Friday Offcuts 3 March 2023
Click to Subscribe - It's FREE!Recently we revealed a new partnership that had just been set up between Genesis Energy and Fonterra. Early trials were going to test whether wood biomass in the form of imported black torrefied wood pellets could be used as a substitute for coal to generate electricity and heat. If successful, the companies were then going to investigate the option of the large scale use of wood residues, including forestry slash, to produce biomass to fire the power station.
The trial, albeit small, using 1,000 tonnes of pellets was successful. It demonstrated that Huntly’s large power generating units can successfully be run on 100% wood. The trial may have been small. The implications though to the forestry industry are huge. In a busy year, the Huntly power station can burn 1 million tonnes of coal to fuel the national grid. While the pellets in the trial contained a similar amount of energy to coal, they had to use roughly 25% more wood to achieve the same amount of electricity generation. Now, you do the maths here. The volume of wood residues drawn in from across the region (or elsewhere – thinking here of the storm ravaged East Coast) could be significant. The next step for the partnership is to work alongside the forestry sector to determine if a constant supply of raw material is available and can be delivered. Investigating options for building a new biomass plant is also on the table.
In Mt Gambier this week, forestry and log haulage companies were able to view for the first time, an electric log truck. Fennell Forestry unveiled the truck, a previously diesel-powered Kenworth, to stakeholders, government and industry representatives. It’s just the second electric log truck in the world. What’s more, the work’s being undertaken entirely with Australian technology, innovation and workmanship. As detailed, a single diesel-powered log truck produces in excess of 500 tonnes of carbon every year so by converting to an electric engine and battery system, you’ll be able to slash this number to zero. It’s potentially a game changer for an industry looking to decarbonise its operations.
In wood processing news, last week we covered an update on the major AU$63 m upgrade being planned in Tasmania at Timberlink’s Bell Bay operation and progress on the company’s new wood-plastic composites plant on track to be in full production later this year. Cusp Building Solutions, also in Tasmania, after launching the world’s first certified plantation hardwood CLT in 2021, announced that they’re planning to relocate to a larger site. This will enable them to double their current production and then by late 2024, they’re projecting they’ll be manufacturing four times the current monthly throughput.
In forestry this week, we discover how the team at Forico, another Tasmanian company, are thinning trees from nine to twelve years old to enable them to capture greater carbon in the long term. At the same time, converting their hardwood estate from a short rotation to a long rotation crop. And we’ve covered drone-based canopy foliar sampling to local foresters at recent ForestTECH events. The sampling system, produced by Outreach Robotics, has now been adopted operationally by NEON, a US based ecosystems monitoring programme. That's it for this week.
This week we have for you:
Huntly burns wood rather than fossil fuelsGenesis Energy has found its coal-burning unit in Waikato can also produce electricity when fed wood.
The Huntly power station replaced planet-heating coal with wood in a trial to bring down the facility’s large carbon footprint. In a busy year, the plant can import more than a million tonnes of coal to feed the national grid. Owner Genesis Energy has pledged to significantly reduce its annual greenhouse emissions, and believed wood transformed into pellets could replace coal, the highest-emitting fossil fuel.
Although shipped from Canada, the wood pellets have a footprint at least 90% lower than coal, Genesis said. The trial demonstrated Huntly’s power generating units can successfully run on 100% wood. The Waikato-based power plant produces roughly 6% of the country’s total carbon dioxide each year. When its coal usage rises – as it did in 2021 – Huntly sways New Zealand’s carbon footprint.
But although Huntly’s workers spent a year preparing for the trial, it involved a single Rankine power unit burning wood for several hours, Genesis confirmed. The test is unlikely to reduce the company’s annual carbon footprint by much.
The black pellets are a dried, concentrated form of wood energy – producing far less carbon than coal. However, Genesis is looking for a long-term, local source of wood pellets or “biomass”, said interim chief executive Tracey Hickman in a statement.
“It’s worth some focus by government and business to see if a sustainable local supply chain can be developed. Compared to some other decarbonisation solutions, biomass conversion could be implemented much sooner to the benefit of the country.” With a reliable supply of pellets, Hickman said, Huntly could become a lower-carbon source of back-up electricity generation for another decade – or even longer.
