Friday Offcuts – 8 May 2020

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As covered in last week’s issue, the industry’s Forest Safety & Technology 2020 event originally planned to be run in May is still proceeding. It’s being run though in a new digital format - as a virtual interactive webinar series. In fact, it’s spreading its wings so it can now also be run simultaneously for New Zealand, Australian and North American safety leaders from forest management and contracting companies. Sponsors, presenters and the wider industry are right behind this new initiative. Further information on the new format can be found in the lead story below. Details on the new programme being run in mid-June and registration information were uploaded to the website this week and can viewed here.

In last week’s issue we also touched on some early rumblings in Australia with the drop off in housing starts starting to be felt by the timber industry. AFPA was suggesting that the decline in sawn timber demand for Australia’s sawmills could well be more than 50% over the next six months. The rumblings this week have certainly picked up their pace. The severity of the situation has been reinforced with Australia's largest sawmilling company, AKD Softwoods, temporarily halting production at four of its mills last week.

The company produces around 20 per cent of all timber being used for housing construction in Australia. More than 800 mill staff have been affected and scenarios are being looked at where the company could operate at half of its production rate over the next six months. Demand for new housing is being described by the industry as having “fallen off the edge of a cliff”. The building, construction and wood products industries are now calling for a range of stimulus measures to be introduced as soon as possible by State and Federal governments to boost housing construction across the country.

In forest technology news this week, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has just announced that drone registration and accreditation is soon going to become a requirement to fly a drone if it weighs more than 250 grams. It’s going to be similar to your car license. It is going to impact on many of the forestry companies who’re now routinely using drones as part of their forest operations and planning. We’ve also included a short story and associated video detailing just how Entel Ocean, the digital grouping within the largest telecommunications company in Chile joined up with DataRobot. They’re using IoT sensors, enterprise AI, data science, and a "digital nose" to predict and prevent forest fires in Chile.

Remember, in addition to this weekly newsletter, you can also check out the monthly , and newsletters. All are free. All are written and compiled for particular segments within our industry. They were sent out to our growing number of subscribers, over 15,000 of you, earlier this week. That’s it for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Signs of life for NZ forestry operations

On the East Coast, the heart of the Gisborne economy is beating again as the forestry industry is back in full swing under alert level 3. About 300 forestry workers lost their jobs or had hours reduced prior to the lockdown after China, which takes over 90 percent of the region's logs, stopped doing so in February. Eastland Port has been able to retain all 50 of its staff, and its chief operating officer Andrew Gaddum was relieved it had work for them.

"There was always going to be light at the end of the tunnel on this we just had to weather the storm to get through and now we are starting to see some hope on the other side," Gaddum said. "We've seen a really, rapid ramp up in the amount of wood that's coming back into the port - in the last couple of days, we're back up to near on where we were two months ago, so it's been pretty amazing actually how quickly the supply chain, including all the trucking and harvesting, have got back up and running again."

Gaddum remained "cautiously optimistic" that the industry will continue to do well in the coming months.

Out in the bush, harvesting crews contracted by Aratu Forests have been working shorter days to give them time to adjust to the physically demanding work again and ensure no one is injured. Aratu Forests manages 10 harvesting crews, involving about 80 workers. Its chief executive, Ian Brown, said it made big changes to their operations in order to meet the level 3 guidelines.

"There's things like the smoko rooms, we've got 20 foot, 40 foot containers where people take a break for breakfast and lunch, and they sit together and socialise and that's not possible anymore, so everyone is having to meet their lunch in their own machine and talk to each other on the two way radios, rather than actually being in close proximity and being able to socialise, so it's different, really different."

While there were some layoffs when the coronavirus first brought forestry to a halt, Brown said everyone he knew had been re-employed again. "At the moment, there's more work than there are contractors, and that is particularly so with our silviculture crews, who do the planting of the trees. More >>.

