Friday Offcuts 31 July 2020
As we reported last week, the highly contentious Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill was passed by NZ’s Parliament late last week. After being rushed through a shortened committee process under Budget urgency, forest owners had a small victory a few weeks ago where Parliament’s environment committee limited the potential for a new industry regulator to interfere in commercial agreements between growers and log buyers. There had been real concern from the industry that the government could have used those powers to set a volume quota, or a cap on log prices, for domestic processing. A number of key changes for the new legislation are detailed below. Over the next 12 months or so, Te Uru Rākau will be working with key stakeholders to develop new regulations and rules (including practice standards).
The long-awaited details relating to this year’s ForestTECH 2020 event have been included in this week’s issue. The great news is, it’s on. It’s going to be running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 18-19 November. There are a number of exciting features that have been built into this year’s event, some which have been forced on the organisers by COVID-19 and some which have been added by industry.
Three key features for the ForestTECH 2020 event this year include; the themes are going to be split for the first time between forest establishment, mechanised planting and silviculture on day one and remote sensing, data capture and forest inventory on the second day, two half-day workshops have been added at the front and back end of the planned conference and exhibitions (details will follow) and for the first time, it’s being offered as a live + on-line virtual event. Further information can be found in the story below, from the attached event brochure and on the event website. And on that note, enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Log Traders and Forestry Advisors bill updateAs we reported last week, the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill was passed by the NZ Parliament last Thursday evening. Key changes to the Act relating to regulating log traders and forestry advisers include:
• inserting a specific volumetric threshold of 2000 cubic metres of logs traded, below which a person or company is not required to register as a log trader,
• providing an exemption from the requirement to register as a forestry adviser for those already covered by other occupational licensing regimes established under other legislation, such as lawyers or real estate agents,
• providing further specification about the process and requirements in relation to registration and de-registration, complaints and disputes including rights or review and natural justice principles,
• clarifying the functions of the Forest Authority and the criteria that would need to be taken into account before delegation of any of these functions to anybody outside the Public Sector, and
• for the avoidance of doubt the Bill also confirms that practice standards cannot impose conditions that are properly a matter for commercial agreement between parties.
Te Uru Rākau will now work with key stakeholders to develop regulations and rules (including practice standards), which will be subject to public consultation. While they are still finalising specific timelines, they are expecting a process to be at least 12 months to develop the regulations.
Information about the Bill is available on Parliament’s website.
Source: Te Uru Rākau
ForestTECH 2020 – it’s ON!Every year, since 2007, forestry resource managers, remote sensing, GIS and mapping specialists, inventory foresters, researchers and key technology suppliers from across Australasia attend the forestry technology series, ForestTECH. It’s now well and truly established itself on the international forestry calendar. As well as Australian and New Zealand companies, forestry companies and technology providers from the USA, Canada, Europe, SE Asia, South Africa and South America are regularly involved with the annual technology updates.
With a bit of to-ing and fro-ing around restrictions imposed by COVID-19, the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) is delighted to announce that for the 2020 event, it’s on. It will run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 18-19 November. Early details can be found on the event website, www.foresttech.events . The usual format though has been changed. This is going to allow maximum interaction with inventory foresters and tree crop managers from across the region – and further afield. Major changes, which we’ll elaborate on in future issues are;
1. In addition to the usual focus on remote sensing and new data collection technologies, for the first time since 2008, a second day will be focussing on mechanised planting and automated silviculture. European technologies are already well advanced and are being trialled on flatter terrain by some of the larger forestry companies in both New Zealand and Australia.
2. For the first time since its inception, the physical event (on-site presentations, exhibitions and workshops) will be run in just one location, Rotorua, New Zealand. This is a direct consequence of border restrictions between countries, and this time, between States in Australia. This provides some surety for planning for exhibitors and delegates.
3. Live links from the New Zealand event will be set up for those unable to travel (because of border restrictions, company directives or budgets). This ensures Australian and international delegates can still actively be involved this year. On-line questions from virtual conference delegates will be able to be made to all presenters - live.
