Friday Offcuts – 18 September 2020

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So, in the run up to the NZ election in a month’s time, the Government who’d promised a policy to use timber as a first option for its building contracts before the last election, has finally got it over the line. As part of a wider statement issued mid-week on Government procurement of NZ$42 billion which is spent annually on goods and services, 138 government departments and agencies are now going to have to consider using more sustainable building materials such as wood when constructing new buildings. Red Stag Group’s chief executive Marty Verry said previous work by Deloitte had suggested a policy like this could well generate up to 5,000 jobs and increase log processing by about 1.7 million tonnes a year. The policy follows similar policies already adopted in France, Japan, Canada, Australia, and the USA. The announcement has been enthusiastically welcomed by New Zealand’s forestry and wood products industries. Further coverage and commentary are contained in this week’s lead story.

Aligned with this announcement, in just over a month now, New Zealand’s major annual mass timber conference, WoodWorks 2020 runs. This week it’s appropriate to cover several recent developments, both in construction and regulatory changes around mass timber construction. From Europe, a hotel built entirely out of solid wood has just become a reality with a new eye-catching five story hotel opening up in Austria. From the US, construction has just started on a 25-story apartment tower using mass timber and CLT which when completed, is expected to be the tallest mass timber structure in the world. And to the west, in California, a series of new code regulations have just been adopted that are now going to pave the way for the State to begin to implement widespread construction of tall mass timber buildings. If interested in local innovations and developments around the use of wood in mid-rise and tall timber buildings, check out WoodWorks 2020 that runs in Rotorua on 20-21 October.

For the other tech events being planned with industry right now, we’ve profiled in this week’s issue, advancements being made in automated silviculture in the lead up to the region’s major ForestTECH 2020 event running in mid-November. Registrations, continue to roll in for both those attending in person this year in Rotorua (it’s been some time since the industry have met up) and for others, out of Australia and further afield who will be making full use of the virtual on-line component being introduced for the first time. Discounted early bird registrations for those attending in Rotorua close on Friday 9 October. We’ve also inserted the final call for presenters who may be interested in being involved in the HarvestTECH 2021 event next April. From the first call a couple of weeks ago we’ve been swamped with interest from the industry and key suppliers to wood harvesting and log transport operations. If interested, best get onto it today.

And finally, last week we put you onto numerous videos that had been produced to profile silvicultural operations in our forests and some of the results from recent fire research. This week we cover instead a short film. It’s just over 23 minutes long and has been produced for the US paper and packaging industry. “Paper Makers” gets in behind what makes this particular industry tick and showcases its environmental credentials – from forest through to the product – told through the eyes of its workers. Well worth a look if you have the time. That’s it for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Low carbon construction policy a winner for NZ Inc

The NZ Government is to be congratulated on implementing its low carbon construction procurement policy. The policy will simultaneously deliver strong economic, social, and environmental outcomes for all New Zealand, and is a necessary step in New Zealand’s path to becoming carbon zero by 2050.

The policy announced on Wednesday requires government agencies to measure and then choose the construction material option with the lowest upfront carbon emissions, or explain why not. “Fortunately, there is now a good range of price-competitive ‘mass timber’ suppliers in New Zealand, with a good base of architects, engineers and construction companies experienced with wood design and construction, says Red Stag group CEO Marty Verry.

The announcement follows similar policies in countries such as France, Japan, Canada, Australia, and the USA. “It’s great that New Zealand is going to start leading the way in clean green carbon zero construction”, adds Verry, “it’s great for our country’s brand image, and something all exporters and tourism can benefit from.”

Verry, also spokesperson for the wood processing sector on the policy, points to Green Building Council research that 20 percent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the built environment, primarily because of concrete and steel use. “Use of wood both displaces the use of these high CO2 emitting products on current projects, but also encourages the planting of more trees to sequester CO2 in the decades to come.

