Friday Offcuts 5 June 2020
This week we’ve featured extended highlights from the just-released FEA report, Central European Beetle & Windstorm Timber Disaster: Outlook to 2030. Local industry, aside from the recent slowdown through COVID-19, has already felt the significant impacts of surplus wood from European beetle damaged forests in key markets. It’s big and the implications to us even on this side of the world, significant. Over two years, an estimated 270 million m3 of standing timber in Central Europe has been damaged. At the moment, damaged timber makes up about 60% of the current total harvest in the three countries that have been hit the hardest, Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria. This though is expected to climb. Projections are that up to 85–90% of all European spruce forests are going to be killed by the bark beetle. The news is that the impact on sawmilling, lumber production and log and lumber exports will be felt for some time yet. Check out the extended report in this week’s issue.
As we move out of lockdown, forestry companies across Australasia have also been working overtime to meet their 2020 planting targets. The brakes have been well and truly put on by COVID-19 with social distancing required for forestry crews, the inability now to bring in overseas seasonal planting crews and delays in weed spraying operations. This year the industry was going to be under the pump anyway with increased plantings from New Zealand’s 1 Billion Tree Programme and more planting in Australia as a consequence of last summer’s bush fires. The extent of new planting being planned was seen when the NSW Government announced that they were expecting to embark on the largest ever replanting program in the State’s history. To help out the Kiwis, a support subsidy package has just been announced and a new TV commercial went to air last weekend to try and attract new workers into silvicultural or planting operations over the next few months. See details below.
And finally, in New Zealand this week The Emissions Trading Reform Bill had its second reading on Tuesday. After more than five years of work by officials, a number of major announcements for the ETS were made. They’ll be enacted through regulation once the Bill has passed. They include the setting of a provisional emissions budget, the NZ ETS cap, and price control settings with a number of new rules designed to provide businesses and the forestry industry more certainty. Links to several documents have been provided that outline in more detail the changes being made impacting on forestry. That’s all for this week. Enjoy this week's read.
This week we have for you:
NZ ETS settings and auctioning rules announcedFollowing recent public consultation, New Zealand’s Minister for Climate Change, has announced New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) settings and auctioning rules. The announcements include setting a provisional emissions budget, the NZ ETS cap, and price control settings. The Hon James Shaw has also announced that the fixed price option will be extended to cover 2020 activities and increase to NZ$35.
You can read the press release on the Beehive website.
You can read more about the content of the changes on the MFE website
Source: Ministry for the Environment
The Ultimate Renewable™ brand a winnerForest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) has announced its brand The Ultimate Renewable™ has been named twice on the winners’ list for the 2020 International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Gold Quill Awards. For more than 40 years, the IABC’s Gold Quill Awards has recognised excellence in strategic communication worldwide, and is acknowledged as one of the most prestigious awards programs in the communications and marketing industries.
The organisers recognised FWPA’s entry ‘The Ultimate Renewable™ – Reframing Forestry in the Eyes of the Public’ in the Marketing, Advertising, and Brand Communication Category, with quills awarded by both IABC Victoria and IABC Asia-Pacific.
Ric Sinclair, FWPA Managing Director, said the industry around the world has long struggled with the conundrum of broad community acceptance of wood products alongside a persistent underlying concern about sustainable forest management. “Our research shows the community largely understands that wood stores carbon, and that using wood can help to reduce carbon emissions. However, we need to improve people’s understanding that harvested trees are actually replaced and grow into a resource for use by future generations,” Mr Sinclair said.
“By providing education and challenging misconceptions, the goal is to encourage the wider community to embrace forest and wood products across the supply chain, increasing acceptance of and demand for timber in Australia.” Following rigorous industry and consumer consultation, The Ultimate Renewable™ brand was developed to reinforce the association between wood and the word ‘renewable’, while simultaneously promoting benefits of timber as a material. Benefits including timber’s ability to store carbon for the lifetime of the timber, beyond harvest and processing, flexibility and ease of use, affordability, and the improved wellbeing researchers suggest results from incorporating natural materials like wood into the built environment.
The Ultimate Renewable™ promotional campaign comprised several communication tactics designed to engage industry and consumers, including face-to-face events, and advertising across social media, TV, outdoor displays, EDMs, and trade and consumer magazines. As well as providing an all-encompassing consumer campaign the brand also offers a universal, positive communications message for members of the forestry sector to share and incorporate into their own marketing collateral, further spreading the campaign details and amplifying the messages.
