Friday Offcuts – 1 April 2021

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Welcome to this week’s issue of Friday Offcuts – a day early this time – before Easter Friday. Timber supply and pricing issues dominate this week’s issue. At this stage, the tap for Australian export logs being taken into China unfortunately still appears to be shut tight. Domestically though, it’s quite a different story. Official stats are backing up record levels of demand for building timber being seen in Australia. House sales in the three months to February 2021 were higher by 60.5 per cent than in the same three months the previous year. The number of construction loans to owner occupiers in the three months to January 2021 is also 45.8 per cent higher than the previous quarter and it’s more than double the same time the previous year. To keep up with the demand, sawmills have significantly ramped up their production by adding shifts with some mills reportedly producing up to 40 per cent more timber than they were a year ago.

A similar story is being played out at the moment in New Zealand. Building consents are at record highs and a shortage of building supplies, including timber, is preventing the construction sector from delivering projects on time and within budget. Add to this, one of the largest suppliers of structural lumber, Carter Holt Harvey, announced late last week that they’d been caught out by the unprecedented demand and for the foreseeable future, wouldn’t be able to supply a number of major timber retailers. Commentary this week has suggested that the decision may in fact be related to the company underestimating just how long it would take to increase production at their Kawerau sawmill following the closure of their Whangarei sawmill earlier in the year, the post- covid spike in demand for timber and strong bounce back in the NZ economy. The message is that CHH’s decision didn’t indicate a timber supply issue across the NZ forest products sector.

Right now, this same story of timber shortages and escalating prices is being played out internationally as well. In North America, timber shortages and a booming housing market have led to record lumber prices. According to the National Association of Home Builders, US lumber prices tripled since this time last year. “It’s an absolute crisis,” said Jerry Howard, CEO, National Association of Home Builders. “We’re starting to see builders pour the foundations for a house, then stop building, because they can’t afford to buy the lumber.” Same story in Canada (see this week’s issue). When the pandemic first hit, we were all rightfully concerned. The expectation was that consumers around the world would stop spending as they became very uncertain about their futures. Forecasts at the time were for plummeting demand for timber. Who would have thought?

And finally, a good news story to end the week on. Unprecedented flooding on the East Coast of New Zealand in 2018 resulted in forest debris being scattered down rivers and across the region’s beaches. The images are indelibly etched into our minds. It wasn’t a good look locally – or nationally for the industry - and brought into question the environmental practices being employed by local companies. One of the largest forestry companies on the East Coast has over the last two years been working closely with iwi, the local community and Council’s. This week they've announced an industry first, a 90-year agreement to create a permanent native forest buffer alongside waterways within the company’s forests. In the first year of the agreement alone, approximately 170 hectares of the Aratu Forests estate will be prepared for planting starting in May this year. A great long-term initiative and one that may well be replicated by forest owners in other regions. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Carter Holt Harvey’s NZ supply shakeup

A decision by Carter Holt Harvey to stop supplying wood products to major retailers could redefine how houses are built in New Zealand, an industry organisation says. Mitre 10 and Bunnings have confirmed to Stuff Carter Holt Harvey has stopped supplying them with wood products.

Mitre 10 chief of customer solutions Chris Peak said Carter Holt Harvey Woodproducts had told Mitre 10 that it could not supply it with structural timber for the foreseeable future. “This poses an industry-wide issue,” Peak said.

Mitre 10 had multiple supplier relationships and would be working to ensure it could continue to supply customers, he said. Bunnings head of merchandise New Zealand Cameron Rist said it sourced timber from a large number of suppliers and had a range of alternative options so did not expect the change would impact on its product availability.

“Carter Holt Harvey isn’t a major supplier to Bunnings and customers can be assured we will continue to work with our suppliers to meet demand for timber across our store network.”