4. An additional Australian component has also been set up for virtual conference delegates. A selection of Australian presenters planned to present in the original conference programme have been included in a special 90-minute on-line workshop on the completion of day two.
5. Increased international involvement through the new live and virtual hybrid format. Key technology presenters from the USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Germany, South Africa, Brazil and Australia will be presenting this year.
6. Two additional half-day workshops for those delegates attending Rotorua. These include a half-day Remote Sensing Cluster Group meeting on the afternoon of Tuesday 17 November and a half-day demo and workshop on the Hovermap LiDAR simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) technology being run by Interpine and Emesent following the conference and exhibitions on the morning of Friday 20 November.
Further details and information can be found on the event website. The programme for both days can be viewed here. Registration details will be uploaded shortly.
Review announced for Victoria’s forestry industryThe Victorian Government has commissioned a broad-ranging review to safeguard the Victorian Forestry Plan – and the regional jobs and environmental protections it will deliver. The 30-year plan sets out a long-term and sustainable future for Victoria’s forestry industry. As part of the plan announced last year, VicForests will extend existing timber supply agreements until 2024, after which native timber supply will be stepped down before ending in 2030. Logging of old-growth forests is now banned.
The plan includes immediate exemptions from logging for 96,000 hectares of forest across Victoria to protect the future of the Greater Glider alongside the Leadbeater’s Possum and more than 35 other threatened species.
Opal Australian Paper will also be supported to transition to a full plantation-based supply, ensuring it operates until at least 2050 – providing support to its almost 1,000-strong workforce and stability to its customers. The plan is backed by AU$120 million in industry support – including re-employment and re-training services for impacted workers, and funding for community projects that support local businesses and help create local jobs.
However, recent legal challenges have highlighted a range of issues that put the future of the plan at risk, by potentially limiting the ability of VicForests to deliver on the supply commitments set out in it.
The Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 (the Code), is a key instrument containing important rules that govern timber harvesting and was introduced by the previous Liberal-National Government. While the Code has been in operation there have been numerous legal challenges and uncertainty for conservationists and the forestry industry about their operating environment.
A clear, accurate and enforceable Code is needed, supported by strong enforcement powers for Victoria’s Conservation Regulator. As a result, the Government has initiated a review of the Code to:
• minimise the risk to short-term supply obligations arising from third-party litigation
• ensure it remains fit for purpose and facilitates the implementation of the Victorian Forestry Plan
• strengthen the regulatory powers available to the Conservation Regulator
• identify regulatory reforms informed by the 2019-20 bushfires.
The review’s work will inform the upcoming comprehensive review of the Code required under Victoria’s Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs).
In response to the announcement, the Australian Forest Products Association has cautiously welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement of a review of the Code of Practice for Timber Production to address the relentless tide of vexatious litigation waged by anti-forestry groups.
AFPA CEO Mr Ross Hampton said the Victorian Government must act urgently to address the uncertainty created by last month’s Federal Court decision against VicForests. “While VicForests has confirmed it will appeal the judgment, the court case has highlighted the need to reaffirm the intent of the regulatory framework and to avoid the endless lawfare that anti-forestry activist groups have waged in recent years to disrupt lawful timber harvesting operations,” Mr Hampton said.
“We urge the Victorian Government to progress the necessary changes to the Code and to work with the Federal Government on providing certainty to the RFA framework and for Victorian timber industry workers.”
However, Mr Hampton condemned Premier Daniel Andrews for persisting with his flawed plan to shut down the Victorian hardwood timber industry. “If the Victorian Government is serious about protecting timber jobs in Victoria then it would abandon its disastrous plan to shut down the industry by 2030,” Mr Hampton said.
Source: Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, AFPA
Govt cuts red tape for Australian forestry industryAustralian private forestry operators will gain access to the AU$2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, under a federal government proposal to reduce carbon emissions, boost regional jobs and support investment in the sector. The government will simplify access to carbon funding for new forestry projects in five regional forestry hubs, including communities hard hit by last summer’s bushfires, Energy and Emissions Reduction minister Angus Taylor says.
