Friday Offcuts 13 December 2019
As most of us are getting close to heading away (unless of course you’re still fighting the bush fires across in Australia’, you’ve been rostered onto fire duty over the Christmas period or you’re going to be involved in mill maintenance or equipment installations) we do this week have a bumper pre-Christmas issue for you.
We’ve included a more in-depth analysis from FEA highlighting the extent of the massive dead timber salvage programme that’s occurring in Europe at the moment. If selling into key overseas markets, most of you will be aware of it – but maybe haven’t cottoned on to the extent and implications of the increased harvesting levels. As a consequence of salvage operations, log exports into China from Europe have soared, inventories have climbed and prices have dropped. More than one million m3 of logs per month was exported into China for example in September and October. That’s more than North America’s total log exports into China for this year. The rapid expansion of the spruce bark beetle together with the windstorms that hit Europe is already having far-reaching implications across global timber markets.
In this last issue for 2019 we’ve also highlighted a few initiatives being taken by the industry on both sides of the Tasman. In Australia, the softwood timber industry has just launched a campaign targeting online advertising to builders. WorkSafe New Zealand has set up a pilot in the Wairarapa region that’s going to kick in over the Christmas period aimed at smaller woodlot owners looking to harvest their trees and the Forest Industry Safety Council has just released their Safetree Safe-Start 2020 resource. It’s aimed at forestry owners. Forest managers, crew owners and foremen and is timed to coincide with the industry’s 2020 Safe-Start activities that will be run up and down the country early in the New Year.
Before closing down for the year, note that discounted registration rates for several major technology events planned for early next year close off next week. It’s something you might like to look at before finishing up. Early Bird discounts finish next week for both the ForestTECHX event in Vancouver in March and the MobileTECH event that will run in Rotorua in April 2020. Registrations have also just opened for the major two-yearly Forest Safety & Technology Conference series that will be running in both Rotorua and Melbourne in May 2020.
And on that note, enjoy this week’s read. From the team here involved in bringing you this newsletter each and every week, for those lucky enough to get time off, have a great Christmas and enjoy your extended summer break.
This week we have for you:
Engineered timber endorsed by NZ construction firmUsing engineered timber instead of concrete and steel on commercial buildings may not be a lot more expensive, big construction firm Naylor Love says. New Zealand's largest private construction firm with 700 staff and NZ$600 million turnover, Naylor Love has developed a calculator that quantifies the amount of carbon in building structures using different materials.
The calculator is based on a report commissioned by Naylor Love and authored by sustainability experts thinkstep-anz. The research project modelled a typical six-storey commercial building constructed two ways – engineered timber versus conventional concrete and steel. The engineered timber model reduced carbon emissions by up to 90 percent, Naylor Love said. Engineered timber is large prefabricated components of solid wood glued together with high strength glues.
The Green Building Council says the built environment is responsible for about 20 per cent of New Zealand's carbon emissions. About half of that comes from the operation of buildings through the use of electricity and fossil fuels for heating, lighting and ventilation and the rest from "embodied carbon" emitted during the manufacture and construction of a building and its materials.
Naylor Love business development director Scott Watson said clients wanted to be more sustainable and needed the facts and figures that provided the rationale for their decisions. "The goal is to provide data that quickly demonstrates carbon benefits of engineered wood over alternative materials, alongside a cost-benefit analysis."
Wood was essential in moving New Zealand to a carbon-neutral economy. It was sustainable, renewable and less energy-intensive to process compared to other construction materials. "The net total cost difference for an engineered timber structure can be as low as a few percent of the total building cost. For this, you can achieve about a 90 percent reduction in carbon emissions."
Watson said the cost of engineered timber for the structure of a commercial building might be 3 per cent to 4 per cent dearer than using steel and concrete for the structure. But if the cost of carbon credits rose the financial case for using engineered timber would improve even more.
The future cost of carbon credits depended on Government regulations and legislation to achieve its net zero carbon goals by 2050. He was picking that using engineered timber would be cost-neutral with steel and concrete in the future. The company had used engineered wood on large building projects like the Otago Polytechnic Student Village. The tool could identify where the benefits were in using engineered timber in the structure. It did not measure the carbon in fitouts and interior materials.
