Friday Offcuts – 20 March 2020

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It’s hard not to be consumed with the daily bombardment of news around COVID-19. The outlook right now unfortunately is looking pretty bleak. All of us with businesses involved in forestry and wood products at the moment are trying to work through the fall-out, along with ensuring our own work colleagues, friends and families are safe. Cancellations and postponements of industry events and meetings have been coming through thick and fast as containment and travel policies announced by Governments kick in.

For our own events management and media business, we’ve been working together with forest owners, contractors and wood producers along with equipment, product and service suppliers to the industry this week juggling a series of technology events and conferences that had been set up to run over the next month or two.

In the near term;

- the industry’s ForestTECHX 2020 event scheduled for Vancouver this week has been postponed until early September. A listing of other forestry and wood products events cancellations in North America announced in the last week or so can be viewed here.

- the meeting of agriculture, horticulture and forestry tech developers ( MobileTECH Ag 2020) scheduled to run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 7-8 April has been cancelled. We're currently exploring options for in-office or in-home webinars right now for all registered delegates.

- the two-yearly Forest Safety and Technology series scheduled to run in May has been rescheduled and will now run alongside the HarvestTECH 2020 series being run in both New Zealand and Australia in September.

Details will follow and for all those involved, we thank you for your understanding during this difficult period. Depending on what unfolds in the next few weeks and months, the plan is that the WoodTECH 2020 – Wood Manufacturing series set down for August and the HarvestTECH 2020 – Wood Transport series will still run as scheduled. If any of you have any questions around any one of the tech events that have been impacted or those still to come, please contact one of our team.

On more positive news to end the week on we have built in personal recollections by two Canadian firefighters, one who was based in NSW and the other in Victoria, who have just recently returned from helping local firefighters out over the summer period. We also cover a story of another young scientist who has been recognised and has been announced as one of the winners of the Australian 2020 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Sean Krisanski, who presented at last year’s ForestTECH series on his work on under canopy UAV collection of forest inventory data, has been acknowledged for his research into the development of an ‘arborist’ drone that can take foliage samples from the forest canopy. Details can be found in this week’s issue.

On that note, and in a world that has just been turned on its head, look after yourselves and each other in what is going to be an extremely unsettling time for all of us in the upcoming months. Enjoy this week’s catch-up.

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COVID-19 and impact on world forest products trade

As the world grapples with a widening impact and unexpected global consequences of the coronavirus, both stock markets and lumber markets are getting hammered. While U.S. market fundamentals looks favourable — the best in three years or longer — other markets are going through different phases. In China, it appears that factories, including sawmills, are back to work after the Chinese government took unprecedented steps to contain the spread of the virus.

In terms of Europe, Italy is a large market for sideboards (for the pallet industry); however, the Italian market is temporarily closed off to receiving shipments, and this is now impacting market options for many central European mills. And, with an overall lack of containers (they are stuck in Chinese ports), some export markets may see some temporary shortages. In addition, last week the Czech Republic closed its borders. On it goes as the pandemic unfolds.

The author was travelling in Europe in the first half of March (as it turns out, not a well-timed trip: he is now under a self-imposed 14-day quarantine) to investigate developments in the central European spruce bark beetle salvage program in terms of how it is improving the sawmill industry’s competitiveness and its position in export markets. The field work shows that sawmills in Germany and the Czech Republic have gained massive cost advantages due to a glut of dead spruce timber. However, there are other factors that make this an even more interesting story.

The scale of the beetle-damaged timber — which really must be seen to be understood — is staggering, and is concentrated in several specific areas (while remaining somewhat variable elsewhere). One thing of note was the quality of the beetle-attacked spruce logs — a big surprise after years seeing BC Interior sawmills processing 8- and 10-year-old dead logs. Essentially, European sawmills are processing logs that have just been attacked or killed.

These “fresh-killed” logs, which are harvested and processed at sawmills in the winter, are of excellent quality. In several cases, logs are of too high a quality for the U.S. market (it is better suited for an older, lower-quality log with more blue stain). So, while individual company strategies will be different, it generally appears that European lumber entering the U.S. market in any large way could be delayed until the warmer summer temperatures begin to yield lower-quality logs that better fit that market’s requirements.

