Friday Offcuts 12 March 2021
In keeping with recent stories that we’ve covered on developments on autonomous log transport and tree planting, we’ve covered a story this week on an Australian company that’s also advanced the future of mobility (in mining at least). They’ve deployed their own fleet of fully-autonomous Ford Rangers at one their mines. We’ve known that autonomous haul trucks have already been mobilised by in Western Australia, in fact by all three of the major iron ore companies; BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group.
Australia really has been at the forefront of advancements in autonomous haulage. Over 300 autonomous haul trucks are now operating in the Pilbara region of WA and humans for some time, have been able to work remotely from WA mine sites. With this latest innovation though, the common ute has been able to make use of the long straight and pretty open roadways. The mining company has been able to free up their mechanical staff so no longer do they need to drive to and from the mine (around 340,000km of driving annually) to pick up and deliver equipment and parts. Makes you think about some of those long-haul flatter forestry roads that we have in both countries.
And finally, the full house sign has already gone up on all inside and outside exhibitions at the combined HarvestTECH 2021 and Forest Safety & Technology 2021 events. For exhibitors, it’s a full house. The way registrations are currently tracking, it’s also likely that the doors will close shortly for delegates wanting to attend either of the two events being run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 13-14 April.
For those still looking to secure a seat, discounted early-bird registrations close today. If keen in securing a space for you or some of your crew, the suggestion is you look to register ASAP. For those unable to get into Rotorua, for the first time, live virtual registrations can also this year be booked so you can either watch it live – or if out in the forest or on the road over the two days the event is running - you’ll be able to look at selected presentations at a later date. On this note, enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
H2F treated framing: Disposing of a mythIt has been suggested that the reuse of H2F framing at the end of a building’s life may pose a substantial problem in 20-30 years. This article explains the nature and benefits of H2F framing, why the suggested timeline is too short and why the magnitude of the problem has been over-estimated.
H2F treated framing, easily recognised by the distinctive blue colouring, was developed to prevent termite attack, a potential problem in improperly constructed buildings in some areas of Australia.
It has long been recognised that it is far less expensive to exclude termites than control them and complete repairs once they infest a structure. Once they have entered, termites can not only damage timber, including framing, joinery and furniture, but will eat other cellulose-based materials, even the paper covering on plasterboard.
The traditional approach to termite protection was to create a chemical barrier, drenching the soil with a long-lasting insecticide (chlordane was a major one). Houses were also built with exposed surfaces so any termite attempts at access (e.g. mud-tubes) could be easily detected. Mechanical barriers, such as mesh, are also used to prevent termite ingress.
Today, many of the long-lasting soil poisons are no longer available and those that are provide reduced periods of protection, often less than 10 years, and need to be reapplied to continue to protect the building.
The softwoods which are used for most timber framing in Australia, are not naturally termite resistant. The H2F process coats the dry timber with a thin layer of an insecticide, with added blue colouring to make it easily recognisable on the job site.
The H2F treatment uses one of three insecticides: bifenthrin, permethrin or imidacloprid. Permethrin (which is widely used to treat scabies and lice on humans) and bifenthrin are pyrethroids, which are related to natural products found in chrysanthemums. Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid, which is related to the nicotine found in tobacco. All are effective at very low levels, have exceptionally low toxicity to humans and repel termites, providing protection for the life of the structure, typically 50 years or more. Retrofitted houses that retain the H2F treated timber frame and update other features will continue to benefit from its protection. Many currently occupied timber framed homes in Australia were built in the 1800’s.
It has been suggested that the disposal of H2F framing at the end of a building’s life may pose a problem. At present, there are few economical pathways for disposal of any framing timber other than landfill or composting. This situation can be expected to change as the market embraces and applies the concept of a circular economy in which there is a much greater focus on the retrieval and reuse of materials.
The Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life at the University of the Sunshine Coast is currently working on ways to improve the reuse of timber, while the timber industry is looking to identify national approaches to recovery and reuse that avoids landfills.
H2F framing was introduced relatively recently, so at the moment there is very little entering the waste stream. However, for the H2F treated timber that does enter the waste stream It is important to consider the amounts of chemical in these timbers and the risks they pose as well as the relative rates of degradation in a typical municipal solid waste facility.