PlaceMakers chief executive Bruce McEwen told Stuff it was advised by Carter Holt Harvey on Wednesday that it intended to make changes to how it supplied customers. BusinessDesk on Friday reported that Carter Holt Harvey had also stopped supplying ITM.

Building Industries Federation chief executive Julien Leys said it appeared as though Carter Holt Harvey had cut loose smaller retailers but was continuing to supply large customers including Fletcher Building-owned Placemakers and its own subsidiary Carters. “It certainly caught everyone by surprise,” Leys said.

A “perfect storm” had led to Carter Holt Harvey not being able to meet demand for a structural wood product called “wides” – 245mm wide timber used in a wide range of building applications, from flooring to trusses.

He said Carter Holt Harvey was the biggest manufacturer of wides in New Zealand, and it had been caught off guard by a rise in demand from multi-storey housing builds. “We’re seeing all these multi-storey units – two or three floors requiring much more timber. They just haven't seen it coming. They haven't been able to gear up their manufacturing capacity.”

Growth in log exports to China had also compounded the issue, he said. “The Chinese are paying top dollar for our logs.” Some timber mills in New Zealand may step in to fill the gap, but the more likely solution would be builders switching to alternative wood products, he said.

“It might mean we start having houses built a little bit differently.” Builders may need to make changes at short notice to building plans and those that were part way through a build would be looking at what the next best alternative to timber wides was, he said. “They might not necessarily go back to that wide timber.”

Source: Stuff

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Aratu Forests announces 90-year riparian scheme

Aratu Forests, one of New Zealand’s ten largest freehold forest plantations, has this week announced an industry-first, 90-year ‘right to plant’ land management agreement with sustainable land-use company, eLandNZ – with the backing of the Gisborne District Council.

The scheme has been under development for two years and is set to create a permanent native forest buffer alongside waterways within Aratu Forests. In May ground will be broken as part of a community launch event involving Iwi, community groups and the Gisborne District Council.

eLandNZ’s Managing Director, Sheldon Drummond, says: “The 90-year agreement for mixed land use within Aratu Forests will see eLandNZ progressively manage revegetation of streamside buffers within the Aratu Forests estate that are unsuitable for timber plantation.

“In the first 25-years the project will establish a permanent streamside native forest with primary species planted including manuka, belts of larger native trees in higher areas and flax in flood zones. The specific environmental improvements will include greater biodiversity, improved water quality and reduce offsite wood debris movement during any future flood event,” says Drummond.

“Community expectation on improved environmental management of our land and waterways requires the forest industry to be thinking long-term while also taking action today. We are confident this project will pioneer a new standard for sustainable forestry practices, which can be replicated across other fragile forestry environments,” he adds.

In the first year of the agreement approximately 170 hectares of the Aratu Forests estate will be prepared for planting, which will kick start from May. Aratu Forests Chief Executive, Neil Woods, says: “With the full support of our Board, we are voluntarily investing in this initiative because it is the right thing to do, and stands to deliver long-term benefits for the environment, the community and our company.

“eLandNZ has a proven track record in sustainable land management, having successfully delivered a number of projects throughout New Zealand. We like how the partnership has been established to this point – patiently, openly and collaboratively”.

Ūawanui Environmental Sustainability Project spokesperson, Victor Walker, says: “Our iwi and community, including our schools have been facilitating meetings to discuss environmental remediation and the impacts of the woody debris and flooding on our community in numerous forums for over a decade. These have been challenging times. The community hui at Reynolds Hall in Uawa, after the floods in 2018, was a touchstone for a highly connected approach to explore proactive solutions for what was required to keep our waterways and coastlines pristine and our community safe”.

“The pilot riparian native forest scheme is another touchstone in the journey towards future proofing the ‘kaitiekitanga (custodianship)’ of our catchment and the legacy of environmental sustainability that we will leave behind for our mokopuna. Ūawanui acknowledges the training and employment pathways that the industry provides and is optimistic that the project will also help build relationships to create opportunities for increased intergenerational wellness and prosperity.

