Friday Offcuts 30 October 2020
Out of the same region, we’ve also included an update on China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the pick-up in volumes, including wood products, now being seen in rail traffic. At the largest land port on the China-Russia border, increases in freight train movements have increased by around 20 percent on the same period last year. A major beneficiary of this massive infrastructure construction programme is China’s pulp and paper industry with Russia expected to now become one of the country’s most important market pulp suppliers.
From our good news files this week, the highly coveted 2020 Richard Stanton Memorial Award for Excellence in Forest Management in Australia has been presented remotely during Responsible Wood’s recent AGM. It was awarded this year to Simon Cook, Sustainability Manager for Forico who leads a team who have been involved in initiating and driving a raft of sustainable forest management activities. In training, AKD has just announced that they’ve opened up another 20 new apprenticeship and new graduate positions for 2021. The company already employs 35 apprentices under their National Apprenticeship Program and it complements their Gap Year Programme that they’ve set up for school leavers. You can check out one company’s commitment to bringing in new staff to help their business across multiple sites and to the younger people within the wider communities in which they’re operating.
In the wood products tech space this week, we cover a story on some US researchers that have just developed a transparent wood material that they claim could potentially replace glass in window construction. Transparent wood is being described as one of the most promising emerging materials of the future. Also, out of the US, the humble 2x4 has been fabricated into a new product called “zippered wood”, twisted wood that doesn’t require steaming or soaking and can be used to form curved composite pieces within a wooden structure. Details on both innovations are contained in stories in this week’s issue. And that’s it for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
New apprenticeship and graduate positions offeredAKD is answering the call to support Australian job creation by announcing over 20 new apprenticeship positions and new graduate positions in 2021.
The challenges of this year are well known and have impacted on many communities. AKD have always placed the development of their people as a high priority, this year they felt it was even more important to create additional opportunities to support their communities. This commitment is consistent with their buy Australian made campaign, as they ask customers to support Australian jobs.
AKD Human Resources General Manager, Clark Rodger, explains “this has been a difficult time with a lot of uncertainty created, therefore we must all play our part in getting Australia moving again. The introduction of these new roles is one way that we can do more, and we encourage other businesses to consider what opportunities they may be able to provide.”
Mr Rodger continued, “in addition to good quality people, we need trade and tertiary qualified people to drive our business forward. If we create or develop a pipeline of skills and capabilities into our organisation, at the same as reinvesting in our existing people, then we are effectively investing in our future success as a whole organisation.”
AKD already employ 35 apprentices under their National Apprenticeship Program, with many past participants now holding trade, supervisor, and management positions throughout the company. The business is pleased to be able to add to this success with the introduction of more than 20 newly created opportunities in 2021. This complements AKD’s existing Gap Year Program for school leavers.
Offering trades in Electrical, Saw Doctoring, Wood Machining and Fitting and with sites across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, the company is offering career opportunities which will see some individuals gain experience across a number of sites and locations.
Mr Rodger comments that “the opportunity to gain experience and exposure to multiple sites or functions is invaluable in anyone’s career development. Whilst we acknowledge and understand this won’t suit everyone depending on their life stage and family or personal commitments, we are willing to support and enable this experience for those who are open to it.”
Mr Rodger also commented that “we want to continue to see our team build in its diversity, including in gender and culture. We encourage applications from internal and external candidates, as well as school leaver and mature aged individuals. This is an exciting and long-term investment in the AKD team, AKD business and wider community.”
Photo: AKD Tumut Apprentice Fitter- Tahlia
NZX-EEX selected for NZ ETS AuctionsA joint bid by NZX and the European Energy Exchange (EEX) has been selected to develop and operate the managed auction service for the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) – one of the Government’s main tools for meeting domestic and international climate policy targets.
NZX Chief Executive, Mark Peterson, said the successful bid to the Ministry for the Environment showcased the value of bringing together the deep experience and capabilities of NZX and EEX to implement and operate a solution tailored to meet the needs of New Zealand and NZ ETS participants – and aligned with the design of other emissions markets globally.
