Friday Offcuts 12 June 2020
Monthly tech newsletters (harvesttech.news, woodtech.news and foresttech.news (exceeding 15,000 subscribers) are also now being sent out across the region. These news and technology updates continue to be supported by industry events run each year in New Zealand, Australia and more recently, Canada and the USA. So, we owe a real debt of gratitude to those supplying articles, leads (and of course jokes), our advertisers and particularly to you, our readers for your regular contributions and your ongoing support. In this week’s issue we’ve included a look back on activities from 15 years ago and for just a bit of nostalgia, we’ve included a few of the headlines that appeared in the first issues that were sent out. Maybe we're all getting that much older but you've got to admit, it feels just like yesterday.
Now to the news. As so eagerly fought for by a raft of industry associations over the last couple of months, the Australian Federal Government announced last week a new stimulus package aimed at the ailing construction and building industries. It’s the AU$688 million Homebuilder Program. Building approvals over the last year in Australia have been down more than 22 per cent on the average of the past 10 years. The Housing Industry Association described this new incentive as the “largest direct contribution to households an Australian government has ever made”.
The new package is going to support hundreds of thousands of workers across the residential building industry, along with all those wood producers who are supplying timber to merchants and onto construction and building sites across the country. The kiwis though, like their Australian counterparts, are now also starting to feel the pinch with the construction sector showing the first real signs of a “major correction”. The March decline was greater than most people anticipated, and a 35 per cent quarter on quarter fall is now being predicted for June 2020.
Also out of Australia this week, congratulations go to Rob de Fegely who has worked with and alongside many of us over the years. Rob has deservedly been honoured in this week’s Queens Birthday awards with a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to the forestry industry. Having worked for more than 40 years as a forester, he’s taken senior leadership roles within the industry over that time and through his business and advisory roles, has helped shape the future of forest industries across the region. Details and more in-depth coverage on Rob’s achievements are included in the story below.
Opposition to the Forests (“Log Traders”) Amendment Bill in New Zealand, covered extensively in recent issues, really ramped up this week (check out this week's lead story). And finally, the eagerly awaited Forest Safety & Technology 2020 series runs next week for forest managers, forestry and wood transport contractors and H&S champions drawn from across the forestry sector. It’s taken some time to organise during lockdown. We’re grateful for the support of sponsors and speakers during what's been pretty trying times for the industry over the last few months to make this happen along with all of you who have signed up and are going to be part of this industry event. The new on-line series runs on Tuesday and Thursday of next week. Note, late registrations can still be made on the event website. And on that note, enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Opposition to Forests Amendment Bill picks upThis week saw a flurry of activity from a wide cross section of the NZ forestry industry against the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisors) Amendment Bill as currently drafted. The Select Committee have yet to report back to Parliament, so the industry is still in phase one of the campaign. Individual MPs can be encouraged to make a difference.
1. Attached is a supplementary submission to the Environment Committee hearing pointing to potential breaches of the GATT/WTO obligations New Zealand has which may occur as a result of the Bill being enacted. This was prepared on behalf of New Forests by Russell McVeigh.
2. An advertisement, an Open Letter to the PM and David Parker, ran on Thursday in major dailys across the country; the NZ Herald and other NZME papers, and Dominion Post. As you see from the logos at the bottom of the advertisement, support has been secured from a broad cross-section of the primary sector and beyond to oppose this Bill.
3. And, we've got a new grouping, The NZ Forestry Collective, that's also swung into action using Facebook to voice their opposition to the proposed Bill. It comprises a group of passionate forestry industry members, made up of farm foresters, woodlot owners, large forest owners, leading contractors, New Zealand Institute of Forestry members and around 30,000 small Mum & Dad investors. You can check out and put your own weight behind this new initiative by clicking here
4. Another couple of links also worth checking out are; www.facebook.com/ForestCallNZ and an affiliated campaign page, www.dontripupourroots.com
Source: Forest Owners Association
Australian housing stimulus package announcedThe Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of the AU$688 million Homebuilder Program and is calling on recipients to back their fellow Australians by ensuring their new home is built with locally grown and processed timber products.