Tara Strand, General Manager Forest and Landscapes at Scion says: “Scion is excited to support this long -term initiative to bring the health and wellbeing (the mauri) back to the forest and community. Establishment of these permanent forests enables us to better understand how forests help to mitigate flooding, lock soil and improve water quality, biodiversity, soil health and ultimately the wellbeing of the people.”

Mr Woods adds: “As more forestry owners become more proactive in activities that facilitate the environmental remediation of streamside land it will reduce costs to local and regional councils, while also assisting the Government in meeting its Paris Accord commitments through additional permanent forestry and carbon sequestration. This is a commercial solution to an environmental problem and there are going to be a lot of learnings for the industry as this project develops,” Woods says.

“This project stands to bring our communities together and there will be opportunities for other partners to participate in the future, including to involve other forests in the region and, ultimately, across New Zealand,” he says. A project webpage has been established to allow people to register to receive ongoing updates:

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NZ timber shortages debated

The decision made by CHH to discontinue supply of structural timber to some merchants comes as no surprise says NZTIF. In recent months all New Zealand sawmills have been under pressure to supply a booming domestic timber market for all end uses; residential building and outdoor timber for uses including fencing decking and landscaping.

However, based on other available timber milling production capacity and previous cyclical shortages, the New Zealand Timber Industry Federation doesn’t expect the current timber shortage to be overly prolonged. Efforts are being made to supply the demand in some cases mills are diverting export timber back into the New Zealand market.

However, sawmills’ ability to ramp up production quickly has been constrained in regions by a lack of availability and rising costs of logs and labour. Apart from the two remaining CHH sawmills, there are still a good number of other mills operating and all are lifting capacity as much as they are able to meet this current increase in demand. The biggest challenge to lifting production for mills is getting enough logs and in turn, competing on supply and price with the Chinese buyers and the export demand for NZ logs.

The next challenge then is getting enough skilled staff to put on additional shifts. Getting the mix of skills required, or training staff, has been an ongoing issue to the timber industry for a number of years.

Users of timber need to avoid panic buying, plan well ahead and consider using other timber sizes, grades and specifications that may be more available. Councils and building consenting authorities should in turn be going out of their way and putting provisions in place to remove compliance barriers and make it straight forward for builders to make any timber specification changes, deemed necessary, without undue hassles and delays. (e.g. substituting sizes and grades and in many cases “brand name” such as where plans specify “Laser frame” a CHH product which could readily be substituted by a product from a different mill).

The government could assist by including the specialised skills, applicable to sawmilling, on the Essential Skills Shortage List so the immigrant labour could be utilised in the short term.

New Zealand sawmills have historically been able to supply all of the country’s timber needs with few shortages ever occurring or lasting for long. Timber retailers and builders have, in the past, been spoilt with timely deliveries and choice of timber suppliers leading to few supply constraints and timber prices being held down.

The squeeze between rising log and labour costs and sawn timber sales prices has led to numerous sawmill closures over recent years. Some regions of NZ now have no, or few, sawmills making these communities more exposed to timber supply shortages.

Over the last two years alone, we have seen five significantly sized sawmills close down, representing an estimated 400,000 cubic meters of production. A major factor in these closures has been uncertainty and the high cost of log supply. Whilst the remaining sawmills have taken steps to plug the shortfall, lost capacity to service the local market is evident.

In the February this year the value of log exports was $305 million, a 48% increase on the values of logs exported in February 2020. In the quarter to 31 December 2020, we exported 6.0 million tonnes of logs compared to 5.1 million tonnes in the December 2019 quarter, an 18% rise. There is unabated demand for logs in export markets, especially China where other log supplying regions, Australia, eastern Russia and Europe have encountered difficulties in supply.

For further commentary and coverage on the "timber shortages" issue that got it's fair share of air time this week, see below.

Forest Owners Association on what caused the timber shortage

Carter Holt's halt on wood supply a 'sign of a system under stress .

