Friday Offcuts 19 July 2019
At the HarvestTECH 2019 event a couple of weeks ago, David Herries from Interpine outlined the myriad of operations which are now routinely being done using UAV’s by foresters, forest managers and contractors out in the field. As part of the presentation, a video was shown on recent trials with drones delivering tree seedlings to planters working in some pretty rough terrain. Aside from improving the safety and work environment for the crew, the technology was according to the planting contractor, producing efficiency gains of around 30%. Check it out in the video below.
Other forest resource related stories this week include the launching of the first Starlink telecommunications satellites by SpaceX. The goal is to launch up to 12,000 similar satellites – nearly seven times the number of operational space craft in orbit now, before 2027. In Finland, a forestry tech start-up has also just set themselves some lofty goals. They’ve just secured €600k of funding which they’ll be using to finish and launch the first commercial version of their Linda forest inventory platform in the second half of this year.
A paper was also released (link supplied below for the download) this week by the NZ Government which provides a snapshot on the value of drones to the country. Yes, there’s an estimated 77,000 of them out there (with forestry being identified as being at the forefront of adopting these new technologies) and they’re estimated to be contributing around NZ$7.9 billion to the economy.
And finally, this weekend (20th July) marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing by humans. Along with over 500 million viewers worldwide, many of us (probably showing our age here now) still clearly remember that day. The moment was integral for the future of the space industry as well as technology development at the time. The computer systems that guided the capsule across 356,000 km of space from Earth to the Moon and then back again are considered primitive compared to the smartphones we carry in our pockets or the smartwatches we wear on our wrists today.
They were at the time though, revolutionary. The software created for the guidance computers required new approaches to programming. They’re still being used today. Some of the critical safety and propulsion mechanisms were controlled by software for the first time and provided the platform for modern computing. Something truly to celebrate. And on that note, enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
NZ$19.5 m for Wood Cluster Centre of ExcellenceThe New Zealand Government is to contribute NZ$19.5 million to establish a Wood Cluster Centre of Excellence in Gisborne. The funding has been announced by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, and is part of NZ$27.1 million extra for the region from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).
Jones said the centre was being developed as a hub for wood processing, wood products, marketing and distribution, and training and research. "This first funding tranche will be for NZ$5 million and will generate at least 30 full-time jobs," he said.
He said it was expected that employment would continue to grow as the centre was developed in stages. The NZ$27.1 million is in addition to the NZ$152 million already committed to the region from the PGF.
Source: Newshub, Stuff
ETS Forestry Submissions analysis availableIn 2018, New Zealand’s the Ministry for Primary for Industries, The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and Te Uru Rākau publicly consulted on a package of proposed changes to New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
The aim of the forestry consultation proposals was to simplify the way the ETS works for forestry participants, increase afforestation and allow more flexibility in the scheme rules to support the right trees being planted in the right place for the right purpose.
The submissions analysis is now available on the MPI website. In total 253 submissions were received, 147 responding to forestry proposals and 162 to the MfE proposals. MfE’s Summary of consultation responses is available on their website.
Read the submissions analysis on MPI's website.
Read the summary of consultation responses on MfE's website.
The next steps include changes to the ETS through the Climate Change Response Act 2002 and a future consultation on proposed ETS Forestry Regulations, which provide the detail behind the legislative proposals.
Sustainable Forestry Bulletin
Tree seedling deliveries by drone testedDavid Herries from Interpine was able to open the minds of many of the harvesting contractors and forest managers who attended the HarvestTECH 2019 event a couple of weeks ago. The opportunities of using drones operationally in a raft of forestry activities was outlined to those attending.
Already in New Zealand, some 118 foresters have successfully gone through the Interpine training courses and UAV’s are appearing and being used routinely in forests from North to South.
In this clip below shown as part of the presentation, drones are being used to deliver radiata pine seedlings to the planters in some pretty steep terrain. Think of the alternative here – planters carrying and ferrying tree seedlings by hand into those areas that need to be planted – and the opportunities that UAV deliveries could offer in future savings.