The Homebuilder program which provides up to AU$25,000 in grants for new homes and major renovation comes after calls for a stimulus package from industry, AFPA and the housing and construction industry.
The Chief Executive Officer of AFPA Ross Hampton said, “New home buyers can not only access this AU$25,000 federal grant but can complement that with the range of state-based incentives, providing in some places up to AU$50,000 in total Government support. This is a wonderful opportunity for Australians to make the leap into a new dwelling – be it first home or not. The key to making this package work for our whole community is for those thousands of purchasers to prioritise the use of local products – from Aussie timber framing, to Aussie windows, bricks and furnishings.”
For further coverage on the announcement, see the video clip below.
Source: AFPA, SkyNews
Deployment of robotics in Australasian millsAn exciting new format for dry-mill and wood manufacturing operations has been set up by the local industry. This has been to ensure that the two-yearly WoodTECH series, originally scheduled to be run in New Zealand and Australia in August, can be run this year. A series of short 60-90-minute interactive webinars have been set up and will be run between 13-24 July 2020. Information and details on the series of WoodTECH 2020 webinars can be seen on the event website.
As well as highlighting a raft of disruptive technologies that are being developed and used to boost the operational performance of manufacturing operations, insights for the first time are going to be given to local wood manufacturers on the first large scale operational deployment of robotics into mills in New Zealand and Australia. Marcus Fenske, Tumbarumba Site Manager for Hyne Timber, Australia and Shaun Bosson, Chief Executive Officer of Wood Engineering Technology, New Zealand will together discuss lessons learned from installing and operating this new equipment.
The Hyne Tumbarumba sawmill robotics project is “a world first" for graded timber stacking. The team created a fully-automated timber sorting and packing production unit for the mill. The sorting and stacking of graded timber is made possible through the use of optic recognition of on-the-fly grading markings on the individual pieces of timber. Human operator’s safety is protected by world-class safety cells and sensors utilising light curtains.
Energy efficiency was also imperative in the design with advanced energy-efficient technologies employed. For examples the system automatically shuts down when timber is not coming through the production line. Lighting and motors are also energy efficient. The objective of this ground-breaking project was not simply to be a world first, its prime objective is to eliminate the injuries attained on the old manual sorting and stacking lines.
In New Zealand, Wood Engineering Technology’s (WET) plant in Gisborne incorporates Industry 4.0 principles including automation, data-driven decision-making and real-time analytics fed by well over 2000 sensor inputs and outputs.
Auckland and Gisborne-based Wood Engineering Technology (WET) which, after 15 years of R&D, has mastered how to do it using a data-driven end-to-end automation process. WET has a patented method of creating glue-laminated timber, or ‘glulam’, which consists of pieces of wood stuck together with a moisture-resistant adhesive.
The approach and technology underpinning WET’s innovation fit under the broad umbrella of “Industry 4.0”, which uses interconnected sensors, artificial intelligence and robotics to digitise manufacturing for greater productivity and better products. It is the optimisation of the disassembly and reassembly process that gives WET its innovation edge.
The result? Intelligent systems that might be more typically associated with automobile or electronics factories than with wood manufacturing operations. The plant is equipped with laser sensors, cameras and mechanical stress-testing devices to analyse the quality of the wood and monitor it as it passes through the different phases of production. The factory has been described as an outstanding example of an Industry 4.0 installation in New Zealand, proving the economic and technical advantages of this new approach.
The 60-minute webinar aimed at local wood products and manufacturing companies is planned for Wednesday 15 July. If wanting to hear more about these Australasian firsts, integrating robotics and automation into local manufacturing operations, you can register on line here.
Photo: Hyne Timber
A blast from the past – headlines from June 2005As part of our reminiscing from when we started with this newsletter 15 years ago, let’s take a look at what was happening here and overseas.