Com Com to look into Carter Holt Harvey halting supply to major retailers

Sources: New Zealand Timber Industry Federation, Stuff, Business Desk, RNZ

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100-year FCNSW wood supply models updated

Forestry Corporation has released a review of long-term sustainable yield of timber from NSW State forests following the 2019-20 bushfires. The review includes a detailed analysis of fire impacts on each of the forestry regions in NSW and uses satellite-based fire intensity modelling to determine the scale of impacts on the forests and the available timber resource for supply to local industry.

The updated models and assumptions have been independently reviewed by Associate Professor Cris Brack of the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University. Forestry Corporation’s General Manager Hardwood Forests Division, Daniel Tuan, said sustainable yield is modelled over a 100-year timeframe.

“This is to ensure the amount of timber harvested and the stocks of timber in the forests remain stable over the long-term, so that current harvesting does not compromise the availability of wood from forests in the future,’’ Mr Tuan said.

NSW State forests are a mix of natural forests and timber plantations that are managed to produce a consistent supply of hardwood timber over the long term. Forestry Corporation harvests around one per cent of native State forests each year. Most of the native State forests are regrowth forests, which means the trees seen today have grown to replace trees previously removed for timber.

State forests that are designated for timber production make up 17 per cent of the public forest estate in NSW. The remaining 83 per cent of public forest in NSW is set aside for conservation. “It takes 30 to 50 years to grow a tree that will produce high quality timber so it’s essential we ensure our forests are managed sustainably to maintain forest health and biodiversity as well as supplying products for local industry,’’ Mr Tuan said.

“Reviewing the sustainable yield models for hardwood forests is complex because it must take into account a range of tree species that respond to fire in different ways. The 2019-20 bushfires affected around half of NSW State forests to varying degrees, making the sustainable yield modelling particularly challenging.”

Forestry Corporation commenced the sustainable yield review immediately following the declaration the fires were extinguished in March 2020 and it was completed within 12 months. New satellite-based mapping technologies were used to determine the extent and severity of fire impacts.

“Because of the hazards posed by working in the forest immediately after the fires, it was not safe to carry out field measurements, so the review used existing tree measurement data overlaid with fire severity mapping, scientific data and broad field assessments to model the impacts and recovery of different tree species,’’ Mr Tuan said.

“Normally the models are updated every five years but because of the scale of the fires, we brought this review forward. We will still undertake the scheduled five-year review in 2023-24 as part of the Reginal Forest Agreement.” On the North Coast, the review found the models are quite positive, showing timber yield will only reduce by around four per cent overall, with larger impacts on some timber producing species.

Mr Tuan said the low figure is due to a combination of factors including the fire resilience of many species in this region. ‘’More than two thirds of the high-quality timber yield in the region is Blackbutt, which was not significantly impacted by the fires, is fire-tolerant and fast growing, and is also widely stocked in our timber plantations,’’ he said.

On the South Coast and Tumbarumba, the models show a more significant impact from the 2019-20 fires. As a result, timber supply in these areas will decrease significantly in these areas. ‘’While all of the affected forests are expected to regenerate and regrow over time, we cannot continue to supply timber at the levels that we had previously been operating due to the loss of mature and growing timber stocks,’’ Mr Tuan said.

State forests in Eden were also significantly impacted by fire. However, the forests of this region are partially fire tolerant and most fire-affected timber can harvested be at existing levels over the next 10 years. After this time, timber supply will likely reduce while the broader forests regrow.

“We will now begin working with our customers on both the north and south coasts to ensure our commitments align with the sustainable yield of timber from the forests we manage,’’ Mr Tuan said. “These updated models will ensure we continue to set responsible and sustainable limits on the annual volume of timber we produce and, combined with the strict rules that protect old growth, rainforest, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, ensure the long-term sustainability of the forests we manage.”