Under the terms agreed with the Ministry for the Environment, NZX / EEX will design and implement the platform to manage the regular auctioning of New Zealand emissions units on behalf of the New Zealand Government. The appointment was made following a successful joint tender from the NZX / EEX partnership.
Russia plans to ban log exportsSoftwood log exports from Russia have been in steady decline for the past 15 years and could reach zero in 2022 if President Putin’s new log export ban is implemented.
In a recent statement, the Russian President Mr. Putin ordered the government to strictly control the exportation of roundwood and low-value forest products, and to clamp down on the illegal trade of logs (in his terms: “hard-hitting decriminalization of the industry”). He also requested a “complete ban on shipments of unprocessed or roughly processed conifer and valuable hardwood out of Russia by January 1, 2022.”
This statement would indicate that lower-value hardwood logs, such as birch pulplogs exported to Finland, may be excluded from the future export ban. To encourage domestic processing of Russian timber, Mr. Putin also wants to implement a government program of subsidized loans for investing in wood processing facilities, primarily in Siberia and Russia’s Far East, targeting the growing wood markets in Asia.
These industry loans would be available for facilities producing lumber and panels, and pellet manufacturers which predominantly use small-diameter logs for their wood furnish. If the log ban is enacted, it will be the end of Russia’s long-lasting role as one of the world’s largest exporter of softwood logs. Over many decades, the country exported large volumes of wood raw-material, predominantly to forest products manufacturers in Asia and Europe.
Softwood log export volumes peaked at 37 million m3 in 2006, but when log export tariffs were implemented in 2008, shipments fell dramatically and were down to only 8.5 million m3 in 2019. This year, the decline has continued and only an estimated six million m3 is likely to be exported, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly. A majority of the shipments have gone to China (about 75%) and Finland (10%) in the first half of 2020.
Russian hardwood log exports have fluctuated between 7-8 million m3 the past five years but are likely to fall in the next two years if higher-value logs such as oak and ash are banned for exports. China has sourced about 10-12 million m3 of softwood and hardwood logs annually from Russia for the past five years. Subsequently, the log export ban will substantially impact the future sourcing of both wood raw-material and processed products to China, a potentially troublesome scenario due to their outlook for increased consumption of forest products.
Wood Resources International
Winner for 2020 Richard Stanton Memorial AwardSustainability Manager for Forico Simon Cook has won the 2020 Richard Stanton Memorial Award for Excellence in Forest Management
The award and trophy, presented remotely during Responsible Wood AGM, recognises the life of a man who was devoted to the forest industry in Australia and internationally. Mr Stanton was former CEO of AFS Ltd (now Responsible Wood).
Mr Cook leads a 5-member Sustainability Team, and in this role has worked tirelessly to initiate and drive sustainable forest management activities – in areas of biodiversity, carbon and cultural values, leaving a lasting legacy both inside the forest and outside. The nomination was made by Ann La Sala, a member of Mr Cook’s sustainability team, and was supported and endorsed by Forico.
In presenting the award Responsible Wood CEO, Simon Dorries, reflected on Mr Cook’s sustained commitment to sustainable forest management and certification standards. Mr Dorries explains: “Simon’s involvement with the Tasmanian Devil Facial Disease research, with the CSIRO in Natural Carbon and working in conjunction with Reconciliation Tasmania in developing a Reconciliation Action Plan received high acclaim from the judging panel.”
Mr Cook’s involvement with Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumor Disease is especially noteworthy. The program not only assists in understanding how cancer affects Tasmanian Devils but also has potential implications for cancer treatment in humans which is attracting global attention.
Working with CSIRO and other industry partners, Mr Cook has been instrumental in developing a framework and methodology for assessing and gathering data related to Natural Capital. This developing area will have significant implications for forest sustainability globally as foresters seeks to develop a common language and understanding in this emerging area.