The Australian Standards (AS/NZS-1604) for H2F treatment specify slightly different amounts for each of the three chemicals to slightly different depths in the timber. The amounts of any one of the three chemicals in the timber is extremely low. This clearly differentiates these shallow, low level treatments for indoor use from those used for heavy duty outdoor protection such as chromated copper arsenate (CCA) that may have very different disposal pathways.
It is technically feasible to compost H2F treated timber. The extremely small amounts of chemicals in the H2F treatments tend to bind to soil and organic particles in the ground where they degrade over a period of days to months, depending on the environmental conditions.
The other likely option is landfill. Nearly all modern municipal solid waste facilities are lined and the waste is tightly compacted and covered. This creates an essentially anaerobic (oxygen free) environment in which little to no degradation of timber occurs. Examinations of timber excavated from older landfills shows little evidence of any degradation. The presence of small amounts of insecticide would have little or no effect on these processes.
To summarise, the disposal or repurposing of H2F treated timber is similar to that of most types of timber, the small amounts of chemicals in the H2F treated timber have a negligible effect on the process. The benefits of H2F treated timber in replacing toxic chemical soil drenches to provide long-lasting protection and increasing the durability and service life of our homes significantly outweigh any other potential issues.
Source: Jeffrey J. Morrell, Professor and Director, National Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life
Increasing interest in forestry as an asset classIn a recent release from New Forests, David Brand was pleased to announce that New Forests was recently included in the Impact Assets 50, an annual list of the world’s leading impact investment managers. They also recently gathered in a virtual convening with some of the world’s foremost institutional investors to discuss accelerating investment in Natural Climate Solutions as part of the transition to a net zero emissions economy.
With this rising interest in forests, he reflects on investment in forestry as an asset class and its role in a sustainable future. The design of portfolios that support action on climate change and the conservation of nature will lead to an evolution and expansion of the role of forestry in society. New Forests has tried to align its investment strategies with these imperatives and opportunities while continuing to focus on returns and risk management.
Investment in Natural Climate Solutions, the transition to a circular bio-economy, and the increasing recognition that expanding forestry must be done in partnership with communities—these are the keys to future investment opportunities in forestry. He said that he believed institutional investors are increasingly taking note of the potential expansion of the forestry asset class.
Recently New Forests, working with Generation Investment Management, Ceres, Conservation International, Forest Trends, Systemiq, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Resources Institute developed A 2030 Investment Vision for Natural Climate Solutions.
David shared his presentation from the virtual convening regarding Investment Transformations in the Forestry Asset Class—in which he discusses the potential opportunity as climate finance increasingly becomes central to forestry investment.
View the presentation here
Source: David Brand, CEO, New Forests
Industry comment on new Wood Legality systemIn July 2020, Cabinet directed New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries to commence drafting a national Legal Harvest Assurance System for the country. A “robust system” is being proposed by the Government to verify the legal harvest of wood products produced in, and/or imported into, New Zealand.
MPI has recently been consulting with some selected stakeholders through a series of on-line workshops. The feedback from some sections of the industry hasn’t been “overwhelmingly positive”. Below is an opinion piece supplied by Dan Gaddum from Forest360 on the proposed bill and process of consultation that's currently being followed.
“In what is becoming all too familiar in our industry (and our country) misguided legislation is being drafted by our trusted policy advisors in Wellington. Silent, urgent policy. Drafted behind closed doors, stunned silences and evasive empty answers. Sound familiar? The Log Traders Amendment Bill was handled the same way and supported by people that actually didn’t understand what it meant and those with vested self-interest.
This policy (Legal Harvest Assurance System) is reportedly in response to a problem that no one seems to be aware off - except the people that are drafting the policy. How can that ever be good? So, what’s the issue? Well, MPI have deemed that New Zealand has a looming trade crisis with our forest product trading partners unless we can prove to them the forest product in question is “legal”. This (and about 400 other areas) is where it gets a bit murky. MPI told us that they were responding to calls from the industry for a system around wood legality. But wait, in the next breath, apparently, they are responding to diplomatic calls for an assurance system for wood legality. So, what is it MPI, Government or Industry?
If I take the silence from the 40 odd industry people on the last MPI “consultation” call as an indication, not one industry participant has put in a request for this system. One can only assume it’s actually a government led program. Ok cool. Benefit of the doubt for our government.
