Friday Offcuts – 8 December 2023

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We’ve been treated to wall-to-wall coverage on progress at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 28, since the major event started one week ago. Hosting a climate conference in a petro-state sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but there are promising signs that it could deliver real progress on climate change and its solutions. In this week’s lead story, we have first- hand coverage, impressions on the event and the various factions that have been pushing their own particular causes on the world stage and the role that that timber, wood fibre and energy from forests are going to play in mitigating the impacts of climate change from a COP28 delegate, Joel Fitzgibbon, Chair of the Australian Forest Products Association.

As the end of the year draws closer, rather than dwell on our challenging export log markets (although PF Olsen in this week’s story report that November AWG prices for export logs have increased an average of $12 per JASm3 from October prices), we've got some positive news stories for local wood processing and manufacturing companies.

Nine months ago, Pan Pac Forest Products’ Whirinaki site was flooded under 2m of silt and water when Cyclone Gabrielle hit the Hawke’s Bay region. The company, the largest integrated forest products company in NZ, incurred around NZ$300 million in damage to its business and forests. After the waters receded, everyone rolled up their sleeves, banded together and have been working tirelessly since to fix the damage inflicted on the company's forests and roads, and to get the chip-mill, sawmill and pulp operations up and running. Acknowledging the months of outstanding efforts and the progress made since 14 February, the company recently held a thank you event (including a video - attached - filmed before and after the cyclone) for over 600 workers. A truly outstanding effort this year by the company, its staff and it’s contractors.

In other wood processing news, the first logs in more than five years have been milled at a restored sawmill in Motueka (top of the South Island, NZ). Nelson family-owned business Prolam has been working to reinstate the 80- year-old mill to support the production of structural grade timber for it’s glue laminated manufacturing operation. In Australia, an investment of AU$137 million is being made into what will be Australia’s largest paper recycling facility located in South East Queensland. And further afield, Finland’s Metsä Group’s Future Sawmill concept recently picked up a major Business Innovation award at an event organised by Excellence Finland for a continuous production model for sawmills, where sawmill operations are controlled from a central control room without any manual work stages that they've developed.

Finally, in forest technology news, Metsä Group and CollectiveCrunch won at the same awards ceremony, a Quality Innovation Award, for an application using artificial intelligence, machine learning and open data to detect insect damage in forests before it’s visible to the human eye. In Sweden, another mechanised planting machine is being trialed with Södra aiming to develop a new method for scarification and tree planting. Early field-testing of the new scarification method, a self- propelled planting machine with the seedlings being handled automatically by a robot, according to the company, is already showing promising results. Well, that’s it for this week.

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COP28 Opinion Piece from the UAE

AFPA Chair Joel Fitzgibbon

The annual United Nations climate change conference is something to behold. In the pavilions of the COP’s Blue Zone, singing and proselytising are a constant reminder of the religious-like fervour many activists bring to their cause. Yet most believe they have come to Dubai to do good things for our planet.

But while the climate change challenge brings unity of cause, opinions vary widely on the best pathway to success. Some focus entirely on emissions reductions, recklessly demanding an immediate cessation of fossil fuel consumption. Others recognise the urgency and enormity of the challenge and understand that such a big task requires time, calm and multiple solutions. This is the sensible message business leaders and industry bodies brought to COP28.

Some COP participants are right to promote the future role of still emerging technologies like green hydrogen and green steel. Others sensibly urge a greater role for tried and tested but still under-utilised methods like nature-based solutions, carbon capture and bioenergy. Along with our oceans, our trees are nature’s great carbon sinks. We need to plant more trees - both environmental and production trees.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change has declared: “a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from forests, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit”.

On display at COP28 is the extent to which many European countries are utilising biomass from forestry and broad-acre non-food crops for fuel, heating, and electricity generation purposes. We need to learn from their leadership. The International Energy Agency tells us that we cannot achieve our decarbonisation goals without the deployment of carbon capture and storage in our coal and gas sectors. On-going activist opposition to this proven technology is irrational and smacks of ideology over reality.

Despite its proven role in reducing emissions, nuclear generation is another sector in the cross hairs of the activists. But their tactics on nuclear are more sinister. Despite the industry’s maturity, its safety record, and the substantial contribution it makes to global electricity generation, the activists continue to run their scare campaigns.