“Eventually, new technology or an over-supply of new renewable generation might be able to provide security of supply, but that is some time away and not yet certain.” Genesis said biomass factories can take 18 months to build. By next year, the company – partnering with Fonterra – hoped to determine whether a local supply of wood pellets was a feasible option. Genesis had secured enough coal to last through to 2024, under normal circumstances.
According to Scion researchers, there is enough waste or residual wood from forests to replace all the fossil fuels burned in domestic industrial boilers.
To create black pellets, wood is heated slowly without oxygen as high as 300C. This process (known as “torrefaction”) dries the material and concentrates the energy. While the pellets contain a similar amount of energy to coal, Huntly had to use roughly 25% more wood to achieve the same amount of electricity generation.
World’s second electric log truck launched in AustraliaAustralia’s first electric log truck has arrived in Mount Gambier, as Fennell Forestry cuts a new path towards a carbon-free future for the sector.
The truck is just the second electric log truck in the world and has been commissioned by the local harvest and haulage company to provide a realistic carbon reduction solution for the heavy transport industry. Fennell Forestry unveiled the truck to stakeholders, government and industry representatives at an exclusive preview event on 28 February 2023.
Work to convert the once diesel-powered Kenworth prime mover to a fully electric battery operating system has been underway since early-2022, driven entirely by Australian technology, innovation and workmanship. And after rigorous testing, fine-tuning and anticipation, the truck is now at home in Australia’s most productive plantation forestry region - the Green Triangle.
A new charging station has been installed and tested at Fennell Forestry’s Mount Gambier depot, to ensure the vehicle can be operated and recharged as required. On-road and in-field preliminary testing has been carried out to ensure the truck can handle the demands of forest logging. Staff inductions have been held, plantation managers briefed and local emergency service crews have also previewed the new technology, ensuring everyone is ready when the truck finally hits the road.
Fennell Forestry Managing Director Wendy Fennell said the electric truck represented the first bold step towards ensuring heavy transport industry meet the Federal Government’s 2030 emissions reduction targets.
“We’ve done our groundwork and due diligence, calculating battery power, run time and carbon-emission reduction,” she said. “Now it’s time to get the truck loaded and on the road to see if the practical application measures up to the theoretical. We think it will, but will be two years before we can say our Australia-first initiative has been a success”.
“It’s an educated gamble, but one we feel compelled to take for the benefit of the heavy transport industry and future generations.”
For the New Zealand forestry and log haulage industry, Wendy Fennell from Fennell Forestry and Lex Forsyth from Janus Electric, the Australian company behind the conversion to the electric battery operating system, will be presenting as part of the major Wood Transport & Logistics 2023 event running in Rotorua on 24-25 May. Details on the event, programme and registrations can be found on the event website
Notes: Transport is Australia’s second highest contributor to carbon emissions. A single diesel-powered log truck produces in excess of 500 tonnes of carbon every year. Converting to an electric engine and battery system will slash this number to zero. And when recharging using renewable energy, the environmental dividends will be even greater. The electric conversion has been completed in New South Wales by Australian company Janus Electric, to comply with the high gross combination mass requirements of Australia’s heavy transport vehicles.
About Australia’s first electric log truck
- 100% carbon zero when recharged using renewable energy.
- Existing vehicle conversion. Battery charging technology and operating system installed on an existing truck, allowing reuse of the Kenworth prime mover chassis, axles and suspensions required for Fennell Forestry transport operations.
- 4 hours for full battery recharge, using the newly established on-site charging station.
- “Swap-and-go” battery system, which requires the truck to be stationary for less than five minutes.
- 400-500km indicative battery range, dependent on operation type.
- Low engine running temperature 40 degrees less than regular diesel engines.
- 720 horsepower and rated to meet the GCM requirements of Fennell Forestry B-Doubles.
Photo: Australia’s first electric log truck loaded with log on its maiden voyage, near Mount Gambier last week. Image courtesy of Fennell Forestry
For further coverage of the launch click here.
Source: Fennell Forestry
Forestry contractors chipping in with clean-upNew Zealand’s forestry contractors are mucking in to help clean up post Cyclone Gabrielle while unable to get back to work as normal.
Some forestry contractors affected by Cyclone Gabrielle remain unable to get back to work, reliant on landowners to grant re-entry to the forests. While roading accessibility and safety remain key concerns, forestry contractors still have bills to pay and staff to retain until they know when they can go back to work or not.
