Friday Offcuts 24 November 2023
With early fires already being fought and warnings on the potential for a tough season ahead for bush fires in Australia and a hotter, drier and windier summer being forecast for NZ, we’ve included this week an article that sums up just what the Canadian’s have just been through this year. We’ve seen the images. It’s hard though to fathom the true extent of the 2023 fire season. It’s already been described as being ecologically unprecedented.
How big? Well by the end of September, more than half of the world’s countries could fit inside the land burned this year in the Canadian wilderness. The modern single-year record for area burnt had been set in 1989, when almost 7.7 million ha burned across the country. In 2023, records were not only broken, they were destroyed with the total passing 18 million ha. Each year the fires are getting bigger and more ferocious, smoke is spreading further and the scale of the fires are releasing new weather: fire wind, fire whirls, fire tornadoes and fire thunderstorms. As if we needed it, it’s a timely reminder for communities and businesses across the country to prepare now for the summer months.
And in new technology this week, DJI have just unveiled their new integrated Lidar system for 3D data collection and high-accuracy post-processing for UAVs or drones, the Tesla semi, an all-electric full-sized truck, in a recent independent test was able to complete 1,732 km of travel in a single day and in NZ, Global Pac Technologies with Robotics Plus, the company behind the development of the world's first automated fixed and mobile log scaling machines, hit a major milestone recently. Their robotic apple and stone-fruit packing machines had packed one billion pieces of fruit. Like log scaling at the port, robotics and automation have transformed what was typically a highly labour dependant part of the packhouse and has led to significant improvements in productivity, safety and profitability. And that's it for this week.
This week we have for you:
US$225 Million for climate-focused forest fundManulife Investment Management announced that it has raised US$224.5 million in commitments at the initial close of Manulife Forest Climate Fund LP, reaching nearly the halfway mark towards the fund’s targeted US$500 million in committed capital.
Launched in late 2022, and aimed at providing investors with the opportunity to invest in nature and climate change mitigation and delivering value through carbon credits, the new fund invests in a globally diversified portfolio of sustainably managed forestland assets, where carbon sequestration is prioritized over timber production. The strategy also includes the establishment of new forests through afforestation or reforestation.
According to Tom Sarno, Global Head of Timberland Investments at Manulife Investment Management, the capital raise comes as amid strong demand for climate change solutions and “strong investor interest in strategies that may help support carbon emissions reductions and net zero commitments.”
“We believe that an investment in Manulife Forest Climate Fund can help support investors’ various climate goals and objectives and that the experience we have in sustainable forest management, as well as our commitment to high-quality carbon sequestration, brings additional value to the strategy,” added Mr Sarno.
Source: Carbon Herald
Canada’s year of fire – an unprecedented eventEndless evacuations, unimaginable smoke and heat, 45 million acres burned — is this Canada’s new normal?
When the fires came to Yellowknife, the nearest safe-harbour city was more than 600 miles away, a full day’s drive through dense smoke and flammable, nearly uninhabited forest in the infernal midst of Canada’s worst wildfire season on record. And there was no plan for this. The region’s largest city by far, Yellowknife was typically the place where everyone elsewhere in the remote Northwest Territories fled to when rushing to escape fire and flood, as many now did several times a year.
When the unthinkable order to abandon the capital came on Aug. 18, there was nowhere else to go in the entire Northwest Territories, which is three times the size of California: Every other town and city but one was already under evacuation orders or alerts. Seventy percent of the population, across a half million square miles, had been ordered to leave their homes because of fire.
Just across Great Slave Lake, an entire hamlet was destroyed in hours, and a second fire spread over 30 miles in a single day. Just one road led out of Yellowknife, in fact one lane, and it was threatened by fire, too, with helicopters and water bombers sprinkling the highway ahead of the evacuation traffic so that tires wouldn’t melt on the road.
The evacuation route had no turns for 500 miles, the next gas station was three hours away and, when cell service vanished just outside town, all hope of communication and guidance disappeared, too. The smoke was dense for about an hour, one evacuee told me. “I had the N95 mask strapped close to my face, and I still could barely breathe,” he said. “You’ve got to drive through the fire to safety.”
