Friday Offcuts 20 November 2020
Well over 300 establishment foresters, tree crop supervisors and planners, resource managers, remote sensing, GIS and mapping specialists and inventory foresters have been involved in Rotorua this week. Workshops, meetings, field demonstrations a two-day technology conference and trade exhibitions all ran for the wider industry from Tuesday through to Friday. To top this off, because of border and travel restrictions, delegates from 20 different countries for the first time were involved on-line during the event. For all those delegates attending in person or on-line, recorded presentations from each of the presenters along with PPT’s are expected to be made available to you later next week. We’ll also look to build in some of the new innovations, results from recent operational trials and tech developments into future issues of www.foresttech.news.
In the tech space this week we cover a new patent-pending hybrid timber floor system that could push mass timber structures to even greater heights, we look at an extensive trial that’s just got underway in Australia which will be testing the durability of a range of traditional wood preservatives and more recently developed treatments and we’ve included a report comparing the relative carbon footprint of a selection of natural and modified woods recently commissioned by Abodo Wood.
And finally, in line with some of the content of the just completed ForestTECH 2020 event, Australian forestry companies operating drones, no matter what their weight, are now required to register them by the end of January next year. Details are contained in the video clip below. And we’ve also included a story on how unmanned drones (they do weigh in though at a weighty 40kg, have a wing span of 4.3m, have a vertical take-off and landing capability (meaning they don’t require a runway) and can stay up in the air for 12 hours on end) are being used in the United States successfully to battle and monitor wild fires in some of the more remote regions. And on that note, enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Comparing the Carbon Footprint of different timbersAlmost all solid timbers are carbon negative. However, the way they are manufactured has a massive impact on their respective carbon footprint – that is to say, some have a lower footprint than others. Modified woods are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to old growth traditional timbers, but they too have can have vastly different carbon footprints.
Abodo asked world renowned timber expert Callum Hill to investigate the relative carbon footprint of a selection of natural and modified woods. Callum researched a number of Environmental Product Declarations and prepared a report comparing the different manufacturing footprints among different woods.
Download the report
Source: Abodo Wood
Southland sawmill soldThe sale of a Southland sawmill has been described as “devastating” for the local community, but the company that has bought it plans to integrate the mill into its own expanding timber operations.
Niagara Sawmilling Company Ltd has bought Southland business Craigpine Timber Ltd at Winton, with the sale effective from December 18. More than 50 job losses are expected as operations at the Winton sawmill will be reduced from two shifts to one.
Niagara owner Ross Richardson said: “With five sawmills already closing this year around New Zealand, Niagara is thrilled that we will be able to integrate the Craigpine sawmill into our timber operations enabling the Craigpine sawmill and legacy to live on.’’
“Due to the continued expansion of the Niagara timber business we are happy that we are able to offer many of the Craigpine staff new roles at our Kennington site,’’ Richardson said, in a statement.
Niagara’s intention is to run the Craigpine sawmill on a single shift five days a week, kiln dry the timber at the Winton site, and then transport all the kiln dried timber to Kennington to be processed through its remanufacturing plant.
”Where Craigpine’s traditional model was to export unprocessed sawn timber to Asia, Niagara plans to instead further process the timber into quality building products such as weatherboards, and increase supply into the New Zealand building market.’’
Niagara has begun construction new 7500 m3 distribution and packaging facility and an extension to its remanufacturing plant, which will increase production by a further 25 per cent. It also plans to develop part of the Craigpine site into a new distribution centre for its transport companies McNeill Distribution and Tulloch Transport.
”Both McNeill and Tulloch specialise in servicing the rural sector, so we see this Central Southland location as being a perfect hub for distributing our dry fuels and other key farming products.’’
Craigpine chairman Paul Kiesanowski said on Wednesday that 108 people were currently employed at the site, and Niagara have 53 roles they require filling, either at the Winton or Kennington plant. “There will be 53-odd that won’t be able to move to jobs with Niagara,’’ he said. Craigpine had worked hard to secure as many jobs as possible for their staff, he said.
The sale of the sawmill did not include six forests of 2,155 hectares of freehold land owned by Craigpine, and the company was ‘’considering its options’’ around the future of the forestry blocks, he said.