Planting crews that they worked with as part of the trial say that they were immediately 30% more efficient. That’s aside from the upside of not putting stress and strain on the workers.
120 NZ building standards now freely availableTo remove barriers to achieving compliance in New Zealand’s building system, over 120 building standards are now available for free download. These have been funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to make it easier to comply with the Building Code.
Standards New Zealand, and MBIE as the building system regulator, are committed to improving access to building standards that make a difference to the wellbeing of New Zealanders. The selected standards are ones that directly help demonstrate compliance with the Building Code, resulting in safe and well-constructed buildings and homes.
MBIE has acted on the concerns of building practitioners that the cost of standards can be a barrier to applying best practice. In December 2017, we made five prominent building standards and a handbook available free of charge, which attracted over 15,000 downloads in the last 18 months.
New Zealand is now one of the few countries in the world providing free access to building standards. The available standards can be accessed through the Standards New Zealand website, and indirectly through www.building.govt.nz and www.codehub.building.govt.nz
Australian housing approvals down 15.3%Australia’s residential dwelling approvals fell 15.3% over the year ended April 2019, totalling 194,643 separate dwellings. The fall is large and consistent with earlier months, but it does not tell the full story, as data newly analysed by FWPA demonstrates.
The first chart really just sets the scene. It shows Australia‘s residential dwelling approvals on a monthly and an annualized basis. We might anticipate that we all know this chart well, but the important point to note could be that the total decline in housing approvals (the green line) is far steeper than the decline in approvals for houses (the red line).
Source: FWPA Statistics Count Newsletter
Drones will help economy take offDrones are estimated to be worth up to NZ$7.9 billion to the economy, New Zealand’s Transport Minister Phil Twyford said at the launch of the Government’s plan for drones this week.
The paper released on Tuesday Taking Flight: an aviation system for the automated age, sets out the Government’s vision for how drones can be better integrated into the current transport system to develop a thriving, innovative and safe sector.
Phil Twyford said drones will deliver economic benefits by doing tasks that are time intensive, expensive, and risky – such as monitoring crops, inspecting power lines and helping with emergency operations.
“New Zealand has an opportunity to be at the forefront of drone technology with sectors like forestry, agriculture, and conservation already harnessing their abilities.
“An example of the innovation that’s already underway is Zephyr Airworks, who have partnered with Air New Zealand to test and develop its self-piloted, electric air taxi here in New Zealand.
“There are already over 77,000 drones in use in New Zealand and our Government knows that the public have concerns about privacy and safety. Safety is our top transport priority and there are a number of initiatives already underway, including looking at potential updates to the rules for using drones”.
“The Ministry of Transport is currently consulting on potential new powers for law enforcement agencies to seize or detain drones that are breaking the rules”.
Note: As well as identifying the benefits drones can deliver, Taking Flight also sets out the challenges we need to manage to unlock the benefits of drones and keep New Zealanders safe.
The full report can be viewed here.
Woodchip price in Australia still strongKey points:
- The woodchip price in Australia has reached a record $US182/bdmt (AU$260)
- Demand from China now exceeds Japan
- The woodchip price is up, but export demand for logs is on the slide
Australia's largest processor and exporter of woodfibre, Midway Limited, which has recently acquired a logging and haul business in Western Australia, expects demand will continue to grow and has been steadily investing in forestry projects around the nation, including in the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory.
Midway's managing director Tony Price said it was a good time to be in woodchips. "Over the last couple of years we've enjoyed a couple of significant price increases, with the current price for Tasmanian blue gum (woodchip) in the order of US$182 (AU$260) per bone-dry tonne and that's the highest it's ever been," Mr Price said.
"Not so long ago we were down around US$150 (per bone-dry tonne) when there was a glut of blue gum on the market, which largely came about due to the MIS (Managed Investment Scheme) era. There was lower demand and a glut in the market which drove the price down, but in the last two years we've seen some significant price increases."
