Friday Offcuts 2 February 2024
Research and innovation in forestry is one of the key themes covered this week. FWPA has announced AU$10 million of new forestry research. These projects aim to address critical challenges across forest health, biosecurity, and plantation silviculture. In New Zealand, Scion has just released details on their role in a €7.5 million research project in Europe. The UPWEARS initiative focuses on sustainable e-textile development, leveraging biomaterials and machine-learning knowledge. Innovative materials are a nod to the future.
Forestry Australia has launched their popular mentoring program, which offers career advancement opportunities and the tools to empower the next generation to grow the sector. We have included an interesting video comparing which technology, electric batteries or hydrogen fuel cells, should power heavy vehicle engines. EVs have won the consumer market, but if running big rigs over long distances, the requirements are different.
And finally, for those who want to provide input for the NZ industry's submission to the Covid-19 Royal Commission of Inquiry, today is the last day - follow the links below.
So, there you have it – another packed edition of Friday Offcuts. Enjoy the read.
This week we have for you:
Forest Industry wide COVID-19 survey - closes TODAYThe NZ industry is invited to take part in a survey about the forest industry's experiences during Covid-19. The survey is being done by the NZ Forest and Wood Sector Forum and will inform forestry's submission to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into lessons learnt from New Zealand's response to COVID-19. The deadline for completing the survey is Friday 2 February.
In December 2022 the Government announced the appointment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look at lessons learned from Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to COVID-19 that should be applied in preparation for any future pandemic.
Forestry has been invited to provide a submission relating to the areas in scope for the Inquiry.
To create the most useful report possible, the NZ Forest and Wood Sector Forum (Pan Sector Group) felt it important to have you share your experiences, perspectives, and information to put together one industry-wide submission to the Government. All submissions will be confidential.
Once the report is published by the Royal Commission, our submission, along with other evidence provided to the Commission, will become part of the public record.
The survey is asking for forestry-centric feedback about the Government's response to COVID-19. Please answer the short survey that follows on behalf of your forestry business/organisation. The final submission will be shared with you as a valued player in the forestry supply chain.
SURVEY FORM CLICK TO OPEN
The survey closes this Friday 2 February 2024.
Scion’s central role in €7.5 million research projectScion’s leading biomaterials, 3D printing, packaging, and machine- learning knowledge is being called on as part of a €7.5 million (NZD$13.25m) research project funded in partnership with the European Union.
The EU’s key research and innovation funding programme, Horizon Europe, awarded the funds to a four-year project led by INRAE, France's National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment. The project, starting in May, brings together 15 partners from seven countries. Scion will play a central role in the project and contribute approximately NZD$3m of research to the project.
The research programme, UPWEARS, aims to develop a sustainable e- textile (electrically conductive textile) using cork, hemp, flax and paper byproducts, and develop ways to recycle and reuse textile waste. The overall aim is to contribute to a sustainable economy by unlocking the potential of bio-based and hybrid fabrics.
To demonstrate the e-textile, the team will create high-performance clothing for biking that is abrasion and tear-resistant, waterproof or repellant, stretchable, and breathable. The product will also be biodegradable, and this will be tested in Scion’s biodegradation facility in Rotorua.
Scion’s expertise in sustainable electronics will be used to create flexible sensors from biomaterials for integration into the clothing, sending temperature and humidity data to a user’s device. Scion will lead in turning recovered textile waste into filament or pellets for 3D printing meaning the clothing will be recyclable and a zero-waste product. Scion will also contribute to using AI/machine learning to optimise the production process reducing waste and increasing zero-defect products.
Overall, the project will help with the transition to a modern textile fabrication process using natural fibres and reducing waste during and post-production.
Scientists Dr Yi Chen and Dr Marie Joo Le Guen will be leading Scion’s science team. Chen says involvement in the bid came after the establishment of the International Associated Lab for biobased products, LIA BIOMATA, in 2023 forming a collaborative partnership between Scion and INRAE and providing an ideal framework for the development of larger partnerships.