Fifteen years ago, 2005. At the beginning of 2005, the news was dominated by the "Boxing Day Tsunami" that devastated the coastlines of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and nine other countries. In New Zealand, the Foreshore and Seabed legislation came into effect. The general election was the first contested by the Māori Party and Destiny New Zealand. It resulted in the continuation of the Fifth Labour Government of New Zealand. The Prime Minister at the time was Helen Clark and the country’s population had just ticked over the 4 million mark.
Australia’s population was 20 million and at the time, the Prime Minister was John Howard and a series of devastating bush fires hit South Australia. The US president was George W. Bush and the UK Prime Minister was Tony Blair. In June 2005, people were listening to We Belong Together by Mariah Carey. In this part of the world, Axel F by Crazy Frog was in the top 5 hits. War of the Worlds, directed by Steven Spielberg, was one of the most viewed movies released in 2005 while Revenge of The Sith by Matthew Stover was one of the best-selling books. As an added extra this week, we’ve also included a few headlines in a story below, that appeared 15 years ago when we first started. It is an age ago but just feels like yesterday.
And going way back into our archives, included below is a cross section of headlines drawn from our June 2005 issues of Friday Offcuts – where we all started.
Kyoto disaster predicted for NZ Government
New Zealand is highly likely to miss its Kyoto targets, at great cost to taxpayers and consumers, says the Forest Owners Association. In the last three years there has been a dramatic decline in new forest plantings, says association president Peter Berg. "If it continues, New Zealand won't have the 33 million tonnes of surplus carbon dioxide credits the government hopes to trade on international markets." Mr Berg says the average new rate of new forest planting for the last 30 years has been 44,900 hectares a year. In 2002, it dropped to 22,000 ha and last year to 10,600 ha, with forward orders placed at tree nurseries indicating a further decline this year.
NZ forest growers adopt national standard
After five years of negotiation, the New Zealand forest industry has a national standard for sustainable plantation forest management. NZ Forest Owners' Association (NZFOA) environmental spokesperson Peter Weir says the standard formalises management practices in what is arguably the most environmentally friendly production forest industry in the world. Since 1991, forest owners have sought to obtain Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for their forests using interim internationally prescribed standards. At present, 620,000 hectares or 34 per cent of the country's total plantation area meets the council's standards. "The industry remains hopeful of FSC endorsement of the New Zealand standard, but after five years of negotiation, the NZFOA decided that a standard should now be implemented," says NZFOA president Peter Berg.
Boral acquires AU$25 million of NSW sawmills
Boral Timber, a division of the publicly listed Boral company has acquired Fennings Timber on the North Coast of NSW, with a flooring plant at Gloucester and a sawmill in Walcha and the NSW South Coast sawmiller, Davis & Herbert. It is reported that Boral paid about AU$25 million for the two companies plus inventories. Boral now controls about 65 per cent of the State's high quality sawlogs from Forests NSW plus a large proportion of those from private plantations.
Weyerhaeuser sawmill expanding
Weyerhaeuser Australia's Tumut sawmill plans to spend AU$20 million over the next 18 months to boost log capacity by 50 percent to 750,000 cubic metres. The company is preparing an environmental impact statement and development application for the project, which follows close on the heels of an AU$36 million upgrade.
Kyoto lobby to attack NZ Government with $2 million campaign
A forestry lobby group is planning a $2 million dollar election year advertising campaign attacking the New Zealand Government's handling of forestry in regard to the Kyoto protocol. The budget for the anti-Government campaign is nearly twice that spent by the largest opposition party last election.
New CEO of A3P appointed
A3P Chairman, Mr. Nick Roberts announced that Mr. Neil Fisher has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of A3P. Mr. Fisher will replace Ms Belinda Robinson, the inaugural CEO of A3P, who has been appointed Chief Executive of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association. Mr. Richard Stanton will be Acting CEO until Mr. Fisher takes up the position on 1 August 2005.
