Friday Offcuts – 28 August 2020

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A couple of decisions by the Australian courts in recent weeks, along with re-certification issues, have put the already beleaguered forestry industries in Victoria and Tasmania under increasing pressure. Earlier this month VicForests and Sustainable Timber Tasmania both revealed that they hadn’t achieved Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. As we've reported, this prompted the hardware giant Bunnings to bring forward a commitment not to sell VicForests timber unless it was FSC approved. VicForests in a statement said that they were postponing certification but still remained committed to demonstrating conformance to international standards for forest management certification. Sustainable Timber Tasmania, commenting on their FSC audit report said that they're still keen on achieving FSC certification and had in their recent audit achieved 93% of the required measures.

Pressure unfortunately ramped up again late last week. On the back of a landmark Federal court judgment in May, 67 coupes in the Central Highlands have been removed from VicForests harvesting plans (26 already logged with the remainder, un-logged) on the basis that it could destroy the habitat of threatened species. VicForests is planning to appeal the decision. Last week the environmental group, The Bob Brown Foundation, also launched their own Federal court case. In it they’re claiming that native forest logging in Tasmania is inconsistent with Federal laws and that the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement isn’t valid because it “lacks a legally enforceable requirement that the State must protect threatened species”. Further coverage on both cases is contained in this week’s issue.

The decision on the VicForests case last week is significant. It’s the first time the Federal court has granted a final injunction to prevent logging of threatened wildlife habitat. In Tasmania, if the case is successful there, the group is suggesting that they’d then look at mounting similar actions against Federal-State forest agreements in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. Regardless of the science and the strong cases that are being put forward at the moment for the industry and its workers, these decisions alarmingly could set a precedent for other areas covered by RFA’s between Federal and State governments. If the fires and lock-downs aren’t enough, the industry certainly has a very real fight now on its hands. It's time to circle the wagons. The actions and reactions to these recent moves could have significant ramifications for the native forest industry across Australia for many years to come.

With the uncertainties surrounding the running of events over the last few months, two major events have now been set up with forestry and wood products companies in this region. Both are to be run in New Zealand. After months of lock-down, the industry is looking forward again to meeting up in Rotorua later in the year. The first event is the country’s annual tall wood or mass timber conference, WoodWorks. It's featuring a full session on the country’s tallest timber building: the 9-storey all-timber Auckland City Mission Homeground high-rise building in downtown Auckland. This masterpiece of CLT and LVL is New Zealand’s version of the record setting ‘Brock Commons’ building in Vancouver. Early-bird registrations for this event finish next week.

The other eagerly anticipated annual technology event is this year’s ForestTECH 2020 event with two main themes this year, mechanised silviculture and advances being made in remote sensing/forest inventory. Stories on both upcoming technology events are featured below in this week’s issue. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Landmark case halts VicForests' logging

Strict conditions to stop logging of threatened species habitat in Victoria’s Central Highlands were issued by the Federal Court on Friday, as the forestry industry feels the first effects of a landmark ruling to enforce federal environment law on a state-owned forestry agency.

The Federal Court in May ruled in favour of local environment group Friends of Leadbeater's Possum, which argued VicForests had breached the federal Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act when it logged forest coupes in the Central Highlands region.

The Act contains protections for listed threatened species – including the vulnerable greater glider and critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum which live in the Central Highlands.

VicForests argued to the Federal Court that it was exempt from federal threatened species obligations set out in the Act because of a separately negotiated logging agreement between the state and federal governments – known as a Regional Forest Agreement.

However, Justice Debra Mortimer found VicForests’ logging operations had damaged threatened species habitat and failed the Act requirements – such as protecting threatened gliders and possums. An injunction was placed banning VicForests from doing any more logging in the region.

Strict conditions, issued on Friday, are detailed in orders issued by Justice Mortimer. A spokesman for the state logging agency said now that the orders are finalised, "VicForests will move quickly to lodge an appeal".

No more logging is permitted in the 26 coupes which had already been logged but still hold some commercial timber. The orders permit VicForests to conduct their statutory requirements for forest regeneration, which come under state law. Further, no logging is allowed in 41 un-logged coupes. While VicForests is permitted to draw up new logging plans, it has to apply to the federal government for approval under the Act.

If those plans are approved, the VicForests must appeal to the Federal Court to have the logging injunctions, issued in May, lifted. Experts said the ruling in May set a precedent which may apply to Regional Forestry Agreements regions across the country.