In the end, Yellowknife was lucky, almost everyone I met there told me. People got out — a tribute to community resilience or local know-how or frantic leadership, depending on whom you asked. The territory’s only proper hospital was evacuated, with some patients in long-term care forced to leave three different sites in a single week. The city of 20,000 was spared, as were many across the country, where despite an incomprehensible volume of coast-to-coast fire, not a single civilian died in the flames.
Firefighting forces were stretched thin but fighting nevertheless — with direct attack, water bombers, fire trucks, helicopters, back burns, firebreaks, fire retardant, strategically schemed sprinkler systems for triage and old-fashioned bucket-brigade-style home-to-home structural defence. Outside Yellowknife, the fires had jumped first one impregnable firebreak, then another and then another. But then the conditions changed, a final break held and the flames stalled — lucky.
Luckier than Nova Scotia — where rarely more than a thousand hectares burn in a given year, but this year a single fire, the largest in recorded history, burned more than 20,000 and cast flames more than 300 feet into the sky, and another, outside the capital, Halifax, destroyed at least 150 homes.
Luckier than Kelowna, British Columbia, where stunned residents taking refuge on boats filmed whole neighbourhoods burning on both shores of Lake Okanagan and firefighters endured what one of them on the line said “was like fighting a hundred years of wildfire in one night.”
Luckier than nearby Hay River, which evacuated during devastating “worst-case” floods in the spring of 2022, and then again when fires came through from the east in May, destroying homes that were just being rebuilt. Fires came again in August, this time from the south, forcing those rushing out for the second time in three months to drive straight through wildfire flames and causing others, encountering fallen trees on the road, to jump into the river for safety, all cell service knocked out and the sound of fuel tanks exploding to punctuate the impenetrable smoke.
Luckier than Enterprise, southwest of Hay River, where at least 90 percent of the town’s structures were destroyed and just eight homes spared. At one point, the territory’s environmental minister told me, in a four-kilometre radius around town, there were 330 separate wildfire hot spots.
It was, all told, an ecologically unprecedented event. By the end of September, more than half of the world’s countries could fit inside the land burned this year in the Canadian wilderness. Since the 1970s, the average area burned in the country had already doubled; this year, wildfires consumed that average six times over. The modern single-year record had been set in 1989, when almost 19 million acres burned across the country. In 2023, the total has passed 45 million.
Forestry Australia recognised for transformationForestry Australia was on Tuesday night awarded the prestigious Association Turnaround of the Year Award at the Associations Forum Awards Dinner in Sydney. Forestry Australia CEO Jacquie Martin said the national recognition was a testament to members, staff, volunteers and the Board.
“The Association Turnaround of the Year Award recognises the successful transformation of Forestry Australia in recent years,” Ms Martin said. “In the last five years, we have achieved significant membership growth, increased members satisfaction, expanded member benefits, increased revenue and equity, and made a huge step-change from being reactive towards leading the way.
“Since June 2020, our membership has increased by over 20 per cent, reaching the 1,200-member milestone in June this year. Importantly, we are attracting the next generation of leaders in our sector, with a doubling of Student and Young Professional members in recent years, as well as a six per cent increase in female members.
“We have taken the time to listen to our members and to deliver what they want, including webinars, mentoring programs, the appointment of a Science Policy Officer, and delivery of Position Statements. “Our commitment to our members has seen our Net Promoter Score increase 67 points and member satisfaction has risen by 26 per cent in five years; our member satisfaction has hit 85 per cent in 2023, which is a remarkable turnaround.
“Our members now characterise Forestry Australia as ‘energetic’, and that is certainly how we feel about the future – our team is committed to building on this momentum, and continuing grow for our members. This follows the success of our 2023 ANZIF Conference, which attracted a record 475 delegates from across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
“Forestry Australia is focussed on supporting active and adaptive forest management, evidence based decision making, and the scientists, professionals and growers who manage, study and care for our forests.