It's little wonder the World Nuclear Association’s COP pavilion has an Australia focus this year. Despite being a major provider of the uranium ore other countries generating nuclear energy rely on, we are one of the few wealthy nations that continues to reject zero-emissions nuclear generation. For the more rational amongst COP28’s participants, this remains a source of bemusement.

They understand nuclear generation would face hurdles in Australia. Is it price competitive? Will it attract investors? Community support? And as an industry starting from scratch, the approvals and construction timelines would be long. But we don’t with any certainty know the answers to these questions because Australia has a legislative prohibition on the generation of nuclear power, a relic of Senate legislative wheeling and dealing on anther subject-matter many years ago.

A decision to lift the prohibition would not produce any benefits for Australia’s energy security or cost of living pressures in the short-term. But it would demonstrate to the decision makers who sit at COP negotiating tables that we are serious about meaningful action on climate change.

The good news is that there are signs that the political class at COP is increasingly ignoring the extreme rhetoric emanating from some COP pavilions and coming to realise three things. First, they are not on track to achieve their international commitments. Second, the blinkered approach of wind, solar and battery technologies, to the exclusion of other practical technologies, isn’t enough to get us to net zero.

We see evidence of this change in both action and language. Last year, the nuclear pavilion was tiny, with participants physically giving it a wide berth. Led by the U.S. and France, this year, we see leaders announcing nuclear expansion. An increasing interest in nature-based solutions is another example. On language, it’s noteworthy that at COP27 the mantra was “keeping 1.5 (degrees) alive”. This year it’s “keeping 1.5 within reach”. A subtle change, but a change, nonetheless.

The daily commute to COP28 on Dubai’s impressive and efficient rail system is instructive. There one observes the diversity of the many sharing the journey. They are a diverse lot and it’s nice to sit back and enjoy the sounds of so many conversations in so many languages. There is no dress code, some wear suits or equivalent, some dress more casually. Others proudly wear their impressive cultural attire, including some impressive headwear.

Most look happy. The business-types because they feel their messages are finally being heard. Others because they just love a chance to protest. Yet the protesters seem as oblivious to the progress of the nearby climate talks as the politicians and negotiators involved in the formal talks are oblivious to them.

Originally published in The Australian 6-12-2023

Source: AFPA

Other coverage this week from the event includes:

Australian Government signs up to increase the use of timber in buildings by 2030. Read more >>

Government’s climate change advice recognises the important role of forestry and harvested wood products in achieving our decarbonisation aspirations. Read more >>

Increased timber in construction commitment pledged at COP28. Read more >>

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Pan Pac on the road back to full production

Nine months ago, Pan Pac Forest Products’ Whirinaki site was flooded under 2m of silt and water when Cyclone Gabrielle hit the Hawke’s Bay region. The company incurred around NZ$300 million in damage to its business and forests. Since then, Pan Pac has been working hard to clear and repair the site, fix damage to forests and roads, and return to normal operations.

To recognise the incredible efforts made by everyone over this period, the company recently held a thank you event for over 600 workers. Pan Pac’s leadership team acknowledged the months of hard work and the progress that has been made since 14 February. The company screened a video about its Sustainability Programme, filmed before and after the cyclone, that also features interviews with staff on the impact of seeing their workplace inundated with water.

Pan Pac marked a milestone in October, when its Chipmill became operational again. Its Lumber business is expected to begin operations in mid-January, while the Pulp business will begin the first phase of operations later in February.

Source and image credit: Pan Pac

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PF Olsen NZ Log Market Report – November 2023

Market Summary

The November AWG prices for New Zealand export logs increased an average of NZ$12 per JASm3 from October prices. North Island prices increased about NZ$10 while prices in most South Island ports increased more, albeit from a lower base. Log demand in China continues to remain steady with log inventory at extremely low levels. The AWG price increases were due to a mixture of a weaker NZD against the USD, slightly lower shipping costs and increases in sale prices in China.

New Zealand’s domestic demand for sawn timber has had a post-election boost with an increase in construction projects for the coming summer and a good export crop of kiwifruit requiring wooden pallets for export.

The PF Olsen Log Price Index increased $6 to $118. The index is currently $1 below the two-year average and $4 below the three-year and five-year averages.