“FWPA operates in an incredibly diverse sector. But no matter where our stakeholders sit across the supply chain, the reality is we all share a common resource, which is renewable,” said Mr Sinclair. The consumer campaign led to 24% of Australians claiming they recalled seeing the campaign, with 67% of those asserting it had made them more supportive of forestry. Meanwhile, 155 companies have downloaded the logo, banner ads and videos so far, which have appeared on letterheads, invoices, websites, truck signage, packaging and more.
Eileen Newbury, National Marketing and Community Manager at FWPA, said the reception from the general public, and also the high level of industry uptake was exceptional. “I would like to thank our members and the forest and wood products industry for throwing their support behind this brand,” Ms Newbury said. “We’ve seen the brand assets appear everywhere from business cards to branded cakes! It just goes to show what our industry can achieve by working together in this way.”
Mr Sinclair commented the industry was highly supportive of a collaborative marketing initiative which was the key to its tremendous success. “By working together, we are much stronger than the sum of our individual parts,” Mr Sinclair continued. “The Gold Quill Awards are globally renowned and it is wonderful to see our work recognised in this way. It’s heartening to be acknowledged, particularly as part of such a strong field of entries.
“While the campaign itself continues to generate positive outcomes for the forestry industry, receiving this recognition serves to validate the effectiveness of our approach with The Ultimate Renewable™,” Mr Sinclair concluded.
$200m R&D announcement madeThe New Zealand Government’s announcement of additional funding of more than NZ$200 million for the seven Crown Research Institutes reinforces the view that science and innovation is critical to New Zealand’s recovery and rebuilding.
John Morgan, the NIWA CEO and Chair of the CRIs’ peak body, Science New Zealand, said: “This is a timely and most welcome investment into the CRIs. It recognises our key role in helping New Zealand recover and rebuild. “The immediate support from the CRI Covid-19 Response and Recovery funding of $45 million this year and $72 million next year will help address the financial pressures caused by the Covid-19 situation.
“The Government is also increasing the funding for Strategic Science Investment Funding (SSIF) programmes by NZ$19.5 million a year and the Nationally Significant Databases and Collections (NSDBC) that CRIs steward by NZ$3 million a year.
“The sudden downturn and uncertain future came on top of long-term cost pressures. It put at risk critical research programmes and progressing the facilities our staff need. Now we can plan with more certainty. It will help support our science capability to address the immediate and the longer-term needs of New Zealand, as the nation recovers and rebuilds.
“This investment is also important for our partners in the public, private, NGO and Maori sectors. The CRIs are in every region in New Zealand. We touch every New Zealander every day in some way, through our work across the economy, environment and social arenas. Our work helps create new jobs, increase productivity and sustainability and develop new products, processes and opportunities.”
The Government has also allocated funding for two major capital projects to offset delay or stopping of the work: NZ$45 million to allow the AgResearch Lincoln Facility Development to progress despite the financial impact of COVID-19; and NZ$25 million to ESR for its Kenepuru (Porirua) Property Redevelopment.
Note: Science New Zealand members are the seven Crown Research Institutes: AgResearch, ESR, GNS Science, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, NIWA, Plant & Food Research, Scion. The Crown agency, Callaghan Innovation, is an associate member.
For further information relating to the announcement click here
Forest Safety Webinars to pack powerful messagesFor years the challenges in forest safety involved dangers from falling trees. Our rapid change to mechanised logging has changed the nature of forest safety risks. The physical workload still brings risks as our workday progresses or forest and weather conditions change, but the risks now include decision-making ability and response times potentially being impacted by fatigue. This year’s webinar series later this month brings a strong focus on understanding what’s really happening for our workers in this regard.
As conditions for industry events this year have changed, we have changed to a webinar format for the 5th running of the Forest Safety & Technology 2020 conference series. A number of key safety awareness changes have made this year’s event a must-see for all forest managers and contractors. Some of the key themes include;
1. Practical tools for easier conversations with workers and safety managers;
2. Greater awareness of using cultural factors to get messages across;
3. Understanding of worker fatigue issues and ways to mitigate the effects;
4. Technology for all kinds of innovative applications. A shirt that tells you you’re getting tired? Yes!
Full details on the programme can be viewed and registrations made on the event website www.forestsafety.events
Here is our first insight from Lance Burdett on what’s really going on in your head at work.
Silviculture subsidy to support Kiwi localsSilviculture in New Zealand got a boost with a support subsidy package announced last week from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) which will assist this sector to secure a workforce to meet the 2020 planting season labour requirements.