One complication: Europeans face a shortage of containers that would otherwise be used to export lumber to higher-priced markets such as MENA. Since the United States uses break-bulk vessels, the shortage could precipitate an increase in exports to the U.S. market. The upcoming FEA report, Central European Bark Beetle and Wind-Damaged Timber will provide further details on a variety of topics, including the scale of the salvage program and its duration. Spoiler alert: the full answer is not what competitors will want to hear!

And, while the central European sawmilling industry has a major log-cost advantage, German lumber producers have been facing some challenges. This was clearly outlined by industry veteran Carsten Doehring in his market assessment published in (Vienna, Austria). He explains that the weaker performance of German sawmills in the second half of 2019 (versus the first half) was certainly not tied to the availability or price of raw materials. Instead, a glut of wood waste (sawdust and chips), changing wood qualities, and resulting lower sawn timber prices combined to create the situation.

Wood waste is a much bigger cause for concern among sawmills, in fact. Both the engineered timber and paper and pulp industries have serious problems, as shown by their declining production indices. On top of that, there are enormous volumes of industrial logs from areas affected by various beetle and storm calamities; these will keep future sales of wood waste a “problem child” for sawmills. Looking ahead, we should see further investments in pellet plants and new approaches to a wood-based bioeconomy.

Fueled by the quality of log wood from calamity-struck areas, sawn timber sales to Asia (India, Taiwan and South Korea, but not China) also continued to grow in 2019. In view of the quality of the beetle-killed logs, these Asian markets are of crucial importance to German sawmills — yet they are also especially at risk from COVID-19. The logistical challenges involved in reaching other markets are huge, so global trade flows are poised to change significantly in the coming weeks.

We expect markets to remain volatile and uncertain for the next few months. All major producing regions are searching for markets for their lumber amid evolving geopolitical obstacles, trade barriers and logistical challenges that continue to pop up. As demand slows or becomes disjointed, expect to see lower lumber prices as mills continue running, with curtailments occurring too late, i.e., after prices get too low, reflecting the usual boom and bust cycle of the lumber business.

Source: Russ Taylor, Managing Director, FEA-Canada

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No events right now… what are the alternatives?

Now that most trade shows and conferences are being cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, industry professionals are looking for other ways to keep one another informed. Perhaps you’re launching a new laser scanner or indoor mapping solution, or you want to share knowledge about innovative methods that achieve real efficiency gains… but which platforms can you use instead of physical events?

It’s probably counter intuitive to what most do when times get tough, but brand building should be an integral part of your business thinking right now as we head into a global slowdown. An excellent article on the importance of maintaining brand awareness in conditions like these can be read here. Innovatek and the Forest Industry Engineering Association offers several possibilities to fill the gaps in your communication strategy.

You can showcase your project or product through two of the industry’s most widely recognised and read newsletters, and Have you recently completed a challenging customer project? Or have you developed a new state-of-the-art software solution for collection of data out in the forest? Both weekly newsletters are the ideal place to share more details, so why not contribute an article?

In addition to these two weekly newsletters, communities of like-minded individuals are communicating much more regularly through three monthly tech newsletters set up for those typically attending the region’s most widely attended technology events., and are being sent out to specific and targeted groupings within the forestry and wood products sector.

It’s a great place to announce your latest company news and product launches, particularly in the current environment when you’re looking to target a specific reader profile, industry segment or geographical region. All of these communications platforms will provide you with an effective solution to keep your brand in front of your target audience in the current environment.

This is just a brief summary of how we could help you to keep your business going in these unprecedented times. Interested in a tailor-made proposal? Feel free to contact our Sales & Marketing Manager, Gordon Thomson on Tel: (+64) 7 921 1384, (+64) 27 275 8022 or

Aratu Forestry sentencing decision released

Aratu Forestry Limited has been fined NZ$379,500 on charges brought by Gisborne District Council following two rain events in June 2018. Formerly called Hikurangi Forest Farms Limited, the company was sentenced on two charges under the Resource Management Act for discharging contaminants – logging debris, slash and sediment – to land in circumstances where it entered water.

Environment Court Judge Brian Dwyer also ordered Aratu to pay emotional harm reparation to three victims totalling NZ$125,000. Council brought the prosecution against Aratu following its investigation of compliance issues arising from the June 2018 rain events.

Between June 3 and 4, large amounts of logging debris, slash and sediment collapsed from 83 skid sites at Aratu-owned Te Marunga Forest, 12 kilometres west of Tolaga Bay. Material that collapsed from skid sites in Te Marunga Forest affected the Mangatokerau valley and properties in the valley.