Domestic Log Market

Domestic mills report an increase in sawn timber demand as construction gears up for summer. Stocks of sawn timber have been depleted thoughout the supply chain as well, so this is being built up again increasing demand. Some truss and frame manufacturers report they are booked-up until March next year. The kiwifruit yield in New Zealand has been much higher than last year so there is strong demand for material to make pallets.

Sales of sawn timber to Asia are holding up okay with some slight price increases as well. 

Export Log Markets:  China

The sale price for A grade pine logs in China is now in the range 125-130 USD per JASm3. China radiata log inventory remains about the same as last month around 1.7-1.8m m3, with total softwood inventory at about 2.3m m3. Daily port off-take has remained within the range of 65-70k m3 per day.

In mid-November the Chinese government announced a 127 billion USD stimulation package involving low-cost financing for urban village renovation and affordable housing programs. The Peoples Bank of China will facilitate banks injecting funds in phases into the economy. This is expected to trigger construction activity. There is still a fundamental issue in that the Chinese population doesn’t see real estate as a good investment, as they don’t think values will rise. So this may increase supply more than demand, which won’t improve value. At least the Chinese government is taking steps to creae activity in this sector which is a good sign.

The China Caixin Manufacturing PMI dropped from 50.6 in September to 49.5 in October (Any PMI number above 50 signals manufacturing growth). This reading indicates the first contraction in manufacturing activity since July.

More >>

Scott Downs, Director Sales & Marketing, PF Olsen Ltd

Source: PF Olsen

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72% of region’s energy needs through biomass

Forestry owners and biomass suppliers in the Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman regions of NZ can expect to see increased demand for wood residues as the region moves onto clean energy.

A new report, published by EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), shows how the forestry sector could play a key role to push more fossil fuels out of the energy system with up to 72% of the region’s energy needs being met by low-carbon fuel source, biomass.

The Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman Regional Energy Transition Accelerator (RETA) report provides insights and recommendations that aim to improve efficiency and future proof energy investments and make the move more straightforward for local businesses.

“Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman is a forestry-rich region, and the insights show the area is well positioned to use its resources to bring in a clean and clever approach to industrial processing,” said EECA Group Manager Business, Nicki Sutherland.“There will likely also be enough left over to support nearby regions with biomass – so there is clear commercial opportunity in local forestry. Additionally, it allows electricity suppliers to anticipate future infrastructure needs in the area.

The RETA report builds on the lessons learned from energy efficiency and fuel switching work already underway in the region – particularly in the horticultural and viticultural sectors.Producers like J.S Ewers, Indevin and Talleys as well as Nelson and Blenheim hospitals and meat processors AFFCO – are all at various stages of lowering their emissions.

“A noteworthy example is Nelson Pine Industries. The wood processing plant successfully transitioned from coal to biomass and has managed to reduce their energy use by 50%. This highlights their commitment to sustainable practices and is a positive example for others in the industry.”

“These clean energy projects can also support the New Zealand manufacturing sector – creating new local jobs. It is fantastic to see businesses in Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman considering how they can use biomass productively and bring forward a move to renewables,” said Sutherland.

The report had valuable input from the Nelson Regional Development Agency & Economic Development Unit at the Marlborough District Council, Transpower, Nelson Electricity, Network Tasman and Marlborough Lines, local biomass suppliers and forest owners, electricity generators and retailers, and medium to large industrial energy users.

Some producers in the top of the south had already begun lowering their emissions by switching to using biomass instead of fossil fuels, such as Nelson Pine Industries. “The wood processing plant successfully transitioned from coal to biomass and has managed to reduce their energy use by 50%. This highlights their commitment to sustainable practices and is a positive example for others in the industry,” Sutherland said.

More >>

Copies of the full 160-page report can be viewed here

Note: To again capitalise on the huge momentum already seen in the regions with forest companies organising the extraction of waste from both skid sites and forest cutovers to meet the ever-increasing demand for biomass, the tenth Residues2Revenues 2024 event is being planned for next year. Mark the dates 30–31 July 2024, Rotorua, New Zealand into your diaries for next year.

Source: EECA

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Promising test run of new robotic planting machine

Södra’s venture in a new advanced technique for better seedling survival was recently field tested with promising results. Södra’s ambition with the in-house developed BraSatt 01 planting machine is to accelerate technical advances in forest regeneration, which could potentially lead to considerable improvements for forestry.