“Scion has been developing sustainable biosensors and using AI for forestry and packaging applications, and this technology translates to a variety of applications such as wearable devices. It is fantastic that our capability is recognised globally by world-leading partners. This success is a tangible outcome of the collaborative efforts over the past year with INRAE and the strong connections established through being an International Associated Lab.”
Dr Alec Foster, Scion’s Bioproducts and Packaging Portfolio lead says work like this helps progress a circular bioeconomy and being involved in such a globally significant project is a privilege for Scion.
“To be one of the first in New Zealand to be a Horizon partner, and to also play such a central role in a substantial consortium, is a fantastic achievement and exemplifies the tremendous opportunity Horizon Europe presents for our country.
He says being part of such a transformative project with European partners “underscores Scion’s commitment to making a significant and positive difference in the world with new technologies”.
MBIE and Horizon Europe will support Scion's involvement in the project. INRAE researcher Sofiane Guessasma says UPWEARS proves change towards sustainable products while improving individual wellbeing is possible and sustainability does not mean necessarily sacrificing our lifestyle.
The other organisations involved include research organisations, universities and textiles companies from France, Sweden, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and the United Kingdom covering the technical e-textile value chain, from fibre to prototype manufacturing and testing, as well as stakeholder engagement and market analysis.
Source and image credit: Scion
FWPA announces new forestry research worth AU$10 millionForest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA) is pleased to announce the first tranche of successful forestry research proposals from the July 2023 open call for proposals.
The open call for forestry research proposals attracted 29 responses which were reviewed by a scientific advisory panel of experts and a committee of grower members, and were subjected to a benefit cost analysis by an independent economist.
Twelve proposals totalling $10M have been approved by FWPA for an investment of $5.5 million through FWPA. The projects will be funded through industry levies, voluntary cash contributions and matching funding from the Australian government, with significant in-kind contributions by industry and research partners.
The successful proposals were submitted by nine research providers and involved growers from all major commercial forest growing regions of Australia. The research will address a range of challenges across forest health and biosecurity, plantation silviculture, detection of threatened fauna, impacts of fire, phytosanitary options for log exports, and alternate species from current tree crops - many by harnessing various remote sensing and molecular technologies.
There are several proposals still under evaluation, and it is expected that further announcements will be made in coming weeks, following completion of the approval process.
“FWPA is proud to continue our support of world class research that will have real and positive impact on the businesses of Australia’s commercial forest managers – research that our members value”, said FWPA Forest Research Manager, Jodie Mason.
“We thank the many research leaders and industry partners for their considerable efforts in developing high quality proposals and look forward to working with them to implement the projects, commencing in the coming months.”
“FWPA’s investment in these projects receiving funding as part of today’s announcement demonstrate how researchers can work with industry to solve problems identified by forest growers” said Sharon Occhipinti, General Manager Forest Services, HVP Plantations, and an executive member of FWPA’s Grower Research Advisory Committee.
The FWPA Forest Research Program supports collaborative activities that advance research, development, and extension (RD&E) of benefit to Australia’s commercial forest growing sector.
The Forest Research Program is aligned with the Forestry RD&E Investment Plans, which were developed in consultation with Australia’s commercial forest growers to inform collaborative investment and identify priority topics.
China's largest developer ordered to liquidateA Hong Kong court has ordered one of China's biggest property developers, Evergrande Group, to liquidate after it was unable to reach a restructuring deal with creditors over hundreds of billions of dollars it owes.
The liquidation could have severe consequences for the world's second- largest economy, as the Chinese property sector continues to struggle to recover from the pandemic and Beijing grapples with an underperforming economy.
A sharp slowdown in the Chinese property sector — which accounts for about 30% of China's economic growth — could also have damaging consequences for Australia.
Evergrande currently has debts of over A$498 billion and this action has been widely anticipated by the market.
Which will be the engine of the future?Truck manufacturers are under immense pressure to cut emissions. But should they bet on fully electric batteries, hydrogen fuel cells or even both? Multinationals are reaching different conclusions. And the wrong choice could be expensive.
