Friday Offcuts – 17 May 2024

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Welcome to this week's edition of Friday Offcuts.

We have several key industry developments this week. FWPA, in partnership with AFPA and Wood Beca, has launched a new industry-wide decarbonisation plan aimed at delivering a better than net zero carbon outcome by 2050. This roadmap project will analyse emissions and identify strategies for reduction, capture, and storage. In New Zealand, Scion faces job cuts due to economic pressures, highlighting the challenges faced by research institutions in an ever- evolving landscape.

Continued investment is critical. Whakatane Mill has reopened after a significant upgrade, there has been successful NZ trials of a new helicopter suspended tree-trimming saw, and Countrywide Hydrogen is set to become Tasmania’s first major green hydrogen producer. 

A reader last week commented that the story, 'Wooden wind power takes flight', about the world’s first prototype wooden wind turbine blade, was not the ‘first’. We learn something new every day, and if you have thoughts on any articles, please share them via the ‘comment on story’ link at the end of each article.

Finally, Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 is running in Rotorua next week (22-23 May 2024) to another big turnout. For those not in NZ, there are live-streaming options available. Also, don’t miss the early bird discounts, which end today, for the upcoming Environmental Forestry 2024 event.

Read these and more in another packed edition of Friday Offcuts. Enjoy.

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FWPA research funding for a carbon neutral 2050

FWPA has committed funding to research which will inform an industry-wide decarbonisation plan to lead the forest and wood products sector to achieve a better than carbon neutral outcome by 2050. 

FWPA will spearhead this initiative, partnering with Australia Forest Products Association (AFPA) and Wood Beca to deliver this crucial roadmap. The project will be funded primarily through grower and processor contributions, with additional financial support from the paper and packaging sector. 

This approach incorporates carbon sequestration within commercial forest estates and includes recommendations for softwood and hardwood plantation forests, wood processing sites, managed native forests, and the paper and packaging manufacturing sector. 

The roadmap project, which has just commenced, will model industry emissions projections out to 2050. This work will establish baseline projections and identify the most effective avenues for carbon emissions reduction, capture, and storage.

FWPA and AFPA have been working with industry and researchers to develop emissions reduction methodologies, enhance carbon capture, storage, and productivity across plantations, and create strategies to quantify emissions savings from utilising timber-based solutions in commercial building projects.

This will potentially allow the construction industry to acquire Australian Carbon Credit Units by using carbon-storing timber and will support paper and packaging use.

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Source: Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA)

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Scion to cut 30 jobs

Thirty jobs are proposed to be cut at Scion, the forestry-focused Crown research institute based in Rotorua, as it looks to secure “ongoing viability” through economic challenges. As various public sectors face shedding hundreds of jobs in the Government’s drive to cut costs, Rotorua’s MP says Scion’s proposal was a commercial decision, not a Governmental one.

The institute says while it has not been affected by Government budget cuts to the public service, it has been hit by a reduction in Government and industry spending on research.

Scion chief executive Dr Julian Elder told Local Democracy Reporting it had identified 30 jobs for review amid economic challenges and in anticipation of a dip in contracts next year.

“That has made it clear that for next year we are facing a reduction in the work we expect to be doing, and so we will not be able to retain the number of staff that we currently have. Its goal was to align capacity and capability with expected work in years ahead, “while safeguarding Scion’s role as a provider of forestry research, industrial biotechnology and advanced manufacturing expertise”.

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Source: Rotorua Daily Post / NZ Herald

Image credit: Scion

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Australian Pine Log Price Index updated

The latest Australian Pine Log Price Index for the July to December 2023 period has been released.

The Australian Pine Log Price Index (“the Index”) is compiled by KPMG using data provided by Australian softwood growers. The Index documents changes in pine log prices achieved by large-scale commercial plantation owners selling common grades of plantation softwood logs to domestic processors.

KPMG updates the Index biannually, with the two reporting periods being January to June and July to December. The Index has a base period of January to June 1998.

KPMG acts as the independent Index manager and collects confidential data on log volumes and stumpage values for all sales, including long and short-term contracts and spot transactions, at the end of each reporting period. Quantity information on export sawlogs and export pulpwood is also provided.

The following report presents the result of the Index from July to December 2023. The prices for all classes of sawlogs, preservation logs and export sawlogs are reported in dollars per cubic metre ($/m3). The prices for the pulplogs and export pulplogs are reported in dollars per tonne ($/t).

The report is attached here for your information.

Source: KPMG

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Environmental Forestry: Earlybird rates end TODAY

Earlybird rates end this Friday for Environmental Forestry Conference

On 25-26 June, our FIEA Annual Environmental Forestry Conference is running. Registrations are going very well. We bring practical foresters together with local regulators and national policy-makers to debate and bring constructive change for production forestry and our environment, with a focus on practical actions and measurable outcomes. We’ve used your feedback to choose speakers for our June conference.