Södra’s mission is to help refine and renew the value of family forestry. Improved seedling survival will create conditions for higher profitability for family forestry, while also contributing to more sustainable forestry.

“There haven’t been any major technical breakthroughs in forest regeneration since the planting tube. With Södra’s venture, we are giving the forest regeneration method a real boost and using a technique that is unusual in forestry. I hope this will have a ripple effect, so that forest owners can continue to benefit from more new techniques as we move forward,” said Anna Wallner, project manager.

Södra has been running a project called BraSatt since 2020, which is based on the development of a new method for scarification and planting seedlings to ensure the survival of the seedlings. Seedling survival is a problem for all forest companies today. Södra’s current rate of seedling survival is 70–75 percent, which means that only three of four seedlings survive longer than three years.

“In the project, we have created a concept and field-tested a new scarification method and a self-propelled planting machine. BraSatt has covered the whole chain – from planning to planting the seedling in the soil,” said Anna Wallner.

The autonomous planting was developed from the BraSatt 01 prototype. The aim is that the proposed machine will follow an overall route, find an accessible path through the terrain, select good planting spots, feed the seedlings through the system, scarify the soil and then plant successfully. Södra has collaborated with companies with experience from various industries to find new solutions. The participating companies are Axelent Engineering, Bit Addict, Boid, Chalmers, CIT, DB MakerLab, Ebeaver, LUE Engineering and the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden.

“In the project, we used a proven technique as far as possible and adapted it step by step in order to get closer to tomorrow’s planting machine. We’ve used a lot of techniques that are unusual for forestry, such as industrial robots, which are more likely to be found indoors on a concrete floor. In the BraSatt 01 machine, the seedlings are handled automatically by a robot. We are therefore making a new technique available to forestry, and to forest regeneration specifically,” said Anna Wallner.

The project also developed a new method of scarification that is optimal for the seedling and energy-efficient, while also leaving a relatively even clearing behind. This method affects a considerably smaller part of the surface compared with the current method. Another important part of the development process was to account for the human-machine interaction and factor in the operator’s role in creating a positive work environment. The operator’s new role will be to work together with the machine, to provide support when it asks for help, plan the work on the clearing and to work with plant care. Now that field testing has ended, documentation and analysis will follow to find a possible way forward.

“Even though the test results are promising, the machine is not ready for use. What we want to show with this development is that this is possible to achieve. In the next step, we need to decide what parts of the development that we need to prioritise and run ourselves here at Södra, where we can find partners and where there are technical advances happening that we don’t need to push,” said Anna Wallner.

Source: Södra

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Prolam re-opens Motueka sawmill

The first logs in more than five years have been milled at a restored sawmill on Little Sydney Road, Motueka (top of the South Island, NZ) marking a new chapter for the region’s timber industry.

Closed in 2017, Nelson family-owned business Prolam has been working to reinstate the 80-year-old mill to support the production of its innovative structural timber solutions.Prolam is one of New Zealand’s leading manufacturers of glue laminated timber building products and the mill will play a pivotal role in the company’s ability to meet the building industry’s demand for more sustainable, locally made building materials.

Prolam Managing Director, John Woodman, said the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the timber processing industry and the local economy was front and centre in his decision to purchase the site in 2017 and get the mill back up and running. “We have seen seven or eight mills close across New Zealand in the last 10 years, and when we started planning to reinstate the mill in 2021, structural grade timber was in short supply,” Mr Woodman said. 

“We source and use select quality New Zealand plantation grown radiata pine in our glue laminated timber beams, posts and portals and while supply is no longer an issue, our ability to mill a proportion of our own timber will have significant benefits for us and our customers.”

Mr Woodman said Prolam has carved a reputation as an industry leader in the supply of premium quality engineered timber solutions in fast lead times and at a competitive price. “The commencement of production at the mill represents a step change in our production capability and secures our control across key elements of the manufacturing process,” he said.

Prolam employed experienced Sawmill Manager Damon Taggart to run the reinstatement program and the mill once it was operational, and engaged New Zealand-based companies, Pacific Sawmill Engineering and Tui Technology, to assist in the planning, design and oversight of the mill’s refurbishment. 