Check out the video below.
And for local forestry and log transport operators, electric, hydrogen and dual fuel options have been going through their own trials and testing on NZ and Australian roads. Equipment suppliers and heavy transport fleets (as well as very early testing on some wood harvesting machines) will be detailing results, lessons and performance figures as part of the eagerly awaited back-up to last year’s major Wood Transport & Logistics event.
When? It runs in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May 2024. Full details on the event and the programme can be found on the event website
Forestry Australia 2024 mentor programForestry Australia is doing a nationwide call out for passionate scientists and forestry professionals to take part in its highly sought-after Mentoring Program.
Forestry Australia CEO Jacquie Martin said the program was a great opportunity to super-charge forestry careers.
“The relationship between a mentor and mentee is a powerful thing,” Ms Martin said. “It has the ability to change, shape and motivate both individuals and entire sectors, and that’s exactly what Forestry Australia’s Mentor Program is all about.
“The program is carefully designed to pair experienced forestry professionals with those who are seeking to evolve their career in our exciting sector. Over nine months, mentees will expand their forestry and professional skill sets, grow their networks and enhance their careers.
“The program has been developed around a framework and tool kit of resources which support participants to set career and development goals; teach time management for life, values and business ethics, forestry skills gap analysis and career planning.
“It’s also an excellent opportunity for experienced professionals to give back to the sector by investing their time and sharing their experience with the next generation of forest scientists and forest managers.
“I encourage anyone who is passionate about Australia’s forestry sector and sustainable forest management to join the program.”
Applications for the Mentor Program are open now, and close on February 4. It is free for Forestry Australia members, and if you’re not a member it’s easy to join: Membership Form HERE
What Mentees and Mentors have to say:
“The great thing for me was to bounce ideas, dream about possibilities, map out pathways and scheme how to take opportunities.” Brendan Foster, HQPlantations, 2023 Mentee
“I learnt to trust in my skills and abilities and lead with confidence. I learnt lots of practical skills to deal with day-to-day parts of my job, as well as the ability to set long term goals and remain accountable.” Kate Battishall, Forest Education Foundation, TAS, 2023 Mentee
“[The resources] were great topics to explore and develop to help me understand my strengths, weaknesses, where I can improve and what attributes are important for my career. I highly valued the experience and we will continue to catch up with my mentor into the future”. James Kidman, Otway Tonewoods, VIC, 2023 Mentee
“As a mentor I learnt as much as my mentee partners – it’s good to challenge my historical thoughts, experiences and learnings with the modern approaches and learnings that the mentees are experiencing in today’s workplaces and changing environments (both physical and social).” Dr Kevin Harding, 2023 Mentor
“[I had great] satisfaction of being able to support someone with their professional and personal growth. I also learnt a lot from them and their different skill sets.” Tammy Auld, Timberlands Pacific, SA, 2023 Mentor
Source: Forestry Australia
Rates shift proposed for forestryHawke's Bay Regional Council in New Zealand plans to dramatically change its property rates system, which would see rates drop for forestry, rise for homeowners; 'more equitable' approach would shift from land value to capital value to calculate rates.
A 600ha forestry block in Wairoa will pay less in rates than some homeowners under a controversial rates proposal by Hawke's Bay Regional Council. A local government rates expert has criticised the council's plan to dramatically change its rates system, which will see rates drop for the likes of forestry and rise for the likes of homeowners.
However, the regional council believes it will be "more equitable" to shift from land value (LV) to capital value (CV) to calculate rates, as well as simplify targeted rates and move some services to the general rate like pest control. If adopted, the proposal will not see the council collect more rates overall but will change the proportion of rates each property pays.
In effect, forestry blocks and farmers will be among the winners with a reduction in rates, while homeowners and many growers will be among the losers facing an increase in their annual bill. A regional councillor says one factor behind the reduction in forestry rates was an "accounting anomaly" by which trees will not be counted as "capital" if the council shifts to CV.