Forest Industry Contractors Association CEO Prue Younger says contractors are adapting as best they can, redeploying machinery and manpower while they try to keep staff busy and income coming in. It will be important to understand if they are going to be supported by government, like other sectors so reliant on the land for employment are.
“We’re hearing stories of contractors getting stuck in and helping out in their communities, whether that’s volunteering or seeking alternative revenue through short-term clean up jobs,” she says. “As the workforce on the ground within the wider forestry industry, they’re doing us proud, looking for opportunities to pitch in and help, while also keeping their staff busy.”
Chrystal and Gavin Edmonds run Stirling Logging based in Wairoa and Gisborne. They employ about 20 staff and have more than half their team out and about helping to clean up. “We’ve got about 11 of our guys out clearing silt in Gisborne with 4 diggers we’ve hired. We are just going house to house, trying to give a hand and help out wherever we can.”
Although at the moment the cost to help is mostly coming out of their own pocket, Gavin says either way it’s got to be done, especially with the increasing hygiene health risks. But he says it’s also good to be busy. “We know we’re stronger together. We’re keeping our guys employed and busy and keeping good morale going till we can get back to work.”
Hawkes Bay’s Amy Satherley from ATS Logging employs 23 staff and is redeploying machinery and staff to help with clean up jobs. “We’ve got our bucket diggers and grapple diggers helping with recovery and clean up. We’ve been doing everything from placing rocks out at Awatoto Beach to clearing under bridges, clearing trees and opening up roads to help get people out of inaccessible and remote areas where they’re still cut off,” she says.
“Our machine operators are doing their best, even though it’s work they probably never expected to be doing. A lot of the farming community is still cut off and when we get through to them, they’re all really stoked to see us out there getting their roads open and houses cleared. There are so many people out there grateful for our help.”
Rob Scurr from DG Glenn is also on the ground in Hawkes Bay. DG Glenn is one of the largest contractors in the region employing 150 plus staff. “We’re using our machines to distribute supplies and gain access on different roads and networks to reach isolated people. Companies like Mainfreight and Shaws have been in the background supplying stuff and we’ve been helping to distribute it,” he says.
“We were able to get a 20-tonne generator into Patoka on Thursday – from our work in the bush we knew a different way to get in there using our machine, so we just got in there and got it done.” Ms Younger says all contractors are focused on keeping their staff and their livelihoods, while trying to keep some income coming in to stay afloat while doing their bit to help with clean-up efforts.
“FICA has an initiative in place – “Moving our People” – coordinating the redeployment of contractors to clean up jobs and forestry work such as wind throw tree falling that is available in other regions,” she says.
“Like other parts of the food and fibre sectors that are challenged and debating their futures, our contractors as service providers to landowners are in the same boat. They seek clarity around support and around their livelihoods so they can keep their staff and their businesses.”
Photo: DG Glenn, Patoka
Plantation thinning for carbon, timber and innovationPlantation thinning may not be new in the forestry sector, which has been thinning to improve tree growth and vigour for years. But the operations being carried out by Forico in Tasmania’s northwest are racking up the benefits, continuing the development of forestry-based carbon methodology, growing construction timber, and pushing innovation boundaries.
Forestry and Carbon
Forico is believed to be one of the first Australian forestry and asset management companies to register plantation forestry projects with the Clean Energy Regulator’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). The company uses an Enterprise Valuation Model to identify operations with the potential to add value across its managed estate. In early 2022, modelling predicted that thinning trees between nine and twelve years of age would produce more substantial growth, suitable for sawlogs and the building timber or engineered wood products of the future.
Further investigation by Strategic Planning Manager Steven Butt and Sustainability Manager Simon Cook identified the opportunity to register operations under Schedule 2 of the ERF’s Plantation Forestry Method. This would generate carbon credits, the trees capturing more carbon in the resulting extra ten years of growth than would have been captured on a shorter rotation. Figures indicated that an extra hundred tonnes per hectare of carbon will be drawn down from the atmosphere and stored.
‘We’ve all known for a long time that thinning trees creates results in greater carbon capture in the long term, with greater height and volume in the crop, better access to light and water and capacity to photosynthesise,’ says Darren Herd, Forico’s General Manager of Plantation Performance. ‘What’s new here is the opportunity to convert a hardwood crop from short to long rotation, while creating additional Natural Capital value in more carbon sequestration, with the costs supported by registering for Australian Carbon Credit Units.’