“We have invested in new and proven milling technology to create a vertically integrated glue laminated production facility that will enable us to debark logs, mill, kiln dry and treat the timber ready for the lamination process,” Mr Woodman said.

More >>

Source and image credit: Prolam

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AU$137 million recycled pulp mill for Queensland

A pulp mill using recycled fibre is set to be built in Australia that will then export the output material. An investment of AU$137 million is being made into what will be Australia’s largest paper recycling facility that will be located in South East Queensland. It is a joint initiative by Auswaste Recycling and the state of Queensland and Australian national Government.

The new facility will process an estimated 220,000 tonnes per annum of recycled waste paper and cardboard into pulp for export. The Australian Recycled Pulp and Paper Project (ARPPP) forms part of a AUD$1 billion plan to boost recycling infrastructure across the country, while supporting jobs and keeping valuable material out of landfill.

Construction of the ARPPP facilities is planned to commence mid-2024, and projected to be completed in the middle of 2025.

For further coverage click here

Sustainable Timber 
Tasmania Banner Advert

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OneFortyOne encouraging careers in the industry

OneFortyOne has a brand-new resource available to showcase what it is like to be an apprentice, student, or graduate at the business. The OneFortyOne Careers Program Booklet shares the stories of previous Apprenticeship, Scholarship, and Graduate Program participants and provides insight into the benefits that OneFortyOne can provide to someone starting their career.

“OneFortyOne is passionate about creating a diverse work force, and we need more young people to make this happen,” said Deon Kriek, Green Triangle Forests General Manager. “Our Career Programs are a great opportunity for young people to enter the industry and receive support as they develop their career.”

“By bringing younger people into the business, OneFortyOne benefits from fresh perspectives. The booklet is one way that we can encourage young people to enter and remain in the industry.” In addition to showcasing the experiences of some of our younger people, this publication also provides introductory information about working at OneFortyOne and our careers programs.

OneFortyOne offers Apprenticeships, Scholarship and Graduate Programs as well as summer work in both Australia and New Zealand. For further information and to download the booklet, visit: Apprentices, Students and Graduates - One Forty One.

Source: OneFortyOne

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Awards to insect damage app & sawmill concept

An artificial intelligence application developed by Metsä Group and CollectiveCrunch for detecting insect damage in forests has won the Quality Innovation Award in a competition organised by the Finnish Quality Association, Excellence Finland. Metsä Group’s Future Sawmill concept won the Business Innovation category of the competition. The Finnish Quality Association presented the awards on Wednesday 15 November.

The award-winning application from Metsä Group and CollectiveCrunch detects insect damage in forests such as damage caused by spruce bark beetles before it is visible to the human eye. The application is based on artificial intelligence, machine learning and open data.

The Finnish Quality Association considered the insect damage app the best entry in the innovation category because the accurate information it provides enables a rapid response to insect damage that helps limit the spread of damage. The application also won the Environmental Innovation category.

“Global warming has rapidly increased the risks to the health of Finnish forests. In 2022, there was more bark beetle damage, and the affected area spread further north than ever. We decided at the time that we needed a real-time method for detecting insect damage to maintain forest health and carbon sinks in our changing climate. The AI application we developed with CollectiveCrunch will help us and forest owners work together to take care of the health and carbon sinks of our forests,” says Olli Leino, Director, Digitalisation, from Metsä Group’s Wood Supply and Forest Services.

Metsä Group’s Future Sawmill concept was awarded in the Business Innovation category of the Quality Innovation Awards competition. It was praised for the efficiency of its production process, based on the use of machine vision, robotics and blade technology, and for using 100% of its wood raw material.

Metsä Group, in collaboration with equipment suppliers, developed a continuous production model for sawmills, where sawmill operations are controlled from a central control room without any manual work stages. The know-how and technical advances achieved in this work will benefit equipment suppliers and the competitiveness of the entire mechanical forest industry in the years to come.

The Quality Innovation Award is both a national and international innovation competition that rewards interesting high-quality innovations. The competition criteria include novelty value, usability, learning, customer orientation and effectiveness.

Source: Metsa Group

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Benefits of improved connectivity and telematics

Connectivity and telematic technologies used in the trucking industry have advanced significantly in recent years – and with them, other key advancements.