Kiesanowski said the Winton sawmill processed between 10,000m3 and 11,000m3 of product a month and was supplied by corporate forestry owners and farm forestry blocks. The company’s website says it exports sawn Radiata Pine to more than 20 global markets.
The sale was prompted by intense competition in the forestry sector coupled with the complications of Covid-19. There had been a growing trend of insolvencies and consolidation in the timber industry in recent years, but he couldn't predict if the trend would continue in the future.
The sale brings an end to 98 years of involvement of the Black family in timber processing in New Zealand. The company was established in 1923 as Port Craig Timber, was formed by the Black family from Melbourne.
Five-day boot-camp for NSW forestry firefightersForestry Corporation firefighting staff from the Tumut, Moss Vale, Deniliquin, Bombala, Bathurst and Central Cypress forest protection areas honed their skills recently in a five-day training camp at Laurel Hill in preparation for the fire season ahead. All up, 44 staff were trained in essential firefighting skills such as fire behaviour, tactics and strategy, leadership, command, control and communications, and how to operate the range of appliances and equipment used at fires.
The five-day intensive training program is designed to get new recruits nationally qualified and ‘fire ready’ as forest firefighters. Other more experienced firefighting staff upgraded their qualifications in Advanced Firefighter and Crew Leader roles. The COVID-19 pandemic has added more complexity to this year’s training, but the organisation has adapted and adjusted, said Forestry Corporation’s Fire Manager, Tim McGuffog.
"2020 has thrown a few challenges to our face-to-face training camps, but we have changed our approach to make it work,” Mr McGuffog said. “One of the key ways we’ve adapted is to run a ‘closed camp’ in 2020, meaning no-one comes or leaves during the week-long training. We have also implemented a series of personal distancing and hygiene measures to reduce the risk of COVID.”
The camps are essential for developing a skilled and capable workforce for the fire season ahead. “Our training program is comprehensive and recruits also get the opportunity to learn other skills like using chainsaws, first aid, chemical use and driving 4WD vehicles and tankers when they return to their depots,” Mr McGuffog said.
“Safety is always at the top of this list though – our firefighters’ wellbeing is our biggest concern and it all comes back to correct training and procedures. We take our firefighting responsibilities incredibly seriously – our training ensures everyone from our most experienced firefighter through to our newest recruits are fit and ready to be deployed to the fire front.
“We also send crews to assist on large bushfires across all tenures within their local areas, interstate and even internationally, so we need to ensure we are at the top of our game.” Forestry Corporation is responsible for preventing and managing fires in two million hectares of State forests across NSW.
To find out more about Forestry Corporation’s fire training, check out the video below.
Fighting wildfires with dronesAs wildfires continue to ravage vast swaths of land across the western United States unmanned aerial vehicle operators are stepping up to provide critical services, acting as eyes in the skies in support of firefighting teams on the ground.
Flying two hybrid quadrotor (HQ) aircraft manufactured by L3Harris Technologies, Belgrade, Montana-based Bridger Aerospace, has flown some 250 hours in about a dozen firefighting missions across several western states, Weston Irr, Bridger’s director of unmanned aircraft systems, said in an interview.
The right tools for fighting wildfires with drones
The fixed-wing 90-pound drones’ design and technological features equip them to be deployed to battle wildfires in remote areas. The gasoline-powered aircraft are capable of taking off vertically, like rotary-powered drones. They can remain aloft for 12 hours, although on a typical mission, they are deployed for a six- to eight-hour flight. They’re outfitted with dual-camera systems, for both day and night operations.
With a wing span of 14 feet, the HQ-90 aircraft can be disassembled for easy transport to a fire scene in the bed of a pickup truck and because of their vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability, they don’t need a runway and can take off from virtually any open area within close proximity of the fire.
“The use of runway or landing strip is not a typical luxury that everyone gets,” in wildfire situations, Irr said. “You can launch using a small meadow or a little clearing in the trees.” Bridger has been approved under a special government interest waiver (SGI) to fly its aircraft beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) in wildfire situations, which has given the company the ability to deal with some of the massive wildfires sweeping the West.