Mr Price said demand from China had now exceeded Japan, and some mills in Indonesia were emerging as valued customers as well. Mr Price said Tasmanian blue gum remained the premium woodchip in the market, but lesser-quality timber chips such as acacia mangium had all increased in price this year.
He expected the woodchip price would experience some "short-term softening" in the coming months, but overall the industry expected ongoing "modest price increases" over the next few years.
"There's been plenty of ups and downs over the years, and post the global financial crisis for about five years it was pretty tough," he said. “So we have enjoyed a resurgence in the last few years and I'm very positive about the industry as it currently sits and where it's heading in the future."
Source: ABC News
ANZIF 2019 planned for AugustANZIF 2019, hosted by the New Zealand Institute of Forestry and the Institute of Foresters of Australia will be held in Christchurch, at the University of Canterbury, on 25th to 28th August 2019. University of Canterbury is the home of the New Zealand School of Forestry Te Kura Ngahere and also features world-leading research in forestry-related matters from the College of Engineering Te Rangai Pukaha and the School of Biological Sciences Te Kura Putaiao Koiora.
Following discussions at the 2018 Canberra IFA Conference the joint organising committee has agreed on a theme which is highly topical on both sides of the Tasman. The contributed papers and field trip will reflect this theme, and show how forest managers are meeting the challenge of communicating the roles that forests can play in a modern economy, and engaging with those who represent the changing societal needs from forests. The field trip will showcase areas where the forestry ‘social licence to operate’ is a key issue.
The combined Australian and New Zealand Forestry Conference occurs every four years on New Zealand soil. It provides an excellent forum for forestry professionals to meet and exchange ideas, and an excellent opportunity for companies and organisations to sponsor events and activities that benefit the profession.
Further details can be found on www.anzifconference.com
SpaceX goes big for launchSpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk, successfully launched in May its first five dozen Starlink telecommunications satellites. This is the first step in the Starlink project, which aims to create an ultra-fast global internet service.
SpaceX broadcast the inaugural Starlink mission, which launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at 10:30 p.m. ET. A little more than an hour after liftoff, the rocket’s upper stage deployed all 30,000 pounds’ (13,600 kilograms’) worth of satellites at once – the heaviest payload SpaceX has ever launched.
SpaceX’s goal with Starlink is to launch up to 12,000 similar satellites – nearly seven times the number of operational spacecraft in orbit now – before a 2027 deadline established by the Federal Communications Commission. To achieve that amount, SpaceX would have to launch more than one Starlink mission a month over the next eight years. To see the full article, click here to access the link.
Vale Ian FergusonAs many will know now, a highly respected leader in Australian forest, Ian Ferguson unfortunately passed away on Wednesday 10 July after a long and challenging illness. Ian’s Funeral Service was held on Wednesday. Emeritus Professor of Forest Science at the University of Melbourne. Ian was highly a respected academic leader, teacher and researcher in forest economics, policy and management. He taught, provided wise counsel and was a mentor to many working now within the industry. His legacy will live on through his many students and staff and his distinguished record of academic and technical publications. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to his lifelong partner, Sandra, their family and the many who knew and had worked with Ian over the years.
€600k raised for forest inventory platformFinland is a land of forests, covering up to 75% of the country. Naturally, forestry is a major industry – but resources are hard to measure. Helsinki-based forestry tech startup CollectiveCrunch is bringing new solutions to the sector, and has just raised a €600k funding round led by Thominvest. Existing and new angel investors also participated in the round. CollectiveCrunch will use the funds to finalize and launch the first commercial version of its Linda Forest platform in the second half of 2019.
Thominvest has a solid background in forestry, and so intimately understands the value CollectiveCrunch brings to the market. The startup uses AI to assess data from multiple sources – such as optical satellite images, Lidar, and wood processing – to predict forest inventory more accurately than existing conventional methods. This helps landowners to more accurately assess and manage their forestry inventory, and buyers of wood resources to target the wood they actually need.
