Friday Offcuts 23 April 2021
This week we’ve included details of a recently completed global survey on the top five shifts affecting the future construction workplace across New Zealand and Australia. These included; supply chain transformation, new materials, offsite construction and prefab, employees and their needs and sustainability driving changes. And to meet the demand for professionals with expertise in the design and manufacture of wood products, the University of Tasmania has just announced that they’ve partnered with industry to develop Australia’s first professional course specialising in timber design and construction. The first course is due to get underway mid-year.
In Australia this week, in an unusual move for a member of the Government, a private members bill has been introduced aimed at clarifying the law around regulating Australian hardwood forestry operations currently subject to the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The law as it currently stands is creating uncertainty for the industry, particularly around the harvesting hardwoods. Because of this legal uncertainty, it’s also claimed that it's encouraging anti- forestry groups to work on the Government to intervene using these environmental protections to shut the industry down. Coverage of the proposed legislation and confirmation that Senator McKenzie’s Bill won’t diminish the Commonwealth’s significant regulatory powers that they currently have with the Regional Forest Agreement framework are contained in this week’s issue.
And finally, remember that discounted early-bird registrations finish next Friday for the region’s major Carbon Forestry event, Carbon Forestry 2021. The programme will appeal to anyone seeking opportunities in planting, investing in forestry or in carbon emissions offsetting. The event is already attracting registrations from policymakers, project facilitators and international entities who're looking at New Zealand's emissions trading scheme for their own benchmarking. Details can be found on the event website, www.carbonforestry.events. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Proposed bill to clarify logging operationsNative forest logging across Australia would be exempt from national environmental protections under a bill proposed by Nationals Senate leader Bridget McKenzie. In an unusual move for a member of the government, the proposed changes were lodged as a private member’s bill and would reduce the powers of her colleague in the Environment portfolio, Sussan Ley.
Senator McKenzie says her bill would make “explicitly clear” the roles for state and federal governments in regulation of hardwood forestry operations. Senator McKenzie’s bill follows a landmark ruling of the Federal Court in May, which set a precedent for logging to be subject to the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
The EPBC Act enables the federal minister to block logging operations if they deem it would have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance such as threatened species, but a federal minister is yet to exercise this power.
Senator McKenzie warned the commercial viability of native forestry companies is at risk due to uncertainty caused by Commonwealth powers to intervene with environmental protections for matters of national environmental significance such as threatened wildlife and ecosystems.
“This impossible situation can only be solved by making the law clear,” she said. Industry lobby groups and forestry workers’ union, the CFMEU, echo Senator McKenzie’s warning and claim tens of thousands of logging supply chain jobs are at risk.
Senator McKenzie’s bill was shot down by federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley on Monday. “The proposed amendments are the subject of a private member’s bill and not government policy,” said Ms Ley’s spokesman. The federal Environment Department’s submission to Senator McKenzie’s bill said the bill would “remove the Australian government’s regulatory environmental protections, such as penalties and other remedies”.
Australian Forest Products Association chief executive Ross Hampton called on Parliament to pass Senator McKenzie’s bill. “This legal uncertainty pressuring the industry is spurring anti-forestry groups who are threatening to use the precedent to shut the industry down,” Mr Hampton said.
For further coverage on this story, click here
Sources: SMH, Mirage News, AFPA
Carbon Forestry: Introducing Nigel BrunelCarbon Forestry Conference: Meet Our Presenters - Nigel Brunel (pictured), Director of Institutional Commodities, Jarden
Presentation: The Evolution of the Market - The New Zealand ETS has come a long way from an intensity based system with no cap on emissions and a price cap. Now we have a proper cap & trade scheme with a descending cap on emissions, regular auctioning and two very clear goals being Paris in 2030 and Net Zero by 2050.
The big questions are will we achieve these goals and what does the price of carbon need to be.
Profile - Nigel founded and leads Jarden’s institutional commodities business in New Zealand and Australia. He has a vast amount of cross-market experience, with a focus on renewable energy, dairy and equity futures. He has a special interest in carbon trading, particularly compliance and voluntary markets, and has been a leading adviser in the field since the inception of New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme.
Nigel was a founding member of Jarden’s FX, Futures and Equity Derivatives team in 1986. He went on to manage the equity derivative sales division at UBS Warburg in Sydney and ran his own trading company for nine years before returning to Jarden in 2007.
He loves the problem-solving aspects of his role and values integrity, honesty and hard work. He travels frequently throughout Asia and New Zealand to educate and advise corporates involved in emissions trading schemes and the dairy markets, and regularly provides expert commentary in the media.