The updated 100-year wood supply models are available at

In another article this week that appeared in the Guardian, as a consequence of the report being released, some are suggesting that logging in New South Wales native forests should cease after the review found the catastrophic 2019-20 bushfires reduced the amount of available timber by as much as 30%. Read more.

Source: FCNSW

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Australian sawmills ramp up supply

The national Association representing Australia's sawmills has reassured builders and homeowners that everything is being done to supply as much construction timber as possible to meet soaring demand. Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ross Hampton, said the domestic timber industry supplies around 80 per cent of the timber used in home construction and has ramped up production to keep up with the record demand.

“We are seeing record levels of demand for building timbers in Australia due to both Government stimulus measures and the fact that Australians have been saving money by not travelling,” Mr Hampton said. “Our sawmills around the nation have greatly increased production by adding shifts and are running flat out – some are producing up to 40 per cent more timber than they were this time last year. But even this isn’t enough to keep pace with a tidal wave of demand as Australians are choosing to focus on improving homes or building new ones. This has also been driven by the post-COVID move to much more home-based working environments.”

Mr Hampton said AFPA has asked the Federal Government to extend the HomeBuilder construction commencement timeframe for all applicants to ease demand and allow more time for stock to be produced and delivered to builders. This does not need to cost the budget any more money but can take the heat of the market.

Mr Hampton thanked the Government for working with industry to develop and improve the successful HomeBuilder program. “When the pandemic first hit most Australians stopped spending as they became very uncertain about their futures. Sawmills were facing plummeting demand forecasting a 50 per cent decline in production and rolling job losses in our regions. The Government's HomeBuilder package was a very welcome part of the solution and has worked very well”.

According to the latest national data from the Housing Industry Association, sales in the three months to February 2021 were higher by 60.5 per cent than in the same three months the previous year. The number of construction loans to owner occupiers in the three months to January 2021 is 45.8 per cent higher than the previous quarter and is more than double the same time the previous year.

Mr Hampton said the short-term timber shortage we are experiencing highlights the urgent need for state and federal governments to work with the forestry and timber sector to ensure Australia can meet its future timber needs.

Source: AFPA

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Farm Foresters to play a role in land use issues

Farm foresters are now excited and fully informed to play a role in helping role solve NZ land use issues says the incoming association president, Graham West. They have just completed their 5-day annual conference in Wellington and have been addressed by the Minister of Forests, Stuart Nash and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton.

Both emphasized the need for an integrated approach to trees in the landscape and greater promotion of the farm forestry concept. The organisation started 64 years ago and idea that trees be planted in the 1950s as a commercial crop was novel and needed considerable support and practical demonstration.

The theme for the conference, “Trees and the political landscape”, and the large attendance of 187 interested participants, clearly signals the membership of this organisation takes its role seriously in being a major contributor to the current land use debate occurring in many forums. To prepare for this, the conference carefully selected top level presenters. Climate change impacts, adaption, and building resilience was a consistent backdrop to many of the presentations.

Incentives for tree planting and regulations around tree crop establishment or harvesting are now commonplace. Numerous senior officials informed the conference of key new regulatory developments that will either encourage or control trees in the landscape. However, few provided answers to how 680,000+ hectares of new planting will be incentivised to achieve the goals suggested in the recent Climate Change Commission (CCC) advice.

Graham West says while the Farm Forestry Association currently struggles to attract new members, there was the clear realisation that the expansion of this “climate positive industry” rested unfairly on the shoulders of volunteers who were advanced in years and looking to pass the baton. If the national interest of New Zealand was to be served by trees, then more of these passionate and experienced folks are needed.

They provide their practical knowledge freely on a national basis through the 25 branches and six species action groups. However, the statistics on new tree planting show that this is not enough, and planting goals are not being achieved at the scale suggested by CCC.