The HQ-90 drones’ camera systems allow the aircraft to operate in low-visibility situations, such as in a smoke-filled sky or at night, when manned aircraft are unable to fly. “In smoky environments the infrared capability on our system allows us to see right through that smoke,” Irr said. “We have a really good advantage in those situations because we can see and the system is fully capable of operating.”
Bridger, which began as an aerial wildfire management operator using manned aircraft in 2015, began adding drones to its firefighting arsenal in the 2018 fire season. It utilized a Type 2 vehicle – a drone capable of flying for more than two but less than six hours — produced by Silent Falcon UAS Technologies to create maps that allowed firefighters to gauge the extent of a wildfire’s spread.
Last year, the company moved up the HQ-90 UAV, a Type 1 aircraft, a category which includes any aerial vehicle capable of flying for more than six hours. The longer flight time allowed Bridger to continue to perform its mapping function, while adding aerial surveillance and reconnaissance to its firefighting capabilities.
“Once we complete our mapping mission, we’ll go into a surveillance support role where we’ll fly over certain sections of the fire for a longer period of time to give them extra eyes, or infrared imagery where they need it the most,” Irr said.
Southland woman inducted to Road Transport Hall of FameAnita Dynes is the first woman to be inducted in the NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame for 2020. Dynes, originally from Balclutha, is credited as being crucial to the development of Tapanui-based Dynes Transport.
Throughout her five decades in the transport industry, working alongside husband Jim, her substantive work ethic, tenacity and family values were pivotal in the company becoming an iconic industry fixture with interests in dairy, forestry and wine industries in addition to transport.
Six inductees were welcomed into the Mobil 1 Delvac NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame after a function at the Bill Richardson Transport World. The event is the brainchild of HW Richardson Group directors Jocelyn and Scott O’Donnell.
Jocelyn O’Donnell said the event honours outstanding contributions made to the New Zealand road transport industry. “We are so proud to be able to celebrate the contributions of all of our inductees, and it is particularly pleasing to see a woman join the ranks for 2020,” she said.
“The transport industry has long been a male-dominated field, but the contribution made by many women has been absolutely vital in growing and strengthening the New Zealand transport industry as a whole. We encourage all women involved in the industry to celebrate their successes, and encourage others within the industry to do so as well.”
“There is no worthier women to be the first recognised as a Hall of Fame inductee than Anita Dynes and we welcome her, not to mention our five other incredibly worthy recipients ... all deserve acclaim and thanks for their care and enthusiasm for our industry.”
Dynes was brought up on a farm at Rongahere, south Otago. She married in 1969 and moved to Tapanui, where her husband Jim, and his twin brother John, had bought a 5-truck general carrying transport business from Jim Cooper a few months earlier.
The decade of the 1970s was a hectic time for this inductee, with three children born and two more general transport businesses purchased. In 1976, Dynes won the contract to cart a new product of woodchips from five sawmills in Otago to Port Chalmers and later Bluff.
In 1977, John moved north to run T D Haulage, a chip carting business they purchased. Two years later they split ownership, John with T D Haulage and Jim and Anita with Dynes Transport (Tapanui) Ltd. The business grew extensively during the 1980s with additional log and timber cartage. The management of cashflow was essential and was a critical part of Dynes’ role.
The term "superwoman" comes to mind as Dynes' capabilities were put to the test when Jim was ill with cancer. Her daily activities included driving Jim the four-hour round trip to Dunedin for treatment every day, running the transport, sorting the three kids and helping with lambing beat on a now increased additional neighbours farm.
During the mid-90s a new Tapanui depot was purchased, with a bigger yard, and the opportunity to move from the shoebox home office to the depot to accommodate additional staff. During the next 15 years, multiple businesses were purchased and contracts won, including work with the Edendale dairy factory.
In 2017 Dynes, Jim and Peter sold 50 per cent of the Dynes Group to the HWR Group.
Other inductees, well known in the NZ forest products industry, include; Graham Sheldrake, Jim Black, Sir Jack Newman, Trevor Woolston and Warwick Wilshier.
