is almost certainly going to be based around applying new technology. One of the keys to achieving the establishment of a new multi-billion dollar Industry for bio-materials from wood is getting the talent to run it all. Sir Ian has a vision for bringing the talent of young New Zealanders together with renewable forest resources to bring positive change to our economy.

Who else is speaking at Residues2Revenues 2024?
  • Steve Wilson, Chairman, New Zealand Product Accelerator on the Potential Value of bioproducts from New Zealand forests.
  • Mark Pettit, Mitsui Bussan Woodchips Oceania on the Clean Fuel Revolutionaries pursuing our Plantation Biomass Resource.
  • Jacob Kohn, Futurity Bio-Ventures on pioneering New Zealand’s first advanced biorefinery to turn wood by-products into high value chemicals.
  • Oliver Foster, CarbonScape on biographite for localised battery supply chains from the ground up
  • Sam Gordon, Sustainability Manager, Air New Zealand on Accelerating sustainable aviation fuels and the role of woody biomass.
THE WIDE (Wood Industry & Education Trust) supports development and education in the forestry and wood sectors, through scholarships and grants. They kindly sponsor a few places to each of our events - although they're generally sought after and snapped up on a first-come / first-served basis.

We’d be delighted to offer these to any of your colleagues, interested in attending this event - on a first-come, first-served basis (by contacting FIEA directly) - as long as they fit the following criteria:
  • Under the age of 35
  • Have not yet registered for Residues2Revenues 2024
  • Have not previously received a complimentary WIDE Trust place to any past FIEA / Innovatek events.
For the full conference programme & special rates, see website details at

Source: FIEA

Residues2Revenues 2024

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Update in Gisborne's Kanuka Forest court case

China Forestry Group New Zealand Company (CFGNZC) acknowledges the need for an enforcement order but argues the specifics, laid out by the Gisborne District Council, needs to be realistic.

The council filed an application with the Environment Court seeking an order that would force CFGNZC to stop discharging forestry debris and sediment into the Waimata River. Additionally, the order would require the company to remove roughly 16,000 cubic metres of existing woody debris from the Kanuka Forest block.

Located above the Waimata River that supplies Gisborne city, Kanuka Forest sits on steep hill terrain. The council proposes a deadline of October 15th for debris removal under a specific remedial plan. Furthermore, they request the installation of water controls at various locations within the forest to minimise erosion and potential infrastructure collapse.

CFGNZC's lawyer, David Allen, conceded that corrective actions are necessary in the forest. While they don't oppose the order itself, Allen expressed concerns regarding the practicality of the outlined timeline and procedures. He emphasised the importance of ensuring the enforcement order is "reasonable and safe" to implement.

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Source: Stuff

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First long-range electric trucks to New Zealand

Windrose Technology will work with Auckland based Etrucks® to bring the first long-range electric trucks to New Zealand. The Windrose E1400 6x4 semi tractor features extreme aerodynamic efficiency, with an industry low coefficient of drag of 0.2755.

Combined with the 729kWh battery capacity, this allows a loaded duration that exceeds any other electric truck available in New Zealand. Testing in China, the United States and Europe has shown the Windrose is capable of 670km duration on one charge, loaded to 49t GVM.

That will mean Auckland to Wellington will be possible, with minimal charging on the journey. The Windrose E1400 can be configured with megawatt charging (MCS) or dual gun CCS2. Either system will allow the addition of 400km of range in 35 minutes of charging.

The dual drive axles offer a peak power of 1400hp available, far higher than any on highway truck in New Zealand. Etrucks® has placed an initial order with Windrose Technology for 20 units. The first sample truck will arrive in September for extended local testing, and production orders will be accepted from mid-2025.

Wen Han, founder, chairman, and CEO of Windrose Technologies considers New Zealand as an important part of their global roll out. “Windrose is aiming to be the first truly global EV truck brand for China, Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and many other markets to come.”