"We are not anti-concrete or anti-steel – those materials will always have a place in construction. You wouldn't build a dam or motorway bridge out of timber, for example. But for some applications, the environmental benefits of wood can't be ignored."
He was showing their research report to many large property companies for who it was important to be seen to play their part in reducing New Zealand's carbon emissions. Naylor Love's study has been reviewed and endorsed by Dr Andy Buchanan of PTL Structural Consultants, Emeritus Professor of Timber Design at the University of Canterbury, one of the pioneers of modern timber construction.
2020 Technology Events – mark your diaries
Again, after an incredibly busy year, the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) has in conjunction with a wide cross section of industry, in both New Zealand and Australia, developed a Technology Events Planner for next year.
With record turnouts again at FIEA technology events run this year, we’re really excited with what 2020 holds.
The Events Planner (FIEA and Innovatek) will enable forestry and wood products companies to pencil the dates into your own calendar for next year. For industry associations, research organisations and those involved in setting up your own programmes for 2020, the calendar will enable you to take note of the dates (and ideally look to dovetail in to the tech events timing and location to add value to those attending). This was a feature this year. It capitalises on delegates being together and it's something we'll be doing more of next year.
For product, equipment and technology providers and service suppliers, we hope this forward planning will also enable you to schedule your involvement and to budget early on in the year. For overseas suppliers, it will enable you to lock in a time to plan visits to your key customers or distributors in Australia and New Zealand and to link in to the relevant technology events in this part of the world next year.
Please click here to access the calendar of 2020 technology events.
Mark the dates into your 2020 calendars. As often presenter opportunities and exhibiting spaces are booked out in advance of the event running, at any time, please get back to us (details on the attached planner) if:
- You’d (or a company you are representing) like to put your name forward to present at a 2020 event.
- You’d like to be sent further information on exhibiting or sponsoring any one of the events being planned.
- You’d like to be considered to run a short workshop alongside one of the events being planned in 2020. This increasingly is being used at our technology events. It optimises the time at the conference for delegates and of course capitalises on the expertise being brought in for the event.
Australian Pine Log Price Index report releasedThe latest Australian Pine Log Price Index for the January to June 2019 period has just been released. The Australian Pine Log Price 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.
This report presents a summary of the results of the Index report released for the period J January to June 2019. The findings in this report are based on data provided by HQPlantations, Forestry Corporation of NSW, HVP Plantations and OneFortyOne Plantations.
The report is attached here for your information.
Pilot to increase woodlot owner’s awarenessWorkSafe New Zealand is working with industry to ensure woodlot owners are aware of their obligation to notify them when undertaking felling or logging operations on their properties. Sadly, the reality is that too many people are being killed or seriously hurt harvesting forests.
The pilot focuses on small operators who are likely to have woodlots on their farm properties and will be launched in the Wairarapa region over the Christmas period. Many farms have small stands of planted trees (woodlots) that were planted 25 to 40 years ago as part of diversification. For many, it's now time to harvest these trees.
WorkSafe New Zealand knows some work is not being notified and by law when it must be. They want to make sure everyone is clear about their responsibilities and support a ‘level playing field’ for those that are notifying already.
For more information on woodlot felling check out their website.
Source: WorkSafe New Zealand
Start-up looks to an army of planting dronesIf a trillion trees are planted on all of the land on the planet that’s available for reforestation, scientists have calculated that it could capture two-thirds of the carbon that humans have emitted since the industrial revolution. A new start-up has launched with the wildly ambitious goal to plant those trees—and it plans to plant the majority using drones.
The company, called Now, is a platform created to help connect anyone who wants to fight climate change with solutions. “We have the science telling us what needs to be done,” says Jessica Jones, one of the start-up’s cofounders. “The solutions are there. The papers are out, and the information’s been there for a long time. And then you’ve got people who are now waking up to this ecological crisis, but they’re really confused or unsure of how to act and what to do.”