This will enable the forestry sector to participate in the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). “Reducing red tape for projects located in the five Regional Forestry Hubs will support regional jobs and investment, including in communities hard hit by last summer’s bushfires,” he said in a statement.
“This will make it easier for the private sector to invest in new Australian forestry projects, supporting jobs and reducing emissions.” The ERF has committed AU$1.9 billion to projects in regional and rural areas since 2014, with more funding available through the AU$2 billion Climate Solutions Fund. The government says that through the CSF, it is targeting “dollar-for-dollar co-investment to drive AU$4 billion of investment in emissions reduction projects across Australia”.
Major paper manufacturer Visy has described the decision as a “triple win” for the economy, the environment and the community. “This important rule change is welcome news to Visy, Australia’s Forestry Industry and the 55,000 jobs it supports because it means new plantations, new investment and most importantly new jobs in regional forestry areas,” a spokesman said in a statement.
“The plan calls for establishing an initial footprint of new plantations of more than 20 million trees requiring an investment of over AU$200 million with scope for further investment beyond that.” The initial locations are southwest Western Australia, the ‘Green Triangle’ of South Australia, north/northwest Tasmania, and the northeast and southwest slopes of NSW.
Changes to NZ’s resource management systemThe NZ Government has welcomed the most comprehensive review of New Zealand’s resource management system since the Resource Management Act (RMA) was passed in 1991. The report, New Directions for Resource Management in New Zealand, was commissioned by Environment Minister David Parker and prepared by an independent review panel led by retired Court of Appeal Judge Tony Randerson QC after extensive consultation.
Among its recommendations is the replacement of the existing RMA by two separate pieces of legislation; a Natural and Built Environments Act and a Strategic Planning Act. Minister for the Environment, David Parker said a review of the resource management system was long overdue. “The RMA has doubled in size from its original length. It has become too costly, takes too long, and has not adequately protected the environment,” he said.
The Government had already made changes to the resource management system in the current three-year term to address issues that could not wait for the comprehensive review. “It is for the next Government to consider the report, and decide which aspects to adopt and decide whether to implement it in whole or in part.”
The review panel said the proposed new Natural and Built Environments Act (NBEA), taking a substantially different approach from the RMA, would focus on enhancing the quality of the environment, housing and achieving positive outcomes to support the wellbeing of present and future generations.
The proposed Strategic Planning Act would embed integrated spatial planning across all regions of New Zealand. It would set long term strategic goals and help integrate legislative functions across the resource management system including the proposed NBEA, the Local Government Act, the Land Transport Management Act and the Climate Change Response Act. This will allow a broad range of matters to be reconciled to ensure better future planning, including for infrastructure and housing.
It recommends greater use of national direction by the Environment Minister and a more streamlined process for council plan-making and a more efficient resource consent process. It also proposes a new separate law to address issues related to climate change adaptation and the managed retreat from areas threatened with inundation.
The full report is available on the Ministry for the Environment’s website
Supporting alternatives to radiata pineA new initiative by Forest Growers Research is underway to create an industry group for people working in New Zealand’s specialty timber industry. While over 90% of New Zealand’s forestry estate is radiata pine, many other species are grown in forests and on farms around the country. These alternative or ‘specialty’ timber species include exotic plantations of cypresses, redwoods, eucalypts and poplars as well as native timbers from sustainably managed private forests.
The exotic plantations cover over 67,000 hectares across New Zealand and add diversity to local forests and landscapes. They also offer economic value by sustainable harvest to produce high quality timbers. They have the potential to substitute much of the NZ$112 million worth of sawn timber imported into New Zealand annually, most of which is used in high-value joinery markets.
Locally grown specialty timbers are generally milled by small-scale operators who operate a sawmill at a permanent base, and/or who provide mobile sawmilling services. These people are typically highly skilled, energetic practitioners who are adept and innovative in engineering and technology, and who have a passion for wood. Small-scale sawmillers form a critical link in the specialty species value chain, but currently they all work independently.