“This is the first time the Federal Court has granted a final injunction to prevent logging of threatened wildlife habitat,” said EJA senior lawyer Danya Jacobs.

Source: Brisbanetimes

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Legal action against Tas native logging

Former Greens leader Bob Brown has launched legal action against native forest logging in Tasmania, claiming it is not in accordance with federal law. The challenge, lodged with the federal court on Thursday night, argues the Tasmanian regional forest agreement does not comply with a federal act.

The Bob Brown Foundation argues the agreement doesn’t ensure the protection of endangered species and lacks proper enforcement mechanisms. Lawyer for the foundation, Roland Browne, said the agreement allows forest management laws to be amended by Tasmania without reference to the Commonwealth.

“In Tasmania, the state does what it likes under the protection of the regional forestry agreement,” he said. The island state’s regional forestry agreement, which was signed in 1997, is designed to balance the economic, social and environmental demands on native forests.

Bob Brown said he was encouraged by a May federal court ruling which found logging in parts of Victoria was illegal. The court found Victoria logged 26 areas home to species at risk of extinction which are meant to be protected by both state and federal law – and planned to unlawfully log another 66.

“This is the first time the Federal Court has granted a final injunction to prevent logging of threatened wildlife habitat and the first time Victoria’s logging industry – the largest in Australia – has been held to account,” Environmental Justice lawyer Danya Jacobs said in a statement on Friday.

Further coverage can be read here.

Source: aap, the guardian

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Mass timber construction event drawing keen interest

Now is the time to complete your registration for New Zealand's October mass timber conference as Early Bird rates finish at the end of the week. It is also an exciting time for learning more about wood in commercial construction. We’ve had an enthusiastic response with registrations coming in a cracking pace — so get onto yours now!

We are seeing accelerating activity in mass timber building already this year. Red Stag Timber has components in production for the 5-storey Clearwater apartment building in Christchurch. The 9-storey Homeground building in CLT for Auckland City Mission has reached full height in downtown Auckland. We will have more exciting news to reveal next week too! More buildings are being costed than ever before in wood.

Featured speaker (pictured): Jasmax architect Daniela Vassura is based in their Auckland office. She will be speaking on one of the key projects she led — the 14000sq m Park Lane Living Well Village, where she was able to utilise her sustainable architecture experience acquired at ZEDfactory in London. Sustainable design is embedded in Jasmax’s philosophy and she contributes to it on a broader level as part of the Green Team.

Daniela has acquired a varied and rich experience through working on diverse projects that include large masterplans in China, offices in South Korea, residential developments in the UK, retrofit and renovations in Italy, specialised health facilities and mixed-use developments in Auckland and Christchurch. Jasmax is a household name in the New Zealand building industry, and we are pleased to have Daniela present at our conference this year.

Another speaker on the October programme is Jason Cordes is the Managing Director of Red Stag Investments & Wood Solutions. Red Stag has partnered with the Ministry of Primary Industry (MPI) and the Primary Growth Partnership Programme (PGP) to establish New Zealand’s first timber high rise reference building. The five storey apartment complex at Clearwater in Christchurch is the first of several timber reference buildings scheduled across New Zealand that will showcase the benefits of timber in mid-rise construction, from residential through to commercial applications.

In parallel, Red Stag will show case the largest timber building in New Zealand to enable the largest and most advanced Engineered Wood Product manufacturing plant based in Rotorua.

Register now and get the latest inside information on how mass timber is set to take off here in New Zealand. See you there!

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Mechanised tree planting technologies profiled

For the first time since the annual ForestTECH series started back in 2007, this year’s event will involve two separate themes over the two days. ForestTECH 2020 runs in Rotorua on 18-19 November 2020. This year, it’s being run live and as a virtual on-line event for Australian and international delegates.

The usual focus for the end of year series is on remote sensing, data capture, GIS and mapping and forest inventory technologies. One of the two days this year will again be providing insights into new data collection technologies that have been developed and are being used operationally out in the forest. Advances that have been made on processing and better interpreting the big data streams now routinely being collected out in the field is also a key component this year.

ForestTECH 2020 has also set aside a full day to cover new technologies around forest establishment, mechanised planting and silviculture. A significant number of presentations given at last year’s ForestTECH series covered research and trials that had been undertaken on planting with drones, seedling deliveries onto planting site by drones and survival counts of tree seedlings using satellites, hyperspectral and multispectral imagery and deep learning. As these new remote sensing technologies are being rolled out, there is an obvious cross over between forest data collection and cutting-edge research and trials around tree crop management.