“We said, ‘Well, 1 trillion trees is a really massive goal—is this possible?'” she says. “It’s clear that with hand planting, that just won’t happen in the time that it needs to happen.” Drones, however, could potentially plant 20 billion trees a year over 50 years to reach the goal. The drones fly over land to map the topography and soil conditions and identify the best area to plant, and then shoot biodegradable pods filled with a seed and nutrients into the ground.
On the platform, customers subscribe to plant trees (at $5, $10, or $25 tiers); Now will use 90% of that money for tree planting projects. Jones says they opted to form a company instead of a non-profit, because it was easier to get operations moving more quickly.
A major study released in July mapped where trees could feasibly be planted, avoiding cities, farms, and landscapes that weren’t previously forests. On those 1.7 billion hectares—an area greater than the U.S. and China combined—restored forests could collectively store more than 200 billion metric tons of CO2. “They said, ‘Okay, this is how many trees will draw down this much carbon dioxide, and we have the land available,'” says Jones. “So that was exciting: We knew that this was a viable option.”
Working with a non-profit called Eden Reforestation Projects, the company will begin by supporting restoration projects in mangrove forests in Mozambique and Madagascar. “They’ve been helping people transition from logging or cutting down trees to actually employing them to plant the trees,” says Jones. But the company will also begin planting trees itself using drones, beginning on tribal land near San Diego. Without drones, they argue, it won’t be possible to plant millions of trees quickly enough.
The company is in discussions with Biocarbon Engineering, another start-up that is already planting trees by drones. But because Biocarbon Engineering has so much demand that it can’t begin a new project immediately, Now is also working with engineers to explore the possibility of doing the drone planting itself. The tribal land will be available in November, and tree-planting tests will begin in 2020.
The company is working with researchers at Switzerland’s Crowther Lab, which created the global map of potential tree-planting regions, to identify the best species to plant in each area. When the right mix of native species is planted, Jones says, the trees can grow with relatively little maintenance. “When you plant the species that should be in that area, they continually feed each other, and then they grow on from there,” she says.
While many other organizations also plant trees, the start-up is hoping to harness new support. “We’re committed to closing the gap between the people and reforestation projects, while creating community in the process,” Jones says.
The true impact of Europe’s huge timber salvageThe rapid expansion of the spruce bark beetle, in combination with windstorms in Europe, has grown to a massive scale in just a few short years, and the net impact is a huge timber salvage program, with far-reaching implications in global markets.
Exceptionally hot and dry summers have fanned the flames for an unprecedented outbreak of spruce bark beetles throughout central European forests, killing vast areas of timber. Drought, brought on by climate change, has weakened mature trees’ natural defence mechanisms, giving beetles a wide-open field to multiply unchecked.
The resulting massive infestation has forced landowners to quickly harvest their attacked forests across the Bavarian region of Germany, as well as in the Czech Republic, northern Austria, Slovakia, Poland and half a dozen other European countries.
As first presented in the November 2018 issue and with an update in the September 2019 issue of Wood Markets Monthly International Report, FEA has estimated the central European volume of damaged timber at over 100 million m3 in 2018, including both wind-damaged timber and beetle-killed wood.
While Germany has the most damaged timber so far in Europe, the Czech Republic’s spruce forests are highly stressed and there is the danger of losing up to 80% of its spruce trees over time – trends that are going to create a potential local timber shortage when the beetle epidemic has played out.
With an oversupply of sawlogs in Central Europe, dead and damaged logs are being offered at €40-50m3 (US$44–55/m³) ex-forest road – almost half of what they were selling for just 18 months ago. For older beetle damaged timber and industrial log grades, the ex-forest prices even lower.
In the 1990s and 2000s, a number of German companies (as well as some in neighbouring countries) built large, modern sawmills that featured kilns and large planers. These mills were designed to exploit the U.S. and other markets (including Australia and Japan) that used planed lumber.