“I would like to thank our team in the National Office, current and past board members, volunteers and our members for their passion, dedication and ongoing support – this award is for you.”
Source: Forestry Australia
Juken's Gisborne mill to closeA Gisborne mill that has operated since 1994 is closing down permanently, with 60 staff losing their jobs 3 days before Christmas. Staff at the Juken New Zealand mill, which employs 80 people, were informed late last month that demand for the mill’s products had declined, and 3 options had to be considered.
The options included: Ceasing production until new markets and products can be found; putting the mill up for sale and likely ceasing production while we look for a buyer; or closing the mill permanently.
The mill processed radiata pine from the company’s East Coast forests to produce a small range of specialised wood products, mainly for the Japanese housing market. Demand for the mill’s products has continued to decline over the past 5 years and is not expected to improve. The mill’s age also meant it needs significant investment if it is to continue its effective production and safe operation.
On Friday, Juken New Zealand managing director Hiroyuki Kawado informed staff that, following consultation, a decision had been made to close the mill by the end of March 2024. “It is our intention to complete all work in progress by 22 December 2023 and then stop production. This will directly affect around 60 employees. A transition crew of 20 will ensure the mill can remain operational until 31 March 2024, at the latest,” he said.
WPMA appoints two new DirectorsThe Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association (WPMA) is pleased to announce the appointment of two new Directors.
Ian Jones (photo) is the General Manager for Fletcher Wood Products which includes the operating businesses of Waipapa Pine and Renewable Wood Fuels. He is responsible for the strategy and construction of the new NZ$275m wood panels plant in Taupo. Ian has a long history with Fletcher Building working in businesses across steel manufacturing, steel distribution, pipes, cement, aggregates, and concrete.
Ben Campbell is Head of Markets and Innovation at Abodo Wood Limited and has been involved in the timber and building products sector for over 20 years. He is passionate about improving the sustainability of the construction industry by offering renewable alternatives to old growth timbers for the benefit of future generations.
‘We are delighted to welcome such high-quality individuals to our board’ said CEO Mark Ross ‘The industry experience and insights they bring to the table will be invaluable as we bolster our vision of boosting New Zealand’s economic and sustainable future through sector growth’.
The duo joins experienced WPMA directors, chair John Eastwood, vice-chair Dr Jon Ryder (Oji Fibre Solutions), Darren Stead (Red Stag Timberlab), Tony Clifford (Pan Pac Forest Products), Craig Dawson (Westco Lumber), Mark Taylor (Tenon Clearwood Limited Partnership), Mark Hansen (Rosvall Sawmill), Alan Hartley (Niagara Sawmilling Company) and Brendan Smith (Juken NZ).
“I would like to acknowledge all our Board members for their ongoing commitment of time and effort in providing their valuable leadership’, said Ross. ‘At the same time, we farewell Garth Mortenson (North Sawn Lumber) and thank him for his important contributions.
A groundbreaking leap for UAV-Lidar mappingDJI selected Intergeo in Berlin as the stage for unveiling the DJI Zenmuse L2. This highly integrated Lidar system builds on the success of DJI’s Zenmuse L1 to bring new benefits to the geospatial community. Thanks to the enhanced RGB camera, upgraded Lidar module and improved precision, professionals utilizing the DJI Matrice 300 RTK or DJI Matrice 350 RTK platform can now achieve heightened accuracy, efficiency and reliability in 3D data acquisition.
Furthermore, when combined with DJI Terra, the DJI Zenmuse L2 delivers a comprehensive solution for 3D data collection and high-accuracy post-processing. This product launch marks a significant leap forward for DJI – a global leader in civilian uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs or ‘drones’) and cutting-edge camera technology – in the geospatial UAV-Lidar market.
“The DJI Zenmuse L2 marks a new era of 3D data acquisition,” said Christina Zhang, senior director of corporate strategy at DJI. “Three years ago, we were excited to introduce our reliable and cost-effective Lidar system for aerial platforms used by land surveyors, powerline inspectors, forestry professionals and more.
