Friday Offcuts – 22 May 2020

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Under the cover of New Zealand's Budget 2020 last week, The Forests Regulation Of Log Traders And Forestry Advisers Amendment Bill was introduced. It's first reading was on Thursday 14 May. Submissions were called for a day later, on Friday 15 May and the closing date for any submissions was yesterday, Thursday 21 May. That's just four working days from start to finish! Further details can be found here along with the Regulatory Impact Statement. We often complain about the slow speed of legislation but less than one week for submissions to be made, under pretty extenuating circumstances and on a such a contentious Bill! Rushed? You bet.

So, what’s it intended to do? The message from the politicians and officials is that it’s designed to get NZ forestry advisers, log traders and exporters to register and work to nationally agreed practice standards. The underlying reasoning though, according to many in the industry, is to regulate to ensure more logs are being supplied for on-shore processing. As anticipated, responses by the industry and industry associations have been quick. They've also been varied as well as vocal. Reactions from both sides of the debate are contained in the lead story below. Details on progress on the Bill can also be seen on this website link.

Forest owners have had difficulty in grasping exactly how giving a certificate to someone who buys and sells logs is going to lead to more logs being processed in New Zealand. They argue that it’s going to provide a major disincentive to future planting and investment and that if forcing more domestic processing onto the forestry industry is the intent of the legislation, then when compared to other industries within the primary sector, it is unfairly being singled out. On the other hand, the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association welcomed the announcement. Any legislation to regulate the behaviour of traders operating in the New Zealand log market will they say go a long way to ensuring local wood processors are treated more fairly. Regardless of where you stand, you’d have to agree that the legislative process has been unduly rushed, that there’s been little consultation with the industry and as it stands, the consensus is that the legislation is ill-conceived.

Again, this week, calls have been made in Australia for an urgent and comprehensive housing stimulus package to be developed. The latest report from the Housing Industry Association released this week reinforces other recent forecasts. They’re predicting that “new home building will fall by almost 50 per cent, putting half a million jobs at risk over the next year”. This of course will result in reduced timber demand, with some (regionally based mills) already reducing production and cutting staff.

The kiwis aren’t immune either. New Zealand’s largest construction company, Fletcher Building, announced this week that it’s planning to cut 1000 New Zealand jobs and another 500 jobs in Australia (with potentially more to come) as a consequence of Covid-19 restrictions. They also are expecting residential consents in New Zealand to fall 30 per cent by June of next year. Another casualty, although not entirely linked to COVID-19, is another 160 jobs that might be lost from Carter Holt Harvey’s proposed restructure of its Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) operation. This comes after the company decided to close its Whangārei mill in February this year.

Finally, lets finish this week with a light hearted story. Check out the last story in this week's issue which really demonstrates some ingenious construction and use of someone's time over the lockdown. On that note, enjoy this week’s read.

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Response to log traders and forestry advisors bill

As expected, response late last week to the news that legislation plans to be introduced requiring forestry advisers, log traders and exporters in New Zealand to register and work to nationally agreed practice standards was quick – and varied. The bill was introduced into Parliament on budget night and is expected to go to the Environment Select Committee early next month.

The Forest Owners Association said that they anticipate an unacceptable and pointless bureaucratic cost to all parts of the forest industry, if the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill becomes law. The Forest Owners Association President, Phil Taylor, says the first details forest growers saw of the scheme was when it was introduced on Thursday night.

“The government speakers in its first reading debate seem to think that giving a certificate to someone who buys and sells logs, is going to lead to more logs being processed in New Zealand and not exported. Either the new law is going to be a pointless system of adding costs and inefficiencies into the timber supply pipeline, or there is some other hidden intent further down the track in regulations under the new law, which is meant to tie trees in red tape and direct timber growing, harvesting and processing.”

“Either way, it’s a disincentive for anyone to invest if it goes through. Just when we have planting picking up again, mostly driven by small scale New Zealand investors and farmers, the government is trying to restrict it. If ethical behaviour is the problem, then there’s plenty of contract and criminal law to deal to that. If bad advice about planting and selling is the problem, then let the government agency, Te Uru Rākau, step up and provide good advice to forest owners – not persecution.”