Australian drone registration site now openCASA's drone registration site is now open and if you operate drones for any purpose other than just for fun, you must register them by 28 January 2021. This applies to all drones that you fly to provide any type of service – no matter how much it weighs.
Be sure you know about all the drones used in your organisation, and have a plan in place to have them registered by the end of January. Note you're then responsible for de-registering if you cease to operate them in future too.
Source: Australian UAV
Big River Forest Hill mill to shutBig River Industries has announced its Forest Hill mill will be closing, cutting 50 jobs as they consolidate operations at their home base in Grafton, NSW. “Some relocation opportunities to Grafton will be offered, as staff numbers will increase there by around 20 positions as the project develops,” read an official statement from Big River to the Australian Stock Exchange.
Peter Crowe, Chairman of the Softwoods Working Group, said the industry is continuing to wrestle with the short timeframe to process burnt logs and anticipate the changes which will come once those logs are gone. “The industry in general will suffer a major downturn because of the resource loss, SWG has been saying that since day one,” he said.
“At the moment, the salvage operation is still running, and both the growers and the processors are endeavouring to salvage as much wood as possible before the wood quality deteriorates to the point it can no longer be utilised. We’d expect that to be some time after Christmas, sometime early in the new year.”
Mr Crowe said at that time, the growers and processors will have to announce some decisions about “what the new allocations will look like and what the start date for those new allocations will be.” SWG is predicting that the forestry won’t be back to its pre-fire capacity for another generation. Mr Crowe said the recent funding package from the government, titled ‘Bushfire Local Economic Recovery’ (BLER) funding, will be a great help.
Extensive timber durability trial underwayA research project led FWPA’s National Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life has commenced a testing program for materials used in Hazard Class H3, which covers applications that are outside, above ground and exposed to the weather. The project represents the first time in 30 years that such a range of species, products and preservatives has been tested.
The team wanted to develop information on the durability performance of the tested materials in engineering terms that could be used to enhance the CSIRO Service Life Prediction Models, developed more than 20 years ago by Dr Robert Leicester.
The original models used field test data obtained from long-term trials conducted across Australia to predict decay occurrence and progress. However, these models were based on a limited data set and did not include many of the treatments currently used for wood in outdoor exposures.
The project aims to create a more accurate understanding of timber properties, which will support structural engineers to appropriately select timber and consequently generate increased usage.
An exceptionally large trial is being established, with support from FWPA, Lesley Francis Research Scientist, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries at DAF, Chris Fitzgerald, Principal Technician at DAF, Stuart Meldrum, Senior Technician at DAF, Jack Norton Senior Principal Scientist at DAF, and Professor Jeff Morrell, Director of the National Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life.
It will test a range of traditional wood preservatives and more recently developed treatments, as well as modified wood products that have altered wood chemistry. These tests will be conducted on plywood, LVL, oriented strandboard and solid wood. Heartwood of spotted gum and merbau (kwila) along with a wood-plastic composite will also be included in the trial.
Source: FWPA R&D Works
Nurse crops for unproductive farmland promotedA specialist forestry consultant believes New Zealand can meet its international commitments to reduce carbon emissions without sacrificing productive farmland. In a report to the Climate Change Commission, Rotorua-based Jeff Tombleson calls for a Government grant to farmers with suitable sites to establish ‘nurse crops’ of radiata pine which will eventually transition to native forests.
Jeff says a “stand-off” currently exists between farming and the Government’s need to encourage the establishment of up to 2.8m ha of radiata pine on farms in the next 30 years. Under the Paris Agreement, New Zealand is committed to achieve net carbon zero emissions by 2050.
With “no show in hell” of satisfactorily reducing gross emissions Jeff says the only way is not to create new timber production forests but “permanent forests”. Under the Paris rules only plantations established on new land qualify for carbon credits, so farm forestry is the only option.” Such plantations would be established in the hinterland on properties within sight of native forests to enable birds to naturally “seed-in” native species.
“These areas could include steep hillsides and gully systems with very low agricultural production capacity.” Jeff says many sheep and beef farms in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato are “just kilometres” from native forests. “There is no natural re-generation of radiata pine.”