And on the other side of the North Island, the forestry sector is making up for lost time. Log exports have resumed at Port Taranaki as the region's forestry industry regroups after a five-week layoff due to the coronavirus lockdown.

GJ Sole spokeswoman Noelene Sole said the trucking company was back in full operation and following health and safety requirements among the crew and drivers. A spokeswoman for RJ Dreaver Contractors said employees were driving their own cars to work to comply with physical distancing requirements.

"It's not an issue while crews are in the bush as the guys are working on their own, but we have not been able to fully use the vans," she said.

New Zealand Forestry Taranaki regional manager Cam Eyre said the month-long break had delayed pre-planting preparation. "We are behind on spraying for weeds before we plant again this winter," he said. "We will need a good weather window to catch up and be looking to plant from mid-June."

Eyre said the sector looked promising in the wake of Covid-19, with high demand from China for export logs. For Port Taranaki, the port processed 100 log trucks in the first days after the lockdown was lifted, and the logs-on-rail service from Whanganui would be fully operational by mid-May. More >>

Sources: RNZ, Stuff

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AKD stops production due to building downturn

Australia’s Federal Government is being urged to introduce a housing construction stimulus to prevent dire predictions for the timber industry being realised.

Last week, Australia's largest sawmilling company AKD Softwoods temporarily stopped production at four of its mills due to the predicted decrease in demand for building products. More than 800 workers have been forced to take leave in a bid to prevent an oversupply of timber products as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic hits the housing construction market.

The company's chief executive Shane Vicary said demand for new housing had fallen off the edge of a cliff. "We're facing a calamitous reduction in demand and we're calling on the state and Federal governments to put in place a housing construction stimulus," he said.

AKD Softwoods produces 20 per cent of the timber for housing construction in Australia, and its predicted orders will dry up from the middle of May. "Basically, with COVID-19, it's very difficult to go and look at display homes, … immigration has basically stopped, and you've also got significant unemployment," Mr Vicary said.

"These factors are weighing heavily on new house construction. The company said it was looking at scenarios where it would operate at half of its production rate for the coming six months. Mr Vicary said it would be the regional communities where the mills are based that would feel the consequences.

"We have to look at what's going to enable us to get through a really difficult six to twelve months … scaling the business relative to what the market is," he said. "An organisation like us, we'll look at reduced hours, reduced overtime, forcing people to take leave, potentially asking people to work four days a week — all of that has a flow back through regional communities. [We] really need stimulus to see housing construction re-started."

More >>

Source: ABC

For further analysis on Australian housing and sawnwood consumption from IndustryEdge, click here. They comment that evidence is continuing to mount of the very steep downturn in demand for sawn timber in Australia and suggest that the worst effects are unlikely to be felt until the September quarter.

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Forest Safety Conference to proceed - online

Forest Safety Conference confirmed for June; goes international

The Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) announced this week that its annual forest safety conference will be going ahead in June – in digital form. The new programme can be viewed on the event website.

“While lockdown conditions have forced enormous restrictions on all of us, we have a large loyal following of safety leaders in forest management and their contractors. We think they’ll welcome this new series,” said FIEA Director, John Stulen, “as they’ve been coming together for safety updates since 2013.”

“We’re adapting to this new normal until conferences can return,” said Stulen. “We’ve shifted our speakers and their presentations online. In April, our MobileTECH Ag webinar series that was run for tech developers for the forestry, agriculture and horticultural industries was well-received and highly rated,” he added. “We’ve taken 12 of our key presenters from our two-day conference and they are adapting their message to the shorter webinar format.”

The topics covered include:

Keynote Session: Recognising Fatigue Factors for Positive Workplace Change

Session 2: Te Kupenga Mahi and other Cultural Factors: Why They Matter for Improving Safety at Work

Session 3: Adopting and Adapting the Latest Safety Technologies and Practices for Forestry

Session 4: New Safety Techniques and Technologies for Log Transport & Logistics

John Stulen says that the safety leaders, who number in the hundreds now in forest companies and their contractors, have all been loyal conference delegates since 2013. Our strong links with Canadian and Australian safety leaders also helps to bring new ideas of safety innovations that work in all 3 countries.”