Vehicles and components are smarter than ever thanks to smaller, more advanced electronics and widespread communications infrastructure. Digital applications such as remote monitoring, diagnostics and prognostics are changing vehicle management.

Today, customers have a wealth of real-time data from their engines to leverage, ultimately increasing vehicle uptime, reducing costs and enhancing efficiency.

Telematics systems can provide customers with comprehensive, real-time insights into various aspects of their vehicles, such as engine health, fuel consumption and maintenance needs.

Connectivity technologies can accumulate insights and send information regarding a vehicle remotely, including the engine’s health, driving patterns and fuel usage.

Telematics and connectivity are critical technologies for modern customers to consider integrating into their vehicles. Here are some of the key benefits of telematics and connectivity.

Here, Cummins provides some of the key benefits of telematics and connectivity.

• When an equipment failure occurs, remote diagnostics can help technicians identify the problem and ensure the right parts are available for repair.

• Predictive service insights or prognostics systems can significantly increase uptime. By identifying problems before they cause a failure, preventive maintenance can extend equipment life and reduce downtime. This technology monitors a customer’s entire fleet, notifying them of only the engines that require attention.

• Connectivity allows customers to remotely push over-the-air updates to any trucks under their control. This means that trucks require no additional downtime to apply updates and always have the latest software to deliver the highest performance and reliability.

• Timely maintenance and repairs can prevent more extensive and costly breakdowns, ensuring that trucks remain in optimal condition with minimal downtime.

• Advanced telematics-based insights also allow customers to study their driver’s behaviour and determine areas of efficiency. With cloud-based management, drivers are routed to the nearest service station, eliminating unnecessary mileage when looking for a shop.

• Telematics data can monitor driver behaviour to help identify and address unsafe driving practices such as harsh braking. With data on driver behaviour, businesses can offer further training to help keep incidents to a minimum.

• Data collected through remote monitoring can improve optimization for current vehicle models and future engines. Performance and maintenance data on current generations of engines will enable more robust and efficient engines in the future

More >>

Source: Cummins

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Craigmore assets hit billion-dollar mark

Investing in land use change and ‘better ways of operating’ pays off for a NZ rural investment company.

Chief executive Che Charteris says Craigmore has grown steadily in the past year towards achieving its aim of being a leader in sustainable food and fibre production. Rural investment company Craigmore Sustainables has broken the billion-dollar mark for assets under its management.

The company, which employs 229 people, has 60 properties in its portfolio, of which 37% are horticulture, 36% farming and 27% forestry. That total area covers 25,906ha, which also includes leases and forestry rights. Releasing its Impact Sustainability Report, chief executive Che Charteris said Craigmore has grown steadily in the past year towards achieving its aim of being a leader in sustainable food and fibre production.

“We achieve that through investing in land-use change and in better ways of operating, which take into account some of the major challenges facing society including climate change, loss of biodiversity, and social inequity. This year, we have planted 1.36 million forestry trees, 860,000 apple trees, 140,000 kiwifruit vines, and 491,000 grapevines.”

Founded in 2009, Craigmore’s mission is to bring capital into New Zealand’s rural economy to produce quality food and fibre in a way that benefits rural communities, local ecosystems and the wider climate.

Last year Craigmore managed 15,374ha of forestry including forestry rights, which sequestered 119,183t of carbon dioxide. It harvested 56,672t in the year and planted 1,340ha of new forestry. Forestry assets were valued at NZ$272m.

Source: Farmers Weekly

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Developing world’s first hydrogen vertical lift off plane

A Sydney-based aerospace company founded by a husband and wife designer team has received AU$5.43 million to develop a world-first hydrogen vertical take-off and landing aircraft that could be used in regional Australia for emergency services, freight and transport.

The Bankstown-based AMSL Aero was founded in 2017 by aeronautical engineer Andrew Moore and Siobhan Lyndon and has the backing of some major financiers, including IP Group Australia, Telstra Super, Host Plus and the St Baker Energy Innovation Fund.

It has already developed a battery electric e-VTOL aircraft called Vertiia, but Moore says this is limited in range to “urban mobility”, and hydrogen fuel cell technology is needed to cover the vast distances of regional Australia.