In his proposal, Jeff says 100,000ha would need to be converted annually. “There is no Plan B.” Jeff says radiata pine grows quickly and rapidly stores considerable quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “Around 12,000 growers mainly farmers commenced the planting boom in the 1990s that now contributes to lowering NZs emissions by 30%. Farmers are again the solution to make the largest contribution to achieving NZs 2030 and 2050 emission reduction targets,” he says. “They need to again positively embrace the opportunity.”
Permanent forests via nurse crops of radiata pine for the long-term transition to native forests are “the right tree in the right place” and avoids the “short term opportunistic approach” of converting whole farms to forests. Through “natural attrition” over 200-300 years, he says the radiata pine would naturally collapse and the native trees prevail and provide permanent forest cover.
“Natives come by default.” He says the plantations could be registered under the Emissions Trading Scheme to claim the carbon that is being stored in this wood for as long as the ETS exists. Based on the current carbon price of $35 per tonne, Jeff says such plantations would produce annual incomes of more than $900 per hectare or the equivalent of $28,000 per hectare over just a 30-year period.
“This approach to creating a long-term permanent carbon sink ticks all the boxes and avoids the short-term thinking of converting farms to forests, particularly in districts where the returns from timber production are poor.” It also halves the forest area required nationally for NZ to achieve net carbon zero 2050.
Jeff recommends an “encouragement grant” of $2000 per hectare. “This is a ’small cost‘ compared to the estimated $14 billion required to buy international credits to meet NZs anticipated 2030 emissions reduction target shortfall and would achieve NZs net carbon zero well prior to 2050.”
Jeff says feedback from farmers indicates there would be a “stampede” for the adoption of permanent forests via a Government subsidy if introduced. If adopted, Jeff says the programme could start in 2022 and run through until 2035.
“Jeff strongly believes farmers are again the solution to instigate “round two” of the heavy lifting to achieve the required carbon offset and net carbon zero 2050 - and as such need to be positively engaged and rewarded”.
Source: Coast & Country November 2020
Updated NZ Wood Availability Forecasts underwayIt’s been a long time since the Wood Availability Forecasts were updated, so MPI have decided to team up with Margules Groome Consulting to produce a WAF by June 2021.
MPI has contracted Margules Groome Consulting to undertake the 2020/21 wood availability forecasting round, and review the existing regional yield tables. During the course of the forecasting round all large-scale forest owners (i.e. those with over a certain number of hectares in a wood supply region), will be contacted by the contractor and asked to complete a harvest intentions survey. The survey covers commercially harvested species and seeks information for a twenty-year period.
The Nelson region has been chosen as the pilot region and is currently underway with information gathering. All other regions will be contacted in the New Year. MPI will be producing a draft analysis of the Nelson/ Marlborough region and have set up a regional meeting to discuss the preliminary results. Feedback is invaluable to ensure that the methodology used and assumptions are correct. The meeting will be held on the 8 December at the Beachside Conference Centre from 10-2pm (although may end sooner).
One of the questions MPI hopes this work will address is what level of uncommitted supply exists in each wood supply region, particularly in those log grades that are sought after by the domestic processing industry. This analysis will contribute directly to the Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan (ITP), which seeks to expand the commercial opportunities for forestry, and build value from the resource.
If interested in attending (60-person limit) either in person or virtually, please make contact with email@example.com.
Australia forecasts prolonged wildfire seasonsAustralia’s climate will continue to warm, resulting in prolonged wildfire seasons and less rain in the southeast and southwest that will lead to more frequent droughts, the country’s weather bureau said last week. Australia’s changing climate patterns can be attributed to an increase in greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere triggering more extreme weather events, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said in its biennial climate report.
Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.44 degrees Celsius since 1910 and this will result in more wild fires, droughts, and marine heat waves, the report said. “Climate change is influencing these trends through its impact on temperature, rainfall, and relative humidity, and the resulting change to the fuel moisture content,” BoM scientist Karl Braganza said.
Fires razed more than 11 million hectares of bushland across the southeast early this year, killing at least 33 people and billions of native animals - a disaster that Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Australia’s “black summer”. Though COVID-19 lockdowns helped cut global emissions, they were not enough to reduce the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, said the report, prepared in collaboration with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO.