“Hats off to our sponsors who have been 100 percent supportive of us,” commented Stulen. “They have been hugely supportive of this move and we’re working closely with McFall Fuel, VicForests, SafeTree and WorkSafe New Zealand to bring the experience of our practical experts together like this.”

“We’re really quite excited about the webinar style – it allows easy interactions too,” said Stulen. “We’ve confirmed all of our speakers and sponsors that were scheduled to take part in the physical event. Everyone has been fully behind the move and, as usual, we’re looking forward to a great learning experience using the webinars.”

The digital webinar series will be held on 16th and 18th June. An international audience is expected.

Registrations are open and online now. See: Forest Safety Events.

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End of an era for Forestry Corporation CEO

After 13 years at the helm of Australia’s largest plantation owner, Nick Roberts announced last week he was stepping aside as CEO of Forestry Corporation of NSW (Forestry Corporation).

Nick said it had been a privilege to lead the business over the years taking carriage of the State’s 2 million hectares of forests and supplying renewable timber to the diverse customer base in NSW. With a strong focus on replanting and regrowing, more than 500 million trees would have started their lives in the NSW native and plantation forests under Nick’s leadership.

The future sustainability of the forests and a strong commercial forest and timber industry in NSW has been at the heart of Nick’s journey with Forestry Corporation. “The safety of the forest and timber industry has been a personal passion of mine and an area while there is always more to do, I believe we have made a solid collective progress.

Nick’s career to-date has spanned all facets of the forest and timber industry with roles across the globe. “I’m very proud of Forestry Corporation and the changes the business has embraced over the past decade. The impact of the 2019-20 bushfires on the business has been significant and as an organisation, we are now entering a new re-building phase”.

“It is important that the business has leadership to see it through the planning and implementation of this phase and so I asked the Board to consider the future leadership of the Corporation as the organisation faces this next set of challenges”.

As the Board seeks a new CEO, Nick will remain with Forestry Corporation over the coming months to steer the business through its initial bushfire recovery including the substantial salvage timber operations already underway; repair of millions of dollars of infrastructure; and the initial replanting efforts for the State’s plantations assets.

Source: FCNSW

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Plan to grow forestry and wood-processing workforce

The New Zealand Government is joining forces with the forestry and wood-processing sector to help attract a diverse workforce of more than 5000 additional people in a post-COVID-19 world, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says.

The inaugural meeting of the Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Council was held last Friday. The council will implement the Workforce Action Plan that was presented to Shane Jones in January and identify what should take priority as New Zealand emerges from COVID-19 lockdown.

“The forestry and wood-processing sector is at the heart of many regions and the communities within them. With a workforce of more than 38,500 and contributing more than NZ$6.9 billion in export revenue, it will play a critical role in New Zealand’s economic recovery,” Shane Jones said.

“Forestry will play an important role in New Zealand’s rebuild from COVID-19. The world wants our timber and wood products and the industry needs more workers. There is a huge opportunity for people to retrain and take up work in the industry.

“It is estimated the forestry and wood-processing sector will need another 5000 workers by 2025. That’s why it's important for the Government and sector to work together. We need to build a fit-for-purpose education and training system that equips workers to carry out the increasingly sophisticated tasks in sustainable forest management and wood-processing.”

The action plan addresses common forestry and wood processing workforce challenges by complementing and building on existing initiatives, as well as beginning new ones. The actions initially cover the forest-growing industry, which includes nursery operations and the planting, maintenance management and harvesting of commercial forests and some parts of the primary wood-processing industry, specifically sawmilling and wood treatment.