“Wood is being used for practically all building types around the world now, and thanks to new ‘mass timber’ products like Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) they can be cost effective and faster to build. “New Zealand also has many specialist wood engineers and construction firms now. This government procurement policy will introduce more of them to clean green construction systems, and those experts will then be able to offer those skills to the private sector.

“This combined volume will provide a step-change in demand that will trigger global scale investment in wood solution factories based in New Zealand. That will in turn will support growth in high value engineered wood exports, instead of raw logs to China.”

Verry adds that data based on Deloitte research found the policy could add up to five thousand jobs to the sector, increase log processing by 1.7 million tonnes annually, sequester 918,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, and result in a NZ$500 million annual balance of payments improvement by exporting high value green products and importing less climate polluting steel and concrete.

According to the NZ Green Building Council’s Zero Carbon Roadmap for Aotearoa’s Buildings if cement were a country it would be the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the USA. “There will always be roles for steel and concrete in buildings”, adds Verry, “but we must limit them where there are sustainable alternatives. Those products will still benefit from the government’s huge infrastructure spend, so will not be adversely affected by the policy.

“In a Covid world the government is thinking strategically about its spend, and where every dollar ends up. With concrete and steel, it generally ends up in the hands of Asian suppliers supporting their jobs. But with wood solutions, it supports a long forestry and wood processing supply chain reaching deep into iwi populated regions of New Zealand where jobs are needed most.

“The sector has a three times economic multiplier and a 2.7 times employment multiplier for every dollar spent or job created”, adds Verry “So it just makes sense to try to keep it local. “Having a policy based on what’s best for NZ Inc will push government building developers and design teams to stop resorting to the traditional systems they are familiar with, and design for what’s best for New Zealand holistically.

“As such, this strategic use of government policy is to be commended. The Labour and NZ First parties both committed to this policy promise at the last election. Shane Jones and Stu Nash have been particularly strong for the sector on pushing this. They have delivered.“

Source: Red Stag Group

For further coverage on this week's announcement;

Procurement to Promote Jobs

Low Carbon Construction Policy A Winner

Forest Industry Welcomes Government Procurement Policy

Source: Forest Owners Association, Sccop

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Final call for presenter interest - HarvestTECH 2021

As detailed in an earlier issue, expressions of interest are being called for to present at next year’s major wood harvesting and log transport event, HarvestTECH 2021. From our last call, we had a significant number of companies and speakers that have put up their hands to be involved. Thanks. Early details on the planned event can be found on the event website.


If you’re involved in wood harvesting, you’ll remember well the major harvesting event, HarvestTECH 2019 that ran in Rotorua, New Zealand last year. The event SOLD OUT well in advance of it running. It was the largest gathering of its type ever seen in New Zealand with close to 500 harvesting contractors, harvest planners, forestry managers and equipment and technology suppliers into the region’s logging industry attending.

In addition to most major New Zealand contractors being at HarvestTECH 2019, a large contingent of contractors and forest managers came across from Australia, Canada, the USA, Brazil, Chile, Finland, South Africa and Papua New Guinea. HarvestTECH 2020, with a focus on wood transport and logistics had been scheduled to run in September 2020, both in New Zealand and Australia. However, because of COVID-19 restrictions, the event had to be postponed.

The plan is to now run HarvestTECH 2021. It will run on 13-14 April 2021. However, the format, because of the uncertainty still surrounding travel internationally and between New Zealand and Australia (and even across state borders in Australia), for April next year has been changed.

So, what’s being planned?

1. One location. Like the 2019 event, the physical event (on-site presentations and trade exhibitions) for HarvestTECH 2021 will again be run in just one location, Rotorua, New Zealand. This enables delegates and exhibitors to plan with some degree of certainty.

2. LIVE + Virtual On-Line Event. Live links from the New Zealand event will be set up for those unable to travel into Rotorua.