Specialist Harvest Machinery
The project was registered with the ERF in March 2022 and began in July, overseen by Forico’s Operations Forester Roger Ambrose. Forico appointed Tasmanian contractor Casegrande Lumber, whose Principal is Paul Morgan. Both he and Ambrose have extensive experience in commercial thinning operations.
Casegrande was equipped with harvesters designed to rotate within their own footprint reducing the likelihood of damage to trees, and a long boom allowing for greater reach. This reduces the need for ‘outrows’, when an entire row of trees is removed to allow passage, and results in less traffic across the site, reduced impact on soil and productivity, and fewer windrows, reducing the potential for storm damage.
Forestry and Innovation
Working with Private Forests Tasmania (PFT) and Senior Research Fellow Mauricio Acuna from the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), Forico also facilitated a trial as part of the Wood Supply Co-investment Program supported by PFT, relating to Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensing technology. Results from two plantation plots were compared, a control plot in which the harvesting operator selected trees for extraction, and a plot in which trees were marked for harvest in a manner mimicking selection by sensing technology. While results are still being collated, it is hoped that LiDAR will prove to be a highly effective means of streamlining thinning operations.
‘There’s a distinct difference in the appearance of the plantations and the quality of the outcome,’ says Forico’s Harvest Operations Manager for the Northwest, Mark Pearce.
Lumber for the long-term
With a view to long-term planning and diversification, growing plantation hardwood for a longer rotation aligns with one of Forico’s strategic goals, namely the investigation into downstream processing.
Forico is Tasmania’s largest private asset-management company, engaged on behalf of the investors of The Tasmanian Forest Trust managed by investment fund manager New Forests. Forico manages 89,362 hectares of globally certified plantation for sustainable wood fibre production, and 77,552 hectares of natural forest areas, which is not harvested for commercial purposes but conserved by the company for biodiversity and cultural value.
Operations Forester Roger Ambrose (L) with Casegrande operator Brad Fuller (R)
Cusp to increase CLT & GLT production by 100%It started with a bold idea. It progressed because of an unwavering belief that it could be done. And in June 2021, the newly branded Cusp Building Solutions launched the first certified plantation hardwood CLT in the world.
From a resource traditionally used for woodchips, Cusp now creates a range of mass timber elements for the built environment. Cusp is now set to relocate to a larger manufacturing facility to enable an immediate increase in production of 100%, with further increases planned for the medium and long term.
“Having proven our capability and established market demand, Cusp Building Solutions is now ready to scale,” said Founder Ron Goldschlager. “Up until now, Cusp has been a start-up. The start-up phase was hampered in no small part by the global pandemic. Still, we are excited to begin the commercialisation process of significantly increasing our manufacturing capacity,” he said.
In the start-up phase, Cusp has exceeded expectations, proving its R&D capability with a series of both world and national firsts, including:
• The first certified plantation hardwood Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) in the world.
• The strongest CLT in the world.
• The only CLT certified by the Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA) in Australasia.
• The first and only 120-minute Fire Certification.
• The world’s thinnest CLT.
• The largest Glue Laminated Timber (GLT) beam capacity in Australia.
• The only curved GLT manufacturer in Australia.
The company will now strategically invest in people, machinery, and facilities to meet market demand and price expectations and has invited expressions of interest from investors who want to partner with Cusp to accelerate growth.
The 100% increase in production is our immediate target, but by late 2024, we expect to be manufacturing four times our current monthly throughput with further increases planned beyond that time.
To facilitate the expansion, Cusp is working towards relocation to a larger facility at Deep Creek in Tasmania. The facility is designed for both GLT and CLT production volumes. It is anticipated that this will be the new home of Cusp for the medium term.
“We’ll increase staff by 25-30%, including floor staff, skilled machinists and trainees,” said Ron, “and diversify our mix of timbers.” While Eucalyptus Nitens is the plantation timber that Cusp was founded on, the company also produces products from other plantation sources, including Grandis, a eucalypt from Urofor, and Spruce, a plantation-grown European softwood.
Innovative infrared technology to test timber treatmentAKD has announced the use of an innovative new technology that provides real time quality assurance for H2F timber treatment efficacy at its Tumut and Oberon processing facilities, to provide increased market confidence and is the first certification of its kind.
