Friday Offcuts – 11 September 2020

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It’s an issue often hotly debated in New Zealand between forest growers and wood processing companies, logs being exported at the expense of local supplies. It’s been going on for years and usually ramps up just as the country moves into an election. As recently as a month or so ago, the forestry industry was embattled over the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill. Much to the angst of the forestry industry, it’s Forestry Minister pushed it through Parliament under urgency. As it was being rushed through the select committee process the Minister commented that “log mongers" were selling Northland logs en masse to China meaning that not enough was available for “local saw mills to do their job”. The Bill was passed in late July. On its passing, the Minister said that the new legislation was going to provide equity of access to timber for both domestic processors and exporters.

It appears the same issue is now bubbling away across the Tasman. A South Australian timber processor warned that thousands of tonnes of softwood logs were bypassing local mills and heading off to China. This was despite long-term shortages facing some businesses. The claim was backed up by some industry associations commenting that “significant volumes of forest produce were being exported at the expense of domestic processors”. It appears that this issue is just one of the many being currently addressed as part of an inquiry (see link below) underway into the nation's timber supply chain. Hyne Timber has also ramped up the pressure again this week trying to get Government backing to divert logs destined for China to their Tumbarumba sawmilling operation. The wood is urgently needed to make up for around 40 percent of the mill’s log supplies that were lost in the summer bushfires.

This week we’ve included a couple of stories with links to some just completed videos that you also might find interesting. Safetree in New Zealand, have just produced five new videos featuring a Whanganui-based company, Penetito Forestry. The videos profile the importance of the work being undertaken in our forests by the many silvicultural crews. Scion’s fire team in New Zealand have also just added six new videos around some of their recent research burns and other aspects of their fire research programme. Already, their Youtube channel currently contains 23 videos for information and use with others in the pipeline. Links to the videos are contained in the two stories covered in this week's issue.

And finally, an update on industry technology events being planned in the next few months. We know you’re all hanging out to get outside of your office or worksite (as are we). The annual mass timber construction event, WoodWorks, for NZ wood producers, architects and specifiers is running on 20- 21 October and the ForestTECH 2020 event and the three workshops planned for mid- November (touched on this week with the aerial tree planting technologies story) are already attracting significant numbers of registrations, both for the events in Rotorua, and through virtual-on-line attendance.

For all those involved in wood harvesting and log transport, we also put the very first Expressions of Interest to present at next April’s HarvestTECH 2021 event into last week’s issue of Friday Offcuts. The response has been overwhelming, both for presentations and early interest being shown by equipment and product suppliers that next year don’t want to miss out on an exhibition space. We’re still working through the requests and we’ll be putting one final call for interest into next week’s issue. The message here though clearly is – if you want to be involved next year – to avoid missing out, you need to get back to us smartly in order to save a space. That’s it for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Concerns raised on softwood log exports

A South Australian regional timber processor has warned thousands of tonnes of softwood resource are bypassing mills and heading to China, despite long-term shortages facing some businesses.

Softwood export volumes decreased during the start of the pandemic, but trade is again flowing through deep-sea ports in Australia. Photographs supplied to the ABC show softwood resource — sourced from the Green Triangle commercial forestry estate in south-east SA and Western Victoria — being stockpiled at the rail internodal at Bordertown and in the wood holding yards at the Port of Portland, Victoria, ready for exporting.

This comes as the Federal Parliament's Standing Committee for Agriculture and Water Resources undertakes an inquiry into the nation's timber supply chain. Member for Barker Tony Pasin said on ABC Radio a code of conduct could be considered for the regional industry.

Mount Gambier-based Roundwood Solutions managing director Steve Telford said softwood resource was being shipped to China despite log supply insecurity facing smaller operators.

"There are a million-plus tonnes of resource going offshore every year — that's a massive amount of timber," Mr Telford said. "Our forefathers planted the trees — they were planted with a plan to create jobs into the future. It wasn't about growing wood for Asia."

Mr Telford, who is an industry veteran, said every time a boat left the ports, this wood was "gone for a generation. We could 100 per cent use the logs going out of the Port of Portland —both pulp and sawlogs could be utilised," he said. Mr Telford warned emotions were running high in some sections of the industry.