CollectiveCrunch’s Linda Forest AI platform utilizes climate, geo, and customer process data to arrive at better predictions of wood mass and forest inventory. The solution lets foresters know the volumes and species of wood they have on their land without having to drive out for inspection.
The closure of this latest €600k round brings the company’s total funding to €1 million. The round follows a recently announced multi-year partnership with Finland’s Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd. that aims to improve harvesting and forest development planning. The company has offices in Helsinki, Berlin, and Munich, and forestry customers in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, and Brazil.
Ngāti Hine graduates join forestry workforceNew Zealand’s Forestry Minister Shane Jones recently celebrated the first graduates of a One Billion Trees training programme. Ngāti Hine received NZ$1.89 million to run a Mānuka training programme as part of a wider Joint Venture entered into with the Crown.
“Today, we’re celebrating the first tranche of trainees, aged between 15 and 52, to have graduated from this programme. Eighteen trainees have picked up forestry jobs with another two students entering into further forestry training,” Shane Jones said.
“This is an enormous success and one I know Ngāti Hine and the wider community will be incredibly proud of. The programme provided the opportunity for the recruits to gain skills in the forestry sector and then find employment. We need to see more of these initiatives around the country”.
“We want a forestry sector where people can work safely because they are properly trained, and where they can expect to be decently paid. A further 20 trainees will go through the programme next year, following this year’s success,” Shane Jones said.
Source: NZ Government
Opportunities with real-time electricity pricingNew Zealand businesses and households will get clearer electricity price signals under the biggest change to the wholesale power market since it was established in 1996.
Under the changes planned by the Electricity Authority, customers will be able to react to the half-hour prices they see in real-time rather than finding out for sure what the price at the time was up to two days later. Currently, firms can that cut their power use or start their own generators at times of expected high prices but don’t immediately know what those prices are.
The change to real time pricing – RTP – will be actioned by late 2022, the EA says. It is expected to cost about NZ$15 million but could deliver as much as NZ$95 million of net benefits over the following 15 years.
“We expect RTP to unlock significant benefits while helping ‘future proof’ the electricity market,” the regulator said in an 85-page decision paper. Consumers and generators that can alter their operations at short notice will have much more reliable price signals to guide their actions. The spot market under RTP will far better support rapidly evolving technologies like battery storage and smart appliances, making it easier to capture the full potential of these innovations.”
The EA and national grid operator Transpower have been looking at options to improve pricing for more than five years. The authority consulted extensively with power companies and industry in 2016, 2017 and earlier this year as it – and industry participants - refined their thinking.
It says the current wholesale market, which sets prices half-hourly at more than 200 nodes around the country, was the first of its type in the world and has largely worked well. It produces ‘indicative’ prices every five minutes but they can vary greatly – particularly during times of tight supply - from the final prices confirmed a day or more later.
The authority says those limitations are becoming more apparent. Modern monitoring technology and more powerful computing can determine prices in real-time and that will let the market make better use of existing generation and distribution assets. “It will pave the way for technologies such as price-responsive demand systems, battery storage and electric vehicles.”
The authority says the change should also help the transition to a low-emissions economy by improving system flexibility to handle more variable types of supply, such as wind and solar. It should also encourage the take-up of new smart technologies that help consumers decide when to use electricity and provide more flexible options for generation and demand, which may make it easier for smaller players in the market.
The main benefit to consumers should be through that demand response putting downward pressure on prices. “This new price certainty will mean consumers can act confidently to avoid high prices. Pricing will be more dynamic: for example, if enough consumers respond to a high spot price by reducing their consumption, the spot prices would go down – resulting in a lower final price for the trading period.”
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... a touching speech
An oldie but a goodie.
Eleven people were hanging on a rope, under a helicopter. 10 men and 1 woman.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend and have a celebratory toast to the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing - Sunday our time. Cheers.
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