Ensis becomes one of the world's largest forestry research organisations
The joint venture between CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products (FFP) and New Zealand's Scion (formerly Forest Research) - ensis - will soon become one of the world's largest integrated forestry and forest products research organisations. Ensis will incorporate FFP's remaining R&D units to create three new strategic business units (SBUs) - Forest Biosecurity and Protection, Sustainable Productive Forestry and Integrated Environmental Forestry - thereby almost doubling its staff to 320 and increasing its projected annual income to around $A55M.
Better options than NZ’s “Log Bill”The Forest Owners Association says more exports of processed timber products from New Zealand looks a good prospect on paper, but Shane Jones’ current Log Bill is not going to achieve this and there are better options. Forest Owners is responding to statements from the New Zealand Wood Processors and Manufactures Association in favour of the Bill, which the WPMA expects will result in diversion of export logs to local sawmillers at cheaper prices.
Forest Owners President Phil Taylor says any legislation which diverts income from one part of a sector to another is distortionary to the economy. “It’s a dangerous experiment in protectionism, just at a time when our government is cautioning against other countries doing this. Neither the basis, nor the effects of the Bill have been researched at all, and it is being rushed through under urgency. As NZIER has pointed out, a comparable policy to protect Australian car manufacturing has cost a fortune and ended in disaster.”
Phil Taylor says the WPMA Chairman, Brian Stanley’s claim that the Bill would bring forestry into line with the rest of the land-based industries is not accurate. “There is no part of the New Zealand primary sector which has ever had a regime imposed where exports were expected to subsidise local manufacturing. It’s a WPMA fantasy.”
“Likewise, Mr Stanley asserts that since other countries subsidise their timber industry, then the solution should be more processing in New Zealand sawmills, with foresters forced to pay for it. That is misguided and dangerous. The international market in timber is way more subsidised and protected than the international log market. Mr Stanley would take us out of a Post-Covid and developing international log trade protection smouldering fire, into a red-hot blast furnace of trade protectionism for timber products.”
Phil Taylor says there are ways to grow processing in New Zealand which would work. “A timber preference policy for wood construction is one obvious and cost-free way the government could give substance to its ambitions for local processing. The government says it’s going to have a major international trade promotion for the primary sector. Forest products must be a part of that. Some doors into other countries’ markets can only be opened by cabinet ministers.”
“But the biggest opportunities are in timber product innovation. The future lies in a bioeconomy, and our plantation forests can be part of that exciting future. We want to embrace that with our science teams and government. We’d like to hope that WPMA would have the vision to be part of that as well.”
Source: Forest Owners Association
Northland Forestry student receives scholarshipNorthland student Camryn Stewart has received an academic scholarship from Waipu-based timber manufacturer Northpine.
In her fourth and final year of a Bachelor of Forestry Science at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, Camryn says the financial grant from Northpine is a huge help to put towards her course fees and costs. “As a student you don’t really have a lot of money, and it is such a massive help financially. I am putting it towards my course fees and extra course costs like field trips,” she says.
As a Northlander born-and-bred in Kaitaia, Camryn has spent some of her practical course work interning for another Northland company, Summit Forests, completing practical experience in plotting and helping with trials. After graduating from her Bachelor of Forestry Science, she hopes to work in forestry management or forestry marketing and supply chain operations.
“The variety and flexibility of the forestry industry appeals to me, and I enjoy being outdoors on the job,” she says. “I’m excited about the possibilities and what my future holds.” The scholarship was presented to the industry at the Northland Forestry Awards in September 2019 and was endorsed by the Northland Wood Council. Applicants can apply via the Northpine website.
“I’m extra grateful to receive this support from a company in Northland. I extend my thanks to Northpine for their generosity,” says Camryn. Employing over 60 people, Northpine is a privately-owned timber manufacturer based at Waipu (Northland), with a distribution centre in Silverdale (Auckland). Northpine processes high-quality structural pine grown in the north. Its specialist range of large-dimension timber beams and square posts, sold under the brand name Northbeam, is available nationwide via building supply merchants.