And finally, working on developing a Reconciliation Action Plan in conjunction with Reconciliation Tasmania, Mr Cook is working with stakeholders to improve relationships with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community sharing knowledge to land management techniques, protection of cultural sites, access to natural forests and potential employment opportunities.
All these areas embody important elements of the Responsible Wood standard. Responsible Wood was delighted to receive a large number of high-quality nominations. Accordingly, Responsible Wood recognised, for the first time, three finalists recognised by the judging panel for their nominations.
Finalists included Richard Kirk of Kirk Architects for his commitment to the use of certified timber on the acclaimed Mon Repos Turtle Centre, the QDAF Salisbury Research Facility for their pioneering work in developing new product solutions using certified timber and Anthonino Stonjek of AKS Forest Management Services for his commitment to the implementation of certification standards.
Source: Responsible Wood
Court date set for Bob Brown forestry caseA legal challenge against Sustainable Timber Tasmania will be heard in the Federal Court of Australia on December 2 and 3. The Bob Brown Foundation launched the case this year, arguing STT's logging of native forests in Tasmanian did not accord with the Regional Forest Agreements Act 2002.
Due to its complexity, the hearing will appear before a full bench of the Federal Court rather than a single Federal Court Judge. The hearing will be online only. The matter has already resulted in an agreement by STT to halt logging in 19 coupes for the duration of the proceedings. A decision is likely in 2021.
Source: the advocate
Europeans recognize multiple roles of forestsThe European Parliament had its first real political say on two files of high relevance earlier this month, not only for the EU climate agenda and Green Deal roll out, but also for the role that EU forest-based industries and forest-based products will be allowed to play in the race to climate neutrality by 2050.
As a leading member of the forest-based industries, Cepi, the Confederation of European Paper Industries, takes stock of the European Parliament adoption of MEP Jytte Guteland (SE, S&D) report on the climate neutrality law, calling for a 60% emissions cut by 2030, even going beyond the European Commission recent proposal for a 2030 emission reduction target of 55% and for this objective to be binding not only EU-wide, but also at national level.
“To implement a 60% cut would be very challenging for any industrial sector and with big differences between national realities – in our case, we are already fully committed to support a climate neutral Europe by 2050, our industry has a strategic interest in being at the forefront of the decarbonisation efforts as reflected in our CEO initiative published last November. However, to reduce our emissions while increasing resilient production in Europe would require a supportive and stable regulatory framework and affordable clean energy, in particular in current natural gas-dominated countries”, commented Jori Ringman, Cepi Director General.
Having now formed its position on the file, the European Parliament can expect tough negotiations with EU Member States in the coming months, especially because the European Parliament decision is also meant to raise pressure on EU countries to rally behind an ambitious 2030 goal.
Earlier this week, MEPs also widely backed the own initiative report by MEP Petri Sarvamaa’s (EPP/FI) on the European Forest Strategy, anticipating the discussions on the revamped strategy expected next year. The Strategy will be one of the key contributions of the EU for COP26 negotiations.
“The adopted report manages to strike a balance between the many expectations that policymakers and citizens have about the role of forests and forest management for society as a whole, recognizing that forest resources offer multiple services, including wood, clean water, healthy soil and biodiversity. As a next step this recognition should be reflected in the upcoming strategy with enhanced focus also to the parts beyond forests and forestry in order to better tap into the full climate change mitigation and adaptation potential of the entire business ecosystems. Forests cannot be considered as a way to substitute other sectors’ emissions and thereby allow loopholes as regards emission reductions.” said Jori Ringman.
Further development of a non-end-use specific sustainability approach should be a key element in the EU’s new Forest Strategy, the development of this approach is now also encouraged by the European Parliament in the adopted report.
In most cases, forests management aims at producing high quality timber and pulpwood, then residues, that come as side product along the way. All forest-based products tap into these diverse sources. There should be one sustainability approach embedded in different EU policies where needed.