This solution is paramount in providing real-time 3D data, efficiently capturing the details of complex structures and delivering highly accurate reconstructed models. In line with our aim of promoting industry development in all enterprise verticals, we are continuing to tackle user pain points through technical innovation and reshaping industry productivity.
A message of remembrance for John PizzeyOn behalf of Helen, John’s wife, and the family, it is with profound sadness and a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of our esteemed Managing Director & Owner, John Pizzey, on Thursday, 26 October. His journey came to a peaceful end, following a brief yet courageous battle with multiple cancers.
John was so much more than a leader; he was the heart and soul of Porta. His vision, dedication, and a remarkable 47-year journey with us have left an indelible imprint on every individual he touched. Under his guidance, Porta navigated through myriad economic challenges and periods of growth. From its humble beginnings with simple timber mouldings at the back of a hardware store, John elevated Porta to its renowned position today as a leader in indoor timber.
John's passion extended beyond timber. He had a genuine love for the people he collaborated with, whether they were on the factory floor or industry associates. Every interaction at Porta mattered deeply to John. His virtues of patience and selflessness resonated in every conversation, every gesture.
One of his treasured routines was 'walking the floor.' Those moments, being amongst Porta’s team, witnessing their dedication, and acknowledging their efforts, were the highlights of his day. He took immense pride in seeing the collective effort that went into producing the quality timber products Porta is famous for. To John, each member of the Porta family was invaluable, and he deeply appreciated the skill and determination the team members brought to their roles every day.
Porta remains steadfast as a family business, even in the face of such profound loss. During his illness, John remained proud of Porta’s leadership team and their dedication to helping people 'know and love timber.' We thank you all for the unwavering support you've shown John over the years and are deeply touched by the outpouring of blessings and kind words since his departure. We offer our deepest condolences to all who had the privilege of knowing this exceptional individual. May his legacy continue to inspire and guide us in the many years ahead.
Claire Greenwood Director – Porta On behalf of Helen Pizzey, Olivia Sanderson & Tom Pizzey
Anonymous process revolutionised company's recruitmentMetsä Group, a Finnish forest industry group present in about 30 countries, is one of the few companies in Finland using anonymous recruitment as their main recruitment method. The goal of anonymous recruitment is to reduce the impact of unconscious biases and offer all job applicants equal opportunities during the recruitment process.
Anonymous recruitment has been Metsä Group’s main recruitment method since November 2022. It means that the applicants’ personal data such as name, age, gender and educational institution are hidden during the screening stage. The goal is that an increasingly diverse group of applicants reaches the interview stage, ensuring that the most suitable person is selected for the role, regardless of their personal characteristics.
“Anonymous recruitment was originally introduced in 2021 as part of Metsä Group’s comprehensive equality programme, and it has been the company’s main recruitment method for a year now. We welcome people from various backgrounds and life situations. We believe the best ideas emerge in diverse teams, and anonymous recruitment is an excellent way to increase the diversity of our workplace community,” says Susanna Tainio, Metsä Group’s VP, Recruitment and HR Development.
Currently, anonymous recruitment is used in more than 80 per cent of Metsä Group’s roughly 700 annual recruitments. It will also be adopted gradually in mass recruitments such as apprenticeship training and summer jobs. The latest round of apprenticeship applications was conducted completely anonymously for the first time.
The impact of anonymous recruitment is monitored closely. For example, the share of women among current recruits is 17 per cent higher than in 2021. This increase in the share of women comes not only from anonymous recruitment but also from the equality work carried out in Metsä Group. Based on the feedback from the company’s various units, the group of applicants reaching the interview stage is now more diverse.
Source: Metsa Group
New Forests to sell NZ assetsGlobal nature-based real assets manager New Forests is selling four of its New Zealand forestry assets.
The four estates, located across New Zealand's North and South Islands, are being sold as the fund manager completes the term of the second round Australia and New Zealand Forestry fund (ANZFF2).
The four estates are located across New Zealand's North and South Islands in established forestry regions of Blenheim, Southland, Taupo and Wairarapa and have a combined gross area of almost 16,000 hectares. All the estates apart from Taupo, are freehold, New Forests noted.