3. Alignment with the Forest Safety & Technology 2021 event. As an added bonus, the very popular forestry safety event run by the Forest Industry Engineering Association is also being held at the same venue on the first day, Tuesday 13 April. This will enable delegates from both events to network during the breaks and to capitalise on the large number of trade exhibitions that are anticipated to be present in Rotorua.

Changed format and content:

With the theme of the postponed HarvestTECH 2020 series being on wood transport and log measurement and scaling technologies, this will still be forming an integral part of the planned two day-event in 2021. Day One of HarvestTECH 2021 will focus on log scaling, log segregation and loading, wood transport, logistics and technologies allowing data integration through the wood supply chain.

Day Two of HarvestTECH 2021, like the sold out 2019 event, will detail new equipment and operating practices being used to increase the mechanization, productivity and the safety of steep slope logging, new technology being rolled out by local wood harvesting contractors, the integration of automation & robotics into wood harvesting operations and best practices around ensuring environmental sustainability (roading, stream crossings and harvest residues management) in felling and in extracting wood from the forest.

So, if interested in saving a speaking space within the programme, best get back to us to avoid missing out this time around. Please email your interest through to BEFORE Wednesday 23 September.

Exhibition packs for those wishing to exhibit at the event have been mailed out on Monday to a range of key equipment and technology suppliers. If wishing to express an early interest in saving a space or you'd like to be sent a pack, please get in touch with

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Advancements in silviculture picking up pace

For much of the last 50 years, improvements in mechanisation of forest establishment and silviculture has been steady and incremental. Machines got stronger, more capable and more robust, but by and large just built on traditional approaches. The advent of GPS, automation, UAVs, remote sensing, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, as well as improved manufacturing techniques, have seen significant recent advances in tools and machinery.

More particularly, these technologies are opening up a multitude of opportunities to undertake establishment and silviculture more safely, more efficiently, more attractively for workers in a forest environment, and with substantial and measurable improvements in quality, consistency and reliability. In a couple of recent issues of Friday Offcuts, we’ve highlighted the significant strides that have being made locally in the use of mechanized and drone systems for planting tree seedlings.

We’ve included a couple of clips below to give you a feel for some of the tech developments being seen worldwide at the moment in automated silviculture and planting.

This last clip shows a Komatsu D61EM is a planter for plantation forestry, manufactured in Brazil, with partly Swedish components. The Brazilians looked at technology from the Nordic countries, Sweden and Finland when they decided to go for mechanized planting. They bought planting heads from those countries, tested them and discussed adaptions with the manufacturers. The result was that they managed to get good equipment that suited their conditions. The Komatsu D61EM is built to operate on flat ground and in straight rows. The machine is equipped with three planting heads, manufactured by Bracke Forest in Sweden and it plants 900 plants per hour. For further information, click here. In New Zealand, another Finnish system has been trialled with similar modifications to suit local conditions.

ForestTECH 2020 on 18-19 November will be covering the very latest technology developments for tree crop management as well as remote sensing, data capture and forest inventory. This year for the first time, the two-day programme can be signed up for remotely if you are unable to get into Rotorua, New Zealand in person to attend. The full programme and further information can be found on the event website.

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NZ sawmill picks up major skills award

A New Zealand sawmilling operation, Westco Lumber Ltd, picked up this week a major award at the at the 2020 Diversity Awards NZ™ for their efforts to improve learning amongst its staff and workers.

West Coast sawmill business Westco Lumber Ltd wanted to reinvigorate a culture of learning among its workers, recognising that an engaged workforce has been key to its success. Bringing in outside training company Conquest Training Ltd in 2019 has led to key members of Westco’s 90-strong workforce participating in a learning programme that followed an individual plan suited to their ability and need – and the results have already been impressive.

Westco has two sites on different sides of the Southern Alps. Ruatapu, about 20km south of Hokitika, is one of the few sawmills still operating on the West Coast, while further processing is completed in Wainoni, Christchurch.

