Friday Offcuts – 13 July 2023

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The angst and vocal opposition to our NZ Government's review of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) ramped up again this week. Climate change minister James Shaw has been trying to stem the panic in carbon markets over the emissions trading scheme reform with carbon prices falling from a high of $88.50 last year to around $34, a significant drop in value of about 40%. Forest owners say their investments have lost NZ$5 billion in value since last year and there’s no prospect of this being recovered under the current environment of uncertainty. An NZX-listed fund investing in carbon credits, said it’s uneconomic for foresters to plants trees at a carbon price of less than $40.

There are very few buyers in the market right now, planning for new planting has stopped almost overnight and the economic implications to some of the options put forward, are dire, to both foresters and to the country. As an added bonus to this year’s Carbon Forestry 2023, Conference, one of the architects of the ETS review, Climate Change Minister James Shaw, is now going to be giving a virtual presentation to foresters and investors who’ll be meeting in Rotorua, New Zealand on 29-30 August. Further details are contained in this week’s newsletter.

The post-Gabrielle residue cleanup along the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island has certainly helped facilitate the conversation on how to create value from biomass. Last month, on the back of affected communities pushing for the commercial use for harvest residues, such as forestry slash and other woody debris, the NZ Government announced they’d be investing NZ$10.4 million into woody biomass research as well as supporting a collective who were planning to develop a pilot bioenergy plant in the Tairāwhiti-Hikuwai region.

Creating value from biomass through biochar production is also stepping up another notch. A raft of activities have been undertaken across New Zealand including the launch of a Carbon Rescue initiative by Biochar Network NZ. And in Australia, a roadmap to guide the growth of local biochar production into a major industry by 2030 has also been launched just a couple of weeks ago in Canberra. As well as operations being used to extract, sort, dry and transport biofuels, principally drawn from forest and wood processing operations, this year’s Residues2Revenues 2023 event running in two weeks’ time, will also be looking at commercial opportunities available to the forest industry beyond feedstock for heat or energy use. Details on the event (close now to being sold out) can be found on the event website

With the cleanup continuing in east coast regions of NZ, new research is showing just how effective forests are at mitigating the effects of extreme rainfall during severe weather events. As part of a five-year forest flows research programme (the largest of its type globally), data collected during the Auckland Anniversary weekend floods and Cyclone Gabrielle shows that nearly 60% of the rain that fell during those events was stored within the forest rather than flowing immediately across the ground and into waterways. The data being collected from the programme will enable accurate predictions of water storage within planted forests and release for entire catchments. That's it for this week.

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Abolition of "water rule" in Australia welcomed

Australia’s forest industries welcomed the Albanese Government’s move to abolish regulatory barriers preventing new timber plantings participating in the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). The decision delivers on the Government’s election commitment to scrap the ‘water rule’, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Joel Fitzgibbon said.

AFPA has been campaigning to remove the ‘water rule’ for many years, as access to the carbon market will incentivise investment in Australia’s plantation and farm forestry estate which is urgently needed to help Australia meet its future timber and wood fibre needs while making a significant contribution to Australia’s emissions reduction targets.

In October 2022, the Federal Government announced a consultation process on the ‘water rule’ which prevented plantation and farm forestry project access to the carbon market in areas with annual average rainfall above 600mm – thereby holding back much need investment in new timber and fibre plantations in most timber processing regions.

“The removal of these restrictions nationally is great news because Australia desperately needs new production tree plantings to grow future timber and wood fibre supply. Today, the Government has delivered for industry by removing these barriers to carbon markets,” Joel Fitzgibbon said.

“The forest products sector thanks the Government for its delivery of this key commitment. AFPA will continue to work with Minister Watt and other Government Ministers on fibre security strategies which build sovereign capability while helping Australia realise its decarbonisation ambitions,” Joel Fitzgibbon concluded.

Further coverage on the announcement can be read here

Source: AFPA

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STOP PRESS - Climate Change Minister presenting

While uncertainty remains on future rules governing New Zealand’s carbon forestry sector, delegates are registering at pace for the upcoming Carbon Forestry 2023 Conference. Activity has been brisk for the past two weeks, as people look to be in the right place to get the very latest information.

Carbon Forestry 2023 is running on 29-30 August in Rotorua, New Zealand, just a fortnight after NZ ETS policy consultation closes on 11 August. Over 70% of the available seats are now sold for the August event.

FIEA is pleased to now confirm that the Hon James Shaw, Minister of Climate Change will give a virtual presentation in Session 3 and join the Q&A panel as part of the event.