New Forests has engaged UBS New Zealand Limited as financial adviser to assist with the potential sale process. The forestry assets also present future carbon market opportunities with around one quarter of the plantations established on post 1989 land which is registered in New Zealand's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). All four forestry assets have been third-party certified for sustainable forest management.
Last month, New Forests sold a Tasmanian forestry estate to UniSuper and a consortium of European pension funds. UniSuper, the UK's Pension Protection Fund (PPF), and APG Asset Management N.V (APG) on behalf of its Dutch pension fund client ABP have bought Forico and a 170,000-hectare plantation forestry estate in Tasmania. Under the agreement, the three investors will each own 33% of Forico and the forestry estate. New Forests will be retained to provide investment management services.
Forico is Tasmania's largest private forest management company and the estate itself is one of Australia's largest plantation hardwood estates by productive area. It consists of vertically integrated assets and operations spanning approximately 90,000 hectares of productive plantation forest. It also owns key infrastructure along the supply chain consisting of two wood processing mills, a seedling nursery, fibre technology laboratory, and port access via a freehold facility at Long Reach, Tasmania.
Robotic operation hits a major milestoneGlobal Pac Technologies, a New Zealand-based company, started marketing the Aporo produce packing robot in 2018 on behalf of New Zealand inventor and manufacturer Robotics Plus Limited. This is the same company behind the development of the world's first automated log scaling machines, fixed and mobile, commissioned by Mount Maunganui-based ISO Limited.
Global Pac Technologies have just hit a major milestone, having packed one billion pieces of fruit. The Aporo produce packer is a market leader in loose fruit packing automation globally and its ground-breaking technology continues to evolve, bringing with it accuracy and speed. Aporo is now active in eight countries around the world, robotically packing apples and stonefruit with more fruit types coming online soon.
Cameron McInness, Sales Director at Global Pac says the milestone is a testament to partnership and collaboration. “This significant milestone points clearly to collaboration between designers, our leading post-harvest automation supply partners, and end users resulting in true industry change and transformation to a typically highly labour dependant part of the packhouse”.
The Aporo has a compact footprint that is ideal for retrofitting into existing facilities, as well as intuitive controls that minimise the need for operator intervention, and a design that prioritises food safety. “These are all attributes the industry asked for and the team at Robotics Plus has delivered” adds McInness.
“It is important that we take a moment to pause and thank everyone who played a role in taking what was originally a doctoral study, commercializing the technology, and taking it to the world through our dedicated distribution partners”
The billionth piece of fruit packed was in France at Vergers de Sennevieres. The robots were sold, installed, and supported by SormaF in 2022 and have allowed Vergers de Sennevieres to redeploy resources from this traditionally labour-intensive process into higher value post-harvest activities.
Tesla Semi e truck does 1,732 km in a single dayTesla Semi is one of the most innovative products to hit the market in the heavy trucking sector in recent years. It launched last year, and PepsiCo was one of the first big customers, and at the time Tesla made the claim that the Semi was capable of a loaded range of over 800 km on a single charge.
Recently, an independent organisation in the US, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), has been testing the PepsiCo Tesla Semi trucks, along with other electric trucks, in the Run for Less challenge.
One of the highlights of the challenge, which ran for 18 days, was a Tesla Semi that completed 1,732 km in a single day. This is a big achievement since many thought an all-electric full-sized truck couldn’t travel long distances. During the 1,732 km of travel, this Tesla Semi made three charging stops.
Two of these charging stops were under 45 minutes while the third around mid-day lasted for over an hour and got the truck’s 3% state of charge up to nearly 90%. The truck spent 81.8% of the time driving while charging made up 11.1%. During driving, 92.6% of the driving was done at speeds over 80 km/hour.
Although the exact load on the day was not shared, the event organisers have previously stated that the average loads during the trial have been around 31.8 tonnes.
Other trucks were also part of the challenge and the goal of this event has been to analyse which truck would be able to make the most contribution and have the long-range required to be able to complete logistics in a commercial setting.