Recently, there has also been a resurgence of interest being shown by forestry companies in Australasia on mechanised or automated operations for planting and silviculture. The economics are starting to stack up and the technology can address the growing issue of labour shortages that are being faced over the planting season. Mechanised or machine planting is already successfully being used across Scandinavia and in South America. Operational trials have been undertaken in the central North Island of New Zealand last planting season with more extensive plantings using the mechanical planting systems planned for this year.

Aside from addressing the shortage of planters this year because of COVID-19 restrictions, some of the advantages being seen of mechanised planting using planting heads mounted on an excavator are much better soil cultivation (ripping and mounding) for the young trees and greater consistency in the quality of the tree planting. Fertiliser granules can also be integrated into the planting process, along with herbicides or insecticides if required.

In drier climates or at the end of the planting season, tree planting can also be extended by the application of water (or slow release irrigation) at the time of planting. This feature, particularly with eucalyptus plantings in countries like Chile, Brazil, South Africa, China and Indonesia, has been used successfully and is being trialled this season in northern NSW.

Each of the main mechanised planting head manufacturers; Bracke, Sweden, Risutec, Finland and the M-Planter, Finland (represented in this part of the world now by a CNI land preparation contractor) will be presenting as part of ForestTECH 2020. Early trial results and lessons from trials by some of the larger companies in both New Zealand and Australia will also be detailed to ForestTECH 2020 delegates as part of the November event.

Full details of the programme for both days can now be viewed on the event website and here.

Photo: Risutec

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All 76 bushfire inquiry recommendations accepted

NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott says firefighters will be able to enter private properties and start hazard-reduction burns under new powers recommended after an inquiry into last summer's bushfires.

The independent inquiry made 76 recommendations in the wake of Australia's Black Summer, and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her Government would adopt all of them. Compulsory land clearing, night-time water bombing, and aggressive hazard-reduction burning were among the recommendations, as were strategies to protect fauna.

Land owners in some areas will be legally required to ensure their properties are safe by clearing land and conducting hazard-reduction burns. NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) would be given rights to enter properties and clear land or conduct burns if land owners fail to.

"If people ignore the risks on their property and that endangers the lives and livelihoods and the infrastructure of a neighbouring property then the RFS are deemed, quite rightly in my mind, to rectify and to reduce any hazards," he told Nine radio.

Ms Berejiklian called last season's deadly bushfires "the biggest challenge we have faced in more than a century". "We know the scars of the season will go on for a long time," she said. "We're not going to pretend that we have managed firstly deal with all the physical issues and secondly, of course, the ongoing trauma of those directly impacted.

Also included was guidance on which aerial fire-fighting assets should be used in the future, and what strategies personnel should pursue. These included increased water-bombing at night and employing more rapid aerial responses when fires are burning in risky and hard-to-reach terrain. The inquiry's report also advised on measures to protect the mental health of firefighters.


Further coverage can be read here.

Source: ABC, 9News

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FWCA backing Australia's timber workers

Not since the Tasmanian ‘forest wars’ have timber workers and their communities felt more besieged by malicious and carefully coordinated attacks on forestry and their jobs. Corporate activist organisations have ramped up their efforts to close down the industry in Western Australia, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, which comes on the back of rural communities already hit by drought, bushfire and short-sighted government policy. Piling on are the minnow groups, who peddle outrage like hemp shirts at a community market, as they fund vexatious litigation against forestry operations.

- In WA, protesters are damaging machinery in Nannup as they falsely claim “old-growth” forest is being harvested.

- The NSW EPA is continually looking over the shoulder of workers as it proactively responds to activists claims in northern and southern NSW amidst a ferocious anti-forestry campaign.

- Several professional protest organisations are banding together to attack forestry operations in the Styx Valley in Tasmania.

- And the ongoing legal battles in Victoria, as every crowd-funded, perpetually outraged, not-in-my-backyard group snaps at the heels of forestry.

Stuck in the middle of it all are hardworking men and women, who just want to get on with their jobs and produce the legally sourced timber products that the very people who are demonising them use every day. It is their voice which should be heard alongside the timber industry-funded organisations who are doing a great job of arguing the case for forestry publicly and at the highest levels of government.

Forest & Wood Communities Australia (FWCA) is a new association which represents those grassroots workers and their communities, the small businesses that support the industry, and those who want to continue to enjoy Australian-sourced native and plantation timber.