Border closures as part of the NZ COVID-19 elimination strategy have meant the sector couldn’t rely on seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands, as it has done in in the past. It means there are now jobs in the Silviculture/forestry sector for New Zealanders that need jobs. The subsidy will assist contractors to employ “Kiwi Locals” and support sustainability in the sector.
“In collaboration with MSD we will work with forest owners and management companies and take responsibility for creating new jobs and job security for the next six months,” says Prue Younger, CEO for Forest Industry Contractors Association. The $2.5M subsidy package will be based on a series of milestones with support payments to both the employer and employee.
Minister for Social Development Hon Carmel Sepuloni said the funding was for jobs in an industry needing workers right now. “This funding is getting New Zealanders working and assisting the forestry sector to get on with the business of planting for next season. We’re also keen that this investment has an eye on the future too as it supports upskilling the forestry workforce.”
There will be a requirement for the employee to enrol in the new micro-credential unit standards and the offer to undertake further work-ready standards that Competenz, the industry ITO, launched this year. These will be offered online and provide the employee opportunity to understand the career pathways available in forestry. Contractors will also be urged to register their job vacancies on the Work the Seasons website www.worktheseasons.co.nz to promote availability to job seekers and people looking for work.
The planting season will run from May through to October and support new plantings as part of the 1Billion Tree Programme along with replants in existing forestry estates. Forest Industry Contractors Association will administer the subsidy and more information along with registration details can be found on www.fica.org.nz
Source: Forest Industry Contractors Association
TV commercial promotes silviculture jobsA television commercial promoting silviculture work in New Zealand went to air in a schedule that started last Sunday. The commercial was produced under lockdown conditions so without dedicated filming. It directs interested viewers to the Forestry Careers and Training website for direct employment information.
MPI estimates an additional 20 million trees will be planted this year, and so a larger labour force than last year is required. The current drought in many parts of New Zealand and lack of opportunity to weed spray during lockdown could result in some planned plantings not taking place.
Source: Forest Owners Association
Forestry changes in the New Zealand ETSThe Climate Change Response (Emission Trading Reform) Amendment Bill (the Bill) would make a number of changes to the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) if passed into law. Read about some of the changes related to forestry.
Several decisions have also been taken on forestry in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS).
The key forestry changes include:
• introducing average accounting for some post-1989 forests
• creating a new permanent forestry activity in the NZ ETS
• exempting post-1989 forests from the requirement to surrender New Zealand Units to cover emissions from temporary adverse events (such as fire or wind throw)
• allowing some types of post-1989 forestry participants to offset their deforestation liability by planting a forest elsewhere
• improving the pre-1990 forest land offsetting
• some forestry changes are delayed and are included in the supplementary order paper.
More information on forestry decisions can be found on the Ministry for Primary Industries website.
Source: Ministry for the Environment
Look up at the trees, think about woodAn Australian Government promotion for the forestry industry that encourages Australians to “look up at the trees, think about wood” should be taken down after a recent federal court ruling on native forest logging, the Greens have said. The department of agriculture paid a production company $94,875 last year to produce a series of videos aimed at promoting Australia’s logging industry as environmentally sustainable.
The videos were made to cover all aspects of the logging industry, both native forest logging and plantations. Recent responses to written questions from the Greens senator Janet Rice show the former department of agriculture and water resources commissioned the videos as “one tactic” in a range of communication activities meant to develop a “new narrative” for the forestry industry reported the Guardian this week.
The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) responded by commenting that it’s enormously disappointing that the Australian Greens, as a major political party, is attacking federal public servants for simply producing a series of information videos covering Australia’s sustainable native forestry industry.
Instead, AFPA Chief Executive Officer Ross Hampton said the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment should be congratulated for adding facts to the conversation, rather than being attacked in this nonsensical way. “These videos are 100 per cent factual and will be an important resource for students and all those seeking to better understand Australia’s forest industries,” Mr Hampton said.
The video makes the evidence-based point that “every tree we use is regrown and replaced”, however, the Greens’ forestry spokesperson, Senator Janet Rice, is calling for this positive message to be hidden. “Forestry supports thousands of regional jobs. It also beggars belief that at a time of high unemployment the Greens are wanting to add native forestry jobs to the dole queue,” Mr Hampton concluded.
Source: Guardian, AFPA
Spruce bark beetle and its impact on wood marketsBetween 2017 and 2019, over 270 million m3 of standing timber in Central Europe was damaged by a combination of factors: primarily, changing climate conditions that featured hotter, drier summers and warmer winters. In combination with frequent windstorms, this created ideal conditions for the spread of spruce bark beetles, especially at lower elevations.