Unlike many markets in Europe, the U.S., Australia and China all accept blue-stained lumber, so much of this dead/damaged timber is being re-directed to these regions to move it out of Europe. With plunging log prices and with low-cost manufacturing costs, Central European sawmills have quickly become some of the lowest cost mills in the world – allowing them to be competitive in almost all export markets.
Exacerbating this stark scenario is the European spruce log export story to China: up to the end of October, European log exports to China imports were a whopping 5.6 million m3. The pace of exports has been more than one million m3 per month in September and October and is now more than North America’s log exports to China this year.
Current C&F China log prices for European spruce logs have been steadily dropping as the volume increased – they are now down to about €95–96/m³ (US$105/m³) from €117/m3 (US$130/m3) in 2019Q2. Such low log prices coupled with high inventories have started to curtail production in higher cost log exporting regions such as Siberia, the Russian Far East and the B.C. Coast, just to name a few.
As compared to the mountain pine beetle epidemic in the B.C. Interior, FEA-Canada expects that the European spruce beetle could have an even greater net impact on its forests, although the magnitude will depend if the hot and dry summers continue and more windstorms occur from climate change.
NOTE: Further details are available in the December issue of FEA Canada’s China Bulletin. FEA is pursuing more detailed information on this development, so stay tuned for updates.
Source: FEA-Canada (WOOD MARKETS)
WA sawmilling boost with mill reopeningMore Western Australian jobs are expected to be created in the local forestry industry over the coming months with Queensland miller, Parkside Timber purchasing two South-West mills.
Parkside Timber, a Queensland-based company, has a long history of creating hardwood products on the east coast of Australia. The company has now expanded to Western Australia after purchasing Auswest Timbers’ Greenbushes mill and Nannup Timber Processing.
The company has identified WA as a growth opportunity given the sustainability credentials of the WA native forestry industry. It plans to re-open the Manjimup processing centre which was closed in 2016 and focus on value-adding timber through secondary processing. The company will also invest AU$1.5 million in a finger jointing machine to process high-value products such as furniture, long-length flooring and decking.
The change of ownership provides investment and employment certainty, and the potential to create local jobs in the South-West region. The native forestry industry injects AU$220 million into the Western Australian economy each year and supports more than 800 jobs in the forestry industry.
This investment is another step towards native forestry’s transformation into a resilient, future industry that can deal with the challenges of utilising smaller logs from regrowth forests. This transformation started with the Gallop Labor Government’s decision to protect the South-West’s old growth forests.
As stated by Forestry Minister Dave Kelly:
“The McGowan Government sees Parkside’s investment as a step forward in maintaining a strong forestry industry that supports WA jobs, while still protecting the environmental values of our beautiful native forests.
“This is the largest native forest industry private investment consolidation and restructure in 15 years which will secure hundreds of direct and indirect jobs in the industry. I welcome Parkside’s commitment to creating high-value timber products from smaller, younger regrowth trees”.
1000 Trees project takes rootHeatherwick Studio is nearing completion on an ambitious new project in Shanghai, China. As you've probably guessed from its name, 1000 Trees, the large mixed-use development's defining feature is its greenery.
Developed by Tian An China, 1000 Trees has been in the works since 2011 and its first phase is due to open sometime in 2020. The project spans 300,000 sq m and is located on a 6ha site near a public park and Shanghai's arts district.
It's actually made up of two buildings conceived as a pair of tree-covered mountains that are populated by hundreds of columns. The columns both provide structural support and serve as planters, each holding a handful of trees. The unusual design was partly inspired by the site itself.
"Existing planning permission for two conventional shopping mall blocks had been granted for the site, but a huge, boxy building would need to be broken into smaller pieces in order to fit in with the surroundings," explains Heatherwick Studio. "The integrated planting acts as a natural balancing element and the building's edges are lowered to minimize the impact where it meets the art district and park, reducing the discernible threshold between them."
According to Dezeen, the planters contain roughly 25,000 individual plants and 46 different species, including shrubs, perennials, and climbers, with more than half of them evergreen.