FWCA complements the existing representative organisations to create an even stronger representation of those directly affected by anti-forestry politics. Unlike other organisations that largely represent the business or sector interests of the industry, FWCA represents the voice of the workers, their families, lovers of timber, forest users and the communities they live in.

More >>

Source: FWCA

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Linda Sewell steps down from OFO

OneFortyOne Plantations announced this week that Linda Sewell has announced her resignation as Chief Executive Officer of the Company, effective 28 August, 2020. In a statement released from the Board of Directors, it states that the news comes with regret but also great respect and support for Linda in her decision. After nearly eight years of demanding hard work, a challenging pace and thoughtful leadership of the Company, Linda has determined it is time for her to embark on a new journey.

Linda joined OFO in April, 2013, soon after the purchase of the forest estate owned by ForestrySA in South Australia and Victoria, as the first independent CEO of OFO. Under her leadership and support by the Board and Shareholders, the Company has since grown into a stable, vertically integrated forest products company, with significant, high quality forest estates in Australia and New Zealand along with timber processing facilities of the same calibre. The Company today has over 500 employees across the two Countries.

Linda has hired and is supported by a seasoned and well-respected leadership team that will remain focused on our shareholders, employees and day-to-day operations. Andy Giles Knopp will continue to serve as Acting-CEO, a role he is well-suited for given his knowledge of OFO's integrated businesses and his experience since 2016 as OFO's Chief Financial Officer. The Board will evaluate options over the coming weeks as related to support for the leadership team and the Company.

As a part of her role through the years, Linda has been instrumental within the industry helping to form the Green Triangle Forest Industry Hub, building relationships on behalf of the Company and industry with Government, and establishing OFO as a respected operator and partner within the regions it operates. In full acknowledgement, Linda leaves the Company well positioned for the future.

John S. Gilleland Board Chair. OneFortyOne Plantations, concludes the statement with; “Please join us in thanking Linda for all she has done at OFO and wish her good health and great success into the future. Although her last day at OFO will be here soon, we know Linda will remain a part of the OFO family and a key participant in our industry”.

Source & Photo: OneFortyOne Plantations

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Vale Bob Newman

As reported in last week’s issue of Offcuts, Bob Newman, forester, consultant, past Chairman & Vice President of CFA, passed away on 11th August 2020, aged 91. Michael Bleby OAM, CFA Regional Co-ordinator SE Asia & Pacific, has written a short obituary for Bob, who will have worked with and alongside many of our readers over the years.

Regarded as a leader in the development of private forestry in Australia, Bob Newman’s 60-year career as a forester was characterised by work in many facets of forest management and by taking on significant roles in professional and industrial associations.

In 1955 he gained a Diploma from the Australian Forestry School Canberra, and a B.Sc. (For) from Melbourne University in 1958. He later obtained qualifications in Business Management. In his retirement he wrote a thesis on the way government can encourage timber plantations by using long term incentives and in 2018 was awarded a Master of Science by Research from Southern Cross University.

Born in the UK at Barton on Sea in Surrey on 20th July 1929, Bob travelled as a teenager to Australia in 1946. His first work in forestry in 1951 was as a student with for the Forests Commission of Victoria, followed by a period with the CSIRO Division of Forest Products. His first appointment as a forester at the end of 1955 was in Tasmania with Australian Newsprint Mills (ANM) at Maydena. This involved resource assessment and silvicultural research with Dr Max Gilbert. He then joined The State Electricity Commission of Victoria in 1959 as the Works Forestry officer for the Kiewa Hydro-electric scheme at Bogong in North-east Victoria.

During the 1960’s Bob’s career then took him to managing sawmills in Myrtleford and in the Otways, including timber treatment plants, a veneer mill, and new timber drying facilities. He became involved in timber distribution in the ACT and Southern NSW, followed in 1970 by the establishment of a successful timber supply business based in Canberra.

In 1976 he was one of the first foresters to start a consulting business, with work in Tasmania and he took on a founding role in the organisation formed for private (non-Government) forest owners, the Australian Forest Development Institute (AFDI) which became Australian Forest Growers (AFG). He became a champion for private and farm forestry encouraging investment in plantations and he successfully lobbied politicians for taxation deductions to remain in place.

In 1987 he based his office in Albury and was instrumental in organising the 1988 Bicentenary Forestry Conference and subsequently the National Foresters Grove, which is a reserve of trees planted in recognition of individuals who have made significant contributions to Forestry.