Graham West says if a consistent programme of tree planting is desired by NZ, several strategic issues emerged in the conference that need to be addressed concurrently to encourage private investment. Voluntary groups like the Farm Forestry Association have the practical skill and hence need to be supported with funding to coordinate professional field officers that facilitate information transfer via field days and preparation of case study material.

“The heavy reliance on radiata pine to do many roles in the forestry sector, is a major risk in terms of biosecurity. But species diversification needs to be addressed by government because it is a national risk that individuals don’t address. Knowledge of alternative species options and management practices is well developed in farm forestry, but the significant risk around processing and markets remains. While we cannot de-risk the future, we can reduce the upfront costs when establishing these alternative species, i.e., the government needs to mitigate that risk through larger grants”.

The visit to the congested Wellington log port during the conference field days clearly demonstrated the issue of infrastructure investment. If we desire a large climate positive industry based on wood, we need a long-term plan, and investment, to create a world class wood supply chain. As with most commodities this will be key to the successful delivery of reasonably price biobased products to the world market.

Graham West says, “We have plans to rejuvenate the membership and provide better communication and services. The passion and vigour that an aging farm forestry membership mustered in conference discussions inspired many non-members attending.

The members may be elderly, but they demonstrate innovation, intellect and energy to solve many problems at a national level. Their enjoyment from the company of trees tells you of their gentle nature, they live in tune with the land, and if you join them, you will find they are some of the best people you will have had the privilege to meet”.

Source: Farm Forestry Association

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Hyundai welcomes demo hydrogen truck funding

Hyundai New Zealand has received NZ$500,000 from round nine of the Government’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund (LEVCF) administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). The fund offers up to $6.5 million to projects that will accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles and other low emission vehicles.

The co-funding will help support Hyundai New Zealand to purchase and deploy an initial fleet of five zero emission hydrogen FCEV trucks into New Zealand and enter real-world daily logistics operations.

“We have long been a champion locally for the use of electric vehicles and alternative fuel technologies, and now have an opportunity to help fast track the large-scale adoption of alternative green fuels in the New Zealand road freight sector,” Hyundai New Zealand general manager Andy Sinclair says.

The aim of the project is to demonstrate FCEVs as a heavy duty, reliable, cost effective replacement for diesel trucks and produce evidence of which contexts they have advantages over battery electric, being primarily longer range, shorter refuelling time and greater payload.

“The project will allow us to gain insight with vehicle efficiencies and driving range while in-service with two types of configurations in the form of a rigid truck application and/or combination trailer towing applications,” Sinclair says.

“EECA considered there was value in supporting the project, as it will provide rich data on the viability, supply of fuel and vehicles and operational cost comparatives in the New Zealand heavy freight transport context,” EECA’s Transport Portfolio Manager Richard Briggs says.

Hyundai Motor Company and Swiss company H2 Energy with the support of the Swiss Government entered into a joint venture and formed the Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility in 2019. The first shipment of Fuel Cell Electric Trucks (known as XCIENT FCEV) are in operation on Swiss roads as part of a 1600 unit delivery programme by 2025.

More >>

Source: transporttalk

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Prime Minister opens Scion’s new front door

Scion’s striking innovation building, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata, was on Wednesday officially opened by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Research, Science & Innovation, Hon Dr Megan Woods and 500 guests, heralding a new era in Scion’s evolution.

The building name “Te Whare Nui o Tuteata” was gifted by Ngā Hapū e Toru who hold mana over the whenua. The name acknowledges the mana of the tupuna Tuteata, from whom Ngā Hapū e Toru descend and the connection to the whenua, Tītokorangi.

Scion, a Crown Research Institute, has been the centre of New Zealand’s forestry sector for over 70 years. The opening of Te Whare Nui o Tuteata today is the next step in Scion’s growth, as the organisation steps forward to support New Zealand to solve some of its most pressing issues through innovation in manufacturing, energy and sustainable land-use.