Everyone in forestry is facing tough challenges. The weather, and new regulations, are at the top of most of our lists. One way to make positive change in the face of adversity is getting together with others and gaining inspiration from sharing success stories. This can help motivate your team in difficult circumstances.

We’re pleased to announce another speaker from Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP). Courtney Hamblin is an experienced pest management specialist. In her role as Adaptive Management Director she works with teams on the ground. Click here to see her background.

The importance of planted forests to falcon populations, especially in Kaingaroa Forest, is well studied and well-known. Not so in the South Island, until now. A lesser known falcon population has also been studied to monitor health and development in South Island forests. Graham Parker is a specialist from Parker Conservation South who will also speak about his work down south. Click here to read more about Graham’s work.

Through FSC many forestry companies are required to mitigate their impact on New Zealand falcons. However there is a shortage of data to guide improved mitigation practices for falcon - forestry interactions. Graham and his team have worked with seven forestry companies in Otago to better quantify the falcon population, the nature of interactions, and provide updated management recommendations for use in FSC, and beyond.

To view the programme and register, click here.

Environmental Forestry 2024

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NZ Government releases public consultation on ETS

As scheduled, the Ministry for the Environment ("MfE") have released their annual public consultation document on the NZ ETS auction settings. This is in response to advice on ETS Settings from the Climate Change Commission ("CCC") that was submitted to the Minister of Climate Change Simon Watts two months ago. Under legislation, such advice is regularly scheduled and must be considered by the Government, but not necessarily adopted.

Casting back to this time in 2022, we saw the CCC propose significantly higher Cost Containment Reserve ("CCR") trigger prices. The reaction to that 2022 CCC advice was a NZ$10 lift on the day of the announcement.

However, Cabinet's subsequent decision was not to follow the recommendations, and CCR trigger prices were recast to what was essentially 'status quo plus inflation.' That saw NZU prices immediately slump back $10 on the secondary market, and (despite a judicial review leading to an ultimate U-turn by Cabinet, and upwards adjustment of CCR trigger prices), NZU prices have not recovered since.

So What's the Story Now?

Perhaps the most significant recommendation in this year's CCC ETS Settings advice was to halve the volumes scheduled to be auctioned out to 2028, including potential adjustments to 2025 and 2026 volumes. A big question for the market (since publication of the advice) has been whether or not such stark reductions would actually be entertained by the Government.

The MFE consultation document released will refocus the mind back to the price - rather than volume - side of the equation. In particular, the document raises the possibility of lowering the auction price floor (and the trigger price for the CCR). Key aspects to note are in relation to:

Auction Price Control Settings;

The Ministry identifies the following two options:
  1. The first option is to maintain the status quo  with adjustment for inflation from 2027.
  2. The second option is to lower trigger prices  for both the auction price floor and the CCR.
Cost Containment Reserve Volume;

The Ministry notes that the CCR needs to be large enough to prevent auction prices going too high. Previously, the number of units in the reserve was aligned to the surplus – that is, if the trigger was reached, additional units would be sold, up to the level of the surplus. The most recent CCC advice appears to be a departure from that approach and hence the MfE identifies two options on which it seeks feedback:
  1. Maintain the current CCR volume and extend it to 2029, or
  2. Increase the number of units on offer in the CCR. This would mean if the CCR is triggered, more units would be released. 
Unit Limits;

Auction volumes and unit limits are calculated through a series of steps. The MfE seeks feedback on options for each step and in particular are interested in ways to manage the impact of non-NZ ETS policies on the NZ ETS unit limits and how emissions budgets are allocated to NZ ETS and non-NZ ETS sectors.

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Source and image credit: Carbon Match

Extra Note: Carbon Forestry 2024 is scheduled for 20-21 August 2024 in Rotorua, New Zealand. Click here for further details

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Whakatane Mill reopens

Whakatane Mill Limited (WML) has successfully completed a significant upgrade at its paperboard mill, marked by a grand reopening ceremony in March. The project, which involved the installation of state-of-the-art machinery and facility upgrades, enables WML to provide premium quality board products to its local and international customers.

The reopening event was attended by customers worldwide and distinguished guests, including Minister of Manufacturing and Small Business, Andrew Bayly, and Local MP Dana Kirkpatrick.

This comprehensive upgrade represents a substantial investment of over NZD$100 million in the business, which expands production by an additional 50,000 tonnes of folding box boards and better environmental and energy systems. This will ensure the continued growth and success of the mill and local Whakatane community.