This new testing approach uses a state-of the art Fourier Transform Infrared Radiation (FTIR) spectroscopy unit to demonstrate equivalence of a non-standard method of timber chemical retention verification under the recently updated timber treatment standard (AS/NZS 1604). The innovative process has been third party certified by the Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA). AKD is the first producer to achieve this certification.
FTIR applies thermal radiation to the test sample which is invisible to the human eye and interacts with matter by triggering molecular vibrations. The usefulness of FTIR comes with the easy testing and immediate results. The unit is already deployed in many other industries including pharmaceutical, automotive, electronic, food and feed and construction.
This innovation replaces the old method, which is common across the industry, involving treated timber products being quarantined on site and samples sent off site for external laboratory testing before product treatment can be assured and the product released for sale. This new method is real-time, ensuring that AKD product supply is not delayed to the market. AKD plans to roll out the new technology to other sites around Australia.
As with most innovations, this new approach was only possible with collaboration between various parties, including one of AKD’s preservative suppliers, Koppers Performance Chemicals (KPC) who understood that the past method of verification was slow and could be significantly improved. Elias Akle, KPC’s CEO, said “It was clear that AKD needed a solution for their ongoing QC of H2F treated framing. In our visits to all the AKD sites, the need to quarantine treated framing until external QC results are confirmed, was always raised with us as a less than ideal practice.”
KPC’s own chemist, Luke McGregor, bought the idea of FTIR spectroscopy to the problem as a possible solution. Working with AKD’s own Wood Technologist, Marina Milic, the process of data collection, analysis and calibration of the unit took place over several years, notwithstanding the pandemic slowed down the process. Timber ED provided support in statistical analysis. This process provided the comfort to commit to the technology by ordering the first instrument for the Oberon site and, following its successful commissioning, ordering another unit for AKD’s Tumut site.
Gavin Matthew, CEO of EWPAA, stated “EWPAA is proud to have worked with AKD to achieve the first certification to our newly developed and JAS-ANZ accredited preservative treated certification scheme. The certification recognises AKD’s innovative process of treating and verifying H2F structural timber to the recently updated AS/NZS1604 standard. We look forward to delivering more certifications and increasing market confidence in the manufacturing and treatment of renewable timber products”.
Marina Milic, AKD’s National Wood Technologist who leads the company on treatment innovations, concludes “FTIR spectroscopy is a fast and easy analytical technique that provides answers within seconds. It is resource friendly, requiring only a small sample and little preparation. Achieving this new certification shows AKD is always looking for continual improvement. I’m proud of our collaboration both within the AKD business, across our tech team with special mention going to Kim Harris, AKD National Compliance Manager, with site QC personnel, and along with industry partners (EWPAA, KPC, and TimberED) during this ground-breaking project.”
Photo: L to R – Marina Milic (AKD National Wood Technologist, Mark Johns (AKD Tumut Drymill Quality & Compliance), Troy Edwards (EWPAA)
NEON adds drone-based Leaf Sampling ProtocolTreetop leaf sampling ( canopy foliar sampling) at forested NEON (The National Science Foundation's National Ecological Observatory Network ) field sites just got a whole lot easier. We've added a new tool to our kit: an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone. Drone-based foliar sampling has been added as an official NEON protocol for forested sites. The UAV will also be available for use in the Assignable Assets program.
Faster, Safer Canopy Sampling with UAVs
The NEON program has been experimenting with drone-based foliar sampling since 2019, when we conducted a pilot programwith Outreach Robotics, the creators of the DeLeaves tree sampling tool. Since then, DeLeaves has made significant improvements in range, portability, and ease of use for the system.
After training additional pilots in 2021, we decided to invest in a UAV of our own. The Matrice 300 RTK commercial drone is about 2' by 2.5' and has a payload capacity of ~3 kg, enough to support the DeLeaves sampling arm, camera, and a foliar sample. It can also be outfitted with other types of equipment, such as a lidar system or spectrometer.
This is the first UAV purchased by the NEON project, though previous flights have been performed at NEON sites using Battelle-owned drones as part of a series of internal research and development (IRAD) grants aimed at improving drone research capabilities across the organization. Battelle operates the NEON program on behalf of the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Tree foliar sampling is the first drone-based protocol to be added to NEON's sampling design. NEON collects foliar samples from as close to the canopy top as possible, and does chemical analyses of these samples, to provide ground-truthing for the hyperspectral data from the Airborne Observation Platform (AOP).
