Friday Offcuts 7 September 2018
For more good news, we’ve built in a story this week put out by a forestry company, OneFortyOne Plantations. Its forest estate is located in the same region as Timberlink’s Tarpeena sawmilling operation. The release is certainly eye-catching. Around 5.5 million trees have been planted by the company over this last planting season. The message on the number of trees being replanted though isn’t really though the focus for the article for forestry readers. The underlying messages from the media release clearly coming through are; the sustainability of the forestry industry, the replanting efforts that have been made after the devastating fires 35 years ago, the subsequent benefits of replanting to the region, the love of working out in the forest for the planters involved and the family connections to the industry.
The messages are being relayed through the profiling of one of their tree planters, someone who’s been working in the industry for some 35 years and is proudly following in his father’s footsteps. Congratulations to OFO. Outside of the planting efforts made this winter by the company, here is an excellent example of just how we can better profile the industry and what it offers to the wider community. It has in just a few short paragraphs being able to describe those key attributes of our industry that we all try to espouse. Speaking of good promotions, construction and the subsequent reporting on a BBQ made out of NZ produced CLT to promote the fire resistance properties of the material isn’t bad either (although it was copied by a Chinese CLT manufacturer within a couple of days).
We’ve also included this week results from recent market analyses. The first is an analysis of the North American lumber market by FEA Holdings, Canada. Analyses of consumption, production and pricing point to an optimistic outlook for sawn softwood markets to the end of 2018 (and most likely into 2019). The second report details the results from the quarterly Australian timber market survey from the Indufor Group. Most products surveyed showed upward price movements over the period with one of the better performing product lines being structural hardwood products with prices climbing between 2.5% and 5.6%.
And finally, as mentioned in previous issues, details on the ForestTECH 2018 annual technology series for local forest resource managers and inventory foresters have been uploaded to the event website www.foresttech.events for several weeks now. Registrations are already rolling in. The programme flyers were also direct mailed to many of you this week. Some pretty exciting new innovations around drone use operationally in the forest are being profiled for the first time this year. We’ve included in this week’s issue a short story and video clip from the Interpine Group showing how drones have been used out in the forest over the last planting season to improve planting productivity. That’s it for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
AU$100m for Timberlink’s Australian sawmillsTimberlink has approved an AU$100 million upgrade program to its Australian sawmills. This generational investment will see the total processing capacity of the Australasian sawmilling company increase by more than 15%. The investment will secure more than 1350 direct and indirect jobs in regional Australia for years to come while supporting the residential housing sector with increased timber supply.
Timberlink’s chairman and CEO of investment management firm New Forests, David Brand, expressed his support for the mill upgrade program. “This is a substantial re-investment in the Timberlink mill facilities and continues to demonstrate the strong recovery of the Australian forestry sector under institutional investor ownership,” he said.
“Timberlink has become a leading wood products business, and I expect it will continue to innovate and grow, creating new manufacturing jobs in regional areas, while increasing the supply of timber in Australia.”
A total of 290 additional jobs are anticipated during the construction phase of the AU$100 million program. In Tarpeena, South Australia, the investment will lead to the installation of a completely new saw line, stacker and edger, all with the latest leading-edge technology, coupled with additional contraflow and batch kilns for drying timber. Major site infrastructure changes including upgrades to roads and storage facilities will also be undertaken.
At Timberlink’s Bell Bay site in Tasmania, new planer mill equipment will be installed along with a state-of-the-art contraflow kiln. Site infrastructure will be improved, including a new internal road system designed to improve safety outcomes and support the increase in site activity.
The AU$100 million investment program will take place in stages over the next three years and will build on previous capex investments that have taken place in both mills over the past five years. Timberlink will continue discussions with the Tasmanian, South Australian, and Federal Governments, seeking their funding support for further enhancements related to these business expansion programs.
“This is a great day for Australian manufacturing,” Timberlink CEO, Ian Tyson said. “We are ensuring that all aspects of the business are internationally competitive to secure our long- term future, and this significant investment will secure Timberlink’s position as one of Australasia’s leading softwood sawmillers.
“Our integrated business model allows us to optimise and guarantee our supply from the forest all the way to our customer’s door, and at its core, this program is about increasing and securing that supply of timber.”