Pest management will also make an impact, as only a select number of properties like forestry currently pay for that service (through a targeted rate) which will move to the general rate and be shared by all ratepayers. According to a list of sample properties, a 600ha forestry block in Wairoa will pay around $610 per year in regional council rates under the proposed changes, down from an annual bill of $2,320 .
Other forests will be charged more depending on where they are and their size. The proposal is for the regional council's annual rates bill and will not impact district and local councils.
A major part of the proposal is switching to capital value (CV) instead of land value (LV) to calculate each property's proportion of rates. The council currently uses land value. "CV can be considered to be more equitable than LV because it considers the value of, and the capacity to earn from, both the land and the improvements on the land [such as buildings]," a consultation document read.
Councillor Martin Williams said there was an "accounting anomaly" for setting values for forestry blocks by which trees were not counted as "capital" - which will impact valuations and therefore rates. He said properties were valued by an independent valuer and not council, so the regional council could not simply change valuations for forestry blocks.
He invited people to submit on the proposal, including the possibility to "apply a differential on forestry". In general, he said the proposal had merit.
Timber Unlimited and CLT Toolbox team upTimber Unlimited has recently formed a collaboration with CLT Toolbox in Australia to develop new software modules that will make it easier to carry out structural designs in accordance with the new Standard NZS AS 1720.1:2022 and international best practice for mass timber, engineered wood products and connections. This announcement comes hot on the heels of CLT Toolbox announcing in October 2023 that the first tranche of their software offering relevant to designers within the Australian market was launched.
One of the long-standing obstacles to making it easier to choose and use more timber in the built environment has been the steep learning curve required to understand the required design methods and material-specific properties of timber to carry out robust member and connection design confidently and on time. The new, New Zealand-specific part of the software is presently under development through this collaboration will provide a new suite of design tools and local supplier grades and sizes, facilitating efficient design to the latest Standards.
A very important additional feature will be the inclusion of the CLT Toolbox core principle of “embedded learning” – the calculators are not presented in the all too familiar “black-box” format, meaning that you get outputs without knowing what formulas or Standards were used; rather, the calculators and routines identify the expressions, factors and Standards being applied so it’s easy to identify the basis and relevance of the calculated outputs.
Timber Unlimited has also teamed up with the NZ Timber Design Society (TDS) and the Structural Engineering Society NZ (SESOC), who will assist with the review and validation parts of the programme. It’s the power of this 4-way collaboration that will help unlock the benefits of timber to the New Zealand design and specification community and make it easier to use more timber in the built environment.
The target is to have NZ-relevant part of the software available to NZ designers by the end of April 2024.
Photo: CLT Toolbox Founders Adam Jones and Ringo Thomas
Source: Timber Unlimited
Whiteheads partners with Springer for sawmill upgradeA decade-long partnership In a move dating back to 2008, Australian company WHITEHEADS Timber Sales initially conceived the idea of modernising its sawmill. Strategically aligning with SPRINGER and its partners, this ambitious project for the company brings top-notch technology to Australia's sawmill industry - beyond anything previously known in the region. Recognizing the imperative for cutting-edge wood processing technology, WHITEHEADS Timber Sales and SPRINGER embarked on a transformative journey to reshape the operation.
Setting industry standards The upcoming sawmill upgrades will showcase the highest process efficiency, the lowest energy consumption, and incorporate the latest generation of robotic-based machine design and functionality. Additionally, state-of-the-art scanning, optimizer, and data processing technology will be integrated, reinforcing a commitment to a technologically advanced approach to wood processing.
Comprehensive sawmill overhaul
This large project includes a saw infeed transformation with the latest LMC (Log Motion Control) generation, featuring an all-new SPRINGER measurement conveyor and LINCK seamless servo pos centering infeed - powered by MICROTEC's latest generation of real time scanning and image processing technology. In the next step, a complete overhaul of the log infeed deck will introduce SPRINGER's cutting-edge screw feeding technology, promising seamless and efficient processing.