Previously, field staff used line launchers to collect leaf samples from the tree canopy—a process that is both time-consuming and imprecise. The line launchers collect leaf samples from the sides of the tree instead of the top of the canopy. This matters because leaves from lower in the canopy do not get as much sunlight as leaves at the top, resulting in different chemical makeup and growth patterns. As a result, it is harder to correlate hyperspectral data from with chemical analysis of foliar samples for ground truthing.
Using drones to collect samples from the canopy tops is safer, faster, and easier than other methods. Using a UAV and the DeLeaves sampling tool, it is possible to precisely target samples from the very top of the canopy—the part of the canopy viewed by the AOP—for better ground truthing data. In addition, the drone protocol saves considerable time in the field.
Dave Durden, a senior research scientist for the NEON program and the primary investigator for the drone project, says, "Canopy sampling is conducted at peak greenness for each site, which is already a tremendously busy time for our field scientists. Anything that gives our field science team some time back is a big win. This has greatly reduced the time needed for canopy sampling." Using the drone, the team was able to cut time for canopy sampling at mixed forest sites from 3-4 weeks per site to just 1-1.5 weeks per site.
NZ School of Forestry turns 50!The NZ School of Forestry, Te Kura Ngahere, will hold a celebration mid-April for its 50th anniversary (the actual anniversary was back in 2020, but the event fell victim to the early days of COVID!). “It is an exciting milestone for us, we have produced many quality graduates and completed a lot of great research work” says Prof Bruce Manley, who has been the Head of the School for 18 years.
Over the last 50 years the school has seen more than 1300 undergraduates through our doors, as well as 337 graduate students. Thirty years ago, the Forest Engineering degree was added to the program, and 175 engineers have graduated to support our NZ forest industry. We can boast NZ sports representatives, Members of Parliament, leaders in the forest industry and graduates who have ventured further afield, and those who have returned “home” to teach the next generation. We also have a second generation of our graduates joining us which is a great affirmation of the programmes we deliver.
With 30+ years as the School’s administrator, Jeanette Allen will be looking forward to seeing our alumni back for the Celebration. Jeanette will be fondly remembered by many of our graduates notes Prof Manley, “she not only looks after the School, but also after the students as they transition through their degree”. Jeanette is not the only ‘long-timer’, with the School benefiting from having a very stable teaching workforce. For example, famous-for-all-things silviculture, Prof Euan Mason has served 30 years, and recently retired ecology Prof David Norton taught for 37 years.
The Celebration event itself will take place over three days (12-14th April). It starts with an ice-breaker the evening of the 12th and is followed by two days that includes presentations, a tour of the School, as well as a field trip to a native restoration project on Port Hills and a visit to C3/Port of Lyttleton. With Justin Morgenroth and Rien Visser rounding out the main organisation team, the Student Union (Haere-roa) venue conveniently has the student pub right next door. “We are making sure there is plenty of opportunity for old class-mates to catch up, and even skip the odd ‘lecture’ as they may have done in during their Uni days” says Visser.
“We have been an integral part of forestry as a whole here in New Zealand and beyond, and as such we welcome all people who have a connection to the School to come and celebrate with us, not just our graduates” says Prof. Manley. More information is available on their website. Registrations close on 13th March.
PF Olsen NZ log market update – February 2023Market Summary
At Wharf Gate (AWG) prices for export logs increased $7-$8 per JASm3 in both January and February. Log demand in China has not increased as much as expected after the Lunar New Year, but there will be significantly reduced log supply from New Zealand due to several severe weather events across the top half of the North Island. This will likely increase price pressure for logs in China. The domestic demand for logs is weakening as building projects are cancelled or delayed.
The PF Olsen Log Price Index increased $4 in both January and February to $127. The index is now $4 above the two-year and $3 above the five-year average.
Domestic Log Market
There was very little change in log prices around the country for Quarter 1. Pruned logs remained unchanged while in some regions structural logs reduced by about $1 per tonne. While there have been plenty of building consents, these are not translating into projects starting. This is due to a combination of poor weather, high interest rates and business uncertainty.