The company has thrived as an independent operator despite some major challenges, putting a premium on innovative thinking, quality systems and looking after its staff through initiatives such as a profit-sharing scheme. For many years, learning and development were a big part of the organisation but due to economic restraints, the focus waned over time.

Management acknowledged that within their teams were individuals who, for various reasons, had missed out on education and any sort of professional development. Staff were skilled in their roles but would benefit, both personally and professionally, from further learning opportunities.

Westco asked Conquest Training to reenergise the upskilling and learning culture, firstly inviting the training company to speak at quarterly “toolbox” meetings at both its sites, to highlight the opportunities ahead. It was emphasised that training sessions would be fun, educational and build upon existing skills.

An initial group completed a literacy and numeracy upskilling programme, then became its advocates, recommending it to their colleagues. As a result, Conquest is continuing to run programmes and one-on-one training sessions.

Conquest Training and the Westco leaders worked together to develop a programme that would benefit both the organisation and the team. “It was about improving company goals and targets and improving individuals as the key ingredient of that,” says Conquest Training Managing Director Nettles Lamont.

Developing communication skills and understanding conflict were high on the aims list, and it was agreed a focus on Westco, its history and sharing of information – especially financials – were critical, given the profit-sharing arrangement.

More >>.

For the full case study on the mill and it’s implementation of introducing a more extensive learning culture amongst its staff and workers, click here.

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Financial support for NZ timber industry

Four Bay of Plenty timber businesses will receive investments totalling nearly NZ$22 million through New Zealand’s Provincial Growth Fund to boost the local economy and create jobs, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced.

Rotorua-based sawmill Red Stag Wood Solutions will receive a NZ$15 million loan to develop an engineered wood products manufacturing facility. “Red Stag is a major employer in the region and a well-respected member of the industry. This funding will enable the company to bring forward by two to three years construction of the facility which will focus on the production of cross-laminated timber.

Its products will be used in the construction of 2000 new houses, which will be invaluable for Government housing initiatives. “This is going to provide significant employment to an area in need. It is estimated that the project will initially create 30 jobs through construction and is expected to employ 62 people when completed,” Shane Jones said.

Another Rotorua-based timber manufacturing company, KLC Ltd, will receive a NZ$3 million support package that will support around 100 jobs and create 20 new jobs in a low socioeconomic area. KLC is one of the largest employers in Kaingaroa and Murupara. “The loan to KLC Ltd will help the company weather the storm created by COVID-19 and provide more jobs in one of the areas most at risk,” Shane Jones said.

Edgecumbe-based Tunnicliffe Timber Solutions will receive NZ$2.25 million to help the business expand, creating an additional 30 jobs over the next 18 months. “The investment in Tunnicliffe Timber Solutions will enable the company to buy new machinery and create a new market locally for high-quality thermally modified doors and windows.”

Tunnicliffe will also receive a Te Ara Mahi grant of NZ$314,000 for an education programme to develop and upskill employees in sustainable manufacturing. Te Ara Mahi is a fund within the PGF to specifically support regional employment through the development of skills and capability.

Te Puke-based Pukepine Sawmills will receive a loan of NZ$1.6 million to increase production. This will create an additional 15 jobs. Pukepine is one of the largest permanent employers in Te Puke.

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A world first with PEFC certified timber

The vision to build a hotel entirely of wood has become a reality in the 5* Green Spa Hotel MalisGarten. The hotel opened in June in the Zillertal valley in Austria. MalisGarten is the world’s first 5-storey hotel made entirely of solid wood.

PEFC-certified glue laminated timber (binderholz glulam) and cross laminated timber (binderholz CLT BBS) supplied by Binderholz Bausysteme GmbH were used for the entire supporting structure. The inside of the building sees binderholz solid wood panels and profiled wood from native trees such as pine, nut, steamed spruce, larch and white fir.

The doors, furniture and parquet floors are made of walnut and oak wood from local producers. Wood was also used for the furniture and decoration in the hotel’s spacious lobby, and gives the rooms a warm atmosphere as well as a natural scent.