Revolutionising greensorter operations
The Greensorter will undergo a comprehensive rebuild and upgrade, featuring the all-new SPRINGER trimmer line. The trimmer line incorporates next-gen board manipulation gear such as the E-loader, beltless trimmer system E-cut with servo pos PET, and a fully automated visual autograding system. Powered by MiCROTEC's GE900 series with ViSCANplus, this system ensures structural grade prediction on top of fully automatic visual grading, while the enhanced sorter management system VARiOSORT adds a new dimension to efficiency.
Project redefining industry standards
WHITEHEADS Timber Sales and SPRINGER are investing significantly to ensure the upgrade will redefine industry standards and establish a new benchmark for sawmill operations globally. The installation of these upgrades is scheduled to commence in 2025, marking a pivotal moment in WHITEHEADS Timber Sales' journey toward operational excellence. In collaboration with SPRINGER, the Australian company is not only upgrading its sawmill but pioneering a transformative approach that will undoubtedly set new standards in wood processing technology, ensuring a future that is both efficient and sustainable; and the next project cooperation is already in the pipeline.
About SPRINGER: The family-owned company located in Friesach (Austria) plans, develops, and produces machines and state of the art solutions for the wood processing industry. All processes, such as transporting, sorting, grading of wood, and automation, are implemented at the highest technological level. Special attention is placed on sustainability. The climate-neutral company employs more than 500 people worldwide and is led by the family's third generation, Timo Springer and Gero Springer.
Changing structure planned for NZDFINew Zealand Dryland Forests Innovation (NZDFI) was established in 2008 by the Marlborough Research Centre Trust (MRCT) as a regional research and development start-up project with the support of three forest industry partners: University of Canterbury’s NZ School of Forestry (UoC); Ngāi Tahu-owned Proseed NZ (Proseed) and Vineyard Timbers.
Since that time, the team has worked tirelessly on durable eucalypt breeding, research and development, towards their vision of creating sustainable regional durable hardwood industries in New Zealand.
In July 2022, a separate entity was established, New Zealand Dryland Forests IP Ltd, with the XyloGene brand. This was the start of activities to commercialise genetically improved durable eucalypt germplasm via a royalty payment system on sales of genetically improved plants. The establishment of NZDFIP Ltd effectively separated commercial activities from the much broader focus of NZDFI’s research and development programme.
The next phase of their development is now underway. New shareholders are being sought who recognise the value that NZDFI has created by working collaboratively. The plan is to deliver tree breeding, research and extension services to new shareholders in a similar way to that which the Radiata Pine Breeding Company undertakes for industry. They want to focus their communication and education into building the industry capability needed for a New Zealand durable hardwood industry.
Up to 49% of the NZDFIP Ltd shareholding is on offer to forest growers that have the land, capability, and a strategy to diversify by investing in large-scale planting with elite germplasm. Expressions of interest are being sought from NZ forest companies that have shown interest in diversifying with their durable eucalypts.
If all goes to plan, the new ownership structure could be in place by mid- 2024. For more information, please contact Paul Millen, email@example.com.
Click here for the full media release.
IUFRO conference, Rotorua, March 2024Registration deadline approaching for international forest research conference in March 2024
It’s not too late to secure a conference seat in Rotorua and learn how scientists are using cutting-edge plant propagation technology to usher in a new era for forestry.
From 3-8 March 2024, the city will welcome the participants of the 6th IUFRO (International Union of Forest Research Organisations) conference of the Working Party 2.09.02. The event is dedicated to exploring vegetative propagation technologies under the theme, "The might of vegetative propagation for healthy and productive forests to face climate challenges."
Registrations are still open and Dr Jana Krajňáková, a senior researcher for tissue culture and project leader at Scion, is encouraging anyone interested in the future of forestry to attend.