In view of the upcoming Forest Strategy revamp, Cepi encourages the European Commission to acknowledge and boost the synergetic climate benefits brought by resilient forests and forest-based products. Substitution of fossil-based raw materials with renewable and recyclable alternatives is essential when moving towards more circular economies.
This will boost the viability of the entire forest-based industrial value chain, a sector which contributes to valorise and ensure healthy forests thanks to active and timely sustainable forest management.
Source: The Confederation of European Paper Industries
NZ foresters keen on a single ministryA combined agriculture-forestry portfolio is one of the NZ forestry industry’s hopes as the Government allocates ministers’ roles in the post-election shuffle. Forest Owners Association president Phil Taylor says given the central role forestry will continue to play for this country to meet its climate change obligations, and the role farmers can play in planting trees, it made sense to integrate the two.
“In the past we have had an integrated ministry, but then it mainly had a pastoral focus, with forestry going to an associate minister. With the right, positive minister, an integrated ministry would make sense,” he said. While having had no indication yet what the Government may do, Taylor says Damien O’Connor has proven a sound minister for agriculture, and one who appreciated the links between farming and forestry.
Taylor says the challenges New Zealand faces in trying to reduce its carbon emissions have not diminished in the past three years, if anything they had increased and meeting the Paris Accord using tree planting was still the best short-term approach. “Unless we plant more trees, we as a country will be required to spend more on carbon credits. This was central to Shane Jones wanting the one billion trees policy,” he said.
The industry’s concern was that with a swing to a centre-left government there may be some loss of momentum around the project, with more controls on forestry making the sector a “sacrificial lamb” to appeal to the pastoral sector.
“Leading up to the election there was a lot of talk about the need to control afforestation to deal with unfounded fears of a loss of pastoral land,” he said. “This government will have to be really careful about the sights it sets. If it does not want forestry, it will pay for the carbon. You can’t have your cake and eat it.”
Supporting Indigenous communities in the NTThe latest episode of the Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) podcast series WoodChat focuses on a new research project that is investigating the potential for commercial Indigenous forestry in the Northern Territory’s East Arnhem Land. The goal of the research is to support the Traditional Owners to facilitate a sustainable forest-based livelihood.
The research is being delivered by the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), with a number of partner entities led by Developing East Arnhem Limited (DEAL), an independent not-for-profit company that aims to drive economic development in East Arnhem, promoting the resilience of the region and opportunity for its people.
During the episode the hosts speak to Jordy Bowman, CEO at DEAL, who explains how forestry has the potential to support Indigenous communities to use their land for employment and economic benefit, alongside cultural purposes.
“We know there is a strong interest amongst East Arnhem communities in Indigenous-led forest and timber product enterprises,” said Ms Bowman. “The region contains large areas of Indigenous-owned native forests with commercial potential, which can be capitalised on to help develop a sustainable post-mining future for the region and its people”.
“The project will support Traditional Owners to recognise the commercial assets they have on their land. It will provide an evidence base that enables them to make informed decisions,” Ms Bowman said. During the episode, listeners will also hear from Balapalu Yunupingu, Gumatj elder and Director of Gumatj Corporation and Mark Annandale, Research Manager at the University of the Sunshine Coast regarding their involvement with the project.
You can listen to WoodChat on SoundCloud, iTunes and Spotify.
Transparent wood - the window of the future?Could looking through trees be the view to a greener future? Trees replacing the clear pane glass in your windows is not a work of science fiction. It’s happening now. Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) researcher Junyong Zhu in co-collaboration with colleagues from the University of Maryland and University of Colorado, have developed a transparent wood material that may be the window of tomorrow.
Researchers found that transparent wood has the potential to outperform glass currently used in construction in nearly every way. Their findings were published in the Journal of Advanced Functional Materials in their paper, A Clear, Strong, and Thermally Insulated Transparent Wood for Energy Efficient Windows
While glass is the most common material used in window construction it comes with a costly economic and ecological price. Heat easily transfers through glass, especially single pane, and amounts to higher energy bills when it escapes during cold weather and pours in when it’s warm. Glass production in construction also comes with a heavy carbon footprint. Manufacturing emissions are approximately 25,000 metric tons per year.