Forest Growers Research is working alongside the forestry sector in proposing this initiative via the Specialty Wood Products programme (SWP) and an industry working group. The working group comprises several sawmillers and others working in the specialty timbers sector who support the concept of collaboration between members of the sector.
The group believes an industry entity of this nature could provide leadership, strengthen links in the value chain, attract and train new entrants, upskill existing practitioners, and develop branding and collaborative marketing that will increase the value and sales of specialty timbers.
Chair of the SWP, Peter Berg (NZ Farm Forestry Association and Tanes Tree Trust), says this proposal is aligned with a key objective of the SWP to develop regional strategies that unlock the commercial potential of these specialty species in conjunction with the key investors and stakeholders.
“We know there are several hundred professional sawmillers out there, all working independently,” says Peter. “As a sector they are already milling a resource worth tens of millions of dollars annually, but there is huge potential for the sector to expand, attract new entrants, and become more sustainable.
“An industry group could support people working in the sector in many ways, starting with things like a bespoke website, joint promotion and a regional marketing directory. Beyond this we see potential for many other benefits typically provided by similar industry groups – for example, product certification and approved/accredited sawmiller schemes, new timber grading standards, assistance with employment and Health and Safety responsibilities, and development of training courses and recognised career pathways.
The Farm Forestry Association’s Farm Forestry Timbers has begun work in some of these areas: we plan to build on that initiative by involving a much greater number of sawmillers and developing a wider range of services and benefits.”
A survey of the sector has been launched, targeted primarily at small-scale sawmillers. The survey, which runs until mid-August, aims to discover more about the activities of the sector, and gauge the level of likely support for an industry association. If enough positive responses are received, the next step will be to set up a steering group to lead the formation of the new association.
Source: Forest Growers Research
Bushfire recovery program underwayThe AU$46 million bushfire recovery program from the NSW Government is seeing work happening now to rebuild State forest roads and bridges lost in the 2019-2020 fire season.
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the AU$46 million equity injection is part of the larger NSW Government AU$100 million COVID stimulus package, and will see Forestry Corporation repair damaged public infrastructure, and expand its Grafton and Blowering nurseries and begin planting activities in bushfire affected State forests.
One local project is replacing burnt bridges in Doubleduke State Forest, said Forestry Corporation of NSW Acting Forest Protection Manager, Peter Walters. “We are partnering with local industries and contractors to repair or replace bridges and reopen main forest roads, while supporting the local timber industry,” Mr Walters said.
“In Doubleduke State Forest, we are working with Grafton-based business Big River Timbers to rebuild forest bridges using timber from NSW State Forests. This will mean Glencoe Road can reopen, a strategic forest access and firefighting road, as well as other forest roads in the area.”
Photo: Peter Walters, Acting Protection Manager (right) and Jason Blanch, General Manager Big River Group
Forestry leads sheep and beef farmingIn May, business analyst PwC submitted a report to MPI which compared the economic and employment output of New Zealand forestry with sheep and beef farming. Other options looked at were carbon forestry and a mix of land use. The report had been commissioned in 2019. FOA has requested and just received a final copy of this report from MPI.
The Economic Impact of Forestry in New Zealand is a clear and objective refutation of the statements which have been widespread in the news media recently which are that forestry destroys local communities and jobs. PwC has found forestry makes more than double a value chain impact than sheep and beef farming, in both value-add by land use and also in providing employment.
Two tables from the report include;
For the full PWC Report, click here.
Source: FOA E-News
Code Review must deliver greater certaintyFollowing the Victorian State Government’s announcement of a review of the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 (the Code), the Victorian Association of Forest Industries Inc. (VAFI) has welcomed the intent to provide greater certainty for industry.
“There are some elements of the Code that are often open to broad interpretation, which has led to this review,” said VAFI CEO Tim Johnston. “As such, VAFI agrees with the Government’s intent to review The Code to limit risks from future litigation.”