The damage is across many countries, including Poland, Switzerland, Slovakia, Italy and Sweden, but the most severe losses have been in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria. The outbreak in these three countries is so severe that FEA analysis predicts that the killed timber volume from the European spruce bark beetle will eventually exceed that of the British Columbia Interior’s mountain pine beetle outbreak.
The increased salvage of dying and dead spruce timber will create more sawlogs than the sawmilling industry can process, not only in the three impacted countries, the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria, but also beyond their borders given that some logs are exported to other European countries. This will result in certain market implications and shifting trade trends through the first half of this decade and beyond — changes that will alter overall market dynamics and disrupt producers and exporters in other regions.
The sheer volume of damaged timber harvested in Central Europe has yielded logs of relatively good quality so far. Beetle-killed logs that are harvested in the winter for processing are of very high quality — almost like “fresh-cut” green sawlogs. Logs harvested in the summer, however, are more prone to blue stain and checking, and rot can even occur. The worst time for beetle wood quality is July to September due to the higher temperatures and blue stain, and especially if it rains.
Many sawmill companies are betting that the surplus timber will be around for some time — enough to justify adding sawmill capacity or even building greenfield sawmills. Up to a dozen sawmilling companies have planned for, started or even completed new capacity installations to process incremental sawlogs from the damaged timber by the end of 2021; if there is any question about how long the storm- and beetle-damaged timber is going to be around in Central Europe, these investors are providing the answer. We expect at least 2 million m3 of new sawmill capacity based on confirmed projects, although others are still in the planning stages. These sawmill capacities are being constructed based on the potential for increased harvesting of damaged timber in the future and a likely glut of low-cost sawlogs.
The increased availability of low-cost damaged timber will lead to higher lumber production in Central Europe. With the massive timber salvage producing a glut of sawlogs of varying quality, there has been downward pressure on sawlog prices in Central Europe. Germany has seen a steady decline in its sawlog prices since early 2018 due to spruce bark beetle and storm wood availability, with prices there down almost 50% by the end of 2019; this approaches levels in the U.S. South (the region with some of the lowest log costs in North America).
The current price of sawlog-grade timber is considered close to the cost of harvesting and delivery to sawmills, pointing to scant potential for a reduction in log prices. However, lower-quality logs are being produced with blue stain, checking and even decay, and selling at large discounts, leading some mills to process these logs as well. Since the salvage program is likely to be in place with high volumes for some time before it eventually slows down, domestic spruce sawlog prices will probably remain near current levels. This will provide central European sawmills with a competitive advantage in both domestic and export markets.
With rising volumes of distressed sawlogs at low prices, there will be an increase in central European lumber production. Existing mills are experiencing a critical shortage of skilled workers, so adding capacity is difficult (aside from extending shifts or operating on Saturdays). However, we expect total lumber production in the three impacted countries to generally expand (aside from 2020 output slippage due to COVID-19) before production eventually eases back toward pre-beetle levels near the end of the decade. This means that sawmills in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria should remain the low-cost operators in Europe, and should be able to access most (if not all) export markets competitively and with positive margins.
Most of the top-quartile central European sawmills are export-oriented, meaning they have kilns as well as planers. With the acceleration of the spruce beetle salvage in Europe providing mills with low-cost logs, a higher proportion of production at these large-scale mills will likely be directed to export markets that require planed lumber (especially the U.S., but also China, Australia, the United Kingdom and others). According to FEA’s 2019 Global Sawmill Cost Benchmarking Report, central European sawmills are among the lowest-cost lumber suppliers of dimension lumber in export markets such as the U.S. South. This will enable European sawmills to gain market share in the U.S. at the expense of higher-cost Canadian and U.S. producers if they need to export increased lumber volumes outside Europe. From a European exporter’s perspective, the U.S. market also has the advantage of being accessible by both break-bulk vessels and containers.
Ultimately, central European mills will select lumber export markets based on net mill returns and market risk. The U.S. looks to be a very good fit for central European mills in an era of spruce bark beetles, but it will depend on net lumber returns and prices relative to other markets. Lumber exports to China are also expected to continue rising. In 2019, lumber exports from Germany totaled 692,000 m3 (versus only 154,000 m3 in 2018) and, in the first three months of 2020, reached 185,000 m3 (60% higher than a year earlier). Similar to exports to the U.S., trade to China will be dependent on conditions in other markets (MENA and Japan, for instance).