For those of you planning to register, please note that Early-bird discounted registration rates are open until 5pm this Friday, 14 July. Latest programme and registration details can be found on the event website.

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Forestry interests voice uncertainty concerns

Forestry group slams ETS reform as ‘vandalism’. The newly-formed Climate Forestry Association says a proposed revamp of the Emissions Trading scheme (ETS) is already putting tree planting intentions on hold due to the regulatory uncertainty surrounding it.

The association has the country’s biggest carbon forestry planter, NZ Carbon Farming – which has 77 million trees under management – as one of its 15 members. It also represents Māori carbon farming interests and has Te Kapunga Dewes - chair of Ngā Pou a Tāne - the National Māori Forestry Association – on its board.

Climate Forestry Association chief executive Andrew Cushen said the “wave of potential reform” was “vandalism” to a system that was already working. He said reform of the system - which allows polluters to purchase carbon credits to offset their emissions - would put at risk the climate change achievements already won.

More >>

Further coverage in the media this week includes;

Green initiatives under threat as carbon-credit slump continues. The price of carbon credits has fallen further, casting a shadow over forestry investments and other initiatives to tackle climate change. More >>

What Is Behind Option 4 Of The NZ ETS Review And Why? Option 4 in the recently announced NZ ETS Review looks to be the Government’s preferred option. It would take forestry originated NZUs out of the NZ ETS and create a separate market for them, one which can’t be accessed by emitters. They will be reclassified as “removal units” in a new scheme. So, who will buy these removal units? More >>

Emissions Review A Carbon And Economic Hole For Greater Bay Of Plenty Region. Central North Island foresters say gutting the value of carbon credits from forestry would sharply reduce both the region’s forest carbon sequestration and its economy. More >>

Sources: NZ Herald, Stuff, CNIWC, Halt NZU Grab
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Minister seeks to calm carbon markets

Climate change minister James Shaw is trying to stem the panic in carbon markets over emissions trading scheme reform saying New Zealand governments are "extremely cautious" about retrospective law changes.

However, their main target for the message – forestry owners – are not convinced, saying their investments have lost NZ$5 billion in value since last year and there is no prospect of this being recovered soon due to policy uncertainty.

Carbon prices fell from a high of $88.50 last year after a series of government decisions and announcements. The slide in New Zealand Units (NZUs, which are the equivalent of a tonne of carbon) has accelerated with their value dropping about 40% in the past three weeks, to lows of about $35 at times.

This was due to the release of options to reform the emissions trading scheme (ETS) that included treating NZUs created from forests differently from government NZUs.

The review papers do not rule out these changes having retrospective effect and this, along with uncertainty about ETS settings in general, has caused many of those holding forestry NZUs to sell them into a market that has very few buyers.

More >>

Source: BusinessDesk

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Research reveals how much forests absorb water

New research is showing how effective forests are at mitigating the effects of extreme rainfall during severe weather events.

In New Zealand, high resolution data collected from Mahurangi Forest near Auckland during the Auckland Anniversary weekend floods and Cyclone Gabrielle shows that nearly 60% of the rain that fell during those events was stored within the forest rather than flowing immediately across the ground and into waterways. The forest catchment was in effect acting as a sponge, holding on to water that would otherwise have added to flooding downstream.

The data were collected as part of the Scion-led five-year NZ$13.7 million MBIE- funded Forest Flows research programme, which uses a network of 1717 sensors in 10 forests across the country. The sensors capture data every five minutes, leading to world-leading insights about forest hydrology.

The collaborative programme is led by Scion scientist Dean Meason, who says the analysis is unlocking the mysteries about how water moves through catchments and is being stored, with this year’s extreme weather events providing some unique insights.

“Our network of field sensors, meteorological and hydrological equipment has been collecting data for about two years now. A key part of the Forest Flows research is to understand how water moves through forested catchments during and after weather events that range from light rainfall to heavy storms.

“This type of analysis following extreme weather events hasn’t been done before, or at this scale.” The sheer volume of data from the enormous number of sensors across the different networks within the Forest Flows programme is the largest of its type globally.

Data from Mahurangi Forest showed that despite the huge volume of water (229 mm) that fell during Auckland Anniversary Weekend and Cyclone Gabrielle, the soil near the surface did not saturate. Nearly 60% of the rainfall was retained in the catchment (soil, shallow groundwater, and forest canopy), the remaining water made it into the stream flow. Although the storm caused larger streamflows, it would have been even greater without the forest present.