Northpine General Manager Bruce Larsen says supporting forestry students in their studies is part of their commitment to the industry and fostering the next generation. “Northpine is delighted to award this scholarship to Camryn, who is committed to her studies and is working towards a career in forestry,” he says. “We’re committed to encouraging each individual to achieve their full potential, and this extends to our next generation who are currently students.”
Source: Northland Wood Council
Queens Birthday honour for forestry leaderForest industry icon Rob de Fegely has been honoured in this week’s Queens Birthday awards with a Member of the Order of Australia for:
“Significant service to the forestry industry through business and advisory roles.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Ross Hampton said, “This honour is well deserved and will be applauded right around Australia. Rob de Fegely is a learned forester who has for decades displayed a strong public service ethic, taking leadership roles in important bodies and helping shape the future of Australia’s sustainable forest industries.”
“Rob is Chair of Sustainable Timbers Tasmania and Co-Chair of the Federal Minster’s Forest Industry Advisory Council, and is immediate past president of the Australian Institute of Foresters of Australia. Rob has been a persuasive and moderate voice of reason in the sometimes less than reasonable forestry debates regarding native forestry, always delivering the facts with calmness and clarity.”
“This honour is well deserved and reflects well on Rob and the forest industries of this nation”, Mr Hampton concluded.
Further coverage on Rob and the well-deserved recognition can be read here
Source: AFPA, merimbulanewsweekly.com
Federal Court rules against VicForestsIn a ruling released on 26 May, the Federal Court ruled against VicForests in action taken by the 'Friends of Leadbeater's Possum Inc' after the group successfully lobbied in court for an injunction on logging in the state's Central Highlands. Read a summary of the ruling here.
This decision is going to significantly impact harvesting in the Central Highlands region said the Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI). This decision has come swiftly after the devastating 2019/20 bushfire season creating further uncertainty and anxiety for the local native timber sector.
VAFI is extremely disappointed in the Federal Court’s decision. It’s a further blow at a time when the added uncertainty of COVID-19 implications runs together with concerns about commitments to meet existing or extending Timber Supply Agreements up to 2024. This context means that is essential for industry that the full ramifications of the court’s ruling are assessed and communicated as soon as possible.
The native hardwood sector generates hundreds of millions of dollars each year that supports regional communities. These businesses and communities deserve certainty and security to plan for their future. To this end, VAFI is seeking to obtain vital information from VicForests, the State and Federal Governments. Key questions are:
- How will this decision be appealed in the courts?
- What is the immediate impact to the current harvesting schedule how will this affect harvest and haul contractors and timber mills?
- Can any shortfalls in supply be met from alternative areas?
- What impact will the ruling have on current plans for post-bushfire recovery harvesting in burnt coupes?
- How will the uncertainty created by this ruling affect negotiations for future harvest and haul contracts and Timber Supply Agreements?
Native timber harvesting in Victoria is done sustainably. With roughly half of our public forests in conservation reserves, harvesting takes place on only 3,000 hectares (0.04%) each year and regeneration is required by law. VAFI supports the professional forest scientists of the IFA, who say that forests can be managed at the landscape level to support recreational use, conservation, and harvesting. These outcomes are not mutually exclusive.
Ultimately, this ruling casts doubt on the current Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) framework that governs forest management across Australia. As such, it has potential ramifications for all native harvesting, not just in Victoria. If the ruling is upheld, it seems possible that there may need to be new planning and approval procedures for commercial harvesting in native forests in all jurisdictions.
If changed procedures are to be effective, they must have the full and tangible support of both State and Federal Governments to match recent statements of support. This is why VAFI is standing with other timber and forest industry peak bodies to call for rapid action to meet this new challenge and create much needed certainty for our timber businesses and communities.
Gippsland Federal MPs were seeking a meeting this week with Environment Minister Sussan Ley, urging her to override a Federal Court decision which they say threatens the future of the native forestry industry. For more information click here.