More >>

Source: ABC, Photo: SA Timber Processors Association

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Australian saw-logs to China could mean job losses

Family owned, 138-year-old Hyne Timber continues to call for government support to direct Australian saw logs destined for China to their Mill in Tumbarumba, in order to secure hundreds of jobs and help the Australian economy recover from bushfires and CoVid-19.

CEO Jon Kleinschmidt said employees and the community are increasingly voicing their concern regarding the future of the Mill following the devastating bushfires which decimated 40% of Hyne’s local log supply. “We continue to communicate transparently with our employees and Tumbarumba community stakeholders who we remain committed to supporting for bushfire recovery, but we can’t achieve this without government support.

“The fact is, as long we allow saw logs to be exported to China, there will be jobs lost in Tumbarumba, manufacturing resilience will be significantly impacted, and we simply cannot allow this to happen. If we can secure just under AU$10 million from the Berejiklian Government and a further AU$18.9 from the Morrison Government over three years on top of our own investment of over AU$42 million, we can freight these logs to Tumbarumba, retain hundreds of jobs and convert this investment into an estimated AU$173 million for the Australian economy.” Mr Kleinschmidt said.

Following discussions with private growers in Victoria and South Australia, Hyne Timber has confirmation that at least 441,000m3 of sustainably grown, plantation pine can be made available to the Mill over the next three years. This log currently has no Australian customer and is exported to China.

With government support, Hyne Timber can secure over 441,000m3 logs to the Tumbarumba Mill which will secure 181 jobs directly and AU$70 million in wages and salaries pouring into the local economy. A further 199 jobs will be secured indirectly. Hyne Timber has applied through the NSW Government Bushfire Industry Recovery Package – Sector Development Grants for support and is now in discussion with the Australian Federal Government.

Source: Hyne Timber

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Aerial tree planting systems being showcased

ForestTECH is this region’s most popular annual independent forestry technology series. This year, in addition to advances being made in remote sensing and forest inventory, for the first time, one of the two days has been set aside to profile the very latest developments in forest establishment, mechanised planting and silviculture.

As well as the very latest results and lessons from trials using Scandinavian mechanised planting heads (with recent modifications being made for local conditions), advances that have been made over the last 12 months using drones for planting will be discussed as part of this year’s event.

Aerial planting systems using swarms of drones are now fully operational. DroneSeed out of the US spoke at last year’s ForestTECH event. They have been employing swarms of UAV’s (or drones) to automate tree planting and spraying operations for a number of major North American forest management companies.

Late last year, they'd also started a number of commercial trials for tree planting in New Zealand. Their technology is capable of planting out at six times the speed of the human planter and in some pretty tight and tough terrain. This year they’ll be providing an update on their planting trials as well as their projects on reforestation and rehabilitation.

Another company with local ties, AirSeed Technologies, has also devised their own system allowing drones to plant large numbers of seeds in minutes using a pneumatic firing module. It can fire out two seeds per second at velocities of anywhere between 150 and 300 metres per second into the soil. This is faster than the cruising speed of a passenger jet. The module, called a Podder, can be attached to the bottom of most popular drone models and a team of two, flying 2 drones, can plant up to 40,000 seeds into the ground in a day.

AirSeed Technologies will also be presenting as part of this year's ForestTECH 2020 event on their drone technology and work in seedling and tree planting projects.

Together with resource and inventory management, the two days are going to provide a comprehensive technology update for all those involved in forest operations, planning, data capture, forest establishment and tree crop management.

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

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Mount Gambier key for tree breeding programme

An elite selection of trees in South Australia have been hard at work during baby-making season to create better genetics for plantation timber. The radiata pine trees have been chosen for Australia's only softwood breeding research and gene conservation site located in Mount Gambier and run by national forestry cooperative Tree Breeding Australia.

General manager Tony McRae said the aim of the site was selective breeding for plantation trees. "They're not just any babies, they're coming from the very best parents that have very good characteristics," he said. "Some of the babies will have even better genes than their parents, so that will enable us to identify those and increase the productivity in future generations of plantations."