Now, transparent wood is emerging as one of the most promising materials of the future. Transparent wood is created when wood from the fast-growing, low-density balsa tree is treated to a room temperature, oxidizing bath that bleaches it of nearly all visibility. The wood is then penetrated with a synthetic polymer called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), creating a product that is virtually transparent.
The natural cellulose in its wood structure and energy-absorbing polymer filler in transparent wood means that it is far more durable and lighter than glass. It can withstand much stronger impacts than glass and, unlike glass, it bends or splinters instead of shattering.
Switching to transparent wood could prove to be cost efficient as well. It is approximately five times more thermally efficient than glass, cutting energy costs. It is made from a sustainable, renewable resource with low carbon emissions. It’s also compatible with existing industrial processing equipment, making the transition into manufacturing an easy prospect.
With all of these potential benefits for consumers, manufacturing and the environment, the case for transparent wood couldn’t be…clearer.
Photo: The piece of glass in the above photo was made from wood, USDA Forest Service
Board changes and new Chair for FWPACraig Taylor has been elected as Chair of the Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) Board, following the retirement of incumbent Chair John Simon. Under the FWPA Constitution, the Chair is elected by fellow Directors at the first Board meeting following the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which took place on Thursday 22 October.
Speaking on his appointment, Mr Taylor said he was delighted and humbled to be elected. “I had the good fortune to serve on the FWPA Board under the leadership of previous Chairs Ron Adams and John Simon, and plan to use that experience to help continue the important work of FWPA,” said Mr Taylor.
“I look forward to working with my fellow Directors and industry stakeholders on the upcoming independent performance review and the review of our strategic plan, so that we can continue to provide relevant and effective services to the industry and the Government.”
Mr Taylor has more than 30 years of management and consulting experience across primary industries, sustainable resource management, supply chain management, and sales and marketing, mostly in the plantation forestry sector. As Director and Principal of The Fifth Estate Consultancy, Mr Taylor provides strategy, business development and investment advice to businesses in the resources and primary production sectors.
In addition, Mr Taylor has provided strategy development and investment advice to some of Australia and New Zealand’s largest forest and wood products companies. He is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Institute of Foresters of Australia.
“Craig is a long-time supporter of FWPA and advocate for the forestry industry. His passion and enthusiasm for the sector are admirable, and we are excited for Craig to lead the Board through FWPA’s next chapter, as we undertake a major refresh of our strategic direction,” said Ric Sinclair, FWPA’s Managing Director.
Mr Taylor’s appointment comes following the retirement of John Simon, following five years in the role and eight more as Director. Also departing the Board following the 2020 AGM are Jim Henneberry, Chair of the Audit, Finance and Risk Committee, and Brian Farmer, Chair of the Growers Research Advisory Committee.
“I would like to acknowledge John, Jim and Brian for their longstanding commitment to FWPA and their contributions to the sector more broadly,” Mr Sinclair said. “Each has played an instrumental role in helping to drive countless FWPA successes and achievements. Their work has made a lasting, tangible and hugely positive impact on the forest and wood products industry, and we thank them for it.”
During the AGM proceedings, members re-elected Christine Briggs to the Board, and Nick Roberts was elected. Nick was previously an FWPA Director from 2009 to 2012. “We are delighted to welcome Nick back to the Board, and congratulate Christine on her re-election,” said Mr Sinclair.
Russian pulp growing in importance to ChinaChina’s Belt and Road Initiative is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government that aims to invest in nearly 70 countries and international organizations. The initiative is poised to boost international trade, and it has the potential to accelerate economic growth across Asia, Central and Eastern Europe.
As part of the initiative, the China-Russia and China-Europe railways are already improving delivery capacities in the region. Per a recent article in Xinhua, “Foreign trade volume by railway through Manzhouli, the largest land port on the China-Russia border, exceeded 10 million tonnes in the first half of this year, up 6.4 percent year on year, according to official figures.”