Let’s assume your intentions are pure (that’s a big leap for me personally) and the last thing you actually want to do is impose another layer of unnecessary compliance and cost on NZ business. If that is the case, to earn the benefit of the doubt and the trust of industry, is there not some sense and reasonableness in slowing down, actually identifying the problem, seeking feedback (and actually listening too it). It appears from what is being proposed that the solution is a sledgehammer when the problem might only be a spider.
What is perhaps most alarming is the approach to the implementation of the legislation, one day us frogs will all wake up and go “man it sure is getting hot in here”. I listened this week to a senior government official threaten to call off an industry consultation call because they were deeply concerned at some of the passionate correspondence that was floating around which they had deemed to be offensive and abusive.
I sat there stunned. So, all of a sudden free speech is no longer tolerable because someone is worried about someone’s feelings. Grow a backbone, front up, engage in the debate and listen to the passion. When a government department puts up misguided policy and it is passionately defended, we should never shy away from that debate".
Source: Dan Gaddum, Managing Director, Forest360
Ford Ranger goes fully-autonomousAn Australian mining group has advanced the future of mobility (in mining at least) with the deployment of a fleet of fully-autonomous Ford Rangers at one of its mines.
Fortescue Metals Group has retrofitted four Rangers at its Christmas Creek mine in Western Australia with autonomous systems created by the company’s Technology and Automation team, to remove the need for fitters to make around 12,000 28-kilometre round trips each year to collect equipment and parts.
Of course, it’s not quite as ground-breaking as it sounds: mining operations don’t need to deal with road rules, pedestrians or many other vehicles, which hugely complicate the matter. Nevertheless, it’s still impressive.
The system uses a combination of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and radar sensors for obstacle detection and avoidance, along with a comprehensive safety management system with fail-safe braking and vehicle-wide monitoring and fault response capability.
A successful deployment of ALV’s (autonomous light vehicles) at Christmas Creek will provide the opportunity to implement a similar system at other operational sites to improve safety, productivity and efficiency.
Asia's largest timber structure being builtAt over 75,000sqm, the new Tianfu Agriculture Expo will be the largest timber structure in Asia, and one of the largest timber structures in the world.
Working closely with one of China's most famous architects, CuiKai, the structural design for this series of 5 vaults uses unique Vierendeel trusses to achieve clear spans of more than 115m and heights of 45m.
Stay tuned for more details - construction has begun, and in partnership with Hasslacher more than 3500m3 of Glulam has been shipped to Chengdu!
You can check out some pretty amazing photos and a video of the planned structure here
Source: Timber Architecture & Construction News, Structurecraft
DroneSeed picks up major accoladeDroneSeed, the innovative drone planting company that has presented at the last two ForestTECH events and has undertaken operational trials in forests a number of local locations, has been recognised by Fast Company as one of the Most Innovative Companies in Robotics in 2021. DRONESEED - For replanting fire-ravaged forests
We’ve just seen the worst wildfire season on record in the United States, resulting in more than 8 million acres of land burned. On average, the world loses 18.8 million acres of forest to fires every year. Getting all that forest replanted and back to converting carbon dioxide is crucial to the environment, but in practice, it’s a costly and slow process.
Seattle-based DroneSeed uses swarms of large, proprietary drones to carry seeds to burned areas and plant them in spots where they’re most likely to grow well. The seeds are delivered in “vessels” designed to keep the seed hydrated and protected from animals. The company says that it’s seen its contracts jump well into the six figures this year, and it’s now working with the Nature Conservancy and three of the five largest timber companies.
Investment being made in NZ forestry trainingThe forestry sector continues to provide career opportunities for New Zealanders, with Te Uru Rākau delivering NZ$1.5 million into training and employment projects to help the sector meet labour and skills gaps.
Acting Deputy Director General Henry Weston says the Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Action Plan, developed in partnership with the sector, identified up to 5000 more forestry and wood processing workers would be required by 2025. “The food and fibre sectors are a key driver for the New Zealand economy and it’s a priority for the Ministry of Primary Industries to invest in projects that attract people to the sector”.
“As New Zealand continues to recover from the economic impacts of Covid-19, we need people taking up careers in this important sector. The forestry and wood processing sectors already bring in between $6 and $7 billion each year, employ 35,000 people, and we want to keep helping New Zealanders find exciting and rewarding training and career opportunities.
“It was great to see ten trainees graduate from a 17-week Taranaki-based course at the end of 2020 and go straight into jobs. The training built the silviculture skills of young people, enabling them to work within the iwi land development program and within the wider Taranaki region.”