The second charge related to Aratu’s forest in Waimata – Wakaroa Forest. Between June 11 and 12, slash and sediment mobilised from the forest, inundating Uttings Bridge on Waimata Road and causing significant damage.

Aratu was fined NZ$229,500 for its offending at Te Marunga Forest and NZ$150,000 for its offending at Wakaroa Forest. Judge Dwyer said a significant factor in his considerations was the known vulnerability of the environment in each forest.

“Two thirds of this forest is situated on land which is very highly susceptible to erosion, in some cases being the most vulnerable land to erosion in the district or region. Additionally, the rain events which had brought about the discharges occurred at a time in the period shortly after harvest.

“Forest operations on such land have to be undertaken with great care and in absolute compliance with codes of practice and conditions of resource consent, but a high degree of risk still remains.” Judge Dwyer said the possibility the area could be subject to extreme weather should have been well known, and similar events in recent years had led to the mobilisation of forestry debris.

“Even adopting best practice there is a real risk of incidents such as this happening on steep, highly erodible land which has been stripped of tree cover. The fact is that forest harvesting on these slopes is a high-risk operation in terms of its effect on land stability. Aratu has taken the risk in this instance and predictable consequences have resulted.

Council’s director of environmental services and protection Helen Montgomery says the Court’s sentencing decision sends a strong message to the forestry industry about the importance of managing environmental risks, complying with resource consents and adhering to the Forest Owners Association Environmental Code of Practice.

For further information, read the full sentencing decision.

Source: Scoop

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Early interest - HarvestTECH 2020 – Wood Transport

Although COVID-19 is uppermost in everyone's minds and actions right now, we are working towards some early planning for a series planned for September this year. At this stage, we are still some six months out so are hopeful of the series being run as originally scheduled.

With this in mind, early expressions of interest to present at this year’s HarvestTECH 2020 event are now being sought. The HarvestTECH conference and exhibition that ran last year SOLD OUT well in advance of the event being run. It was the largest gathering of its type ever seen in New Zealand.

Close to 500 harvesting contractors, harvest planners, forestry managers and equipment and technology suppliers into the region’s logging industry attended.

In addition to most major New Zealand contractors there, a large contingent came across from Australia, North and South America and SE Asia. It well and truly established itself on the international stage. This year, the previous wood transport and logistics event run by the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) is being brought under the HarvestTECH brand.

HarvestTECH 2020 will be focussing on log scaling, log segregation and loading, wood transport, logistics and data integration through the wood supply chain.

It will be running on 16-17 September in Melbourne, Australia and then again for the New Zealand industry on 22-23 September in Rotorua.

What's being covered?

New technologies, new processing systems and case studies to showcase “new technology and smart operating practices” in log loading and wood measurement, wood transport and logistics will be profiled at the HarvestTECH 2020 series in September. Further early details on content can be found on the event website,

You may have a recent case study of technologies or systems that you have employed within your own business that you could share, you could have developed a product that’s really making a difference out on the skid site, in transporting wood to the processing plant or port, you may represent a tech or equipment supplier to this part of the industry or you will, come September, have completed research or trials that could be presented to the wider industry. If so, we’d like to hear from you.

If interested in being involved as a presenter, please email or phone: (+64) 21 227 5177 to discuss. Details on opportunities to exhibit in both countries will be available shortly but if keen on receiving information as soon as it is available, please contact

Please note: We are planning to also run the Forest Safety & Technology 2020 series (origionally scheduled for May of this year in New Zealand and Australia - but postponed) alongside the Harvesting & Wood Transport event as we have done in the past. This we anticipate will add significantly to all those attending.

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Latest quarterly Timber Market Survey report released

The December quarter 2019 Australian Timber Market Survey (TMS) has shown relatively small downward price movements for structural pine products. Average price movements for untreated MGP10 and MGP12 products reported in the TMS ranged between 0.5% and -0.2%, while price movements for treated F7 products ranged between -1.4% and -0.7%.

Treated decking product prices decreased by around -0.9% over the quarter, while treated sleeper prices remained stable. Panel products showed moderate upward price movements of between 1.0% and 2.6%, with plywood prices making the most gains over the quarter. Prices for engineered LVL and I-joist/I-beam products declined over the quarter, with price movements ranging between -1.3% and -0.4%.