More >>

Source: Scoop
Image credit: Whakatane Mill

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Connectivity in regional Australia must improve

Australia's Universal Service Obligation (USO), a long-standing policy ensuring basic phone services for all, is outdated and reliant on ageing copper infrastructure. Telstra, while committed to upholding the USO, is urging the government to modernise the policy by adopting newer technologies.

In a recent post, Telstra highlighted the reliance of the standard telephone service (STS) on obsolete copper and radio technology in some areas. Loretta Willaton, Telstra's regional executive, described it as a "dinosaur" compared to modern alternatives. The outdated technology poses challenges, with some components no longer manufactured, forcing Telstra to rely on recycled and refurbished parts.

Copper's shortcomings for modern networking are well-known. It is expensive to maintain, prone to outages, and offers inferior service quality compared to 4G, fibre (via VOIP), or satellite networks.

Telstra's call for modernisation aligns with the growing need for reliable and efficient communication services across Australia, particularly in regional areas. Updating the USO would not only improve service quality but also ensure the sustainability of essential communication infrastructure for the future.

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Source: Gizmodo

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Decarbonising transport & logistics

New Zealand environmental specialist, Toitū, recently held a panel to discuss how New Zealand's transportation and logistics industry, the nation's second-largest emissions source, can take effective climate action. They shed light on the critical pressures facing supply chains and how to respond to the growing emissions measurement and reporting requirements.

Transport and logistics can play an integral role in decarbonisation across industries and organisations. The panellists emphasised the growing need to measure supply chain carbon emissions and the information customers and stakeholders seek regarding the impact of transport and moving goods. Better data visibility and accurate measurement is vital. 

More >>

Source: Toitū

This is a good lead into next week's Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event, which shows the unprecedented level of innovation being seen in moving logs through the supply chain.

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Heli-saw to ‘transform’ tree-trimming around power lines

New Zealand’s electricity sector could be transformed by a radical new approach to keeping trees off power lines, says a King Country-based energy distributor.

The Lines Company (TLC), based in Te Kūiti, has undertaken its first successful trial of the heli-saw – a specialised tree-trimming saw hanging from a helicopter. The heli-saw, owned by Lakeview Helicopters in Taupō, was trialled by TLC in a forestry block in Kuratau near Taupo last month.

In just over an hour the heli-saw successfully trimmed 950 metres of radiata pine along a corridor housing a 33kV network line. Material was left at the base of the trees, leaving two blocks of trees  – 9 years and 14 years –  undamaged.

TLC’s vegetation manager Jason Gaukrodger said the trial was “sensational”, saving the company weeks and weeks of work and thousands of dollars. It proved the heli-saw technology had incredible potential, he said.

“I had high expectations, but this blew me out of the water in terms of how efficient it was. It was much faster than I anticipated, and the pilots had incredible control. This technology has the potential to be transformational for electricity distribution companies like ours, as well as for the forestry sector.”

TLC chief executive Mike Fox said for customers the potential benefits could be huge. TLC services 24,000 connections across some of New Zealand’s most challenging geographical terrain. Around 10% of its network – approximately 150,000 hectares – is covered in forestry blocks, some poorly maintained. The company had 269km of power lines running through forestry blocks and 106km of line through Department of Conservation (DoC) land.

It was an ongoing battle to keep trees clear of power lines, making the network vulnerable to storms and weather events.

“In a normal year, we’d invest around $1.6 million in vegetation management. But in the future, we will need to invest more because of increasingly volatile weather patterns and the increase in commercial forestry. Over the next 10 years, we’ve budgeted a further $200,000 to $600,000 per annum to keep trees away from power lines and in some cases, reroute some lines away from trees completely.”

TLC will continue testing heli-saw technology later this month in a plantation forest south of Piopio in the King Country. A 2.6km corridor through a commercial forest will be trimmed, with support from the forestry owners. Gaukrodger said the forestry sector was invited to see the heli-saw in action at Kuratau and left impressed. TLC would continue to work alongside foresters, he said.

“This technology helps both TLC and forestry owners manage the risk from trees and does so cost-effectively, especially in steep or hard-to- access terrain. The other option is felling the trees completely, but removing edge trees opens up forestry blocks to wind. We can send arborists in to trim trees but we are literally looking at weeks and weeks of work. With this technology, weather permitting, we’re talking hours.”

More >>

Source and image credit: The Lines Company (TLC)

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Tasmania’s first major hydrogen producer

Countrywide Hydrogen, part of ReNu Energy, will become Tasmania’s first major green hydrogen producer after locking in an $8 million funding deal with the Tasmanian Liberal Government. Premier and Minister for Trade and Major Investment, Jeremy Rockliff, said the Tasmanian Liberal Government’s Green Hydrogen Price Reduction Scheme announcement was the latest step in making Tasmania’s hydrogen sector a reality.