Extension of HomeBuilder start dateThe Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA) and Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) have both welcomed the Federal Government’s extension to the timeframe for construction commencements under its HomeBuilder program.
EWPAA’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Gavin Matthew said, “HomeBuilder and associated State government stimulus measures have successfully underpinned increased consumer confidence and significant new home and renovations demand in key markets around Australia. Over the last few months, the building sector identified a strong need to smooth and prolong new housing and renovation demand into 2022”.
“The Federal Government has responded by extending the existing six-month timeline between signing a contract and construction starting to 18 months in the Homebuilder program. This welcome refinement will positively impact jobs, businesses, and communities right across Australia, and support the broader construction supply chain into 2022,” Mr Matthew concluded.
“The domestic industry supplies around 80 per cent of timber used in Australian home construction and ramped up production to keep pace with record the demand, spurred in part by HomeBuilder. Extending the timeframe for new builds will take the pressure off and allow more time for stock to be produced and delivered to builders” says Chief Executive Officer of AFPA, Ross Hampton.
Source: EWPAA, AFPA
HarvestTECH 2021 wrap-upAs reported, last week saw the running of this region’s HarvestTECH 2021 event with around 350 forestry managers, wood transport schedulers, logging contractors, forest owners, harvest planners and major equipment and technology suppliers into the logging and wood transport industries meeting up in Rotorua, New Zealand. Those unable to travel into New Zealand were also involved, both presenting and viewing live on-line.
For all delegates, a link to the recorded presentations along with PPT’s (where speaker approval has been given) for use within your company or business were sent out on Wednesday. Attached is one of many images taken last week. For those attending or for those who were unable to make it, click here to get a feel for what happened over the two days.
Australia’s first professional timber design courseTimber is an incredibly versatile and sustainable building material that is increasingly being used in large construction projects due to its distinctive environmental properties. As technology advances, and interest in the use of timber continues to grow, there has been a surge in demand for professionals with expertise in the design and manufacture of wood products.
The University of Tasmania has partnered with industry to develop Australia’s first professional course specialising in timber design and construction to help meet this demand. The Master of Professional Engineering (Timber Design) is offered for study from Semester 2, July 2021.
Pro-Vice Chancellor (Launceston) Dominic Geraghty said the course was developed as part of the University’s commitment to create regionally-distinctive and industry-aligned study options under the Northern Transformation Program.
“Tasmania has a proud history in the innovative use of timber and wood products, and we believe we are well-placed to lead in timber-rich design and construction nationally. This new course will help develop the skills needed to meet industry demand and continue to drive innovation into the future” Professor Geraghty said.
Course coordinator Dr Assaad (Alex) Taoum said the program was aimed at engineers and other building design professionals who wanted to enhance their knowledge to specialise in timber design, manufacture and construction. “This is a great opportunity for professionals to gain deep knowledge about the design and manufacture of a material that will form a significant part of sustainable construction approaches into the future,” Dr Taoum said.
“Timber design engineers are responsible for the structural design and manufacture of commercial and residential buildings, as well as optimising energy efficiency throughout the building lifecycle.” For further information or to enrol in the course click here.
Photo: A group of students participate in a timber design workshop held at the University of Tasmania’s School of Architecture and Design studio in Launceston.
Source: University of Tasmania
Top five shifts affecting constructionConstruction has long been plagued by a lack of collaboration and communication right along the supply chain, according to construction payment application firm Payapps. Over time, this leads to job fragmentation, inefficient contract approaches and disputes over claims.
Yet, construction companies that meet these challenges head-on by remaining agile, adapting faster and manage to reduce their cost base will see better productivity gains, leading to a greater competitive edge.
Through 2020, Covid-19 accelerated the much-needed changes in construction but what’s the long-term impact and what does a connected construction workplace of the future look like? The construction ecosystem of the future will be highly standardised, consolidated—both vertically and horizontally—and integrated.
According to a global survey conducted by Payapps, in partnership with international research firm Frost & Sullivan, the top five shifts affecting the construction workplace of the future across New Zealand and Australia are:
Supply chain transformation: 55%
Real-time collaboration across the supply chain, coupled with the digitisation of products and processes, will only strengthen the relationship between head contractors and those they work with.
The construction industry itself is often highly fragmented, with workers, engineers and equipment being distributed across massive worksites, with plenty of offsite stakeholders to consider too. This is where digital tools come into their own.
It’s critical to choose construction software that complement each other within a best-of-breed ecosystem or synchronise with a centralised platform to ensure a single source of truth.