Price movements for structural hardwood products were marginal over the six months to the end of the December quarter 2019, with price increases of up to 0.2%. Upward price movements for hardwood flooring products ranged between 0.5% and 2.7%, while Victorian ash flooring prices remained stable.

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 at: Download the December quarter 2019 TMS report

Source: Indufor

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Canadian firefighters' experiences “down under”

John Mash of Kenora, a small town in North western Ontario, Canada has been working with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry fire crews for the last 23 years, and he's recently returned from service overseas where he helped fight the wildfires in Australia.

"One of the things that really stood out to me was the sense of duty and volunteerism displayed by a lot of the Australians that were directly impacted by the fires, either having lost livestock or having their own homes burned. They would still show up to work every day and volunteer their time. I got to work hand-in-hand with those folks," he said.

Mash recalled following the wild fires in Australia before Christmas, noting the season was unprecedented. Instead of being able to focus their resources in spots along the coast, the country's resources were needed up and down the coastline all at once. Firefighters from New Zealand, the U.S. and Indonesia also helped. Mash was centred in New South Wales, where temperatures exceeded 40 or 45 Celsius in the interior. The highest temperature recorded was 48 C in Sydney, which became the hottest place on Earth.

The smoke and haze from the fires might last a couple of weeks in Kenora, but it lasted months in New South Wales. If a hectare is the size of a soccer field, Mash says a million hectares burned in the area near Moriah, where he was stationed on the Tasman Sea. Air currents were so strong, parts of trees were carried out to sea, only to be washed ashore. The loss of wildlife was also difficult, along with the loss of homes and livestock.

Every five days, he described how the dry, hot winds would come off the desert from the interior of the country. These winds would feed the embers and relight fires already contained. Eucalyptus trees are common, and they have a lot of oil to fuel the wildfires. The trees are also home to koalas, and the populations were threatened by the loss of habitat, Mash added.

Fortunately, he said the Sydney area saw about 400 mm of rain in two days, which helped fire crews contain the wildfires. However, it presented issues related to erosion. In Australia, they rely on about 77,000 volunteers to help fight fires. They worked 10 to12 hour days for no pay, some even worked after losing their homes.

Of the more moving experiences for Mash was seeing a volunteer firefighter in a grocery store, who had just lost their home. Without hesitation, another firefighter reached into their pocket to pay for the volunteer's groceries.

Fire information officer Jonathan Scott also spent about a month in Australia recently, where he helped fight wildfires. Last week, Scott talked about the experience. "We were most certainly welcomed and integrated into their structure. They were very, very happy to have us come help, and it was great to help. It was really rewarding when they said, near the end, how tired they were at that time when we were arrived in mid-January and we were there to come relieve them," he said.

Scott was stationed near the suitably-named community of Ovens in the province of Victoria. He was helping crews that had been at work since November. The fire he was overseeing was about 100,000 ha in size, and it wasn't even one of the larger ones. A tour of the fire lines took a few hours, Scott recalled. For comparison, the fire that forced evacuations near Pikangikum last spring was about 4,000 ha in size. An encouraging sign for Scott was seeing how the trees and forests were already starting to grow back, before he had to leave for Canada.


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Date set for 2020 GT Timber Industry Awards

The Green Triangle Timber Industry Awards (GTTIA) committee are pleased to announce that the 2020 Awards will be celebrated at The Barn, Mount Gambier on Friday the 30th of October. The awards follow on from the outstanding success of the inaugural Green Triangle Timber Industry Awards (GTTIA) in 2018 and even more successful event in 2019.

The awards recognise individuals and companies in the Green Triangle timber industry for their dedication to best practise, continuous improvement and excellence in their roles and businesses. The GTTIA committee consists of Adrian Flowers of Tabeel Trading (Chair), Marcel Griffiths of HVP Plantations (Secretary), Tammy Whitehead of Glenara Transport (Treasurer), Sharon Freyer of Qube Ports, Roland Freyer of South West Fibre, Paul Hartung of OFO Wood Products, Daniel Rosenthal of Timberlands Pacific, Hayley Elkington of C3 and Tim Benny of Qube Ports.

With some new faces on the committee in 2020, they comprise a mix of timber industry and regional representatives that have come together to create a platform for celebrating the industry. The next stage for the committee is to finalise the award categories for 2020 which are being updated in response to industry feedback from 2019. From there the committee will once again be looking to secure sponsors for the industry event that stands to applaud its skilled workforce and business champions.