Phil Taylor says he wonders if the government is also going to target other primary industries to force more domestic processing. “Sometimes the raw material is the best thing – look at apples and kiwifruit. Is the government going to force the wool industry to process more than the current five percent of the national clip in New Zealand carpet mills? We currently process 42 percent of our wood harvest right here in New Zealand – more than eight times the ratio of the wool industry.”

Phil Taylor says he also can’t understand why the legislation is going to be heard by the Environment Select Committee and not the Primary Production Select Committee. “The government says the bill is going to be about ethical behaviour and timber processing. So why go to the Environment Select Committee? Forestry operations are governed by the National Environmental Standard for Planation Forestry. It’s the most comprehensive list of environmental regulations under the Resource Management Act. It took eight years to complete. Now something is coming through which the government wants to sort in 15 days.”

Phil Taylor says not only does he want the Primary Production Select Committee to hear submissions, but he wants the committee to carry out an inquiry into the timber supply chain. “The government obviously has fantasies of employing more processors with no market to sell to. It’s been fundamentally misinformed. Let’s have a proper investigation into how the system works, with plenty of good data, and how it can be properly reformed, to provide more than employment just to people who are issuing registration certificates.”

On the other side, the Chair of the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association of New Zealand, Brian Stanley, has welcomed the announcement that introduce legislation to regulate the behaviour of traders operating in the New Zealand log market. New Zealand wood processors cannot access local logs because of massive price distortions in the domestic log market that are being caused by overseas subsidies.

“This legislation will help to ensure that log traders treat New Zealand wood processors and manufacturers fairly – enabling our local processors to add value to NZ logs and provide local employment. WPMA congratulates the Minster on leading the charge,” says Mr Stanley.

The Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill has started its passage through parliamentary processes and looks to have a test that persons trading in logs or providing advice are “fit and proper. As an industry that prides itself on, and is certified for its ethical practices, we would expect the government to set a high bar for registration here”, says Mr Stanley.

“Mr Jones is taking a step in the right direction today and we congratulate him on this. The WPMA looks to supporting the Minister’s initiative as the Bill goes through Parliament”, concludes Mr Stanley.

Source: Forest Owners Association, Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association of New Zealand

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Tasmanian authorities investigating spikes in logs

Tree spiking involves nails, bolts or other metal spikes or objects being hammered or drilled into trees to disrupt logging and milling. Two sawmills in Tasmania's south have reported finding bolts in logs delivered to them by Sustainable Timber Tasmania from the Wentworth Hills area this week, and Tasmania Police and Workplace Standards are now both investigating.

Wayne Booth from Karanja Timbers in the Derwent Valley said he received the logs on Tuesday and discovered the bolts. "I put one of the logs through the mill, and on the first cut, I hit a spike," Mr Booth said. "When we investigated further, it was a deliberately-placed spike. The hole had been drilled in the log, the spike had been put in the log, and then it had been siliconed over."

Production stopped at the sawmill, and staff found a further five bolts in logs using metal detectors. The other sawmill that received spiked logs was Mckay Timbers at Bridgewater. Wayne Booth from Karanja Timbers in the Derwent Valley said he received the logs on Tuesday and discovered the bolts. (ABC News: Alexandra Humphries).

Mr Booth said the incident could have been deadly. "That person standing in front of that saw yesterday was my son — he might not have come home and that makes you sick to the core," Mr Booth said. "The saw can't cut steel, so the saw either shatters, teeth fly off the saw, or the bolt spike itself will get thrown out. That travels at about 5000 feet a minute, and if someone's standing in front of that it becomes a bullet."

More >>

Photo: A 'wood spike' found in a timber log by Karanja Timbers (Facebook: Karanja Timbers)

Source: ABC

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CHH restructuring of LVL operation

About 160 jobs are at risk after Carter Holt Harvey proposed a restructure of its Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) business in Marsden Point in New Zealand. This comes after the company decided to close its Whangārei mill in February, culling more than 110 jobs after consultation in January.

Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) chief executive Prafull Kesha said the proposed restructure intended to end LVL's export business and refocus it to a domestic operation. "The proposal reflects our serious concern that the export part of the LVL business, which accounts for approximately 70 per cent of our production and sales volume, is unprofitable and the business as it operates today can’t continue," Kesha said.

He said while total closure was being considered and remained an option, cutting out LVL's export business could be more viable for its long-term survival. LVL had 325 workers, and it is understood about half were expected to be impacted by redundancies.

A company spokesman said the restructure was not a direct result of Covid-19, however the pandemic had impacted the business. Kesha said Carter Holt Harvey had started its consultation process with staff and was working closely with the union and affected staff.

Source: Stuff

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Housing stats reinforce urgent need for stimulus

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has renewed its call for an urgent housing stimulus package following the Housing Industry Association’s (HIA) forecast of an imminent, calamitous decline in new housing construction in Australia.

The HIA report, New House Sales Report for May, says, “New home sales have fallen by 22.8 per cent since the introduction on COVID-19 restrictions. In March, new home sales fell to their lowest level on record and they fell further in April. This would see home building in the December 2020 quarter at a level lower than during the 1990s recession, when the population was 32 per cent smaller than today.”

HIA’s concerning findings come as Australia’s softwood timber processing industry forecasts a major drop in timber demand, with some mills already reducing production and cutting staff. AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said while the Morrison-McCormack Government should be commended for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has enabled Australia to move carefully towards reopening the economy earlier than anticipated, there is an urgent need to save the housing construction sector from the looming cliff.

“The housing construction sector is the engine room for growth and jobs in Australia’s economy with more than one million Australians working across multiple industries,” Mr Hampton said. “Timber processing companies are already feeling the impact of the slowdown in construction. We estimate sawn timber demand will drop by at least 50 per cent over the next six months and these dire forecasts are being backed up by HIA’s figures which are growing worse each month.”

“This is why AFPA, and a range of other industry bodies, are asking the Government to urgently consider a stimulus package for new homes and upgrades and renovations,” Mr Hampton concluded.

Source: AFPA

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New forest products industry maps proving popular

Orders for the new 2020 Australia & NZ Forest Products Industry Map have been flowing in. Thanks for your support. As covered in previous issues, every two years Australasia’s wood processing and manufacturing industry is detailed in an eagerly awaited Forest Products Industry Map that’s produced for this region. The new 2020 map has just recently been printed.

This is the fourth edition of a full colour 980mm wide x 680mm tall map produced by the Forest Industry Engineering Association combining major wood processing and manufacturing plants in both Australia and New Zealand.

It features 171 wood processing operations including over 65 sawmills cutting in excess of 25,000m3 sawn lumber per annum (with sawn timber production levels), all fibreboard, particleboard, plywood, pulp & paper, veneer/LVL/CLT, paperboard and chip export operations along with major wood manufacturing operations.

Since the last edition produced in early 2018 there have been over 50 major updates to mill locations, ownership and production. Changes in the last two years have indeed been significant. The new map is now the most up-to-date industry reference providing an essential mapping resource for New Zealand and Australian forest products companies.

If you haven’t yet received a copy of the new map, orders can now be made from the FIEA website ( or by clicking here.

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NSW embarks on largest ever replanting program

Fire-affected forests will soon be rejuvenated with new life as the NSW Government embarks on the largest replanting program in the state’s history, beginning with an injection of AU$46 million into Forestry Corporation. Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Forestry John Barilaro visited Blowering Nursery in Tumut this week to kick off the seedling season and said more than 10 million new shoots would be planted over the next 12 months across NSW.

“The forestry industry was devastated by an unprecedented bushfire season, with more than 50,000 hectares, or around 25 per cent of the state’s pine plantations burnt,” Mr Barilaro said. “Tumut was one of the worst hit areas, losing around 35 per cent of its state-owned plantation so I’m thrilled to see the first round of replanting efforts are getting underway.