Analysis of this world-leading data is still ongoing, but it is already improving our understanding about how forests respond to extreme weather. In time, this new knowledge will boost our understanding of the site conditions that lead to catastrophic landslides and flooding in forest catchments so authorities and the forestry sector can mitigate any negative downstream effects.

More >>

Source: Scion

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Adding value to biomass through biochar

The Biochar Network New Zealand’s campaign to increase the profile of biochar continues. A Carbon Rescue initiative stemming from the post-Gabrielle residue cleanup has helped facilitate the conversation on how to create value from biomass through the creation of biochar.

Although public funding for the initiative is pending, a number of Network members all over the motu are demonstrating better ways of using excess biomass.

“With large volumes of biomass residues readily available to be converted to biochar, New Zealand is in a good position to develop innovative ways to get best value from biochar”, says Warrick Isaachsen, Chair of Biochar Network New Zealand Inc.

In Canterbury, the Biochar Network facilitated a workshop in collaboration with Pukaki Forestry Ltd to present the basics of biochar production and its applications. The project aims to demonstrate alternative methods to manage residues from wilding pine control and eradication. Further north in the Hutt Valley, Biochar Network member, The Good Carbon Farm was last month awarded a grant from Upper Hutt City Council to convert forestry slash into biochar for use in local community gardens.

In the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle and in areas affected by wildfires, the opportunity for biochar to be made from problematic organic resource streams has become increasingly obvious. The recent Ministerial inquiry into forestry slash and woody debris made multiple mentions of the potential of this harmful waste stream to be converted to biochar and used to remediate damaged land.

More >>

Source: Biochar Network New Zealand

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SnapSTAT - NZ's Emissions History

The inventory reports greenhouse gas emissions and removals from five sectors:
- agriculture (eg nitrous oxide from fertiliser, methane from livestock digestive systems and manure)
- energy (eg emissions from road transport and electricity generation) - industrial processes and product use (IPPU) (eg cement production and refrigeration)
- land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) (eg forest land, cropland, grassland, wetlands, settlements, other land).
- waste (eg, solid waste and wastewater).

More >>

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NZ forestry achievements recognised at NZIF Awards

On Monday this week, the New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) held their awards dinner in Wellington to honour the winners of its most prestigious accolades. The recipients of this year's awards represent a diverse range of skills and experiences, from dedicated grassroots efforts to impactful policy planning and execution, as well as academic leadership.

The highly sought-after recognition, the New Zealand Forester of the Year award, celebrates individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the forestry sector throughout the previous year. The awardee is presented with a unique carving, crafted by Lyonel Grant. This year's recipient has been actively involved in the growth and promotion of Maori forestry, ensuring the preservation of Maori land rights and fostering optimal land usage.

During the award presentation, President James Treadwell praised the awardee, stating, "They have been an instrumental figure, navigating complex challenges and balancing divergent needs to improve the situation for all New Zealand foresters, not solely Maori foresters." Te Kapunga Dewes of Ngati Porou, Te Arawa and Te Whakatohea was named the New Zealand Forester of the Year for 2023.

Established in 2017, the Prince of Wales Sustainability Cup stands as a testament to exceptional young professionals in New Zealand's forestry sector. This esteemed award aims to recognise individuals who demonstrate a profound commitment to sustainable forest management principles, including policy development, planning, practice, and the responsible stewardship of land based on scientific knowledge. Furthermore, awardees are expected to actively engage the public and foster knowledge exchange, with a focus on promoting the wise utilisation and conservation of forests and their encompassing ecosystems.

Treadwell emphasised the significance of this year's award, stating, "It is particularly meaningful as it was initiated by His Royal Highness King Charles, and this is the first time it is being presented since his coronation." The awardee is working on her PHD studies around transitional forestry, a topic which is today very relevant, the awardee is passionate about and has a strong link to Iwi landowners, and is growing and developing her wider forestry and leadership capabilities. Grace Marshall (pictured) of Hawkes Bay received the Prince of Wales Sustainability Cup at the ceremony.

The forestry industry remains a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. Treadwell noted the industry's efforts go beyond economic gains, encompassing social benefits such as carbon capture, recreational opportunities, clean water, biodiversity, and overall well-being. "We are fortunate to have a highly skilled cohort of industry professionals who set the benchmark for others to aspire to," he remarked. "The NZIF takes great pride in celebrating the very best and championing the recipients of the NZIF's awards."