There is an oversupply of structural sawn timber and many mills are actively reducing production. There is price pressure as sellers look to maintain or increase their market share. Many sawmill managers say this is the worst decking season they can remember. Clearwood is used to manufacture premium decking. Exports prices for clear sawn timber into Europe specifically are still strong.
Sale prices for sawn timber into Asian countries continue to fall. Some grades have fallen as much as 40% over the last six months.
Export Log Market
China softwood log inventory is just over 4m m3 and port offtake is still stubbornly sitting at about 60k per day. There are very recent indications port offtake may be increasing but nothing sustained yet. The CFR price for A grade radiata logs in China is in the range 135-140 USD per JASm3 . South American logs are again heading to China with January and February loaded vessels selling for 110-120 USD per JASm3, but March offers are in the high 120’s. European spruce is offered at 160 EUR (168 USD) per JASm3.
The China Caixin manufacturing PMI edged up slightly from 49.0 to 49.2. The Purchasing Managers Index published by the National Bureau of Statistics in China rose 3.1 points to be at 50.1 for January. For both indices, a reading above 50 indicates an expansion of the manufacturing sector. Warehouse prices in China had dropped 5% in the first half of February, but this slight decline has halted as the market becomes aware of reduced supply from New Zealand.
There will be a significant reduction in log supply from New Zealand. The worst affected areas on the east coast of the North Island contains Gisborne and Napier ports. These two ports account for about 25% of New Zealand’s log exports. These ports have effectively been closed for two weeks. Log production in this area is very unlikely to be above 50% for the short term. Some operations are also slow in Tauranga due to wet weather and have stopped in Northland due to damage of the public roading infrastructure.
Source: Scott Downs, PF Olsen Limited
Car tyres with lignin reinforcingPirelli is to introduce passenger car tyres incorporating wood-derived lignin fillers produced via an innovative process technology later this year. The industrial process has been optimised for "scale-up and utilisation in car tyre products,” Luciano Tadielli, innovative materials researcher, Pirelli Tyre SpA, said at the DKT IRC conference.
Employing novel chemical treatment and co-precipitation techniques, Pirelli's development follows years of R&D to overcome the challenges of successfully mixing lignin into rubber compounds. “You will find the lignin filler in the tyre from the end of this year,” Tadielli told ERJ.
As a bio-based material, lignin – a by-product of the paper pulping process in the paper industry – offers a sustainable alternative to carbon black as a reinforcing filler in tyres and rubber products. Pirelli will start with one application in one tyre size, as the lignin-based compounds for each application can be very different, according to the Milan-based researcher.
New consortium set up for zero-emission aviationSix international businesses have launched a new consortium to bring zero-emission aviation to life in New Zealand. The Hydrogen Consortium’s vision is to support the country to pioneer the commercial deployment of green hydrogen-powered aircraft.
The partners are international aerospace leader Airbus, global green energy company Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), leading world airline Air New Zealand, next generation energy company Hiringa Energy, liquid hydrogen solution pioneers Fabrum and New Zealand’s Christchurch Airport.
The Hydrogen Consortium was launched at Christchurch Airport, which is developing a 400-hectare renewable energy precinct called Kōwhai Park. Speaking at the launch, Christchurch Airport chief executive Justin Watson said climate change has further strengthened the international aviation sector’s resolve to decarbonise.
“Major progress is being made,” Watson says. “There have been successful test flights of zero emission aircraft already. There are new sustainable aviation fuels that can cut emissions by up to 80% and a huge amount of research is going into how to commercialise these solutions.
“The Hydrogen Consortium will see some of the world’s best experts collaborate on one of the most promising zero emission fuels – green hydrogen.” Airbus is working to develop and put into service the world’s first hydrogen-powered commercial passenger aircraft by 2035.
In close cooperation with its partners, Airbus will factor in aviation's requirement for hydrogen in New Zealand. Using its hydrogen hubs at airports concept, Airbus will engage with aviation and non-aviation players to perform a complete assessment of energy supply needs to enable the operation of hydrogen-powered aircraft.
Airbus’ Vice President of the ZEROe Ecosystem Karine Guenan says the journey to sustainable aviation requires an entire ecosystem to be put into place – one that will involve key players from a variety of sectors. "The consortium we are building brings together a number of pioneering partners with a common interest: to make hydrogen-powered aviation in New Zealand a reality."