The new capital also enables the ongoing investment in training and upskilling of Timberlink’s employees. With 87% of their workforce living in regional areas, these investments build stronger local economies that can support regional communities. Due to careful planning, the sawmills will be able to continue to operate normally during the building process. This will ensure that the supply of timber to customers will continue as usual.
Source & Photo: Timberlink
UAVs and big data are changing fibre supplyWith forest company’s industry wide faced with fibre accessibility challenges, the name of the game today is supply chain optimization. A technology company based in Vancouver believes the solution is in forestry-specific data collection and analytics.
Big data — a buzzword for the storage and analysis of large, complex data sets from multiple sources — has taken most industries by storm. Technologies such as drones, LIDAR, radio-frequency identification, and various equipment sensors allow companies to collect seemingly endless amounts of data, but it’s the practical application that is somewhat elusive to the forest sector.
Mike Wilcox, co-founder of FYBR Solutions along with Patrick Crawford, says the end goal of all data and analysis in the forest sector is to better understand and optimize supply and production. “We specialize in the use of drones, but they are just the tip of the iceberg,” Wilcox says.
“Our goal is to get as much information as far up the supply chain as possible because it has a cascading effect on downstream operations,” he says. “We are supplementing traditional data sources with this individual stem inventory which gives the people on the ground the ability to make more informed decisions.”
FYBR began in 2014 as Spire Aerobotics Inc. — a drone company for the natural resources sector. The company has since rebranded as FYBR Solutions to reflect what the team had quickly learned: In order for their drones to solve real-world problems, they needed to provide a turnkey solution for just one industry. More >>.
Innovations, uses and implementation of drone related images and data in forest resource assessment will be an integral part of this year’s ForestTECH 2018 series being run in November. Presentations on two relatively new entrants to the forestry scene, a 100kg pilotless helicopter that has been working on some forestry trials in New Zealand along with a new vertical take-off and landing UAV (think of the opportunities here in a forestry environment with a closed canopy) that is being introduced to this region are being made.
In addition, early results from in-forest drones using LiDAR, electro-optic, thermal infrared and hyperspectral sensors in SA forests and an update on the development of a system to replace iOS location services with drone co-ordinates in a forest company’s mapping system are going to be outlined to local resource managers and inventory foresters. Full details on the programmes for both New Zealand (14-15 November) and Australia (20-21 November) along with workshops can be seen on the event website; www.foresttech.events.
OneFortyOne replants more than 5.5 million treesImagine planting by hand more than 5.5 million trees. That’s exactly what the team at OneFortyOne have just done with the replanting season finishing last week across its Green Triangle forests. For one man, OFO’s Terry Higgins, this season marked an important milestone as it was the second time he has replanted trees on this land. The first time was following the devastating 1983 Ash Wednesday fire.
“Like most people who were part of our industry and community in the 1980s, my colleagues and I will never forget Ash Wednesday. 35 years later, we’re proud to still have people working for OFO who fought the fires, supervised the log salvage operations, or worked in the local mills in the fire’s aftermath”, said Terry.
The impact on the Green Triangle forests was significant with 18,094ha of the State’s pine forests destroyed in the fire. Putting that in perspective, OFO’s forests today span approximately 93,000ha (81,000ha of pine trees) meaning 22% of OFO’s forest was replanted out of its usual cycle during the 1980s.
“I think sometimes people forget the impact Ash Wednesday had on this region’s harvesting programs. The trees we replanted in 1983 started reaching their optimal age over the past few years, we harvested them, and now we are replanting the forests again. Forestry is the same as any other farming crop. Each year we have a cycle of harvest, sow, nurture and regrow.” said Terry.
Terry himself joined the industry in 1971, following in his father’s footsteps working in the Penola Forest. Throughout his 40-year career in these forests he has undertaken nearly every task, at nearly every location, and is now responsible for managing OFO’s replanting program. This year he estimates his planting crews walked a total of 13,372 kms replanting the trees in the ground.
Terry’s reason for working in the forestry industry is simple, “What’s not to love about working in this industry? We are sustainable, replanting everything we harvest. We grow people’s future homes, and we do it in some of the best forests in the world”.