Mr Johnston said that any review of the Code should lead to greater operational certainty and protection for forestry operators to go about their jobs. Security of supply is essential for the native hardwood processing sector, which relies on timber from Victoria’s State forests.
“We call on the Government to make good on its commitment to mitigating risks to supply.” “However, VAFI continues its strong opposition to the Andrews’ government policy of phasing out the native hardwood industry. We will need to see further detail on the review to be assured that it will not create even further limitations on native forest harvesting.”
“Only 3,000 hectares (or less that 0.04% of forests) of public forest is harvested and regrown each year. From this small operating area, the native hardwood sector generates over 2,500 jobs in Victoria and is a key employer in many regional communities,” Mr Johnston said.
Mr Johnston also emphasised opportunities for the review to establish landscape-scale forest management in State forests. “The Code, in its current form, mandates a wide range of prescriptions and harvesting exclusions which are imposed in an ad hoc way. This review should consider how the Code can support a more holistic, landscape-scale approach to forest management, to balance economic, social and environmental values.”
“VAFI will continue to call on the State Government to support the entire forest and timber industry. This means it must provide policy certainty for the native hardwood sector, to implement its commitment to new plantations, and to provide bushfire recovery support across the entire industry” he said.
Funding allocated to Tasmanian farmers for treesPrivate Forests Tasmania is leading a project that will see 212 hectares of trees planted on farms across Tasmania in the next twelve months. The project is co-funded by Private Forests Tasmania, the federal government (through the Smart Farming Grant) and primary producers, seeking to develop a landscape-scale best practice integration of shelterbelts and woodlots into the Tasmanian agricultural landscape.
Private Forests Tasmania called for expressions of interest from Tasmanian primary producers to join the project. Applications were received from 17 farms across Tasmania, which were assessed against twenty selection criteria. The successful applicants will receive assistance totalling over AU$600,000 for activities that establish significant farm scale best practice integration of shelterbelts and woodlots into the agricultural landscape; and demonstrate the multiple benefits of trees on farms.
“Seven of the seventeen applications had good claims against all criteria and also met other essential and desirable requirements,” says Private Forests Tasmania Chief Executive Officer, Penny Wells. “The successful applications are dispersed across Tasmania including farms at Evandale, Dunalley, Montumana, Campbell Town, Ellendale and Westwood. Across the sites there is a 50/50 mix of shelterbelts and woodlots and a range of species including Radiata Pine, Blackwood, Eucalyptus Globulus, Eucalyptus Nitens and other mixed species.
“The trees will be managed for wood products including sawlogs, poles and fibre and will provide a broad range of other benefits including stock and pasture shelter through wind reduction, reduced water evaporation, carbon sequestration and prevention of farmland degradation.”
Planting will commence in late winter/spring 2021. The trees will be integrated into farming enterprises that currently include prime lamb, wool, grass seed, cereal grains, forestry, aquaculture, dairy, beef, cropping, seed growing and potential future horticultural crops.
“Existing Tasmanian case studies have found that farm systems that include trees are more productive and profitable than agriculture only enterprises with internal rates of return typically around 8%,” says Ms Wells. “It was great to see such a high number of good quality applications. While 10 of the 17 applicants did not meet all the necessary criteria for grant funding as part of this project, this does not mean they are not worthy projects for agroforestry or forestry investment.”
Unsuccessful applicants will be contacted regarding their willingness to participate in Private Forests Tasmania’s ‘Matching Project’, which seeks to find suitable investors willing to work with landholders to fund mutually beneficial tree growing opportunities. “Private Forests Tasmania would like to work with all land owners interested in gaining the benefits that trees can bring to their farming enterprise,” says Ms Wells.
Source: Private Forests Tasmania
First Swedish wooden wind turbineThe wheels have begun to turn on an interesting new form of wind turbine in Sweden, with the country’s first wooden power-generation tower now complete. Built from sustainably sourced materials and said to offer comparable performance to traditional wind turbines, it's hoped the wooden power tower will be a harbinger of cheaper and greener solutions for renewable energy in the Nordic country, with commercial versions planned for a couple of years down the track.