However, these seeds will not make it to commercial plantations; instead, they will be planted in trials across the nation to track their genetic success. Researchers study the trees over their life for attributes such as wood quality and growth rate, and the information will further develop genetics available for plantation companies.

"We plant up to 9,500 seeds [in each trial] which are genetically unique, coming from some 300 different families," Dr McRae said. "We will combine that data with trials which have been planted in previous years or decades … we're generating new data on a daily basis."

He said that from there, the best genetics are brought back to the breeding site. "Out of the hundreds of thousands that we have in the trials, we might bring in 30 to 50 new parents, so we know the good parents based on performance out in the trials." It takes roughly two years to get viable seeds, from first pollination until pinecones are harvested, and pollination can only happen in a narrow six-week window.

More >>.

Photo: Tree Breeding Australia's pine technician David McKersie and general manager Tony McRae inspect the completed cross-pollination.(ABC Rural: Bridget Herrmann)

Source: ABC

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Silvicultural work highlighted in new videos

Silviculture workers are crucial to the success of New Zealand’s forestry industry. However sometimes the important work they do can be over-shadowed by the harvesting end of the business. But silviculture is where the forestry cycle starts. The planting, pruning, thinning and other work silvi crews do, has a huge impact on the crop as it matures.

Good silviculture crews set things up in a way that adds considerable value for forest managers and owners. They also ensure that things can go more smoothly at harvesting time. Silviculture crews do valuable work. They are people worth valuing, investing in and taking care of.

To showcase their work, Safetree teamed up with Whanganui-based company Penetito Forestry. They’ve made some videos of the work the Penetito crews do, and how they add value for the company's clients. Penetito are Safetree Certified Contractors and have taken part in Safetree's Leadership courses. So, they have some great insights to offer on what makes a successful crew.

Safetree is suggesting you might like to take time out to watch these videos and share them with your crews, teams and clients. They are a great way to acknowledge and celebrate the important work being done by a key part of our industry.

Click here to watch these five new silviculture videos.

Source: Safetree

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3D fibre products pilot plant planned

Metsä Group’s innovation company Metsä Spring and Valmet have decided to continue the development collaboration related to 3D fibre products and hence, to invest jointly approximately Euro 20 million in a new R&D project.

As part of the project, a greenfield pilot plant will be built on Metsä Group’s mill site in Äänekoski, Finland. When operational, the pilot plant will employ roughly 10 persons. The technology applied in the pilot plant converts wet wood pulp into final 3D fibre products without any intermediate steps. In other words, the new environmentally-friendly 3D fibre products are ready to be shipped to end customers.

The short-term goal of the project is to develop a novel durable, environmentally-friendly and easy-to-use food packaging. Based on a recent customer survey, products like this are in high demand on the market, and the demand will grow further in the future. The aim is set for high volume market segments.

The construction of the pilot plant begins in the autumn of 2020 and the pilot plant is expected to be ready for operation by the end of 2021. The pilot plant will be used for the continued development of both the manufacturing technology and the 3D fibre product. If the pilot plant phase validates the concept as sound, the next step would be the construction of a commercial factory in the following years. The pilot plant phase is part of the ExpandFibre programme.

Source: lesprom

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Input to new Building for Climate Change programme

Public consultation has opened on proposed changes to help reduce carbon emissions in New Zealand’s building and construction sector. Information about the consultation process is available on the MBIE website.

MBIE is asking for feedback on two documents that will set the course for these changes. The first document, The Whole of Life Embodied Carbon Emissions Framework, looks at reducing embodied carbon emissions across a building’s whole life cycle, from the production of building materials, all the way through to what happens to the building when it’s at the end of its life.

The second document, The Transforming Operational Efficiency Framework focuses on reducing carbons emissions related to the operation of buildings, such as the use of heating, cooling, lighting, ventilation, and other similar items.

As these frameworks are likely to have a future impact on the Building Act and Building Code, they’re keen to hear your views on what we’re proposing, and learn from your experiences, so we can make sure we get this right.