Ross Linton, Director of Etrucks sees the Windrose E1400 as a breakthrough in new energy heavy trucks. “The duration and speed of charging of the Windrose E1400 moves the boundaries significantly for electric heavy transport. We can now offer an affordable zero emission freight option to the longer haul sector.”

For further information on the Windrose E1400 click here.

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H&S reforms in New Zealand - forestry can have a say

Brooke van Velden, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, has launched the consultation process to reform health and safety. The scope of consultation is focused on the purpose and performance of the work health and safety regulatory system. Safetree makes a submission from the sector, but we encourage companies and individuals to also engage with this consultation and use this as an opportunity to make improvements.

We believe it would be helpful to share the lessons learnt by forestry over the last 10 years, a period when the industry has undergone a significant improvement in health and safety. It is important that the factors that have supported this improvement are not lost or weakened as a result of any reforms, but are encouraged and supported by any future health and safety regime.

In 2013 forestry’s safety performance was so bad that we were killing people at a rate of one per month for that entire year. Following the 2014 Independent Forestry Review, we now find that in 2024 our safety performance has improved dramatically with reductions in both fatalities and serious harm. But we still have significant room to improve. We have learnt a lot over the last decade that we would like to share with the government. I would also say we are still learning, and we will always have room to improve.

With that in mind, here are six things that forestry’s experience over the last decade shows are essential to supporting improvements in health and safety performance.
  • We need a burning platform to compel positive change
  • We need leadership with a mandate to coordinate collective action
  • We need engagement with an effective Regulator
  • We need to empower industry to innovate and find solutions
  • We need to support training and competence
  • We need to recognise that legislation is an enabler, but people make the difference
Click here to make a submission on the reforms. Submissions are due by 31 October 2024.

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Source: Safetree

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Kea Aerospace achieves milestone in autonomous flight

Kea Aerospace has successfully completed a landmark BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) flight, demonstrating the capabilities of their advanced autonomous flight technology. The milestone UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) flight, conducted within Kea Aerospace's Special Use Airspace, marks significant growth in the field of UAVs in New Zealand.

The mission commenced with Kea Aerospace’s R6 unmanned aircraft launching from the Tāwhaki National Aerospace Centre. It soared to an altitude of 3,000 feet and covered a significant distance of 5 kilometres over the picturesque Kaitorete Spit. This mission was not just a single flight but a series of three fully autonomous flights, each executed with accuracy and reliability.

Throughout the entirety of the mission, Kea Aerospace maintained a stable radio command and control link, underscoring the robustness of their communication systems. This successful operation is a testament to the tireless efforts of their dedicated team and the advanced technological capabilities of our aircraft.

Mark Rocket, CEO of Kea Aerospace, expressed his enthusiasm for this achievement: "Today's successful BVLOS flight is a huge step forward for Kea Aerospace and the broader field of unmanned aerial systems in New Zealand. Our ability to perform these flights autonomously, with stable communication throughout, showcases the exceptional potential of our technology. We are incredibly proud of our team and the ground-breaking work they are doing."

Kea Aerospace's pioneering advancements in autonomous flight technology continue to push the boundaries of what is possible. This successful mission paves the way for future innovations and applications in various sectors, from environmental monitoring to disaster response. Upcoming flights this year will progress to a 15-kilometre range from the take-off location and then extend to a range of over 100 kilometres.

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Free advanced timber design software for NZ engineers

"Timber Unlimited is thrilled to partner with CLT Toolbox to offer parts of this advanced software for free to New Zealand industry. With the release of the new Timber Structures Standard (NZS AS 1720.1:2022), it's essential that we provide the industry with the resources to implement these new standards effectively" says Bjørn Stankowitz Technical Manager at Timber Unlimited.

“Our goal is to empower engineers with the tools they need to design sustainable, resilient timber structures. Our software does just that, making advanced timber design accessible to all," adds Adam Jones, CEO at CLT Toolbox. Timber Unlimited and CLT Toolbox are excited to announce a groundbreaking partnership aimed at transforming the timber construction industry in New Zealand.