Following in the footsteps of a similar creation in Germany, the new wooden wind tower is the brainchild of Swedish engineering firm Modvion, which is out to improve on what it sees as significant drawbacks when it comes to typical wind towers. These tall, steel towers demand thick bases to support their upper sections, which not only makes them very expensive to produce, but very expensive to transport to site, with rules around load size on public roads often proving problematic.
Modvion is instead working on a modular version that can be made out of cheaper and greener materials than steel, which requires huge amounts of energy to produce. The company’s wooden wind towers are designed to reach heights of more than 120 m, at significantly lower cost than those made out of steel, with the modular approach allowing for stackable sections to be transported on public roads without issue. They are also claimed to be carbon neutral from the day construction begins.
The 30-meter proof-of-concept tower was built together with wood construction company Moelven at its facility in Töreboda. The wooden sections of the turbine were then transported to Björkö, an island outside Gothenburg around 200 km away, with the final piece put into place in late April.
If things continue smoothly for Modvion, it plans to produce commercial-scale versions of its wooden turbine in 2022. These include a 110-meter-tall version for Varberg Energi, as well as 10 towers in excess of 150 m tall for renewable energy company Rabbalshede Kraf.
Source: Modvion, newatlas.com
New science executives at ScionScion has boosted its senior management with three new roles that will increase science input at the executive table. Chief Executive Julian Elder announced the appointment of Tara Strand, Roger Hellens and Florian Graichen as general managers for each of Scion’s three research impact areas.
Dr Elder says once Scion completed its strategy refresh earlier this year the next step was looking at how to implement the strategy. “Successful delivery on our strategy relies on leadership and organisational design. We reviewed our executive management team structure to ensure it is aligned with our strategy and that science has a strong voice in healthy debate and future direction,” he said.
Dr Tara Strand is Scion’s new General Manager for Forests and Landscapes. This impact area covers forests predominantly planted for permanent forest purposes.
Dr Roger Hellens is Scion’s new General Manager for Forests to Timber Products. This impact area is about growing forests to produce high-value trees for high-value timber manufacturing and products.
Dr Florian Graichen is the new General Manager for Forests to Biobased Products. This impact area is about growing forests to be used for biobased manufacturing and products.
Dr Elder said Roger and Florian took up their new positions on 20 July, and Tara started on 27 July 2020.
Covid testing chaos with Australia’s truckingAustralia’s governments have failed their COVID-19 test after days of confusion about how to screen interstate truck drivers, Australian Trucking Association CEO Ben Maguire said this week. Mr Maguire said that state governments had imposed different testing requirements on drivers, failed to address the key issues raised by industry and failed to provide convenient and accessible testing facilities.
“The Australian and state governments must take immediate action or interstate road freight will effectively shut down,” Mr Maguire said. “What we know today (Wednesday) is that Queensland is encouraging drivers to be tested, South Australia and Western Australia require it for some drivers, and that it’s completely unclear what NSW is doing.”
The NSW Government announced overnight that freight workers crossing the border from Victoria should have a COVID-19 test every seven days. “The first paragraph of the NSW Government announcement says it is announcing ‘new requirements,’” he said.
“Paragraph four says that enforcement has not commenced, and that it’s just a recommendation. The paragraph then reverses course and, at the end, says it’s a requirement. “Is it a recommendation or a requirement? It’s completely unclear, and we need clarity most of all in these uncertain times.”
Source: Australian Trucking Association
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... the ostrich
Sent in by one of our readers.
And one more. The new priest is nervous about hearing confessions, so he asks the older priest to sit in on his sessions. The new priest hears a number of confessions, then the old priest asks him to step out of the confessional for a few suggestions.
The old priest says, "Cross you arms over your chest, and rub your chin with one hand and try to look serious." The new priest tries this and things go along much better.
At the end of the day the new priest is very happy.
The old priest says, "Now, don't you think that's a lot better than slapping your knee and saying 'No Way! What happened next!"
And if you have any more for us, please send them through. Any contributions (clean though) will be welcomed with open arms.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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