Scion Chair Dr Helen Anderson says the opening today is a big part of the institute’s redevelopment: “We are at a defining point for New Zealand, with the potential for forestry to fuel a bio-based and sustainable economy. Scion’s work has the potential to power the transformation that New Zealand is making as we look to meet our climate change commitments, build our economy back better, and improve environmental and social outcomes.

Te Whare Nui o Tuteata is the ‘front door’ to Scion’s campus – Te Papa Tipu Innovation Park – which is already home to more than 30 different organisations and companies. Scion Chief Executive Dr Julian Elder says “Te Whare Nui o Tuteata is an example of timber technology and innovative design and construction that has been created through collaboration with New Zealand designers, wood processors and construction firms. This building is a symbol of the powerful connections we foster between Scion, local iwi, government, industry and the local community.”

Te Whare Nui o Tuteata showcases innovative technologies for large buildings in timber – that are climate-friendly, earthquake-resilient, fast and cost effective. The building stores approximately 418 tonnes of CO2-eqv for the life of the building. This is equivalent to the emissions from 160 return flights from Auckland to London. New Zealand’s radiata pine forests can regrow this amount of wood in just 35 minutes – making it truly sustainable.

For more information on the building click here

Source: Scion

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Canadian lumber rising to new heights

Commodity prices have risen to record levels over the past year and for the home-building industry in Canada, increasing prices, coupled with supply chain disruptions, are exacerbating the housing supply shortage.

“At the top of the list of commodity prices rising is lumber and what we have seen is a really hot housing market both in terms of new construction and renovations and also in the resale market,” said Kevin Lee, CEO of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA).

“There was a slow down early on (in the pandemic) with everything shutting down but housing came back very quickly as people showed that they place high importance on home. Everybody started looking at, do I have enough space? Do I want to renovate my existing space?”

The pandemic accelerated the shortage of housing supply and pent-up demand that already existed, he pointed out, adding the housing market in Canada and the United States took off last summer. “The U.S. relies heavily on Canadian lumber, so with all of that housing activity and that shortage of housing supply and all of a sudden the dam sort of bursting surprisingly through COVID, there is a scarcity of lumber,” said Lee.

“The lumber mills in Canada and the U.S. slowed right down early in the pandemic but the housing market rebounded faster than the mills got back up and running. With the integrated North American market, you are really seeing the shortage really affect price, so we’ve seen lumber prices skyrocket and that hasn’t abated.”

Patricia Mohr, an economist and commodity market specialist, said the Scotiabank Commodity Price Index dropped to a very low level in April 2020 following the outbreak of COVID-19 but began to rally in May and is now up a strong 21.2 per cent year-over-year as of January 2021. The forest products sub-index has led the way with a 53 per cent gain year-over-year.

More >>

Source: Canada.constructconnect

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Latest quarterly Timber Market Survey report

Softwood products

Prices for most untreated structural MGP products in Australia increased over the December quarter 2020. Price movements for MGP10 products ranged between 0.6% and 0.7%, while prices for MGP12 products ranged between staying relatively stable and increasing up to 0.8%. Prices for treated F7 products increased between 0.9% and 1.2%, and there were similar price movements for treated decking and sleeper products; up to 1.1% higher over the quarter.

Price movements for most panel products ranged between 0.3% and 0.9% higher, while MDF product prices remained relatively stable. Price movements for engineered wood products were mixed, with LVL prices increasing by up to 0.9% and I-joist/I-beam products remaining more stable; within +/- 0.2%.

Hardwood products

Over the six months to the end of December 2020, prices for kiln dried hardwood structural products increased between 0.4% and 1.0%, while prices green sawn structural products increased by up to 0.5%. Price movements for most hardwood flooring products ranged between 0.7% and 1.8% higher, while price movements for Blackbutt flooring were more subdued and ranged between 0.1% to 0.4% higher.