Morrison has refused to match other developed countries in setting a target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050 but has said that the country, in line with the Paris accord, expects to reach net zero emissions after 2050.
European lumber exporters expanding offshore salesEuropean lumber exporters have expanded their sales overseas from 30% to 45% over the past ten years, with Asia receiving a fifth of total exports in 2020, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly
Sawmills in several European countries have long been exporting large volumes of softwood lumber outside their domestic markets. Historically, most of the shipments were to neighbouring countries on the continent, and only about 20% were shipped overseas to the Middle East/Northern Africa (MENA), the US, and Japan. In 2020, this share had grown to 45%, with shipments to China having expanded the most.
A combination of stagnant wood demand in Europe, readily available log supply in Northern and Central Europe, and a lack of forest resources available to supply domestic lumber manufacturers in major wood-consuming regions worldwide has created opportunities for sawmills in Europe to increase production and export outside Europe.
The four largest producers and exporters of softwood lumber in Europe are Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Austria. Together they produced just over 56% of Europe’s total lumber production in 2019, and the international shipments by these “Top 4” accounted for about two-thirds of continent’s total export volume. Over the past decade, this group has increased exports by about 20% to an estimated 36 million m3 in 2020, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly.
Practically all of the expanded sales have been to overseas markets, predominantly China and the US, but also to several smaller markets in Asia, including India, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Australia.
In 2020, over 65% of Finland’s lumber exports have gone to markets outside Europe. However, Finland remains the only country in the “Top 4” that has not yet expanded into the massive US lumber market. Sweden and Germany have shipped about 45% of their lumber exports overseas. Austrian sawmills still predominantly sell to neighbouring countries, with Italy, Germany, and Slovenia accounting almost 70% of their total export volumes during the first six months of this year.
China and the US, where about 50% of the world’s traded softwood lumber is landing, have become important markets for European lumber producers the past decade. With both countries lacking the forest resources to meet future increases in demand for forest products, it is highly likely that European wood manufacturers will continue to expand their presence in these two enormous markets in coming decade.
Source: Wood Resources International
German IoT start-up wants to help prevent forest firesDryad Networks is prepping an IoT network of sensors connected via a solar-powered wireless mesh for deployment in forests as an early warning system to detect fires.
A German start-up wants to use IoT sensors and a wireless-mesh network to detect forest fires within 10 minutes to an hour of when they start as opposed to the hours or even days it can take using current methods based on thermal imaging, satellite surveillance and human smoke spotters.
Dryad Networks is developing sensors to detect gases associated with forest fires and engineering how to network them using LoRaWAN and other wireless technologies so the data they gather can be analyzed in the company’s cloud.
The sensors are best placed about 10 feet off the ground in trees, secured by screws, making it more difficult for people or wildlife to disturb them and ensuring they won’t be obscured by grass or fallen leaves, according to founder and CEO Carsten Brinkschulte, a veteran of Apple and SAP.
Each device is equipped with a LoRaWAN modem, which communicates with a mesh gateway. Each gateway can handle all the sensors in a six- to seven-mile radius if they are spaced as Dryad recommends--roughly one per 2.5 acres. In turn, the mesh gateways send the data they gather--also via LoRaWAN-- to border gateways that pass it up to the cloud via fixed wireless, LTE or even satellite, depending on the area.
One advantage the gas sensors have over indoor smoke detectors is that they can detect fires even if they are upwind of the fire itself because some of the gases that that the sensors look for diffuse in all directions, the company says.
The sensors are designed to be set-and-forget, with no maintenance required over their roughly 15-year life cycle. A key design consideration was the use of on-device solar charging in combination with supercapacitor battery technology that doesn’t pose the potential fire risk of lithium-ion cells. “We don’t want to bring lithium ion into a forest,” said Brinkschulte.
... and one to end the week on ... men can fix anything
Dont have a spoon?
New TV too big for the old cabinet?
I can fix that!
Car stereo stolen?
I can fix that!
Bookshelf cracking under the weight?
I can fix that!
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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