This collaboration brings advanced, world-class design software to engineers across the country at no cost, streamlining complex design processes and promoting sustainable building practices. Timber Unlimited is at the forefront of promoting timber use in New Zealand construction, providing tools and resources that enhance the capabilities of engineers and the broader industry. CLT Toolbox, a leader in timber engineering software, has developed solutions that address the technical challenges of timber design, focusing on reducing embodied carbon in construction.

The technical challenges of timber design are addressed by providing streamlined automated design routines and comprehensive educational support which CLT Toolbox has developed. Unlike other tools, CLT Toolbox offers transparent calculation methods that are not a 'black box,' enabling engineers to understand and trust the design processes to build confidence when specifying timber.

This ongoing collaboration between Timber Unlimited and CLT Toolbox, initiated months ago, brings exciting new features to the New Zealand design community. Through this continued partnership, Timber Unlimited is pleased to announce the integration of 17 advanced dowel and bolt calculators as well as 4 further design modules into the free version of CLT Toolbox software available to the NZ users. These tools simplify what were previously complex and time consuming tasks, enabling engineers to focus on innovation and efficiency.

“New design methods can be a barrier to adopting a new material or construction typology, and this software will help engineers become confident timber designers. We look forward to seeing an increasing number of timber buildings in New Zealand and an increase in the quality of those designs”, says Lisa Oliver, President of Timber Design Society.

The Partnership between TU and CLT Toolbox addresses the resistance faced by many designers due to the complexities of the new standard. By providing free access to advanced design tools, Timber Unlimited and CLT Toolbox lower the barriers to entry, encourage upskilling, and support the growth of timber construction in New Zealand. The software’s user-friendly interface and comprehensive resources make it an invaluable asset for the engineering community. Engineers and designers are encouraged to take advantage of this free resource by visiting the Timber Unlimited website.

Source: Timber Unlimited

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Mapping Gisborne’s worst eroding land

Gisborne land adaptation shifts have received positive feedback from both the Eastland Wood Council and an environmental group. The region’s farmers and forestry companies might end up with designated land they can’t operate on under new council plans.

Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said they were looking at more accurate identification and management of erosion risks across Tairāwhiti. “Overlay 3B” is coined in council reports as “the worst eroding land across the region”. Through identification, Gisborne District Council aims to “landmark” these areas, mandating some pastoral farming and forestry owners to transition their land into permanent vegetation cover.

A council report says the land use changes “crystalised in the wake of cyclones Hale and Gabrielle in early 2023”. Overlay 3B is an extension of the current land overlay framework in the Tairāwhiti Resource Management Plan (TRMP).

Gisborne District Council (GDC) requested Manaaki Whenua — Landcare Research to help identify which areas in the region have a high likelihood of landslides, and whether these landslides will affect waterways. According to a council report, the map was completed in March 2024.

“The model utilises advanced technology and builds on previous regional research,” Thatcher Swann said in a statement. “It analyses where landslides occur and their potential to impact waterways, drawing on data collected across the region.”

Eastland Wood Council (EWC) chief executive Philip Hope said they received the database just over a week ago and were still working through what it meant for EWC members. “At an initial glance, we believe it is a marked improvement on previously available mapping for Tairāwhiti. Our industry is working through meetings with Gisborne District Council to better understand the information, including how it was developed.”

It would take time to understand the data and talk to their members to form views on this model, Hope said. “We expect it will have significant implications on how all land is managed in the future and think it could be a useful tool as our district works towards increasingly sustainable land use, such as retirement, rehabilitation and conversion – and where appropriate, the status quo.”

EWC would continue to work with the council, iwi and mana whenua on sustainable land use and planning in Tairāwhiti, he said.