Source: VAFI – The News Mill, gippslandtimes
COVID-19 hasn’t stopped forest products tradeThe Coronavirus Epidemic has negatively impacted the supply chains for numerous industry sectors worldwide the past few months. Many commodity products saw reduced trade during March and April, a result of reduced demand, closures of manufacturing facilities to protect workers, constraint in the handling capacity of goods at many ports, and widespread financial distress. However, one sector that has remained fairly strong during the initial period of the epidemic is the forest products industry.
Demand for toilet paper, face masks, disinfecting wipes, corrugated paper for cardboard boxes, and wood products for home renovations are just a few forest products that have been in unusually high demand in many countries during this spring. A closer look at the March 2020 trade data, the first “Coronavirus month”, reveals that global trade of lumber, logs, wood chips and pulp increased in March as compared to the previous month reports Wood Resources International.
The following snapshot illustrates a few interesting examples from the WRQ of positive developments in the forest industry sector from February to March this year:
- Softwood Logs – China increased imports by 14% m-o-m, with most of the added logs originating from New Zealand, Germany and Russia. Log imports to South Korea rose 19%, while Australia and Canada shipped about 70% more logs in March than in the previous month.
- Softwood Lumber – Lumber shipments from New Zealand and Canada were up 32% and 25% m-o-m, respectively. Lumber importation was up in most of the major markets in March, including China (+59% m-o-m), the US (+27%), the United Kingdom (+13%), and Japan (+10%).
- Wood Pulp – Three of the four largest pulp-exporting countries, Brazil, the US and Chile, increased their shipments between 12% and 26% in March (m-o-m). The five top importing countries all purchased more pulp in March than in February, with China and South Korea increasing their volumes the most (40% and 29% respectively).
- Hardwood Chips – China, Portugal, and South Korea imported more chips for their pulp industry in March than in the previous month. Most of the major chip-exporting countries, including Australia, Thailand, South Africa, and Brazil shipped more chips in March than in February.
In the coming months, numerous countries around the world are planning to ease lockdown policies and loosen the rules that are restricting house constructions, international commerce and consumer shopping. These changes may further benefit many companies in the forest industry sector. However, expect a rough road ahead.
Source: Wood Resources International LLC
Fumigation update: log export markets at riskIn 2010 regulations were introduced to reduce methyl bromide emissions to the atmosphere as part of NZ’s commitment to international agreements we are signatory to. The users of methyl bromide were given 10 years, until 28 October 2020, to find alternative fumigants or to recapture methyl bromide after the treatment. A requirement of 5ppm remaining in the headspace after fumigation was imposed. While this can be achieved for small scale and shipping container fumigations with current technologies it is not possible for log stacks and ship-hold fumigations.
After an intensive research program lead by STIMBR, an alternative fumigant, EDN, was identified, research on its effectiveness completed and an application lodged with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in July 2017, for approval to use it as a fumigant for forest products. A decision has still not been made by the EPA and WorkSafe. Despite delays in these approvals MPI is proceeding with government to government negotiations for agreement to use EDN. It is now almost certain that EDN will not be available by the end of October 2020. Furthermore, resource consents will also be required at some ports.
As research has now shown that the original methyl bromide recapture target of 5ppm set in 2010 is not achievable, an application was lodged with EPA for a reassessment of specified parts of the original recapture target. This is underway but the decision making process is slow and it is increasingly unlikely that a decision will be made in time to enable methyl bromide to be used in the interim until EDN is approved and available for use.
To safeguard the export log trade, an application for a 6 month waiver has also been made to the EPA. If successful the waiver would allow methyl bromide to be used under current rules for a further 6 months. If the waiver is not granted the Indian export market, worth $250 million annually will end and if approval to use EDN is not available, all deck cargo to China will need to be debarked after 28th October 2020.
Timberlands CEO steps downRobert Green has announced his resignation as CEO of Timberlands Ltd this week, after three and a half years in the job. Timberlands Chairman, Jon Hartley said in a letter shared with Timberlands staff that the KT Shareholders and the Timberlands Board wanted to acknowledge the significant contribution made by the outgoing CEO.