“COVID-19 has been unprecedented global event, but one thing remains the same, New Zealand has some of the best timber and wood products in the world, we need a skilled workforce to keep this sector moving forward, and the world wants our high-quality products. We need to seize that opportunity,” Shane Jones said.

The Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Action Plan 2020-2024 and a high-level summary can be found on the MPI website.

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Model for forest growth during climate change

Joseph J Landsberg, Richard H Waring and Nicholas C Coops share the 2020 Marcus Wallenberg Prize for a model to predict forest growth in a changing climate. Satellite imagery offers the possibility to scale up the model to show how different environmental conditions affect the world's forests.

In the 1990s, Professors Joseph J Landsberg, from Australia, and Richard H Waring, from the USA, developed a model for forest growth that was based on simple plant physiological principles such as access to light, water, and nutrients. Professor Nicholas C Coops, then working in Australia, now in Canada, added advanced satellite imagery analysis to the model. The result is a powerful tool for predicting growth and assessing the risks to the world's forests posed by climate change. Joseph J Landsberg, Richard H Waring and Nicholas C Coops are awarded the 2020 Marcus Wallenberg Prize of two million kronor for their achievements.

Joseph J Landsberg and Richard H Waring became pioneers when they presented their Physiological Principles Predicting Growth, 3PG model, in 1997 to predict forest growth under changing environmental conditions. The model is also able to calculate how actions, such as thinning and fertilisation, affect forest growth and development.

Forest growth forecasts have traditionally been based on forest surveys of previous growth without the ability to include changes in silviculture or the surrounding environment. A process-based model such as 3PG can also include the effects of silviculture and environmental factors and give predictions of current and future forest production.

“Nowadays, we are extremely interested in the carbon balance of forests, how much carbon can be taken up by the forest via photosynthesis, how carbon can be stored in the forest in the short and long term, and how we can increase the forest's role in carbon binding with the aid of silviculture. 3PG serves as a bridge between traditional forest surveys and the large-scale, advanced carbon-balance calculations we need to carry out today”, says Annika Nordin, Professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and a member of the Board of the Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.

Nicholas C Coops has added satellite imagery analysis to the model to enable large areas of forest to be surveyed. Hence it is possible, among other things, to predict forest growth and carbon storage on a large scale, calculate how diversity of the forest landscape can be developed over time, and assess the risk of outbreaks of insects and large forest fires in inaccessible forest areas.

3PG is now one of the world's most widely used models for assessing forest growth over large areas. Forest owners use it for purposes such as calculating volume, diameter and biomass development in fast-growing tree plantations. It can be applied to species as diverse as eucalyptus and pine, in monocultures and in mixed species stands, across different climates and landscape types from Australia and New Zealand to Europe and North America.

“Joseph Landsberg, Richard Waring and Nicholas Coops have been awarded this year's Marcus Wallenberg Prize for providing us with a unique tool that is able to predict forest growth with great certainty in different environmental conditions in forest areas of varying sizes. The model has created a bridge between science and practice in forestry and helps us to be better equipped for the future", says Johanna Buchert, Chairperson of the Marcus Wallenberg Prize Selection Committee.

King Carl Gustaf XVI will award the 2020 Marcus Wallenberg Prize to these three scientists during a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden.

More >>

Photo: Nicholas C Coops, Joseph J Landsberg and Richard H Waring share the 2020 Marcus Wallenberg Prize

Further coverage on the award and recipients can also be read here.

Nicholas Coops was a keynote speaker at the last ForestTECHX event that ran in Vancouver two years ago speaking on advanced forest inventory techniques using high spatial resolution optical remote sensing imagery and LiDAR. The ForestTECHX 2020 event, that had to be put on hold in mid-March, is still expecting to run in September of this year. Further details and updates will be supplied as we draw closer to the planned dates.

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Australia introducing drone registration

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has announced that drone registration and accreditation will soon become a requirement to fly a drone unless you are in a CASA-verified model airfield and your drone weighs less than 250 grams.