CLT BBQ promotes fire resistance propertiesA little creativity goes a long way in explaining the inherent fire resistance character of mass timber to those who don’t believe. This inspiring photo shows a barbecue grill made of CLT panels. It was made by X-Lam, a New Zealand CLT manufacturer.
Once Canada Wood posted it on social media, it picked up over 7,100 views in just two days. It was also retweeted by numerous other social media accounts. Within a couple of days, Sino-Canada Low Carbon, a Chinese CLT manufacturer based in Zhejiang province, had made a copycat and posted the images on its own social media account.
“There is nothing more convincing than a heated grill made of CLT to help people understand the basic principle and theory behind the performance of timber buildings under fire conditions,” said Brad Wong, founder of Sino-Canada Low Carbon.
As mass timber’s popularity grows, various levels of Chinese government and architects have started paying attention to CLT. On August 1, the Hebei provincial government invited experts from China Southwest Architectural Design and Research Institute, Nanjing Tech University, Canada Wood, the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, and Hebei Academy of Building Research to an internal meeting to discuss the drafting of the new codes.
British Columbia and Hebei have been working together since 2009 to expand wood use in building construction. B.C. has assisted Hebei officials in developing wood-frame construction codes and with industry involvement, has shared building technology and expertise.
Source: 2018, Canada Wood Group
Drone tree seedling deliveries a realityWhile pizza deliveries seem to have caught the press and news articles eye, this innovation in the use of drones can equally show the true potential of these tools being used in the forestry sector.
Traditionally planters need to restock their seedling supplies manually by returning back to the stock pile reducing productivity through downtime associated with ferrying new trees supplies, and increasing exhaustion rates of the workers sometimes carrying large loads in steep country.
Here planters have the trees delivered direct to them, together with items such as fresh drinking water and snacks as they need throughout the day.
Source & Image: Interpine Group.
New campus building uses NZ timber techInnovative, tall timber framing has risen on the University of Canterbury’s Ilam campus, as a new building, honouring alumna ‘Queen of the Cosmos’ Beatrice Tinsley, advances multi-storey timber-framed construction in New Zealand. Construction of the Science precinct’s impressive new four-storey, timber-framed Beatrice Tinsley building contrasts with the steel framing typically seen in buildings of similar height and size.
The patented, tall timber-framing technology was developed at UC by Civil and Natural Engineering professors Alessandro Palermo and Stefano Pampanin with support from Emeritus Professor of Timber Design Andy Buchanan. The structure uses timber-framing technology called Pres-Lam and is a post-tensioned seismic damage resistant system that pushes the boundaries of multi-storey timber-framed construction in New Zealand using laminated veneer lumber, which has incredible strength.
It will be the first multi-storey building combining timber moment-frames and cross-braces in New Zealand. A moment frame is a two-dimensional series of interconnected members that uses rigid connections. It can resist lateral and overturning forces, is more flexible than other framing and allows larger movements in earthquakes.
"The post-tensioning rods act as rubber bands and re-centre the structure during an earthquake. Additionally, steel angles act as dissipative fuses that will absorb the energy of an earthquake. The angles are external to the timber members and replaceable allowing for reduced disruption following an earthquake," Professor Palermo says. This UC-designed technology is being taught to UC engineering students and is being used in buildings world-wide.
"New Zealand is a world leader in this sector. By teaching our next generation of engineers this technology and similar earthquake design philosophies applied to other materials, we will make our built infrastructure more resilient," Professor Palermo says.
Caterpillar announces plan to sell forestry businessCaterpillar, Inc. announced last Wednesday that it has entered into a preliminary agreement with Weiler, Inc. to sell the Cat purpose-built forestry business. The sale is subject to negotiation of a final agreement, the closing of which is expected by early 2019.
Caterpillar will continue to provide forestry excavators designed for log loading, processing and other forestry applications, in addition to supplying core Caterpillar equipment to the forestry industry. Weiler will design and manufacture purpose-built forestry products, which will be available through the Cat and Prentice dealer networks.
The proposed sale includes the purpose-built forestry product line consisting of wheel skidders, track feller bunchers, wheel feller bunchers, knuckleboom loaders, and related operations facilities including the manufacturing plant and warehouse in LaGrange, Ga., the demonstration and training center in Auburn, Ala., and the legacy Prentice parts distribution center in Smithfield, N.C.