Not only the inside, also the building’s wooden exterior façade is eye-catching. The front of the hotel blends in with its garden, creating a natural oasis in the middle of the village. At the back of the hotel, there is a 2,000 m² space with relaxation areas, a fruit and herb garden and a large pool. The wooden walls and ceilings give the impression of a wellness landscape in the middle of a forest.

Sustainability at its finest The use of PEFC-certified solid wood and a sophisticated heating and cooling concept using geothermal energy and pellet heating make MalisGarten one of the most sustainable hotels in the area. Thanks to the use of wood, the hotel has a larger net usable area due to leaner construction, and lower energy costs due to the wood’s natural insulation properties.


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Blenheim sawmill to close by end of the year

In early September we reported on a review that was being undertaken in conjunction with PwC on the future of Timberlink New Zealand’s Blenheim sawmill. The sawmill was taken over by Australian company Timberlink in September 2015, after they bought the site from Flight Timbers.

It had invested more than NZ$10 million into the Blenheim site, where it processed 123,000 tonnes of radiata softwood log from South Island plantations. Unfortunately, last Tuesday (8 September) Timberlink New Zealand announced that it was going to close its Blenheim sawmill operations.

Timberlink chief executive Ian Tyson confirmed in a press release on Tuesday the Blenheim sawmill, which employs 75 people, would close before the end of the year. Staff were informed of the decision on Tuesday, and were in one-on-one meetings.

“Unfortunately, the review showed that we cannot continue to operate when faced with ongoing high log costs, the strong NZ dollar, and low prices in export, especially Asia,” Tyson said. “We feel for our people and the local community, who have given their all for the company since we took over in 2015. We will be supporting them in any way we can.”

Recent global events had impacted on the business. “We are extremely disappointed to reach this point,” Tyson said. “We have really talented people in Blenheim, and where possible we will look for opportunities to potentially relocate some of the team to Australia for those with transferrable skills, while also requiring roles to maintain a sales and marketing capability in New Zealand,” Tyson said.

Timberlink would honour all obligations to its staff and suppliers. The closure of the site would happen in phases up to the end of December 2020.

Source: Stuff

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Carbon hits a new high

New Zealand carbon prices mid-week had broken through the $35, expected to act as a price cap, and are being tipped to go higher.

Source: Carbon News
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New film shines light on US Paper & Packaging

Debuting on 9 September, a new documentary gives an inside look at the U.S. paper and packaging industry’s decades-long legacy of environmental stewardship. A story of grit, passion and dedication, “Paper Makers” provides a rare and intimate insight into how the industry’s foresters, mill workers and engineers have cared for the land, working in tandem with nature for generations.

In a critical decade for climate action, “Paper Makers” looks at the philosophy and practices that have made the U.S. paper and packaging industry a vocal advocate for responsible land management, sustainable design and the protection of our planet’s most valuable resources.

Paper is at the forefront of environmentally friendly innovation with top brands and corporations across personal care, food and beverage, and fashion, making the switch to paper packaging as part of their sustainable business strategies. There’s new attention on paper-based materials to provide solutions for some of society’s biggest environmental challenges. But how did the industry get here?

“Paper Makers” offers an intimate look at one of America’s oldest natural industries through the eyes of the workers who cultivate the sustainable forests it depends on and develop technologies that will nurture and protect them for years to come. The film aims to educate packaging designers, environmental engineers and business leaders on how paper can help them design the sustainable solutions of tomorrow and show consumers why paper can be a sustainable choice for the planet.

Source: Paper & Packaging Board

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Apprenticeship scheme attractive to forestry operations

There has never been a better time for NZ employers to enrol their people in industry training, with free apprenticeships and targeted traineeships and now the Apprenticeship Boost wage subsidy.