In 2020, Lydia Mules past GTTIA Committee member has stepped into the role of Event Organiser for the Green Triangle Timber Industry Awards Program. Lydia is taking over from Prue Younger who has handed over the reins after two successful years to focus on some exciting opportunities that have arisen from her involvement in the Timber Industry.

The Green Triangle Timber Industry Awards seek to benefit the regions timber industry through uniting industry players to support the attraction of skilled employees as valued timber industry players and encouraging them to continuously lift the standard of the skill base of the timber workforce. The awards also offer a platform to promote the image of timber in the region and provide the Green Triangle timber industry an occasion to celebrate the achievements of the many individuals and businesses that make up the industry.

Note: A number of Wood Council Forestry Awards programmes for 2020 in New Zealand have been cancelled in recent weeks because of COVID-19. All are expected to run again in 2021. Check out individual Wood Council websites for further information.

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Timbeter expanding to Asia & South America

Estonian company Timbeter, who have been involved in previous FIEA Technology events (and who have confirmed that they will be presenting in this year’s September series, HarvestTECH 2020 in Australia and New Zealand, has closed a seed round of approximately €920K.

Timbeter, founded in 2013, is a global industrial timber measurement, logistics and reporting platform. Timbeter’s precision forestry platform eliminates manual counting, measuring and tracking of timber assets, cutting measurement and documentation times by 10 and increasing accuracy by 5 times.

How does it work? Having built the world’s largest database of photometric measurements of roundwood, it can track timber assets in real time, down to individual shipments and piles throughout the forestry value chain. Compared to traditional methods, its algorithms use artificial intelligence to speed up forestry operations, raise transparency, increase employee safety and save resources.

The startup’s approach is also contributing to combating illegal forestry activities. Additionally, the company has already snapped up some major local and international clients, such as CMPC (Chile), International Paper (Brazil), Faber-Castell (Brazil), Siam Forestry Group (Thailand), Mekong Timber Plantations (Laos), Port Blakely (USA), SEQH (Australia), among others.

Anna-Greta Tsahkna, CEO of Timbeter, explained that the new financing round will help Timbeter expand its sales activities in the target markets, and also to develop a bridge between companies and governmental organizations, by reducing the sector’s administrative burden in insurance, tax and regulatory reporting.

Source:, photo: Timbeter

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Young scientist wins grant to develop drone

Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) congratulates mechanical engineer and University of Tasmania PhD student Sean Krisanski, who has been announced as one of the winners of the 2020 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Krisanski was recognised for his research into the development of an ‘arborist’ drone that can take samples from the forest canopy, giving scientists access to samples that until now haven’t been easily reachable. Krisanski said current methods of collecting these samples can be expensive, time consuming and dangerous.

“I will be designing a 3D-printed airframe which will protect the rotors and make the system fairly robust to the inevitable collisions with branches. There will also be a small saw integrated into the airframe for the actual cutting” Krisanski said.

Run by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), the awards have seen 11 young agricultural researchers receive grants valued up to $22,000. The forest and wood products award was funded by FWPA, which also selected Krisanski as the recipient.

The grants will enable some of Australia’s brightest young scientists to undertake projects on emerging issues or innovative activities over the next twelve months, which will contribute to the success of Australia’s agriculture sector.

FWPA’s Managing Director, Ric Sinclair, said Krasinski’s’ win is well-deserved and highlights the importance of young Australian scientists to the future of forestry. “We extend our congratulations to Sean. It was an impressive field of candidates and the selection process was robust. Sponsoring this award aligns with FWPA’s commitment to supporting research and development within the forest and wood industry,” Sinclair said.

“It’s inspiring to see so many young scientists working on such important projects. I am confident that the contribution made by these young leaders will advance the forestry industry and keep us at the forefront of research and development.”

Source: FWPA

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New Koala rules will cripple forestry development in NSW

New Koala SEPP will cripple agriculture, private forestry and development in NSW “This is a game changer and has been introduced by this government under the guise of saving and protecting koalas” said Steve Dobbyns, forestry scientist and Vice President of Timber NSW.

The Koala SEPP 2019, to commence on 1 March 2020, has priority over all other environmental instruments. “Despite appearances, the Koala SEPP is not just about Development Applications. It is about land zoning and rezoning lands with potential koala habitat as Environmental Protection zones” he said.