An integral member of the conference’s organising committee, Dr Krajňáková says it will be an opportunity to hear how scientists are harnessing the latest tissue culture technologies to advance knowledge and improve ways the forestry industry can rapidly grow new trees from proven and high-performing genotypes.
“The programme will cover all fields of application of vegetative propagation to preserve, assess, improve, adapt, and deploy tree genetic resources in resilient and productive forests,” she says.
Vegetative propagation technologies include various methods to reproduce plants without seeds, such as cutting, grafting, layering, and tissue culture (micro- propagation, including somatic embryogenesis).
During the conference there will be four scientific sessions, 10 keynote speakers, 34 oral presentations and 29 research posters. Participants from 22 countries will be sharing their research.
They include several Scion scientists including Jana Krajňáková, Cathie Reeves and Lloyd Donaldson. Glenn Thorlby will share information about Scion's micro-propagation and genetic technologies, and the Crown Research Institute’s journey towards more productive, sustainable and resilient planted forests. Scion’s Sam Davidson will also highlight how AI and machine learning are being used to improve productivity and greater automation with plant propagation.
Dr Alison Slade will deliver a presentation focusing on the industrialisation of tissue culture for New Zealand forestry.
In addition to the conference sessions, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in field trips, including a visit to Scion and Minginui Nursery where participants will see practical applications of vegetative propagation technologies in land restoration and community employment opportunities. Timberlands will also demonstrate the best clonal forests of radiata pine.
Founded in 1892, IUFRO is one of the oldest and largest international organisations in the field of forest research. Comprising a global network of forest scientists and researchers, IUFRO is committed to voluntary global cooperation and knowledge sharing in forest-related research.
Don't miss the opportunity to be part of this influential gathering. Register today and secure your spot before the registration deadline.
Source and image credit: Scion
John Deere announces strategic partnershipUtilising the industry-leading Starlink network, this solution will allow machine owners facing rural connectivity challenges to fully leverage precision technologies. This partnership, an industry first, will enable John Deere customers to be more productive, profitable, and sustainable in their operations.
The SATCOM solution will connect both new and existing machines through satellite internet service and ruggedised satellite terminals. This will fully enable technologies such as autonomy, real-time data sharing, remote diagnostics, enhanced self-repair solutions, and machine-to-machine communication, all of which help machine owners work more efficiently while minimising downtime.
John Deere is bringing satellite communications service to rural areas at scale so those with cellular coverage challenges can maximise the value of connectivity to their operations. The SATCOM solution unlocks the John Deere tech stack so every machine owner can fully utilise their current precision agriculture technology in addition to the new innovative solutions Deere will deploy in the future.
John Deere’s SATCOM solution will leverage SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet constellation. To activate this solution, John Deere dealers will install a ruggedized Starlink terminal on compatible machines, along with a 4G LTE JDLink modem to connect the machine to the John Deere Operations Centre. The SATCOM solution will initially be available through a limited release in the United States and Brazil starting in the second half of 2024.
Source: John Deere
NSW Forests partially closed after bushfiresForestry Corporation of NSW has closed burnt areas in Bibblewindi, Jacks Creek and Pilliga East State Forests to the public following the recent Duck Creek fire.
The damage is a potential safety risk to visitors. Forestry Corporation staff are currently assessing burnt areas to ensure that roads and fire trails are safe for the public.
Burnt and damaged trees may pose a significant safety risk due to falling, particularly after heavy rainfall or in high winds.
Once a comprehensive assessment of all forest roads, fire trails and adjacent tree-lined areas and any remedial works carried out, Forestry Corporation will look to reopen the affected areas.
Source: Forestry Corporation of NSW
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... hear the cannons roar
An out-of-work actor gets a call from his agent one day. "I’ve got you a job," says his agent. "That’s great," says the actor, what is it?" "Well," says his agent, "it’s a one-liner" "That’s okay," replies the actor, "I’ve been out of work for so long I’ll take anything. What’s the line?" "Hark, I hear the cannons roar" says the agent. "I love it" says the actor "When’s the audition?" "Wednesday" says the agent.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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