Founded in 2000, Weiler has a long-standing history of successfully manufacturing purpose-built equipment distributed through the Cat dealer network. Weiler currently produces an extensive portfolio of products and is a recognized manufacturer within paving, while also expanding into other industries.
"We believe that the purpose-built forestry product line is the ideal addition to our current product portfolio," commented Pat Weiler, owner and founder of Weiler, Inc. "We have a proven track record of working with Cat dealers all over the world to respond rapidly to customers with specialized product needs. We are confident that our existing product line, our flexible design and manufacturing strategy, and our unrivalled customer focus will differentiate us within the forestry segment."
It is anticipated that approximately 270 employees supporting the purpose-built forestry business will retain employment with Weiler. A small number of Caterpillar employees will continue to support forestry excavators and the existing forest products field population.
Tasmanian forest industry growing againThe Tasmanian forest industry is on an even keel after several challenging years, with a new report showing employment and spending have stabilised after a period of decline, and are growing in some parts of the industry.
According to the report ‘Socio-economic impacts of the forest industry – Tasmania’ funded by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) and the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, a total of 5,727 jobs were generated by the industry as of 2017-18, including 3,076 direct jobs and 2,651 in other industries due to flow-on effects.
The forest industry directly contributed more than AU$700 million to the value of Tasmanian output during the last financial year, increasing to AU$1,277 million once flow-on effects to other industries were included. The research was conducted by the University of Canberra, in conjunction with consultancy EconSearch, a division of BDO Advisory.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Jacki Schirmer explained the key findings. “Rapid decline in employment from 2008 has stopped, with job numbers stabilising post-2013. The overall stabilisation is due to two different trends, namely the decline in native forest dependent jobs during this period being offset by growth in jobs in harvesting and wood chipping of hardwood plantations”.
“The forest industry remains important to many Tasmanian communities and it’s positive to see it recovering. However, growth will only continue for the longer term if there is investment in more downstream processing,” Assoc. Prof Schirmer said.
The new report also reveals 41% of jobs depend on native forest, 33% on softwood plantations and 26% on the growing hardwood plantation sector. Jobs are located around the state, with 38.6% located in the Southern region, 37.4% in the Northern region and 24.0% in the Cradle Coast.
Across Tasmania, the areas with the highest reliance on the forest industry for employment were Dorset with 9.3% of workers directly employed in the forest industry, Circular Head with 6.6%, Derwent Valley with 6.5%, George Town with 6% and the Central Highlands with 5.4%.
The Tasmanian forest industry generates more full-time jobs than other parts of the Tasmanian economy, with 82% of those employed in the industry working full-time in 2016, compared to 60% of the broader workforce in Tasmania. While challenges were also reported in parts of the industry, including difficulty recruiting some types of workers, Assoc. Prof Schirmer said businesses were reasonably optimistic about future demand for forest products.
“Just over half of forest industry businesses (55%) felt demand for their goods or services would grow in the next 12 months, and the remainder (45%) felt it would remain about the same. No businesses felt demand would reduce.”
The full report Socio-economic impacts of the forest industry – Tasmania report is available on the FWPA website.
Energy from wood is good for the countryBioenergy production using wood from locally grown and sustainably managed forests can provide one of the lowest carbon energy options for New Zealand. New information from Scion explains the role of planted forests in the plant-driven carbon cycle.
The amount of carbon in the plant-driven carbon cycle remains constant. In contrast, when fossil fuels are burnt for energy, the total amount of carbon in the atmosphere increases and contributes to climate change.
Harvesting and transporting wood uses energy too, but that amount is small compared with the potential energy contained in the biomass. “A typical logging truck load could be converted into around 2,200 litres of diesel,” says Dr Paul Bennett, Clean Technology Science Leader. “This is enough to travel from Kaitaia to Bluff and back. Harvesting, and transporting logs to a port or mill 100 km away only uses around one tenth of the logs’ potential energy.”
Using purpose-grown planted forests to supply timber, fibre and energy, New Zealand is in a unique position to produce energy with life cycle emissions approaching 2 to 4 per cent of those from coal and gas.