Apprenticeship Boost helps employers support new and existing apprentices in their first two years of training in a level 4 apprenticeship qualification with a wage subsidy. You could receive up to NZ$16,000 per apprentice, across 20 months of their working and training.

The WINZ website has all the up-to-date details on the Apprenticeship Boost and other apprenticeship wage subsidies.

Source: Competenz

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California adopts suite of high-rise timber regulations

The California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) has adopted a series of new code regulations that pave the way for the state to begin to implement the widespread construction of tall mass timber buildings.

In late August, the CBSC moved to advance the adoption of recommendations made for the 2021 International Building Code that would articulate regulations for the creation of mass timber structures rising up to 18 stories in height using Type IV-A construction. With Type IV-B construction, the new regulations will allow buildings up to 12 stories tall, while Type IV-C codes will shape towers rising 9 stories high.

In a statement announcing the adoption of the new codes, State Fire Marshal Mike Richwine explains that “The early adoption of mass timber codes can be a benefit to California in many ways, but I would like to highlight three of those advantages in this proposal.

Number 1, it has the potential to increase the market demand for mass timber production in California to meet the needs of the construction industry. Number 2, it will increase the pace and scale of our wildland fire prevention and forest management goals of treating 500 thousand acres per year by thinning the forest of smaller diameter trees that can be used in the production of cross laminated timber and other mass timber assemblies. And while wood products provide the benefit of storing carbon, another benefit or advantage is that mass timber construction can also help reduce the carbon footprint of concrete and steel production.”

It is expected that the state of California will add the updated codes to the 2019 California Building Code in January 2021 and that the codes will go into effect in July 2021.


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Pasin joins Timber Supply Chain inquiry

Member for Barker, South Australia, Tony Pasin joined the Federal Parliament’s Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water’s inquiry into the timber supply chain. Mr Pasin said Australia’s forest products manufacturing sector is worth more than AU$23 billion per year with room to grow and that this inquiry will look into issues facing the forestry sector that may be inhibiting its growth.

“Currently, Australian plantations are unable to fully meet the sector’s demand for timber, resulting in more than 900 million cubic metres of sawn softwood being imported each year,” Mr Pasin said.

“Within South Australia alone the forest industries employ more than 10,000 people across the supply chain, more than 7,400 of these are in Barker. This is a major employer in our region and it has room to grow and create more jobs.”

“The industry is not just important for local jobs and our local community here in Barker but our national economy. While there are many issues facing different facets of the industry, plantations, contractors and processors, this inquiry will support future policy settings to address these issues across the nation.

The Committee has been asked to inquire and report on:

• the nature of wood supply from Australia's plantation sector including:
- Projected timber volumes available over the next 30 years and the potential grades of logs available.

• The plantation wood supply available for domestic softwood processors including:
- Current and future demand for logs for domestic processors; and
- Any shortfall in current processing industry demand for logs.

• The competitiveness of log pricing between domestic and export markets.

• The term of log supply contracts needed to support the processing sectors.

Source: triplem

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US$80 million mass timber apartment underway

Construction has started on an unusual downtown Milwaukee apartment tower. Foundation work has started on the US$80 million project, known as Ascent. The building is scheduled for completion in summer of 2022.

The 25-story, 259-unit high-rise is being constructed using mass timber or cross-laminated timber. At 284 feet, Ascent is to be the tallest mass timber structure in the world, according to New Land.

The 280-foot-tall Mjøstårnet tower opened in Norway in 2019 and is the world's tallest such building. But a mass timber high-rise in the works for Sydney, Australia, is planned at 590 feet, according to Popular Mechanics.

Ascent has attracted lenders and investors despite the economic problems tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Tim Gokhman, managing director of New Land Enterprises. Korb + Associates is the architect, with San Francisco-based Swinerton serving as mass timber consultant. Thornton Tomasetti is providing structural engineering services.

For further information and coverage click here.

Source: jsonline

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... and one to end the week on ... Lockdown funnies

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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