He moved his consulting practice to Yarralumla in Canberra in 1993 and in 2002, merged his practice with G.H.D. Consultants and continued in private practice until 2011. His clients included many major forest companies, Governments, and work overseas in Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, China and the U.K.

Bob’s involvement in various Professional Associations was significant. Apart from AFG, he was a founding member of the Association of Consulting Foresters of Australia, involved with the Hoo Hoo club and with the Timber Preservers’ Association. He held office and was a keen supporter of many gatherings and conferences.

As a Forester, he initially joined the Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA) in 1951 as a student member becoming a full member in 1961. He was one of the founders of the Murray Catchment branch of the IFA. He became a Fellow in 2005, and was awarded the Institute’s highest Award, the NW Jolly Medal in 2011. In his response, Bob acknowledged those foresters who had supported him through his career right from his early days. “My tertiary education was helped by John Chinner of Melbourne University, Sibley Elliot of CSIRO Forest Products, Sir Edward Weary Dunlop of Japanese War Fame and a Wallaby, and Dr M.R. Jacobs the iconic Principal of the Australian Forestry School”.

Bob was a great encourager and understood the value of recognition. He was instrumental in instituting various awards. In addition to the National Forester’s Grove, he was responsible for the suggestion to establish the M.R. Jacobs Oration which is presented at IFA conferences. He organised awards for the ACT Forester of the year and raised funds for student prizes in silviculture.

He became a great supporter of the Commonwealth Forestry Association and joined the CFA in 1977. He attended many Commonwealth Forestry Conferences (Vancouver 1985, Rotorua 1989, Kuala Lumpur 1993, Perth 2001, and Colombo 2005) In 1988 he was elected Vice Chairman of the Governing Council and served as Chairman from 1990 -1993, subsequently continuing on the Governing Council as a Vice President.

In 1996 on the 75th Anniversary of CFA Bob had the honour of presenting H.M The Queen with an Australian parquetry piece depicting a Eucalypt. Bob was involved in the instigation of the Queen’s Award for Forestry and arranged its first presentation to John Turnbull in 1998 in Melbourne. The CFA Regional Medal awarded for excellence in the S.E Asia and Pacific Region was proposed by Bob and has been implemented regularly since 1998. Recognition of his service to forestry and the community culminated in his being awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the January 2006 Australia Day Honours.

Outside of forestry, rugby football was his sport. He excelled in this during his youth, was an ardent follower of rugby throughout his life and was a keen member of the Canberra male voice Rugby Choir. He also enjoyed blues music and folk songs. He is survived by his wife Janet, a son, a daughter, step children and grandchildren.

Bob was a cheerful supportive colleague and an encourager and mentor to many. He was inclusive and gave employment to many forestry students and new graduates. He understood all facets of forestry, utilisation and marketing, and had an appreciation of the value of networks and influence. Movers and shakers like Bob are sometimes not without their critics, but he leaves many enduring legacies which pay tribute to his efforts and as a result, the profession and the forest industry is clearly the better for them.

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NSW Government plans rapid bushfire planting mission

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has commended the NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro and the Berejikilian government for fast-tracking the replanting of the state’s softwood plantation areas, which were destroyed during the Black Summer Bushfires.

Softwood plantations in NSW suffered massive damage during the fires. Around 35,000 ha of state owned, and 10,000 ha of private plantations were lost in the South West Slopes region, and significant damage also caused to plantations around Bombala and the Northern Rivers region.

The NSW Government has announced that it will be accelerating its winter planting program to an unprecedented 12,500 hectares per year for the next eight years. That means 12,500,000 new trees, each of them planted by hand, in the ground every year.

AFPA Chief Executive Officer Ross Hampton said, “We’re delighted the NSW government has adopted this approach. The state’s forestry body Forest Corp is already expanding its nurseries to meet the increased capacity for seedlings. The accelerated planting program will start next winter when the seedlings being propagated now will be ready.”

The Chairman of the Softwoods Working Group Peter Crowe said, “The NSW Government’s decision means the replanting that would have been completed over 10 years will now happen over eight and that means a faster recovery for the State’s plantation estate, with private plantations also committed to significantly increase their replanting over the next two years.”

“These softwood plantations will be able to produce useable timber earlier in fire-affected areas and replace the timber being harvested for processing. Both measures will aide in the industry’s long-term recovery.” Mr Crowe concluded.

Source: AFPA

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Patent for new wood adhesive

The University of Maine has received a patent for a process that creates construction materials using an environmentally friendly binding agent.