Replacing coal, gas and fuel oils with forest harvest debris and wood processing residues and other biomass will help New Zealand meet its international commitments to reduce emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement, and move towards becoming a net zero carbon economy.
The information piece is available here.
Source & Image: Scion
Latest Timber Market Survey report releasedThe June quarter 2018 Australian Timber Market Survey (TMS) has seen prices for untreated MGP10 and MGP12 products remain stable, with little to no change over the three-month period. Prices for outdoor treated softwood products edged upwards over the June quarter, with price movements of up to 0.6%.
Panel products showed the most quarterly price growth of all softwood products monitored by the TMS. Price movements for most panel products ranged between 1.8% and 2.9%, while some product prices remained relatively flat.
All reported hardwood timber products have shown upward price movements over the six months to June 2018. Price movements for structural hardwood products ranged between 2.5% and 5.6%. Price movements for flooring products ranged between 0.9% and 5.8%, with Tasmanian oak products recording the largest price movements over the period.
The TMS collects price data through quarterly surveys of a representative sample of timber market participants in eastern Australia. All quarterly TMS reports contain price movement information for softwood timber, panel and engineered wood products. The June and December quarter editions also include price movement information for hardwood timber products surveyed over a six-month period.
The TMS is prepared by Indufor and funded by nine major Australian forestry organisations: Forestry Corporation of NSW; VicForests; Hancock Victorian Plantations; HQPlantations; OneFortyOne Plantations; Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Green Triangle Forest Products; AKD Softwoods; and Sustainable Timber Tasmania.
Further information and the latest Timber Market Survey report is available here.
Source: Indufor Group
Optimism for North American softwood marketWith strong prices in the U.S., optimism persists in the softwood lumber business. Russ Taylor, Managing Director, FEA Holdings has provided a recent analysis of the North American softwood lumber market (Extracted from the Sawn Softwood chapter of the UNECE/FAO Forest Products Annual Review 2017–18 and other sources).
Demand in North American sawn softwood markets increased steadily in 2017 and the H1/2018. U.S. housing starts improved last year (though at a slower rate than in previous years), reaching 1.208 million units (+3.0% versus 2016). Single-family housing grew quickly (+8.6%), while multi-family starts declined (-9.7%). Indications point to about 1.30 million housing starts in 2018, and potentially more.
U.S. residential improvement expenditures (an even larger driver of lumber demand than housing) continued to surge in 2017 due to rising home equity and aging housing stock. Industry-based promotional efforts, such as the Softwood Lumber Board initiative, continue to increase wood use (including cross-laminated timber) in taller/larger apartment and non-residential buildings, and are attracting interest both in North America and worldwide. Off-site construction is another emerging trend. Such initiatives should lead to further increases in North American sawnwood consumption.
The U.S. economic outlook is relatively healthy, with GDP growth projected to be in the range of 2.7–2.9% annually through 2020. Apparent North American sawn softwood consumption was 99.2 million m3 in 2017, up 2.9% from 2016. Of the total consumption in 2017, 81.4 million m3 was in the U.S. (+1.5%, y/y) and 17.8 million m3 was in Canada (+10.1%).
U.S. sawn softwood output in 2017 reached 57.6 million m3, up 3.5% versus 2016. Production gains were the highest in the U.S. South (+5.1%), followed by the Midwest/Northeast regions (+4.2%) and the U.S. West (+3.0%). The ongoing depressed prices for standing timber in the U.S. South are a result of excess/unused growing stock. The South accounts for more than 50% of U.S. production and, given record lumber prices, sawmills are achieving the highest earnings worldwide. The U.S. West continues to face tight log supply, with strong export demand and log prices keeping coastal log prices high; as a result, sawnwood production is growing only slowly. In addition, impending Chinese import duties (scheduled for August 23) will impact U.S. log and sawnwood exports to China.
Canadian sawn softwood production was unchanged in 2017 at 48.2 million m3. B.C. Interior output (accounting for 41.2% of national production in 2017) declined by 4.5%, while output in the rest of Canada grew by 4.1%; the largest gains were in Ontario (+12.8%). Permanent duties averaging 20.23% (the “all others” rate) commenced in late December, becoming one of the catalysts for rising U.S. lumber prices.