It’s also important to implement tools that are aligned to specific processes to ensure deadlines or requirements, such as compliance with state-based security of payment legislation, are adhered to and not impacted by bottlenecks or poor transparency across the supply chain.
Volatility continues in in forest product marketsOver the last six months we witnessed one of the most volatile periods in forest product markets that we have seen in recent times. Log export prices started increasing from the second half of 2020, as did freight rates. This seemed contradictory given the world suffered a major shock to its economic system, not unlike the financial crisis of 2009 to which it is often compared. The response to the Coronavirus pandemic interrupted production, forced businesses to close and workers were laid off.
Once the threat was established, China quickly took action to control the spread of the virus, then pressured industry to start up their factories. At the same time, in order to support the recovery, the government introduced a number of measures such as supporting loans to smaller businesses, lower interest rates, reduced taxes, reduced utility prices and additional employment support. Industrial production quickly recovered to pre pandemic levels and by February 2021 was already ahead by 9.2%.
There was a surge in exports, supported by soaring demand for Coronavirus related medical equipment. Fixed asset investment also bounced back, surpassing pre pandemic levels. As a result, the production and investment side of the economy did well. Households, however, were more cautious, preferring to save rather than spend. So, despite household incomes increasing in 2020, spending declined.
The demand for wood was also swept up in the recovery. While total residential construction started 2020 on a weak note, it picked up in the second half with building starts running higher than in the previous year. Several other indicators also pointed to a higher demand for wood – concrete production was up 6.3%, crude steel up 7.7% and manufactured steel products up 12.8%. This reflected the boom in all types of construction and with it came higher demand for logs, sawn timber, and plywood.
The question remains how this will play out in forest product markets. Fueled by the Chinese government’s stimulus programmes, China’s GDP is expected to expand by 8.2% in 2021. In recent months however, the government has started to unwind these programmes as the recovery gained momentum. GDP growth is now forecast to slow below 6% in 2022 and 2023, which is expected to moderate the demand for construction materials and hence logs and wood products.
Source: Andres Katz, Alphametrik
Plantation forestry ranks best for land useThe just released Ministry for the Environment’s latest environmental report scores exotic forestry highly for its low impact on soils. New Zealand’s MfE report identified exotic forests as the land use by far the least affected by low macroporosity, which is an indication of poor drainage.
MfE analysis found only 11% of exotic forests were below the macroporosity target range, whereas 75% of lifestyle blocks had the problem. Likewise, MfE found only 12% of exotic forest soils had higher than a target range of phosphate. This element can have downstream environmental impacts, such as lowering water oxygen levels or promoting toxic algal growth.
This forest percentage compares favourably with dairy and cropping properties, where 61% of sites were above the target range. Fertiliser is applied to exotic forests very rarely, and the phosphate levels here are most likely to be a temporary result of recent planting trees on farmland.
Forest Owners Association President Phil Taylor says the report is a clear indication that trees, whether exotic or indigenous, are good for soil and water health. “All forests prevent erosion, filter water and reduce flood damage. With commercial pines there is a huge advantage in rapid carbon sequestration to combat climate change as well.
Phil Taylor also identifies another part of the report which assesses the higher Land Use Capability classes, 1-4 as ‘most productive for pasture and forestry’. “I hope our primary sector ministers take that point on board. They need to realise that forestry is a valid productive use choice for landowners.”
“The ministers’ suggestions during the election campaign that this productivity only applies to farming are quite wrong and so they ought to drop their ideas of preventing productive and profitable forestry on these land classes.”
Source: Forest Owners Association
Australian Pine Log Price Index report releasedThe latest Australian Pine Log Price Index for the January to June 2019 period has just been released. The Australian Pine Log Price Index is compiled by KPMG using data provided by Australian softwood growers. The Index documents changes in pine log prices achieved by large-scale commercial plantation owners selling common grades of plantation softwood logs to domestic processors.
KPMG updates the Index biannually, with the two reporting periods being January to June and July to December. The Index has a base period of January to June 1998. KPMG acts as the independent Index manager and collects confidential data on log volumes and stumpage values for all sales, including long and short-term contracts and spot transactions, at the end of each reporting period. Quantity information on export sawlogs and export pulpwood is also provided.
This report presents a summary of the results of the Index report released for the period 1 July to 31 December 2021. The findings in this report are based on data provided by HQPlantations, Forestry Corporation of NSW, HVP Plantations and OneFortyOne Plantations.
The report is attached here for your information.
Environmental oversight in RFA's confirmedSenior officials from Australia's Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment have confirmed the Commonwealth has oversight and termination powers over forestry operations covered by Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs), and that these powers are built into the RFA framework.