In a newsletter sent out by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), drone registrations and accreditation will soon be implemented in Australia, similar to car licenses.

Any drones that weigh over the 250-gram limit will be required to get registered on myCASA with the serial number, make, model, weight, and the type of drone. You are also required to be at least 16 years old and have an Aviation Reference Number (ARN). The exact price for registration is unknown at this point. This registration must be renewed every 12 months if you want to keep flying.

Along with registering your drone for flight, you will also have to prove you know the “standard operating conditions” for drones by getting accredited by CASA. You will be required to watch a short video and then take a quiz. You are allowed to take the quiz as many times as you want until you pass, where you will then receive a certificate. The certificate will last for three years and allows you to supervise others, including those flying that are under 16 years old.

If you already have a remote pilot license (RePL), you won’t be required to be accredited, but will still have to register your drones whether they are used recreationally or commercially. If you plan to only fly your drone indoors and it’s over 250 grams, you won’t be required to register your drone, either.

For more information, click here.

Source: DroneDJ

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Logging stopped in unburnt Victorian forests

Logging has been temporarily halted in 26 unburnt areas of Victorian native forest after environmentalists argued in court there was a risk of “serious and irreversible damage” to threatened species after last summer's bushfires.

In the Victorian Supreme Court last week, Justice Kate McMillan granted an injunction to stop logging in 13 unburnt forest areas until the concerns could be aired in a court case against the state's logging agency, VicForests. While the injunction is temporary, the case is likely to take months, if not years, to be decided.

In January the volunteer group Wildlife of the Central Highlands (Wotch), with the support of community legal centre Environmental Justice Australia, argued logging should be banned in a number of unburnt areas to protect habitat for endangered species after the catastrophic bushfires.

Wotch argued the areas being targeted for logging were home to the greater glider, the smoky mouse, the sooty owl and the powerful owl. Each of these is on the Victorian government's list of species under immediate threat after the summer bushfires.

More >>


For further commentary on the criticism being expressed by the environment movement over VicForests resuming harvesting in fire-damaged forest burnt during the catastrophic summer fires, check out the story below.

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New Forests extending $1.3 billion forestry fund

International forestry investment manager New Forests has announced the extension of its flagship forestry fund, the Australia New Zealand Forest Fund (ANZFF). Originally launched in 2010 as a 10-year, closed-end fund, ANZFF was converted into an extended long-term vehicle by agreement of the institutional investors in the fund. The extension includes a series of 12-year renewals, commencing 1 July 2020.

New Forests’ Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, Mark Rogers, explained, “Over the past several years, we have worked closely with our ANZFF clients to develop an approach that enables them to continue to hold high-quality forestry and forestry-related assets for the long term, benefiting from cash yield and attractive markets. The structure we have developed lets New Forests work on our investors’ behalf to drive value into the future.”

The ANZFF portfolio includes extensive, high-quality eucalyptus and pine plantations across Australia as well as the Timberlink wood products manufacturing and timber distribution business. With a mature asset base, New Forests anticipates that ANZFF will generate ongoing cash yield from timber harvest and wood products sales as well as preserving and creating long-term value through managing biological growth and land assets for strong, stable total returns.

Rogers added, “We are heartened by our clients’ shared commitment to holding this portfolio, especially against the backdrop of many institutions needing to find liquidity in the current market. The ANZFF portfolio is among the premier diversified forestry portfolios globally. The fund extension endorses the contribution of forestry assets to our clients’ investment portfolios.”

The ANZFF estate includes approximately 283,000 gross hectares of land area, with around 195,000 hectares net planted area, and approximately 20,000 hectares dedicated to conservation management. The portfolio generates approximately 4 million m3 of timber harvest each year and provides nearly 1,500 jobs.