He went on to recognise the growth of the business during Greens’ leadership, and the increasingly strong relationships that the organisation has developed with a wide range of stakeholders. Mr Hartley explained that the Board and Shareholders would be undergoing an external recruitment process to find a suitable successor.
Outgoing CEO Robert Green said that he has always felt honoured and privileged to lead Timberlands. “I am tremendously proud of the body of work delivered during this period, and I would like to thank the team for the significant achievements behind us. We have seen major changes bedded in and have a set of motivating aspirations in front of us. I believe now is the right time for me to step aside and pass the reins to a new leader who will steer Timberlands in the post COVID era.”
Robert Green will be working with the Board to transition the organisation into a new leadership era and said he is looking forward to exploring new opportunities ahead of him.
NZ Dryland Forests Initiative secures fundingThe NZ Dryland Forests Initiative (NZDFI) is pleased to confirm that it has been awarded a grant of NZ$539,000 from Te Uru Rākau’s One Billion Trees Partnership Fund.
The funding will go towards work to accelerate the availability of elite, ground durable hardwood planting stock, with the focus on two species, Eucalyptus bosistoana and E. globoidea. Durable hardwoods do not require chemical treatment, and provide an environmentally friendly alternative to treated pine and imported tropical timbers. They have many applications, from poles and posts in orchards and vineyards to being a component of high strength engineered timbers such as laminated veneer lumber.
The NZDFI began work almost 11 years ago and has invested in a region- wide tree breeding and research programme. The improved plants will be available to landowners wishing to plant durable eucalypts from 2021 onwards. Proseed NZ Ltd, a Ngāi Tahu subsidiary and NZDFI partner, is New Zealand’s leading producer of tree seed. The company will now be able to further develop and scale up its novel clonal propagation programme and start collecting seed from its clonal seed orchards.
“This funding is a huge boost for us, “says Proseed’s CEO, Shaf van Ballekom. “We have already invested significantly in skills and facilities to support the NZDFI’s breeding programme and now we will be able to start to deliver the benefits of our eucalyptus breeding work. It’s very exciting.”
Effects of Australian bushfire smokeSmoke from the massive bushfires that hit Australia in the 2019-20 summer was linked to more than 445 deaths, a government inquiry has heard. More than 4,000 people were admitted to hospital due to the smoke, Associate Prof Fay Johnston from the University of Tasmania has told the Royal Commission. The fires burned for weeks, killed more than 30 people and caused air pollution which can be harmful to health. The inquiry is due to suggest ways to improve the natural disasters response.
The fires, fuelled by record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought, devastated communities and destroyed more than 11 million hectares (110,000 square km) of bush, forest and parks across Australia. Residents of Sydney - Australia's largest city - endured smoke for weeks and the air quality exceeded "hazardous" levels on several occasions. Other major cities, including the capital Canberra and Adelaide, were also shrouded by smoke.
Prof Johnston, an environmental health specialist at the University of Tasmania's Menzies Institute for Medical Research, said 80% of Australians, or about 20 million people, were affected by smoke from the fires. Some 3,340 hospital admissions and 1,373 emergency room visits were linked to the smoke, she added. The estimates were based on modelling of the impact of ultrafine particles - referred to as PM2.5 - that are a ninth of the size of a grain of sand.
The health cost associated with premature loss of life and admissions to hospitals was estimated at AU$ 2 billion "about 10 times higher" than in previous years, Prof Johnston said. This did not include costs associated with ambulance callouts, lost productivity or some diseases where impacts would be difficult to model, including diabetes.
The commission also heard that insurance claims related to the fires totalled AU$2.2 billion. The commission is expected to release its findings by 31 August. Bushfires are a regular feature in the Australian calendar, but recommendations by dozens of inquiries held in previous decades have still not been implemented.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... rustling
A cowboy walks into a bar and orders a whiskey.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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