“This is a crucial step towards realising our vision of Tasmania becoming a leader in green hydrogen production,” Premier Rockliff said. “Under this agreement Countrywide will produce hydrogen at multiple locations around the state, and supply hydrogen for a diverse group of users."

Initially the project will target the heavy transport sector and potential industrial applications with all hydrogen to be sold within the local Tasmanian market. It will be part of the next evolution of our economy, capitalising on our great tradition of zero-emissions energy production to create the renewable jobs of the future.

Minister for Energy and Renewables, Nick Duigan, said this agreement was the latest win stemming from the dedicated Tasmanian Renewable Hydrogen Action Plan which had been paving the way for the establishment of this new industry.

“All up this agreement will initially see more than $60 million invested in our state over the next three years as part of the Countrywide Project, money that will flow into regional and local economies and communities,” Minister Duigan said.

“The first phase of Countrywide’s plan is to construct a hydrogen production and heavy vehicle refuelling facility at the industrial hub in Brighton, which will produce up to 800 tonnes per annum of green hydrogen."

Once the Brighton facility is established, Countrywide wants to expand production and refuelling facilities into the north and north-west of the state. This will see the major road freight routes in Tasmania being serviced by a reliable hydrogen supply.

More >>

Source: Tasmanian Government
Image credit: Source: Countrywide Hydrogen

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AI and lasers to measure hurricane forest damage

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are preparing for hurricane season with state-of-the-art monitoring equipment that will help them determine how extensively forests are damaged during individual hurricanes.

When hurricanes cross Florida, they not only damage homes and businesses, they also destroy forests and timber farms. Getting an accurate assessment for how much timber is damaged by hurricanes is essential for environmental management decisions, salvaging logging operations, tree farms’ insurance estimates and climate change studies, but so far, it’s been a vexing puzzle.

Carlos Silva, assistant professor of quantitative forest science in the UF/IFAS School of Forest, Fisheries and Geomatics Sciences and director of the forest biometrics, remote sensing and AI lab, said the key is to use a combination of remote sensing and artificial intelligence technologies, to create pre- and post-hurricane 3D maps of forests to evaluate forest loss. He uses satellites and lidar – a technology that uses lasers to collect data and which stands for Light Detection and Ranging – ground equipment to achieve this.

“Hurricanes pose a fundamental challenge for us in Florida,” Silva said. “The traditional way to assess the impact of hurricanes is basically going to the field, establishing plots and measuring trees. But if we’re thinking about large areas, it’s really time-consuming, therefore the traditional way of assessing the impact of hurricanes on forest ecosystems is not efficient.”

“We are in a new era for monitoring forests, thanks to these innovative remote-sensing and AI methods,” he said.

Data helps emergency managers and environmental managers make fast, smart decisions in the aftermath of a hurricane, he said. These data help them know which areas were most affected and need help immediately, and which would benefit from specialised action at a later time – such as where to do salvage logging operations.

More >>

Source: University of Florida

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SnapSTAT - Carbon market pricing drifts

Carbon pricing has generally trended lower this year. The first auction of Government released carbon credits (known as New Zealand Units or NZU) occurred on 20 March. Some, but not all, of the units offered traded at $64/NZU. This was also the floor price set for the auction. See insight note for more details.

See More Here 

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China launches world’s largest electric container ship

State-owned China Ocean Shipping Group (COSCO) has launched the world’s largest electric container ship, which will begin regular service between Shanghai and Nanjing and save 3,900kg of fuel for every 100 nautical miles sailed.

The Greenwater 01 arrived at the deepwater Yangshan Port in Hangzhou Bay south of Shanghai, an all-electric container ship measuring 119.8 metres in length, width of 23.6 metres and depth of 9 metres.

It is the world’s first 10,000-tonne pure electric container ship and boasts a top speed of 19.4km/h and a battery capacity of over 50,000kWh. Each battery container offers 1,600kWh of electricity and utilises a container similar to the standard 20-foot containers the vessel transports.

The number of battery packs can therefore be modified depending on the journey by simply modifying the number of battery containers installed onboard. The Greenwater 01 is expected to be able to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 12.4 tonnes for the same distance travelled.

Image credit: Cosco

Source: thedriven

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on… Search for NZs best tree

Have you voted New Zealand's 2024 Tree of the Year? Choose from six incredible finalists, celebrate the trees that enrich our lives and communities, and acknowledge the stories that connect us.

The competition, now in its third year, is not about celebrating a species, just “one very special tree”. It’s about connecting people with trees.

Vote for your favourite and help decide which arboreal gem will earn the title of Tree of the Year:

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Ken Wilson
Editor, Friday Offcuts
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This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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