Source: New Forests

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Professionals support for bushfire recovery harvesting

The organisations representing Australian forest land managers and scientists, the Institute of Foresters Australia and Australian Forest Growers (IFA/AFG) has reaffirmed its support of bushfire recovery harvesting subject to strict controls. Earlier this year, the Institute of Foresters Australia released a position paper on bushfire recovery harvesting which stated a blanket no to recovery harvesting operations was too simplistic and a one size fits all approach should not be adopted.

IFA/AFG President, Bob Gordon said a systematic plan that takes into consideration a range of matters such as protecting the diversity of the forest environment, local community needs and economic values needs to be applied when considering bushfire recovery harvesting. “A planned approach would ensure that not only is the environment best protected and biodiversity is preserved, but also the local communities dependent on these forests for jobs during the bush fire recovery period can continue,” Mr Gordon said.

The comments come in the wake of criticisms expressed by the environment movement over VicForests resuming harvesting in fire-damaged forest burnt during the catastrophic summer fires. Mr Gordon said the criticisms were based on “selective science” that was more part of a broader campaign to end native forest harvesting than anything else and that salvage harvesting could occur provided an appropriate plan was implemented.

“Firstly, recovery bushfire harvesting should only occur in forests earmarked for future forestry production,” Mr Gordon said. “Secondly, a plan should be developed quickly in each individual site to ensure biodiversity, soil, water and culture heritage are protected. For native forests in particular, planners and managers need to give attention to retaining diversity across the forest through the retention of large hollow-bearing habitat such as trees to support recovering populations of animals, birds as well as other flora and fauna”.

“In addition, practices in native forests should include minimal physical site disturbance to reduce disruption to regeneration of a range of flora species. Agencies with interest in land management should be given an opportunity for input as well as local government and regional communities, all of which should be subject to independent audit by environmental regulators”.

Mr Gordon pointed to a paper by respected expert forest scientists Prof. Kevin Tolhurst of Melbourne University and Prof. Jerry Vanclay of Southern Cross University published in March which said some ecologists and conservationists opposed to timber harvesting were using bushfire disasters to stop native forest harvesting.

“The paper goes on to state the case for stopping post bushfire harvesting was based on ‘opinion, beliefs and selective science’,” Mr Gordon said.

Source: The Institute of Foresters Australia and Australian Forest Growers

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Entel AI and DataRobot use AI to fight forest fires

It takes a huge collaborative effort to fight forest fires – and it’s something that is becoming a stark reality for countries like Australia, North America, and Chile. Chile faced an incredibly tough wildfire season recently, after tens of thousands of hectares burned down. But through adversity comes opportunity, especially when it comes to preventing future tragedies from happening.

“Chile is a country that loves its environment. Chilean people live among the trees. The internet of things (IoT) is a powerful medium that can turn just about any object into a data-generating tool. When you attract an internet sensor to a tree, suddenly you have the ability to ‘sniff’ and detect air particles that could potentially help to predict the onset of a forest fire. That’s exactly what EntelOcean did, with the help of DataRobot’s Enterprise AI platform.

“We created an ecosystem of big ideas. We have a nose that can sniff particles. Once you have the particles, you really have to understand what type of particles they are - it could be rain, a barbecue, many things that are actually not a forest fire," says Entel Ocean director Cristobal Urenda Moris.

“We really needed to know when the forest fire was real - that’s when DataRobot came in.” EntelOcean used 'sniffing’ IoT sensors to crunch the data and create an accurate system that could prevent forest files. To do that it had to overcome some major hurdles like eliminating false positives (even something as menial as a raindrop could cause a false positive). Another hurdle involved continuously improving the analytics to create more accurate prediction.

And it worked – according to DataRobot, Entel Ocean is now able to predict forest fires 12 minutes quicker than its previous methods. “Data is huge and it all depends on how you manage every part of it to make it more predictable— seeing things that human beings are not capable of. DataRobot has been a powerful tool to do that," says Ilsun Olmos Ferrufino.