Major commodities moved across the border included coal, wood raw materials and construction machinery. China’s pulp and paper industry is also benefitting from the expansion in trade. “A total of 1,505 China-Europe freight trains passed through the port in the first half, an increase of 19 percent compared with the same period last year, carrying 134,700 TEUs of goods in total,” Xinhua said.
The rail routes have also become an important transport channel for stabilizing global trade and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and authorities in the port of Manzhouli have increased efficiencies and reduced logistics and transportation costs. Manzhouli has become an important destination for shipments of pulp to China, which is oftentimes routed to manufacturers in Hebei Province.
According to statistics from Manzhouli customs, in the first half of 2020, 236,000 tons of pulp were imported through the port, an increase of 99.9% over the same period last year, with a value of 830 million yuan—an increase of 57.5%.
Source: Fisher International
Statistical Process Control Workshops offeredFollowing up on its successful workshop at Mt. Gambier, the Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life will collaborate with Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia and Forest and Wood Products Australia to offer a free series of four 1.5-hour long workshops on Statistical Process Control.
While geared for the wood composites industry, the basic content will be of interest to any timber manufacturer looking to use their data to improve the bottom line. The workshops will be delivered by Dr. Tim Young of the University of Tennessee and Andy McNaught of EWPAA.
The first workshop will be 11 November at 11 am (QLD time) then the others will follow on 18 Nov, 25 Nov and finally 2 December. As noted, there is no cost, but you must register for each session at this link to take part.
Source: Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life
TasPorts welcomes China Express to Bell BayTasPorts has welcomed one of the world’s largest dedicated woodchip bulkers, China Express, to the Port of Bell Bay. Launched in early 2020, the 215 metre vessel is the first of its kind to call to Tasmania and has a total cargo capacity of 60,000 tonnes.
The maiden visit signifies confidence in the forestry export sector and the criticality of the Port of Bell Bay in the supply chain, enabling the export of large volumes of Tasmanian product direct to international markets.
TasPorts Chief Executive Officer Anthony Donald said that the arrival of China Express also shines a spotlight on the strength of collaboration within the forestry sector and a focus by TasPorts on supporting and enabling customer-driven logistics solutions.
“In August 2020, TasPorts and Midway Limited, a leading Australian processor and exporter of wood fibre products, entered into a partnership to enable additional exports of wood fibre from the Port of Bell Bay, to new and emerging markets. The arrival of China Express is this partnership in action,” Mr Donald said.
The partnership also enables Midway to establish its own wood fibre processing and export facility at Bell Bay, with exports from the facility expected to commence in 2021.
“Midway has a long history of new start up projects, offering an open access export service for other Tasmanian forest owners providing the opportunity to co-mingle woodchip and biomass products for export,” Mr Donald said. “TasPorts and Midway are pleased to be working together to facilitate a fit-for-purpose logistics solution.”
Source & Photo: TasPorts
Zippered wood twists the standard 2x4Researchers at the University of British Columbia's HiLo Lab, University of Colorado, Denver's LoDo Lab, and HouMinn Practice push the potential of the ubiquitous wood member.
The "aha!" moment at the University of British Columbia's HiLo Lab came when researchers, intent on bending strips of wood veneer into unusual forms, stepped back to look at their elaborate setup. "We realized we could use the formwork itself as the member," says Blair Satterfield, chair of UBC's architecture program and an associate professor.
That breakthrough led to zippered wood, which leverages ordinary construction methods to create extraordinary structures with the humble 2x4. "We thought about the project both formally, in terms of what we can achieve cheaply and quickly with standard studs, and also in a performative way, in terms of efficiency and strength," says Marc Swackhamer, Assoc. AIA, who chairs the architecture department at University of Colorado, Denver and co-founded HouMinn Practice with Satterfield.
Source: The Journal of The American Institute of Architects
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And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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