Effectively, this means that central European mills will be a threat to high-cost lumber producers in other parts of Europe — and to suppliers in export markets — for at least the first half of this decade.
In 2019, log export markets proved to be an important release valve for excess salvage spruce logs that were surplus to domestic mills’ needs in Germany and the Czech Republic. This trend will continue throughout the salvage harvest, especially since beetle-killed logs are being harvested at close to cost levels in Central Europe, allowing for exported logs to be competitively priced for volume sales to China.
In the current year, the rise in log exports is expected to pause due to curtailments related to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, this assumption could quickly change if China’s log demand picks up. Note that Germany and the Czech Republic accounted for 80% of log exports from Europe to China in 2019, a proportion we expect to grow in 2020 and beyond.
Assuming that markets return to more normal conditions later this year, log exports from Central Europe should continue to rise — perhaps even sharply, depending on market demand, container rates and container availability. Based on the potential harvest of damaged timber and the capacity limits of the central European sawmill industry to process the damaged logs, rising log export volumes could result in major disruptions to global trade flows.
The new FEA report, Central European Beetle & Windstorm Timber Disaster: Outlook to 2030, is now available. For more information, a brochure is available here
Source: Russ Taylor, Managing Director, FEA-Canada & Rocky Goodnow, VP, North America Timber Service, FEA LLC
Bushfire protection focus for SA forestry industryCalls for a state-wide audit and upgrade of South Australia’s fire tower network are among recommendations listed in a comprehensive forest industry report just released. The state’s AU$2.3 million forest and wood products sector also urged the government to boost community-based fire services across outer metropolitan, regional and rural South Australia.
The suggestions, prompted by a devastating bushfire season, are among a raft of recommendations made by the peak Forest Industry Advisory Council of South Australia in its bid to strengthen and grow the sector. Council chair Wendy Fennell said the industry report focused on ways to expand plantations and double the economic value of the South Australian domestic forest manufacturing industry by 2050.
“The South Australian forest and wood products industry is working to make the most of recent international competitiveness and strong domestic demand,” she said. Fennell pointed to investment in major processing facilities in the South East near Mount Gambier and a proposal for a new wharf to service timber plantations on Kangaroo Island.
“(However), even with the long-term positive outlook for the industry, there are still challenges to overcome,” she said. “Increasing the availability of log will be essential to the ongoing investment in, and competitiveness of, timber processing. It increases economies of scale, which flows through to efficiencies in other parts of the value chain such as biomass, harvesting and haulage.”
The State Government established the advisory council in December 2018, to hear directly from forest owners, forest managers, harvest and haulage, small timber manufacturers, large timber manufacturers, timber biomass and farm forestry.
South’s Australia’s industry is plantation-based in two National Plantation Inventory regions: the Mount Lofty Ranges and Kangaroo Island (including the Mid North); and the Green Triangle in the state’s South East and into western Victoria. According to figures from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, South Australia’s plantation estate is around 172,000 hectares.
Fire is recognised in the report as a risk to plantations and the surrounding community, worsened by challenges with rubbish dumping, arson, adjacent land management and dry climatic conditions. “Each year the plantation sector spends millions of dollars on fire management,” the report states. This includes buying fire equipment, investing in firebreak construction, plantation design and fire infrastructure like water points, to minimise losses to both plantations and the community.
Swire Bulk takes delivery of new bulk carrierSwire Bulk, the bulk division of The China Navigation Company, has taken delivery of its new, log-fitted bulk carrier into service. MV Singan is traded worldwide with a strong focus on the log trade in the Pacific and South Atlantic.
The vessel was named in February 2020 by lady sponsor, Mrs Kaori Imoto, the wife of John Swire & Sons Board Director, Jonathan Swire. The ceremony was held at The Hakodate Dock Co., Ltd.’s shipyard in Hakodate, Japan. MV Singan embarked on her maiden voyage at the end of April for Busan.
Log carriage requires a high level of structural stability, which MV Singan offers. The vessel is also installed with the latest solid-state radar equipment which is integrated with ECDIS. This ensures compliance with the latest and future requirements and for system updates to be managed easily.
MV Singan is the first ship delivered in a wider order book of ten bulk vessels to be built in Japan. The remaining vessels are scheduled for delivery by the end of 2021. MV Sungkiang, MV Singan’s sister vessel, is being built at the same shipyard scheduled for delivery in June 2020.