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SnapSTAT - horticulture exports pass forestry

Forest export earnings are set to be surpassed by Horticulture according to the latest MPI 'Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries' report released at last month's National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.

Source: Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries SOPI - June 2024

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East Coast women step up to prioritise forestry safety

"Forestry health and safety can be a scary thing if you don’t do it right. If we were looking for a reason not to have started our business two years ago, health and safety compliance would have been it," said Tania Gibb from  Ra Whakapono Logging.

Tania is thankful that she and her husband, Irvin ‘Smurf’ Gibb, forged ahead with starting their Gisborne contracting business, Rā Whakapono Logging, in 2022. While the couple committed to rolling out best practices for Rā Whakapono’s health and safety processes, Tania went a step further in her learning and graduated with a New Zealand Certificate in Workplace Health and Safety Practice Level 3 last month.

Her training was generously funded by Eastland Wood Council (EWC), after the council joined forces with WorkSafe, Competenz and various industry stakeholders to create a course aimed at empowering women working in the region’s forestry industry, to enhance the safety standards in their organisations.

Twelve Tairāwhiti women have completed the Level 3 health and safety programme, and in June, 10 graduates will step up to the Level 4 programme.

Eastland Wood Council Health, Safety and Training committee chair, and acting head of the Women in Tairawhiti Forestry group, Jessie Bourke, says the collective commitment of the group stakeholders to launch the course highlights the industry's commitment to fostering inclusivity, professional development, and a culture of safety.

“By giving so many women the opportunity to attend, we have instantly driven up the health, safety and wellbeing knowledge within small businesses in our community - arguably the most high-risk industry here on the East Coast. That is a win for women and for our communities,” said Jessie. 

She says there was an enormous response to the EWC’s call for applications, and every spot was filled with a waitlist at hand. “These courses have not been run in Tairāwhiti for several years so it has been great to offer them and know that the cost burden to small businesses would be alleviated through the funding.

Tania agrees that the programme has far-reaching impacts for other women working in forestry.

“Women are underutilised in forestry. I was already running the health and safety in our business if a little blindly. I know there are other forestry businesses in the same boat -female employees and co-owners who are also the health and safety reps who can fill this gap in their business. More women could be empowered and recruited into these programmes.

“Health and Safety training opens the door for women in forestry. Some may prefer to work hours that are suited to family life—not getting up at 4 am when the crews start—and for me, the programme has allowed me to do my bit for our family business, as I can’t drive the machines.”

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Source: Competenz

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Global Wood Summit launches in Canada

Interest in the October Global Wood Summit conference is heating up! The remaining invited speakers will be confirmed during July so that a near full agenda of speakers can be viewed while early bird pricing is in effect.

Aside from a variety of speakers from across Canada and the US, confirmed international speakers are from China, Austria, Russia and Sweden, with invitations to others from Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. This will allow for excellent insights and outlooks in many offshore regions. The objective of the Global Wood Summit is to feature a wide range of industry experts, producers, exporters, importers and selected specialists focused on national and global trade.

The 2024 Global Wood Summit is being marketed at 2016 prices! Networking is a key component and the organisers are offering the best value in the global wood conference market! Some one-day wood conference prices are 50% higher than this two-day international conference!

Have a look at the event website for the conference agenda and speakers. The Global Wood Summit offers exceptional coverage of key global trends and strategic topics for the forest industry and trade.

Both Russ Taylor Global and  ERA Forest Products Research are looking forward to welcoming attendees to this unique event, which focuses on global trade developments in pulp, paper, logs, lumber and panels, with a focus on the global trade of logs and lumber. It is going to be really timely and interesting!

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Source: Russ Taylor Global

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on… how technology changes

The picture shows progress in two ways. All the devices on the left are now in that one device on the right... and binderholz Decorative Micro CLT gives you the look and feel of solid wood with the strength, straightness and stability of an engineered product.

Source: Binderholz Timber

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Ken Wilson
Editor, Friday Offcuts
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