Further details on the process can be found here. The consultation on the two frameworks will run until 7:00 PM on 30 September, 2020.

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Latest edition of Australian TMS report released

Softwood products

The June quarter 2020 results show prices for untreated MGP products declined, with price movements ranging between -2.2% and -1.1%. Price movements for treated outdoor products were more moderate and ranged between -1.7% and -0.2%. Panel product price movements show increases of up to 1.8%, while price movements for other engineered wood products were mixed and ranged between -5.7% and 0.8%.

Hardwood Products

Over the six months to the end of June 2020, price increases for F17 hardwood structural products ranged between 1.6% and 4.2%, while higher strength grade F27 products showed moderate price decreases of -0.7%.

Price movements for all hardwood flooring products were in an upwards direction, with most price movements ranging between 2.0% and 4.7%. Price movements for Tasmanian oak flooring were more moderate and ranged between 0.2% and 0.9%.

The TMS collects price data through quarterly surveys of a representative sample of timber market participants in eastern Australia. All quarterly TMS reports contain price movement information for softwood timber, panels and engineered wood products. The June and December quarter editions also include price movement information for hardwood timber products surveyed over a six-month period.

The TMS is prepared by Indufor and funded by nine major Australian forestry organisations: Forestry Corporation of NSW; VicForests; Hancock Victorian Plantations; HQPlantations; OneFortyOne Plantations; Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Green Triangle Forest Products; AKD Softwoods; and Sustainable Timber Tasmania.

Further information and the latest Timber Market Survey report can be downloaded here

Source: Indufor

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New posts on Rural Fire Research Blog

As a result of the recent research burns and associated publicity, Scion’s fire team now has a number of new videos available for viewing. The team now has its own YouTube video channel, and has updated the Videos link page on the fire research website.

The Videos page of the website highlights six recent videos, but now also includes a link to the new Scion Rural Fire Research Youtube channel.

The Youtube channel currently contains 23 videos, ranging from media stories on the research burns and other research activities, to videos from the burns themselves, to presentations on other aspects of the research programme (such as smoke modelling and human factors research).

More videos will be added in future as they are produced, and will likely eventually be grouped into playlists around specific topic areas (such as media, research burns, etc.).

Source:FOA E-News

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Amplifying the voice of the driver

The Australian Trucking Association and Big Rigs national transport newspaper have launched a new campaign week, amplifying the voice of Australia’s truck drivers. The ‘Voice of the Driver’ campaign is an initiative that aims to gather feedback from Australian truck drivers on the proposed fatigue laws as outlined in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS).

“Following the success of the ATA and Big Rigs ‘Have Your Say’ campaign, we have teamed up again to amplify the voice of the driver as the HVNL review progresses,” Mr Maguire said. “Seeking feedback from truck drivers during the review process is absolutely crucial, as they are the ones dealing with these issues every single day.

“This campaign is about giving drivers the opportunity to share their views on the proposed fatigue laws in an easily-accessible way, through our online survey and a series of social media polls,” he said. The feedback gathered through the survey and wider campaign will be used to support the ATA submission to the consultation RIS.

Big Rigs editor James Graham is thrilled to be resuming the collaboration with the ATA at this critical juncture in the reshaping of the fatigue regulations in the HVNL. “For too long drivers have felt they have been left out and that their opinions didn’t matter when it came to policy matters,” he said.

“But the National Transport Commission is clearly now listening to their concerns and issues. We’re already seeing the difference the Have Your Say campaign has made with the RIS, and I’m confident that the Voice of the Driver will only build on that momentum.”

Mr Maguire said that to thank drivers for sharing their feedback, each survey respondent will have the opportunity to receive one of five Kenworth merchandise packs. “Each week, our judges will select the best response to the open questions in the survey and award the driver with a Kenworth pack,” he said.

To take part in the survey, click here.

Source: The Australian Trucking Association

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First CEO for the Tasmanian FPA

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has welcomed the appointment of Nick Steel as the first CEO of the Tasmanian Forest Products Association (TFPA). The Chief Executive of AFPA Ross Hampton said, “Nick comes to this new role having spent over 10 years working for the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association at senior levels, and that experience has given him a solid grounding in the issues the industry faces and the skills in representing its members’ concerns to government and other stakeholders.”