The process developed by UMaine researchers eliminates the use of formaldehyde as a binding agent for construction materials such as particleboard, and replaces it with a slurry of cellulose nanofibrils, according to a news release. The use of the slurry increases durability and eliminates formaldehyde off-gassing.

The technology can be used to create a variety of commonly used building materials. The primary application for the patent focuses on a replacement for particleboard.

“CNF technology could transform the way we make not only building materials, but a host of other products,” said the UMaine inventor, professor of chemical and biomedical engineering, Doug Bousfield. “Particleboard is only one potential application. A similar process could be used to create composite fibre board for insulation, cements, and even paint. We are also researching alternatives to single-use plastics for applications such as food packaging, drink lids and utensils.”

UMaine’s PDC is the only publicly accessible U.S. facility that can manufacture CNF at a rate of one ton per day. The centre supplies CNF and cellulose nanocrystals to academic, public and private research groups interested in evaluating and developing applications for the materials.

Photo: University of Maine, Particleboard whose binding is an environmentally friendly cellulose nanofibrils slurry, developed by the University of Maine


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Sugar Pine Walk photo comp winner announced

Forestry Corporation of NSW has announced the winner and finalists in the Sugar Pine Walk commemorative photo competition, with Michael Harris taking the top place with his photograph ‘Winterlong’. (see image below). Forestry Corporation’s Snowy Regional Manager, Dean Anderson, congratulated and thanked Mr Harris and other finalists for sharing their memories of the Sugar Pine Walk.

“Sadly, this iconic location was burnt in the 2019-20 bushfires and now removed, but the photo competition has captured the beauty of the site and marks its passing,” Mr Anderson said. “The stories that came with the photos were touching and it is apparent that the Sugar Pine Walk was a special place for many people.

“Photographers have each managed to catch a different aspect to the forest, and the 380 entries demonstrate the beauty of the former site.” Mr Harris wins a $500 cash prize and the top 60 finalists will be showcased in a photo book and e-book commemorating the iconic walk. All finalists will be presented with a hardcopy commemorative photobook.

Entries are available to view on this link

Source: Forestry Corporation of NSW

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WTO backs Canadians in softwood lumber dispute

The World Trade Organization dispute-resolution panel declared on Monday that the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission were wrong in 2017 when they imposed countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports.

Canadian lumber producers cheered the latest decision Monday from the World Trade Organization on Canada's long-standing dispute with its largest trading partner over exports of softwood lumber — a finding the United States quickly denounced as unfair, biased and flawed.

The WTO dispute-resolution panel declared that the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission were wrong in 2017 when they imposed countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports, having concluded that Canada's regulated forestry industry amounts to an unfair subsidy for Canadian producers.

In particular, the panel agreed with Canada's argument that Commerce made a number of errors in determining the benchmark Canadian timber prices it used to determine whether producers north of the border were paying adequate stumpage fees to the provinces.

"For more than three years, our industry has paid billions of dollars in countervailing duties that [Monday's] decision confirmed should never have been paid in the first place," B.C. Lumber Trade Council president Susan Yurkovich said in a statement. "This report is a scathing indictment of the U.S. Department of Commerce's subsidy findings and the biased process it followed in reaching them."

U.S. trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer, long a vocal critic of the WTO's dispute resolution system, had a different perspective. "This flawed report confirms what the United States has been saying for years: the WTO dispute settlement system is being used to shield non-market practices and harm U.S. interests," Lighthizer said in a statement of his own.

"The panel's findings would prevent the United States from taking legitimate action in response to Canada's pervasive subsidies for its softwood lumber industry." The 2017 flashpoint over countervailing duties was just the latest flare-up in a cross-border trade dispute that has raged between the two countries for nearly 40 years.

More >>.

You can check out the WTO report here.

Further coverage on the announcement;


Source: cbc, newswire, bloomberg

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... and one to end the week on ... how to speak kiwi

After the Aussie citizen test questions, attached is one sent in by one of our Aussie readers to even the score.

And a couple of extras to round off the week.

Did you know on Canary Island there is not one Canary? And in the Virgin Islands, the same thing, not one Canary there either.

I bought my husband a Pug. Despite the rolls of fat, the wrinkles, the bulging eyes and plain being ugly, the Pug seems to like him.

My neighbour banged on my door at 2 a.m. this morning. I didn't let him in. I mean who turns up to a party in their pajamas and slippers.

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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