MobileTECH 2019 discounts finishing next weekEvery year tech developers from across the regions primary industry – forestry, agriculture and horticulture – join together to share their results from research, technology developments and successful implementation of tools by fibre and food producers to improve their efficiencies. The tech event is MobileTECH. This year the 8th annual summit is being run. MobileTECH Ag 2020 will be running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 7-8 April 2020.
Super early bird discounts on registrations to the event finish next week. That's right, 18 December 2019 is the final day big for discounts off MobileTECH Ag 2020 registrations. There are significant savings to be made by booking before Christmas.
DEMOS: VR, AR and Exoskeletons:
MobileTECH Ag 2020 has a bunch of new toys for delegates to demo - next-generation user-interfaces, exoskeletons and more will all be demoed at next year's event.
Real-time digital information is an essential part of the job. New wearable technologies are aiming to make it more accessible, useful and connected than ever before. See for yourself how these lightweight head mounted tablets, with voice recognition, frees the hands to work in rugged environments.
No longer a technology resigned to sci-fi movies, exoskeletons have entered the workforce and are providing a massive boost to both performance and health & safety. The Suit-X Exoskeleton was featured at MobileTECH 2019, however, see it live and in the flesh at MobileTECH 2020. Biosymm will demo the device that has just completed trials within New Zealand's meat industry.
We had print, then radio, then TV, then computers, now we have Immersive Technologies that we can use to communicate with. There is going to be a Paradigm shift in the way we use digital content. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are no longer gimmicky, they are powerful tools to drive productivity, increase safety and to tell our story.
Virtual paddock technology is a gamechanger for the livestock farming community and enables fingertip control of pastoral assets, rotation and livestock movement. This is more than just opening and closing gates remotely, this is the ability to directly move livestock via a tablet.
For full details on the extensive programme and for registration information, check out the event website, MobileTECH Ag 2020
Timber framing website launched for buildersThe Australian softwood timber industry has got together to launch a campaign to support the FWPA's The Ultimate Renewable ads. This will consist of targeted online advertising to builders, who research has shown are the number 1 decision makers when it comes to choosing what material a house frame is made from.
The industry has built a micro site, attached to the WoodSolutions website with some helpful information about timber framing along with some industry promotional assets that everyone can use. Check out the website and resources by clicking here.
Nursery completes first season under new ownershipSent in by a hard-working NZ forest nursery. What a team! Rotorua Forest Nursery has completed their first season under new ownership. They report that they’ve had a great year with nearly 9 million seedlings lifted and sent all over New Zealand.
The team dispatched nearly 500 orders, and they never failed to get an order out or let a customer down. On their busiest day of 200,000 seedlings they worked until dark to get the orders out. So proud of this team! The 2020 crop of 10.3 million is now sown and germinated, and looking good. Next winter we will do it all again.
Safetree Safe-Start 2020 resources availableImagine taking off on your first tandem hang-gliding flight only to find out that the instructor has forgotten to attach your harness to the hang-glider.
That’s what happens in one of the videos featured in the Forest Industry Safety Council’s engaging and thought-provoking Safetree Safe-Start 2020 resource.
This resource is specifically for NZ forestry owners and managers, crew owners and foremen. It’s designed to get people thinking about the best way to set up crews for a good day at work – one that helps avoid mistakes that cause incidents.
The resource challenges the common belief that people can just stop work if things get difficult or dangerous. Sometimes by the time we realise there’s a problem, it’s too late to stop before someone gets hurt. This is a particular risk in situations where work pressures have led to people starting work without being properly prepared.
You’re encouraged to download this resource, and to share and discuss it with other leaders and managers you work with as part of your 2020 Safe-Start activities.
Download the Safetree Safe-Start 2020 resource
Source: Forest Industry Safety Council
Forestry attracting younger Japanese workersYoung Japanese are increasingly joining the forestry industry thanks to a government program and labour-saving improvements made possible by the expanding use of machines. Many also see the sector as an opportunity to escape urban life.
“It’s tough to deal with nature, but I enjoy my work because the scenery changes every day,” said Wataru Aizawa, 32, of logging company Horie Forest in Hitachiota, Ibaraki Prefecture. He joined four years ago. The company has a staff of 12, seven of whom are in their 30s. Work is done by a team of five using high-performance heavy machinery for everything from felling the trees to gathering and transporting them.