Political roundup: The forestry slash aftermathAn Opinion piece from Bryce Edwards, a Political Analyst in Residence at Victoria University of Wellington and Director of the Democracy Project that appeared in the NZ Herald earlier this week.
“Capitalists always want to privatise their profits and socialise their losses” – that’s the traditional socialist critique of how businesses are big fans of state intervention when it suits their interests. There seems to be a lot of that going around at the moment – many industries want government to help them be super-profitable, largely by reducing industry regulation and taxation, despite any damage they might cause.
However, there’s increasingly a public mood against the special pleading of such vested interests. This is evidenced in the criticisms now coming from across the political spectrum about the huge costs that New Zealand forestry businesses have been imposing on society, particularly with the multi-billion-dollar cost of “slash” debris that exacerbated or caused flood damage when Cyclone Gabrielle hit this month.
Even National’s leader Christopher Luxon echoed the socialist critique when speaking about forestry last week in Parliament, describing it as “the only sector I know that gets to internalise the benefit and to socialise the cost”. He then talked about the need for further penalties and prosecutions of forestry businesses who fail to look after their own mess.
Although the timber industry isn’t unique in this regard, Luxon is quite correct to single them out. Forestry has become something of a case study in how vested interests have come to dominate the policymaking process, producing rules that favour the industry at the cost of society in general.
Source: NZ Herald
Modelling the impacts of bushfire events on forestryWoodChat Episode 27 showcases forestry-related projects being conducted in response to the increasing threat of Australian bushfires
In the face of a climate likely to become hotter and drier in the future, and with bushfires continuing to pose a significant threat, a variety of forestry-related research initiatives are currently underway across Australia. As an industry, forestry is particularly vulnerable to bushfire threat, with the associated risks having the potential to impact plantation companies, native forest managers, wood processors and manufacturers in a variety of ways.
The latest episode of FWPA’s WoodChat podcast series therefore focuses on a recently-completed FWPA-supported research project aimed at increasing the industry’s capacity to minimise the impacts of future bushfire events. This work is focused on updating fuel accumulation and fire spread models for Australian forestry plantations. The project was co-funded by most of Australia’s large plantation managers, with matching funding from the Australian Government.
“A better understanding of how fuel accumulates over time in plantations means improved performance of fire behaviour simulators and, in turn, more accurate predictions of fire risk for plantation owners,” said Dr Kate Parkins of the University of Melbourne's School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences FLARE (FLAmes to REgimes) Wildfire Research Group, who led the research and is interviewed during the episode.
“Our results indicate that fuel loads have previously been under-predicted at key times during a rotation. This suggests that, in some cases, landscape-scale fire risk in areas with plantations may also have been underestimated. As part of our research, we explored future fire risk across different growing regions and under different climate projections. This enabled us to quantify where in the landscape and under what conditions fire risk will be at its highest. This information can be used by plantation owners to guide strategic fuel management and minimise future fire risk,” Parkins said.
The research also highlighted that, for plantations overall, rapid suppression response times represent the best area for investment to minimise plantation losses under a changing climate. In addition, other important approaches identified to help reduce future fire impact on plantations included continued fuel management strategies outside of plantations, and a focus on increased early detection.
In addition to Dr Parkin’s work, during the episode hosts Sam and Georgia provide a round-up of other interesting projects around bushfire mitigation and management happening around Australia. Listeners will hear from David Bowman, Professor of Pyrogeography and Fire Science at the University of Tasmania, about a sophisticated fire detection camera known as FireHawk.
Also included is Rodney Carter, CEO of the Dja Dja Wurrung Group, on the organisation’s focus on and promotion of traditional, cultural and cool burning practices as a means of mitigating bushfire risk. And Dr Kevin Tolhurst AM, Principal Fellow of the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences at the University of Melbourne speaks on the development of an Australian bushfire management framework.
You can listen to WoodChat on Soundcloud, iTunes and Spotify.
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... and one to end the week on ... not a great idea huh
Not a great idea.
And one more. Grandma's answers.
Lawyers should never ask a Georgia grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer.
In a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, 'Mrs. Jones, do you know me?'
She responded, 'Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realise you'll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.'
The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, 'Mrs. Jones, do you know the defence attorney?'
She again replied, 'Why yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.' The defence attorney nearly died.
The judge asked both counsellors to approach the bench and in a very quiet voice, said, "If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you both to the electric chair!"
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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