The NACFE challenge incorporated not only electric trucks but also commercial electric vehicles from multiple fleets that are delivering goods on real roads with data being collected from each vehicle.
The end of Australia’s home-building boomAustralia’s residential construction boom is petering out as the higher cost of financing new homes blunts buyer appetite, leading to a slowdown in much-needed housing supply, according to a survey of analysts and economists. Jarden chief economist Carlos Cacho expects residential construction activity to slow materially next year, “particularly as the current pipeline of work reaches completion around March 2024”.
“We also see an elevated risk that not all of the current AU$76 billion of residential work reaches completion, given high construction costs and interest rates could see elevated cancellations,” he said. Mr Cacho expects housing starts to fall from 172,000 in the 2023 financial year to 154,000 in FY24, before recovering to 166,000 in FY25. That’s bad news for the federal government’s ambition for 1.2 million new homes to be built over the next five years. Jarden estimates the current run implies a 15-20 per cent shortfall on that target.
“The record rate of construction failures likely means potential buyers will remain cautious when considering new housing and mean that despite solid underlying demand, new housing sales remain subdued,” he said.
SQM Research founder Louis Christopher agreed, saying residential construction “is bottoming out as we speak”. “The federal government’s push for 1.2 million dwellings is creating some confidence, along with a fall in raw material costs. But what is in the pipeline now will still fall well short of long-term averages.”
Benefits of 3D laser scanning in forest conservation3D laser scanning is a cutting-edge technology that has revolutionised how we capture and visualise the world. By using laser beams to measure the distances and shapes of objects, structures, and landscapes, it creates exact, three- dimensional representations.
Scanning in forest conservation can solve a lot of problems. For instance, with 3D laser scanning services, engineers can navigate through dense vegetation and uneven terrain. It is a time-effective way to get through thick canopies while offering a panoramic view of the area for the best data insights.
How 3D laser scanning would help in forest conservation?
In forest conservation, 3D laser scanning has emerged as a powerful tool for understanding, protecting, and managing critical ecosystems. In this technique, a laser scanner emits laser beams that bounce off environmental surfaces and return to the scanner.
By precisely measuring the time it takes for the laser pulses to return, the scanner calculates the distance to the objects and creates a point cloud. Point Cloud is a collection of data points that form an accurate 3D representation of the forest.
These point clouds are so detailed that they can capture the shape and structure of trees, understory vegetation, and the forest floor with exceptional precision.
Identifying Deforestation Sites
Deforestation is a significant problem that can lead to sudden climate change, increase in temperature and loss of flora and fauna. Illegal logging can also cause accidents landslides, and destroy the terrain.
3D laser scanning helps identify such deforestation sites. This early detection is instrumental in preventing further deforestation, preserving biodiversity, and maintaining the vital carbon sequestration function of forests. 3D laser scanning empowers conservationists and authorities to take timely action in safeguarding these precious ecosystems, making it an indispensable tool in the fight against deforestation.
Detecting Potential Forest Fires
One of the most significant risks in forest conservation is detecting hazards such as forest fires and landslides. These hazards can damage acres of land and destroy various plants and animal species.
3D laser scanning helps to identify such potential threats and resolve them before any damage occurs. In this method, engineers can scan and replicate the forest floor into detailed 3D images. Digital rendering and scanning then give insights into land elevation, soil quality, terrain, vegetation, etc.
Researchers can compare 3D laser scans done over some time to assess any potential threats, tree decay, unstable slopes, etc. 3D scanning also assists in modelling fire behaviour and predicting the paths it can spread to. With these insights, conservationists can easily prevent these hazards and mitigate the risks.
Source: Chris Patchell, Avian
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... aging gracefully
A very elderly gentleman (mid 90s), very well dressed, hair well groomed, great looking suit, flower in his lapel, smelling slightly of a good after-shave, presenting a well looked-after image, walks into an up-market cocktail lounge. Seated at the bar is an elderly looking lady (mid 80s). The gentleman walks over, sits alongside her, orders a drink, takes a sip, turns to her and says, "So tell me, do I come here often?"
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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