Keisuke Horie, a senior managing director, said he was surprised by the recent surge in interest. “In the past, starting workers were told to focus on weeding around young trees for one year,” Horie, 33, said. “But now, even inexperienced people can have a go.”
According to the Forestry Agency, the ratio of people 65 and over in the industry peaked at 30 percent in 2000 but fell to 25 percent in 2015. Those under 35, however, hit 17 percent in 2015, up from 6 percent in 1990. The surge is a boon for the industry. Forests occupy roughly 70 percent of Japan’s land, with over half of the planted ones that were felled en masse during the economic growth spurt from the mid-1950s to the early ’70s ready to be cut again.
The industry is also attracting recruits through the government’s Green Employment Project, launched in fiscal 2003 to subsidize hiring and lectures on the basics of the work. Project funding is now available for three years, up from a year initially. Since fiscal 2013, the project has also offered financial support to young people studying at public “forestry universities.” The town of Nichinan, Tottori Prefecture, where forests account for 90 percent of the land, opened an academy in April to educate future prospects. Seven people including teenagers enrolled to learn the basics in just a year at the unique town-run school.
Takashi Yoshida, 38, joined after quitting the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in March. He decided to use the financial support program to “spend the rest of my life in nature, after having experienced urban life.” Yoshida has yet to decide where he will work after completing the course. “Although urban life was convenient, I think work in the mountains, involving close ties between people, suits me,” he said, looking forward to a new life after graduation.
Source: Japan Times
Sales jump 40% by switching to a 4-day week• Microsoft Japan recently completed its experimental "Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019" program.
• The program involved giving employees five consecutive Fridays off, cutting the duration of meetings, and encouraging online chats instead of face-to-face ones.
• Some research echoes Microsoft Japan's recent report, suggesting that cutting the workweek can boost productivity.
What's one way for a tech company to boost sales, increase employee satisfaction and cut overhead costs? Switch to a four-day workweek.
That's the takeaway of a new report from Microsoft Japan, which recently wrapped up its experimental "Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019." The experiment involved giving employees five consecutive Fridays off with pay, limiting meetings to 30 minutes or fewer, and encouraging online messaging as opposed to face-to-face chats.
In addition, some employees worked three-day weeks and were allowed to work remotely. The company also provided financial assistance to employees for "expenses related to self-development, family travel expenses, social contribution activities, etc."
In the new report, Microsoft Japan compared data on sales performance and other metrics from this summer to the same months last year. Compared to August 2018, the results showed:
• Number of pages printed in August 2019: -58.7%
• Rise in sales per employees in August 2019: +39.9%
• Amount of "30-minute meetings" in August 2019: +46%
About 92 percent of employees said they liked switching to the four-day workweek. That's perhaps unsurprising for a company based in Japan, where the severe work culture requires many people to work overtime for little to no extra pay, leaving them dangerously exhausted.
In fact, being overworked to death — by stroke, heart attack, etc. — is common enough that the Japanese have a word for it: karoshi. There's also a word for workers who commit suicide due to work-related stress: karojisatsu.
Stories of karoshi and karojisatsu — such as a 31-year-old journalist who logged 159 hours of overtime in the month before she died of heart failure — have helped to prompt Japan to pass laws promoting work-life balance, including caps on overtime hours. Still, critics of Japan's work culture argue the regulations — some of which allow employees to work 100 hours of overtime in a month — don't go far enough.
Buy and Sell
... and ones to end the year on ...
That's it for this year. For many of you next week it will be time to clean up the office, pack up for your summer holidays and plan to move on out. Again, it's been a pleasure bringing you Offcuts every week and we're looking
forward to working with you all again in 2020. We’ll get
back into it early in the New-Year with the first issue
of Offcuts planned for Friday 17 January 2020. Cheers.
We welcome comments and contributions on Friday Offcuts. For details on advertising for positions within the forest products industry or for products and services, either within the weekly newsletter or on this web page, please contact us.
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