Irrespective of whether Local Councils already have a Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) or not, the impacts of the Government’s Koala SEPP 2019 and draft Koala Habitat Protection Guideline are very clear and immediate. The Koala SEPP 2019 will override the Land Management Code, thereby removing all flexibility for farmers.

“Many farmers have been in drought, hand feeding stock for more than 2 years, only to have their properties ravaged by bushfires, which typically originated from NSW Government National Parks or State Forests. These fires killed or injured stock, destroyed infrastructure like fences, sheds and homes and burnt what little feed farmers may have had. Now they face the prospect of massive change to their property rights from this Government” said Mr Dobbyns.

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and the Local Land Services Act 2013 will effectively be set aside due to the extraordinary reach of what is now ‘core koala habitat’. “The Koala SEPP 2019 will not address where koalas are most at risk on public land, as we’ve seen from this season’s bushfires.” he said.

With the number of feed tree species being increased from 10 to 123 under the new Koala SEPP and a ‘koala record’ from the past 18 years within either 2.5 or 5 km of the property (coastal or western districts), nearly all private native forests will qualify and eventually be classified as core koala habitat.

“Agriculture also faces significant challenges. If agricultural area is identified as core koala habitat, it becomes Sensitive Regulated Land and no longer covered by the Local Land Services Act. Routine agricultural activities, such as fence line clearing, building dams, roads etc. are either not permitted or require development consent” he further stated.

Environmental concerns that the previous SEPP 44 made it too difficult to declare areas “core koala habitat” has been flipped. The onus is no longer about proving an area is core koala habitat, it’s about proving it’s not and incurring the huge costs of doing so. By using the Ministerial Direction process, it will create E zones across anything showing tree cover, prevent clearing of regrowth, cessation of PNF, restricts or curtail agricultural activities and force farmers and developers down the expensive biodiversity offset pathway.

Source: Timber NSW

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Why are we hoarding toilet paper?

A more light hearted piece to counter the ever increasing negative news that we’ve been bombarded with right now.

There’s nothing quite like the behavior of panicky humans—especially when it comes to hoarding. Let a blizzard approach or a hurricane churn toward shore, and we descend on stores, buying up more batteries, bottled water and canned foods than we could use in a lifetime. We’re seeing the same thing again as America hunkers down against the novel coronavirus, and of all of the products that are being snatched up the fastest, there’s one that’s in special demand: toilet paper. Sound familiar? This article looks a little deeper into why American’s have this fixation with loo paper.

The Washington Post reports a run on the rolls, with both Costco and the Giant supermarket chain stripped all but clean. Even Amazon’s physical stores “appeared to be down to single rolls of novelty toilet paper in some places” the Post said. The New York Times similarly reports from a Whole Foods supermarket in Somerville, Mass., where shoppers had to be limited to two packages of toilet paper each, lest they strip the store bare.

But why? What is it about toilet paper—specifically the prospect of an inadequate supply of it—that makes us so anxious? Some of the answer is obvious. Toilet paper has primal—even infantile—associations, connected with what is arguably the body’s least agreeable function in a way we’ve been taught from toddlerhood. Few, if any of us, remember a time when we weren’t acquainted with the product.

“There is comfort in knowing that it’s there,” says psychologist Mary Alvord, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the George Washington University School of Medicine. “We all eat and we all sleep and we all poop. It’s a basic need to take care of ourselves.”

We are also exceedingly social creatures, and we count on the community for our survival. People seen as unclean or unwell are at risk of being shunned—which in the state of nature could mean death. “We’ve gone beyond using leaves,” says Alvord. “It’s about being clean and presentable and social and not smelling bad.”

The coronavirus panic has only made things worse. We know exactly when hurricane or blizzard season is approaching, and stores and supply chains can prepare. No one foresaw the season of corona. “We, as a country, responded slowly,” says psychologist Baruch Fischhoff, professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. “Until very recently, many people heard assurance that this was not a major problem. Then, suddenly, they were told to stock up, for an indeterminate period.”

When it comes to stocking up, different basics offer differing options. “If people did not find the food that they wanted, they could buy other food,” says Fischhoff. “For toilet paper, there are no substitutes.” The need to hoard the one product for which there is no alternative is only exacerbated, he adds, by the fact that it is not clear when the possible shortages will end. America’s late-to-the-party response to the COVID-19 pandemic means shoppers have not been “given assurances that the supply chain issues would be managed in due course.”