“It was a great moment - we had something here that we could actually use to fight wildfires," adds Cristobal Urenda Moris. Twelve minutes saved is a big deal, considering fire can spread in a matter of seconds. Every minute helps.

“We are focused on using data and AI to get better solutions," says Entel Ocean enterprise digital solutions spokesperson, Lenor Ferrebuz Bastidas. “We have been detecting a forest fire 12 minutes before traditional methods - this is a big deal when it comes to preventing fires.”


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New technology to predict wood quality

The latest episode of FWPA’s WoodChat podcast, focuses on the development of new technology, allowing growers to easily and affordably assess wood quality across their resources. The researchers have been using technologies known as IML-RESI and eCambium, to develop processes and tools that will support decision making around location and management, improving the quality of forest stands.

You will hear from Dr Geoff Downes of Forest Quality, which led the FWPA-supported research, who says the ability to predict, maintain and improve timber quality in plantations will help decrease risk and improve the productivity, competitiveness and profitability of Australia’s growers and processors.

“Being able to measure wood quality in standing trees at a particular site, cost-effectively and with minimal effort, means growers get a better understanding of the properties of processed timber, which determines price. Industry feedback so far has been incredibly positive. This project has 12 industry partners, including growers and processors, many of whom are now assessing their own resources using this technology”.

“Communication between growers and processors helps them understand how the standing tree properties will relate to the products that ultimately come out of the sawmill.” During this episode, our hosts also speak to industry partner Dr Dominic Kain, Geneticist at HQ Plantations, who shared details of his own involvement with the project.

This episode is the latest in the series of WoodChat podcasts, following topics including building safely with timber in bushfire-prone areas, and how FWPA has joined forces with Australia’s other agriculture and horticulture industries to develop new pest diagnostic technology.

WoodChat represents FWPA’s ongoing commitment to engaging ways of communicating news and innovations to the industry and beyond. Each episode includes in-depth conversations with experts on recent discoveries and current initiatives. You can listen to WoodChat on SoundCloud and iTunes

Source: FWPA

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Truck giants join forces on hydrogen tech

Large scale production and commercialisation of hydrogen fuel cells has been given a boost by a joint venture between two of the world's biggest commercial vehicle manufacturers. Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group have announced they have signed a preliminary non-binding agreement to establish the new joint venture.

The intention is to develop, produce and commercialize fuel cell systems for heavy-duty vehicle applications and other use cases according to a media release that confirmed Daimler will consolidate all its current fuel cell activities in the joint venture. Volvo Group will acquire 50 per cent in the joint venture for the sum estimated to be worth $1.35 billion on a cash and debt free basis.

As energy is emitted from batteries or by converting hydrogen on board into electricity, CO2-neutral transport can be accomplished through electric drive trains said Chairman of the Board of Management Daimler Truck AG Martin Daum. "For trucks to cope with heavy loads and long distances, fuel cells are one important answer and a technology where Daimler has built up significant expertise through its Mercedes-Benz fuel cell unit over the last two decades," he said. "This joint initiative with the Volvo Group is a milestone in bringing fuel cell powered trucks and buses onto our roads,” said Daum.

Using hydrogen as a carrier of green electricity to power electric trucks in long-haul operations is one important part of the puzzle according to Volvo Group President and CEO Martin Lundstedt. "Combining the Volvo Group and Daimler’s experience in this area to accelerate the rate of development is good both for our customers and for society as a whole," he said.

"By forming this joint venture, we are clearly showing that we believe in hydrogen fuel cells for commercial vehicles. But for this vision to become reality, other companies and institutions also need to support and contribute to this development, not least in order to establish the fuel infrastructure needed,” said Lundstedt. The joint venture will operate as an independent and autonomous entity, with Daimler Truck AG and the Volvo Group continuing to be competitors in all other areas of business.

Source: primemovermag

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ...

And something we can now all really relate to.

And finally, a clip to bring a smile to your face.

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. 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
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This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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