Additionally, the NZIF has appointed two distinguished individuals as Fellows in recognition of their tireless contributions to the growth and advancement of the New Zealand forest sector. David Evision and Don Hammond have exhibited unwavering dedication over the course of several decades and fully deserve their fellowship.

Source: NZIF

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Tesla cybertruck lands in NZ for winter testing

And for all you vehicle or ute enthusiasts out there, Tesla’s Cybertruck is one of the most talked about vehicles to hit the market in recent years, thanks to its unique angular design and exposed steel outer body – and its anticipated impact on the market. A Cybertruck has now landed in New Zealand for winter testing and has been spotted on video by a Kiwi Tesla enthusiast and shared across social media.

It shows the Cybertruck being rolled off a Singapore Airlines aircraft. Tesla has showcased the winter testing regime in New Zealand in a video that it shared in December last year. It shows the July winter testing Tesla does with the Model S, Model 3, Model X and Model Y.

Winter testing in New Zealand is done by Tesla’s engineers in Wānaka on the South Island to help ensure that vehicle development continues throughout the year. The spotted Cybertruck is likely a build from Tesla’s Alpha production line based at the GigaTexas factory in Texas. This facility officially started the production of Model Ys in 2022 and is also the home of Cybertruck production.

The latest sighting is part of various tests the Cybertruck has been going through. Earlier this year. In April, it was seen testing at an outdoor wind tunnel setup in Texas. During the same month, the vehicle was spotted testing near the Fremont factory in California.

All this testing is good news for hundreds of thousands of order holders who have been patiently waiting to see the Cybertruck near production. For many, the production could not start quickly enough which is a sign of the anticipation of what this vehicle is capable of delivering.

With all this recent testing, the Cybetruck appears to be approaching its final stages of development. As per the last indication by Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, the company is likely to start deliveries in the third quarter of this year.

And for Tesla enthusiasts, more testing is being done. Fresh imagery from Cardrona shows that the Cybertruck might not have been the only new Tesla to make the journey.

Source: thedriven, Stuff

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1 in 15 AKD employees are apprentices

The 2023 intake for AKD resulted in another 25 new apprentices employed across their sites. 10 of the existing apprentices completed their training and continued on with trade roles within the business. Overall, this brings the current number of apprentices in training up to 75, covering Fitting and Machining, Fabrication, Electrical, Saw Technicians and Wood Machinists.

In the past 2 years, the total apprentice numbers have increased by over 50%. This means that 1 in 15 AKD employees are trade apprentices, reinforcing AKD’s approach to train and develop its people, and to ensure trade-based skills are available for the longer term to support our sawmilling operations.

This year, 65% of the apprentices engaged were from internal appointments from people that were already employed by AKD. This is the highest number since the start of the program. This shows the company’s desire to create internal pathway opportunities and offer development opportunities for all employees.

This year AKD also had two employees begin to undertake a second trade, what’s called a ‘Dual Trade’. This allows development opportunities for the individual, and also provides a more highly skilled and flexible workforce for AKD. AKD supports both Yarram’s Justin Barron, Fabricator learning Fitting and Colac’s Hayden Thompson, Diesel Mechanic learning Fitting, on their ongoing development.

Photo: Oberon Apprentices, Justin Hollis (Electrician), Jie Baird (Fitter) and Jason Drury (Electrician)

Source: AKD

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Australian Forest Research Grants Program open

Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA) has announced an upcoming open call for proposals for the 2023/2024 Forest Research Grants Program. The program aims to support collaborative research, development, and extension (RD&E) activities that benefit Australia's commercial forest growers.

Researchers are invited to submit proposals for new projects aligned with FWPA's Strategic Plan 2023-2028, focusing on advancing the science of commercial forestry.

The call for proposals specifies a list of priority topics, including Damage Agents, Native Forest Silviculture, Nutrition, Forest Operations and Supply Chain, Resource Modelling and Remote Sensing, Plantation Silviculture, and Fire.

These priority topics are identified based on the FWPA Investment Plans, although some plans are currently under periodic review. Proposals addressing the plans under review must demonstrate strong collaborative industry support. Notably, the Genetics and Soil microbiome investment plans are excluded from this call for proposals due to significant current investment.

Funded projects are expected to commence in the 2023/24 financial year. Further details regarding submission deadlines and the application process will be provided in a follow-up notice in the coming weeks.

Researchers are encouraged to engage with potential industry partners early to ensure meaningful industry input in their proposals. For more information visit the FWPA website.