“Having these log-fitted new buildings on water,” said Rob Aarvold, General Manager, Swire Bulk “would strengthen Swire Bulk’s position in the log market. We are one of the world’s largest handy-size logger fleets, and we have the flexibility, supply and consistent technical standards to perform and deliver freight contracts safely, reliably and professionally.”
Source: Swire Bulk
Firewood deliveries for families in needMore than 100 homes will be warmer this winter thanks to a new initiative to provide firewood to Hauraki Iwi in need. Amelia Williams, Executive Chair of Ngati Tara Tokanui Trust has responded to the concerns expressed by local kuia, Nancye Gage, about many families living in cold, damp homes and unable to source firewood due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Ms Williams wrote to New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Department of Conservation (DOC) and Andy Warren of forestry company Rayonier Matariki Forests during Lockdown to see if an arrangement could be put in place to support whanau. A plan was developed to access non-merchantable wood from Rayonier Matariki Forests’ plantations in Tairua and Athenree Forests.
During Level 4, trees had to be left on the forest floor, unable to be processed into higher quality products, due to degradation. Rayonier Matariki Forests Bay of Plenty Regional Manager, Andy Warren, organised with Coromandel Contractors to recover the short-length wood.
The wood has been loaded onto trucks and transported to some Hauraki marae, and also to the Department of Conservation’s Hauraki District office in Thames. It has been distributed to families in Thames, Paeroa, Te Aroha, Waihi and Te Puru, and Mr Warren also joined forces with forestry company counterpart Ernslaw One in order to supply Manaia, Whitianga and Wharekaho families from the Whangapoua Forest.
Mr Warren says he is delighted to be a part of this collaborative project which will see many families being able to stay warm over the colder months. “There are some families in desperate situations and the 10-15 truckloads of wood we will be bringing out of our forests should go some way to helping a large number of people,” says Mr Warren.
Department of Conservation’s Pou Tairangahau Apanui Skipper has been the interface between the forestry companies and other DOC offices, and says it has taken six weeks of planning during Lockdown to finalise logistics. “We have welcomed being a part of this wonderful initiative and really appreciate the forestry companies coming together to make this happen for Hauraki iwi,” says Mr Skipper.
VR technology unveils structures you wood not believeNCI’s Drishti VR technology, a custom-designed tool for visualising volumetric datasets in virtual reality, is now being used to teach students about the structures of different kinds of wood. Three dimensional models created at ANU using an X-ray Micro-CT machine are visualised using Drishti and made interactive and brought to life in virtual reality.
Much like the CT scans that are conducted in hospitals, the micro-CT machines take many images of a particular object’s internal structure from multiple angles. Drishti makes it easy to then combine and process the images into a virtual reconstruction of the physical object.
The researchers used a VR device to help students taking a course in wood protection explore the distribution of silica in Fraser Island turpentine (an Australian marine borer-resistant timber) and copper in treated pine. The technology allows the students to see in detail exactly where the inorganic materials (silica or copper) occur in the wood and how the structures of different kinds of wood lend themselves to different arrangements of internal silica or copper.
By scanning with X-rays and scaling up the models to a more manageable size, the microscopic details of the wood are revealed in exquisite detail. The wood samples used were between 2 and 19 millimetres in diameter, visualised using around 23,000 images at a resolution of 1.1 micrometres.
Developer of Drishti and NCI Scientific Programmer Dr Ajay Limaye says, “It is very exciting to have students interacting with and learning from the technology I developed. The aim was always to find new ways of showing volumetric data so that we could learn from these objects. We have now visualised rocks, bones, wood, insects, oceans and even a mummy!”
Students report an improved learning experience through using the Drishti VR technology, with a clearer connection between their class work and the physical world. Students said that “The system enables me to have deeper impression of wood structure” and “I personally find it much better to understand and see [the wood].”
Drishti and Drishti VR have both been used in educational settings in the past, in disciplines including anatomy, geology and oceanography. Available for free online, anyone can download the software and play around with the fossils, bones and insects available in the system. To find out more about Drishti, click here.
Photo: X-ray micro-CT images of southern pine samples treated with the copper-based wood preservatives MCA and ACQ. Windows within each image are transparent to reveal the presence of copper (coloured blue).
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... the Lone Ranger and Tonto
The Lone Ranger and Tonto are creeping up to a bandit camp on their bellies, when suddenly the Lone Ranger let's out a muffled yelp and clutches his rear end.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend - and a long one for our Australian readers. Cheers.
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