“Thanks to the AU$46 million stimulus funding we are able to give the replanting efforts a real kick-start, with more than 14.5 million trees to be replanted yearly across the State from 2021, a massive 40 per cent increase on 2019 plantings. “This investment will see us get back to pre-bushfire levels of stocked trees in state-owned pine plantations within a decade.”

The stimulus funding will also support new contracts and job opportunities and rebuild lost infrastructure. “NSW’s forestry industry supports around 23,000 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs and they’ve had a really tough start to the year, so we are showing our support by ramping-up our efforts to get the industry back on track,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Nurseries at Grafton and Blowering near Tumut will be expanded thanks to the funding boost, and we will be able to start rebuilding or replacing some of the high-priority vital infrastructure, including public roads, damaged in our state forests during the fires.”

Forestry Corporation of NSW provides about 25 per cent of the timber needed for housing construction across the country, as well as a significant proportion of the fibre used for food packaging, including cardboard. Additional support for the NSW forestry industry has also be made available through the AU$140 million bushfire recovery package announced last month by the NSW Government.


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Tasmania: Forest Safety Code Review invites input

In early April PF Olsen Australia was appointed by Private Forests Tasmania’s Safety Code Review Steering Committee to undertake the Tasmanian Forest Safety Code Review. They are now seeking stakeholder input into this project.

As a key organisation within the Tasmanian forest industry we ask you to circulate amongst your members and other relevant contacts information about the Code review and invite them to use this link to register their interest. To make the consultation as easy as possible we will ask interested for their specific input into relevant sections of the document in accordance with this detail schedule.

For further details and update about the project please keep an eye on the Private Forests Tasmania website or register for their weekly e-bulletin.

If you have any other questions please contact the Communications Manager for this project Stefan Butson on

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West Australian forestry industry lashes Government

The WA forestry industry has slammed the State Government's decision to halt a native timber logging operation and initiate a review of the project with just a few hours' notice as "shambolic political interference".

Key points:

• The WA Government has paused a logging operation in the state's south west
• The state's timber industry says the Government has 'caved' to political pressure
• The sector employs about 500 locals and directly contributes AU$220 million to the WA economy annually.

The ongoing standoff between conservationists and the timber industry reached boiling point last week when protestors interrupted operations in the Dalgarup forest near Bridgetown, 250 kilometres south of Perth. Protestors argue the site is 'old growth' and unsuitable for logging but industry says the classification was set out in WA's Forest Management Plan which was determined by the department.

The ABC understands operations were halted at ministerial request, hours after protestors were moved on by police. More >>

Source: ABC

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First woodchip shipment for Eden after the bushfires

Allied Natural Wood Exports (ANWE) has started loading the first woodchip vessel to dock since the bushfires forced the Eden facility to shut down in early January. The MV Cattleya arrived in Eden on 12 May and loading commenced on 13 May, making it the first of many vessels to return to Twofold Bay as the mill’s operation is temporarily restored to near full capacity.

Much of the infrastructure at the Edrom Road woodchip mill was extensively damaged by the January 2020 wildfires which devastated the Far South Coast. ANWE Chairman, Malcolm McComb said the business’ determination to overcome adversity and its commitment to the industry and local community drove the fast return to operation.

“This is a great achievement and comes just four months after the bushfire damaged the site,” he said. “Significant works were carried out to make safe, clean up and successfully rebuild the infrastructure to allow us to bring our people back to work. The commitment and efforts of our staff and contractors, the support of the Federal and NSW Governments as well as our local government and community, have been the keys to our success.”

This is not the first time ANWE has recovered from adversity, having reconstructed the loading facility in 2016 after it suffered significant storm damage. “ANWE is a resilient business and the support we have received when we have faced adversity is a humbling reminder of our significance to the local community,” Mr McComb said. “We thank everyone who supported us through this challenging time, especially the many who were involved in the clean-up and infrastructure rebuild which have allowed us to restart our operations.”

Source: ANWE

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Forester responds to commercial forestry criticism

Quadrant has published an article by experienced forester and Fellow of the Institute of Foresters Australia (IFA) Mark Poynter critiquing recent a comment piece published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, which linked forestry and recent bushfire severity.

Read the full article, 'Pulling the Wood Over our Eyes' here.