During a Senate Committee hearing this week into proposed legislation sponsored by Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie that seeks to remove legal uncertainty for RFA forestry operations in Australia, the officials also confirmed that Senator McKenzie’s Bill will not diminish these powers.
Sen McKenzie: Can the Commonwealth terminate or suspend an RFA if it has concerns the obligations are not being met by the State?
Emma Campbell: (First Assistant Secretary - Dept. Agriculture, Water, and the Environment): The RFA has dispute resolution clauses, that yes, they can be terminated.
Sen McKenzie: So, the Commonwealth has the power to terminate or suspend an RFA if it has concerns the obligations are not being met by the State?
Emma Campbell: Either Party can terminate the RFA.
Sen McKenzie: Does this amendment before us today change that?
Emma Campbell: No, that provision is within the RFA, not in the [EPBC] Act.
Sen McKenzie: So, removing the words [“in accordance with”] from [section 38 (1) of] the EPBC Act will not change Commonwealth oversight of Regional Forestry Agreements?
Emma Campbell: It will not change the Commonwealth’s ability to terminate the RFA.
Australian Forest Products Association CEO Ross Hampton said RFAs were designed to provide equivalent protections as the EPBC Act and Australians can have confidence that Australia’s native forestry operations are regulated to the highest environmental standards in the world.
“This legislation will provide certainty for Australia’s forestry industries by reaffirming that the Commonwealth’s significant regulatory powers through the RFA framework provides the necessary Commonwealth oversight for RFA forestry operations,” Mr Hampton said.
Forest Investment Associates announces reorganizationForest Investment Associates has announced an important reorganization of its North and South American operations. The two operations will be combined to form the Investment Management Team (IMT), led by FIA veteran Mike Cerchiaro. It is designed to align with the needs of investors who view timberland investing in a geographically broader context.
It is also designed to achieve significant efficiencies across the combined operations as FIA strives for operational excellence and to add value to its clients’ forestland investments. It brings together FIA’s experienced staff on two continents across portfolio management, operations, forestry and timber marketing functions.
The firm also announced the creation of the Portfolio Analytics, Research and Technology function under Dr Mike Clutter, another long-term FIA executive. “Dr Clutter will devote his deep timberland investment expertise to explore and deliver revenue-generating opportunities offered by carbon, ecosystem markets and other value drivers essential to our business,” said Cerchiaro.
Joining the firm as Director of Sustainability and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), a newly created function, is MaryKate Bullen. “Her background, professional experience and her passion for sustainable investing and all things ESG will serve our clients well and promote leadership in this increasingly important area,” said Cerchiaro. Bullen is an active advocate for the development of ESG and impact investing best practices, working with investment and industry groups to advance issues of greenhouse gas accounting in forestry, climate risk management, ESG disclosure practices and standardized metrics for impact management in sustainable forestry and natural climate solutions.
Source: Forest Investment Associates
Forestry hub management team appointedThe South-East Queensland regional forestry hub took a big-step forward last week with the appointment of the management team to implement and progress further development of the industry in the region. The South-East Queensland forestry hub is part of a network of hubs funded by the Australian Government, with one million dollars in seed funding for the South-East hub to leverage and implement projects to boost productivity and growth in the sector.
After a thorough selection process by the regional Steering Committee, Kerry Fullarton has been appointed as Hub Manager. Kerry has over 30 years’ experience as a senior manager for a range of Government sponsored and private sector projects. With a strong background in stakeholder engagement and project management, Kerry said she has delivered a broad range of skills based and business outcomes in the local area.
“I very much look forward to reaching out and meeting with local companies and stakeholders to further grow the forest and timber industry in the region,” said Mrs Fullarton. “A key task will be to look at the opportunities and challenges for the industry going forward, and to prioritise key projects that can help boost industry growth and investment,” she said.
Kerry will be assisted by Mark Diedrichs in the part-time role of Technical Advisor to the hub. Mark has extensive commercial industry experience working within Australia and New Zealand with relevant qualifications in economics and forestry. Mr Diedrichs will provide technical and commercial expertise to the deliberations of the Steering Committee and management team, as well as with project proponents.
“Being part of an integrated team will provide significant value to the aims and goals of the South-East hub, and assist in the implementation of key projects,” said Mr Diedrichs. Timber Queensland, has partnered with the Australian Government for the delivery of the South-East Queensland and North Queensland hubs. The regional hubs are a key action under the Australian Government’s National Forest Industries Plan.