The course, run by Treemachine Services for rangatahi from Ngāti Maru and other Taranaki iwi, was funded by Te Uru Rākau with support from North Tec, Taranaki Regional Council, Department of Conservation and Ministry of Social Development and forestry companies.
In Masterton, KTM Silviculture Limited ran a programme for 24 trainees to gain Level 3 NZQA silviculture training qualifications. “This will help address a labour/skills gap in Wairarapa, which is currently holding back forestry activities in the region,” Mr Weston says.
“Funding provided to Tāne Mahuta in the Bay of Plenty enables 20 tairua (students) to do an eight-week Te Whakatō Rākau training programme, and we are also supporting a programme for 12 local rangitahi aged 18-29 run by Mohaka Kingz Contracting Ltd for their E Tu Kahikatoa project in Wairoa.
“The students will not only gain NZQA Level 2 and Level 3 forestry credits, they will get work experience in a commercial planting environment, nutrition advice and kaihautū mentor support within a kaupapa Māori framework.”
Te Uru Rākau is also supporting the education of younger students and a grant has been provided to the Southern North Island Wood Council to deliver the Wood is Good education programme. This programme teaches rural primary school students about logging truck safety and introduces aspects of the forestry through in class activities.
Mr Weston says these training investments are part of Te Uru Rākau’s broad programme that is assisting the industry to meet its training and employment needs in coming years. “We encourage anyone interested in the wide range of career opportunities in forestry to find out more at forestrycareers.nzor the Opportunity Grows Here website at opportunitygrowshere.nz/forestry.”
Logistics companies merge to create $1.2b businessAsia Pacific freight giants VISA Global Logistics and Mondiale Freight Services have announced they will be merging to form a significant international transport and logistics entity. The merged company will have a combined annual revenue of A$1.2 billion, with operations across Australia, New Zealand, North Asia, South East Asia, Indian Sub-Continent, and Europe.
Both companies have made large investments in wharf transport in Australia and New Zealand and offer a total end-to-end supply chain solution in both countries. The founding seven executive shareholders of VISA and Mondiale will remain with the company as shareholders in their executive positions.
VISA and Mondiale currently handle over 500,000 containers and 25 million kilograms of air freight per annum and employ more than 1500 people globally, covering all aspects of freight forwarding, customs, wharf transport, and warehousing.
Ray Meade, who has operated in the global freight markets in both Australia and New Zealand for 30 years and managed Mondiale’s Australian operations for over eight years, will become the chief executive officer of the merged group.
Mondiale was established in 1989 and is New Zealand’s largest privately owned freight forwarder with a global operation and offices across New Zealand, Australia, China and the Philippines. VISA Global Logistics was founded in 1982 and is one of Australia’s largest privately owned international freight forwarding companies with an extensive global network.
New film to promote native forestryA new film on the sustainable cycle of native forestry was released this week, providing insight into an often-misunderstood industry. The film was commissioned by the Forest Industries Federation of WA (FIFWA) and aims to promote native forestry and its importance to WA.
According to FIFWA Executive Director Melissa Haslam, the film provides an important reference for people genuinely seeking factual information on native forestry, in a visually appealing and relevant format. “We are so proud to release this film on behalf of industry,” Mrs Haslam said.
“It really highlights the critical aspects of native forestry, with a tactile theme that will resonate with anyone who appreciates timber. As viewers will discover, maximum recovery is essential and there really is no such thing as a waste product to us. Native forestry is a renewable industry, that’s the way we operate to ensure the industry continues to thrive for generations to come.”
Native forestry contributes AU$220 million to the WA economy and directly employs more than 500 people. Polling conducted earlier this year showed that over 80% of South West voters want the WA Government to do more to support and grow local timber industry jobs and decrease a reliance on timber imports.
“We hope this film will highlight the importance of the native forestry sector in WA. help people understand how crucial it is to continue to effectively manage, utilise, conserve and regenerate a truly renewable and valuable resource,” Mrs Haslam said.
Source: Forest Industries Federation WA (FIFWA)
Updated wood availability forecasts in progressMargules Groome, on behalf of the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), are currently undertaking the 2020 update to the New Zealand wood availability forecasts (WAF). These forecasts build on the National Exotic Forest Description (NEFD) data, provided by New Zealand plantation forest owners, to predict the potential wood availability at both national and regional levels. These forecasts are carried out roughly once every 5 years, with the last WAF published in 2014-2015.