“The TFPA’s membership includes all the major growers and processors who are part of Tasmania’s sustainable forest products industry, in native forestry and plantation, softwood and hardwood, heralding a new era of cooperation between all parts of the industry to represent Tasmania’s forest industries to governments, media and the community.”

Mr Hampton said TFPA would work closely with the Australian Forest Products Association on growing the industry in Tasmania. “The forest products industry is a major contributor to Tasmania’s economy and a major employer, and it needs to continue to have a representative of the highest pedigree. Nick fits that bill. I congratulate him on his appointment, and I look forward to working with him.”

Mr Hampton has also paid tribute to Terry Edwards, the outgoing Chief Executive of the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT), which is being replaced by the TFPA. “Terry and FIAT championed forestry in Tasmania for many years and I want to thank him for his work,” Mr Hampton said.

Source: AFPA

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Plantation supply inquiry opens proceedings

The Australian Federal Government’s inquiry into the timber supply chain constraints in the Australian plantation sector has opened its hearings. The first session heard feedback from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the and the Softwoods Working Group, which represents interests of the South West Slopes region of New South Wales. Updates on future hearings and submissions can be found here.

VAFI – The News Mill

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Primary industry centre of vocational excellence

Fiona Kingsford, CEO of New Zealand’s industry training organisation, Competenz, has welcomed the government’s announcement of the stakeholder group to establish the Food and Fibre Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE). Located in Hawke’s Bay at the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT), the CoVE group involves 54 organisations across the entire food and fibre sector including industry associations, tertiary providers, Māori, employers, employees and standard setting bodies.

“Primary industries are critical to our country’s economic recovery, and vocational education plays a big role in upskilling and reskilling existing and new employees in this sector. Now is the time to attract people to the sector, train them, and provide clear educational pathways,” says Ms Kingsford.

“We are also keenly aware that a combination of technical and soft skills is important to give the sector the capabilities they need to navigate a post-COVID economy, and the disruption that we are encountering with technology and innovation.

“Our organisation is excited to see this industry-led approach to vocational education for the primary sector, via the Food and Fibre CoVE, and the growth and investment in training and building skills pathways across the primary industries. We also need to ensure that we invest in our training infrastructure, so we are delighted to see ongoing support for recruitment and training of on-job trainers and assessors as part of the CoVE’s proposal.”

The CoVE initiative was led by the Food and Fibre CoVE Consortium, which included the Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Council of which Competenz is a member, Beef+Lamb NZ, Dairy NZ, Federated Farmers, NZ Apples and Pears, Seafood NZ, and NZ Winegrowers. The CoVEs are important enablers in the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) announced by the government in 2019.

Source: Competenz

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Wilding pine control activity ramped up

A nationwide plan to tackle more than 800,000 hectares of wilding pine infestations over the next year will generate up to 550 new jobs and help prevent future wild fires, say’s New Zealand’s Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor and Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare.

“We're ramping up our wilding control activity in areas where jobs are needed most,” Damien O’Connor said. “Budget 2020 included NZ$100 million for wilding pine control through the Jobs for Nature programme. Over NZ$36 million of that funding will be spent in the next 12 months as part of our four-year programme. That extends our work from 19 to 58 sites across New Zealand."

Minister O’Connor says this includes a range of long-term projects led by regional councils, and smaller-scale community partnerships. “We’ll see significant work throughout most of New Zealand – in Northland, across the Central North Island, in Marlborough, Nelson/Tasman, Queenstown, Otago and Southland.”

"More than NZ$17 million of work is allocated over 400,000 hectares of wilding infestations in Canterbury alone, including extensive infestations in Craigieburn and the Mackenzie.”

“In many areas, like Queenstown and the Mackenzie basin, we’ll be removing longstanding infestations that have become a familiar part of the landscape. People are inclined to think any tree has some value. But the recent fires near Lake Pukaki, only a few years after the devastating fires in Flock Hill, have shown that wilding pines threaten the ecosystem, the economy – and the community”.

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... a few more from lockdown

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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