Lumber prices, based on the Random Lengths framing lumber composite price index (FLCPI), increased by 84% between the start of 2017 and the peak in early June of this year, moving from US$356 to US$582/Mbf ($222/m3 to $363/m3, net count). This price spike was tied to steadily expanding demand and the co-occurrence of several supply shocks in British Columbia (one of the world’s largest producers of softwood lumber). This was exacerbated by the mountain pine beetle infestation that has affected more than 18 million hectares in the Interior region, killing some 54% of the area’s merchantable pine and ~20% (10 million m3) of its annual allowable harvest.
Because of strong U.S. sawnwood prices and tight supplies, prices in most major global markets also rose in U.S.-dollar terms in 2017 and the first half of 2018, continuing a positive cycle that began in late 2015. Japanese prices for imported North American lumber soared to record levels in Q2/2018. European prices were relatively subdued in 2016 but climbed in 2017 and H1/2018. The demand forecast for sawnwood in the U.S. for the rest of 2018 and into 2019 is positive. With tightening sawnwood supply factors and permanent import duties on Canadian lumber exports now in place, U.S. lumber prices are expected to stay well above pre-2017 levels for the next few years (despite a fast correction from the record highs witnessed in early June).
The continuation of positive economic drivers and the potential for a general tightening of the sawnwood supply/demand balance suggest an optimistic outlook for sawn softwood markets to the end of 2018 (and most likely into 2019). In North America, a sawn softwood supply shortage looms in the face of steady increases in demand. Soaring imports from Europe and other countries at very high prices is the new dynamic creating volatility in the U.S. market.
Source: FEA Holdings, Canada
Report heralds massive land conversion to forestryForest owners say the Productivity Commission’s call for up to 2.8 million hectares of land to be turned into forests as a carbon sink would require implementing the most ambitious land-use change project a New Zealand government has ever set itself.
Forest Owners Association President Peter Weir says the scope of afforestation proposed to get New Zealand to carbon neutrality by 2050 would need a new-planting rate, of 100,000 hectares a year, which has been achieved only once in New Zealand in recent times – in 1994.
“The government would then have to maintain this planting rate for three decades to achieve the goal.” Peter Weir says it’s vital that the government works closely with all landowning groups to ensure an efficient and equitable transition to an envisaged ‘decarbonised economy’.
“A carbon price, with a transparent and realistic system of price setting, needs to be high enough to encourage change from current activities and land use, to forestry. The Productivity Commission escalated price projections are realistic in that respect.”
Farm Foresters Association President Neil Cullen believes the only sufficient land area to achieve the Commission’s goal is to be found on farms. “Farmers will need to have access to the best advice on how to go about planting woodlots, and so avoid the mistakes too prevalent in the past, such as poor planning for road access at harvest time.”
“That’s not just a government job, but I believe farm organisations have a central role in helping the transformation of farm properties into an integrated land use operation with a substantial investment in forestry.”
Peter Weir says that he has a concern that there might be two ‘pools’ of methane accounting arising from the report. “It is likely to lead to a grand-parented tradeable emission right for dairy farmers which is denied to sheep and beef farmers.”
Neil Cullen says widespread planting for carbon fixing needs to focus on the species of trees which are best at doing that in the required time scale. “In the distant future our new indigenous forests will be locking up a lot of carbon. But if you are to achieve efficient carbon capture in the relatively short term, that’s to 2050, there is no doubt that exotic trees, such as conifers and eucalypts, are the best candidates for the job.”
Peter Weir says the vast afforestation envisaged by the Productivity Commission will need to incorporate whole catchments to reach the target. “For a scheme of such as scale, we cannot afford to get either the environmental or the economic side wrong.”
Source: FOA, NZFFA
FWPA workshop on Timber Products R&DForest and Wood Products Australia, in collaboration with the ARC Centre for Forest Value – (University of Tasmania), Future Timber Hub (University of Queensland), ARC Training Centre for Advanced Manufacturing of Prefabricated Housing (The University of Melbourne), invite you to attend a workshop on Next Generation Timber Products and Systems. Details on the event can be found here.
It will run on Thursday 13 September at the Melbourne Business School/ Lecture Theatre 4, Melbourne. The programme is aimed at technical managers, marketing, sales and business development representatives from within the Australian Forest Product industry.