Late in 2020, Margules Groome developed the forecasts for the Nelson Marlborough wood supply region as a pilot exercise. With the successful completion of this pilot region, they are now moving on to the forecasts for the remaining regions and the national level forecasts. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of June 2021. All regions follow a similar methodology to that which has been used for the last couple of forecasts.
The NEFD areas statements and yield tables form the basis for the Remsoft Woodstock wood flow models. The models are designed to mimic generalised future forest management practices in each of the regions. These generalised practices include rotation ages and replanting rules. They are undertaking a survey of large forest owners to obtain an understanding of their harvesting intentions over the next 10-20 years.
These harvest intentions will be used to provide a solid base for the future predictions. Several different scenarios will be modelled to demonstrate different potential future supply forecasts for each region. Once the draft models are completed, regional meetings will be held to canvas feedback on the draft forecasts. A regional meeting with forest owners in the Otago and Southland regions was held alongside the Southern Wood Council meeting on Wednesday this week. Feedback will be incorporated into the final models and forecasts. The final forecasts will be made publicly available on the MPI website.
If you own forests in New Zealand of greater than 3 000 hectares, you or your forest manager can expect to be contacted by a Margules Groome representative to help us understand your harvesting intentions over the next 10-20 years. In addition, all New Zealand plantation owners should receive an invitation over the next couple of months to a regional meeting (likely to be in March) to discuss your regional draft forecasts. If you haven’t been contacted and think you should have been, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: email@example.com
Source: Margules Groome
Modelling for forest operation improvementThrough a combination of predictive algorithms, prescriptive optimization-based modelling, and a live operational planning system, artificial intelligence (AI) can enable continuous improvement throughout the forestry supply chain and provide real competitive advantage in fast-changing markets.
Global industries are benefiting from a confluence of improved data acquisition and management platforms and advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology. For the forest industry, this provides an exciting and transformational opportunity.
As more data comes in from systems at many points in the supply chain, forest companies can mine this information for valuable insights into their operations and use it to improve their planning processes and assumptions by learning from what is actually happening in the field. This is where predictive analytics and prescriptive modeling can work together to provide continuous improvement in forest planning and allow forest companies to make faster, smarter and more precise decisions based on continuously updated data.
Rayonier releases first Carbon ReportRayonier Inc. has released its first Carbon Report detailing the positive net carbon impact generated by the Company’s forestry operations. In 2019, Rayonier’s timberland assets sequestered an estimated 5.7 million metric tons of CO 2 equivalents from the atmosphere, net of carbon emitted through operations and carbon removed/transferred to customers through harvest activity.
At year-end 2019, the Company’s timberland assets stored an estimated 732 million metric tons of CO 2 equivalents in total. The Company’s Carbon Report provides a clear accounting of how Rayonier’s sustainable forestry business is part of the solution for achieving net zero emissions globally.
This report is unique and comprehensive in quantifying the carbon impacts across the Company’s forestry value chain, including:
• Total carbon stored within Rayonier's timberland portfolio;
• Carbon sequestered annually by the Company’s forests;
• Carbon emissions associated with the Company’s direct and indirect forestry operations, including Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions;
• Carbon removed/transferred from the Company’s forests to its customers through harvest activity; and
• Carbon that remains stored in downstream solid wood products produced from the Company’s timber.
“As a company whose core business is maintaining healthy ecosystems that support both sustainable forestry and its associated carbon sequestration benefits, we recognize the importance of protecting the climate and our natural environment,” said David Nunes, President and CEO. Our inaugural Carbon Report demonstrates the important role that working forests play in fighting climate change.”
Rayonier is a leading timberland real estate investment trust with assets located in some of the most productive softwood timber growing regions in the United States and New Zealand. As of December 31, 2020, Rayonier owned or leased under long-term agreements approximately 2.7 million acres of timberlands located in the U.S. South (1.73 million acres), U.S. Pacific Northwest (507,000 acres) and New Zealand (417,000 acres).
The Company also acts as the managing member in a private equity timber fund business with three funds comprising approximately 141,000 acres. On a “look-through basis”, the Company’s ownership in the timber fund business equates to approximately 17,000 acres.
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... and one to end the week on ... waiting for a flight
A man is alone in an airport lounge. A beautiful woman walks in and sits
down at the table next to him.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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