Photo: Mark Diedrichs, Technical Advisor to the hub and Kerry Fullarton, South-East Queensland Regional Forestry Hub Manager, meeting to discuss implementation
Source: Timber Queensland
ITP advisory group being set upFollowing Te Uru Rākau’s initial engagement with New Zealand's Forestry and Wood Processing sector in October 2020 on the Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) - commencing with a workshop attended by a broad range of sector representatives - more targeted engagement took place across New Zealand’s major forestry regions.
This involved discussions with stakeholders from other sectors such as industrial process heat users and representatives from the transport, construction and building sectors. Te Uru Rākau also undertook a number of visits to regional mills to better understand local supply and demand dynamics and engaged with union representatives to seek their views.
Having spent some months distilling feedback received on the potential scope of the ITP (and the issues and opportunities it might need to address to bring about genuine transformation), a draft ITP scope and objectives were developed. In March, these were presented to the Minister of Forestry and, following his endorsement, a new programme of policy work was undertaken to identify the optimal interventions to achieve those objectives.
New Zealand’s shift to a more sustainable, low emissions future will require a period of transformation that represents a unique opportunity to grow the sector in new directions, improve the competitiveness of existing businesses and produce more high value products for domestic and export markets.
To continue the partnership approach commenced in October 2020, Te Uru Rakau is now seeking to establish an ITP Advisory Group to help them develop and test the next phase of the ITP development. Comprising 8-10 thought-leaders, membership will include individuals with specific technical knowledge, relevant sectoral or other expertise, and representational experience from the workforce and the Māori commercial sector. This combined knowledge and expertise will provide officials with sector, technical, and investment insight needed to develop an ITP roadmap that is effective, workable, and reflects industry, workers, and Māori views.
Once established, this Advisory Group is anticipated to meet every 6 weeks (for the next 6 months or so). The aim is to establish the ITP Advisory Group in early May 2021 with the view to disestablishing it once the ITP has been finalised. Another group may be tasked with responsibility for implementation of the ITP recommendations at that point.
Candidates with relevant professional backgrounds, expertise, and qualities (e.g.strategic nous, leadership, design thinking etc.) are encouraged to apply for the ITP Advisory Group as soon as possible. Applications will close on Tuesday 4 May 2021. Applications will be accepted through an online application form that can be accessed through the following link.
Source: Te Uru Rākau
The perfect environment for forestry students!Canadian studio MGA | Michael Green Architecture, based in Vancouver, BC, was recently awarded the RAIC 2021 Architectural Firm Award by the Canadian architects’ association. Founded by Michael Green in 2012, the studio is renowned for its research, leadership and know-how in building with wood.
One of its most recent projects, located on the campus of the Oregon Forest Science Complex (OFSC), is composed of two buildings: the new George W. Peavy Forest Science Center and the A.A. "Red" Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory (AWP). Both buildings are inspired by the mission of the College for which they are built, creating a dynamic environment for learning, collaboration and research with the goal of managing and supporting forest ecosystems in the 21st century. All in buildings made of timber, a renewable, intrinsically sustainable construction material.
Let’s take a closer look!
George W. Peavy Forest Science Center takes the form of two intersecting bars connected to the existing Richardson Hall. The classroom and laboratory spaces are of different sizes, appropriate for a variety of learning techniques, and are connected by big timber stairwells filled with natural light which also serve as informal gathering-places. The heart of the building is the Roseburg Forest Products Atrium, characterised by imposing Douglas fir columns underlining the building’s links with the forest across its two storeys. The connection is further emphasised by the direct link with Peavy Arboretum, a collection of different local plant species that also serves as a living classroom for forestry students, the community and the industry.
Its timber structure responds to the high seismic requirements of the site, featuring North America’s first CLT rocking wall system: in a seismic event, the walls can move and self-centre, and components can be selectively replaced as needed after the quake. The wooden structure is monitored by more than 300 sensors installed throughout the construction to collect data on vertical and horizontal structural movement as well as moisture levels in the building, data which will be used for research into the performance of mass timber structures.
The second volume contains A.A. "Red" Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory, home to the TallWood Design Institute, which brings together industry and academia to advance knowledge about the use of wood products in buildings through applied research, product development, testing and professional education. Its structure is a simple but elegant system made of glulam and MPP (mass plywood panels), with which Michael Green Architecture created a graceful long span.
As a whole, the new architectural complex, made primarily from cultivated timber, offers an example of sustainable forest management and use of timber to create wooden buildings that establish a connection with nature. The perfect environment for forestry students! Further photos of the buildings can be viewed here.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... grading school papers
Can you imagine the nun sitting at her desk grading these papers, all the while trying to keep a straight face and maintain her composure!
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. It will be a longer
one than normal for the Kiwis and some Australian readers.
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