Source: FWPA

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Forest health monitoring solution developed

In Europe, Metsä Group, an international forest industry group and CollectiveCrunch, a leading AI company specializing in forestry solutions, have teamed up to release an innovative solution that equips forest owners with detailed and timely information about potential threats in forests.

“Bark beetles and storm damage pose significant threats to forest health, resulting in substantial economic and ecological consequences,” said Jarkko Lipponen, Co-Founder and CEO of CollectiveCrunch. “Detecting the early signs of bark beetles, and monitoring changes such as storm damage in near real-time, is vital for forest owners to take swift and appropriate actions to mitigate their impact.”

In response to this critical need, the joint effort that was initiated in December 2022 has culminated in the development of an advanced AI-based solution that enables an early detection of bark beetle outbreaks and near real-time monitoring of storm damage in forest ecosystems.

By analyzing a combination of various data sets, the AI-powered solution detects subtle patterns and anomalies associated with bark beetle infestation. It allows forest owners to access near real-time information and precise location-based insights to effectively combat the risks posed by bark beetles and storm damage.

“The solution developed through the collaboration between Metsä Group and CollectiveCrunch goes beyond detecting bark beetle outbreaks and storm damages. It also has the capability to identify forest areas under stress, providing forest owners with valuable information about ecosystem health and risks,” Lipponen said. “

Metsä Group is currently finalizing integration and piloting the product. Customers will be able to access the product through Metsä Group's application starting in August.

Source: CollectiveCrunch

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New Wood Processors & Manufacturers Association CEO

The Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association of New Zealand (WPMA) will welcome Mark Ross as their new chief executive, effective 24 July 2023.

Mark brings a wealth of experience and forestry expertise to WMPA, including roles at the then Ministry of Forestry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Federated Farmers. Mark's most recent role was as chief executive of the Animal and Plant Association of New Zealand.

Source: WPMA, FOA

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Survey: Fire risk in New Zealand’s carbon forests

In response to a query from the National Land Management Forum, Scion is currently investigating activities that occur in carbon forests that may contribute to fire risk in New Zealand.

The prospect of large-scale afforestation of “carbon forests” as a climate mitigation strategy has raised questions about the wildfire risk of carbon forests. Scion in association with Fire and Emergency New Zealand are undertaking a qualitative assessment of the fire hazard in terms of relative risk of ignitions and fire behaviour potential in carbon forests in New Zealand.

Scion is asking for assistance in identifying activities, from those who own or manage carbon forested lands. If you own or manage any New Zealand land in a carbon sequestration reward scheme (like the ETS), they’d love to hear about the activities that occur in your forests.

To participate in this survey before 28 July, click here.

Source: Scion

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... children - brilliant

A couple was going out for the evening.

They'd gotten ready, all dolled up, but just needed to put the dog out when the taxi arrives.

However as the couple walked out of the house, the dog shoots back in the house.

They don't want the dog shut in the house, so the wife goes out to the taxi while the husband goes upstairs to chase the dog out.

The wife, not wanting it known that the house will be empty explains to the taxi driver: 'He's just going upstairs to say good-bye to my mother.'

A few minutes later, the husband gets into the cab.

'Sorry I took so long' he says. 'Stupid b**** was hiding under the bed and I had to poke her with a coat hanger to get her to come out! Then I had to wrap her in a blanket to keep her from scratching and biting me as I hauled her ass downstairs and tossed her in the back yard!

She better not s*** in the vegetable garden again!'

The silence in the cab was deafening.

One more. A mother took her five-year-old son with her to the bank on a busy lunchtime.

They got behind a very large man wearing a business suit complete with pager.

After waiting patiently for a few minutes, the little boy said loudly,

"Wow, he's big!

The mother bent down and whispered in the little boy's ear to be quiet.

A couple more minutes passed by and the little boy stretched his arms out as far as they would go and announced; "I'll bet his rear is this wide!"

The large man turned around and glared at the little boy.

The mother gave him a good telling off, and told him to be quiet.

After a brief lull, the large man reached the front of the queue.

Just then his pager begin to emit a "beep, beep, beep".

The little boy yelled out, "Run for your ****** life, he's reversing.

On that note, enjoy your weekend. Here in New Zealand Kiwis get an extra day, with Friday being 'Matariki' - a public holiday. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177

John Stulen
Editor, WoodWorks News
PO Box 1230, Rotorua, 3040
Tel: +64 7 921 1381
Mob: +64 27 275 8011

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