They likely will be, just as the virus will be brought under control—eventually. Until then, humans will be humans and our eccentricities will be our eccentricities. Our panic buying, Alvord says, represents one thing we can control. In an exceedingly uncertain moment, it’s at least something.


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John Deere ends Cable Price agreement

John Deere Construction & Forestry and Cable Price (NZ) Limited end distribution agreement in New Zealand. John Deere Construction & Forestry and Cable Price (NZ) Limited (CPL) agreed to end their distribution arrangement of Deere branded and manufactured construction, forestry, and compact machinery in New Zealand. As the joint businesses expanded over the years, so have each company’s priorities in various markets around the globe.

“John Deere Construction & Forestry Company (Deere) and Hitachi Construction Machinery (Hitachi) have a long and successful global partnership spanning multiple continents and product lines,” said Dan Fitzpatrick, global director of construction & forestry sales outside of the Americas. “This partnership served both companies well and supported each company’s global growth over the multi- decade relationship. Over the course of the next five months Deere and Cable Price will work together to execute a seamless transition of business to John Deere newly appointed construction and forestry dealers in New Zealand.”

John Deere plans to announce its new dealers for the New Zealand market in the coming weeks with a full transition of business scheduled for July 1, 2020. “John Deere and Cable Price committed to working together to ensure this transition has minimal impact on customers’ access to machines, parts, and/or service,” said Fitzpatrick.

“Similarly, John Deere and Cable Price are committed to smoothly transitioning customers who have existing agreements and service contracts with Cable Price. We believe this change in distribution will allow both companies to increase focus on their respective brands and provide a world class experience to John Deere customers across New Zealand.”

The changes announced in this press release have no impact on Deere and Hitachi’s partnerships or distribution arrangements outside of New Zealand.

Image: John Deere

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NZ Councils to work together on forestry

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Wairoa District Council have committed to working together on managing the growth in the planting and harvest of forestry in the Wairoa District.

The two councils met recently to discuss the sustainable development of forestry in the district, along with concerns raised by the community around increased forestry and the national regulations now in place for plantation forestry.

Wairoa District Mayor Craig Little says both councils understand the community’s concerns about forestry and are committed to ensuring there is the best possible mix of land use in the district.

“I believe by working together we can ensure we have trees planted in the right place for the right purpose and ensure we continue to have a great mix of land use across our district,” says Mr Little. He says there has been an increasing volume of forestry harvest and new plantings in the district.

At the joint meeting the Wairoa District and Hawke’s Bay Regional Councils committed to ensuring the effects of forestry harvest are strictly managed under the National Environmental Standards to ensure the protection of local waterways from sediment and forestry slash.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair Rex Graham says no one wants any newly established forests in the district to create problems for future generations or displace highly productive pastoral land.

“Our regulation and catchment teams will be working closely with the forestry industry and landowners to get the best possible mix of land use for the Wairoa District,” says Mr Graham.

“We accept there are some challenging legacy issues with forestry to deal with, but new national regulations mean forestry management will improve over time.”

Comment on story    

... and one to end the week on ... a bit of light hearted relief

Since we're in unprecedented times right now and the message has been to provide something to make you smile at the end of your week, I'll sneak this image in on the right provided by one of our readers yesterday. It usually wouldn't meet the strict guidelines of our in-house censor but these are afterall, trying times.

And a couple more. Little Johnny's neighbour had a baby. But he was born without ears.

Johnny and his Mum went to visit the baby. Johnny was warned not to mention it's ears or he'd be punished.

Johnny looked in the cot and said, "What a lovely baby, lovely feet, hands and skin. How's his eyesight?"

The baby's mother said it was perfect.

Johnny replied, "That's good cos he'd be ****** if he needed glasses!".

And, and oldie but a goodie and linked to the panic shopping we're seeing right now on toilet paper. The new supermarket near my house has an automatic water mister to keep produce fresh. Just before it goes on, you hear the sound of thunder and the smell of fresh rain.

When you approach the milk cases, you hear cows mooing and witness the scent of fresh hay.

When you approach the egg case, you hear hens cluck and cackle and the air is filled with the pleasing aroma of bacon and eggs frying.

The veggie department features the sound of a gentle breeze and the smell of fresh buttered corn.

I don't buy toilet paper there anymore.

And on that note, we hope your weekend provides you with a bit of downtime after the events of the last week. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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