The seminar and workshop topics will revolve around Australia’s R&D capacity to consider future market opportunities, assess risks and threats and address possible solutions. You’ll hear about the latest research activities from Australian research groups from three states (see above) and discuss potential opportunities for collaboration.
Note: For those attending the two-yearly Australian Wood Manufacturing event on 11-12 September ( WoodTECH 2018, you may well look to stay on an extra day to link into the R&D event being planned on the Thursday.
Strong returns attract new forestry investorsA renaissance in forestry investment in recent years has largely been driven by increased returns that remain very strong, says Warwick Searle, a specialist forestry broker with Colliers International.
Searle says a new wave of investors from predominantly from Europe, North America and Asia has been attracted by favourable government policies in New Zealand including an ongoing push for sustainability that has reinvigorated an interest in the sector.
"Forestry has long been dominated by a core group of long-term wholesale investors and these players continue to be active. Some 70 per cent of New Zealand's productive forestry land is owned by less than 30 parties," he says.
"What's changed is the entrance of a new wave of investors at a similar scale. We're seeing more big timber funds and private family companies looking at the market, many of which have not been active before." Searle says the new players are not only attracted by strong returns but the relative safety and low management costs the asset class offers.
"Log prices have been undergoing steady growth in the past decade. Export prices have grown from $121 to $165 per cubic metre a decade ago, to $176 to $222 as of March this year." Searle says that with the government supporting continued investment in the sector, there is good reason to remain optimistic about forestry's fundamentals.
"There has been a period of adjustment while the industry waited for certainty around the government's changes to the Overseas Investment Act. It's been tough in recent years, but I think government has been proactive in listening to industry, and we now have new Overseas Investment Office legislation going through Parliament that will help give overseas investors confidence in the sector”.
"New government incentives, like the One Billion Trees planting programme, can only help bolster the sector. So, I anticipate that we will see more greenfield planting to achieve those government targets." Searle says a growing awareness of sustainability is also helping to bolster the forestry sector.
He points to plans, both locally and internationally, for 'wooden skyscrapers' that are both ecologically and seismically beneficial. Sir Robert Jones is behind one such project for a 12-level wooden-framed office tower in Wellington.
"What we are seeing globally is a push towards more environmentally sustainable products being used, and wood is certainly at the forefront of that. So, I think overall, it's looking very positive for the wood product sector."
MPI joins forces on biosecurity readinessIn New Zealand, the Ministry for Primary Industries and the New Zealand Forest Owners Association (FOA) are joining forces under the GIA (Government Industry Agreement) to improve forest biosecurity preparedness. The first jointly-funded initiative under this partnership will be a forest biosecurity surveillance programme designed to detect unwanted forest pests and pathogens in high-risk places.
FOA and MPI recently signed the Commercial Plantation Forestry Sector Operational Agreement for Readiness under the GIA. This agreement establishes a new way of working in partnership between the two organisations and will see a doubling of efforts to improve forest biosecurity readiness, says Andrew Spelman, MPI’s Acting Director, Biosecurity Readiness.
“This continuing partnership will build on the considerable contribution the forest industry has made to biosecurity to date, and we look forward to collaborating to improve biosecurity processes and outcomes for New Zealand.”
Chair of the FOA and Farm Forestry Association Biosecurity Committee, David Cormack says: “The forest industry is delighted to be working with MPI on the new Forest Biosecurity Surveillance Programme. We’ve worked closely together for a long time but joint-funding is another level and demonstrates the commitment MPI has made to the forest industry.”
The FOA have been a GIA signatory since November 2015. Operational Agreement negotiations began in 2016, with a particular emphasis on cost-sharing forestry surveillance as a readiness activity.
Existing biosecurity readiness work in the sector includes an annual forest health survey, which the Government started in the 1950's, but has been fully funded by industry since the 1990's. It also includes MPI’s High Risk Site Surveillance Programme, which looks for pests and diseases that could affect a range of native and exotic trees, including production species.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ...prints on the mirror
According to a news report, a certain private school in Washington was recently faced with a unique problem. A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the Bathroom.
And that's it for this week. We're looking forward to meeting up with a large number of wood manufacturers and drymill operators from throughout Australia in Melbourne next week for the first leg of the WoodTECH 2018 series. See you there.
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