“If you want to fly for 20 minutes, then battery electric craft are probably ok,” Moore tells RenewEconomy. “But if you want to have people on board, you have to have an energy reserve, and that makes it really hard. Batteries don’t have the energy density.”

Moore says hydrogen and fuel cell technologies will boost the range of the Vertiia electric aircraft from around 250 kms to 1,000 kms, and make it suitable for air ambulance and other emergency services. It will be able to carry five people.

He says battery electric VTOL aircraft will be useful for “urban mobility”, ferrying people or goods for tens of kilometres – once the technology gets approval to operate in these environments.

Hydrogen aircraft, Moore says, will be able to serve both urban and regional areas. And he imagines a day – not so far away – where they become a central part of transport to the regions. “You won’t spend an hour in the taxi getting to the airport, and then waiting there for another hour. You will just hop in the aircraft in town and go.”

More >>

Source: reneweconomy

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NZ forestry's briefing to incoming Ministers

Both the Forest Owners Association and the NZ forest and wood processing sector collectively have submitted Briefings to the Incoming Ministers on the challenges and opportunities in the forest and wood processing sector.

It is important both that the Government hears the collective voice of the extensive range of what constitutes the industry, but also understands the particular viewpoint of the owners of the forest estate itself.

National issued a specific forest and wood processing sector manifesto just before the election. Much of it is welcome support news to the industry which has experienced competition between National and Labour in the recent past on ways to constrain forestry to protect the current extent of hill-country stock production.

Polices, such as restrictions on a universal availability of carbon credits, and local Government abilities to arbitrarily prevent forest planting, remain as dangerous impediments to forest investment.

The BIMs are the introduction to the newly appointed Ministers, in particular, the new Minister of Forestry, Hon Todd McClay. FOA, in collaboration with the wider industry, will be making every effort to work closely with the new government to make sure good policies are adopted and to change the government’s mind where we continue to be constrained.

Click here to read the pan-sector BIM

Click here to read FOA's BIM

Source: Forest Owners Association

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Some mass plantings could harm the environment

New studies raise issues that complicate the ambitious goals to use mass tree-planting to fight climate change. The researchers warn that in some cases, carbon-offset tree plantations could reduce biodiversity, doing more harm than good for the environment.

Trees take in CO2 and store it in their woody mass and the soil, making them a natural solution for reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Globally, it is estimated that forests absorb enough CO2 each year to make up for one-and-a-half times the greenhouse gases that the United States emits annually.

That kind of carbon drawdown capacity motivated large-scale tree planting efforts such as the global Trillion Tree campaign, launched in 2006. Sophisticated carbon credit markets have also been developed, which allow polluting companies to pay for tree planting in order to offset their emissions.

But trees that die, burn or are cut can release that CO2 back into the atmosphere, and trees planted in large stands of only a few species do not function the way that naturally diverse forest ecosystems do.

A study of tree planting in the tropics published in the monthly journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, argues that these carbon-offset plantations can come at the expense of biodiversity and other important services that forests provide. The study's authors also warn that an emphasis on carbon reduction alone can lead to poor environmental decisions.

"It is crucial to shift from the narrow focus on carbon and adopt a more holistic perspective if we aim to effectively conserve and restore natural ecosystems and combat climate change," the study's lead author, Jesús Aguirre-Gutiérrez, an ecologist and senior researcher at the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute, told Newsweek via email.

The scale of tree planting necessary to offset global greenhouse gas emissions would require vast areas of land, the authors write, often leading tree planters to displace other ecosystems. Afforestation, or planting trees in places they didn't previously grow, can replace tropical grasslands that also provide carbon sequestration and other important services, such as regulating water flow and enriching soil, the authors contend.

Grasslands support biodiversity as well, and many species adapted for those environments suffer when grass is replaced by trees. For example, in Brazil's Cerrado savannah, increasing tree cover by 40 percent reduced the diversity of plants and ants by about 30 percent. "Planting trees is great as far as they are planted in areas where they belong," Aguirre-Gutiérrez said.

Photo: American Forests

More >>

Source: newsweek

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... signs

And I thought the “SPELL WRECKER” on my cell phone was bad ...

And some of you will be unable to access this video. Apologies to those that can't. Many of you will though. It was just too good not to build in.

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. 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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