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

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

Further information and the latest Timber Market Survey report is available here

Source: Indufor

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Quantifying forest carbon capture stats

In celebration of the International Day of Forests that ran on on 21 March, Tasmania’s largest private forest manager, Forico, released its annual carbon capture statistics, boasting an absorption of 2.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent for the last financial year. This equates to the CO2 emissions from half a million cars driven on our roads for one year.

Forico Chief Technical Officer, Dr Andrew Jacobs, said the company first calculated the positive impact of its managed estates – both plantations and natural forest areas – and quantified how much they contributed to the environment through the storage of carbon.

“The positive impact of our forests was 5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which represents the greenhouse gas emissions from approximately 1.3 coal fired power plants operated continuously for one year,” Dr Jacobs said. “We then deducted the quantity of carbon removed when harvesting and processing our plantation forests, which was 2.66 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.”

Dr Jacobs said when calculating the overall carbon capture statistics for this financial year, Forico also deducted the emissions generated to operate its sustainably managed plantation forest business throughout the entire supply chain. “This equated to 0.03 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent,” he said.

Forico Chief Executive, Bryan Hayes, said the announcement of this year’s annual result provided a timely reminder of the natural advantages of wood and its positive contribution to reducing the effects of climate change.

“Apart from the amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere and stored in trees, processed wood products provide a permanent carbon store,” Mr Hayes said. “Additionally, forest renewal by replanting our harvested plantations and maintaining and enhancing our natural forests for their conservation and biodiversity value ensures further absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as the forest growth cycle continues”.

“These are important statistics as the global economy moves towards a net-zero carbon future.” The International Day of Forests is celebrated annually on 21 March.

On this note, registrations are pouring in for the Carbon Forestry 2021 Conference in mid-June. Early-bird rates still apply, but we recommend you register before this event sells out. The pace of discussion on carbon forestry options and best practice is growing and will accelerate when the feedback comes back to the Climate Commission as they refine their planned advice to Government for action. Make sure your team is registered for the event before time runs out.


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China continues its forest planting campaign

China planted 6.77 million hectares of forest last year and brought more than 2 million hectares of sandy land under control through improving vegetation, said a recent report on the country's 43rd Tree Planting Day.

According to the report from the National Greening Commission, 827,000 hectares of farmland and more than 1.68 million hectares of pastures had been turned into forest or grassland over the past year. To date, the per capita green area in urban China is 14.8 square meters, and 441 cities have joined the campaign to build national forest cities.

Moreover, the country initiated its first pilot program to construct grassland nature parks last year, with 39 pilots launched, covering a total of 147,000 hectares of grassland in 11 provinces and autonomous regions.

Afforestation is also part of the country's efforts to meet its upgraded international commitments to mitigate climate change. According to the report, forest carbon storage in China was about 9.18 billion metric tonnes last year, fulfilling the country's commitment to the international community.

Today, China has 220 million hectares of forest with a total forest stock volume of 17.5 billion cubic meters, according to the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

On Friday, an accounting report on China's forest resources was also released, showing that the total value of forest related resources in the country was more than 25 trillion yuan, and related services were valued at least 15 trillion yuan.

China has initiated a program to study forest resources accounting since 2014 with experts from several government departments and research centres. Forest resources accounting is an attempt to measure sustainable development by correcting the national income accounts for the depletion of natural capital.

"It is still a new attempt worldwide to account for forest resources with economic theories," said Jiang Zehui, chief scientist at the Chinese Academy of Forestry and head of the program. Li Xiaochao, deputy director of the National Bureau of Statistics, said the accounting will help evaluate China's forest resources and its potential to develop other green industries.

Source: China Daily

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... and one to end the week on ... images from this week

Ship: Gets stuck in canal.

Damages: Causing a traffic jam for 10% of world sea shipping and costing countries all across the globe millions each hour it sits in stuck in the canal.

Solution: Let's use a small clapped out 90’s excavator to try and fix the issue.

And on that note, enjoy your long Easter weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
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