Source: VAFI News, Quadrant

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Robotic fabrication using plywood building blocks

A team of post-graduate students from London's Bartlett School of Architecture’s Design Computation Lab has created a modular home office to promote its automated architecture (AUAR) project, which involves the use of robotic fabrication. Dubbed ALIS (automated living system), the project features the construction of prefabricated plywood building blocks that join together to create indoor spaces, such as a children's play room, home office or a co-working space.

The project was originally inspired to address a range of architectural issues, including access to affordable housing, limitations of material resources and the growing demand for home-offices and flexible working spaces. “ALIS is not to be interpreted as a final solution to the housing crisis, but as a tool to question assumed 'truths' about how we live – the home, ownership and social habits,” says the team of students.

ALIS is powered by an online app that allows users to customize or create different spaces depending on their needs, such as an art studio, bedroom, office or even a pop-up cafe. The concept is based on a single, repeating building block, which is prefabricated using CNC technology and assembly by two industrial robots.

The robots configure the blocks into the individual elements required to construct the walls and furnishings of the pre-designed space. The ALIS building blocks incorporate every element of the interior space, including meeting tables, load-bearing walls, flooring, storage, shelving and corner sofa bench.

The individual blocks are lightweight and can be easily installed without the need for special tools or building experience. Furthermore, the blocks themselves can be used as supports during the assembly process. The modular blocks can later be reconfigured and re-assembled for alternative uses over time.

In the future AUAR hopes to contribute to new construction models for automated housing. The team's goal includes the involvement of local construction, community interaction and adaptation. AUAR also has plans to build an installation using the ALIS blocks on a site in Hackney Wick, London. The installation will double as a co-working office-space and community accelerator.

Source: AUAR via The Building Centre

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Remote sensors to protect endangered bird

The Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, distinguished by its size and its wedge-shaped tail, is a much-loved species. Preying on reptiles, birds and mammals, across a wide range of habitats, from the coast to highland areas, this majestic bird defends large territories, nesting in sheltered aspects of patches of mature forest throughout Tasmania.

And with a total adult population estimated to be much less than 1,000 in total, and with existential threats to existence including loss of nesting habitat, nest disturbance and collisions, the eagle is listed as an endangered species. For Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles, who defend large territories all over Tasmania, preservation of nesting areas and minimising disturbances during the breeding season is key to their ongoing survival.

But for a bird that has irregular and vast nesting habit, maintaining safe and sustainable nesting environments can be highly problematic. Enter Sustainable Timber Tasmania, the Tasmanian government forest custodians responsible for managing more than 800,000 hectares of crown land for ‘permanent timber production.’

For Sustainable Timber Tasmania, the preservation of Tasmania’s wedged-tailed eagle nesting habitat is an important part of its activities in the forest. Utilising state-of-the-art technology, Sustainable Timber Tasmania is trialing the use of remote sensing technology to improve Wedge-tailed eagle management options for the forestry and electricity network industries, detecting and reporting on Wedge-tailed eagle activity in real time.

Known as ‘Project – Eagle Eye’, Dr Dean Williams a Sustainable Timber Tasmania research affiliate for the University of Tasmania’s ARC Centre for Forest Value, spoke of importance of using the wireless industrial internet of things (IIoT) to monitor bird activity and establish an information ecosystem across the Tasmanian landscape.

‘We are now using the latest sensor technology along with Long Range Wide Area Networks (LoRaWAN) to monitor eagle nest activity during wedge-tailed eagle breeding season,’ Dr Williams said. The wedge-tailed eagle’s breeding season runs from April until September and can be highly disruptive to Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s harvesting operations.

‘As it stands, Sustainable Timber Tasmania monitors nest activity during breeding season with a highly experienced observer flying low over the forest in a helicopter, close enough to the nests, to see if the nests are active. The observer then prepares and submits a written report to the land manager to make operation decisions.’

‘Through Eagle Eye we hope to sow the seed for a digital forest, providing land managers with the capacity to monitor nest activity in real time, working in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders to preserve this treasured species for many generations to come,’ Dr Williams said.

Indeed, with the support of major forest managers, the Tasmanian forest industry regulator (FPA), the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment and Tasmania’s major electricity network manager, Sustainable Timber Tasmania, with the support of a number industry partners, has installed sensors on seven nest trees and video cameras in six of these trees.

‘This project really is an example of collaboration in action, so far we have captured eagle activity in five of these nests,’ Dr Williams said. But there is still much work to be done, as it stands there are more than 1900 wedge-tailed eagle nests listed on Tasmania’s biodiversity database, and of those there are 800 nest sites that can affect forest and power transmission management activities from time to time.

However, the number of nest sites near active operations during the breeding season is much lower. Dr Williams explains. ‘There are nearly ten times more nests then there are breeding pairs. However only around 80 to 120 of these nests are used for each breeding season. The use of sensors and wireless networks to detect nest activity is an important step that can reduce aerial checking and improve wedge-tailed eagle nest management.


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Standardising advice for NZ timber construction

The Wood Processors and Manufacturers’ Association (WPMA) has long recognised the need for standardised, good quality information in New Zealand to help the wider construction sector confidently design with and approve timber structures using the many new engineered timber solutions available today.

Engineered wood turns softer timbers into beams, columns, trusses, portal frames and more that can deliver superior strength, resilience and fire resistance to other materials in the market. The 2011 Canterbury earthquake series and the 2016 Kaikoura events showed that such modern timber construction techniques will allow the built environment to withstand major events including earthquakes and fires comparatively unscathed.

Such events have also helped raise awareness within the design community of just how creative it’s possible to be with such a “traditional” construction material; something supported by the regular NZ Wood-Resene Timber Design Awards.

“New Zealand is a leader in timber construction,” explains Andy Van Houtte, CPeng, Manager for the series of 16 Timber Design Guides. The first of the series was published in 2018, and the final ones will be released later this year.

“New Zealand has a lot of intellectual property around designing in timber,” he explains, “and the WPMA is keen to provide a one stop shop for developers, architects, engineers and the wider construction industry, with freely available peer reviewed information. That way, we believe we can provide a clear framework for everyone to understand the relative advantages of different aspects of timber construction, and how to maximise a project’s structural integrity and cost effectiveness while still complying with NZ Standards and the NZ Building Code. To be most useful, we need this to be a trans-industry project that provides a clear path to consenting and construction.”

Industry surveys and market research had confirmed which aspects of timber design that professionals were most interested in learning more about. Each Timber Design Guide was then written by a recognised expert in the field and peer reviewed through a highly qualified working group.

The nine topics covered to date include designing for fire safety, designing for prefabrication, the consenting process for timber buildings, how to cost them, standard connection details, how to work safely with prefabricated frames and trusses, explaining the varied properties of timber species, why timber benefits the environment, and timber’s social and health benefits in construction. Under way are explanations of flooring and cassette systems, acoustics, reinforcing timber beams, post and beam timber buildings, construction guidance, and seismic performance of timber buildings.

As they have been completed, the Guides are uploaded to a dedicated website which allows public access through a log-in function. Ultimately, Van Houtte is hoping for 20,000 registrations; about 90 percent of all New Zealand specifiers. The Guides can be supplied in a printed format but he’s finding that most are using the web function as required, and downloading information themselves.

In 2007 the third edition of a single, comprehensive technical manual was announced entitled The Timber Design Guide, published by the New Zealand Timber Industry Federation Inc. and authored by Andy Buchanan, previously Professor of Timber Engineering at the University of Canterbury. That and its updates (last published in 2015) covered the use of timber and wood products in large buildings through 29 chapters.

Andy Buchanan has authored two of the current NZ Wood Design Guides, and continues to be an inspiration to the development of timber buildings, says Van Houtte.

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Buy and Sell

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

So, this is how you pass the salt while maintaining proper social distance. Now these guys really have had far too much time on their hands over the last few weeks.

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. For the outdoors types amongst us, this weekend marks the slightly delayed and eagerly anticiptaed opening weekend for Kiwi duck shooters. So, good luck and lets be careful out there. 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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